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The simplicity of sailing*

* I’m kidding, I’m kidding!

The Great “At Last” Calamity of 2012 (In Which a Lifetime of Sailboat-Launching Problems Occurred in Three Weeks)

Friday, May 25

At boat storage place to pick up my 85-year-old mother’s boat, “At Last,” realized trailer lights were not working. Used hand signals for the four-mile trip. While setting up mast, realized that the pulley mechanism for adjusting the back stay had vanished, probably lost in the boat-painting process the previous fall.

Realized that the metal “eyes” for the two forward side stays had been removed in the painting process and replaced with putty. Called boat painter, who said he did not have the back-stay pulley mechanism but did have “eyes.” Drove out, drilled two new holes through the putty and replaced them.

Launched boat in lake. Could not get motor bracket to disengage and allow motor to lower into water, which turned out to be a moot point because noticed a quarter-inch split in the fuel line, meaning the motor wouldn’t work anyway. Paddled boat to moorage slip. Later, went online and ordered two blocks to replace the ones that were missing.

Sunday, May 27

Returned to boat and attached new fuel line. Guy from Newport helped me figure out that the motor bracket had a safety arm on it that was in place and, thus, not allowing the motor to be lowered. Disengaged safety arm.

Motor would not start. No juice from battery. To alleviate my frustration, turned attention to rigging mast. Realized that the internal jib halyard, apparently in the painting process, had gotten pulled out so far from top of mast that the other end of the line was not reachable, lost somewhere inside the mast. After a few phone calls to sailing friends, realized what I thought would be the case: The only way to get that halyard out was to pull the boat out, place on trailer and take down the mast. Gave up and went home.

Wednesday, May 30

Took boat lights to auto-electric place to have them fixed. After they were fixed, the lights would still only work when I slipped a small shim of wood under the car-trailer connection. Not a great “fix” job by the auto-electric place but I’m too frustrated to have them redo it.

Friday, June 1

Went to Fern Ridge to pull out boat. After did so, noticed a one-foot-by-three-foot chunk of wood floating in the lake, one of two braces for the trailer that had busted off. Wondered if millions of locusts might descend on me at any moment. Took down mast. At home, was able to use fish tape to re-run the jib halyard through the mast, though I had to remove mast light to get the line through, a job that took an hour itself.

Friday, June 7

Took boat to auto-electric place at 8 a.m. to have battery system repaired so I could put boat back in water Saturday morning, my only free time slot to do so. Was told I’d get call at noon with update. No call came. Was told they’d call mid-afternoon with update. No call came. Called at 5 p.m. Was told they wouldn’t get to it until Monday. Was not surprised. Meanwhile, blocks arrived in mail. Realized one of them needed to have a clam cleat. Reordered.

Monday, June 11

Picked up boat from auto-electric place.

Thursday, June 14

Left at 5:08 a.m. to put boat, with fixed battery system and jib halyard now reachable, back in Fern Ridge. Got mast raised by myself. Realized a very inconvenient truth: Now, the MAIN halyard was missing; like the jib halyard two weeks before, it had somehow slipped inside the mast. What were the chances? The only fix was to lower the mast and, using the fish wire, run the halyard through again. Detached trailer from car. Drove 20 minutes back to house in Eugene for fish wire. Returned. Busted off mast light I had just glued on the previous day. Fished main halyard line through mast. Re-glued mast light on top. Tied two giant knots in main and jib halyards so they could not get lost again. (Should have done that before.)

Re-raised mast for the third time of the season, although we hadn’t sailed yet. While raising mast, front pin on the forestay fell off bow, meaning I was holding up mast with one hand on the forestay while desperately trying to reach the pin on the ground. Nobody else was in the parking lot to help. Finally cajoled it over with my foot, picked up and secured forestay.

Placed boat in water. Engine started right up! The electrical system worked. Yeah! Halfway over to moorage, engine quit. Smoked. Would not start up again. Paddled toward slip. Wind blew me from D Slip to E Slip. had to paddle 2,500-pound boat backward against wind. Finally got in moored in our slip.

That evening, was absolutely resolved that Mom and I would sail the boat. Motor worked long enough for us to get out of the moorage and into open waters, then quit. Got sails up. Wonderful sail. Returned and docked under sail power. Turned boat around. Removed motor. Placed on a dolly I normally used to carry books. Rolled 8-hp motor 200 yards to pickup.

Friday, June 15

Took motor to marina to be fixed. Felt good about that. “How long will it be?” I said, hoping they might have it done Saturday so we could put boat back in Sunday.

“Looking at about three weeks,” I was told.

“Three weeks?”

“Yeah, we’re backed up.”

Drove off, thinking what more could go wrong? Three weeks? Hung a u-turn. Returned.

Offered the guy undisclosed amount of cash if it could be done in a week.

“We’ve already lost three weeks of the season,” I said. “I don’t want to lose anymore.”

He agreed.

Estimated time spent putting our boat in this year: 36 hours over three-week period. Estimated amount of money spent: $600.

Gotta love the simplicity and ease of sailing.

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