April 12 is now officially the earliest date that I have physically entered a body of water in the state of Massachusetts. It is a personal record that I hope will never be broken.
My damaged wooden dock, slated to be replaced before summer, was in danger of floating away. Tied to land by a rope, the board that had the cleat attached had disintegrated and broken off. The dock was literally hanging on by a splinter. If it broke off completely, there would be nothing preventing what was left of the dock from drifting away and becoming a giant piece of floating pond trash. I did not want to be that kind of neighbor.
But more than that, I did not want to have to get into the pond on April 12 to chase down the dock. Three weeks ago, the pond was still frozen, so I could easily imagine a water temperature not much higher than 32 degrees. My rowboat and canoe were in dry dock, and I did not have to means to get either of them into the water by myself.
I grabbed a long, hooked aluminum pole that has come in handy on numerous occasions when needed to reach something from the shore. So I sat on the retaining wall and was barely able to reach the dock with the pole. I tried to pull the dock back toward a spot where I could grab it and re-attach a line from land. But I could only move it so far before it would again move with the direction of the wind and the current – away from my waterfront.
Then I noticed that my attempted maneuvering had backfired, causing the splinter of board that was holding the dock in place to break off completely. The dock was now floating freely and starting to drift off. I hurried into the house to don a pair of shorts and an old pair of sneakers, all the while dreading having to wade into the frigid pond and hoping the dock hadn’t drifted too far off for me to rescue it.
I got back to the pond’s edge and the dock was not where I had last seen it. It had floated down the shore and was now resting against my next door neighbor’s own unfortunate looking dock. But it would only be a matter of time before it worked its way around that obstacle and drifted off into open water.
While I won’t be going back in the water any time soon, I did garner some useful information from this experience. I’m going to have to demolish the old wooden dock before my new aluminum dock is installed. I was assuming that late May would be the earliest that the water would be warm enough to get in and do the demo, meaning I wouldn’t be ready for the new dock until some time in June. Now I know that I can tolerate the colder water, so I’ll probably start tearing the old dock apart in mid-May and maybe they can put the new one in before Memorial Day.
Filed under: Columns & Essays, Nature & Wildlife | 1 Comment
Tags: April, cold, dock, lake, Massachusetts, pond, rescue, spring, water