Sunday, October 23, 2011

Haul Out

Yesterday, our boats came out of the water, onto the hard. A heavy, lifting crane arrived at 7am, and the twenty-five or so boats that occupy our tiny marina were lifted one by one, and set onto trailers, blocks and cradles. It was a cool, overcast Fall day, but warm enough, with us moving cradles and hauling cinder blocks, taking down masts and cleaning hulls.

The boats have a nude look without masts, sails and rigging. And with the boats hauled out of Ashbridges bay (the other two, larger marinas had their haul outs last weekend) there's a look of desertion to the near empty docks and fingers. Masts were coming down all through the week, in preparation. Vaughn, one of our most enthusiastice boaters, left his for the final afternoon, so he could get in one last, decent weather sail, after several days of raining and blowing kept us from venturing out. One well out-fitted 30-footer remains in the water at day's end. Nancy doesn't want the trouble of taking down her mast, so will take her vessel to the portlands sometime over the next couple of weeks, where it will winter in Ulee's yard. Which means that some of our group will get some late season sailing in, on her boat, before it too hits the hard.

Lyma prepared coffee, peameal bacon and egg sandwiches, muffins and pie for breakfast, chili and shepherd's pie for lunch, which was supplemented by Romanian sausages that Sebastian cooked up on the barbecue. Ponczka bought bottles of our homemade wine, and there was beer, and some of the guys still had rum and scotch, maybe marijuana, left over from the previous night's hanging out - the season's last with the boats still on water.

But partying and drinking were by no means a focus of the day. The mood was bitter-sweet, as always at haul out. It's a communal time, with all assembling to assist with one another's boats. There's catching up with those who didn't manage much sailing this year, or power-boating - we have those too. And for those who got out a lot, there's reminiscing, and a sense of having used the season well, and already looking forward to launch, sometime in May.

We've been in the marina for five or six years now. This year it felt more like a community than ever before. Several of the boater's virtually transplant themselves from house or apartment when summer rolls around, enjoying the mind and spirit shift of life on the softer element. It's more romance than indulgence, and more aspiration than adventure, but it absolutely feeds an appetite that straight city living can't satisfy. This summer, every night found a handful of boats occupied. And on weekends it became a small neighborhood, with visits among boats, barbecues in the yard,and gatherings in the clubhouse.

Through some magic that has yet to be explained, a number of our members are professional musicians, and quite a few others are committed amateurs, so it's common to hear guitars, keyboards and voices sounding out across the water. Yesterday, it was agreed that we'd have a final party next weekend. It'll be a good way to finish off the year, marking the end of one season and the beginning of another with celebratory music, acknowledging this point on the cycle, that will eventually bring us around again to rolling across the waters, and riding the waves.

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