Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wetter is better

It turns out that putting a boat in the water can make for a bit of a long day. I got to the marina around 9 to open up the boat, empty out the lockers, (so I had an unobstructed view in case water should be where water shouldn’t be) and generally check things over one more time. I also had to undo the head stay to get it out of the way. Around 11 (after a few minutes on the charger) the marina’s big tractor was started and the lift gantry was backed into place. Straps were slung under the boat and little Nomad was hoisted off of its cradle with ease. That gave me access to the 4 spots on the hull that still needed painted. I have to say I was a bit uneasy working beneath 6000 pounds of boat hanging on a couple of straps and cables. By noon all the paint and touchup work was done so I headed into town to get some lunch. The plan was to launch the boat around 3, giving the paint a chance to dry as well as giving Gary (the boat broker and Commodore of the yacht club) a chance to round up some help and get to the marina to show me what to do. I have never even seen a sailboat launched before and was more than a little curious about the whole process.

After inspecting, buying, cleaning, painting and hoisting, the actual launch was a bit anticlimactic, which is not a bad thing. Craig fired up the tractor again, (after more time on the charger) and just hauled the boat over to the launch ramp. Gary and I rode on the boat as it was backed down the ramp. There was no splash, just the sudden realization that we were floating, not hanging. We eased the boat out of the web of steel that had carried her to the water, Craig drove away and our boat was back in its natural habitat. Gary hit the starter and the 10 HP diesel fired up instantly, settling into a smooth idle. I was a bit behind the process though, and realized that the thru-hull valve for the water inlet was still closed. It only takes a moment to open it, but I banged my knee pretty good in my haste to get down into the starboard locker to reach it. Getting in a hurry on a boat seems to be about as bad an idea as getting in a hurry with an airplane. Bad things happen. It’s much better to plan ahead a little and then move with some deliberation.

Gary gave me the helm and for the first time in my life I was driving a boat through a marina full of other boats. It seemed a really good time to go slow and I was reminded of lesson #2; a slow moving 27 foot sailboat handles as much like a loaf of bread as a slow moving 31 foot boat. Idle RPM seemed perfect for my (lack of) boat handling skills and I managed to guide Nomad into her berth almost as if I had some real clue about what I was doing. It was all remarkably fun. (And made much easier by the total lack of wind.)

Later I started putting stuff on the boat, stuff like sails and the Bimini. I got the head stay back on and tightened, (a first) hanked on the jib (another first) and stuffed it in its bag. Wrestling with the jib was a bit of a handful just sitting at the dock. Out on the water with the wind blowing and the boat bouncing? The Bimini was a puzzle as well, and I ended up putting it together three times before I decided it was correct. Then I sat and drank a Coke staring at the Bimini and decided I had it on backwards. I turned it around and this time I really do think its right.

There is still a lot to do. The main sail has to go on along with its cover. I haven’t quite figured out all of the electrical system yet and still need to run the power cable on the dock. The water tank needs filled. All stuff we will attempt to finish this weekend. Still, Deb came to the marina after work and for a little while we sat on foredeck, leaned against the cabin and were just kind of astonished / delighted where we were and what we were doing. By then it was well after 6 pm and I was starting to feel the heat, the hours and the miles. But we have a boat and it is in the water. And that is just way cool.

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