Now we wait. Tuesday the rigging survey went well. The rigger will make some recommendations, but nothing earth shattering. Yesterday was the test sail and I thought the gods were smiling on us as we had good enough wind, and it was warm and sunny. If you do not live in the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard for you to know exactly what this means to us. But believe me when I say this is a huge deal.
On board were the owner and his friend, our yacht broker, Lee, the surveyor Tony Allport (who is completely awesome, by the way) and both of us. This boat is so big that even with this number of people, it did not feel crowded.
Leaving the dock was a bit of fun because of the wind and the fact that this boat had to back out of a long, narrow passage with boats on either side. I can say this: Lee did not die. He may have had to leap across a gap as wide as he was tall in order to get aboard, grab the toe rail and pull himself up, but he accomplished this feat in a manly way that implied excellent upper body strength. It took 4 people to get this boat off the dock safely. It would be awhile before Mike and I would be able to do it alone without having heart palpitations. Let’s not even talk about the shenanigans that were required to get this boat docked at the haul out yard, and how many trials it took to get accomplished. Hints: No bow thruster. Big boat. Wind.
Lake Union is just beautiful. It might not be the best place to test sail this boat, however, because by the time you get all the many variable sails up and ready you are almost at the other end of the lake. We decided to tack across a couple of times. Just at the point where Flying Gull is getting into her groove, it’s time to tack again. And she doesn’t enjoy tacking into the wind at slow speeds when her sails are not really set well. In fact, she is quite stubborn about that, making one have to jibe and go around the long way in order to try again. Twice. I’m pretty sure that’s not the fault of the boat. I’m almost completely positive that Sparkman and Stephens designed boats better than that.
So I have to rely on the maybe 2 minutes of excellent sailing we got under our belts, at a nice angle of heel. It didn’t last long, but long enough to know that she could do it, and it felt nice.
The haulout was not as traumatic as we thought it would be. Frankly, I thought when she was hauled I would consider her to be about the size of a pod of whales. But I did not. She has a long shallow keel that keeps her from looking quite as big as her sisters with the deeper keels. Anyway, Tony took his little hammer and tap tap tapped his way on every part of that hull, marking a few places and making notes.
Standing back from her in her huge slings, Mike and I commented, with sighs all around, that she really is a beautiful boat. She really, truly is. It’s one thing to think so ourselves, but it’s another to see the slack-jawed looks on the faces of the young men who work at the boat yard. They were almost reverent. If we buy her, we have to go back there and take them out on the boat.
But I am telling you about the love of the beauty of the vessel. And we all know that beauty is only skin deep. At this point it is all about Tony’s survey, so we are extremely relieved that two years ago Mike saw something he wrote in 48 North and chose him to be the surveyor of whatever boat we bought next. Yep. Two years ago. We have complete faith that he understands our plans for the future and will tell us what would need to happen in order to make Flying Gull the boat of those plans. It is so wonderful to have an objective, learned expert to talk to about these things. We all know that hearts rule where boats are concerned. So having someone remind us about the ”head’ part of these decisions is worth its weight in sovereigns.
And there are issues with the boat and with its being the right one for our plans. It would be excellent if we simply wanted to live aboard, or if we just wanted to take her to some restaurant dock and have dinner. It would be excellent for going up to the Gulf Islands, or even further into British Columbia. If those were our only plans, we would buy her without any hesitation. But we know already that there are some valid concerns about how complicated her systems are. We know that the sail handling is cumbersome, that there are too many booms on deck, that, in short, this rig needs to be redesigned for us to be able to handle it with ease. These things we know can be addressed. We know that there are some issues with rot. We just don’t yet know how much.
So, we wait for the results of the survey, and then we see where we stand.