Jesse’s piece wonders "where’s the love" that used to exist for young sailors and the boats they poured their spirit into. Here’s a story showing that there is still plenty of love out there, at least for the young at heart.
Chasing down a Craigslist ad, wasting so many hours at work trying to find anything about Santa Cruz 33s, the adventure began.
We had it all planned out; on a small Island in the Puget Sound, an owner that never races has a boat that’s been sitting and needs love. Screaming deal; must get this done before the end of the year; need a bigger, faster, boat; bla bla bla…it had debacle written all over it.
But I have played the slow boat in PHRF for long enough. I fixed up the cruiser, did what I could to make it fast, learned what I could to sail it fast, and pretty much sailed to its rating. I still have little clue how to make a boat win, but I’m committed to the process, and the time to move up was now – right now. With the big tides here, I was tired of losing steerage and drifting around while more efficient boats kept racing.
After a schedule-wrangling that made launching the space shuttle seem like a quick trip to the airport, the planets aligned. The tide was right, the boat would not end up on the hard after a lift and inspection, the work schedules of all parties were finally cleared, and the ferry and public transportation had been consulted. Money in hand, tools, VHF, sandwiches and rum, we left for Vashon at 6:00 in the morning.
The plan was perfection: Fast ferry from downtown Seattle to the island, hop a perfectly timed bus, and end up at the Yard (actually some guy’s front yard) at 7:30 – high tide. We could play with her bottom and all the dangly bits until 8:30, and then she had to get wet. For those who don’t know, we have no choice but to live and die by the tides here in Puget Sound.
The rule of ‘3’ was blasting its huge, white; ‘you are gonna be fucked’ light upon us, and we really hoped we could get all three logistical chores taken care of before we actually took delivery of the boat.
Upon arriving at the ferry terminal, we found out that ours had hit a log. We’re not going to Vashon on this boat. (We’re fucked # 1).
An Egg Mcmuffin, 2 Breakfast burritos, and a crazed taxi ride to West Seattle later, and we were slightly behind schedule. But we found a different ferry, but our tardiness meant the next bus wouldn’t arrive to pick us up until 8:15 – by the time we got to the yard, the boat would be on its side in the mud. We both get on our phones, seeking a taxi or shuttle service that can help us meet our celestial deadline, but as anyone up there would know – they don’t open until 9. It IS an island, after all. (We’re fucked # 2).
Minutes later, a voice booms out over the ferry’s PA system: "We are being diverted to assist in a Coast Guard rescue." Apparently, some vessel was floating without power between the island and West Seattle, and we get to be a part of the fiasco…er…rescue (We are so fucked # 3).
Just as I am figuring that the sick day I took from work was going to be #4, my trusty cohort sought out what was probably the most insane car-driver on the ferry, and like a couple of desperate hitchhikers, we piled into his Subaru. We asked few questions, smiling and nodding as he espoused his conspiracy theory du jour (No, really – they WERE trying to kill him).
And wonder of wonders, we made it in time to check out the boat. As the winter sun peaked out over the trees, the Medusa greeted us in the sling. Maybe it was a bit early to get anthropomorphic, but she seemed happy about the new chapter that was beginning. We found nothing wrong during our inspection, assured the owner that she’d be well-loved, and convinced the owner that he’d be invited and expected to come racing with us next season.
A smooth launch, a smooth motor up Colvos as the sun climbed higher over the beautiful Pacific Northwest scenery, and a whisper of wind filling in, and we hoisted a kite that probably hasn’t seen daylight in 8 years. A sweet downwind run to the locks, some sandwiches and rum to celebrate the trip, and I’m amazed that she now sits in fresh water, waiting for me to start fixing things and getting her ready to race once again.
The boat felt jaunty and solid, and better than any I’ve ever sailed on and the short trip was a glorious exercise that filled me with life.
This is a boat that needs some love, and I could not be happier to oblige.
S/V …ummm…I am thinking of naming her "Gem"