Boat Launch Day!

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“Daddy, why do you have to launch the boat today?” Asked Harry (6). “Why can’t you do it on the weekend when I can help you?” The idea sounded delightful in theory, but only in theory. Trying to launch the boat on the weekend when all the kids are there is a stressful ball of rushing and whining. My wife asks me 4-5 times how long it will take, my mother-in-law perpetually reminds me of my bad back and how I should let my 70 year-old father-in-law help me, and my kids’ interest in actually helping lasts about 7 seconds when they eventually morph into my wife and continue the line of how-long-will-this-take questioning.  I am then forced to keep an eye on them while trying to get through the dozens of steps it takes to get her in the water.  Oh no.  This year, I was doing it solo and in peace. I had a meeting scheduled with my client on Cape Cod so I figured it would be a good time to get Marsaili in the water. I took a 1/2 day off from work and planned the attack to begin around 2pm. The process goes something like this when I am solo (and you can see why estimating my time to my wife is a challenge).

  • Tow the boat to the Cape
  • Mount the outboard and test it in a bucket of water (much thanks to a co-worker for helping me with this part)
  • Drive the boat to the ramp (about 2 miles away)
  • Raise the mast and get all the lines in order
  • Launch the boat
  • Park the car
  • Drive the boat over to the creek to pickup the dinghy
  • Drop off the boat at the mooring and ride the dinghy to the dock
  • Pull the dinghy out
  • Pump up the tires on an old rusty bicycle to ride back to the launch ramp
  • Ride back and get the truck
  • Park the trailer in the woods
  • Clean up all the tools and such
  • Lock up the house

The two most challenging tasks in this process are mounting the outboard motor and raising the mast.  The outboard motor is a Yamaha 8HP 4-stroke.  It weighs a little over 80lbs.  It is not terribly heavy, but it is very awkward to lift up to the mounting bracket on Marsaili.  Thankfully, I recruited a friend to help me with this portion and it was done in about 10 minutes.  He had to leave shortly after that and I had to tackle raising the mast on my own.  Thankfully, I was prepared.  I have built a mast raising system using the forestay, my truck, and a small winch.  It creates a triangle which distrubutes the force of raising the mast on a 2×6, pressure treated gin pole.  See the video below.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions on building one for yourself.  It is very simple.

The trick to it is to get all of the lines in order.  With a gaff rig, the lines need to be free flowing so that the gaff doesn’t raise right up with the mast.  Also keep in mind that the purchase of the system puts a considerable amount of force into the process with very little effort at the winch.  Make sure nothing is binding or tangled on the way up or you run the risk of bending or breaking something.

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Once the mast is up, it is basically just a time consuming game of trying to figure out the best way to get the boat on the mooring, get my body back on shore, and to get back to the launch ramp to retrieve my truck and trailer.

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Everything went off without a hitch for the most part.  By the end of the day, I was a little frustrated trying to get the rusty old 10-speed bike operable enough to carry me 2 miles back to the launch ramp and my truck, but I must say that riding an rusty old bike by the ocean, barefoot, with wet shorts surely brings back some wonderful childhood memories.  I couldn’t not help but think that a 40 year old man riding a rusty old 10-speed bike is typically reserved for homeless people or folks recently arrested for driving under the influence, but I bet passers bye got a good chuckle when they saw me grinning ear to ear with the wind in my hair while the old bike creaked and groaned beneath me.  Aside from taking Marsaili across the bay to her mooring, it was my favorite part of the process. Thank you for reading!

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