Falling for Fall Yard Periods

7 October 2008 By Rubi McGrory

With fall weather quickly nipping at our heels, I am so excited for one of my favorite times of year: the fall yard period.

Whether we are facing a big refit or just a little T.C.B. (Taking Care of Business), I always look forward to this precious niche. Sure the boat is torn apart and work dust seems to find its way into every nook and cranny on board, while a million strangers clomp around in big heavy dirty boots, but I still love it.

It almost seems a shame to take away from all of this seasonal joy by breaking it up with holiday time.

In no particular order is a list of why I love this time of year. Feel free to oppose me bitterly, or add some of your own as a comment at the end of this article, but you can’t take away my bliss.

1. Actually, measurable time off. After a crazy summer season chartering around New England and Canada for weeks on end, the idea of a five-and-a-half or six-day work week is a luxury (until the last two weeks when everything is behind schedule and we have to pull 16-hour days again).

2. Sunday morning lie in. Instead of cooking or serving brunch for an extended family, I can laze around in bed (bonus points if the bed is in a room with windows in a crew house.) This is generally enjoyed with a mild hangover (see #4 and #5), before slipping into my own clothes and going out for brunch and poring over the Sunday New York Times (on the day it is published).

3. Having a schedule with no surprises. Examples: No last-minute dinner for 14 at anchor in Martha’s Vineyard; no carpe diem overnight trips from Nice to Monaco with guests on board.

4. The luxury of planning fun in advance, like buying tickets for a concert and knowing the boss won’t pop by for drinks and nibbles as I am picking out my outfit. Maybe even a weekend trip or a class.

5. Friends nearby. With any luck, some of my friends will be either in the same yard or close by. We’re all in yard mode, so even though we still work hard, we have a chance to go out and play. Instead of the usual “ships passing in the night” situation where one crew is off to pick up a charter, and another in port only a few hours to drop off guests before heading on to the next location.

6. An opportunity to be a landlubber for a short while, either in a crew house, or by visiting my non-yachtie friends and family.

7. Downtime equals "me time." The summer season is all about service and work for interior crew. After months of full-on parties, trips and entertaining, fall yard period is down time. An opportunity to clean, sort, re-organize and re-order, which I can never seem to stay on top of during a hectic season.

8. The nautical fragrance of fall in New England. The amazing clean crisp scent of being on the water in Newport in late October mixed with the smell of boatyard.

9. A look ahead. Finally, yard period gives us a fleeting chance to regroup. I'll catch my breath and start looking forward to a busy winter in the Caribbean.