Into the Water – And Out – And In Again
“Honey, there are bubbles coming out of the exhaust. Maybe we’re back a little too far. “
Not a very good exchange as you are backing your boat down the boat ramp in preparation to launch. The truck could stall, leaving us stranded with a 3 ton boat and trailer halfway in the water. However, this was the situation we found ourselves in as we attempted to launch Orion Jr from the trailer one Wednesday afternoon. Attempting to float her from the trailer at mid-tide in Sunset Creek in Hampton, we had a simple plan. Launch at mid-tide rising. Motor a short distance up this quiet tributary of the Hampton River to our slip. Tie up and call it a day. No problem, right?
We towed the now empty trailer back to Steve’s for storage for the month. Dave had the first opportunity to test his new brake controller on this very light load. The previous controller didn’t ramp up the braking, and would therefore lock the wheels with every brake application, sending smoke up as the rubber was dragged across the road. As he had been promised, the Tekonsha P3 allowed him to adjust the settings for the light load so no skidding occurred. Since the trailer had been dunked, Cathy took a morning to wash it thoroughly with soap and water and Dave sprayed it once again with Fluid film to protect against water incursion and corrosion. (He had done this just before our failed launch as well.) Finally, he replaced the trailer tire that had failed on our trip north, ensuring we had a spare for our return in a month.
With Orion Jr in the water at the haulout slip, Cathy slid up to the outboard and carefully tried to remember the process for starting it. Lower the outboard, lock in place, prime the fuel line, choke out, press the ignition switch, into gear and we’re off. Or more correctly, try the ignition over and over and over and over. More fuel. More attempts. Dave repeats. And repeats. Since the engine was serviced only weeks before in Daytona and the fuel was only days old, we knew it had to be something we were doing wrong. Finally, Dave figures it out. The kill switch should have a clip inserted behind before the engine will start. It was missing. Oops. Once the clip was inserted, starting problems were resolved.
After maneuvering Jr into her slip, we set about the business of putting her systems and her interior into order. Cathy stripped the cushions from their bags and sorted through the debris that had accumulated in the main saloon. Meanwhile Dave worked on deck, setting it in order, hauling water and cleaning the water tanks before we started the big task for the day – raising the mast.
There were some more unpleasant surprises that we had to deal with as well. The first was --- ants. First one, then a couple, then a couple more. Big red ants. It had taken several days for them to appear, but their numbers appeared to be growing. We fogged the boat a couple of times and we’ve seen none since. Since we also launched the boat before the rainiest week we had seen in a year, we also re-discovered some leaks. Although Dave had fixed a major one with some fiberglass work before we launched, every day seemed to reveal a new one. By week’s end, we had tracked down and repaired a few of them, but still a couple persist. After all, it Is a boat.
With a couple of days before heading out, we were feeling pretty good about being ready to cast off on schedule.
It was an excited call from Joe, our neighbor back in Reston. “I’ve finally bought my boat.” After 20 years of dreaming, he was days away from taking possession. Dreamtime, an Oceanis 37, sat in her slip on Little Creek in Norfolk and he would be arriving in a couple of days to pilot her north to her new slip in Deale. So, on the following Tuesday, we met him as he was loading supplies on his new pride and joy. We helped him with a few pre-departure tasks before heading out for a celebratory supper. His was a fast journey north, but within a couple of days, the boat was in its new home and he was looking forward to many more journeys aboard.