It’s been a while since the last big event. And this one has been eagerly awaited for months.
Perception was hauled out onto the hard. We finally saw her belly IRL, for the very first time. And what a sight. She sure is a solid lady.
After six months of hard manual labour in solitary confinement, (removing the ENTIRE interior), Mike was ready to hand her over to the professionals for her sandblasting. Since Perception is rumored to weigh a good coupla tons, the regular crane at the boatyard would not manage, so we booked the big boy. CCM Hire agreed to meet us on Friday morning, the 10th of February. As Mike had already removed the hydraulic steering and disconnected the engine, Perception had to be helped out of her mooring and in position for the crane. On Thursday afternoon, Andrew Blaine from CDC brought his trusty rubber duck around. Craig and Mike tied on to the duck, cast off the mooring lines and the next thing we were moving! Now remember, I wasn’t part of the trip when Mike fetched her from Cape Town last year. I stayed at home with the kids while Mike and his crew sailed the maiden voyage. So this was the first time I felt my boat actually move. Even though we were towed, and it was just a few meters inside the harbor, man! It was a great feeling. Hats off to Andrew for the expert guiding, we were deposited at the boatyard without a hitch.
Friday morning arrived, dragging it’s heels and we were ready to haul. By seven o’clock I was waiting, camera in hand, sunscreen on and butterflies in tummy. Mike had to climb the mizzen mast to disconnect the mast to mast stay. Balancing precariously like a circus trapeze artist, although afraid of heights, he managed to whip it off in no time. It took a while, but eventually everybody and everything was in place and ready to go.
I have difficulty finding the right words to describe the events. Let’s start with the crane. It’s sheer size is mindboggling. It’s maneuverability astounding. Wollie, the crane operator might look like a schoolkid chugging energy drinks, but he sure knows his stuff. Like magic, stabilizing arms slid out of the truck, thick, chunky chains were hooked onto strong straps which were slid under Perception’s belly within seconds. The whole process went so smoothly, it seemed like child’s play. I have always loved watching the moment a boat’s keel ascends the water, somewhat similar to the feeling of excitement you get from watching the sun set and actually seeing that green flash. This time did not disappoint. The early morning sun sparkled on the water gushing down a surprisingly smooth steel hull. (Now I get the purpose of anti-fouling.) Perception was gently deposited on the waiting cradle and the team moved on to the next boat, Malalapipe. This is where the crew really impressed. They lifted, turned and parked Malalapipe in an impossibly tight gap next to Perception.
Checking the hull she looked solid and strong. Not as heavy as we had expected, though. Her weight was listed as 22 tons at purchase. She weighed 14.6 tons at this haul out. Yeah, I know her interior is out, but just how much does marine ply weigh? Anyway, I am not into fat shaming, so moving on. While the crane was still around, Mike removed the engine. Because Perception was by now parked in by Malalapipe, the crane had to lift the engine over the other boat. I can only assume that it must have been ever so slightly nerve-wracking. The cockpit floor was replaced, the engine sent off to storage and the binnacle came home to customize the steering. We decided to let go of the hydraulic steering, so we need to swop out the beautiful big primary wheel and emergency secondary wheel mechanisms. Because of course they both fit totally differently. Think round pegs and square holes. Something like that, anyway. The details are way too technical. What it boils down to is that we want the pretty wheel.
Within the next two days the sandblasters will be starting their hot, sweaty, dirty job. More pics to follow soon.