My avid reader(s) may recall that I also have a boat.
Fortuitous definitely still exists. I took a year off of writing boat logs in 2018 and then a year off of sailing in 2019, but like a turd of uncanny buoyancy, surprise: I’m back.
Preparations for the season actually started a week or two ago, when Jenn (not to be confused with Jen) and I went down to the marina to take off the cover and assess the condition of the boat after a long idle spell. There were times in previous years when I actively wondered how boats could possibly wind up in the sad corner of marina where neglected boats go, but I’m terrible at recognizing my own foreshadowing. Fortuitous was over by the paint shed, hemmed in by unoccupied cradles and other boatyard equipment. We got the cover off without too much difficulty. I opened up the cabin to check things out.
I got exactly as far as the wasp condominium that had been constructed above my radio and fled before I could even come up with an appropriate gentrification joke. This photo is from a different trip; when I first saw it, I practically jumped off the boat. I have a somewhat irrational fear of wasps, as well as a trypophobic disgust for things full of holes and larvae and [vomits].
Despite this, I returned on Memorial Day weekend with supplies to prep and paint the bottom. Memorial Day is so late in the season to be bottom painting, but the world is a dumpster fire and didn’t want to find myself trying to explain how “visiting my yacht” fit within the ban on non-essential travel. By week 8,517 of New Jersey’s stay-at-home order, however, I was fully prepared to have that conversation. I mean, I’m not opening my gymnasium or trying to hold a church service in defiance of both reason and Romans 13:1-7.
Everyone else in the marina appeared to have come to this conclusion much earlier. The sailing club’s traditional Memorial Day cruise to Beach Haven was cancelled, but not for a lack of boats in the water. We could have easily overrun Mr. Tee’s Putt & Play for the annual mini golf tournament, but I pity the fool who tries to disinfect a community putter coated in an agar of all-day sucker drool.
The bottom paint on Fortuitous was in bad shape—highly oxidized and more striped than a tiger wrangler’s hot pants. The first step (well, after putting down some drop cloths to definitely catch 100% of anything that might otherwise enter the environment) was to scuff sand the entire hull below the waterline, followed immediately by a wipe down with mineral spirits to remove any dust that might prevent the adhesion of the new paint. This process, of course, made blue dust go everywhere and get all over everything, as I have complained about numerous times in the past. Gloves, masks, glasses…it doesn’t matter. Everything is going to get kind of blue. The mineral spirits evaporate almost instantly though, and it was possible to tape off the boot stripe and move on to painting, which went fairly smoothly. I only have the “after” photo.
I also somehow managed to get blue paint on my car seat, presumably by touching the screwdriver that I’d used to open the paint can and then transferring it to my car to “make sure it didn’t get any paint on it.”
I may be able to get it out, but it may just become a permanent fixture. Not to humble brag, but it’s barely noticeable next to the stain from when the Tastykake cherry pie disintegrated. On the drive home, while wearing more eye shadow than someone slithering around the hood of a car in an 80s music video, it seemed like a good time to chill out with a ceremonial listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out that Jimmy Cobb, the last surviving musician who had played on that album, had passed away that day.
Upon hearing the news, I was kind of blue, while kind of blue, after listening to Kind of Blue. Seriously? I feel like this happens to me all the time, like how Jerry Garcia died on the day I decided to buy my first guitar. I was going to call it a synchronicity, but I don’t want anything to happen to Sting. Anyway, thanks for the music, Jimmy, et al.
On Memorial Day proper, I returned the shore with cleaning supplies to wash and wax the topsides. I probably should have done that before painting the bottom, but was maybe secretly hoping to just skip it? Spending some close-range quality time with her during the painting process reminded me that she really needed it though.
When I arrived at the marina, Fortuitous was conspicuously not where I’d left her, which was briefly disconcerting. I’d called that morning to see if they could move her to the other side of the marina, where I’d have access to water and electricity, but we decided that they would just loan me a long hose and an extension cord. In the intervening time, they took pity on me for being in the sad corner of the marina with the derelicts, and moved the boat to the concrete pad in front of the shop. That was nice of them, gave us much more room to work, and steady footing on which to move the step ladder 500 times to reach the topsides.
Climbing up to the boat from there also gave me a unique view of the marina.
I never even knew that there was a paddock for unused stands:
I suppose that isn’t terribly interesting, but when you zoom in on just the stands, it’s a modern art masterpiece.
I had spent a lot of time thinking about what to do about the wasp nest. My primary plan was to deal with it once the boat was in the water. I thought that I could stab it with a boat hook from a significant distance, and if it exploded into a cloud of angry wasps that I would more easily be able to evacuate the scene, and potentially the country, with the boat at sea level. Once I was up there again though, it seemed dumb. I told myself that it was probably unoccupied given the season, that mud wasps aren’t that aggressive (no idea if that’s based in fact), and that I’m supposed to be an apex predator. So I watched it for a minute, knocked twice with the handle of the deck brush and paused, then smashed a corner off and carefully watched for movement. A half-second later a tiny fragment crumbled off and I instantly had visions that it was the Dread Cthulhu Wasp emerging from the rubble, but it was just that ol’ trickster, gravity, causing the most modest of landslides.
There were no wasps. I emerged victorious and unscathed from my pitched battle with the innocuous piece of debris placed there by insects, and like all great conquests, swept it up with a shop vac and a moist towelette.
I’ll take the victories where I can get them. I launch this week.