I was dressed in classic boatyard attire: Tyvek white jumpsuit tastefully splattered with blue, gray and red, muddy work boots, an old baseball cap to hold back my hair, goggles and a respirator. When George hesitantly approached me, I recognized his surprise, “Terry, why are you sanding the boat. Where’s Clint?”
“Not here,” I responded. “Is there something wrong?”
Apparently there was something amiss. Over the next few hours, more and more men made a slow pass by our boat. Some would timidly wave while others scurried away when I made eye contact with them. Our friend Bob pulled up a cinder block next to me while I ate lunch.
“OK, what gives,” I asked him. “Why are all these men staring at me?”
Bob chuckled, “Do you see any other female in the boat yard today?”
It never occurred to me that I was the only female there. In years past, I worked side-by-side with Clint to ready the boat for the season. This spring, his work schedule interfered, so I simply donned the suit and did what needed to be done.
Eventually the guys got use to me working around the yard. One day I asked one of my new friends what his wife was doing at home that day, “I’m sure she’s working in the garden.” That is when the lightbulb went off in my head.
As the boats began to splash for the season I asked our marina owner Milt if I could use a small plot of dirt near A Pier to plant a garden. He agreed, then inquired about what I was up to. “Marina beautification,” I responded. With a wink and a grin Milt, told me I could do anything I wished to that area of land, and if I needed anything else to let him know.
The rocky soil had been neglected for quite some time. I pulled weeds, removed debris that had washed ashore and then began grading the area. I immediately began attracting some attention, only this time instead of the men sheepishly passing by it was all the hibernating females. I wanted these ladies to warm up to me, so I posted a sign saying, “Community Garden In Progress. Volunteers and donations needed.”
I created raised beds using extra cinder blocks from around the marina and brought terra cotta planters from home. By the end of the week bags of soil and several more planters were left in the area. Without fanfare I worked in the soil then bought tomato and basil plants to put in the planters. More and more items began appearing: a watering can, more tomato plants, geraniums and even an old charcoal grill.
One day Bob stopped by the plot of land before heading out to his boat. “I see you were able to use the soil Linda had me bring you. She wants to know if you need anything else.” While Bob’s boat was named after his wife, Linda rarely came to the marina to sail with him.
“Bob, tell Linda this is a community garden and whatever she wants to send in or do to help would be most appreciated,” I said.
As the tomatoes began to grow so to did the volunteers. One Sunday, while her husband worked on an engine, Kitty helped me repair and paint a picnic table. Joanne made sure all the plants were watered each time she came to sail with her husband. Debbie did some weeding and Julie supplied the garden with extra garden tools from her home.
As the ladies began to become friends they organized a dock party prior to the annual Fourth of July fireworks. It was then I got to meet many of the wives, girlfriends, mothers, aunts and daughters of the men who were befuddled by this woman scraping the bottom of a boat.
Later that summer Milt pulled me aside and simply said, “That is a heck of a “Marina Beautification” program you have going.”
I just grinned saying, “Women do brighten up this place.”