This Side Up

Buttoning up for the winter


Summer has been slow in leaving us, so it seemed out of place that Claude and I towed our two Rhodes 19 day sailors over to Pleasure Marina to be hauled for the season two weeks ago.

We set out on Saturday from Warwick Cove, a blustery day with a heavy chop on the Bay. We didn’t even reach Warwick Neck before wind-blown spray convinced us this was folly and we’d be soaked and shivering by the time we’d towed the smaller craft the three or four miles from Conimicut. We went for plan B and delivered the trailers to the yard so they’d be waiting for the boats.

The following day the waters were like glass. It was an easy ride. We tied the boats near the travel lift and with the help of another boater, Mike, who was making fiberglass repairs to his sleek powerboat lifted out the masts and placed them along the yard fence out of the way of traffic. Now it was up to Joe DeCenzo to haul the boats when he was ready. There was no rush. There were no threatening hurricanes like in years past that had boats lined up and the yard buzzing with anxiety.

I checked mid last week and sure enough the boats were on their trailers. Joe and his brother Anthony had found the time to haul them. They looked forlorn in a sea of crushed quahog shells that pave the yard in white. A few power and sailboats that never made it into the water for the season sat on stands on the periphery of the yard, otherwise the place was barren. It will be a completely different scene in another month and by December the yard will be so packed as to leave only a path between the vessels, many in their cocoons of white plastic shrink wrap.

This past Saturday we chose to complete the seasonal cycle, towing the boats on their trailers to my yard where we cover them in tarps for the winter. While there was an early morning chill and steam lifted from the bay by mid-morning it was in the 70s. The marina still showed no signs of summer drawing to a close. Slips were full and the yard empty with the exception of our little boats.

Jody King, who lives close by and keeps his quahogging boat at the marina, had given us a jump start, securing Claude’s boat to the trailer with a series of ingenious knots. The mast was tied to the deck. Joe showed up as Claude and I strapped my boat to its trailer. This coming weekend, he said, is the traditional end of the boating season and he expects the demand to haul boats for winter storage to grow from a trickle to a torrent in the coming weeks.

But for that moment, it seemed we had gotten too much of a jump on the change of seasons. Summer was still with us, the sparkling waters beckoning and a gentle breeze taunting one more sail. But the only traveling these boats would do for the rest of 2019 would be on West Shore Road.

Though lingering, the summer has gone all too quickly.


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