A week ago, under snow and hail, sailing seemed like madness. Today the boatyard phoned and asked if Stroma will be ready for launching on 1 April, so tomorrow I'll be over to take off the winter cover and decide how little I can get away with this year.
As readers of my other blog will know (if you aren't reading it please click here:- scottishislandsclass.blogspot.com ) I spent eight interesting years restoring Stroma after I recovered her from the Scottish Maritime Museum, to whom I had naively entrusted her. Since she was relaunched in 2003 I've freshened up the brightwork a couple of times, repainted the decks once and antifouled occasionally, but the topsides paint hasn't been redone. Since we don't have an engine, a toilet, electrics or even an onboard computer system there isn't a lot else to be done. By the way, I have spent time on the mast and rigging, which has to be on form as our only salvation in all conditions and weathers. I'm absolutely determined that these won't let us down. There's no doubt that when you get an old boat back into prime condition very little needs to be done to keep her there, so I'm hoping I won't find any horrors tomorrow.
There's a strange sort of anxious anticipation that happens every year about now, triggered by days that are sunny but still cold, gentle breezes followed by dense mists (see photo above), boatyard smells of paint, grease and tar, the skirls of dust and debris around the yard, the chattering of unfrapped hallyards on masts left up all winter by those engined folk who don't feel the need to care about their ship's reliability under sail and most of all the totally legal highs obtained from inhaling the numerous solvents required in fitting-out (and much more expensive per millilitre than a fine malt, by the way), an odd mixture of approaching joy at getting back on the water, fear of the (to the older fellow) known or (to the younger) unknown hazards such as rocks, submerged debris and other horrors, even in well-kent waters, this anticipation the perfect counterpart of the end of season feelings of relief one feels at having brought an old lady through her eighty-somethingth year on the water mixed with the regret of surrendering up one's sport to approaching winter.
Well, there we are, Stroma and I both a year older, our range a bit limited, but we'll be on the water in Argyll soon and at least one of us a bit more emotional each year we venture out together.