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August 21, 2004

The Mother of All Updates............it's been a VERY busy couple of months! So, where were we??? Rudder re-install. Seems like so very very long ago. Replacing the rudder was straightforward. With help from one of the sailors who'd been volunteering on Ocean Planet (Bruce Schwab's Open 60 being refit at Portland Yacht Services... here is their DRAMATIC launch:)

 Neil got the rudder shaft into the shaft tube. The rudder has a massive web inside and weighs about 210 pounds, so getting it up there was no mean feat. We put a floor jack and several pieces of blocking wood under the rudder and levered it into position (as you can see in the photo.) Replacing the rudder shoe and bearings inside the boat was remarkably easy, which Neil was not expecting. It's always great when a project you think is going to be really difficult goes so easily! (Makes up for the times when a 10 minute simple project takes all weekend!!!)

 

After the rudder, we were in the WHIRLWIND of pre-launch craziness. I doubt we can remember everything we did, but we'll give it a shot:

Installed prop and zinc. Serviced all the through-hulls. Last minute cabinetry projects. Our good friend Dave Fields had finished the gorgeous interior doors he'd been making and I varnished them; Neil was working on buffing and waxing the hull into the late night hours right up until the launch (THANK YOU to Rodd Collins for putting in the hours and sharing his tools and expertise to help get that huge project done!). 

We got the name decal back and I started applying it on Friday night (launch was scheduled for Tuesday). The two colors (dark blue outline and gold letters) came separately, I applied the blue and then started on the gold. Following the advise of the signmaker, I cut the letters apart to apply separately, to get the closest alignment. I began with the "Z". It was nerve-wracking, trying to align the letter perfectly with the blue underneath....I stuck down the top of the Z and then: yikes! the rest of the letter did not match up! I was so mad, I thought that they had made some error in the printing. It was Friday and I could do nothing until Monday morning. On Monday, I called the signmaker and they sent someone over with a new batch of gold letters. Turns out (DUH!!!!!) I had applied the Z upside down. Boy did I feel stupid! Anyway, the name came out beautifully in the end.

Over the weekend, tons of things got finished. One thing we needed to do was to plumb the bilge pump and the engine exhaust. Neil tackled the engine exhaust with the help of a fellow cruiser named Stewart (at the docks with his Australian family in their awesome steel boat Vladvark: Liv made fast friends with their daughter!) It was straightforward until we reached the transom. Mariner had recessed the area of the hull where the exhaust outlet fitting was, making it impossible to put a hose clamp on. It was also very difficult to access: Neil was on his head upside down contorted under the aft berth for hours. Stewart gamely spent his evening under there as well. After several hours and 10 beers, Man triumphed over Machine.

Similarly, Neil and Tony (of s/v Sea Muffin) fought the Battle of the Bilge... Rule, the most popular maker of bilge pumps, supplies their 2000 model with 1-1/8" outlets. In order for the pump to be most effective, you must use 1-1/8" hose. The problem is, it is nearly impossible to find fittings and adapters for that obscurely sized hose. Several days before, Neil had plumbed the vented loop for the bilge pump; the hose passes under the sole through the stringers and up the side of the water tank (a very tight fit) to the loop and exit in the side of the hull. The hose was not long enough to reach the bottom of the bilge. We could not find a 1-1/8" straight hose-to-hose adapter to add on another length, so we decided to change the entire length of hose out for one continuous length. We were using the dreaded white sanitation hose (highly rated but a total bear to work with!) Changing the hose SHOULD have been straightforward, but alas it was not to be. The new hose wound up feeding itself into an ever-tightening crevice between the water tank and the bulkhead. Like the Chinese Finger Torture, it would not come out under strain, only tighten more. What started out as a fun project with Neil and Tony talking like the Hulk (don't ask...) became a grueling three and a half battle with one piece of hose. Tools tried: prybar, various pliers and wrenches, silicone spray, Bacardi Gold,  hacksaw blade (they finally decided it wouldn't move so must be cut out.) The final victorious tool ended up being the mighty Fein Multimaster with a radial blade. Neil was able to slice the hose and splice it to another piece with a piece of 1" copper tube as an adapter. It took another 2 1/2 weeks for Neil's forearms to heal after this epic battle. Hulk sad. Hulk smash.

