December 18, 2014

Waiting for boat fever to return

CHRISTMAS ISN'T EVEN HERE YET but a lot of northern sailors are already looking forward to spring and a new sailing season. Our weather hasn't been too good lately, what with all the wind and rain and frost. And all this mad running around to find Christmas trees and presents for ungrateful recipients has made a whole lot of owners neglect a whole lot of boats. Those poor boats sit there, abandoned in the marina, wincing as the drops of rain seep through the deck and drip onto burgeoning beds of mold and mildew.

Spring can't come quick enough. It has always been thus, it seems. This is what Thomas Fleming Day, editor of The Rudder, had to say about it more than 100 years ago:

"When Winter gets up his hook and stands offshore, the boat fever comes on strong and the itch to be away on the blue again takes hold of us. Sunday finds the boys sidling off towards the yards and wading around in the slush looking over the laid-up craft.

"They walk round and round them, peer at the stern, eye the bow, comment on the spars, find fault with the bottom, and curse the price that makes it not for them. Year after year this is our amusement. Spring after spring we go through the same yards, see the same boats, and express the same opinions regarding their appearance and condition. If those boats have ears, how tired they must get, how weary of the silly comments that the boat-fevered busybody makes each March under their hulls.

'A few weeks after, the yard is almost cleared, except here and there a poor old cripple or rich man's forgotten plaything is left standing surrounded by a raffle of timber and truck. Over by the fence, lying on its side, is a once crack-a-jack racer, too rotten to be moved and going rapidly to punk.

"And we look on her and think of the days when we will be lying up against the fence, dismantled and broken, while our successors are out cleaving the blue and making a mainsheet haul of health and happiness."

* Well, he ended up a little maudlin, there, didn't he? I guess he was rather depressed after a Christmas that had gone on too long and kept him away from his boat.

Today's Thought
Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want — and their kids pay for it.
— Richard Lamm, former Governor of Colorado.
"My girlfriend thinks I'm a stalker."
"Your girlfriend thinks that?"
"Yeah, well, she's not actually my girlfriend yet."

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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