Sunday, May 17, 2009

Step Two: Get Her Home.

Here's where she is now. Not a bad spot. She even has a view of the water she will sail in someday.


Getting her there was something of an adventure. Come along...I used my year's allotment of F-Bombs on this one.

Buying a boat is one thing. Write a few checks, sign some paperwork. Getting that boat from the marina slip it has been sitting in for five years to a driveway 30 miles away is another issue.

I'll just go ahead and start with the obvious thesis here: a lot of things have to go right to get a boat hauled, onto a truck, and onto the jackstands as planned. And because we are talking about something related to boats, very little ever goes as planned. Also, because we are talking about something related to boats, the checkbook was going to get a serious workout.

The first challenge: finding a day to do this job. The nameless new/old boat was sitting in the marina in Port Townsend. We do have jobs, it turns out, and kids, and pesky things like that. Finding a time we were both available proved pretty much impossible. And in fact, with the closure of the Hood Canal Bridge looming it came down to one day that would even remotely work. So I started calling...

The second challenge: getting the Port of Port Townsend to put me on their calendar for a haul out. Having only one open day didn't exactly give us a lot of flexibility, but with a little bit of begging and a "promise" that we would be able to haul the boat directly onto a truck instead of taking up time and space in the boatyard, I got them to bump someone else so we could get her out of the water. Now about that promised truck.

As far as I could tell, there are three companies that transport sailboats in the Puget Sound area. The first number I called connected me to a guy named Terry or Kerry or something like that. If you want him to move your boat, I can give you his number, and he's "pretty sure" he can move your boat just fine. He's got a pretty big truck and a trailer that he's hauled some big boats on before. Just don't ask him if he's insured. He'll hang up on you. True story.

The second number I called connected me to an actual business. But by the time they asked the right people the right questions, it turned out that they couldn't get a truck to Port Townsend that day. Uh oh. One more shot.

Associated Boat Transport, and their trusty owner Jack came to the rescue. He already had a truck on the Olympic Peninsula that day anyway, and they could pick us up on their "way home." Cool by me. Jack even offered to sell me some jackstands, and 150% of retail cost. So nice of him. More on Jack and his jackstands later. I took his offer tentatively, though, and told him I would try to find my own stands in the meantime. No luck on that. I called every boat yard I could find. No one would sell me stands.

The last variable (I thought) was getting a crane to pull the mast. Does it seem odd to anyone else that the Port of Port Townsend doesn't have their own boomtruck or crane? I mean, even the Port of Everett has their own crane. You would think a boatyard the size of Port Townsend would have such a thing. Nope. I had to call a guy named Shannon, who knew a guy who knew a guy who had a boomtruck.

Outgoing Message on Shannon's phone: Hi it's Shannon. I'm out of town until the first of June. If you need help with a crane, you should call Joe inaudible last name at 360-blah blah blah static static.

Awesome. I have the haulout scheduled, a truck coming, and getting the mast out of the f-ing boat was going to be the thing that derailed me? F-word. Another half hour of calling around and I finally got the name and number of that guy that someone knew who had a boom truck. 10 a.m. on the do-or-die day? Schedule it.

Sweet. Now nothing could go wrong.

Except the tide tables. For no apparent reason, I decided to check the tides for the day of the haulout. Minus 2.8 feet? When I see this I remember that the boat is moored in the cheapest section of the marina, between the outside of the float and the breakwater. At low tide, it is trapped in. Even at mean tide, it looked like a pretty serious adventure to get out of there.

I call the marina office.

"Hey, I have a mast pull and a haul out scheduled for Monday, but the low tide will make it so I can't move the boat on that day. Is it ok if I move it to the other side of the dock for the night?"

"No. That's what you get for mooring your boat in the limited access space."

"Gee. Thanks. You're very helpful and kind."

"If you want to move it to a different spot you have to pay transient moorage for the night."

"I just though since I was already paying to use the work float to pull the mast, you might just let me slip over there 12 hours early. No one will be using that space overnight."

"No."

"Hey thanks!"

I know better. The lesson I re-learned here is that you can't do a damn thing over the phone or on the web.

Hayden and I drove up to the marina the night before the haul out and walked into the port office. Could we move the boat tonight and leave it at the work float overnight? Sure? No problem? Don't worry about paying? Wow. Maybe you should work the phones.

So we started up the engine (yep, it runs!) and drove her around the marina. Thunka thunka thunka thunka. Nothing quite like a 30 year old single-cylinder Yanmar diesel to rattle the fillings out of your teeth. And there we left the boat, waiting for the adventure to begin.

