Well after maybe the most frenetic two days of my life I launched my boat on Thursday the 26th. It was a rather rushed launch and I was still scrambling about even when they rolled up with the travel hoist – “Wait, give me ten more minutes!”… Still, it went well in the end and I had the boat in the water for my birthday on Saturday. What better way to celebrate than sailing on my own boat!
By the time it got too dark to see on Wednesday things were more or less set for launch with just some final cleanup. Or so I thought. Then, Thursday morning when I was doing one last checkover I realized that a tapered plug seacock which seemed tight in one position was loose in another, ie. it was not seating quite right.
|The inner workings of a tapered plug seacock|
It seemed like the right size washer would sort things out so I wasted an hour driving to the marine store and back, where they didn’t have anything the right size. At this point it was nearly 11:30, with the hoist coming at noon, and I was starting to get worried. I scrambled around in the boat a bit and ended up roughly cutting some ‘washers’ out of plastic packaging – this was the “Wait, give me ten more minutes” stage! I wasn’t very confident in my ‘repair’ but by now the hoist was parked in front of my boat so I decided to go for it and hope it would be dry, knowing that it was possible to take the nuts and washers off and replace them without opening the seacock.
So we launched the boat. We had them lower us into the water but leave us on the lift while they took a lunch break.
|My friend Becca keeps a watchful eye on the preparations|
|And in she goes…|
Of course, my hastily modified seacock dripped steadily.
I enlisted my friend Wes and after making various washers, putting them on in different orders, etc we eventually realized that this would not fix the problem and we were going to have to take the seacock apart. (Sorry, at this point we were too rushed for photos!) Fortunately the yard was very accommodating and agreed to dangle us in the air while we tried to sort this out. We discovered after pulling out the tapered bronze plug that it had been ground down enough from use that it was bottoming out in the seacock body before it created a tight seal.
It seemed like I would not get the boat launched that day after all, and would have to buy another seacock before I could. Wes had other ideas. He took the plug, jumped down to the ground and ran off to his boat. Ten minutes later he came back and stuck the plug in. It was a perfect fit. The fix was simply to take about 1/8″ off the tapered end of the plug with an angle grinder and file so that it could pull into the seacock body enough to create a tight seal. We added a bit more grease and had the yard drop us back in. The seacock was dry as a bone. Whew.
Of course, this wasn’t our only issue. We also had to contend with the diesel inboard, which died as soon as I tried to put it in gear and wouldn’t start again. Having hooked up the controls with cable brackets that I made myself this thoroughly freaked me out. I feared that I had set the control cables up in some way that had damaged the engine, such as by telling it to shift and throttle at the same time. Fortunately, Wes kept a much clearer head and while I was secretly despairing he methodically traced the fuel lines and opened up a bleed screw I hadn’t realized was there. After that it started right up and we motored around to the transient dock. We had just enough time to crack the bottle of champagne my sister had brought before a big squall hit and everything turned grey. So no sailing on day one but finally I had a boat!
The next day dawned beautifully clear and I headed out in the morning to get things ready for the first sail. There was still a handful of ‘little’ things to be done, typical post-launch tasks like, er, installing the Genoa sheet winches …
|Looking things over|
|Hanking on the genoa and installing the sheets|
|Benjamin and Jeff check the rig tension|
|More rig and other tasks|
|Getting the mainsail on|
|Not everybody has to work!|
By the afternoon we were ready to cast off and my crew and I sailed off of the dock and up the industrial canal towards Seabrook bridge.
|Libby hoists the main for the first time!|
|First Pup is sleeping through his watch. Don’t worry, he was firmly disciplined with a keel-hauling.|
|Our destination was Seabrook Harbor Marina where I’m keeping the boat.|
It was an immensely satisfying but largely uneventful trip, with the exception of the drawbridge passage at the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain. We tried to hail the bridge operator for a full twenty minutes without success until finally the operator of a bridge farther down the canal took pity and came to our aid. He made some phone calls and a few minutes later our operator came on the VHF and opened the bridge. Seems like she was sleeping, or at least taking a long break!
We motored out of the canal and hoisted the sails back up for our first taste of (nearly) open water, and it was glorious.