Archive:  Year 3 - April 20th, 2009 "A Boat with a View"

It has been five glorious days since I finally sliced out of the thick plastic shell that had enshrouded The Road all Winter.  On Wednesday, in under 45 minutes, my neighbor Linda and I ripped the plastic off the boat, rolled it up into shredded pieces, and stacked them in a few sad piles next to the dumpster.  

It is with some reverence that I discard the barrier that had given me so much comfort throughout the harsh Winter months.  

In what has now become a custom, once the plastic was off and the framework was down, I climbed to the upper deck of the fly bridge and reacquainted myself with the view.  Ahh.  The island, the open river, Grace lying in the sunshine, and the wind in my hair.  In the depths of January when the pipes are frozen and my arms are weak from breaking ice, when I and others are asking ‘why do you do this?’  It is this moment that I will answer with.  This is why.  And it is worth it.

Perhaps it is easier for me to cast such an optimistic view because everything aboard does appear to be okay.  The Winter, as harsh as it was, appears to have left the primary systems on The Road unscathed.  Yesterday, I shifted my fresh water source from the onboard tank to shore supply.  It is a fairly simple shift, but should a breech have occurred in my pipes when they froze, it could be exasperated by the shift in pressure and a more steady water supply.  I examined the bilge, the hose, and the seals thoroughly, and all appears to be well.  Whew.  

What could use some attention are the windows and rails down both sides.  I can see a few areas of pealing caulk and have ignored them at least one season too long. To fix them isn’t too complicated a process, and is comparatively inexpensive.  But it is time-consuming and significantly more work than drinking a margarita in the hammock…  More updates on how this develops.

The marina as a whole is stretching and waking more everyday.  A handful of boats – wrapped and on land all Winter - have been washed and launched into their slips.  They bob back and forth and noticeably grin at their floating for the first few days – we all do.  Within a couple of weeks the marina will be full – pontoons, yachts, cruisers – and a few custom boats that are impossible to describe.  

With the boats, of course, come boaters.  For the most part, they are all marvelous people, but they are people none the less, and that makes the marina a very different environment than the dark, frozen wasteland we’ve grown accustomed to.  It means that when I crawl out of the cuddy in the morning, I’ll have to put on a bra and gargle before I walk Gracie up to the landing…  Humph.  

Tomorrow, the forecast is for 82 degrees.  As I write this, that seems quite impossible.  Not only because it tops our highest temperature this Spring by nearly 10 degrees, but because it tops our lowest of the Winter by (gulp) 100 degrees.  The Road may be a 35 year-old houseboat, intended for occasional family weekends in pleasant weather – but she has muscled me through the worst of times like a war horse.  

The Road and I have made a bargain with each other:  Living on the River is as hard as it is wonderful, and neither of us appear at first glance to be up to the hardships.  As a result, we both seem keenly aware that we need each other in order to do this.  She is old and has simple, outdated systems; I am young and ignorant of mechanics and navigation.  So in the heart of January when it’s 20 below zero, I concede to wake many times throughout the night and beat back the ice from her fragile hull.  In return, she keeps me warm and comfortably ‘at home’ – consistently defying odds and logic to stay in one piece.  

These are the months when we both make good.  

Two key elements of a pure Summer landscape remain elusive.  Although I have heard rumors of their return, I have yet to see any barges.  These floating monsters are always exciting to spot and once they hit their full schedule, they will pass by several times a day.  If taken off guard, I have been known to squeal and wave as if Elvis strolled by.  

The other missing piece of the season is the hammock.  It is out of storage from the bilge, but yet unattached from the davits that hang over the water.  The primary reason I have not hung it is because it’s tricky and awkward and I need a spotter.  Also, the rope of the hammock is mildly musty and it has not been warm enough to make hanging it (or lying in it) very satisfying.

The next few days are the promised April showers and after that, all history and biology points to blossoms and butterflies.  I am ready.  Good god, I am ready.

Next Post: May 6th, 2009 "Regarding Pirates"

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