First motorboat ride and swim of 2010

Saturday and the sun was beaming down and melting the grey snowdrifts. The boat looked lonely. I put the battery on a charger, emptied last season’s remaining gasoline into a jerry can, and refilled the tank with three gallons of new gas and a shot of ethanol treatment.

Backed up to the trailer, connected the hitch, and 500 yards later was backing down a snow covered ramp into Cotuit Bay. I pushed off with an oar, anchored in deeper water, and for three minutes coaxed the dormant Honda back to life with the choke and throttle. When I was 100 percent sure it wouldn’t fart out when I was in the middle of the harbor I came back into the beach, loaded the two terriers aboard, and took off for Dead Neck, the barrier island at the head of the bay.

As my son said when he declined my offer to accompany me, “You are only doing this so you can say you are the first to do it.”

That was not the motivation. Anyway, there is a simple thrill to doing this in February:

[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/churbuck/4375122789/[/flickrvideo]

I anchored near Cupid’s Cove, the ancient inlet (now clamming cove) out to Nantucket Sound, careful to keep the boat off the beach so I wouldn’t have to push it off if the tide went out. I offloaded the dogs (who went into immediate mania and starting biting my boots) and satisfied the boat would be there when returned, headed off for a complete circumperambulation of the Island.

I brought a garbage bag and scavenged all the plastic I could find from the wrack line where the moon tides had deposited it.   There was more man-made trash on the inside, bayside of the island, reflective of where the people are in the winter and where the prevailing northerly winds blow from

Around the Point of the island (which received a bit of a trim from the dredge this winter to widen the channel) and down the outside of the beach, flawless and without footprints, just the overwash signs of high tides and winter storms. After a half mile of walking with the wind in the sun I took off my coat. The trash bag was getting full. Halfway down the beach and I popped up on a dune to see if the boat was still where it was supposed to be. It was.

And onwards down to Osterville and the Wianno Cut, where the dredged spoils from the Cotuit end of the island were pumped to shore up the dwindling beach in front of Bunny Mellon’s house.

Without some beachgrass that too will wash away, thanks to the jetties built 100 years ago that now block the natural ebb and flow of the coastal sands.  I sat down for a second, patted the dogs on the head, and then headed back towards the boat.

The dogs and I crossed the island at Cupid’s Cove, where some ice still lingered, and with our bag of trash made it back to the boat. Which was now riding at anchor in much deeper water than I left it. The solutions were:

a. undress , wade out, start boat, return to beach and get dressed again

b. take off boots and socks and attempt to roll jeans up above knees

c. just wade out, flood the boots, and climb aboard and then cruise back home at warp speed before hypothermia set in

I opted for plan C and soaked my self right up to the belt line. flopped into the boat, emptying the seawater out of the boots and onto my face. I was very happy to be the only person on the water at this point as an audience would not have been appreciated.

I phoned home, told my son to meet me at the ramp with the trailer, and fifteen minutes was back home in the shower.

So ended a good beach walk and motorboat ride in February.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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