Come along as our good friend Bottom-Job Brandon with Perdido Sailor, Inc. tries to bury the rails, give us some hell and challenge us to sail right into the slip! “What would you do if the engine went out?” Brandon asked. “Tow boat! Tow boat!” Gotta love a friend who pushes you. Enjoy, subscribe, share, and all that jazz!
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That’s right. Blood. These boat christenings are serious business. It’s like Fight Club.
Rule No. 1: There must be blood. Alright, that’s not rule number one (it’s number 12!). Rule number one is The bottle must break. And, that is true. It has to be. I read it on the internet (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2506&dat=19650701&id=3lVJAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EwoNAAAAIBAJ&pg=4384,289846). And, you gotta love that captain for being quick on his feet. The boat slips out into the water on its own before the ceremony, and he shrugs and says “Everyone knows the christening comes after birth.” Perfect. “Now, strike up the band! I want to hear God Save the Queen.”
We didn’t have quite that degree of pomp and circumstance. (I don’t think it made the paper.) But, in the early morning hours of June 7, 2013, we certainly did christen her. The Travelift was scheduled to come at 7:00 a.m. to pick her up for the haul-in, I guess you would call it. So, we got there a little early to close and check all the seacocks and through-holes and ready her for the water. We checked all the fluids. Yes, the transmission fluid, too. I checked that first actually, while the boys were commiserating in the cockpit.
This is the Grand Trio: that’s Kevin the Broker on the left (the buddy who helped us find our gem, the most amazing sailboat ever), Bottom Job Brandon in the middle (the buddy who helped us polish her up and ready her for any voyage) and, on the right, our faithful Captain and Leader, the reason for all of this, the infamous Phillip.
The Travelift came right on time, and the guys and gals at the shipyard started strapping her up.
And we have lift off!
Thankfully, Houston, there were no problems.
Phillip looked about as proud as I’ve ever seen him, watching his boat, his dream, his vision, hovering right in front of him. Finally, a reality. We both walked alongside her, broad smiles and big chests, pointing, nudging and whispering to each other: That’s our boat!
It was a big day for us.
Kevin and Brandon, both avid sailors themselves, and having owned and lived on and around sailboats all their lives, knew what it felt like to put your boat in the water for the first time. They brought us champagne to break (and drink!), slapped us on the back and shared our excitement.
Kevin: “You’re going to spend your best days on her.”
Phillip: “I hope to spend every day on her.”
They brought her over the water and dipped her down just low enough for me to smash the bottle on the bow.
This was the big moment. You know, plagued for all eternity and what not. But, I was ready. I’d been practicing. I wasn’t going to let that bottle bounce back unscathed. Uh-huh, not on this boat. I reared back and smacked her good.
Ahhh! What a glorious moment. The bottle smashed into 932 pieces and champagne went everywhere! I made a big scene and acted like a superhero (I tend to do that in moments like this).
And, then … there was BLOOD.
I didn’t notice it at first, in all my flailing and flaunting, but Brandon did. I’m surprised I didn’t get it on my white shirt (I can’t keep a white shirt clean to save my life). But, she was gushing. That bottle obviously found a way to get back at me. A nice shard of it jammed right into my knuckle upon impact. We didn’t have a band there playing God Save the Queen, but I have a feeling the queen herself would have been proud of my bloody good smash! Perhaps I swung a little harder than necessary. I tend to do that at times, too. But, it was totally worth it. The bottle shattered, and Plaintiff’s Rest was assured a long, lucky life at sea. We wrapped my bloody appendage and hopped on board while the boys eased her out of the dock.
Plaintiff’s Rest was back in the water! To ensure a future of fair winds and following seas, we performed the obligatory splash ceremony ritual (http://www.boatnames.com.au/boat-naming-renaming-ceremony.htm) in which we called on Poseidon and the four Wind Gods (north, east, south and west), reading the script out loud, pouring generous amounts of champagne in each direction, and drinking a generous portion ourselves. Plenty of champagne was consumed during the ceremony, I can assure you. We had a lot to celebrate!
Phillip was beaming.
The wind was blowing, and we were sailing!
And, you know what happens when we go sailing …
Clothes come off! I’m kidding. They do, but only the outer layers. We love the sun. Phillip went top-side to enjoy the view from the bow, and I (of course) followed.
