The Onset of Winter

Chesapeake sunrise in November, as seen from the companionway of Further tied up at a dock about 20 miles south of Annapolis.

It’s a cool, rainy day here in northern Massachusetts. New England November in all its dreary splendor. To compound things, I just received a voice-mail message (I was in the grocery store when the call came in) that my beloved Further was hauled out of the water down in Maryland today. The message let me know where in the massive yard Further is blocked up and will spend the winter.

And with that, a two-year pattern comes to a close.

Twelve days shy of two years ago, I closed on the purchase of Further and spent the subsequent months living aboard in Annapolis, trying to upgrade various aspects of the boat to make her ready to sail home to New England. That trip didn’t take place until late July of 2018, mostly due to my inability to find crew to join me for the trip. I returned to Annapolis in late September, planning to head south to the Caribbean for the winter. A variety of factors combined to prevent that from happening, so I settled in for another winter of living aboard in Naptown. I also managed to find a contract-basis job with a yacht brokerage, a job that turned out to be both enjoyable and challenging in delightfully unanticipated ways. That seemed to be my future until some family drama appeared out of nowhere and prompted the current situation: Further on the hard in Maryland, me living in Massachusetts doing projects on the house that failed to get done over the past couple of years. C’est la vie, as the saying goes.

I never anticipated this step. I knew one day I’d have to haul Further out of the water, if for no other reason than to repaint her hull. But I didn’t expect to haul her out and leave her high and dry for half a year.

In a way, this will be a good thing. For starters, I don’t have to worry about Further when ever a winter storm rears its ugly head. And I hope to get some projects done on the boat, projects that will get her closer to being ready to go long-distance cruising someday.

The question that arises: when is that someday? And I don’t have an answer for that. I need to get back in the game, so to speak, and get a normal, 21st century American life going again, complete with a full-time job and do something productive and fulfilling. So I’m guessing someday will be at some point several years in the future.

For now, I’ll pack away my shorts and flip-flops, my thin wetsuits and my golf clubs, and I’ll unpack my flannel sheets, long johns and snow shovel, and settle in for a New England winter. On the plus side, that means plenty of puck, more frequent surf (with fewer people out) and, as hoped for, an opportunity to utilize my experience and intellect as I contribute to society.

A stripped-down Further — no sails, no bimini or dodger, everything put away and secured — waiting to be hauled out for the winter.

The minus side took place a couple of days ago when I locked up a stripped-down Further and walked away from where she was tied to a dock in southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland. I felt like I was leaving my loyal and trusty dog at a pound, her eyes pleading with me not to go as my eyes welled up, thinking about the good times that had been, and the good times that we just missed out on.

Time to hunker down and get to work so those times can be again.

Autumnal Update

Sunrise over Back Creek, 3 October

I pumped up Further‘s dinghy this morning, one of several chores my faithful steed required after having been neglected for the better part of two months (the other big chore: washing all the bird shit off the deck). The tubes once again all taut with air pressure, I took the dinghy for a spin on Back Creek to go visit a couple of friends. I should have known such a trip would set me off but I went anyway. Oh well.

Why did it set me off? Because of patterns staring me in the face. It’s boat-show time here in Annapolis so that means Back Creek and Spa Creek and damn near every other creek and Annapolis Harbor and all the marinas in the area are chock full of boats in town for the show. And a good percentage of them are tackling last-minute chores before they head south for the winter once this weekend’s show concludes.

Which is right where I was at this time last year. And as we all know, I did not go south. And I won’t be going south this year, either. In fact, I’ll be going north. Just in time for winter.

What? You don’t know what’s going on? Well, I guess it has been quite some time since I’ve posted anything here, so let’s bring this chronicle up to date, shall we?

I’ve been living at home up on Plum Island since late July. I went up there to get my car its annual inspection and wound up having to stay to take care of some family drama. I returned to Annapolis for four days in mid-August to pack up pretty much all my junk and settled in at home while my brother took care of his medical issues. I’m happy to say he’s at home again and doing well — one day at a time, as they say — but in the interest of his long-term health, he’ll be heading out west at the end of this month.

Which means I will be living at Plum Island and caring for the house for the foreseeable future. In the coming months, I will try to get some of the pressing matters that still face our house addressed, chief among them the dormer that leaks into the living room during big nor’easters and the bathroom pipe that freezes during cold snaps. In addition to those two big-ticket items, there are innumerable little things that need addressing since my parents did little to no maintenance over the 20 years they lived in the house. Once the major issues are addressed, my brother and I will decide what happens next to our family home on Plum Island.

In order to make all this happen, I will have Further hauled out of the water and stored “on the hard” at a marina here in the Annapolis area. Come springtime, I’ll relaunch her and take her north to New England for the summer of 2020. And hopefully, I’ll be able to have a few projects done on Further over the winter months to improve her for next year’s cruising.

At least, that’s the plan.

Income being required in order to, you know, eat as well as do said projects on house and boat, if anyone has any job leads in northern Massachusetts, I would be most appreciative.

In the meantime, it’s been mostly nice being back on Plum Island. We’ve had surf and the water’s been wonderfully warm. But word has gotten out and now when we get a swell it’s like being in Southern California again: 30 freakin’ guys in the water all hassling for waves. Needless to say, given my snobbish attitudes about Plum Island waves, this does not sit well with me. But there’s not a lot I can do. And I figure most of the clowns will disappear when the water gets cold.

And it’s also been nice being back in Annapolis for the past week. I came down to do some digital work for my part-time employers and also to help them with the boat shows currently going on here in Naptown. I also, obviously, came down to check up on Further. I hope to take her out for a couple of hours in the next day or two, but we’ll see. I got in a skate Friday morning and will skate again Tuesday morning and Wednesday night, and it’s been good falling in with the old crew again.

I’ll head north on Sunday or Monday, the 13th or 14th, and then, on Wednesday the 16th, I’m flying to Mallorca — my first time ever in Spain — for the 50th birthday party of Marlies, of Boogie-and-Marlies fame. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been out of the U.S. so it’s definitely time. And it will be great to see my old sailing friends on such an auspicious occasion.

I get back on the 23rd and take my brother to a couple of medical procedures on the 24th, after which I’ll head back down here to Maryland to haul out Further and winterize her. Which will be a somber occasion but a necessary one. If she’s on the hard I won’t have to worry about her over the winter. And I obviously won’t be here to take care of her so…

Again: at least, that’s the plan. Stay tuned to see how it all turns out.