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.