Charlestown Launches into its Boating Season

-By Luke O’ Neill

The hum of traffic droned on nearby on the Charlestown Bridge. The clanging and dinging of boat masts rang throughout Constitution Marina. Water gently lapped boats’ bows.

On one boat, the jibber-jabber of Boston sports radio somehow seemed less abrasive than usual. On the same boat, Kevin McManus, 41, of West Roxbury, was a busy man.

Flanked by a couple toolboxes and seem­ingly countless tools and tasks, McManus seemed at ease working on the boat’s engine. He wound a wrench and its high-pitched click­ing and clacking snapped through the salt air as the wind whirred.

Despite all the hard work to get a boat ready for the new boating season, boaters like McManus enjoy the journey.

“It’s an adventure,” he said of priming his boat for the season. “I like it though; it’s pretty therapeutic, just working on the boat. You listen to the Red Sox game, grab a wrench or drill or whatever you happen to be working on at the time and get to work.”

Recently, McManus has been working to install a new wooden floor for the cabin of the boat – a 1979 sloop-rigged Lancer 36. He’s also redoing the boat’s toilet with a new holding tank and tubing. And he installed new windows this year because the old ones were leaking.

“When I get on this boat I start working on 20 different things at once. It’s so hard to focus on one thing because you start working on one thing and something else has to be done too so I start working on something else.”

McManus, who owns the boat with two friends, was especially busy at the end of April, since he had to move the boat out of Constitution Marina by May 1 – the start of the marina’s summer season. Making an “eco­nomic decision,” McManus said he was mov­ing the boat for the season to a South Boston marina, where rates are less expensive.

Marina madness

Constitution Marina, too, has been busy lately, launching its summer season earlier this month after slipping its winter docks into their summer spots. Constitution Marina and Shipyard Quarters Marina staffs have been so busy in fact that they had no time for an inter­view about the start of the boating season.

Tom Cox, general manager of Constitution Marina, did say in a brief phone message that the end of April and beginning of May is the marina’s “busiest time of the year.”

Busy indeed. On April 30, a steady stream of boats were seen hauled to a parking lot adjacent to the marina and hoisted by crane and placed in the water. The day, according to one boater, was Launch Day, where many of the marina’s boats are put in the water.

Nearby, in the Navy Yard, the Courageous Sailing Center hosted an open house all weekend to draw attention to its programs and services.

For some boaters, however, the boating season is year-round.

‘A labor of love’

Captain Ed Mancini heads up The Navigator Club, a Charlestown-based private boating club that “caters to people who love being on the water but who don’t own a boat,” accord­ing to his brochure. For boaters like Mancini, much of the season’s prep work occurs out of the water, and by the time the boat’s put in the water it’s ready to go.

But usually what boaters are doing in the spring, said Mancini, is sand­ing and painting the bottoms of their boats, then waxing and buffing the boat, and finally a motor tune-up with new spark plugs, filters and an oil change.

“It’s called a labor of love,” Mancini said of the constant upkeep and care that boaters afford their ves­sels. “It’s a lot of work.”

The older boats in particu­lar need constant maintenance, he said; “you’re always doing some­thing.” The newer, fiberglass boats may require less maintenance, said Mancini, “but you still have to stay on top of things, especially the buff­ing and waxing.

“The sun just beats down on the boat and you’re constantly, con­stantly fighting the effects of Mother Nature.”

Mancini said the first week of May is normally when “a lot of activity happens” in the local boating scene. However, he added that some boaters don’t get their boats in the water until late June.

The Navigator Club, which has its office on Warren Street, put its fleet of four power boats in the water at Constitution Marina earlier this month, said Mancini, of Salem.

“I’ve been working like crazy getting [the boats] ready,” he said. “We’re always working on the boats so when a member comes down they just put the key in and go.”

Lured to water

Mancini’s “slip neighbor” for four years, Captain Webb Thompson runs Nervous Water Charters, a fish­ing guide service. Thompson, a few weeks ago, said he was at “mid-stage” in getting his boat ready, while organizing equipment like tackle, lures and flies.

Thompson, who used to live in Charlestown but now lives in Andover, is a schoolteacher during the year in Marblehead, but once June rolls around he’s out on more fishing trips.

His 20-foot Jones Brothers boat recently came up from Florida, and Thompson was busy taking his father’s Florida gear off the boat and putting his gear on.

“The boat gets a lot of use,” said Thompson, adding that a new engine was recently installed, and that the boat receives overall maintenance twice a year because it’s used year-round since it’s in Florida all winter.

As for McManus, despite the hard work leading up to boating season, he still enjoys his older style 1979 Lancer racer-cruiser boat, which spent the winter shrink-wrapped at Constitution Marina.

“There’s a lot of work to do on this one,” McManus said of his boat. “It’s definitely an oldie and it needs work. We’ve done a ton of work on this thing. Everything seems to be a work in progress. But we have fun with it.”

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