One of the Rites of Spring a the Charlottetown Yacht Club is “Getting in the Docks Day”. Because of the ice, it is impossible to leave the floats in the water all year long and all the wooden finger piers have to be hoisted out in the fall and stored for the winter. It is a fairly labour intensive process. In the spring all is reversed.
Last Saturday was the day that has become the unofficial start to the sailing season. There is no point in putting in any boats until there is something to which to tie them up. With a 2 degree temperature (-2 with the wind chill) I was fearful that only a handful of the work crew would show up but there was a very respectable turn-out – and every body there, was there to work , unlike some other years when the veranda crew outnumbered the workers. Over the years members have self-selected into about four crews: one crew moving the fingers from the shore storage to the crane and into the water, one crew in the boats ferrying the pieces to the right place, one crew putting the jigsaw puzzle back together and one crew on general duties such as repairs to facility, erecting the signal mast, removing the winter’s garbage.
I have found the where I do the least damage is in the first crew working the skipper of “Pepper” who runs the fork-lift which moves the floats to the crane. I think the crew assembling the floats has the worst job as they often get wet and risk jammed fingers inserting the bolts holding the apparatus together.
This year was one of the smoothest operations yet. Last fall floats needing repairs had been marked and these were completed over the last few weeks by the Club staff. By the time we broke for lunch almost all the work targets had been met. The lunch was outstanding with Gus Hilstrom calling on his experience as a chef to offer ribs, beans, roast potatoes and slaw in addition to the cold barley soup.
The annual rituals of getting the docks in and out are one of the few collaborative activities left at the Charlottetown Yacht Club. Club members working together for the benefit of all really enrich the Club spirit which has taken a bit of a beating in the last few years.