“You looking for a mate?”
It was a big day for us and a beautiful day on the water. We knew, then and there, we would spend our best days on her.
Yep. That’s the final product. Ain’t she a beaut? And, we got there with just a little soap and a credit card.
But, that’s the finale. Let’s rewind (imagine that veed-viddit-viddoop sound a VCR makes), and play it from the beginning, shall we? Now, I’m not tech-savvy enough to make one of those amazing time-lapse videos, so we’re going to do this the old-fashioned, flip-pad way.
Scroll really fast!
Wasn’t that fun? But wait. I still see a little fox soot on there. Let’s see if we can’t buff that out. “Brandon!”
Perfect. A clean slate! Now, where’s that fancy new boat logo, and my credit card?
I started sticking the logo up there, scooching it one way and then the other, trying to get it in just the right spot. (Although I had saved us some dough by opting to apply the logo DIY style, I was sure the Captain would not be pleased with a crooked, shoddy job). But, I was struggling to get it right.
Until I had the brilliant idea to bust out the level. I’ve hung plenty a-picture frame in my day. Surely that would do the trick? Right? But, as I went to measuring and leveling, the boys at the shipyard started to chuckle and sneer and get a big kick out of it. I knew something was up.
“Come on guys. LEVEL with me. What’s so funny?”
Our bottom-job guy finally had to break it to me. I had made a real ass out of myself by ASS-uming the boat was level on the jacks. Surely that was the case, right? Wrong. That’s what the guys thought was so funny. The boat is just propped up so it won’t fall over. They certainly don’t take the time to “level” a boat when they set it up in the shipyard. What was I thinking …
So, Bottom-Job Brandon stepped in to help this blonde and make sure I got it lined up right. Turns out, he was a master of the old “eyeballin’ it” method (patent pending).
With the logo finally in the right spot, we started the long, laborious process of scraping (with the credit card) and peeling (also using the credit card, our hands, elbows, a toe here and there, and just about anything we could get up there when the corner or edge of a letter began to peel off of the boat). We used the soap (half water, half Dawn) in a spray bottle to tame unruly corners and tips back into place.
Once Brandon felt he had passed on all the knowledge he could, he let me at it unsupervised (scary thought) while he went back to work on the hull.
So, the credit card and I kept at it and got the job done. (Thankfully, I am a master with the credit card! Cha-ching!).
“Ahhh … time to rest.”
Nope. We still had to do the hailing port. I called Brandon back in to lend his special “eyeball” technique for the “Pensacola, FL” portion of the logo and we went back to peeling and scraping.
The hailing port portion of the logo was the toughest because of the through-holes on the back of the bilge (where the bilge pump drains out). Some of the letters had to come up and over these fittings, which was tough. I seriously thought we were going to lose the tail end of the “a” on Pensacola. I had to cut it off and stick it back up there and it kept falling off. It’s like a 2 cm piece of green sticker that dropped like 5 times to the dirty, asphalt parking lot of the shipyard. It finally stuck and to this day, when I scrub the stern, I am amazed to see it there.
That “a” was a real pain, but I kept at it, and finally peeled the whole thing back. And … voila!
Boat logo done. Now that she had her new name, we were ready to splash her back in the water. We had scheduled the splash ceremony for June 7, 2013.
I did not know at the time, but in the world of cruising, a boat re-naming ceremony (also known as a “splash ceremony”) is kind of a big deal. This will give you a clue (http://www.boatnames.com.au/boat-naming-renaming-ceremony.htm), but note the instruction: “Buy a bottle of good Champagne & invite your friends to witness and party.”
I was definitely excited.
Of course plenty of other extremely critical and exciting things happened while the boat was on the jacks but I, naturally, focused primarily on my logo job. I am the center of this universe, you know. But – let’s get a quick recap:
Blister and pockmarks and abrasions abound! She was covered with them:
Tons of small ones,
And, even some oozing ones,
Thankfully, we got lucky (which is rare) with the monstrous one in the back that we thought was a potential core leak.
