Riding Stately At Anchor
- FBBB ---
Yesterday I was on the Margaret Ellen for the first time in many
weeks. After at least a month on the float with several hard blows,
including one that took enough boats off their moorings to make news,
she was looking pretty sad.
She was floating low and listing to port under the load of rain and
spray she'd accumulated over the past weeks and her beard was
scragglier than mine. Overall she looked a little rundown, rather
than the jaunty maiden of the anchorage she usually is.
As I waded out I took notice of the boats gone. The Northers are come
harder and more frequently now and South Lake won't be much protected
in another month. The water was chest deep when I got to her, and
though it's still wadable, it's got a decided nip. Floating so low,
there was no gentle slap of chop against her bottom, and her beard
looked more like a full-fledged ecosystem.
I tried to board her amidships, but as the water rushed over to help
I was doing more to pull her over than to pull myself aboard. I went
around the stern and scrambled up barking my shin on the transom and
skinning my foot on the heavy incrustation of barnacles on the
rudder. Once aboard I found there was enough water in her that I had
to watch my balance lest I put her down. I started in with the bucket.
Before long she was floating high again and that "trickle trickle"
sound was back in spite of the heavy growth. I laid along the rail
scraping down the the chine and vast cloud of spearing gathered
around the boat to feast on the broke barnacles. Then I tipped her
over to begin working on the bottom.
But when I tipped her over she started going down and didn't stop
till she was flooded. I hadn't taken into account the extra weight of
the marine growth and now there was five times as much water aboard
as when I started. With the prospect of bailing her out again, I
decided it was the wrong day to be chest deep in 62 degree water
scraping barnacles. I rolled her back up and began again with the
Once she was floating high again I started scraping the rudder. It
would probably be less work to just hack up another piece of plywood,
but I wanted to watch the fish. So there I was, scraping away at a
more or less rudder shaped piece of 3/4" AC, watching the fish
sparkle in the sun, hearing the water on the hull, felling like the
luckiest guy in the world.
My wife and I have lived through what must be about the strangest
period of New York City history ever. If you weren't here I can't
explain to you what it was like to be in the city during the late 90s
any more than I can explain to you what it's like to be here now.
Then, as now, it's surreal. Now, as then, I know it won't last
forever. Then, as now, the greatest assets are opportunity and simple
pleasures. Now, as then, messing around in boats gives me both.
134 West 26th St. 12th Floor
New York, New York 10001