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Thursday, October 6, 2011

A really good way to spend the morning...

Readers of our book will certainly be able to relate. We had a great morning, today, helping to change the Annie Buck's summer configuration to her winter configuration. It starts with a ride to the public wharf, where there is enough space to maneuver. The ride, on a perfectly cloudless day, with temperatures at right about 70F, was gorgeous. The trees are just starting to get color now. Just enough to add highlights to the woods behind the marshes.

The process is much like an old barn-raising and although it involves a lot of heavy lifting and potential injury, I look forward to it every year. Five of us disconnected and lifted the summer canopy  (PP. 77, figure 12 in "Fundamentals...") from its supports and onto a trailer, where it was driven to its winter storage place where we placed it for safe keeping. I don't know how much it weighs, but it's certainly in the hundreds of pounds, if not a half-ton, or so. We went to the wharf in the shade, but when we were done removing the canopy, the Annie Buck's cockpit was wide open and full of light. It makes her a whole different boat.

That was the first half, and actually the easier part, of the process. We then had another beautiful boat ride to another local dock where her mast and boom were stored. The mast and boom are required in oystering when dredging or patent tonging (pp. 76  figure 15). The mast is made of iron and it's a good thing that most of the guys lifting are watermen - they are extremely strong from the work that they do. Getting a long mast (25'?) onto a boat when you have to carry it on a narrow dock (3') can get you knocked into the water very suddenly. Once the mast is aboard the boat, it must be mounted to a support plank, then made upright and then secured with wire rope and turnbuckles. The various lines that hold the mast in place have to be tensioned exactly right, the consequences potentially being life threatening. The boom's installation must wait until the mast is ready. Otherwise there would be no place to install it and it would just be in the way. The boom is mainly aluminum, but also hundreds of pounds and long. Still, carrying it is much more pleasant than carrying the mast was.

I'm always amazed at how these guys work together, all of them knowing exactly what needs to be done, because they all have the same kinds of boats and after the Annie Buck is squared away, the group will move on to convert the other boats. David has a lot more work to do before he can work with his rig. There are all sorts of lines to inspect/fix/rig. He has to hook up various hydraulic lines and other elements of the system. He'll need to install his culling board. He is gearing up for the work of winter. That means making sure that his engine and everything else important to running the boat is in perfect shape.

Nobody could do this work alone. It's an honor to participate, knowing that my contribution to the effort is minimal, but I always learn things and the rides on the Annie Buck, to me, are worth every bit of it. I look forward to reversing the process in the Spring...

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