Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Launch of DEN 816 - Soon to be USA 122

Tuesday August 14th, 2007 - DEN 816 - Soon to be USA 122 was unceremoniously launched from Svendsen's Boatworks at 12:45pm. I was scheduled to go in at 10:15, but was not in a hurry because of light winds and a flood tide.
Tim, Juan, Chris and Noah put in a J105 before me because the owners were just a little more stressed for time than I was... had I known it would take them as long as it did, I would have asked them to splash me first. In the end, a big "whatever."

I've known Tim the lift operator for years and he's such a great guy. He and Juan work together picking up boats and either bringing them in or dropping them off... always professional and never clumsy these guys have my full confidence.
After getting a proper survey and making some minor keel and rudder repairs the boat was ready to launch.

I would have taken more pictures of the boat actually going in the water, but instead I had the opportunity to get on the boat for it's first taste of Bay water from the stern deck.

After we dropped her in and tied her off, I walked back up to get this 1st picture of the boat floating... a momentary scare when I saw water trickling from the forward bilge... turned out to be some of the water I had used to clean the bilge that had pooled and subsequently released when the boat was finally level in the water.

This is Chris, with the help of Noah (running the mast lift and not seen) dropping the beautifully painted mast onto the step. I guided the mast onto the step from below and was too excited to rig her up and go sailing that I didn't take any more pictures!

So, the rest of the day goes like this: After attaching the shrouds, forestay and backstay, Patrick and I put on the boom and attached the outhaul, vang, cunningham, jib halyard and main halyard lines, attached the mainsheet blocks to the boom, put on the sails, did a double check of everything and as we were checking things over... you guesed it, Svend shows up to check up on us. He looked the boat over and gave his assessments... all favorable so we went and got lunch. We brought it back, raised the sails and headed out into the estuary for the first time. All the lines adjust with plenty of purchase and within minutes we both realized what we had... a really good boat. The sails aren't so good for racing, but you could just feel how well the boat surged through the water. We made several tacks all the while making adjustments just to see if it helped or just to mess around with something. We were in a pretty strong ebb and light but decent winds and we cruised right along until we got near the shipping docks. A BIG TANKER fully loaded was bearing down on us so we went left just as the tug boat was spinning the big angry, will crush a little folkboat with not even a thought tanker. We cleared it just before it went perpendicular to shore and were chased from behind by a ferry. Just as we were in the clear and in the prop wash of the tug another BIG FULLY LOADED TANKER was coming down the channel and we avoided them in lighter and lighter wind. The current was still pulling us out, but then the wind faded completely and we right in the middle of the channel when another BIG TANKER was attempting to leave the channel. We paddled. I admit it with pride... and fear. I don't want to get hit by a tanker in a boat that isn't officially mine yet. It's not even registered yet and I'm out sailing amongst the BIG TANKERS! Not 1, not two, but so far 3 BIG TANKERS. We managed to get to the side of the channel in time to miss the 3rd tanker and we tacked back toward shore because we thought we saw some wind, but alas... just ebb. We bobbed toward to Treasure Island and after about 30 minutes I saw another BIG TANKER, but this one was coming under the Bay Bridge over by the SF side and didn't think it would turn that sharp and be an issue... I was wrong. A big 90 degree turn put its' bow pointing right at us and we were on the inside edge of the shipping lane not really sure which way the BIG TANKER was going to go... no wind and ebb pushing us toward T.I. The BIG TANKER turned away from us to our right, turned toward us head on and then turned away from us to our right and entered the docking area most visible from the Bay Bridge, if that makes any sense to you. I hate BIG TANKERS when I don't know where they are going and the wind is light and I don't have an engine. I guess I should learn to use a VHF for this type of situation. Only a little rattled, we floated toward T.I. and the wind finally filled in just before going under the newly constructed portion of the Bay Bridge. The Coast Guard was everywhere, but left us alone and we reached across the leeward side of T.I. in good wind and flat water... big fun. So much in fact that we made a couple laps back and forth before heading up into T.I. dropping back downwind and put up the whisker pole... the pole works. :) One last reach around T.I. and headed up into the ebb chop and 20-25 knot breeze to give this boat a SF Bay workout. She handles like... a folkboat. After sailing several different folkboats over the past 2 decades I've come to realize they are pretty much all the same. Sheet out travel up in lump, sheet in travel down in heavy wind and flat water. Jib leads back when the wind comes up, jib leads forward when the wind gets light. We tacked toward SF and made our way through the lumps and bumps toward shore and with the wind and current being what they were were back in the SF marina in no time... well, ok.. the whole trip to 4 hours, but we were with no wind for at least an hour. The boat is now safely tied up in her slip awaiting the SF Cup to make her racing debut. Until then, I'll just have to enjoy her from shore because she's not my boat yet.


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