Editorial June 2003 Issue

The Flail of Spring

Do you remember spring in grade school, when the academics had started to be serious enough that there was only a bit of recess to look forward to, and time passed with absurd slowness, like something melting off a Dali clock? The spring air crept in the windows with the smell of new leaves and fertile turf, and as you sat there puzzling over some incredibly tedious series of fractions or verbs, you were occasionally afflicted with a physical pang down low in the abdomen, maybe a mini-rush of adrenaline, that made you want so badly to dash outside for a ballgame that you had to chew several pencils to shards just to keep from bolting out the door?

I still get that weird pang, and still have the same trouble staying in my seat in the spring. Boats are calling. This year, though, the pang is more acute, and I think I've made a valuable scientific and medical discovery: The pang is not weather-dependent. So it must be nurture, not nature.

As I write in late April, this interminable winter is still taking sullen swipes at us. It's been impossible to paint or varnish around here, and in fact it's been raining so much that most people haven't even bothered to take the covers off. TraveLifts everywhere are idle and dripping.

If it's not raining, it's cold and blowing. You can see loosened sections of tattered blue tarp here and there, and flailing motions underneath, but there's been a near-complete lack of those blue, cool-breeze, warm-sun days when the tarps are off and there are tires crunching on the gravel in the yard; aluminum ladders being extended, freed halyards clanging, someone with an electric buffer going, someone walking by with coffee and donuts, someone with a radio on...I'm working entirely from memory.

We did get a nice day a couple of weekends ago, but as all those people with all those pangs rushed outdoors to try to get a few things done, it occasioned a traffic jam so intense throughout New England that no one actually arrived anywhere.

I had visions of being in the water by now, with bottom painted, topsides waxed, bikini-clad test engineers lounging. But so far, all I've been able to do, like everyone else in the area, is rush out and flail for a few minutes or hours in the spaces between weather events.

The new test boat seems to have only one minor deck leak, and I'm pretty sure I know where it's coming from. Otherwise it's nice and dry, even after the winter-long inundation. It has a deck-stepped mast with gobs of sealant covering the holes where wires come in. The hull-deck joint and toerail are obviously in good shape, as are the ports. There's no mildew, with good ventilation through louvers in the top companionway slat.

I have managed to put some cleaning supplies on board. I've put in a new battery box and battery, and traced and tagged some wires. I've figured out how to worm myself in and out of some difficult spaces where I'll need to be spending some quality time. I've discovered that the jib halyard has either slipped its sheave, or the sheave has seized up. Either way, the fix-it job will let me get to know the mast.

I removed the old name, taking care not to look at it fully as I did so, lest it have a Medusa-like effect, and got rid of the vinyl letter residue with Goof-Off, a fairly aggressive stripper and adhesive remover from Valspar (see www.goof-off.com). The stuff works well enough to tempt me to try removing at least some of the vinyl graphics that advertise Beneteau on the topsides and cabin trunk (since they ain't payin' me to display them). But it could be that the graphics have shielded the original gelcoat, and that if I remove them now, the advertising will just stand out extra-white. Even then, maybe some polishing compound will work. Nick Nicholson has a good article on topside maintenance starting on page 12, and I've been studying that. I'm off between downpours to find some 3M Finesse-It II.


-Doug Logan

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