Every year my husband and I have a similar conversation around when to pull the Merry Grace out of the water. The conversation usually happens sometime in August, when putting the boat to bed for the winter is a distant thought in both of our minds, but paperwork needs filling out, and we have to pick a date. So the conversation begins…
Me: Why can’t we just leave the boat in the harbor all winter? I’ve seen other boats do that? Wouldn’t that be cheaper?
Husband: Not in the long run, forty year old fiberglass and ice don’t get along well.
Me: I’ve never seen an iceberg in Vineyard Haven harbor.
Husband: Ice doesn’t usually happen, but it can. It’s safer, I don’t want to worry about what happens to her in a blizzard in January, and I’m not going out in a rowboat in January to prepare her for a storm.
Me (pouting): ok, I guess…
Which brings us to the next negotiation – when? As you might guess from the previous conversation, I am angling to keep her in the water as long as possible. I actually enjoy sailing in the Fall far more than in the summer. It’s less crowded, with fewer boats in the water to worry about, and it’s also less stressful when there are fewer boats to dodge when making the “J” to catch the mooring. I’m new at this sailing thing, and I need a lot of space when learning, and Fall sailing offers that. And the Vineyard waters offer some absolutely gorgeous Fall days, when we have both been very happy that we delayed the winterizing until mid-November. Last year, our last sail was on Halloween weekend, and it was amazing!
This weekend we came down to get the boat ready to be pulled, and to hope for one last sail before she took her winter rest. We took an early morning boat on Saturday, and since we had the dogs with us, stopped at the house first. As we pulled in the driveway, we were surprised to find the Merry Grace already there! Though we probably shouldn't be, the boat does seem to have a mind of her own. And maybe she knew best - since Saturday’s wind would have required taking in more reefs than our little catboat has available. So as it turns out, this year our last sail was two weeks ago, and since it was a beautiful day, in retrospect it was a great sail to end the year with.
So while Merry Grace rests for the winter, work on her continues. Some of her woodwork has been removed, awaiting the seemingly endless process of sanding and varnishing over the winter, hoping to turn her grey wood back to its original shine.
And my research begins for next year’s season end date conversation – so far I’ve found references to a frozen Vineyard Haven harbor in 1912 (http://history.vineyard.net/photos/vh7/V72103.HTM), and in the late 1700s (http://history.vineyard.net/hfnorton/tisbury.htm). Add in some global warming and I may be able to make a better case next year, or at least postpone our last sail to Thanksgiving!