Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I warned you that there would be stories of boat maintenance. Well, we have begun.
Two weekends back, Bryan and I traveled to Port Townsend to finalize the paperwork on the new boat. Immediately upon becoming official owners of LiLo, we plunged into the work of rebuilding our rig. The standing rigging that supports the mast had done its job well, but for plenty long enough. We talked about waiting a year or so to have it re-rigged, but concluded that while she was in Port Townsend (aka NW Boating Mecca) we should just get it over with.
Ira, one of the riggers from Port Townsend Rigging, arrived on LiLo just a few minutes after we did and immediately began prepping the boat to have the mast removed. We were a bit surprised at the recommendation to have the rig tuned before we took it off, but once we understood that all measurements for the new rig would be taken from these (now accurately tensioned) stays, we were grateful for the professional help. (I know. Some think boat ownership is a sign we need more professional help.)
The actual mast removal was so smooth and easy, I missed taking a picture.
The boom-truck driver (known to us only by his shop nickname "The Paralyzer"...ask me for the story another time) did a great job and Ira--now joined by Ben--rolled our mast away to the rigging shop. Only then did Bryan and I realize...we had no idea where to find the shop.
The Port Townsend Boat Haven is several city blocks of boat repair bliss. Everywhere you turn you find marine-related industry. Mechanics, riggers, sign carvers, brokers-yes, even a brewery. And lines of boats on stands, some looking as if they were putting down roots, some with bright new blue tarps and busy owners. We wandered through the labyrinth and finally spotted a familiar-looking (if disturbingly horizontal) mast.
Lisa, our guru for all things rigging, walked us through the myriad choices for modern rigging and Ben showed us around the shop. We even got a demonstration of the new swaging machine that connects the steel cable to end fittings by squashing the fitting so tightly around the cable the metal almost fuses. It is way cooler than I make it sound. I found it fascinating, if a bit boggling, to listen to the explanations from these skilled craftsmen/women. It's a good thing the steep learning curve we took on along with the new boat is an enjoyable challenge to both of us. There will be plenty of opportunities to plod upward, but the boating community is a welcoming one and we have met many knowledgeable guides willing to give us a hand up along the way.
Next, we were off to West Marine to consider options for new mast wiring. We didn't know when we would have another opportunity to replace the light fixtures on the mast, so we consulted with several employees and left to get measurements and a good night's sleep.
Back at the boat, I was surprised to hear voices hailing us across the water. Who could know us here? It turned out to be one of the helpful West Marine employees who, along with her husband, had recently arrived from a (unexpectedly extended) passage from Hawaii. They ended up stranded in the NW due to their late arrival and repairs that extended their stay beyond the safe weather window for heading south. We gladly invited them aboard for a look around, feeling a bit strange to be the people with a bigger boat for once. Nissa is 21 feet, so we are used to being the runt. Their blue-water cruiser is 27 feet, so 32-foot LiLo seemed spacious to their eyes. They offered the legendary cruiser's greeting "How about a drink?" and we accepted, following them through the boatyard, past their boat "on the hard" to the brewery where outdoor heaters and live music along with cheap peanuts and good beer (or so I hear) set the stage for a delightful evening of story swapping. We had been almost too busy to be excited on this red-letter day, but it was exhilarating to experience some of the instant camaraderie and companionship we have read so much about. I skipped on the way back "home" for the night. "I feel like a real boat owner now!"
Saturday was full of problem-solving as we fished the old cables out of the mast and pulled in new ones in the gusty winds (up to 30 mph--we measured on our windmeter). We were grateful for grandparents who kept the girls warm and dry at home. We made an impromptu trip to the local marine exchange store and spent far too long poking through piles of curiosities (I got excited anytime I recognized a piece of gear) and chatting with the proprietress who regaled us with stories of her adventures aboard a 29-foot Islander, just a few feet smaller than LiLo. ("If you come to take me off this boat," she told the Coast Guard that stormy night, "come armed!") She congratulated us on our purchase, saying she had made a call trying to buy LiLo soon after we had and suggesting many modifications to the basic Islander design she described as "bulletproof." "If I didn't have 9 boats already (!), I'd be jealous. But you'll have so much fun and she'll always be good to you." Her words followed us like a blessing as we blew back across the boatyard to finish our work.
Sunday, we met the previous owners, Derrell and Lynn, to retrieve the dinghy, the FOUR spare engines, and all the other assorted gear they had collected over the years. Now we were really glad not to have the girls along as there would have been absolutely no room for them in the cab of the truck. As for the bed of the truck...take a look.
But Derrell and Lynn passed on more than just sailing books and gear (including a kitty life jacket. I'm sure Avin will LOVE that...I'll try to get pictures). We are the thankful recipients of their stories and wisdom, and their gracious, full release of LiLo into our care is a blessing beyond telling. We all agree we have found an unbelievable match. We are overwhelmed with LiLo's abundance and Derrell and Lynn have affirmed that the joy we've expressed has tempered their bittersweet choice to let go. (They'll hate that I've published their picture, but it's too good not to share.)
After a final, rather miserable, stop at LiLo's former slip to remove the last bumpers, we returned to Port Townsend, dropped off the dinghy (Lil' Lo) and headed for home.
We're going again this weekend, all of us this time, to re-step the mast and bring LiLo down to her new slip in Olympia. Yes, out in the Puget Sound in a boat with no heater...in October. But you knew we were crazy already. So stick around...there'll be more stories.