It’s the saddest time of the year, if you’re a boater. Its time to close the boat, get it ready for it’s long winters sleep. For us on our sailboat Foxy Lady, it starts with our tradition “last sail”. We go out for one more sail to end the season, back to the dock and start getting the boat ready. Well, almost that easy, we also take the dinghy out for a last run as well. Toronto Island, where we’re moored has a cool network of lagoons that run through the inner island, through the other yacht clubs, the central park and such. At this time of the year, its quiet, not many people around and an enjoyable ride, with fall colors in progress.
I’ve been told, that as a sailor, “if you haven’t been aground, you haven’t been around”. According to that saying, we have now been around. I thought I’d be smart and take a shortcut, but at the end of the season, when the water levels have dropped, even with the ridiculously high-water levels we had for the first half of the season, it wasn’t a good idea. Fortunately, it was a soft hit. It took a bit of effort, but we finally wiggled out way off the sand bar. Back at the dock, we took a drink for our mistake.
After both final rides, we started to prep the boats for the upcoming winter. Sails taken down, folded and put in their bags, ready to come home with us. Anchor off the hooks in the pulpit and stored in the boat, lines gathered and hung to dry, decks scrubbed. The dinghy engine handed over the marina shop for storage, and the dinghy hauled up on deck of the boat, and lashed down. Then empty the boat of all our stuff that we used during the season, thought we’d use and brought down just in case. It’s going to take more than 2 trips back to the car to unload all this stuff. Once we’re finished we hand it off the marina crew to haul out and park on the cradle, safe and secure for the winter, and we have one more trip to antifreeze and tarp her, and it’s all done for another season.
The marina’s full of boaters all going through the same ritual, some are already done, boat’s put away for the winter, but not ready to leave the marina social life yet, some are even living on their boats still, even though they are “on the hard”. Others are holding out to the bitter end, not hauling out until the very last minute. This weekend the marina is only half empty. Unusual for the 3rd week in October, but this year has given us extraordinary weather, which has allowed us to keep on boating. I’m sure the marina is starting to get a bit nervous about having to push into November to get all the boats out.
Tonight, at the bar, it’s the last social, and impromptu bingo night. The regulars are here, the hostess has everyone jumping to keep up with her calling of numbers, and to have a drink every so often. I sense a conspiracy to get us to drink some more…
There are conversations all around of what everyone is going to be doing the off season, some will stay in the city to work, others will go down south to the Caribbean of Florida, or fly off to warmer destinations in the Pacific to ride the winter months out.
Now it’s time to research, plan and dream for next season.