2007 Launch

June 6 was sunny and bright, with a brisk WNW wind. This wind didn't bother me since it blows right off the land, and therefore wouldn't affect launching ramps, mooring fields, or boatyard cranes. So I looked forward to my second launch attempt in a season that had already been filled with unhelpful schedules, weather, and unwanted delays.

My only trepidations this day revolved around the timing of the launch, and the tides; low tide fell around 0924. And the unknown quantities of mast-stepping boatyards and other factors. 

Steve Morse picked the boat up around 0845, and by 0915 we were on our way back to Rockland--a much more pleasant journey than Monday's. We arrived at the ramp at 1000. I launched the dinghy and checked out the water depth at the dock with an oar: chest height, or maybe 4' if I was lucky. But nonetheless, I thought the ramp and harbor looked rather more hospitable today than on Monday.


What could we do, however, but attempt the launch, water or no water. After all, I understood that Steve's next launching customer was a real hard-driver and the sort of a pain-in-the-neck who wouldn't stand for the slightest lateness. So clearly, I had to come off the trailer. Steve backed the boat down as far as possible, and we managed to get her off the trailer and (more or less) into the water. 

She was afloat, but most assuredly stuck in the soft, silty mud of the ramp bottom; I couldn't pull the boat back away from the ramp. Good enough; I settled in to await the rising tide, and took care of a few of my post-launch chores while I waited. It seems that I neglected to take photos of the boat at the launching dock.

After an hour, the boat was afloat, and I felt confident to cast off and head out and across the wide harbor to my mooring at the far northern edge of the harbor, about a mile and a half distant. With the low water and my unfamiliarity with the harbor, I saw no reason to rush, and felt my way along until I reached deeper water.

I was unsure as to the timing or availability of my mast-stepping appointment at Knight Marine, so I chose to head for my rented mooring off Ocean Pursuits, where I could at least drop off the dinghy before heading in. After reaching the area where I knew my mooring to be, I headed for a likely candidate and determined that indeed it was #8, my designated mooring. I picked up the mooring around 1100, and enjoyed my surroundings for the moment.

I called Knights and found out I was scheduled for 2:30. It sounded like they had forgotten me, and were therefore squeezing me in--something that I later found, annoyingly, to be true. So with 2 1/2 hours to wait, I relaxed and enjoyed the fine weather, and took care of some of the little jobs on board, like permanently securing the radar pole (which I had raised and installed with a single bolt upon launching), double-checking the mast and rigging, and other minor things like tightening the stuffing box.

Shortly before 1430, I headed into Knights. A boat was just backing out of the area where the crane was, and shortly thereafter a guy appeared and waved me in. It was a very tight spot indeed: two rafted boats at the outboard end of the dock made the approach, already narrow against the stone jetty at the Vinalhaven ferry landing next door, even tighter, and the space at the dock was about 35' long. I angled the boat in and docked without problem, but knew that getting back out would be a bit more of a chore.

A crew of monkeys swarmed over the boat, each more clueless than the last. While nothing particularly untoward occurred, let's just say that I was less than impressed overall with my stepping experience, perhaps because I sorely missed the low-key and competent Dugas boys in Yarmouth, who always made it seem to easy. I don't like people who think they know my boat better than I--because no one does.

Anyway, we got the mast upright, but I needed three additional toggles at the backstay in order to attach the stay--very strange indeed, and I could only chalk this up to the tension of the jumpers, which must have been tighter than last time. Fortunately, I had plenty of rigging gear aboard (including lots of extra clevis pins to replace the three that the yard crew dropped off the bow while trying to install the headstay).

Almost before the mast was stepped, the crew was off and running, seemingly because my appointment had interfered with break time. One guy couldn't wait to try and impress his girlfriend, who was watching the process, and this surely colored the entire experience. I was annoyed with the process, the lack of care, the lack of personability, and the smart-mouthing. I have little patience for that sort of thing.

I paid and got untied, and, using a dozen strong alternating bursts of reverse and hard astarboard forward throttle (to straighten the boat before backing once more), managed to back the boat out of the tight spot without running into the stone jetty next door, or into the lobster boat tied to the Knight's dock. The increasing NW winds weren't helping the already poor backing characteristics of the boat.

I was rather happy to get away from that Knightmare and pleased to have the stick up. Getting the mast up is always the worst part of the season, since the boat is useless without the mast, the mast is in the way on deck, and I just never like the stepping process much.

Back on the mooring, I straightened up the rigging and did some rough tuning to get the mast straight. I temporarily pinned the turnbuckles, installed the boom and rigid vang (somehow, I misplaced the top bolt for the vang; I installed a temporary one for now, though it was 1/2" too long), and installed the dodger. I cleaned up above and belowdecks as much as I could, and packed up to go, since it was getting late. The wind had also picked up as the back of a front passed through, and this would have in any event made installing sails more difficult than absolutely necessary. I hated to leave the boat sail-less and naked, but what can you do.



Since I had to leave my truck at the public launch, which was about as far away by land or sea as it could be and still be in the same harbor, I had wrestled with how best to handle getting back to the truck. I could row ashore at Ocean Pursuits and leave the dinghy there, where it was supposed to be, and then walk through town to the landing; or I could row back to the launch ramp and just bring the dinghy home this time. I decided I preferred rowing to walking, and, with (I thought) the wind behind me the row wouldn't be too bad, though long.

Let's just say that I was pretty tired when I arrived at the landing after a 50-minute row through the harbor, with the wind on the port quarter; my left arm was significantly more tired, since I had to stroke harder on that side to keep the dinghy straight. I hadn't rowed in almost two years, and this was quite an initiation back into it. I was thankful to arrive, stow the dinghy, and head home.


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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