Turns out the low-pitched, “thud” our surveyor heard when he was giving our girl a “good banging” during the sea trial, was not a leak to the core, just a blister in the fiberglass coating on the hull. Where some sailboat hulls are completely fiberglass, we have a balsa core on our boat which is covered by fiberglass. If you were to take a core sample of our hull, it would look something like this:
Meaning, had that leak near the strut joint on our hull made its way to the balsa core, our repair job could have looked something like this:
But, like I said, we were extremely lucky. Our fiberglass turned out to be super thick. Bottom-job Brandon said he was afraid to keep drilling because he started to think we didn’t have a balsa core after all, just fiberglass. But, he finally reached wood and found it to be completely dry. There was no leak to the core. He gave it the seal of approval and filled her back in.
We checked all the through-holes to make sure they were clear and fully-functioning. This is the paddle wheel that spins to register speed on the electronics panel.
We ran through that system and checked the electronics.
She was good to go.
We gave the plastic rub rail a hard-core acetone rub-down and polished up the stainless steel stanchions and pulpit.
We removed what was left of the warped, worn davits brace that caused us to lose the dinghy in the middle of the Gulf during the Crossing.
We lost Phillip to a lazarette.
He thought it was best he go in to check on the bilge pump through-hole. After he spent 10 minutes wriggling and writhing and birthing himself from the lazarette, he learned to next time always send me into tight, cramped spaces on the boat. Don’t worry, you’ll see me in the same, humiliating, compromising position soon. Lazarettes are scary!
On top of ALL that, the boat was fully-primed and painted.
And, with the new logo on the back, she was ready to make a splash!
As were we!
But, I had some more work to do. Either because I’m the first mate, or the only lady that would be there for the splashing (probably the latter), I was told I was going to be the one to smash the bottle on the hull for the re-naming. While I was flattered, I was also a little nervous. The guys at the shipyard made a big deal out of telling me what bad luck I would bestow upon the ole’ Rest and all of her progeny if the bottle didn’t break (into a million pieces!) on the first swing. I headed to the store that night and scooped up a dozen bottles of champagne – some for sipping, and others for practice “smash” swings on steel poles and road signs around town (yes, that was me). I was going to be sure my bottle scattered into oblivion when she struck the hull. I had to be ready!
Ha ha! Again, I write the blog. I get to include corny jokes (and laugh at them) if I want to. It’s my party. Be glad you were invited.
I got some very good guesses on the immigrant-smuggling, wine-toting, big, honkin’ backpack of a gift. Kudos to those of you who wagered a guess. The prize will have to go to my most faithful-of-followers, Casey, who fancied the backpack housed an inflatable dinghy. While it wasn’t a dinghy per se, as you all know, we had to hack our dinghy clean off the davits in the middle of the Gulf Crossing to save the boat (http://havewindwilltravel.com/2013/06/24/april-17-23-2013-the-crossing-chapter-five-a-harrowing-debacle/), so this gift did, actually, become our new “dinghy.” 500 points to you Casey.
It was an inflatable stand-up paddle board!
Yeah buddy! That’s what’s SUP!
Because you only live once, right? Phillip ordered it through Kevin Cook with Coastal Paddle Company (http://www.coastalpaddlecompany.com/), a good friend and our local, self-proclaimed “Ambassador of Adventure.”
Gotta love that.
Phillip picked me out a beautiful blue 10 footer that (conveniently) packs down into the stylish black backpack you saw me sporting. Complete with a break-apart paddle:
It’s super light and strong and snaps into action the minute I’m ready to hit it! Like nunchucks:
But WAY cooler!
The compactable board and paddle were perfect for storing on the boat, and, since we were dinghy-less at the moment, it was due to serve as our “makeshift” dinghy until we got a new one.
But, a new dinghy was mighty far down on the list of boat projects while she was up on jacks at the shipyard. We needed to get started on any and all projects that could only be done while she was out of the water. One of which was putting the new name on the back. While we were certainly fond of Foxfire, Phillip had apparently been dreaming of someday getting a sailboat and calling it Plaintiff’s Rest since he was in college. Seriously, one of Phillip’s old college buddies guessed that’s what we’d call her before I even told him, saying “Phillip’s been babbling about Plaintiff’s Rest since the good ole’ days.” Boys and their boats …
So, I set to work on it, sketching out some potential logos for the name:
I know. Kind of blows your mind how good they are. I got some mad skills. At least that’s what my teacher told me when I won the “arts & crafts” medal at the local Funfest back in 1988!
I was kind of a big deal.
