Last Friday, I finished burning text onto the oars that I started making last August. They're beautiful -- and, perhaps, useful. Over the weekend, they got a single coat of varnish. That's not enough for a long voyage. But I had nothing to worry about.
I decided to christen the oars today by attempting to row a racing shell. I tried this once before, with similar results. So I wasn't expecting to get far -- and didn't. About ten seconds into the voyage, it ended. Weather report: the water in New Bedford Harbor is currently 55 degrees. I am glad that I decided to make this attempt today. My original idea was to do it on January 31, the anniversary of Gideon Dexter's death (the event around which this whole project revolves).
I need to thank the four people who helped me today: Cheyenne Bayse, Carolyn Flynn, Sheilagh Flynn, and Calder Reardon. All the boats had been stored for the winter, so preparing for today's row and the safety precautions necessitated by the chilly water were not simple. Of course, I need to thank also New Bedford Community Rowing -- and assure all readers that novice rowers are not encouraged to get into elite boats like this. I was indulged because I wanted to experience exactly how far I have to go in learning and preparing for my row. I only got about 20 feet from the dock. So my question has been answered.