Aw jeez. It is the last ride of the season. We will take Ginger Lee from Wareham to Fairhaven and put her up for the winter at the Moby Dick Marina. It’s a sad occasion, but it must be done. The morning is chilly enough to require long pants and a warm hoodie, but at least it’s bright and sunny. I like that. It warms my soul on a day when Swifts Neck Beach seems so lonely and deserted that it hurts my feelings. What a difference from just a few short weeks ago when shrieking children splashed joyously in its warm salty waters; when clutches of barefoot beachgoers sat in colorful aluminum folding chairs, snacking, gabbing, and slathering fragrant ointment on sun drenched skin; when the hoots and hollers of waterskiers echoed across the mooring fields; and when happy boaters did their happy boating things. But it is October in New England, a month when nobody would be surprised if it snowed. It’s time to get ready for winter.
Our first stop is the pump-out station at Zecco Marina in Wareham Harbor. Ginger Lee’s holding tank must be emptied for the winter. Boaters: you gotta try these Marriage Saver headsets. They allow instant and wireless two-way communication between the XO and me no matter where we are on the boat. Docking and mooring are so much easier. Before that we used hand signals and shouted.
On the way to Zecco’s, the starboard fuel gauge suddenly goes from empty to over-full, the forward bilge pumps quit, and the depth sounder dies. I guess it’s time to start my list for things I need to do before the 2016 boating season. Not to be confused with the list of stuff I want to do.
With the exception of the gremlin infested equipment, the three-hour trip is uneventful. Wave heights are a nice 1-2 feet and we have the waterway to ourselves. On this gorgeous day, it’s like my wife and I are the only people in the world. As per usual on the open seas, the helm is hers, and as usual, she wears it well. Sometimes she’s quiet, sometimes she’s talkative. Either way I try to follow her lead. Piloting a boat in these perfect conditions can be a good time to be with you own thoughts and this seems to one of those times; words are superfluous so I’ll go with the flow. Just take it all in and enjoy the moments. I’m going to miss this. It’s a good last ride of the season.
Whenever I pull into the Moby Dick Marina, it feels like I’m coming home. Maybe it’s because I used to live on my boat here, or because I’ve been coming here for 13 years. I dunno, it just feels good.
When the tide is right, John, Arion, and the boys get ready to pull Ginger Lee out. This is how they do it: first, they attach a huge boat lifting machine to a tractor and back it down a ramp into the water. The machine is like a trailer with powerful hydraulic arms.
Next, they slide the machine under the boat, then operate the hydraulics so that the arms rise up to meet the hull.They slowly pull the whole thing up the ramp, then power-wash the bottom.
After the bath, they back her into a spot and install big metal stands in strategic places under her hull, and big wooden blocks directly under her keel. The tops of the stands are like jacks so they can be screwed up to meet the hull.
When everything is just right they simply lower the hydraulic arms and pull the trailer out.
Now it’s time for me to go to work. I crawl under the boat with a device that looks like a plunger with a hose attachment. After positioning this gizmo onto the raw water intakes, I run five gallons of RV antifreeze through each engine. This keeps them happy for the cold winter. Then I get on the phone and hire a contractor to completely cover the boat in taut, white, shrink-wrapped plastic that will protect her from snow and whatever Old Man Winter decides to chuck her way.
That’s about it. Once I turn off the batteries and drain the water heater, there is nothing for me to do except wait for spring. But I wont be idlely wallowing in sadness, oh no dear reader. I’ve got plenty of things to do.There’s the new holding tank project (removing the ancient 20 gallon one and installing a big 49 gallon one) and the transom shower project ( hot and cold running water for rinsing off on the swim platform) and finally, coating the deck with white Kiwi-Grip to protect and beautify. These major projects as well as the other stuff, like the wonky fuel gauge, the busted bilge pump and the depth sounder problem, can be done inside the boat, with the heater on. So you see, I’ll still be having fun messing about this old boat during the winter, and most assuredly, writing about it.