Alright. I’m kidding. I certainly was more of a rough-and-tumble type kid than an arts-and-crafts one. That medal was for rocking it in the potato sack race. Uh-huh, that’s right!
So, graphics and doodles aside, we decided to just go with text, no images.
I think it was the right call. It just looks cleaner. Better. Not as busy. But, the next step was finding someone to print the design and apply it to the back of the boat. I started making calls. Most folks quoted me around $500 to print the logo and apply it. Ouch! Have I mentioned how expensive boats are? A time or two? Well, it bears repeating. But, thankfully, I finally got a gal on the phone from DigitalNow (http://www.digitalnow.net/) who said she could print the logo for around $75, then (with a wink a smile): “Darlin, you can stick it on yourself with a little soap and a credit card.”
You’re darn right I can!
It sounded like a Dasani-and-duct tape kind of job to me. My favorite! I was all over it. We put in the order and headed on down to the ship yard to check on our boat.
It was a bit of a disturbing sight to see her propped up on stilts, her bottom dry as a bone and and all scuffed up and sanded in patches.
She looked so uncomfortable. Like a dog on the vet’s table.
“This is not going to end well for me.”
But, we knew it was for the best. She was definitely in need of a bottom job. When we got there, Brandon had already started sanding her down and working on some of the blisters.
And, of course, the dreaded core leak! I’ll just warn some of you now:
SOME OF THESE IMAGES MAY BE DISTURBING AND NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG ADULTS OR CHILDREN.
But that’s not what happened. We had been at sea for five days, which means? You guessed it. More time away from work. I’ve already told you how expensive boats are. We had to get back to the daily grind. So, I went to work. At an office, with unflattering florescent lighting and stale coffee and copiers …
You’re right Javier. Youdo make the best copies!
Boy was that a wake-up call. After the best sail or our lives, work felt like a slap in the face with a cold, dead fish. Smack! But, I mustered through while Phillip and his Dad and the infamous Mitch (he really is a good friend) took the boat to the Pensacola Shipyard so she could be hauled out to have her bottom work done.
Roll that fabulous footage:
“Watch that dock Paul! We don’t want a scratch on her!”
“Careful now boys! She’s expensive!”
You’ll notice she was still Foxfire at the time. Having the new name put on was part of the bottom job that needed to be done.
There she comes!
I have to say, every time I see her come out of the water like this, her “bottom” all exposed for everyone to see, I feel like she’s showing her undergarments or something. Like she should cross her legs and blush as if the wind blew her skirt up.
“Oh my … what a terrible, terrible, yet highly profitable mistake for me to have stepped on this air vent like I did … ”
But, you see, Marilyn just happened to have some little matching white hot pants on underneath her billowy white dress that fateful night. Classy lady? Or well-planned? My guess is the latter. Because I’ll tell you, not every woman would happen to be wearing such showy undergarments when the wind blows up her bottoms. I’ll tell you what some of us got under there.
That’s right. Spanx. I said it. Some of us are afraid of what might come “popping out” (Melissa McCarthy is my hero!) if we don’t suck it all in with those magic stretchy wonders. And, I’ll tell you, Bullock was lucky, because it’s the not-so-embarrassing nude-color ones that sell fast, leaving the rest of us left to scrounge through the plus-size, leprechaun green and neon blue leftovers.
I had to settle for the flaming pink pair:
But I digress …
The boat was hauled out, her “bottom” exposed for all the world to see, and the boys (and hairy women) at the ship yard set to work, getting her propped up on jacks in the yard so they could get to painting and sanding her.
Lord it scares me to see her being transported around in that thing. I keep imagining one of those big fat straps snapping and the boat crashing to the pavement, her keel cracking clean off. Uhhhh … like a parent watching their kid take off on a bike without training wheels for the first time, except WAY more important. For the most part, kids heal for free, or at least just at the price of a Band-aid and a “kiss to make it all better.” Although I don’t think that would work on the boat, I would certainly fall to the pavement and cover her in both all the same.
But the boys at the shipyard did a great job getting her all secured. Apparently, they’ve done it a time or two.
