Monday, June 20, 2016

Row, row, ...

Puff, our wee dinghy, is part diversion, but mostly a solution to a problem. The issue at hand is getting back-and-forth from the mother ship and land, or sometimes another boat. Ya sure, you can tie up to a dock in some marina, but 1) it'll cost you an arm and a leg, of which we have only so many, and 2) anyplace worth cruising doesn't have marinas: to our way of thinking anyway. So how do you get to that deserted beach and even the grocery store up the hill from you anchorage? You pile into your dinghy, that's what you do.

No facet of cruising that causes more debate that dinghies. First, where do you store the freakin' thing on the mother ship? There is essentially nowhere on the deck of a small yacht that you can safely store a dinghy. You can get small blow up dinghies that you might be able to deflate and store below, but that's a host of other problems and most small boats don't have room below for even a deflated dinghy.

Then you have the inflatable vs. hard dinghy thing. If you go inflatable, you have to also carry an outboard and gasoline 'cause you can't really row them. We had an (de)inflatable for awhile. A lobster just about sunk it for us. For Alizée I choose to build a modified Iain Oughtred 9 foot rowing/sailing pram. By changing the shape slightly and making the front 18" removable, we are able to lash Puff securely to chocks on the cabin top. We're going to do our best to forsake those horrid outboards and row. And row. And row some more. It's good for ya.

Puff has never been in the water until today. We did head to a lake in Boulder once to try her out: the lake was frozen. Sea trials are not all about learning to raise the sails. You also have all sorts of other routines to figure out from making coffee in the morning to launching the dinghy from the mothership. Generally, you have an idea how all these things should happen, but the original edition never works out quite right. At least a dozen times a day, "Oh, I didn't think about that!" To launch Puff, we have to hoist her out of her chocks, rotate her from upside down to right side up, and plop her into the water. Sounds easy, and it would be on shore, but from the deck of a boat it's a challenge. We did pretty well, but the procedure will no doubt be refined over the Summer until we know it so well not a word will be said as we hoist, haul, and slip her from her cabin top perch to the water below in perfect coordination.

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