Captain Ron click here to read or make an observation about this  article

by Ron Thweatt - Hermitage Tennessee - USA


Boats and Stuff

Its hard to believe its almost Spring, especially when its snowing outside. I start the countdown at midnight on Christmas Day. I love Spring, all those little flowers peeking up out of the mulch after a little winters nap. Then there are the “Bonus Days.” That’s what I call them…when the temp gets up to where I can ditch the socks I have had to wear with my sandals, and even add a little sun screen to the top of my smooth head.

Back in my other life, “Before Retirement,” I would find all kinds of excuses to deliver printing to Cracker Barrel’s home office in Lebanon, Tennessee. Since I was going right by Harbor Island Yacht Club, it would be a crime not to stop by to visit the Boat. (Don’t tell me YOU never did that?) The Club takes on a different feeling during the week days. There would be just a few people around and most times I found I was the only “Dock Walker.”

As every sailor knows, the wind always blows on Monday or the day after a Holiday - Weird how when I would call around most of my customers, who were also sailors, how many of them would be sick on those days. And if I walked the docks on those days, for some reason their slips would be empty?

This year as spring approaches, I find myself without a boat to restore or finish building. I have not had to dig out all my wood working tools, The Queen, my wife, does not have to walk through a trail of little wood shavings, the kitchen sink is not full of brushes and there is also no varnish in the frig. I found it works better that way and someday I hope to find out why?

I have not failed to start a project because I have no desire to - it is because the times in my life to do such things are past…. BUT that does not mean I do not dream of the past -I Ain’t Dead Yet! I think remembering past sailing trips, boats I have restored and sold or boats I have built, is a large part of any sailors life.

I find myself living in the past today. It’s ok to do this, as long as it’s thinking about boats, according to my shrink?

It’s one of the kind of days I loved when I had a boat – it’s raining and will turn to our first snow of the year in Hermitage, TN, this evening

On such evenings, I would go to the Club, take my stuff and then in the rain or snow (I use to always go sailing in the first snow of the year). I would slip the dock lines, hoist the sails (I, for one, think sails last longer if you sail in the rain!). As the wind filled the sail, I would sail to my favorite little cove - I call it Tom King Cove. There I would drop the sails and anchor. I would thank God that I would have this little piece of the world all by myself. There I would light the Swing Stove and drop in the java pot. While the coffee perked, I would look around the boat and think of ways of improving for my upcoming summer trip. Mostly, I would drool over all my “stuff.”

You know what I am talking about. It’s those little things you scrimp and save to buy or the one thing you asked all the family to chip in and give you for Christmas or your birthday.

click to enlargeOne of those things is an anchor lamp - not just any ole barnyard piece of junk. (Yes, I have been guilty of using a barn lantern from Tractor Supply as a anchor lamp!).

This lamp was given to me for Christmas years ago by my wife. It came from Mystic Seaport Supply. They always had some great brass lamps. I think would look at the catalog so much the page would get the corner torn off or turned down. Could it be my “sub-brain” talking to me? Never mind, back to the lamp. This lamp is just the size to warm a small cabin or to knock the chill from a rain cover over a small dinghy. It was also at a time in our life when money was hard to come by and Priscilla “squirreled” back the $100 bucks it cost.

I have taken this lamp on vacations just to have a little piece of the boat with me. I know I am weird! We would light it, place it on the outside table of the hotel while we had dinner or in the room when we would do what ever we would do?

I have used this lamp when the wind was blowing over 50 and with the anchor rode pulling and making that little groan. I would see the little lamp burning steadily on the backstay. It, even though such a small piece of brass, always gave me comfort.

When I was polishing the lamp last week I saw it had a little crack in the brass top. It also had lots of soot built up in the cap, it was also harder to get the tarnish off and its little oil well was leaking a little.

As I polished I though about what I and the little brass anchor lamp have in common . I have some cracks in my life, I find more and more soot clouding my brain and I find it harder to get the tarnish off in order to make me more presentable to the “outside world”. We have come through it all together and now we find ourselves just hanging out together. But at least we are hanging out in some good company.

Since I am not building a boat I have all this boat stuff just stored, so I got to thinking - I always seem to get in trouble when I start doing that? When I was a kid I loved building tree houses. This was always a trial for my parents. Here was a Kid who had about a zillion dollars of surgery on his foot and leg and he was climbing a tree with a brace on. I would go through all the extra stuff in my dad’s storage barn . I would bag it all up and put it all on the walls just to make it look like home. Strange, that is also what I did to my boats.

I have an extra bedroom in my condo or as I call it “The Home.” I thought it would be a great idea to put together a Sailing Room.

Yep, I do watch too many home inprovementt shows! So I started by painting the walls dark green. It looks like the gelcoat on a Bauer 12 I once owned. If you have a green hull (wall), then the bottom (ceiling) has to be dark red. Not just any red. I had to have the paint man match the color of chip of bottom paint I had. ( Note: I did think of using VC 17, but only for a brief moment, because there is the price and there is the problem with all that copper getting all over the place!)

Now to the “recycling of boat stuff”.

click to enlargeI have a set of Shaw and Tenney seven foot Spoon Blade Oars with leathers and cherry tips. They fit perfectly over the closet door.

click to enlargeThen while I was in a boat building mode, why not tear out something? Yep, the closet doors had to go, along with the track. I found this would be just the place to add book shelves to either side. It would leave me space for my writing table .

That sent me to Home Depot a few times for some mo-stuff!

click to enlargeI have some how collected over 30 pieces of sailing art. This would fit just right on the walls. Some of these used to fill the teak walls of my past boats.

Then, there was the ceiling fan. It was white and that would not work, so I took it down and painted it black, then hit it with silver and while the silver was wet, I hit it with some spray poly. I learned this trick when trying to make the screens of my Cape Dory 22 look like the bronze Spartan ports - I miss those ports. OK, then I have this collection of oil lamps.

click to enlargeI know I am the only person who removes all the stuff he can before showing the boat he or she has to sell, so I have lots of brass STUFF.

The lamps all fit nicely in with my over all “design”

It has taken me over 4 weeks to build, or I should say, put this room together. Here I have my collection of books, past boat oars and boat hooks, my pipes, guitar, Native American flute, collection of rum bottles - all Pusser, of course. I also have my baskets I got in the Keys - they all sit on a shelf made from a wooden water ski.

click to enlargeMy old table is just the place to spend my time looking at boating sites and writing. I also have my VHF and GPS. You never can tell when I will need to talk to some one out on the lake or someone calls me to call their wife! Can’t understand why cell phones do not work on the lake?

The only piece of boating stuff I have not found a place for is my Swing Stove, but it’s only a short hobble to the kitchen.

As Mr. Buffet says, “ I go sailing in my mind,” and I think I found the perfect harbor to drop my anchor in. Here I look at and enjoy all my stuff. I will also watch for the first signs of spring and dream of the days when?

Fair winds with just enough puffs to keep you on your toes,

Capt Ron

Anchored in a small harbor in the Un-Cork-A-Islands, just this side of Chain-Linka Some call it Lake Chateau, but I KNOW where I am.