Thursday, June 22, 2006
I am sitting here in the cabin of the boat at the dock, she is in the water! She had been here two days now. I must say it feels good, the stress of the move was really starting to get to me. Here is how it happened.
As I had the last few days in preparation, I was up about four thirty on Monday. We had been packing things into the boat for days, in addition to the stuff we already had in there from the last time. The first truck arrived at eight o'clock, it was the man with the logging mats. We stood around, looked at the boat in the yard, I went in and had breakfast. The tractors arrived next. I had spent the whole weekend calling around for a backhoe, the man from the dome home, Ray, really helped a lot. I never found a backhoe but I had two tractors with buckets. Unfortunately, neither one had the ability to lift the thousand pound mats off the truck, we needed the crane for that. Around this time, the folks from Cove Point Marina called and said the truck was running late and would be there around eleven. That was OK because we could have everything set up by then and ready to go.
For two hours all of us, my family, the truck driver, the tractor drivers, and the onlookers and other help, stood around under the shade tree in the front yard, waiting for the crane, waiting and waiting. I called to find out what was going on. The crane was broken down on the highway on the way here. It looked like we were going to be waiting a while longer. A little after eleven the truck from the marina arrived. He looked things over and we decided to see if we could move the masts with the tractor. We put some chains around it, tied it to the tractor bucket and up she went. The truck backed up under it, we set it down and off it went. I was a little concerned with the topmasts taking the strain of bouncing on the road but they both made it in one piece.
It was now around one o'clock and there was still no crane. We sat around some more. And it was hot! We have had a pretty mild summer so far but today it was hot, it's been so all week. So we waited. Around two-thirty the crane finally arrived and started to work. We waited while they put the weights on and the foreman looked over the job. I suggested we put mats down at the end of the driveway, he decided to take the one hundred and twenty thousand pound crane into that questionable ground. The front tires started digging a hole. They drove the crane out. Let's put the mats down. Good idea!?
The crane set up in the street and they discussed how to get the mats off. They backed the truck up and discussed it some more. All this discussion at two hundred and twenty five dollars an hour! They took the first mat off. Discussed a little more. I was just sitting there thinking, they're all coming off, discuss it while we work! We hooked it up to the tractor and drug it into position. Fifteen huge mats making a new driveway. If I would have known that, I wouldn't have put the driveway in in the first place! I could really use the four hundred and fifty dollars right now! Anyway, they broke the crane down and drove it up next to the boat. Now we were going to get to it-finally. The day was disappearing fast.
They set it up again and we began discussing how to strap it on. Unfortunately with a crane that big, everything it uses it so heavy it needs to be lifted by the crane itself. The mats the outriggers sit on, the spreader bars and a few other things. It all goes very slowly. We found we needed an extra set of straps to reach and there was a question about where the balance point was. I stood where I thought it was and we went with that. Finally the straps were attached to the spreader bars and we began to tighten things up. Then we loosened them, the flare of the rail meant the bars had to be wider. Slowly the bars came down, we put in another notch and up again....and down again, still not enough. We put it out two more and up again....and down again. I suggested we block them out with 4X4s and we did and this time it worked, she was off the ground! And balanced well, the designer got that right. What the designer did not estimate correctly was the weight. She only came in at 44,000 pounds, over 15,000 less than my estimate. I figured she is going to sit a little high and need a lot more ballast than I thought. Oh well, she is now sitting on the truck.
After the truck set up all the necessary supports we were ready to go. All we had to do was get out of the yard. She began to move and was soon on the logging mats. That was a little hairy for me. The mats had been set crosswise which meant the truck with it's relatively small tires, sunk into every hole as it moved. It made for a bit more bouncing that I felt comfortable with. Soon, however, she was on the street, we made it. We stopped and checked things and I climbed aboard. It was my job to ride on top and clear the one or two cable wires that were questionable. As we pulled to the corner I did my best Leonardo DeCaprio impersonation, standing at the bow with my arms out wide yelling "I'm the king of the world!"
