Refit Season: Spring into Action

The coming of spring and some spring cleaning.

Snow on the Beach

The shells we scavenged at the beach in early spring had lovely ice formations inside.

We had begun to despair, some of us, that spring would ever arrive. As the season advanced into what should have been balmier temps and calmer weather, the onslaught of winter in New England raged on unabated. “Remember how we thought last winter was bad?” the guys at work kept saying. “It wasn’t nothing compared to this.” It was bad enough I suppose, for them—no one finds getting up and driving to work in 15 degrees pleasant, especially with all the snow we had this year—but for us who need good weather to commision boats before a fixed deadline it was even worse. What if it didn’t warm up enough to pull down the canopy until two or three days before moving-out date, when the marina’s seasonal rates skyrocket? There would be no time for all the projects I had lined up that require electricity, or room to spread out. Paint wouldn’t dry, caulking wouldn’t set, and we’d have to head out to the mooring field with the boat still in shambles. It was an excruciating thought.

The same would apply for my summer job at Sightsailing of Newport, where there were three boats to get ready for summer, all of which need sanding and painting and re-bedding of various parts. It was still very wintry when I left Morgan Marine in Bristol, the shiny orange mold that had been my winter project almost ready for use, and not a little chilly the next week as work began on Sightsailer, grinding, sanding, and unbolting hardware with gloves, coats and hats pulled low.

| |Preparing to paint Sightsailer for the coming season.|

Slowly though, but most reluctantly, winter has been releasing it’s grip. In one violent deluge last week that left basements flooded all over the state, the snow was all washed away, and temperatures began spending more time on the proper side of freezing. It’s still not spring in earnest, mind you—we still have a fire morning and evening, but one can go outside for a few hours in the middle of the day without fear of frostbite. With the arrival of long-awaited warmer weather, the ususal flurry of spring activity has gone into hyperdrive. Where at the shipyard ours were usually the only cars around, it’s now hard to find an open space to park, and the sound of sanders, grinders, polishers and all manner of hoists and boatlifts fills the air that so recently was filled with driving snow.

We've gone into hyperdrive on Ganymede, as well, trying to install a new head and holding tank before having to move to the anchorage; trying to dig out from the clutter of winter.

In a concession to everyone’s need for more space, we rented a storage unit, and have begun ferrying boxes out, two at a time, which is all that will fit in the car. “This box isn’t full,” I said, opening the lid of one to find only a few items in the bottom. “We should put more stuff in it.”

“We can’t. We don’t have any more things that fit in that category.”

| |It looks so empty until we consider putting it all back in the boat again.|

Cate-what? This was news to me, and we’ve been married since the Dark Ages. My wife explained this new side of her patiently: “This isn’t new. The purpose of boxes is not to pack them brim-full; it’s to segregate unlike things.”

“Isn’t that an inefficient use of space?”

“If all you want is to use the smallest amount of room, then we can just shovel everything into a pile in a corner of the shed. But I want to be able to find everything again.”

Sharp as a tack, me, I saw her point and bought more boxes. We’ve filled nine big ones so far, and the boat doesn’t feel any emptier, though she says we have loads of locker space freed up for the overflow of everyday things that would otherwise go on the cabin sole.

One bit of clutter we don’t have to worry about is firewood. I had thought, looking at the giant pile of wood I laid in at the beginning of winter, that we’d be disposing of or trying to store a third of it in boxes at the end of winter. But no, we ran out of wood before we ran out of winter, and all that’s left of the half-cord I was so proud of is heaps of sawdust on the side deck.

Tentatively we experimented with the charcoal I use for the barbecue, and found it to burn most excellently in our woodstove, and moreover to last better than our normal firewood, since there were still hot ashes in the morning when I went to re-light. I secured a couple of armloads of kindling from my old friends at the Coronet shed, and now, however long it takes for spring to warm up, we'll still have cozy mornings and evenings in between busy days of preparing for the summer season. And it will be most welcome when it comes.