The Lonely Catboat
04 December 2016
December 4, 2016
It was mid-October. The weather was changing. Autumn was well on its way. Storms were becoming more frequent. And, as you can see from the photograph, most of the boats had already been taken out of the water. There were only about a half-dozen left bobbing on their moorings. SkipJack was one of them. She looked lonely out there, weaving from side to side as the wind and current directed her bow. All things considered, Jay and I decided it was time to put her to bed for the winter.
The logistics of getting SkipJack to Vineyard Haven, and us back home, are a bit complicated. We could have Martha's Vineyard Shipyard (MV Shipyard) simply pick her up and tow her back. But, Jay and I like to sail her whenever possible and this was just another chance to get out on the water.
We walked the mile and a quarter to the landing where we keep our dinghy stored on the beach. From there, we took the dinghy out to SkipJack and prepared her for the journey. We tied the dinghy to the back of the boat and drove SkipJack over to a nearby, private dock (The neighbors were absent at the time.) The wind was favorable and we were able to tie up easily. I unleashed the dinghy and Jay rowed her back to the beach where we would pick her up later. He walked onto the dock and boarded SkipJack. We were off.
We made a quick pit stop at the fuel dock and ordered a couple of gallons, just in case. As it turned out, it was a good thing. As usual, once out of Edgartown Harbor and having set course, we found ourselves heading straight into the wind. Unfortunately, it was mostly a motor sail. Still, it was good to be out in the catboat, viewing the island from the water. We knew it was our last "sail" of the season and so enjoyed the ride.
Vineyard Haven is approximately eight nm from Edgartown, which is about a two-hour excursion at four knots. As we neared the entrance to the harbor, our course changed and suddenly we were cruising on a beam reach as we headed toward port. A fine gift from Mother Nature for our last sail of the season. We tied up to the mooring where MV Shipyard's launch brought us back to land. From there, we walked several blocks to the ferry terminal and caught a bus back to Edgartown. The island transit system is very convenient and dropped us off at the head of our street. Jay and I commented on how similar our day was to one we would spend in Mexico; finding our way about without the use of a car.
A couple of weeks later, Jay received an email from the shipyard. It seems they have deemed our outboard motor old with a multitude of issues. One of which is water in the gear case, most likely from a bad seal. Our boat is a 1979 Herreshoff America catboat with a six HP Johnson that sits in a well. Finding an engine that will fit in the well could present a challenge. Jay began his research. And in doing so, decided we had to go visit SkipJack in the boatyard. He said, to measure the well. I suspect he just missed her.
MV Shipyard dry-docks some of their inventory on an acre of land near the airport. Yesterday, Jay and I drove over there to see if we could find SkipJack and measure the well. While we drove inland, I noticed the ever-changing landscape on the island.
The Scrub Oaks were virtually bare, revealing homes I had no idea were there. The sun sat low in the sky, playing hide and go seek with the white billowing clouds moving briskly through the air. When the sun wins, it casts a warm glow over the water in the lagoon. When it loses, shadows hover, causing the atmosphere to grow heavy. A golden blanket of leaves covered the grown. Step on it and it will break into dust. I peeked through the barren woods for signs of deer or wild turkeys. They were hiding. Smartly, as it is hunting season. Vineyarders are warned to wear bright orange when walking through the forest. Jay and I think it prudent to find long stretches of wide open beaches to hike rather than take our chances with hungry hunters.
Jay pulled off to the side of the road and parked. We exited the car and walked through the fencing, ignoring the "No Trespassing" sign. Boats of all shapes and sizes were packed onto this tiny piece of property, tightly shrink-wrapped in white material with big black letters stating their names. There were some sailboats, but mostly power boats. Before I realized it, Jay went one way and I another. We moved under boats, squeezed between boats and around stands where boats were perched, precariously. "Terri?" Jay yelled.
"Over here!" I answered. But where was over here? I was getting lost in the maze with no sight of SkipJack anywhere. Feeling a little unnerved (Could one of these boats fall on me?) and a bit claustrophobic, I headed back to the car. Jay soon followed and we left without finding our catboat or getting our measurements.
Back home, I did find my deer. Three of them. It was dusk and they ran through our backyard. I was looking out the window while on the phone with my brother when I spotted them. I squealed in delight! Silently, I wished them luck in their freedom.
Meanwhile, Jay was back perusing the internet, ordering supplies for Cadenza. We will fill an entire suitcase with items more easily found in the states than Mexico: inner tubes for our Danard dinghy wheels; solar showers; patches for the dinghy; an impeller; an American flag and a Mexican flag; bungee hooks; and even a plastic ice cube tray. He checked online and found photographs of Cadenza taken by our friends in Puerto Vallarta. He looked longingly at those photos. I'm beginning to think Jay is like the "man without a country." Only, he is a man without a boat. He has put one boat to bed while another one sleeps in its berth, waiting for our arrival.
On second thought, maybe the title of this blog shouldn't have been "The Lonely Catboat." Maybe it should have been called, "The Lonely Sailor."
Eleven days and counting, honey.