Lessons of the Craft

We finally hauled the new dory out from under the apple tree in the backyard today.  Well, “new” as in new to me.  The dory itself has been around for a few years.  The trailer tires were flat, vines had wrapped themselves around the shaft of the outboard and mold and moss covered much of the woodwork.  And lots and lots of last fall’s apples covered the floor of the boat.

So I have some work to do.

Just getting it up into the side yard was a bit of a task.  Had to use fix-a-flat to inflate one of the old tires, then get the jack out from under one side of the trailer so that it could be used to lift the even flatter tire on the other side up enough to inflate it.  But that meant taking a shovel and clearing enough space for the jack to fit under the trailer.

Much to my surprise, everything worked out OK.  The tires remained inflated enough long enough to get the trailer to the optimal place in the yard for fix-up.

The first week in May really is a little late to be addressing anything more than general maintenance issues for a boat.  But I have a good excuse – for the past nine months, I’ve been on the trail of the Columbia Expedition, the first American voyage ‘round the world.  The vessels of my concern have been a ship of 212 tons (Columbia Rediviva) and a sloop of 60 feet (Lady Washington).  Following the premiere of our film in Marshfield last week, I gladly welcomed the humble task of fixing up a 12-foot fiberglass dory.

My timing seems to be perfect, too.  May’s 40 days and 40 nights of rain have concluded, which means after a severe application of the power washer (who needs sandpaper and scrapers?), I can repaint the wooden seats and trim.  Before this, I’ll have to get replacement for the rotted rails.  And I’m expecting a visit from Christian Swenson, the Mobile Marine Mechanic, to get the old outboard humming for another season.

Then comes the all-important issue of paint.  Not whether to paint or not, but the color.  Blue being the favorite of greenheads (note the color of those traps in the marshes, my favorite is out.

On the other hand, Sofie’s persistence preference is also not within the realm of consideration:  pink.  Six-year-old little girl-loving pink.  Just no.  We’ll probably go with whatever is left in the garage, and if there’s not enough of one color, we’ll be our regular efficient Yankee selves, and see what can be mixed to make a non-seasick-inducing color.

Then it’s a simple matter of getting new oarlocks, locating a coil of line and maybe a bumper or two, and loading in the rakes and wire clam baskets.  With any luck, weather-willing, we’ll be able to launch by Memorial Day weekend.

The cost of all this is a low-entry fee for the ability to head out on the water with my daughter at a moment’s notice.  There are some now-familiar activities to revisit, like snorkeling on the Common Flats west of Monomoy, or camping out on the beach.  But we’ll also be pulling out the fishing poles, too, since Sofie’s never tried striped bass, certainly not fresh off the ocean.

I’m keenly aware it could be like a blink of an eye before my daughter heads off to do her own things with anyone other than her father.  So there’s a small window of opportunity to show her all these things:  to fix up something that by all accounts appears worn out, to have a goal to motivate you to return, day after day, to work at it, never mind the reward of fully enjoying the waterborne wonderland that surrounds us here in the summer.

Hopefully, some of these lessons will stick.  Then she can get her own boat someday.  That, I tell her, she can paint pink.

Read this and Andy's other columns online at The Cape Cod Chronicle.

CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.