Monday, June 23, 2008

Launching the Black Swan

Back in February, before we went to the Bahamas, Jeff found an AD for a Capri 26 sailboat in Marathon, Florida. We had been thinking about what to sail this summer, and 26 feet seemed like the perfect size, and it was the right price- new-ish sails, trailer, and tons of gear. Jeff went to look at it and we called Dad (poppop) to see if he'd like to be partners. A day or so later we were the proud new owners of the boat! We stored it in Marathon until we returned from the Bahamas, and then he towed it north with a rented vehicle. It has been in the driveway of the house here for a few weeks, Jeff has been working on buffing the hull to make it bright and shiny and a few other projects before its ready to sail. On Friday morning he finished up a few things, and we all piled into the Suburban and towed it down to Harbor Springs for the big launch.

The previous owner had said that the boat is 'ramp launchable' but we weren't sure, it draws about 3.5 feet so the ramp would have to be fairly steep. Luckily the ramp in Harbor Springs is steep enough, we were one of 3 sailboats that were launching that day! Jeff spent most of the day getting the mast ready to go up while John and I took a walk into town and played in the grass (I had to put socks on John for the grass because he HATES the feeling!!!).

When we were ready to put the mast up I had to give Jeff a hand and John was a real trooper, watching us with curiosity- I think he is going to be doing most of the work next time!
The mast was up and all secured, the boom and sails were on and furled, and dock lines were on the cleats but secured on deck so the car wheels wouldn't snag them, we were ready to launch! Jeff got into the Suburban and pulled the boat out while I secured John into his stroller with a toy and put him in a good (safe) place to watch the action. I went out onto the dock to be ready to grab the lines as Jeff eased the trailer down the ramp. I tried to tell him to get closer, but it is hard to gauge where the hull is when it is high on the trailer. When the rear wheels of the car were at the water I said "we're starting to float!" Jeff had just put the parking brake on and was about to get out to see how much farther he would have to reverse when the boat completely slipped off the trailer and into the water- but wait! I still didn't have a line!!! The boat was too far for me to reach it and I didn't have a boat hook or even a stick- and it was moving pretty fast towards the rocks- I had to think fast... Those of you who know me well know that I NEVER jump into water without first surveying the surroundings, testing the water, looking around a few more times, and then easing myself in... well, I jumped in! What else could I do? I grabbed the line and started swimming hard for the dock where Jeff and another guy were waiting to help. The line wasn't long enough to reach the dock so I held on tight to the bitter end while I held onto Jeff and the other guy to become a 'human dock line' until they could get the line and tie off the boat. There is no ladder on the dock there, (I guess in hindsight I could have just walked up the ramp!) so I made my way to the stern of the boat and climbed the ladder there, retrieving my shoes along the way (they're CROCS, they float!) The swim back to the stern was really difficult because 1) I was wearing jeans, which weigh you down when they're wet and 2) the water was COLD and I was having a hard time catching a breath! The lake this time of year is usually around 60, but this year it is even colder than normal- I don't recommend swimming yet! Luckily I had a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt in the car so I went and changed and got warm... what a day! My arms are still sore from the pulling. Oh, and John sat in his stroller and watched the while ordeal, probably thinking "my parents are such hacks!!!" We learned a lot that day- and for anyone reading this who might want to launch their boat in Harbor Springs, remember that the ramp is REALLY steep!!!!!

After the 'successful' launch of the Swan, we went for a short sail around Little Traverse Bay. John had not napped at all but the soothing rocking of the boat put him right to sleep!


David and Joelle Turner's Blog said...

So, blogger just ate my comment (twice!!)! Weird. I think I said something like "Wow, what an adventure, good save, Abs! The boat is really pretty, I'm sure you guys are going to have a blast this summer. I wish Atlanta was a little closer to all the boat action, I'd be there in a heartbeat!!" ...something like that.

Janet said...

Oh, to be young, flexible, and adventuresome. I repeat "God was very kind getting the two of you together"- Abby's such a wonderful first mate, wife, mommy, and daughter-in-law!