With summer just a few months away, people are getting the urge to spend time in or on the water, especially those with boats at area marinas.
Whether they plan to spend the summer sailing, fishing or water skiing, boat owners have been spiffing up their crafts for the last couple of weeks.
"People are very enthusiastic to get the season under way," said Sharon Spencer who along with her husband, Brad, owns Lake Perry Yacht and Marina. "So far we've got about two-thirds of the boats launched.
"We're a little bit ahead of our normal schedule. With the fairly mild winter we've been able to accomplish more opening activities sooner than usual, and we opened about 30 days earlier."
SPENCER ADDED that fuel sales and shop inventory were up sooner than normal and that the rainy winter had pushed the lake two feet above conservation level after being five feet below at the end of last fall.
At Clinton Lake, though, the season is getting a slower start. The last three weekends have produced only one day of sunshine, and that has turned anticipation into more waiting.
"Usually we have about 50 percent of the boats in the water by now, but March and April weather are never dependable," said Mark Retonde, owner of Clinton Marina. "During those two months, people spend time sanding, painting, fixing and cleaning their boats to get them ready to get back in the water. We need a couple of good weekends, and as soon as we get them we'll have a mad rush out here."
Both Retonde and Spencer said they had expected a mad rush last weekend after weather forcasters predicted 80-degree temperatures and blue skies. When the mercury barely broke 55 degrees, the crowds never materialized.
"THIS IS ABOUT normal though," Retonde said. "At some point in spring you're going to have a rainy, cool season. This spring is unusual in that we had more people out on the lake in January and February than we do now. I kept telling people we'd have to have our winter sometime."
Last weekend also ruined KU Sailing Club plans to get on the water, although members, like the rest of the area's boat aficionados, are anxious to get the season under way.
"We wanted to get people out to sail for the first time last weekend, but it didn't work out," said Bryan Welsch, commodore of the club. "In fact, the weather on weekends hasn't cooperated much since spring break."
Welsch said that the sailing club had wanted to give some members their first experience on the water the culmination of the club's "Learn to Sail" program.
BOOKS PROVIDE much of the basic information in the program, explaining the functions of the jib, mast and rigging, as well as sailing safety and etiquette, said Welsch, a St. Louis sophomore.
The club, which sails and keeps its laser (13-foot one-person) and 420 (4.2-meter, two-person) sailboats at Lake Shawnee, charges members $35 for the spring semester and $45 for the fall semester, Welsch said. Fees are a bit more in the fall because the water is warmer and the season runs longer, he added.
The club also is a member of the Southeast Intercollegiate Sailing Assn. and sponsors regattas in the Lawrence area. Last year the club held a regatta at Clinton and this year the race is scheduled for May 2 at Lake Shawnee, said Stephen Rudy, last year's commodore of the club.
Although the weather hasn't cooperated in the last few weeks, members of the KU club as well as marina owners know it's just a matter of time before the temperature hits a warmer constant.
For Clinton's Retonde it's not so much when it will happen, but what will happen when August arrives.
"Usually August is our slowest month because it's the only time people have time to take vacations," he said, "but with the recession, people might stay closer to home this year."