Editorial May 1, 1998 Issue

Springtime in the Yard

Around here, situated as we are at the rear of the Ted Hood Marine Complex and next door to New England Boatworks, you know it must be spring when the trucks start hauling in the big race boats. Returning from lunch today I got stuck behind Rich DeVos’ Windquest, an OD 48 presumably just returned from Key West Race Week. I noticed the name Amway on the side of the hull, which reminded me of the time a couple whom I thought were friends invited themselves to my house one night to discuss “an exciting business opportunity.” I didn’t throw them out, but I felt like it. Anyway, Windquest and the handful of other OD 48’s are no doubt here to be readied for some spring regatta on Narragansett Bay. They look fast as hell and a lot of fun to sail, but not the sort of boat you’d want to take very far offshore. They’re nearly all cockpit.

The good news at the two big yards here in Portsmouth, Rhode Island is that both reported busy winters. Ted Hood, Jr. said his Little Harbor company is building classy powerboats exclusively. The boom market is a little hard to figure, but Freedom, Sabre, Hinckley and Alden have been riding this wave for several years now. How long can it last? When business has been good for several years running, I get the bad feeling that another mini-recession is around the corner. But don’t quote me!

Anyhow, with the yards hopping all winter long, one must look elsewhere for the signs of spring.

While walking the dogs I noticed the trees are beginning to bud. (I adopted Nick Nicholson’s 13-year-old Dachshund, Zelda, who with my eight-year-old shepherd/huskie mutt make a pretty odd pair, one gracefully loping, the other hiccuping along, her body not quite in line with her direction of travel, like a car with a bent frame.) Here and there a patch of crocuses are blooming. The air is milder and more scented.

I love it.

Most of the boats are still covered, but last weekend I watched a fellow and his son remove and fold their canvas cover, then dismantle the supporting structure of wood and PVC. They stacked it in the back of their van. The father seemed well organized and I imagined him having a special place at home to store the canvas and frame—a shelf in the basement, maybe in the rafters over the garage. Same place every year.

The sense of spring prompted me to get out my list and get started. First, I’m tackling the galley/nav/aft cabin sole where a leaky bilge pump hose has caused some discoloration and delamination of the plywood. I removed a bunch of adjacent trim. The routine was familiar: Drill a small pilot hole into each bung, then drive in a screw until it bottoms on the screw inside and backs out the bung. Invariably, the brass screws are buggered, so I have to drill another pilot hole into the screw (fortunately they are Philips head and the bit centers easily), then remove the screw with an extractor. The pieces of trim I’ll take home to sand and revarnish.

Then it was time to make patterns of the new sections of sole. I unrolled the pattern paper, but just as I began taping it in place, the sky darkened and rain entered the hatch.

I closed the hatch, but then it was too dark to see well. No worry. I turned on the cabin lights. Uh, oh. Battery bank #2 was almost dead. I plugged in my electrical cord to charge it with the Heart Freedom 10 inverter/charger. Nothing happened. The inverter worked but not the charger. The troubleshooting guide in the manual wasn’t much help. And why wasn’t the Link 2000R meter showing any input from the solar panel, even after a break in the clouds let the sun shine?

I got out a flashlight and multimeter and began investigating. Time passed. The hour grew late, so I closed everything up. In the car I made additions to my list. Working steadily backwards. Yes, it must be springtime in the yard.

—Dan Spurr

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