Monday, July 9, 2012

To Boat--Launch Day

AS (previous owner) offered to help and said she really wanted to be there for the launch, which did occur on 8 August. She actually had wanted to be on hand to see the boat arrive chez moi, but the hauler arrived at her place earlier than planned, so all she could do was wave good-bye to the boat and call me to let me know the boat was on its way.

I felt it was the least i could do, and she'd be a great help showing me how to put on the motor mount and have the engine attach to it.

Turned out that 17 years that had elapsed since the last time she did it took their toll. She couldn't quite remember everything, the plate she thought should have been with the motor mount wasn't, so we took one from another motor mount she had given me, and it took three trips to the hardware store to get the right bolts and a couple tools.

Still, it was exciting to see all the preparations paying off and we were launching next day, come hell or high water. I had this image of AS handing over the tiller to me and lots of smiles.

Launch day proved to be a bit different. We had a few last minute things that would take us about a half hour. The hauler was early by a quarter hour, and we needed those 15 minutes to get everything done. AS started barking orders at him--it must be said she is NOT a morning person by any stretch. I am not either, and never have been, but she made me look like a happy little lark in comparison. Anyhow, i told the hauler to ignore her as i was now the owner of the boat, and what he proposed was fine. He nodded, gave me pitying look, and quickly got to work. AS did not let up her ranting.

We arrived at the marina and waited our turn for the travel lift. While waiting, AS produced her tool kit and started securing the lifelines. We were going to step the mast, too, and i went inside the office to ask where the restroom was. On my way back to the boat after visiting the loo, i saw a few guys stepping the mast. I went back to the office to pay for the haul (for they were getting the invoice ready when i enquired for restroom directions), to find out when we were to launch, and to enquire why there were people stepping the mast. The amount i was charged was more than what i had been quoted, which irked me, although he did delete the charge for stepping the mast. Long and short of it was we were to launch around 9:30, and didn't until nearly noon. We waited and waited then all of a sudden had to hurry up, get the boat to the travel lift and hurry down, as they had an emergency that required the travel lift be used right away, and it would take some time. By then AS and i were starving, and we asked if we could use one of their docks to tie up immediately after we got in the water so we could go to lunch. Yes, we could.

I hadn't thought to switch the bilge pump on before we left. When we came back, refreshed and excited to finally get underway, i went below to see a few inches of water in the cabin. I started the bilge pump immediately. AS thought the seacock may have been left open. I hadn't touched it and hadn't thought to check it quite frankly, given all the water we had to pump out of the bilge before hauling the boat from AS's house to mine. AS blamed SFB, saying he should have known to check this. SFB had been busy helping other family members with their boat and hadn't been available to help at all. Meantime, i got the manual pump and used that to help the bilge pump. I was glad i had brought a bucket on board to make it easier to empty the water. AS was droning on, and i was getting angrier by the second. From the moment the hauler arrived she'd been ranting about what wasn't right, and i'd been subject to her diatribes for the previous day and a half as well. My patience had run out, i started to seethe. I put the anger to good use and pumped hard, getting the bucket filled in short order and repeating the process a few more times.

AS insisted that we couldn't go anywhere until we knew what was what. Someone from the marina came over and asked AS if she'd please move her boat as they were having someone come in who needed the space. AS started to provide a long drawn out answer as to why we couldn't.

This was the final straw of a terribly trying weekend for me (merely hinted at two paragraphs up but i don't wish to relive them), and i snapped. I explained that I was the owner, sorry we were docked for so long, i had wanted to clear the water out and make sure we were good to go. We were, thank you for your patience, and if the other boat could please give us three minutes to clear off, we'd appreciate it most deeply.

The woman took one look at me, nodded, started as if to say something to AS, and thinking the better of it, looked back at me and said, "All right, then. Good luck."

I smiled grimly, dumped the last bucket of water overboard, and started up the engine. AS was still remonstrating, "You can't do this, you don't know--"

"We can't stay here any longer, AS, and we should be good to go. If i'd turned on the bilge pump before we left, this wouldn't have happened, and we wouldn't have known. We are fine now, and we're leaving."

The Marina woman was pulling off the docklines and throwing them to me as i spoke. AS looked very unsure, and i told her she could disembark now if she wished. No, she didn't want to do that, so we motored away with me at the helm, which was another scary moment as i hadn't a clue what to do. Tillers work the opposite of wheels, meaning if you want to turn right and you've a wheel, you turn the wheel to the right. With a tiller, you turn to the left to go right. Now, i knew this intellectually, but i had no muscle memory of it, and i'm sure i zigged and zagged enough to make tongues wag. As if i needed to add anything else--i was sure they were wagging already as AS managed to rub nearly everyone the wrong way.

She meekly suggested that she take over at the helm since i seemed to be having a bit of trouble with the tiller and my eyesight was better than hers, so i could search for the mooring. This was the most tactful thing i had heard her say all weekend, and i readily agreed.

We finally got to the mooring, tied off, and we got into the dinghy to row ashore. I've only rowed wooden rowboats, and inflatables are a different animal. I didn't realize this, of course, until i was there in the bloody thing trying to row. AS sat on the port side and mentioned how i didn't seem to have the rowing quite down. How i didn't ram the oar down her throat i don't know, but by that point, i didn't care if the boat sank, the dinghy sank, and we had to swim. She also mentioned oh, so casually that it appeared we were taking on water so perhaps there was a leak somewhere? Yes, perhaps there was, i found myself saying glumly. Just one more thing...

Rather than feeling victorious, i wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there. I had expected some stress, but this was exponentially worse than i had calculated. It was also abundantly clear that AS really wasn't ready to turn over the tiller and somehow expected that she could just show up whenever she felt like it and go sailing. On what was now my boat. On that frustrating row back to shore, she listed everything that was not in its proper place on the boat and that i needed to put them in their proper place. And how we didn't bend the sails but should have. And why did those guys step the mast when we were perfectly capable...

We got back to my house, she collected her things and left only after saying once again how this was the worst launch she had ever experienced. I was done being nice and biting my tongue. "Well, this is my first launch, so i've nothing to compare it to," i said, "But, it's given me pause for thought. This whole boat thing might have been a huge mistake on my part. I'll give it the rest of the season and see how i feel about it."

She left after that, and was tied for being the worst houseguest. She left sodden towels lying on the carpeted floor, lights left on, and she had forgotten to pack several personal items. Oh, no. I wasn't going to play that game that i had with some ex-boyfriends who'd leave a few things at my apartment so they could have a reason to return. I bagged everything up and thought of throwing the items away. But i relented, as some of them were very nice things. She was sailing on a friend's boat in a few weeks, and i could simply leave the items with her, which i did.

I might not have paid much money for this boat, but make no mistake. I did pay.


  1. What's the old adage about boat ownership? Like throwing money down a hole, or something?

  2. Yes, a hole in the water into which one pours money. A friend of mine said BOAT is simply an acronym for 'bring on another thousand'.