The trip to the marina was uneventful and when we got there the crane operator drove down and asked if I wanted to load the mats or launch the boat, we probably couldn't do both with the amount of daylight left. This was not good. If the crane launched the boat, I would need to rent a backhoe to put the mats on the truck, about five hundred dollars. But if we didn't launch the boat, the crane would be here another day and so would the truck driver and I didn't know what that would cost. I had taken the estimates to the dollar and had no margin of error. I decided to load the mats, a decision that turned out to be wise and costly at the same time. Even so, at the time I thought we still might make it. So they broke down the crane, moved it out into the street, set it back up, talked about it a while, moved the truck a few times and then we started loading mats.
By the time the mats were loaded, the crane broken down and driven to the marina, it was pretty dark. The crane operator said he would not do it under streetlights or car lights. My first extra expense was putting the truck guys up in a hotel. With nothing going on, the crowd of well wishers, helpers and curiosity seekers went home and so did we.
I was at the marina around six-thirty, tidied up, hooked up the solar panel and the battery, installed the wheel and went home for breakfast. By the time I came back, the crane operator was there and we were ready to set up. We discussed where and how and then I went over to the gathering crowd to talk to some of my friends and helpers. We talked and waited...and waited....and waited...and waited. The crane was broken down again. So we waited some more. I guess launching a boat is somewhat like I have heard flying described. Hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror, or in my case, anxiety.
They eventually got things running again after a few hours and we strapped it up and it was ready to go. The thunderclouds were gathering and a slight rain started to fall as she hit the water. Down...down...and then the straps became slack and she floated on her own! We clapped in the drizzle and then the crane operator suggested we go below to see if there was any water. First good idea from him in two days. I went below and pulled up the floor and there it was, water bubbling up between the planks. Now what?! I didn't think she'd leak like this. After all I made 'Dory' the same way and she didn't leak a drop. I grabbed the marina guy and went below and showed him. Time to pull it back up. As she was coming out of the water, a new face from the crowd approached. It was the media! This was not my idea for this very reason. In the event things did not go as they should, I did not want it to happen on live or recorded TV! I shook her hand and then attended to my boat. There was water coming out of a number of places in her deadwood, an area I had not expected to have a problem with. Someone had a marker and we marked all the leaks. Now it was time for me to get to work. I went home and got the sander, some cloth and resin and got to work. Three or so hours later with a bit of help from some of the locals, some epoxy and roof tar, she was ready again. Over she went and the leaks were about half. It was time to just let her in, I couldn't afford to do anything else. The pumps were keeping up and she was setting along her lines, slightly up in the bow. We took the straps off and she was on her own from here on out.
Now came time to drop in the masts. Since we put them off to the side out of the way without any idea where the crane would set up, they were too far for him to reach with the set up he had. So it took more time to put a new boom and attachment on the crane so it could reach the poles. We strapped them on and carried them over. In they went reasonably smoothly. It's not easy to turn them when you're fighting the turn of the cable but they sat where they were supposed to, fit in the holes nicely. She was in the water with all her important parts intact. I relaxed a little while they broke the crane down and left.
As she sat there that night and I lay on the pilot's berth listening to the pumps run I was wondering how all this was going to work out. The move cost over two grand more than expected and right now I had around fifty dollars to my name. Not a situation I would recommend to anyone. I would have to wait a week and a half to buy rope and wire for proper rigging. Not that there wasn't other things to do. We had to be out of our house in that week and a half. My immediate problem was the water. There was no way my batteries would run those pumps twenty hours a day. Would I have to have her towed to the nearest haulout and redo the bottom? I sure didn't have money for that! Everyone assured me, however, that the wood would swell and the leaks would slow, maybe even stop completely. As I sit here today, they seem to be right, it is slowing. But she is in the water, she floats, the important things work and we are now on our own which is, to some degree, the point of the adventure. The construction phase is over and now the dream begins!