Monthly Archives: July 2015

Forty boats…

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Silver dock looking north

I’ve been walking a lot lately. One day I’ll set my phone with a tracking app before I start out, and see just much distance I cover in a single continuous walk of the south docks.

In the vastness of all these docks, each region has its own unique atmosphere. Grey docks, closest to shore, is populated by the twenty and under crowd – daysailers, skiffs, and open runabouts.

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Red dock has a lively crowd of cuddy-cabins and center consoles off the south end of the main dock; to the north, an eclectic collection of 30′ and under sailboats of every age and style, from a 1916 gaff rigged sloop to colorful Cape Dories and a little black Flicka.  Green dock is the domain of the thirty foot crowd, both power and sail.

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By Blue dock the boats have reached the forty foot range and up, and the same goes for Silver, the furthest of the group. And within each dock, especially where the boats are docked stern in, cockpits serve like stoops on a city street and neighborhoods of a sort have evolved, each with their own residents and unique character.

Last weekend a few transients decided to visit – and by a few I mean forty, No, that isn’t a typo. FORTY boats…thirty-seven of them arriving within hours of each other. You see, every year a group from Staten Island comes up for the weekend, usually a handful of boats. But then another club decided it might be fun, and yet another sizable group had chosen the same weekend for their annual cruise. And each group wanted to be grouped close together (bonus points when the boats range in size.) Forty boats that all had to go into the correct assigned slips, because once one boat goes in the wrong place, the ‘someone was in my slip so I went into another’ dominoes start to fall. All it takes is one dinghy. But I verified each slip was clear long before the naval invasion began, rounding up and relocating errant dinghies, which have a habit of nesting in the vacant (transient) slips beside their mother-ships, rather than at the dinghy dock. It’s permitted, but when we need the slip they have to move. And Friday afternoon they began arriving, sometimes in clusters of three and four at a time as they were directed to their docks. The dockhands hustled, and like clockwork every single boat was tied up in the correct slip as they moved to the next. On a normal weekend the marina sees roughly a dozen visiting boats. This was not a normal weekend. The yard crew joked that it was my trial by fire, But it was also a great weekend. Everyone had a good time, and all our guests left today, tired and happy. The ‘Silver Bullet’ crowd are a fun bunch, and I look forward to seeing them all again next year. And I’ve suggested we get a group together to visit Staten Island – they certainly know how to have a good time!

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the boat…

Lots of boats, lots of docks.

Lots of boats, lots of docks.

Sometimes life can take some surprising turns, presenting the strangest opportunities and most unexpected challenges at just the right time. Sometimes it takes years for those moments to arrive, and sometimes they can completely blindside you — but I’ve had lots a practice being blindsided over the last few years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at handling just about anything you can throw at me.

I’ve always believed everything happens for a reason, even if that reason may not be apparent at the time. And while I was driving down to the boat with my canine crew for a day of writing/boat work, contently enjoying my lack of employment, I was completely unaware that major changes were happening at the marina around the corner, where I’d worked a few years back. Unknown to me, my name was the one that kept coming up for the Dock Master position. People who’d worked with me said I was the right person for the job, and anyone who knows me knows this job is perfect for me. So, when I found myself meeting with the owner and the manager of Haverstraw Marina to discuss my becoming Dock Master of the thousand slip marina complex — well, let’s just say I had a lot to consider.

Ultimately, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and the last two weeks have been a blur. Last week it became official, and I’m only starting to catch my breath now.  The timing couldn’t be more ideal; a few months ago a job like that (any job, for that matter,) wouldn’t have been an option. But I feel fantastic, I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. And what a job! I’m working among many long-time friends, seeing boaters I hadn’t seen in years, and making new friends by the day. The picture at the start of the post was taken just outside the marina office — that’s the view from my desk, though much I’m spending much of my time on the docks and throughout the yard. Haverstraw is a convenient stop for Great Loopers, and we have a steady flow of visiting boats coming and going, so you never know what the next day will bring. And with roughly seven hundred customer boats spread over four dock complexes, it’s rarely dull.

There is one down side to this that I had to accept. It’s a simple equation of time. I only have so much. There’s no way be finishing up Evacuation Route as soon as I’d hoped, yet again. But finish I will, and I’ll move forward with future books knowing my best material  always came from working jobs like this — though not quite on THIS scale. 

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As for Annabel Lee, she’s on the fast track to launch, if only for a very short cruise to her new home and deep-water slip waiting at Haverstraw. And my car?Last I heard, it’s somewhere out west, having a whole lot of fun with the kids.