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The Mast-Head: Boat Business

Thu, 09/30/2021 - 09:44

Monday will mark a year since I shoved off from Marblehead, Mass., in my new-to-me Cape Dory. Since then, I am not sure if I have spent more time sailing or working on it, probably the latter.

There is still no name on the transom, but once getting it here, I decided to call it Cerberus, after the shoal off Montauk, an ill-starred British warship of the Revolutionary War, as well as their namesake, the three-headed dog of Greek mythology whose job was to keep the human souls in Hades from getting out. There is perhaps some poetic irony in that name.

Though I had intended to spend some days cruising to Block Island for overnights or along the Connecticut shoreline, ducking in and out of hidden harbors, so far I have spent only one night aboard. Cerberus, it seems, could be in on the joke and has conspired with the Fates to keep me close to home.

This is not to say that I have not had pleasure from the process. The boat, 28 feet long over all, was built in 1979, and, while not neglected in the interim, had accumulated its share of wear and battle scars. But, like the three-headed dog who must stand at the gates of hell for an eternity, they built fiberglass boats tough in those days, so mine is structurally fine. The work on it has been a welcome distraction in this pandemic year.

Cosmetics, such as the nameplate on the transom, can be ignored for now, as I take on the more serious concerns. One of the bronze pad eyes where a mast stay comes down to the deck on the starboard side needed reinforcement from below, which precipitated removing a section of headliner and a cabinet near the head. The head itself I detached from a spaghetti of hoses leading to the waste tank, which I removed as well with the intention of replacing the entire stinking mess.

The list is long, but the ship is safe, and I have an entire fall and winter to work on it ahead of a spring 2022 launch. Block Island, here I come. Eventually.


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