Thank you, cruising friends

Guest perspective/Russ Roth

Two years ago we made a decision to repower our sailboat, Skiya (see Points East, August 2015). This spring I needed to be repowered.

Last June, Marty and I left our mooring in Portsmouth Harbor on our yearly migration to our mooring in Rockland, Maine. We had plans for a trip to the St. John River in July, and had two other boats lined up to do the trip with us. Also, Points East was expecting an article from me covering the trip.

So Marty was more than a little surprised when, from the helm, I said, “I can’t do this.” We were off Portland on a damp, chilly day, with a wicked quartering sea, and my knees were giving out on me. I have been dealing with bad knees for most of my adult life. But this was something different that could not be ignored any longer.
Calls were made to cancel all commitments, and a decision was made to have a low-key Pen Bay summer.

There would be no trip to Canada, no Points East article, and skiing last winter was canceled, too. We dealt with my knee issues once the sailing season was over.

Ultimately, I knew what had to be done. I needed two new knees. A trip to the Alpine Clinic, in Franconia, N.H., confirmed my self-diagnosis. Scheduling was done with consideration, given work and sailing season 2017. March 28 ended up being the big day, and everything went according to plan. Thirteen days were spent between the hospital and a short-stay rehab facility close to our home.

Six weeks seemed to fly by, and getting Skiya back in the water was starting to be a concern. Our launch day was moved into June. Mentally I had May 15 as a deadline for removal of the winter cover.

All of the early season mechanical work was done ahead of time by Jamie Thompson of Thompson Marine. I gave him a box of parts in February and explained why I needed him to do the spring engine work. The only problem with the May 15 plan was I knew that there was no way Marty and I could do this project without help.

And this is when our cruising friends stepped in to help. The crews of Merlot, Amber Sea and Shona gathered at IBH (Independent Boat Haulers), in Eliot, Maine, to kick-start our project.

We had the cover off, frame down and stored away in record time. Later the same day, the batteries went back on board, and then we managed to run the engine until it came up to temperature. This was just what we needed get us back in boat mode. All was good.

Marty and I made a lot of day trips to Eliot, and found that four hours was my limit for work on the boat. Little by little the projects got done. The bottom got wet-sanded and painted. The hull was polished, and the gear started to go back on board. Maybe everything was not done as well as a guy with two good knees could have done, but it was better (and easier) than Marty thought possible in April.

On June 9, Skiya was successfully launched. Rick Fleming from Shona helped us put the rig back together, and the efficient IBH crew had Skiya in the water. All was right in our world as soon as we were floating and the engine was running. Marty didn’t know she had been holding her breath since March, and she gave out one huge exhale of relief. One day later, we were sitting on a mooring at the Isles of Shoals. What a long way we had come!

Without the help of our sailing friends, Skiya would still be on the hard. Marty and I can’t thank them enough.
Every day that goes by, my knees feel stronger, and the week after this writing, we made our annual trip to Rockland. No big plans for us are in store this year, just a little sailing out of Rockland. Maybe next year we can get back to the St. John River.

Marty and Russ Roth sail their C&C 40 Skiya out of Portsmouth, N.H., and Rockland, Maine.