06 April 2009

Splash 2009

I had a long list of things to do on the boat before we put it in the water for the season. Very few of them got done. I mistakenly assumed that winter would end, and somehow there would be spring weather conducive to boat prep work and at the same time "inconducive" to sailing. But the truth is, the only weather inconducive to sailing is a frozen-over lake. As soon as it thawed, we were ready to put in.

We purchased a new pirate flag this year. A big one. We got it from a county fair on our sailing trip to Warm Lake in Idaho last summer. "Pirates for Hire - Specializing in Mayhem and Madness" seems to sum up the crew's attitudes and unique skills.

Launch day is great fun. The older kids climb aboard and help step the mast, tune the rigging, mount the rudder, and ready the rest of the ship. The younger kids run along the shore, skipping rocks and exploring, waiting to set sail. This year we included a picnic dinner which we ate dockside after splash.

This year my #3 decided she was old enough to join the mast stepping festivities up on the boat. It was great to have another hand up there. On the Catalina 25, we can easily raise the mast manually. (Although I did it once by myself, it is MUCH easier with a few extra hands.) I have looked at building a mast raising system, but with 2 people to lift the mast off the mast crutch, one to quickly untangle any snagged shrouds, and another to pull the headstay, a mast raising system would probably just get in the way.

This was our best launch yet. We've learned a lot about trailer-launching the boat with a tow strap. The big secret is to give the boat a little more speed down the ramp so the trailer goes deep enough without having to muscle the boat off the trailer. The Admiral shot this video of the launch. (Pardon the shakiness, it was a small digital camera with no time for rehearsal...)The other secret we learned was to keep a line on the boat to pull it over to the dock after launch. In the past we've put in, and then started the motor, but after sitting all winter, the motor takes a little work to get going again. Much less stressful to do that while tied up to the courtesy dock.

We keep thinking we'd like a bigger boat than our Catalina 25. But the swing keel is really hard to beat for trailer launching, and none of Utah Lake's marinas have hoists, so we need a shallow-drafted boat that is still retrievable when the marina's water levels drop at end of summer. Every once in a while I do find myself looking longingly at the shoal-drafted Catalina 30's available down in Florida...

So, we're ready for another year of sailing. We were the 6th boat in this year. Most of the boats are various flavors of Catalina, although there is a gorgeous new Seaward 26 a few slips up from us.

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