This is me looking heroic and feeling bitter-sweet. Summer means goodbye hugs all around.
The sweet part was the fuel system. After our various engine travails (Fuel System FAQ), the Cantankerous Mr. Lehman ran flawlessly. It's a real confidence-builder to have him start and run and all the gauges—save one—show sensible readings. (The fuel tank level gauge was not connected properly; working on that.)
What's bitter, then? Memorial day is the traditional start of the peak boating season. Last year, the boat yard worked assiduously to get us in the water for Memorial Day (Splash.) The splash at start of this boating season means the end of winter haul-out, the end of spring commissioning; it means the dispersal of the Deltaville Marina Rats Class of 2011.
Being a marina rat works like this. During the 2010-2011 winter, there was a small group of folks hanging around the marina. A few weekenders (The Red Rangers and the folks from Fortuna, for example), a few liveaboards (Fawkes and Monday Morning) and a few irregulars (Liquid Therapy, Amazing Grace) Allowing for transients, it's under a dozen people.
Marina Rat or Lounge Lizard?
In the November to January holiday season, we planned some events. Thanksgiving. Super Bowl Weekend. Some folks left to visit family. By February, the Saturday night in the lounge with snacks and drinks was a standing date. Some times we'd go out to a local restaurant. But most of the time, we'd have dinner and rendezvous in the lounge with snackies.
I guess we could be called lounge lizards. But we're more like gym rats because we're there a lot, we spend most of our time talking about boats, and we all use the same showers in the wash-house. Some marina folks won't take a plunger to a stuck toilet: they wait for "staff" to handle it. A proper marina rat unsticks the toilet because—really—a little altruism won't kill you.
Everyone who's cruised more than a few miles has an amazing number of "pay it forward" stories. ("Here, take this, it's just a spare." "I can't accept this, it's a $250 Garhauer block.") When you think about the karmic debt built up by accepting charity from strangers, you become very, very altrustic. ("I helped you; you help someone else; someone will eventually help me.")
There's a more nuanced code of ethics at work here. If you're willing to sever the easy, comfortable ties with land and set out to sea, you're a fellow mariner and deserving of minimal help simply because you were willing to take the risk. However, if you've tried to do your homework, tried to build up some skills and can demonstrate any knowledge of the sea, the older salts will do anything to get you back on an even keel.
I think this ethical code has something to do with arrogance, ignorance and humility. A ballsy boater in trouble gets a Jim Buoy Floaty Ring. Justice. A dumb boater—without an attitude—will find that a lot of help is available. A boater that shows respect to Poseidon and to the experience of others gets gifts and joys without measure. Seek Kindness, Love Justice, Walk Humbly with God.
We've been sailing already this year. The good weather starts in March. We tried to do our spring commissioning at the end of February ("Marine Life"). We were out sailing in April for Easter Sunday and the weather was perfect.
After hauling out last August, Fawkes is back in the water. They'll be casting off the dock lines and moving to another creek to finish their refit before they head south in the fall.
Monday Morning will may be moving on. The boat was bashed up during the Tornado and there's a lot of work to do. But one winter living in a slip in Deltaville may have been enough.
Liquid Therapy was rarely around on the weekends. They've been at the marina for years, but only recently started hanging around on weekends this winter.
Fortuna still has some work to do, and they'll be at the Marina on weekends for the next few months.
Like Liquid Therapy, we're trying to avoid being in the Marina on Saturday nights. We have an urge to travel; to put some miles under the keel. We aspire to nomadism.
We had a great party on Liquid Therapy. We had a great party on Fawkes. We had tearful hugs and exchanges of emails so we could be sure to rendezvous as often as possible this summer. We make and stretch our ties. Because we are so loved, we can spread out and see the world.
The rendezvous business is difficult. On Sunday, we got a Facebook post from Joie de Vivre ("Post-Rendezvous Rendezvous"): they were in Portsmouth while we were in Deltaville. We went sailing Monday as they worked their way up the bay. Since the Red Rangers still have day jobs (working for the man) we couldn't stick around until Joie de Vivre dropped the hook in Jackson Creek.
Drat! Okay. They're in our ‘hood, so we will meetup this summer. Somehow. Somewhere.
We're hoping to avoid the marina and spend more time anchored out on weekends. We think we're done with the major jobs: fuel system is rebuilt; drive shaft, cutless bearing and shaft seal are new; rig is sound (we've even retuned the mizzen mast just to be absolutely sure we're solid); the center water tank doesn't leak as much as it did.
We've got the air conditioner working. The Commodore's bug screens are in place. When Xander came to visit, we made sure that Scout was ready for duty.