Hayden had to work and miss the festivities the next day, so I conned Skipper Krumm into joining me on the chaos. If anyone loves tinkering with sailboats more than Krumm, I've never met them. He's a good guy to have around if you need help with anything boat related. Hey Dennis, want to spend a couple of hours (all day) helping me haul the boat out of the water? Sucker. (Seriously though, Thanks Dennis!)

We had all morning to get the mast ready to be lifted off the boat. No problem. I'd done this twice on the old O'Day with no problems. Take off the boom, undo the standing rigging, and lift her right up. That's Krumm there on the bow monkeying with a turnbuckle or something.

Problems. The bolts at the gooseneck of the boom are 30 year old stainless steel threaded into aluminum. So those aren't going anywhere. The flange on the gooseneck also kept us from just folding the boom up against the mast for the hoist, to be dealt with later. Nope. We had to get that damn thing off. No dice. Short of drilling out the bolts (which we didn't have the tools to do) it wasn't coming off. So we had to lift the mast with the boom attached and swinging around. Good times.

Boom truck arrives. We attach the mast, get some tension on the cable, and undo the turnbuckles. These actually came undone! Wow. Ok. LIFT!

Nothing. The damn crane actually started lifting the whole boat up out of the water by the mast. If anyone has any question about the reinforcement for the mast step in the Cape Dory 27, I can attest to its strength. Holy crap. So let's review. The mast is complete detached from the boat. It is just sitting on the mast step, and it isn't moving at all. 30 years of corrosion have essentially welded the mast to the mast step. We tried rocking the mast, pulling it forward, pulling it backwards, shaking it, pounding the living shit out of it with a piece of 4x4 lumber. Nothing. Insert long stream of F-bombs here. If we can't get the mast down, we can't move the boat. If we can't move the boat, we have to pay to leave it in the yard in Port Townsend until June, when the Hood Canal Bridge opens again.

Dennis leaves to let me swear to myself, ostensibly in search of some magic tool that will free the mast. While he's gone, I sacrifice one of his screwdrivers and use it like a chisel at the base of the mast. The crane is still attached (of course it is, he's charging me by the hour here...) and there is some tension on the cable. When I chisel my way around the mast step one quarter inch at a time, I think I see it move. Hope! First Obama is elected President and now this! Hope is alive! I keep chiseling. More movement! Yes we can!

And just like that, a mere three hours after we started, the mast just lifts right off the boat. Magic.


Never mind that the boom is still attached. We'll deal with that later. Let's get some lunch. Then we'll figure out how to deal with the rest.

During lunch the truck arrives, so we have that in the hopper. The only other variable now (I stupidly thought) was getting her hauled out.

Krumm went at taking all the rigging off the mast, except the port side spreader which, like his friend the mast, was welded in place from 30 years of corrosion. Awesome. I begged a Sawzall from a guy in the yard and just cut the damn boom free of the gooseneck. Proper tool, proper job.

The haulout was almost uneventful, except for the fact that they put the forward strap too close to the bow and almost dropped us. Good times.


To the washdown station we went and transformed this slimy, muck-covered but surprisingly unblemished bottom side...
...into this:


Check out that egg beater of a propeller. No wonder this thing is so notoriously sluggish under power. Start saving pennies for a three-bladed Max Prop!

Bring on the truck! The coolest truck ever built. Hydraulic everything. Set the boat on it, raise up the padded arms to hold it in place, tie it down, and we're golden!


And this is when Krumm inquires about getting the boat OFF the truck back at the house. It's easy, says the driver, you just take your jackstands and set them up and we lower the trailer down and drive out. "You do have jackstands, don't you?"

No. You're supposed to have them, Mr. Boat Transport and Storage Guy.

They forgot to send the jackstands! Jack, how could you? We were so close!

Remember my lesson about not doing things over the phone? Well, when I called looking for jackstands the previous week, no one had them. Now that I was there and needed them, no problem! The boys at SeaMarine (no coincidence, the same outfit that sold the old boat) came to the rescue with 4 used stands. We're back in business (and at a significantly lower price than Jack's jackstands would have been,

Off to the house. It was kind of crazy watching our boat go down the highway like that. And compared to the size boat he could be carrying on that trailer, she looked tiny!

Good truck drivers are amazing to watch in action. This guy casually backed his huge rig down our wooded, one-lane driveway, with drainage ditches on both sides and a big 90 degree turn in the middle. And he did it 6 inches at a time.


I pointed to where we wanted it in the driveway, and he hit the mark dead on. We couldn't have picked it up and set it there any better than he did.

So there she is. Up on stands and ready for some love and tenderness. We can't wait to get started, but it would be nice if they would fix that damn bridge pretty soon. It's a 3.5 hour adventure right now just to get over there.

As soon as we get back to the boat we'll post some pictures and thoughts about our first projects. The list is looooong.

-Greg

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