the joy of boat repair

Start song! Splish Splash

While I was in the city making deliveries Wednesday, the temperature dropped into the 20′s, so I asked my kids to drop a cage of oysters off the new boat into the creek overnight.  I forgot to remind them that the winch could only be used off the starboard side; so, when they lifted the oyster cage over the port side, the mast ripped off the deck.

My son called me and told me we ‘had a big problem.’  I did not sleep well that night in New York – got up at 2 a.m. and watched an old rerun of The Closer until I was sleepy.

My anxiety built up all the next day – I did not know how to repair the mast.

The boatbuilder did not return my calls.

Fortunately, Dean, the senior bayman/oyster farmer out here, moors in my creek all winter.  During Hurricane Sandy, his anchors pulled free and his boat was hard against the west shore of the creek.  I draped 20 feet of thick rope around my neck, waded through the bobbing debris of busted docks and uprooted pilings, climbed into his boat, tied off the rope, and then walked that line through the waves and debris to the east bank and tied off his boat to a tree, saving it.

So Dean owed me.


He arrived at my place just after sunrise on Friday and we uprighted the mast.  He suggested affixing a wooden step of some sort to the deck, then bolting the mast through that and the deck for a tighter hold.  He scouted around my wood pile to an old treated piece of 2X8 that he assured me we would not need to waterproof, since it was at least forty years old.  Rain was coming and time was of the essence.

I gathered up saws, drills, scrapers and Dean sent me to the hardware store for stainless bolts.  While I scraped off the old sealant, he measured and cut the wood, then I assisted as he bolted the 2X8′s , 20″ long, to the deck.  We then drilled my holes into the foot of the mast and bolted that to our wood step.  After we tightened the stays, Dean insisted I put a new one on the starboard side, so lifting off the port side would not cause such a dire failure.

My wife made us wonton soup and we had a couple of glasses of wine, equal repayment to the two dozen freshly laid chicken eggs that Dean had given me for saving his boat in the hurricane.

That evening, I went back and scrubbed off my new boat, more in love with her now that I had put her back together,  Lifted three cages yesterday with the kids and bagged 1700 oysters.

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