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We Splashed!!!

Wow, Wow, Wow!

Friday was quite a day for us!

Yes, you are seeing that right. WE ARE IN THE WATER!!

Before you ask, however, no - that doesn't mean everything is done and we can now just travel anywhere we want. Not by a long shot! We have the electric motor and saildrive mounted - with no leaks! but there is still a lot to do to get them all wired up, controllers, monitors, and charging inverters connected, throttles mounted and connected, etc. That's definitely the priority now. But, first let me share the amazing holy-smokes wait-what experience that was Friday!

In my last post I talked about the sudden decision to go into the water the next day and our late late night scramble to get everything ready for that. They told us they would be ready about 9 am to come move us down to the water. So, after a very few hours of not the most restful sleep, we got up at 6 to keep getting things ready. I still had to move all the stuff I lifted up to the back deck and get it all stowed into the right places on the boat. John had to finish getting lines and fenders ready, along with double-checking that everything was ready to go. You'll notice from the pics that the dagger boards are lifted into place, but not correctly settled. We decided to just go with them as-is and get back to them later.

About 8:30 I came back up to the deck after stowing the last few tools and supplies, and called down to John to see if he wanted some food. We both were super hungry. So I went to get some yogurt for us to start and when I came back out with them, there was the crew, asking if we were ready! I hurried and bolted my yogurt down and tossed one down to John, while they were getting their big lift started and warmed up. We still had some ladders to move and some odds and ends scraps of wood to figure out what to do with. John worked that out, and as soon as I got down off the boat, removed the last ladder up, and we were ready to go!

Thus began the first of several truly heart-pounding situations.

As the team began to slowly move the lift forward, I was videoing with my phone (I'm working to make a video that I'll post soon). As I recorded, I tried to slowly pan left and right, up and down to try and show the entire scale of the operation. As I panned backwards, I suddenly noticed a line that looked like it was starting to stretch between the boat and the fence line. I didn't know what it was, but I became quickly alarmed as the distance grew that the line was covering. So I started hollering for John and pointed it out to him. He acted quickly to yell and whistle to the operator to stop, and ran over to the line. It was our 30 Amp shore power line!! It was still connected to the electric panel and to our boat. I have no idea what could have happened, but I'm sure it wouldn't have been good! We once had a car crash through the power pole in front of our house, which brought the lines down all around it and literally tore more than 6 feet of wiring right out of our house!

Once John and Steve got the line all disconnected and stowed on the boat - which took several throws and eventually a ladder - the operation to move the boat began again. I have to say, I am super super impressed. Given that the boat has a 24 ft beam (width), and the lift is a good bit wider than that, it's a tight, tight squeeze between boats and old pilings. Steve operated the lift while Junior walked in front, around the side, and behind, watching and signalling what moves Steve had to make. It probably wasn't as close as it seemed to me, but I thought it looked like they missed some parts of other boats by mere inches.

10 minutes later, we were down by the well - the part of the dock that is reinforced with concrete and metal so the tires of the lift can be supported, while it positions the boat over the water and slowly lowers it down. They wanted to position the boat bow foward in the water, so that meant they needed to do about a multi-point turn to orient it that way. But like earlier, they did it with precision and coordination that was truly impressive. There was only one short delay while we waited for a worker on another boat to move his pickup truck. Once we were positioned correctly, the boat was slowly lowered.

So many thoughts and feelings went through me while this was all happening. This was the culmination of 15 months of sweat and hard work, a lot of $$ in parts and paint, and worries about if we did it all right. Did we get the water line on our bottom paint right? Did we get all the old through hulls we removed properly sealed up and patched? Are the new through hulls properly installed and sealed? I can't tell you how many times we've watched videos of people splashing their renovated boats only to find that they didn't properly close all their seacocks and their boat was quickly filling with water . . . and so on, and so on.

So as soon as possible, John jumped on the boat to go check all the bilges and make sure we weren't taking on any water.

Our boat is designed and built so that the bulkheads between each bilge is completely sealed and solidly blocked from the other bilges. That means a lot of different access hatches to check. Many boats have a channel running through the bulkheads so any water that gets in the bilge can flow to one spot and then be pumped out. We don't even have any bilge pumps at this point, and for the most part, our bilges look like they seldom, if ever, have had water in them. That's a really good thing because every boat I've been in that has a 'wet' bilge, which means it almost always has some level of water in it because the showers and sinks drain into the bilge (ours all have direct drains out of the boat), well, let's just say they don't always smell fresh and clean. I mean really, think about it. If you have an area that never sees the sun, has no or very little ventilation, and always is at least damp, how else would it smell? The catamaran we took our training on had that situation and sometimes, I wondered if the toilets were leaking into the bilge, that's how bad it smelled below deck.

