Launch!

Yesterday, we launched the boat.

The day started out very slowly with loading everything onto the boat and securing it all for road travel. We were away much later than I had wanted but the boat trailed behind the Jeep very nicely with the trailer brakes working well but not in an obtrusive way.

We arrived in Cold Lake in time for lunch and a bit of shopping for the few odds and sods that you always need at the last moment. While in the parking lot we got a lot of slow "drive bys" and one local sailor stopped to find out about the boat and snap few pictures.

Finally, on to the marina for rigging and launch. Rigging took a hour and a half or more but I'm sure with practice, and with the four of us, we could be a lot faster. Again, lots of people were commenting about the boat (all positively-the word craftmanship or workmanship came up often, and yes, I did blush some). Our friend from the parking lot came by to get more pictures and just to look at her. All the while I had my eye on the darkening band of cloud on the western horizon and mumbling stuff like is this a good idea?

Once the rigging was done, there were a lot more people "just hanging around" than there usually are, but the time had come. On backing the boat down the ramp, I knew this was a different event for the marina when I saw all the cameras come out and one lady even had her video camera recording the event. Sadly our own video camera got left at home, but amazingly, we did remember all the bits for the boat including the jib traveller, that I was sure would be left at home. She backed down easily and before I knew it my wife, Barb, announced "she's in the water, but not floating yet". So, with the Jeep's rear wheels in a few inches of lake water she floated free for the first time with only the slightest push from me.

The first order of business (before detaching from the trailer) was to send our daughter onto the boat to look everywhere for possible leaks, especially around the bilge boards, which I had nightmares about. In reply to her dad's frantic requests for news about the state of the bilges, she replied, "There are cobwebs, it's totally dry."

Once she was floating nicely, and dryly, we planned our exit strategy. Since many sailboats don't back well, or at all, we decided to turn her around and head away from the ramp going in the right direction. Once the outboard was humming along, I clicked her into "F" and headed for open water. I had to pop the motor into neutral once in a while to keep her speed down in the marina, but she handled and steered like she should, and soon, we were out and heading into open water.

Those dark clouds were still around as we tried different kinds of turns, reversing, etc under motor to get a feel for her handling. It may just be a bad first impression or the conditions, but she didn't seem very responsive in reverse but we only tried it out for a few minutes.

We cut the engine and refueled to be sure we could run from the weather if needed. We decided to test the yawl's reputation for being able to stay head to wind with the mizzen up and sheeted in. She behaved exactly as expected , and the way she was swinging around with the wind, we could see what kind of sailing day we had. The wind was gusting strongly or not at all as I went forward to hoist the jib, we wouldn't be flying the mainsail in those conditions.

Under jib and mizzen, Alistego was sailing for the first time! Through my euphoria, I did note that the mizzen needed little tending, staying set and drawing quite well at all times. The jib may need to have the sheet fairleads adjusted, so I'm glad I made them adjustable. We sailed back and forth for a while just getting the feel of how she handled and chasing the wind around, as it shifted. There were times where I felt we were barely moving and others where she put her shoulder down and the bilge boards were humming. The boat felt stable and easily controllable, even for a guy who hasn't sailed at all during the five years it took to build her.

Barb phoned her parents to report the happy news of our launch and her dad, after congratulating us, told her that there was some severe weather headed our way, and from the skies around us, I believed him. The gusts were getting more intense and some rain could be seen around the area. Reluctantly, we changed course for the marina and tacked our way back for a bit, but realizing how long that would take we decided to give our new outboard a little more break-in time. We docked again without difficulty, putting the outboard into neutral some way out and letting her slippery hull glide through the water for the last 20 metres or so to the dock.

It takes very little to drive this boat through the water. There was never a wake to speak of, except for the exhaust stream from the outboard under power.

It was a shame that the weather shut us down after only an hour or two but we can hardly wait to get her out again!

Dale Hymanyk 2018