Friday, November 12, 2010

Back to Swift Ranger

My return to Swift Ranger was long over due. In the year and a half I had spent away I had already forgotten the subtle curve of her up-turned forepeak, her cheeky bow and cozy teak interior. I had forgotten the way she rises stoutly to any wave, her gentle rocking at anchor, the clanging of the halyards lifted by the breeze.

(Reedville Marina at night)

Propped up on stilts in a boatyard for the last year had taken its toll on her. She was covered in a thick layer of dead vegetation, blown in by the woods that border the yard. Her teak had grayed and lost its luster. Her decks were grimy, her interior moldy. Heavily cob-webbed, bee-hived, and nested by cockroaches was our Cape Dory. It nearly broke our hearts to see our girl in such a state of disrepair.

(PJ hard at work)

Everything above and below deck was taken apart, sanded, scrubbed, sterilized, rinsed, painted and then reassembled. If it wasn’t for Colin’s help, we never would have finished in the two weeks had given ourselves for the job. It took the three of us every minute of daylight for five days to return her to her former glory. It took three days to return her to the water. Even then, almost nothing on board was functional. We had no water, no head, the v-berth cushions were too molded to be slept on, everything electric needed to be rewired.

The reward for our filthy exhausting work--work plagued by bees, hornets, horse flies, and no-see-ums, was sailing Swift Ranger again. We had two days of perfect sailing. We reached into the Chesapeake in a fresh breeze at a brisk six-knot pace. Swift Ranger leapt playfully through the little two-foot waves. The salty spray cleansed her decks and her water line, and she tacked back to the Reedville docks topsides glistening.

We spent two beautiful days sailing with our friend Ian. Inspired by Jean du Sud we shot some film footage of Swift Ranger on the water. I made lunch on our two-burner alcohol stove while underway. I had missed the challenge of cooking for three boys while heeled over twenty-five degrees!

After spending three days with us Ian returned to Brooklyn, and the first of several cold fronts settled over the Chesapeake. Colin, Patrick and I had wanted to sail to Annapolis but the weather was inhospitable so we opted to drive. We spent the whole evening with our old cruising friend Kevin Brooks bar hopping, swapping “and there we were” stories and catching up on our Eastport gossip.

(Kevin giving us a tour of Eastport)

It is always hard to leave Annapolis and our friends behind! We feel at home surrounded by boats, water, and feeling a part of the extensive maritime history.

(Kevin sharing fatherly/sailorly advice)

While visiting, Kevin advised us of a small marina in North Carolina that is well protected, fairly safe from winter freezes and inexpensive. It was a four to five day sail from Reedville, and if we left immediately we would have just enough to time to move Swift Ranger and make necessary preparations to leave her behind for another six months. This time though she would stay in the water, no more stilts for her. We longed for the excitement of a voyage, even if we never had to leave inland waters or go more than a few hundred miles!

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