Spring officially arrived for the crew of s/v Gaviidae early on the morning of Tuesday, April 19. That’s when Gaviidae was lifted from her cradle at Pikes Bay Marina near Bayfield, WI, and lowered into the still-icy water of Lake Superior. She spent the long Northwoods winter hibernating and doubtless dreaming of plying the waters of the Great Lakes right under the watchful eye of a live web camera mounted on the PBM clubhouse.
Julie and I were able to monitor the snow on her canvas cover by visiting the webcam at Pikes Bay Marina over the winter. That’s how we knew when to make the 4-hour trek north from Minneapolis to pull snow off the canvas. On our first snow removal trip north, we stopped and bought a roof snow rake I found on Craigslist. It proved to be an excellent investment. It made pulling the snow off the canvas easier and probably shaved an hour or two off the snow removal process—which still took three hours and required climbing and moving the ladder around the boat. Various parts of my body ached for a couple days from the exertion. Despite our watchfulness, a pair of closely timed heavy snows had put enough weight on the canvas amidships to tear the stitching along the portside zipper seam. This left a sizable gap for wind and snow to blow in under the forward cover and required more diligent monitoring via the PBM camera. Thankfully the rest of the winter was relatively mild and no further damage was done.
By early April we were satisfied that Ol’ Man Winter was spent. Julie and I went to Pikes Bay to remove the cover and begin getting Gaviidae ready for spring.
We also scheduled to launch the following week. A few days after Julie left for a sailing trip in the Sea of Cortez, I drove back to Bayfield to complete de-winterization before launch on April 19.
In the hands of Paul and the capable crew at Pikes Bay Marina, Gaviidae settled on the water. I fired up engine and motored her down the fairway to her slip on the 100 dock. As I was completing my on-water dewinterizing checklist and anticipating the drive back to Minneapolis, the sun made an unexpected appearance. Since I already had a hose running on board to flush and fill the water tanks, I decided to wash and polish the cockpit and the deck. The afternoon was glorious and I did the job in shorts and sandals.
Once the deck was scrubbed and the water tanks cleared of the telltale odor of bleach, I locked up the boat and headed back to the Twin Cities. On the way I stopped for Chinese take-out with Kevin Crothers of s/v Special K. Kevin’s wife, Kathy, was in the Sea of Cortez with Julie and the Women Who Sail. Kevin and I prearranged for my stop to have some dinner then do some jamming. Kevin is an accomplished musician—used to be a bass player and music director in some Midwest cover bands. He’s been teaching himself to play the guitar—and doing quite well, in my opinion. He’s also been mentoring me in my efforts to expand my lapsed harmonica-playing capabilities. We get together once in a while to jam for a couple of hours, and that night was a good opportunity to do so. Afterwards I headed on home knowing that I needed to get back to organizing and packing for the return to the boat: Julie and I were to be out of the house in less than two weeks.
The next day I and the world was shocked and saddened to learn that the musician Prince had been found dead at his recording studio and home, Paisley Park, in Chanhassen. I never met the man, but he lived just down the road from the house we built in Chanhassen and I was a fan. In fact, Julie and I actually saw him in concert in London in 1990 courtesy of his stage manager, whose girlfriend worked with Julie. It was hard to concentrate on tasks at hand those next few days.
On Julie’s return, we had to scramble to finish up packing—which entailed determining whether something was going to the boat, into our support trailer, to storage in Park Rapids, or simply donated. During that time we also sold Julie’s much-loved Volvo sedan and all but finished scanning and digitizing our extensive cache of photographic slides. Digitizing slides was a winter project Julie started 3 years ago! I started on my slides 2 years ago—and we still didn’t quite finish! So our plans to divest of the Nikon scanner and our desktop went out the window—and we have to find room in the trailer for them this summer.
We finally locked up the house Monday afternoon saying goodbye to Minneapolis and our Uptown digs
—relieved not to run into the owners returning from their winter in Mexico. We had rented and filled a U-Haul trailer for the trip north, wondering how we would find room for everything. And that’s where we are now, stuffing our own trailer to the brim and loading the boat to the point of lowering the water line.