Thursday, 24 July 2014

Launching an Old Westerly Nomad

So, we launched Susan of the Seas at about 10 am on Wednesday. Rather than immerse the boat trailer the yard decided to use the boat lift to carry her onto the shore on a rising tide. I had no tender so I climbed aboard at the outset and rode the trailer down to the beach. Once there she was plonked on the mud and we waited apprehensively, for the tide. Steve a good sold practical friend came with me and he was an ideal choice of companion. Whereas I am always pleasantly surprised when any practical task works out well, Steve has confidence in his practical skills. He expects his actions to have positive outcomes.

As the tide rose we set about connecting fuel lines, coiling ropes, making sure the boathook was to hand and generally making her fit for sea. Once the prop was immersed Steve set about trying to get the engine started – a 6hp four stroke Mariner outboard. As with all outboards they are easier to start when you know their preferences for throttle, and choke settings. We didn’t get her going at the first attempt and in truth initially she showed no signs of life at all. After a rest and more throttle/choke adjustments (she likes half throttle and full choke even on a hot day) she burst surprisingly into life. A few minutes later the boat lifted off the mud and we were free, inching our way down the narrow channel towards deeper water. I checked the bilges, they were dry and that is how they stayed.

The five mile trip up the estuary to out home port was completed within an hour under engine and a pretty limp headsail which contributed little to speed given the lightness of the breeze.

Susan was waiting at the port to direct us to the pontoon allocated to us and once moored, we hoisted the Breton courtesy flag, dressed the ship, and christened her with a glass of champagne making sure there was a drop for Neptune but not so much to upset Bacchus.

The day was hot and sultry – too hot to sit in the cockpit and so we strolled along to La Cale restaurant close by and had Moules Frites washed down with ice cold Rose wine, a pleasant and pretty uneventful way to end the two year story of bringing this old boat back to life.

Of course the job isn’t completed and may never be. Maybe that is the way with old boats. At the moment however, she is a floating slum – the cabin is filthy, covered in powdered GRP, woodshavings, and spider webs. It is full of empty beer bottles, tins of paint, used sandpaper, fenders and old rope. So there is the next project – to turn her into a boat I would like to live on.

With regard to this blog, well there is still plenty to do and therefore plenty to write about. Hopefully though, I’ll be able to record a few adventures in between more stories of sanding, painting and general DIY.