Taking Out The Sailboat

I had put it off as long as possible, but on Sunday, it was time to get my boat winterized and out of the water. I have a 26-foot O’Day sailboat that I keep in East Hampton and most of the work that I do on it, I do myself. And no, I’m not one of those people who LOVES doing work on his boat, I just can’t afford the damn guys to break the boat down for me.

I will say though that me and this boat are really in tune with each other now. My boat’s name is called “Serenity Now” in honor of the Seinfeld episode by the same name and also because I love the movie Serenity. I’ve taken her to Block Island, Essex Connecticut, Greenport, Shelter Island, Montauk and Sag Harbor. When I first got her six years ago, I did not have any sailing experience at all, but today, when I’m on my boat, she feels like an extension of body. [expand]

I think that if you grow up in the Hamptons like I did, you appreciate nature and water more than the average person. I would compare it to growing up in Hawaii. I feel religious on my sailboat. Every time I’m out there, it’s a religious experience. It is just such a perfect, wonderful thing to do.

We have been lucky (or unlucky if you look at it from the global warming perspective) to have an Indian summer this year, and in 60-degree weather last Sunday, I broke down my sailboat and got it ready to be taken out of the water.

I took down the mainsail, pulled the battens out of it and folded it and put it inside of a canvas sail bag, and placed that in the main cabin. Then I took down the jib that runs on the headstay of the boat, folded that and brought that down below as well and went to work on disassembling the boom and unhooking it off of the mast. I unhinged the rudder and the tiller and slid that into the stern storage area. I unhooked all of the electrical components to the boat for fire safety. I then grabbed all of the clevis pins that connected the boom and placed them into a plastic container that I keep on the boat for next year, and took out all of the fishing equipment just in case anybody at my boatyard gets sticky fingers.

Seeing your sailboat completely naked in such a short amount of time really lets you know that winter is here, regardless of what the weather is saying that day. But it was around 4:30 p.m. when I was finished, and it was approaching dusk, and there really was no place I would rather have been.

I walked along the dock at Don Vandervere’s boatyard, where I keep her during the wintertime. He is the man who has called me “Young David” ever since I was 10 years old, and who also used to yell at me for not wearing any shoes while running around his marina and for riding my bike off a ramp that I set up on his pier that launched me into the water.

As I was walking down the dock, I again heard his voice:

“YOUNG DAVID!!! DAVID!!!”

“Yeah, Don, what it is?”

“YOU NEED TO PREPARE YOUR BOAT FOR ROUGH WEATHER. IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AND I’M NOT SURE WHEN WE’RE GOING TO GET TO YOU. ATTACH A SPRING LINE TO YOUR BOAT, AND ALSO USE A CINDER BLOCK THAT’S DROPPED INTO THE WATER TO STEADY IT IN CASE THERE IS A SURGE. YOU UNDERSTAND ME?”

“Yes.”

“DO THAT RIGHT NOW!!!”

“Okay.”

I walked back over to where I had docked at his marina, and to this day I still don’t understand what the hell he is talking about with how to secure a boat using a cinder block. But the spring line I have figured out. I could hear Don in the distance yelling at a group of guys who were hauling out a gorgeous 32-foot sailboat. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU KNUCKLEHEADS DOING OVER THERE? PAY ATTENTION!!! I DON’T HAVE ALL DAY!!!”

Yep, winter is definitely on its way, I thought.

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