Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lake Sailing & a New Boat - September 07

I got an email from the Commodore of Southern Sailing Club about the Special Olympics Regatta on Lake Lanier and felt a flutter of excitement. But it was only three weeks away, I’d just started a new job and Mike probably couldn’t take the time off anyway, so I sucked up my disappointment and let it go. Later that day at work I got a text message from Mike. “Let’s go sailing. Special Olympics.” I just love it when he reads my mind like that!

So I emailed Captain Jim to see if my old spot on Snowfox was available (Mike planned to sail on Stickman with Joey) and was thrilled to be told I’ll always have a spot. Luckily I work for a sailing organization and they understand about things like this so work was no problem. All that was left to do was find my sailing gloves, which I finally located in the pocket of my foulies that I’d last worn on New Years Day for the poker run. I really need to get out more.

And so we drove for 12 hours, away from saltwater to a freshwater lake in Georgia, to go sailing. There’s something a little backwards there.

The first day of the race was more about socializing with old friends, catching up on gossip and drinking beer, than racing. No wind. At one point I suspect we were going backwards. Holly, Marla and I considered the option of jumping in under the guise of going for a swim and pushing the boat, but Jim said Race Committee frowns on things like that so we drifted some more.

Day two, however, we actually got some racing in and it was great! Marla and I easily settled into a smooth routine with tacks and jibes, I got to do my impression of Holly leaning on the hatch, I got to fly the chute, we had great snacks and cold Bloody Mary’s to drink, and at one point we got up to 9.5 knots! Considering the wind we had to work with, that was something! It was a great day on the water and we were able to get two races in. I can’t tell you how truly good it felt to be back on a boat I’m so familiar with, with people I adore, working the sails and having fun. And the opportunity to spend time with friends we’ve missed so much these past months, while participating in an event that benefits the Special Olympics, there couldn’t have been a better way to spend a weekend.

Ironically it was while we were driving to North Georgia that we got the call about a sailboat. We’d been haggling over the price of a Cruising Cal 36 for some time and the seller finally came into our price range, so if we’re able to juggle funds a bit, it looks like we’re buying a boat. Finally! And we couldn’t be happier because this is just the right boat for us. Not the perfect boat, but the right boat for us. What’s right about it? Primarily the price, that it’s solid, big enough to meet our needs and (drum roll here please) it has potential!
Yes, that’s right, it has potential. Which simply means it floats and we can fix what’s wrong with it. We’ve looked at it several times, taken photos and studied them, discussed the amount of time and money we’ll have to dump into it, questioned each other about whether we’re really up for the task, questioned the depth of our commitment to the boat and to each other, examined our bank account closely, considered therapy to cure this sickness and finally agreed that this is the boat. Therapy might still be required because as you may recall, this isn’t the first project boat we’ve undertaken. Remember The Beast? Shudder. Sigh.
After the paperwork is done comes the task of getting it from the dock where it currently lies to our dock. Mike is hopeful that he can get the engine running in short order, but we’ve still checked with a towing company. They want $400 for this very short trip so placing my faith in Mike’s mechanical skills is highly preferable.
It seems the boat has been sitting in the same place for somewhere between a year and a half to four years, depending on who you talk to. Which means the bottom is most likely non-existent and it could be afloat simply by the air pockets caught in the blisters on the bottom, but we’re hopeful. And it’s a given all the through-hulls will have to be replaced as soon as possible. Once the engine has been repaired/rebuilt/replaced and the bottom restored and repainted, the only things stopping us from going out for a sail will be replacing the deck hardware, rebuilding the wenchs and…well, and sails. After that, we can head out anytime we want to and go for a day sail or a weekend cruise! I’m not worried. We can make all of this happen!
After that the projects take on less urgency. Due to the fact that it’s had standing water in the cabin for who knows how long, a great deal of the interior wood and possibly the bulkheads will need to be replaced. All new cushions are in order since the current ones are saturated with mold and mildew, but the current green and brown cushions are ugly and I would have replaced them anyway.
The good news is the compressor for the icebox seems to be in good shape, all the wood above the (interior) waterline is pretty, there’s plenty of space and acceptable storage.
So we’ve found the right boat for us, which, simply put, is a boat we can enjoy working on together, dreaming on together and when it’s in shape, it will be more “ours” than any boat we went out and bought ready to go. And I have no doubt that we’ll both come to think of it in affectionate terms because when it comes right down to it, any boat is nothing more than what you put into it and what it gives you in return. I for one am willing to work for a good day on the water in my boat.

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