Hopes Rise Again

Between spring rain showers the sun comes out and reflects the sky on the sea’s surface. The foggy spiral is a stream of muddy water from a nearby culvert.

Saturday, April 8th. The rain is pounding down as usual. I’ve hauled the boat out and she’s sitting high and wet. Despite the forecast there is always a 50/50 chance of something different occurring. But this time the weatherman was correct. My seat in the boat is about eight feet above the ground. It feels strange. The boat is motionless although I find myself involuntarily swaying at times. My little brain is not used to being motionless aboard the boat and is reinventing my environment to what I’d prefer. Or perhaps I’m simply disoriented at this altitude.

A perfect day for painting a boat…NOT! Fortunately the were enough chores other than painting that could be done in the rain. This is a view from the cockpit of ‘Seafire’ while sitting in the yard.

My mussels. Scraped from the bottom prior to pressure-washing, these clump of mussel lay within the reflection of the travel lift which hoisted my boat from the sea.

What is incredibly stupid is that I’m sitting up here waiting for the rain to stop. In Shearwater…yeah right! I need it to dry up enough to get a fresh coat of anti-fouling paint on the bottom. That is a toxic elixir which, for a while, prevents the growth of marine flora and fauna on the hull beneath the waterline. It’s been eighteen months since the last haul-out. ‘Seafire’ was developing a copious crop of mussels and barnacles after a long winter at the dock. Remember an old Gordon Lightfoot song about sitting in the early morning rain? Here I am. The rain buckets down then tapers to a light shower and finally stops. My hopes rise again. Ten minutes later, the next biblical deluge falls without warning. One of the joys of getting older is knowing that nothing lasts forever. Sooner or later, I’ll have a window of a few hours. Persistence pays. Sunday morning some sunlight thinly ladders down and I scamper into my rain togs but, despite a constant threat, I don’t need them for the whole day!

The weary job of preparation. I’ve power-washed the hull and blasted off any loose paint. In places it is over one eight inch thick, an accumulation of thirty-six years. One of my priorities upon arrival in Mexico will be to have the boat hauled.
I’ll have the bottom scraped to bare fibreglass and painted with a locally-proven anti-fouling paint. Warm water and higher salinity render our locally approved paints impotent to prevent rapid growth in southern waters.

New zinc anodes are bolted on. These are sacrificial anodes designed to absorb stray electrical current in the water and slowly erode in place of having bronze through-hull fittings decay and crumble. The pink splotches on the propeller are evidence of electrolytic damage when anodes are not replaced in time. There has been no further breakdown since I have taken ownership of the boat.

One of the sweeter feelings I know is relaunching a boat after the bottom has just been serviced. It is never a pleasant duty working on a boat’s bottom. It feels good to be finished. Not only is the angst of being trapped ashore relieved, the boat glides so sweetly through the water. Before, there was a slight resistance to movement, now she’ll want to go somewhere, anywhere; and guess what? Easter weekend is just a few days away! Haa! As evening dusk settles the skies lower with dark swollen clouds. Because of the threat I worked the whole day frantically trying to beat the next impending downpour. With the sharp toxic tang of the fresh bottom-paint filling my head there came the high ringing calls of migrating Sandhill Cranes. It is spring! There is no doubt! Robins chittered and sang from obscure corners in the forest, staking out their territory where they will raise their young. It is spring! Tonight as I post this blog a rich golden light illuminates the bay and highlights the green of the trees and the mountains. a sparkling three-deck white yacht has just arrived and anchored out. It is the first of the season. It is spring!

Painting day. Dawn breaks with the possibility of a few dry hours ahead.

Now for the rusty stains in the white gelcoat, especially bad under the counter near the stern of the boat.

Finished! Stains are now gone.

A very pretty transom. With copious amounts of oxalic acid and elbow grease the stains are gone.

Eventually comes a deep satisfaction when I remove the masking tape. There is a crisp, clean fresh line which divides the black bottom paint from the clean white hull above. I find a bottle of fibreglass cleaner and spend a few hours scrubbing away with oxalic acid trickling down inside my sleeves. The rust-hued discolouring on the hull is gone. I’ve no time or energy to polish the hull but I’m proud of the results of my efforts. Soon ‘Seafire’ will be back in the water, rocking gently at the dock ,eagerly tugging at her lines. She’ll seem much happier. I know I will also.

A sure sign of spring. Sandhill Cranes wing their way north, their sonorous calls are a wonderful song of hope. Finally, it is spring! The wing span of these beautiful birds can be over six feet (2 metres) amazingly, many people never look up to see this wonder in the sky.

One of my distractions is reading. I am presently finishing a book by Yann Martel who wrote ‘Life Of Pi.’ This book is called ‘The High Mountains Of Portugal” and was published just last year. It’s third section is a story about a Canadian senator who moves to a small rural village in Portugal and learns to live with a chimpanzee he impulsively adopted. Here are a few lines:

…I think we all look for moments when things make sense. Here, cut off, I find these moments all the time, every day.”

… No, what’s come as a surprise is his movement down to Odo’s so-called lower status….Peter has learned the difficult animal skill of doing nothing.”

2 responses to “

  1. Indeed, a great feeling watching one’s freshly cleaned and bottom-painted boat going back into the water. Congrats on having that behind you. Oxalic acid, eh? Interesting. This is the stuff in rhubarb leaves and sorrel – I wonder if I could get rid of some of our boat’s stains by rubbing my garden greens on its hull? Hey, and maybe on our bathtub too!! 🙂

  2. Laurie:
    You are dead right on the source of Oxalic acid. I remember cooking rhubarb in an aluminum pot and how it cleaned the pot. so… go for it.
    Spring has arrived with that wonderful golden light lingering in the evenings.
    Finally!
    Fred

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