Sunday, May 13, 2012

The #@%&!! Spring Boating Tasks

Every spring we go through a new episode of the boating follies.  Or maybe it's a new chapter of boating for dummies -- I'm not sure which.  It seems that no matter how well I've thought through the getting-everything-ready-for-the-season process, and no matter how many times I've practiced it before, every year there's something throws me a curve ball.

This year was no exception, although I suppose I should have recognized what was going on and dealt with it last fall.  It was then, after all, when I noticed the boat lift wasn't going all the way down.  What was the first sign?  When we had our Labor Day party, and I had to have nearly everyone get off the boat once we had loaded so I could back it off the lift.  A few weeks later, when we wanted to take a ride, I had to push the boat out.  By the time I was taking it out of the lake for the winter, it took two of us to shove the stupid thing off the lift.

Yeah, I knew back then that I needed to dredge under the dock.  You see, the lake is shallow where my dock is located.  When I bought the dock, we ended up tying the boat to the side for almost an entire year because the lift wouldn't go down far enough to allow us to get the boat on it.  Eventually, when the property was groomed during construction of our house, I asked the contractor to dig out the spot with a backhoe.

That worked out pretty well -- for about four years.

Over time, entropy sets in -- sand slides downhill into the lake from the yard, and eventually drifts into the hole due to wave action.  Eventually, the hole fills in enough that the lift hits it.

As I thought about this problem during the winter, I decided in the spring I would call a company that advertises regularly in a local magazine to come and dredge the dock area.  But I failed to save a copy of the magazine, so when I was ready, I didn't have the ad.   Couldn't even remember the company's name.  I waited, and waited.  Finally, anew issue of the magazine showed up, and...the ad wasn't there!

Okay.  Murphy's law, I suppose.

I decided I couldn't wait any longer.  I started pouring over the yellow pages.  The only dredger listed nearby I'd talked to four years earlier, and they weren't interested in such a small job.  Damn!  It took me a few days, but I finally realized I should look under "excavators," and I found a company listed right here in Ashland. And they would do the work.  Problem solved.

Well, not quite.  There was still the physical work to do.  On Wednesday, I put on my waders and disassembled most of the dock moorings (can't scoop out the sand under it, if it's still sitting there).  I finished up on Friday morning, and pushed the dock aside.

The excavator showed up right on schedule.  The thing was huge.  It rumbled into the back yard, and in about thirty minutes had scooped enough sand out to make a small mountain on the beach (which I will probably spend the entire summer spreading around the yard).  Another thirty minutes spent working on the dock's ramp area, and we were ready to re-assemble.  Fortunately, the contractor stayed long enough for me to push the dock back into place and secure the mooring lines along with one of the two anchor posts (the other one, alas, was undermined by the scooping, and will have to be reset by the dock company at a later date).  I say "fortunately" because the ramp must weigh three hundred pounds, and it doesn't float.  Getting it reattached to the dock required some fancy work with the excavator, some chain, and the huge one inch bolts used to pin it to the dock.  Eventually, after a few scrapes and much cursing, it was completed.

Today, I managed to get the boat onto the lift, and then put the cover on the dock.  The only remaining tasks are to get the jetski on it's lift, and put out swim markers -- tasks that are at least familiar, if not pleasant.

Oh yeah.  And do something with all that sand...

As I sit here writing this post this evening, my hands hurt from all the rough treatment, and the dozen or so nicks and cuts from all that sharp metal.

And people call boat ownership "fun."  Hmmmm.


  1. Complaining about the issues of owning a boat that gets set in a lift next to your dock by your lake house. Cry me a river.

  2. Tossing out critique anonymously -- show me some courage.