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What Can A Boater Do to Keep Busy in Mid-Winter?

Ok! We get it! Your boat is dry-docked, winterized, and wrapped. The holidays are over and all the boat gizmos you were gifted for the holidays are stacked in the corner on your side of the bed so you can dream about boating. Your wife is reading Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Idiot” on her kindle next to you. You briefly wonder if her book choices relate to you but then you go back to staring at the rods, reels, new GPS, etc., till its lights out.
Yes, it’s a dreary time of year but there are many things you can do to deflect your despair, other than making everyone around miserable as you have done every year. As you watch the snow pile up higher think your kids can handle it, which pisses you off because you know you’ll have to do it, you can consider some of the diversions I have outlined to hold you over till spring.

A) Fishermen – Organize and Clean All Your fishing Tackle!
Face it! You haven’t done this in a decade. This summer you put your hand in to grab a Hopkins lure as the bass were crashing bait fish and you ended up in emergency with a fluke rig, circle hook, herring rig, and a giant lime-green parachute rig in your hand. Not all bad. You got your tetanus shot updated (You were 5 years due anyway). You can also change the lines on your rods, check the guides, polish em’ up and check the drag on every reel, then oil and polish them. One other thing, be sure to take a chisel and remove all the dried gulp baits you dropped in the bottom of your tackle boxes. Now I know the chance of doing any of the above is less than zero, but you will be thinking of me on your first trip out in the spring. That’s a sure bet!

B) Take Up Knitting.
Go to the library and take out the famous book “A SEAFARER’ S GUIDE TO KNITTING” By Capt. Wooly Knotts, USN. (Published by The Annapolis Sailors Hobby Club). Then go to Michaels or Hobby Lobby and pick through all the hanks of colored wool that catch your eye. Be creative,
Get in touch with softer sides. Let the colors speak to you from vibrant picks and purples to morbid blacks, reds and grays. It’s all up to you.
This will teach you, step by step, to make your own wool caps, mittens, and scarves. With enough practice, you can knit your own boatswain sweater. Heck, last year at Zacks Bay, members of the “Copiague Tuna and Blowfish Club” were hanging out for the July 4Th fireworks and one member wore a bathing suit he knitted himself. Sadly, when he dove into the water, a strand of wool hooked on a screw holding his bow burgee and entirely unraveled. His wife threw him a towel as she yelled “Enough with the knitting” but don’t let that discourage you!

C) Pre-Plan Next Year’s Voyages.
Just think of it! A year without a Friday night fight when you suddenly announce to your family in your captain’s voice- “Let’s cruise up to Martha’s Vineyard tomorrow”! Everyone at the dinner table looks at you cross-eyed as if you’ve gone mad. You won’t have to listen to “I have a date Saturday Night” I’m saying at my friends next week” or the older teen saying “I ain’t going! Not now! Not next week! Not ever again! I got my own life -You know”! Then your dearest softly says “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR——–ck MIND”? Was that a statement, question, or fact? If you had started planning mid-winter, you could avoid all this angst.
You could choose the destination, ports of call, gauge fuel, overnight docking, food costs and entertainment expenses and pick the best time slot for the family voyage. You can consider everyone’s needs and interests and include them in the planning. This is the mature way to avoid the element of surprise. The only issues that may arise are when you begin to load the boat and your daughter says, ‘But I have a date Saturday night!’’ and the other one says, “I’m staying at my friends all next week!” and Mr. Big Shot says “I ain’t going! Not now! Not next week! Blah! Blah! Blah! You turn to your Dearest for support and she says “I can’t deal with this! I’m going inside, turning the air conditioner back on and I’m going to sit down and finish reading Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot”. (It’s a very big book!)

D) Visit All the Boat Shows!
During the winter there are boat shows in our region and beyond. The biggest in the Northeast is the JAVITS show in NYC -Jan 25-29, the Hartford at Mohegan Sun -Jan 20-23, and the New England Show at the Boston Convention Center – Feb 15-19. Then there’s Miami where you can get in a little sun and spend some quality time with your heartthrob, or you can go with some boating buddies and have a really good time. There’s a lot to chase away the “winter blues” at these shows. You can trade in that underpowered 24 ft. center console you bought last year which is underpowered with only three 300hp engines on the transom and get something more worthy of your seamanship like a 30 ft. center console with four 450s hanging on the backend. For those who desire comfort over fishability, you may want to consider the new “Aqua Spa’’ by Saffron Yachts, the only boat building located in Wyoming. They do a tasteful job in their new “Mark 4 Custom” of fitting in a real cedar sauna, hot tub, 2 wet bars-one forward- one aft, a full-size kitchen with island and seating, a giant living room, and den with a pool table-Yes! Unbelievable! A table that’s a real pool with a diving board. It is also equipped with two bunk berths and a porta-potty. This sweet vessel will NEVER give you engine trouble or consume nutty amounts of fuel. It has no engine. It’s a showpiece you tie to your dock all summer to look like you really profited off Bit Coin big time and bailed just before it went south.

E) Work and Practice Maintaining Your Agility
Boating requires agility. As your boat speeds and pounds across the bay every navigation rule, you place your body under immense stress. Catapulting over giant wakes thrown up by like-minded admirals who never seem to know how to trim their vessels only accentuates the risk.
Your knees, hips and spine (If you have one) take a beating. In olden times, sailors would dance together on deck during calm weather periods. It wasn’t only a grand entertainment but was a way to “loosen the bones” so they said. There are several regional Boaters Dancing Schools in our boating areas. I have attended and highly recommend.
Captain Andrews Upper Deck Dancing Academy in Bellport. Once you start learning all the steps and choose between tap, ballet, or line dancing, your ability to sway with the waves will return. You’ll feel like you’re 19 again. What’s nice about Captain Andrews Academy is that every year they put on a Holiday Show. This year it was “The Nutcracker Suite” at the Bell Port Emporium Theater. I was privileged to be given the part of the “Nutcracker’’! Many said I was a natural. Some boaters actually knitted their own costumes. What a great way to keep nautically limber and express yourself artistically at the same time.
There you have it. No reason to grouch your way through winter waiting for launch day! Turn off the TV and stop all that streaming!
Why make everyone in your house miserable because you are? Get out there and find creative ways to use the off time. You don’t have to take my suggestions, come up with your own ideas and watch winter go by FAST!

C. 2022 by Mark C. Nuccio All rights reserved
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