Featured Story

Richard’s Almanac: Old memories of old boats

Old memories of old boats. (Stock image).

Spring has certainly been a long time coming. I remember leaving for the South in February and figuring I’d be gone for the worst weather.

I was wrong.

I am still getting large heating bills even though they’re for April. I do have electric heat but it’s never been this bad. Let’s hope that May is warm.

I noticed the cold damp air particularly last week down at the Island Boatyard. My boat was placed in its slip and I wanted to take care of small things to make it ready for the summer. I was forced to wear gloves and extra warm clothing. Sometimes I attribute my sensitivity to the cold as a function of aging. But people much younger than I are also complaining.

I decided that the boat, which has two batteries, needed one replaced. It could be charged up only to go dead in a week or so. I learned that fact many years ago trying to keep batteries going on old cars I had. I was reluctant to spend the 20 or so bucks on a new one. Now battery prices are well over $100. And I can’t move them around with the ease that I once could.

So I undid the battery fasteners and lifted it out of its compartment with some twists and turns that seemed to strain every muscle and tendon and bone in my right arm. I know that batteries are heavy because they are loaded with lead, but it’s the concentration of weight that gets me every time.

Once the battery was identified by size number, one of the boatyard workers said he’d go get me the new one. I was delighted. I had brought the new one I purchased last year from the office to the boat in a hand truck.

Very straining. This year the boatyard employee carried the new one down on his shoulder and hauled the old one away just as easily. Now I’ll feel more comfortable about all the boat’s systems working correctly.

I began thinking back to my first visit to this boatyard back in the late 1960s. At that time it was owned by Alfred Tuthill. I would go down there with my uncle Eddie to visit his friend Leo on his large boat. Leo seemed to spend  most of his time working on one project or another on that boat. I remember going out on it once. Later, Leo had it berthed at the Town Dock on Bridge Street.

When my children were small, we’d walk down to the Island Food Center and we’d stop to visit Leo in his boat. My 2-year-old son was fascinated by the fact that the boat had a toilet. Leo was always very hospitable insisting I have a shot of Wilson’s. I declined when he offered a second.

His response was, “You can’t walk on one leg.”

He would then explain his current nautical carpentry project.

I remember seeing a boat for sale at the boatyard for $500. It seemed to be about 20-feet long and had an inboard engine. When I asked Leo for his opinion, he said to stay away from it because it was made of plywood.

Other fond boatyard memories include snapper fishing with my young children from the stern of Carlotta. That was neighbor Jack Ketcham’s large craft built in the 1930’s. Its home was at the boatyard.