Meanwhile, our insurance survey was scheduled for Monday morning, so all weekend we were tying up projects to get the boat ready to be surveyed. Tim Lackey, who has done amazing restorations of his own boats, did our survey for us and we got it to the insurer in record time so that we'd be insured at the launch the next day. During the survey we had Bubba's Fuel Polishing clean our tanks and polish our fuel. Neil was moving boxes and supplies around between our various storage locations so we could load as much stuff as possible onto the boat before the launch. Actually the day is a total blur. I am sure that we were ridiculously busy all day long but I can't remember what we actually did!!!

THE LAUNCH:

We were scheduled for a 2:30 pm launch on Tuesday. We were busy all morning getting last-minute things done, and were relieved when the boat hauler, Bucky, informed us that we'd be a little bit later than that: it gave us a little more time to complete things.

Meanwhile, many friends had shown up for the launch, including some from rather far away, Leo Corsetti from Boston and Al Schober from Connecticut, both of whom we knew from our days as Tartan owners. Al had incredibly generously brought us 250' of anchor chain from Defender where he works; he'd collected donations from two other members of the Cruising World Bulletin Board, Mike from s/v Sannyasin and Chris Cardin in Washington state, and it was a very much appreciated gift! Al dragged it up to Maine in the back of his car and we loaded it up using the new windlass on Tuesday morning.

Olivia and I made a wreath for Zora's bow out of mostly wildflowers we picked in Portland Yacht Services's "Back 40"... (now some of you who read this will think: Why waste your time on something so frivolous? Just go sailing!!.... but it made us very happy; we continue to add beauty and joy to our lives every day and isn't that what it's all about?)...

 

We put out a celebratory picnic and drinks for our friends and all the great Portland Yacht Services people.... and waited for Bucky to come launch the boat. I was so excited: the whole thing just seemed so totally surreal. It was almost beyond my comprehension that Zora was going into the water. Our lives for so long had been all about working on the boat, just working on her, and it was really hard to shift my mind to seeing her as an actual BOAT rather than as this colossal job we had to do.

So we waited some more. We could not reach Bucky, who had gone to launch another boat at an inland lake. The lovely sunny day was clouding over and it started to rain. We moved inside the big, cold, damp building and worried. The yard was saying we were losing our water: it would soon be too low tide to launch. It looked like we weren't going to be able to launch that day.... some tears were shed. At one point, when the thunder and rain started and we were still a little bit hopeful that Bucky would get there in time, one of the yard employees came up to me and said, "Well, you're not planning to launch today, even if Bucky shows up, right?" huh???? "It's real bad luck to launch at PYS in a thunderstorm...you'll regret it.....you'll have all kinds of problems....." That really put me over the edge, I must say. Yeah, I am a little superstitious about boat things, and that was just NOT what I needed to hear tight then on top of everything else that seemed to be going wrong!!!!!

4:30 came and went and the yard folks all went home. We were about to give up, when suddenly there was the rumble of a big truck and Bucky arrived! At the same time the rain stopped and the sun began to come out: we were on!!!!!!!!!!!

There was a frantic scramble as we rounded up Olivia and the champagne for the launch, and climbed aboard....

As we rolled out into the sunlight we looked around at our beautiful boat: we'd never seen her in the natural light before, and the paint and varnish looked gorgeous...

Bucky backed us into the water a bit, then stopped and turned off the truck so that Liv could read the re-naming ceremony. With the proper reverence and libations offered to Poseidon and crew, we christened her Zora...

And she was launched!!!!!

Although we hadn't planned on it (honestly I had not been able to think past the launch itself!) Olivia insisted that we sleep aboard that night. The next morning we awoke to our beautiful boat...... and the start of our dream cruise..... (for more fantastic launch pictures, see Tony's site...) Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all who helped us make our dream come true...

More...after the launch...on next page...