Back in the water, again

Caro Babbo went into the water at lunch Thursday. The wind had been blowing mid-twenties gusting to 30. The Travelift operators, who I’ve gotten to know across the five weeks, came by often to find out what I wanted to do.

As of Wedensday, we were on standby, but Shannon, who lives down the road from us — in Port Townsend, almost everyone lives ‘‘down the road’’ — placed us on the schedule at 12.30.

I rode my bicycle to the harbor and went to see Shannon at the Port Office about 8:10. The wind had been so strong that at one point I needed to shift into the lower range of gears just to make forward progress on level ground.

‘‘Yep, we had a cancellation, and I put you in, but it’s your decision.’’

I paid my bill, $1065, and we agreed I could still change my mind.

Sailflow said the wind should die down around 12.30.

Caro Babbo would go into the water stern first, so we’d need to turn her around once in the water. There was also an opening on E dock, just outside the notch for the travel lift. Given our potential engine issues, I decided we’d rotate her with lines, and drag her over to E dock. I asked Keith if he’d help, and on my way to ask Gabriel of Martin Eden* if he’d help, I ran into lift crew again.

They were lifting a twenty-two foot centerboarder off its trailer and getting ready to block it at Bottoms Up Marine Service (yeah, BUMS, which is written everywhere around their shacks).

One more, ‘‘are you going to in.’’ This time I answered yes. There was a break in the clouds south east of us, that looked like lighter wind. I walked to Martin Eden, got Gabriel’s buy in, and walked with the Travelift over to Caro Babbo. The wind was lessening, but it was lunch time. The crew parked the machine and left for lunch.

Jennifer and Hilary showed up and I paced outside the car while Jennifer worked the phones and Hilary disappeared into whatever place she goes.

Earlier in the day I bled the fuel line – there was very little air in the line – and now bled it again, in case we decided to start the engine. There was no additional air, a good sign.

In the last few days, everything I had done had worked out well: all of the electrical and electronics I had installed or repaired worked, the main sail bent on well, things were just going well. There is that inextinguishable superstitional mass in all our brains that asks and asked me, has the run of good luck run out?

The wind, though lighter, was still blowing from the south. The Travelift would launch us southward, stern into the wind. Using our 50-foot lock lines†, we’d pull the bow further south and let the wind spin the stern out northward with the wind, then pull the stern to the dock and Caro Babbo would now face south away from the Travelift and in the direction we needed to go when we leave the dock.

Chris, the man who drove the Travelift when we pulled Caro Babbo from the water, called to me as she dangled over the water. I walked up and as Caro Babbo descended it was clear the anchor would not clear the dock. I mentioned this to him. He told me he knew, but he needed a new anchor.

As the anchor was about two inches above the dock, the operator stopped the descent and Chris told me to board, which I did.

When she was afloat, the operator advised me to go below to make sure everything was all right. I checked the rudder head and the bilges, and told everyone that there was no gushing water.

I went to the stern, recoiled the 50-foot line there, divided in the coil into two and tossed the coil in my right hand to Keith. Some of the line in my left hand also payed out.

Gabriel took command telling Keith to lock the line on the cleat at the end of that short dock and that the bow would swing around the stern, instead of the stern shining around the bow, as I had envisioned.

I called to Gabriel, ‘‘Is there enough momentum to swing the bow?’’

As I looked towards Keith, Keith said, ‘‘the wind will take it.’’

In the moment between when I left E dock and Caro Babbo rested in the water, the wind had shifted 180-degrees. I tossed Gabriel the bow line and we used the wind to move the now rotated, and properly facing, Caro Babbo to E Dock, where she is docked as I write this Saturday morning.

Friday blew like the devil, with winds in the thirties, gusting higher. I drove the car back and forth between the house and the dock transferring everything we had taken off the boat, back on.

The newly dry starboard aft cabin locker, which had been dry for two weeks after I put gaskets into the through bolts from the windvane, now had fresh water in it.

I could find no water above the locker. I dried the water out with a sponge, and went home to see Gene and the kids of Brio who had come to visit.

When I returned two hours later the locker had a full inch of fresh water. It had rained heavily. But again, nothing above the locker was wet. The water was still freshwater, meaning rain water.

Sherlock Holmes says, ‘‘When all likely solutions have been exhausted, the remaining solution, no matter how unlikely, is the answer’’ or something like that.

The attitude of the boat had changed from when she was on blocks: the bow is higher. Water from the cockpit must be finding its way into the locker. I think I can see a dark trail in the forward end of the locker, I think.

I had discarded this answer more than a year ago as too outlandish, but here it is, the only remaining answer.

On Lake Union, we’ll use a hose to see what we can find.

Why aren’t we sailing today, Saturday?

A utility pole fell across our driveway early yesterday evening during the windstorm. We had been debating, back and forth, about going. The winds would be against the tide – winds out of the south 15-20 knots, tides out of the north, making for big chop. We figured we’d start and could always duck into Port Ludlow about two hours south if we weren’t enjoying it. There is no mass transit in Jefferson County on Sundays, so there would be no way to get back until Monday, anyway.

The fallen utility pole tipped the scale, we’ll leave tomorrow.

We’ve asked Gene and Crystal to give us and the remaining gear a ride to Boathaven. Its almost $40 a night to leave Caro Babbo at the dock, so we’ve got move her and stem the red ink.

As I think about our sailing nowadays, it has changed so much from my Long Island days. I did mostly day sailing… out in the morning back in the afternoon or evening. ‘‘where should we go?’’ Sailing anywhere, enjoying the magic of making the boat go where we wanted it to go using only the wind. When I was in high school my Star, (#1922) had no engine and I preferred it that way.

We never day sail anymore. It is only to go somewhere for some period of days or weeks.

Jennifer was the driving force behind this change. The magic doesn’t enthrall her, and we’ve moved to using the engine to get us somewhere vs only getting us somewhere when it is clear we can’t by sail.

The magic still exists for me, but I’ve tempered its use – no more floating for hours waiting for the genie to appear filling the sails enough to overcome the current and move us closer to where we want to go. I am free to do so whenever I please, but I am more cognizant that I need to please more than just myself.

8-APR-2017 17:10 The utility company came this afternoon and replaced the pole moving the co-ax for internet as well.


* Gabriel introduces Martin Eden by saying, do you know Errol Flynn’s boat?

To which everyone answers, “ This is Errol Flynn’s boat?”

Gabriel responds, ‘‘It is made with the wood leftover from Errol Flynn’s boat”

† These are lines we use when going through the Hiram Chittenden Locks. They are required to be fifty-feet long and have an eye at one end.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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