Thursday, April 4, 2013

Launch Day

We had an uneventful trip back to the Tahiti Nautic Center, flying to Papeete aboard Air Tahiti Nui, and using a rental car to transport our 4 checked bags and 4 carry-ons to Taravao. We arrived to find the boat in pretty good shape, considering she had been left in the tropics for 9 months, including 4 months of record-setting rains. There was a fair amount of mold and mildew inside, but we had bagged up all fabrics, books, and other delicate items, and Yvan (the boatyard manager) had done a great job keeping the dehumidifier crystals changed, pumping the bilge as needed, and topping up the battery water. The main work was wiping down surfaces with vinegar and water, unbagging and re-stowing all of our stuff, and airing the boat out thoroughly. The boatyard had already applied bottom paint, because the only available launch date was the day after we arrived. Otherwise we would have had to spend an extra week on the hard. I checked through hulls, changed zincs, lubricated the Max-Prop, and put up the dodger and bimini for shade. In the morning, the boatyard crew hooked up a long trailer to a small tractor, and maneuvered it up to the bow end of our cradle, which has solid supports along the port side of the boat. The rear wheels were removed, and the trailer sides were slid back under the cradle. All the extra supports were cut away, and the trailer and cradle were bolted together. Then the whole thing was jacked up so the rear wheels coulod be reattached. At this point it was time for us to get off the boat. The trailer was pulled out into the driveway, then backed through the yard toward the slipway ramp. Once the trailer started down the ramp, the tractor was chained to a strong point. Then the trailer was disconnected from the tractor, and allowed to slowly back down into the water, by means of a cable attached to a winch. Once the boat was partway in the water, Yvan (boatyard manager) removed the last supports ahead and behind the keel, and climbed aboard the boat for the last part of the descent. Once the boat was afloat, I climbed aboard and checked through hulls, and the shaftlog for leaks. Once the trailer was removed, and the boat was secured to the slipway, I started the engine, checked the windlass, depth sounder, and other systems needed for maneuvering. We'll stay alongside the slipway tonight, as its easier to provision the boat from here. It feels great to have the boat back in the water in such a beautiful place. We look forward to spending some time with Rupert and Judy on Khaya, one of the few other non-French boats that spent the hurricane season laid up here.

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