Our broker-turned-friend, Kevin, had recommended we use Brandon Hall with Perdido Sailor to do the bottom work. http://www.perdidosailor.com/. Brandon is actually the one we called when our surveyor found the potential leak in the core when she was hauled out for the sea trial, and he was able to give us a rough estimate of the potential repair over the phone that we then used to negotiate the price down. Certainly a good man to have in your corner. And, like most boat people, he’s just a great guy, super knowledgeable about all things sailboat and willing to come help with any project, so long as we offer him a beer or three. That’s pretty much standard “code” anyway. “Hey man. Want to come have a beer on the boat?” pretty much means I’ve got a project I could use your help with, and well, let’s just say, we’ve kept the boat fully-stocked with beer provisions since we parked her in Pensacola, and Brandon has helped out with many a-project.
So, with the boat propped up safely in the yard, we started making a fat list of all the things we wanted to do to her while she was out of the water: repair the suspected core leak, check and repair, if necessary, all the through holes and sea cocks, polish all the brightwork, have the name put on the back, etc. As is always the case with boats – there’s always plenty to do.
But, it was still a special day for you-know-who. That’s right, the big THREE-ONE (God, I’m old!) and Phillip the Magnificent had planned an exceptional dinner for us that evening: succulent filet topped with lobster tail along with lobster rissoto and (my favorite) sauteed spinach. We, of course, started with a bread and olive oil course:
Paired with an exquisite GSM blend.
And then threw the steaks on the grill.
I mean, really? Is there anything this man can’t do? I am one lucky girl. Trust me, I know.
He even managed (amid all of our planning, packing and provisioning for the last leg of the Crossing) to surprise me with a gift.
So, what say you? A roll-up picnic in-a-bag? A handy ruck-sack for us to backpack across Europe? A durable bag to transport dead bodies? Or smuggle illegal immigrants across the border for a little extra dough, perhaps?
Tired as dogs! We sat there on the dock for about a half hour, re-living the “best sail of our lives” and re-enacting some of the more ‘harrowing’ and hilarious moments from the initial crossing, in awe, really, that we had finally brought the boat all the way from Charlotte Harbor to Pensacola. It was almost surreal to see her there, glistening in the sun, at the dock in Pensacola. The dockmaster came around 8:00 a.m. and put us in a transient slip for the night. Once she was secure, we started unpacking the boat and looking for a hot shower and a warm meal. And, of course, what every sailor wants after a big hearty trip?
You’re darn right! We were in desperate need of a big hearty drink. It seems we had adapted quite well to the salt life. Rum now ran in our blood, calling us the minute we set foot on shore. Okay, while that’s not entirely true (that gives me the image of a grimy sailor busting into a run-down old wash house, snatching a bottle off the shelf and ripping the cork out with his teeth before he chugs it down), we probably would have done that, had there only been an old run-down driftwood bar at the dock.
That’s right, pass it this way Sparrow.
Honestly, though. We just couldn’t stay away from her. We didn’t quite get that “Ahhh … we’re finally home!” feeling. It was more like, “Hurry, get cleaned up quick so we can go back and check on the boat!” We invited some friends over to meet us in the cockpit for drinks and to check out the boat as a ridiculous disguise, but Phillip and I both know we would have spent the evening on the boat friends or not. We just couldn’t stay away. So, we headed back down to her, rum drinks in hand.
We like to add a little splash of juice from the maraschino cherry jar to give it that red cherry color, then add a toothpick with cherry and orange slice on top for garnish. And, the umbrellas are certainly fun. I got like 500 of them on a buy-one-get-one-free special at Party City months ago so we now find any excuse to stick an umbrella in our drink. I sometimes stick one in my morning coffee and tell myself I’m sure that’s how they do it in the Islands. But, I wouldn’t recommend you try it. Few can really pull that off.
Finally back to tell our story, and now with friends nestled in the cockpit, captivated, begging for tall tales at sea, Phillip and I re-lived our docking in 20 mph winds in Clearwater, our hacking off the dingy in the middle of the Gulf, our 16-hour tack from Panama City to Pensacola, the heroism, the hangovers, the hooker, everything! And, our tales probably got a little taller on round two (and were probably not recognizable as the truth on round three), but we had a great time telling them. And, it may have been the nostalgia of home or the rum or a little bit of both, but I honestly think the sun called in a special setting to welcome us back to Pensacola that evening because it was absolutely stunning:
We all toasted the sunset and enjoyed a wonderful evening on the boat, and Phillip and I knew home was never going to be “home” again if our boat wasn’t there.