Friday, April 19, 2013

The Haul Out Butterflies

It had been over a month since I became the owner of my first sailboat "Corleto" an 82 Catalina 27. It was bought sight on scene without the customary presale survey. It had been a gamble, but would it prove to be a costly mistake? This question would be answered whether I like it or not during the haul out and insurance survey that I had arranged to take place last week.

As the day approached, my mood and nerves were short. My stomach in knots, imagining all sorts of bad news coming from such an exercise. I read as much as I could about bottom painting, replacing anodes and the like. The best info I had was she hadn't been hauled for two seasons. What would be in store? Could I get finished what needed to be done in the 3 day window of the haul out? My head was spinning at an alarming rate. Perhaps I should wire up a tachometer to my head to see if I am red lining.

The weekend before the scheduled haul, I had booked myself into a marine diesel engine course at Cooper's Boating. Why not put more new information into an already melting down brain.
Turns out the course was perhaps the best investment to date as it pertains to looking after my new beauty. The parts that looked so intimidating to me when I bought her, now seemed to make sense. At least I could identify the parts and components. Being around other boat owners was good for me as well. We traded war stories of boat ownership. It was encouraging that I seemed to be doing OK compared to some. I took a bit of comfort in that.

It had been many years since I had been into the small harbour that is Thunderbird Marina, home of the travel lift and the yard that would serve as dry dock for Corleto. It was recommended I arrive around 13:30 as the tide would be rising and that would insure sufficient water under keel coming to the lift.

My friend Kinc had offered his services to come and help with the haul out and bottom work. He also drove my vehicle from our home Marina to Thunderbird while Charlene and I motored Corleto to the yard. It was a pleasant trip. But as we approached the entrance to the harbour, my stomach began to do back flips.

More like bats flying around inside.

I looked at my watch, we were early.
Was there enough water to have us motor on in? I decided to do several slow circles in the widest part of the harbour killing some time. At about 13:30 with Charlene up on the bow with dock line at the ready, I committed to the narrow channel into the travel lift.
Dead slow, there was no turning back.
My depth meter read 11 feet, 10 feet ,,, 8 feet.
This was the most tension I had ever felt when on a helm. Charlene kept a sharp eye on the water ahead, silently pointing potential rock hazards. She was fast becoming a good bowman, keeping the helmsman aware of what was ahead. Time seemed to stand still as we progressed. It seemed longer than I remembered with Kinc's boat all those years ago.
We came to the end of the channel where we had to make a sharp turn to port. As Corleto's bow came around there was Kinc on the dock. We had done it. We hadn't scraped the bottom or smacked ourself into another vessel.
A voice from the travel lift guided us the rest of the way. Steering the boat toward the cradle straps, Bob ( the Yard Boss) told me to cut the engine. And just like that Corleto was in the grips of the lift crew.

As we disembarked, it began to rain. The motors of the travel lift began to whine. Corleto whether she liked it or not was about to show us her nether regions. The crew went to work to spray her bottom and remove any growth, before settling her into her blocks.

Corleto showing off her bottom

I was astonished at what I saw. The bottom looked in great shape.  It was determined that I would not need to paint the hull this season. A look at the prop and shaft, and it too was is great condition. The zincs would need changing, no big deal.

The Marine Surveyor was quick to hop aboard and begin his work. When it was done, he found a couple of minor things that could be looked at, but all in all he said to me that she was a great boat for her age and that I got a great deal. He shook my hand, gave me a valuation and you could not wipe the smile off my face. It appears the gamble had paid off in spades. I had a good boat and she will serve us well as a coastal cruiser.
Sitting proudly on her blocks

Keeping in mind this was my first experience as an owner with a boat on the hard. The Yard crew made us feel very welcome and told us that no question was too stupid. They were simply amazing. One fellow providing tips on the use of Muriatic Acid. Another stopping by from time to time to inspect my work. He would tell Charlene what he thought of our work and make the odd suggestion if we were headed in the wrong direction. They made us feel right at home. And their thoughts and expertise were truly appreciated.

New Zincs on the prop shaft

When it was time to relaunch, the Boss took one more walk around to inspect the prop, and hull. He reinforced the sentiments of the Marine Surveyor with "You got yourself a good little boat, it should give you allot of fun this summer."

One more walk around before relaunch

We hopped aboard after they set Corleto gently into the water. I started the engine, engaged the transmission and with a salute from Bob (the Yard Boss) "You look like a Skipper Murray. Have fun, sail safe."

We headed back to Horseshoe Bay. This time the butterflies were gone.

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