Friday, December 16, 2011

Hauling Out

Friday morning is warm and sunny despite the wind. Saturday and Sunday look to be very cold. It's time to take Close Enough out of her element and into hibernation 'til April. I hate to lose the sense of autonomy that I get from being able to buzz back and forth to Matinicus, but I'd hate even more to shred expensive parts or seize the motor because it's full of ice.

The consolation is that here in my new neighborhood on North Haven, I'll be able to look out the back window and see her in of the two boatyards sandwiching our rental house. She'll be close enough to go visit.

It's also time because the wind, waves and temperatures have gone from occasional belligerence to a constantly foul temper, offering a pissed off bull ride like the one I took on Monday.

By Monday, after flogging my way through 5 days of taking up gear, landscaping, roofing and trying to catch up with tax collection business and car registrations, I sorely wished to see my family. I was sore everyplace from orthopedic abuse and the muscle confusion of changing physically demanding jobs 3 times in 5 days, but a lot more achy inside.

I raced the clock to finish up gathering things I'd need on the other side. This is an ongoing aggravation of having two home bases close enough to each other that one does not have to absolutely get everything this time around. Tools, electronic connector cables, clothes, a bike pump, mail, music gear- it all had to be rounded up and cargoed aboard.

The Matinicus Rock weather station had been phoning in 23 knots gusting to 26 or 7 all day long, and I was pretty teetery on whether to go at all, and kept waiting for the NOAA-promised slackening of the wind later in the day. I'd get a whole lot more teetery later.

Just as time is running out to make a decision because I do not want to be a greenhorn captain in a strange place in the dark when it's blowing 25, I get a call from a friend who needs me to do my tax collector job. I oblige. Then time is really running out, but I decide to try it anyway because 'I can always turn back, right?' I call my advisor who figures I'll be OK 'cause the wind is directly behind me on my course to Heron Neck Light.

As I head out on the 30 degree course, my boat surfs large, steep waves, seeming to skate on her keel and seeming about 7 feet taller than I remember. This is crazy, but kind of fun. And I'll get to see my family.

Yes, it's all fun 'til I see coolant spurting out of the hot tank line. Then the fun drains out of me even faster than the vital cooling fluid that's now soaking into my guitar case. Overheating is bad for my motor. I look at the fittings and hose and can't see where the leak is. I shut down in order to disconnect the hot tank, hoping that will stop the bleeding.

As Close Enough obligingly turns side-to in the suddenly intimidating wolf packs of December breakers, I feel a special loneliness, a quiet, a distance from family, home and safety. I focus and get the hoses both unplugged, and restart. Nope. Back I go. I'm not getting to my family tonight.

The waves are considerably more difficult to contend with going straight into them. I am the pale, scrawny musician kid thrown into a rugby game designed to distract me from my broken heart by breaking some of my ribs. Big gray-green rugby bullies, planting me on back side a couple of times, this loss of stability brought on by trying to talk on the radio and steer at the same time. It never occurred to me that that would be such a challenge.

The radio connects me with my salvors back on Matinicus. After a very slow and rolly trip back to the harbor, Clayton puts wrenches and screwdrivers to the problem forthwith.

I head home, miserable.

The next day was rough, too, but blowing from the north-northeast, so waves are much more manageable, and I'm soon in the lee of Vinalhaven. Still a bit of drip, but we'll catch up with that next spring.

Foy is extremely accommodating and agrees that today is probably the day. He'll skiff me out and guide Close Enough into the lift, onto a trailer and perch her on stands out back.

I guess it's time to haul out, if for no other reason, at least to not have those kinds of crossings for a while. Now on to other things. Getting to know my new surroundings. Scrounging for work. Staying warm. Recording a new album. Now I'm talking...

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