25 April, '08

Launching Day!

Well, the big day arrived at last.  We’d scheduled it for Tuesday afternoon but it was going to be a rush late in the day, it was blowing really hard and the tide was about mid point so flowing very fast and we agreed that next morning would be more prudent.  A good decision as it turned out.

Resolution had been on the hard for the weekend, in among a wide range of boats with owners and crews working on them.  The Providence Rhode Island (USA) registration made her stand out, along with the “Energy Yellow” colour scheme and her small size. Lots of people came along and chatted, not one negative, all supportive, and all admiring which was nice, both Resolution and Charlie were among friends.

I had to chuckle though, when I came in I noted that the top of the cabin on the little ship  that had so crowded my workshop only just came up to the waterline of the 50 footer parked next to her.

A little girl could feel lonely on her first night away from home, but with big freinds to look after her, there is nothing to worry about.

On her way to the water, the antifouling touched up in all the hard to reach places, the self steering windvane system that proclaims her to be a voyager all in place and the "Wailing Whale " that is the trademark of her skipper very evident, she's ready at last to take to her natural element.

C'mon, I'm ready of you are!

Charlie had a marine Diesel engineer check the little Bukh 7.5 hp motor out, completed the fitting of the controls and such, then with a hose pushed into the water inlet he fired it up, ran it in neutral while we watched intently for water to come out of the wet exhaust.  It took only a couple of revolutions to fire, and ran perfectly,  lots of soot and stuff in the first spurt of water from the transom fitting but within a few seconds it was running clean, responding to the throttle and engaging forward and reverse from the single lever control. Perfect!  Shut it down, and we were ready.

Well, as I mentioned above, it was not a good day considering that the travel lift bay is outside the marina breakwater, and its quite a long way around to the entrance, rocky breakwaters and a small stream with a low road bridge way too close if anything went wrong so we started threading rigging in preparation for standing the mast up.

Now the rigging on this boat is fairly traditional, hand spliced loops over hardwood shoulders at the top, and they have to go on in the correct order, so we got the starboard lower in place no trouble, then Charlie passed up the port lower, or what he thought was that stay, and the loop was too small to go over the upper stay fittings!  AAAGH!  Cant do any more!    Give up, relax, there is always tomorrow.

By tomorrow though, he had remembered that the one he’d tried was a spare piece, and that the proper one for the job was there all the time!  Well, that’s better than having to make another one and the big tabernacle  means that getting the mast up does not require outside help or a crane so no harm done.

Our friend Captain Blair and I wandered off to my house for the night with a little list of gear to bring next day, and next morning the weather was great.  Still a bit windy, but it was going to be better tidewise so it was “on”.

We had a little gathering of people, and Janice Giles, journalist and writer, friend of Charlie’s, grower of organic vegetables and all round nice lady, was handed the bottle of sparkling grape juice, coached in her little speech and aimed at the bow as Resolution hung in the travel lift slings above the water.

Her voice is a quiet one, but clear, and as she wet the bow with the bubbly we all heard “I name this ship “Resolution”.  May God bless her and all who sail in her”.

"I name this ship ----" Janice Giles, a duty that she had never imagined that she would be asked to perform. A magical moment!

First touch of salt water, just like dipping the toe in the pool. "I'm ready, what are you waiting for"

Lower away, this is the nervous time. Will she float? Will she leak?

The balance of the beverage was poured into our glasses, and we drank a toast to” The Builder, The Ship, The Voyage”  and she was gently lowered away.

As the designer, I don’t mind admitting that this is a nervous time.  All the calculations and arithmetic, counting on my fingers and drawing curves and graphs, walking outside and holding up my wetted finger, mumbling incantations and imprecations, checking the results and estimating weights and volumes means that it should float at a certain height in the water, and applying all that experience and learning of theory means that it should be right.  But its still a nervous time when the first one of a new design hits the water.

By the time the boats keel touched the water I was ready to settle for just “float”, right way up would be a bonus, on its lines would be wonderful!

The little ship though has a personality already, nothing is a problem, and she’s calm and “resolute”. Nothing bothers her.  Her keel touched, the operator asked for all aboard, and with Charlie and me on deck he eased us down into the water.

With the slings still on the captain went below, checked to see that all was still dry, and fired up the Bukh.  I gave it forward, then astern and back to neutral to check, and the slings were lowered away so we could back out.

The cross wind meant that we were pushed up against the float on the way out, so Charlie fended us off until we were clear and I backed us out into the basin, well aware of the rock walls and bridge that make up three sides of the quite confined area, and as I selected forward and began to bring the bow around there was a puff of white smoke, a cough from the motor AND IT STOPPED!

Y’know how in a dinghy you can scoot it along by waggling the tiller?  Yup, Resolution can move quite well like that, hard work, but it was enough to keep us well clear of the walls until the yard boat came around and picked up the towline.

A 65 litre tank has quite a large floor area, the diesel pickup is a little way off the bottom, and 2 litres was not enough to make it a reliable fuel flow when the boat was moving and rocking a little.  Ah well, I’m told its not a proper launching unless something does not go quite right and this turned out pretty harmless.

Organising the dock lines, almost ready to pull the travelift slings away, the first real job in a ship just about to be supported by the water she was designed for.

Follow the leader around to the berth, walking about on the little 21 footer hardly moved her at all.

In and parked snug in her berth, new freinds all around her, plenty of company.

In the few minutes it took to tow around to the marina berth (F21, Bridge Marina, Tauranga if you are in the area) the boat felt great.  Very stable for a small boat; the bit of movement was gentle rather than jerky, and she steers very positively.  She also carries her way very well, but can be slowed down quickly by applying full rudder one way then the other, all good for a singlehander.

It took but a minute for our friends to pick up the dock lines and secure her, and she sat there like a well fed cat on a cushion, perfectly on her lines when the extra weight still to go in was allowed for (phew).

Charlies wife Yukiko has come over for a week or so, she’s a champion “tidy upper” which will help, they will stay in a marina guest room ashore while she is there, and we expect to see the two of them tomorrow to sort out what will be stored here until he returns to New Zealand in a year or so, and what is needed aboard ship. It will be nice to see her again, it’s been a while.

There is a lot to do still, but I’m off over there on Tuesday next, will be helping get sails bent on and the rig tensioned up.  The galley stove should be operational so there will be mugs of tea for both of us while we work, there is a LOT of gear to be stowed, a notebook to be kept of where it all is so it can be found (don’t laugh, I lost a bottle of port in a 16 ft open boat when away on a cruise once, after three days of searching I put her on the beach and emptied every locker overboard until I found it!  Started at the bow and worked aft, it was hard up against the stern under the seat of course, Murphies law in action again.  )

Well, one adventure is over.  The building has been wonderful to watch and to be involved in, it’s odd not to find Charlie about the place, an empty space where Resolution was, and the workshop all quiet.  It’s been great to be a part of it and we miss both the boat and the builder already.

But it’s going to be great following the workup, then the voyage.

She is about 2inches up on her lines aft, and 6inches forward. There is a mountain of gear to go aboard, including a huge pile of 3/8in chain up in the bow, 200 litres of water, and 6 months stores which will put her just about perfectly on her waterline.

A job well done, happy skipper and a lovely little ship.

She looked like a well fed cat, at rest on a cushion. So different to the other boats about her but not at all out of place.

John Welsford