I have to say, that while we all were waiting for John to come back and tell us how it looked, it seemed to me that he was gone an awfully long time and I was starting to wonder if he found water. Finally, he came back and let us know it all looked good. Whew!!

Then it was time for me to get on. LOL - looking at the distance John jumped, I just had to laugh. Junior saw that, and got a plank for me to walk - yes, you can walk the plank ONTO a boat. I made it safely on, and then it was time for the rest of the heart attacks to begin.

The owner of the new marina we were moving to, Patrick, was there with a boat, and a couple of his workers were there in another boat to tow us over to the dock. The first order of business was to keep our boat steady in the well while the tow lines were attached. Part of that was done by the boatyard crew keeping us in the lift slings. They also had people stationed around the well to push on our boat should we drift towards any of the three sides. I was running around pushing off pilings from the boat side. John was at the helm so that once we started moving, he could steer us. The problem is, that is when the wind decided to whip up. I'm sure it's some kind of Murphy/Neptune's law that when you don't want a boat to move it does, and when you do want it to, it doesn't. When we moved the boat from Virginia to the Sassafras river - four days up the Chesapeake, we almost never had enough wind to fill the sails. But now, just as we got in the water, it began.

I'm not sure I can actually describe the feeling of watching one corner and then another of the boat that we have invested so much into move inexorably closer and closer to rusty metal-lined concrete. I think John almost died at one point. One of the biggest issues was that the boat in front of us with the marina workers, only connected our tow line to one side of their skiff instead of making a bridle and spanning both sides. While they had a powerful enough outboard to pull us, by pulling from only one side of the boat, they kept getting pulled sideways themselves which would then start to rotate us in the well. I have to say, there were some crazy close calls. Finally, the owner of the marina, who had his skiff pulled up alongside the bow of our boat trying to keep her straight, managed to convey to the worker to stop, give it some slack, and tie off with a bridle so he could pull us straight. Once that got worked out, we began to move forward. That's when I about died.

I was on the rear deck pushing off against a piling in the back of the boat as they started pulling us forward. Then I saw the rear lift sling moving forward with us, meaning it was caught on something. That something, based on where the sling was going into the water, had to be our brand new, state of the art, super expensive sail drives! I yelled and yelled to get someone's attention and we finally got the forward momentum stopped, but then we had to let the wind blow us back again so the sling could get off the sail drives. All I could picture in my head was the oh-so-carefully mounted and installed drives getting tweaked crooked and ripping out the new fiberglass mounting structure John had fabricated. Of course going backward meant we were getting back into the scramble to keep the boat off the dock. The boatyard crew lowered the slings some more and we tried again - same thing. Finally, the third time was the charm, but only after a whole lot more scrambling and sweating to keep everything safe.

While John worked the helm and the two boats towed us, I went back and forth between the engine compartments, checking for damage or water. Luckily, I never saw any, so it looks like we made it!

The tow across the river was short and uneventful. The wind had calmed down and I was even able to dial into a quick Zoom meeting for work. We got to the new marina, Sailing Associates, and started coming along the T-head of the dock where our slip is. The plan was to pull us past the dock, then have the owner with his boat tow us into our slip. We have a really sweet, straight in slip that should not require too much manuevering to get into. But you know what happened, don't you? Yep - even stronger wind whipped up! We started sliding right towards the big pilings that support the T-head, and once again, had to scramble to stay off them. John hollered over to the owner that we should just tie up at the T-head until the wind died down and he agreed. That was much simpler to maneuver to. The owner's wife, Patty, was on the dock and I managed to toss her a dock line - whew! most of the lines I toss just go in the water - and she got us initially secured to one piling. Then all of us were able to get fenders and other lines ready, and within a few minutes we were secure on the T-head. The only actual casualty of the effort was Patty's cell phone which got yanked out of her back pocket while she was working a line and went right to the bottom of the river. RIP little phone.

So there you have it. The story of the very first time we got our boat splashed. It won't be the last, and hopefully all of them have the same great outcome. The new sunset view from our rear deck that night went a long way to bringing the day to a sweet, peaceful conculsion with our boat finally where she is meant to be, on the water.


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