Step Right Up
06 November 2013
October 31, 2013
Many of the sailing blogs I have read are either quite technical, about engine maintenance, anchoring techniques, or fixing things.
Terri has been writing some very eloquent articles about preparing to travel and some beautiful pieces inspired by people and places we have been.
I have decided to choose to write about something I have yet to read in any blog .
THE DOCK STEPS
I bought Cadenza, our Hardin 45 ketch, 22 years ago and nearly exhausted the financial resources at hand. As she has a fairly high freeboard, it was necessary to acquire some sort of stairs to have access to getting in and out of the boat.
Shopping for some of the pre-manufactured fiberglass ones, I discovered that they were quite expensive ( in excess of $300.00.)
My two children had an idea. Since Dad likes to build and fix stuff, lets get him a sheet of plywood and see if he can make some stairs out of it. So my birthday gift was a 4 by 8 sheet of marine plywood.
It was sort of a challenge. I made a few mock ups of cardboard and then started cutting up the plywood to make the stairs which have lasted over 22 years. Yes, there was one two by four involved, but I explained that the steps needed to be reinforced and strong enough to support all the activity which would cross their treads.
Notice the enclosed photo showing the stair project after 22 years of use.
Rather than do a detailed piece on how to build stairs, etc, I decided it might be more interesting to write the blog from the point of view of the stairs themselves.
The stairs have been traversed by so many wonderful folks. My daughter and son, who commissioned them, have now produced 5 grandsons who have all either walked, crawled, or have been carried up the stairs. My father, who questioned my sanity in buying the boat , made the trip shortly before his passing. Our wonderful dogs, Max and Bugsy romped up and down the steps eager to either get on the boat or to make an early morning trip to the bathroom. Terri and her children and her mom all have walked on the treads. Her wonderful brother, Jack, never really made it up the steps, but he was certainly there in spirit as he was an avid boater. Her brother, Jim, made several trips up and down while helping to refurbish and tile our galley on the boat.
The steps have also served as a birthplace to some interesting wildlife. We had a duck family as step residents (which I guess now defines us as "step parents" to the feathery family). Momma duck decided to lay her eggs in the space under the stairs and hatched them there. We were able to watch their first trip to the water. A sea lion was born in proximity to the steps as there are still remnants of that birth process in evidence.
Oh, if the stairs had eyes!
We were located near the end tie of the marina. This location has spawned many curious and frightening stories, probably to be written about in much more detail by Terri in future entries, but a short list would include:
3 repos of large power boats.
A swat team in full battle gear taking possession of a boat.
A drug bust on a visiting boat.
Visits from some quite nefarious characters.
Yes, the steps have seen it all.
The great mechanics and electricians who have helped repair stuff on our boat, including Steve, and Bob and his 20 year old cardboard box of tools, have all lugged stuff up and down these steps.
Some of the best friends we will ever have walked the steps.
My wife Terri and I spent our first night of being married sipping wine on the steps with our boat neighbors Bonnie, Bob and Nellie who decorated Cadenza with ribbons and bows.
Our dear friends Ray and Eli (who are also Hardin owners and have donated their Mexican flag to us for our voyage) and their children and grandchildren have crossed these steps.
Our neighbors Rick and Jane ,and of course Jay and Linda and their beautiful power yacht with whom we have cruised many times, along with cousin Suzy and her great dog Nellie Belle.
The steps have seen countless water activities, probably over 20 Holiday light parades, many 4th of July festivities, watched sailors going out for Wet Wednesday races, cruisers on their way to the Channel Islands, kayakers and standup paddleboarders stopping by to rest.
The steps, in their rather short 22 year history have witnessed folks communicating the old fashion way, by voice and radio, to now, the silent thumb based world of texting and googling and tweeting. Words which used to represent things hot are now cool. "I'm up for that" now has become the inverse as "I'm down with that" (typical for stairs, right?) and SUP as an abbreviated greeting is the same as the floating boards folks are awkwardly pushing around the harbor.
The steps were also the first thing I saw after having a near death experience by falling off the boat between the boat and the dock one winter.
Now that we are traveling, the stairs have had to remain back on our dock at Channel Islands. I miss them. It was always a cleansing process to go up those stairs to the boat, especially after a hard week or month of work. I could feel the pressure easing after each successive step.
Now we have a wonderful thing called a Fenda-Step, an inflatable fender which one can use as an entry step to the boat. It's just not the same.
I miss my steps and the history they have witnessed, but I am looking forward to the many steps of future journeys.
P.S. Jay neglected to mention the yellow police tape. No, there was no crime committed on those steps. It was our lovely sea lions once again. They had taken over our dock and got into a vicious fighting match (most likely over a female sea lion) and rammed our steps into the boat, leaving a mark in the process. Hence the tape. Evidently, yellow isn't their color.