Launch day was usually after weeks in the steam and rain of Trinidad where we lived on the boat next to the jungle getting KN ready for sea duty. It was a slow process because you could only do so much work in that heat and humidity. There was plenty of time to rest and regain some fluids. It was still stressful because when you launch you pretty much head out to sea. There’s no lingering in that nasty harbor and as you may recall we had to turn around a few times with issues. Leaving Trini at night on the day you launch is VERY stressful.
We expected a Grenada launch to be somewhat more relaxing and easier on our bodies because we were sleeping in an apartment at night and not in the boat yard as usual. I’ve come to the conclusion that launch day is stressful and tiring no matter how you go about it. If I was a money bag sailor I would just have everyone else do the work and we would fly in, have a big breakfast, watch the boat launch and then sail away with champagne in hand. Alas, poor Paulie scraped, sanded and painted his way to launch day.
There are few days worse than launch day. Dying Day, Judgement Day, Arraignment Day, Tax Day and the day after Boat Purchase Day (what have we done?) come to mind but for the most part Launch Day really sucks.
It started off with me waking up on the boat in the yard at four in the morning. I realized I had not checked the mast lights. While it was still dark I scrambled out of the boat and into the yard in boxers and flip flops. I wasn’t sure when security was going to make their rounds but I was not quite awake yet and didn’t really care. I’m sure they’ve seen worse like the dude peeing next to his boat as security walked up behind him. Oops.
I had turned on all the lights and they looked good except I could not see the anchor light at the mast head so I walked further away down the yard. Ah, she’s lit. Good. At that moment a swarm of mosquitoes caught up to me and I was waving my hands around trying to get back to the boat and my flip flop caught on one of the metal loops for the tie-down straps. I stumbled trying to catch my balance still swatting bugs as our neighbors walked up to their boat to start their work day. I just kept swatting my way up the ladder and back into the boat to start some tea. I wonder what they thought they saw?
As the sun started to rise and I had my fifth tea (double bagged) I started my mental checklist of things needed to float this tub. It was a rough week for me having a hideous cold and cough while trying to scrape, sand and paint the bottom along with all the other stuff. I was running on empty and starting to get panicky. I got the fenders out, the docklines, all the seacocks closed. I went through my list, prop painted, zincs in place, tape is off the depth and speed transducers, radio works, anchor is ready. OK. I’m ready. Let’s get this fking over with. Let’s Go! Let’s Go!
We sat. Our 9am launch was slowly ticking away as we sat in the cockpit waiting for the trailer to take us to the water. One and a half hours of my knees bouncing up and down and biting my nails and chattering to Deb like a chipmunk on speedballs. Soon we heard movement down below. A dude with a big rasta bonnet comes by. “Hello Kelly Nicole! You have to get down now!” Finally. We climbed down the ladder and sat in the shade as the trailer came in and they started lifting KN and positioning her for the trip to the haulout. I’m forgetting something. What am I forgetting?
We walked behind the trailer as it moved through all the boats and towards the waiting travel lift. The lift! The lift is facing the wrong way I thought. I want to go in the water bow first. Hey! I ran up to the driver of the trailer. “I want to go in bow first!” He threw his hands up and another dude yelled to another dude and that dude yelled to the travel lift driver dude that I wanted bow first. There was some yelling, arguing and hand gestures but the travel lift swung around while the trailer moved out of the way. Making friends.
Now everything was ready and the travel lift scooped up KN and rolled towards the water and started lowering her. They stopped with the transom close to shore so we could hop aboard. We’re on.
When we got into the water I started the engine and then I went below with a flashlight to check for any leaks. Bow to stern I checked all the bilges and seacocks. As I was moving the flashlight away from the seacock under the sink I saw a sparkle. Water? Oh fuck. The seacock was leaking. NOOOooooo!
I came up and notified the lift driver. A tech jumped aboard. We determined it was leaking through the handle. It has to be replaced. As we were discussing what to do next the engine died. Just shoot me now.
The trailer came back and the lift lowered us onto it and they parked us in the yard while the seacock was replaced. I had a spare. They said we would try it again after lunch.We had lunch but no tech showed up. I wasn’t going to fight that drain hose. This I will spend the money on. It’s now 2 pm and finally the kid shows up. Half hour and we got a new seacock installed. Phew. We’re ready now! Hello!
We were moved to the last launch of the day at around 3 PM.
Before lunch they just walked away with the boat on the trailer. Too high for us to climb aboard. I asked for a ladder. Rasta dude found a broken old fiberglass ladder with one leg all splintered fiberglass. It just reached the stern ladder. “You better tie dat down.” I did. I found a too long line but used it anyway and tied off the ladder. Should I do both sides? Nah.
At 3 PM the yard manager yelled for us to get off the trailer. Now! OK dude. Debra went down the ladder and then I went next and paused to untie the long line. Just then the trailer engine started and it went into gear. Deb screamed STOP! But it moved forward with me on the ladder. I untied the line and jumped as the ladder started falling and I landed and caught the ladder as it was an inch from the ground and casually walked away. 😀
The yard worker spotting for the driver put his hand over his mouth and stared at me as I walked away giving the driver the “Fk you” look. Don’t know how I didn’t fall with the ladder crushing all my fingers. Bastards. Had I tied both sides I would have been dragged along with the trailer. If I had both hands in a cast because of these idiots I would have busted into the office and used my huge casts to trash the place. Then I’d bust their car windows. Pauly Smash!
KN was lowered into the water again. No leaks. The engine would not start. She wasn’t getting any fuel. I started the electric lift pump to get the fuel moving and eventually she turned over and ran for a while. Everyone ran away to smoke a blunt and go home. We were left to stay in the slip overnight. Sweet.
In all the chaos we forgot to test something. The new shaft! Hey Deb let’s put her into gear and check it out! Here goes…
Shake rattle and roll! She shook like an LA quake. Deb put her hands over her face and sat down. I stared off into space forming new obscenities to type into my phone for my mechanic.
To be continued…