This is a changeable season. Today it is raining, drops leaking down the cover. At least they are still mostly outside our increasingly leaky plastic! Yesterday was different, a good day for starting some of the jobs we have to do outside. The sun was shining and the temperature under our cover was summer-like. Outside it felt warmer than it has in a while, so warm that on other boats barbecues were out and winter covers coming off. Spring must really be here, we thought. We enjoyed having the cabin doors open all day, letting light flood into the cabin. Even the sound of Richard grinding paint and non-skid off the deck to repair cracks underneath seemed an indication that summer cannot be too far away. We were getting the boat ready for the sailing season!
When we walked past the marina building earlier today we heard birds chirping and cooing (it is spring, season of billing and cooing, after all), and caught a glimpse of a long-tailed duck just as it dived neatly below the surface of the water. Sparrows perched on the wire barrier along the walkway and flew away as we drew near. We noticed a cardinal trying to nest in the cabinet of one of those large barbecues some people leave here over the winter, the kind they like to have close to their dock and convenient for summer gatherings. In the park we saw robins and red-wing blackbirds and grackles and, of course, gulls. We heard, then saw, small woodpeckers drilling for bugs in the trees, heard owls hooting and watched swans swim gracefully and a cormorant surface with a fish in the marina basin.
The willows were dressed in their spring green, and there were buds on almost all the other trees. The evergreens were greener than ever. The trees on the slopes of the bluffs are thinner than they were, though, after the winds and rains of winter. It’s easy now to see dead branches and dying trees, white and bud-less among the others. The grass was green as well; it’s becoming greener with each rainfall. Bulbs were sending leafy shoots up from their homes underground in the marina gardens; flowers should follow soon.
Along the beach waves were forming, telling us that there was wind somewhere. Spring has been a very windy season so far, but then so was winter. There have been days when the wind has whipped up curling waves off the park beside us, and we have seen surfers in their black wet/dry suits bobbing in the waves. Those days, walking to the parking lot, we can see the waves explode in a shower of foam against the breakwater behind the docks closest to the lake. There have been many nights we’ve rocked in the swell those waves create after they break at the marina entrance and rolled in the wind gusts. At times like that things are a lot quieter once we’re in the boat, but we still hear the sound of wind and rain on the cover and the creak and groan of ropes and dock when the weather is at its worst.
Sometimes just walking along the dock has been an adventure. There have been a few times when the wind was high enough to make Richard lean into it and concentrate on keeping his balance as he walked; when I, less able to keep my balance, kept a firm grip on his elbow or his coat to steady myself. On the windiest days, the days when the rigging on other boats sings and covers flap noisily, I prefer to stay on the boat except when it’s absolutely necessary to leave. Those are the days I check the weather apps at least a couple of times an hour, hoping things will change sooner rather than later. I’m always happy to see those days pass.
Sometimes they don’t pass quickly enough. There was the day I was sitting inside the boat, waiting for the wind to drop and working away on the computer when I heard a sudden loud crash that lifted me out of my seat. What was that? Was it on the boat? It didn’t sound like something hitting the deck… Richard was off the boat, and I almost went outside to check. The way the boat was rocking made me rethink that notion. Richard would be back very soon, I thought, and besides there was nothing I could do with the boat tossing around and the docks moving the way they were.
Richard saw the problem as he came down the dock. Turns out the wind had picked up our hard nesting dinghy, which he had tied down on the dock across from us, and slammed it down hard on the dock – and on a dock cleat that happened to be in the way. At least the dinghy did not continue across the dock, into the water and away (I’m not sure how we would have retrieved it) but there was damage to the hull. Dinghy repairs were added to the spring job list, and now the process of fixing it has begun.
The damage from the most recent windstorm was much less, though we did lose our much-appreciated motion-sensor light (yes, we have one of those, to help us see when we’re getting off the boat on dark mornings and back on in the dark of evenings – or rather we had). That happened when a sudden hard gust made the boat heel and tore the door in our cover from Richard’s hands at the same time. It opened very fast and a bit more than designed for, and as it did so the handle broke the light’s mount. It knocked everything except the screw that used to hold the light on our winter railing into the water before going on to make a small hole in our cover. We fixed the cover with the last of this season’s red tape. We have reluctantly said goodbye to the light.
As for the water, we’ve noticed it is very high this spring. The fixed docks tell the tale: usually it is well below the fixed dock close to the floating homes, low enough for the birds to swoop underneath the dock to hide, but now it is higher than the bottom of the two planks along the sides. The bleach-bottle-marker in the water by the dock next to us usually spends all winter and much of spring bobbing at the surface but is well below it now. The public boat launch has been in the process of being upgraded; the water is almost up to the top of the newly installed retaining walls. After the recent rains rivers are high and this can only make the lake levels higher; we shall see whether it overtops those walls or not. At least high water levels should make getting in and out of the marina easier – unless, as the color of the water after each wind storm suggests, there has been too much silting at the entrance. We’ll know when the first boats go sailing, and that’s still several weeks away.
So far it has been a very interesting spring. Wonder what summer will be like?
Written by Margaret Mair
Photos by Margaret Mair