Thursday, December 19, 2013

Launch Day!

In the morning, as usual here in Cabo, I woke up before dawn to the sound of the fishermen leaving from our dock. Have I mentioned that the tequila parties go on until 2 or 3 in the morning? I fell back asleep and when I woke again, Bryan was already gone. I figured he’d gone to check on Rover first thing, but a few minutes later, he showed up, back from picking up some stainless washers and morning coffee. Meira was ready to go with him and Hannah got herself ready while I ran up to the marina plaza’s good internet to try to secure reservations at a marina in Mazatlan (we’ve heard it can be difficult during the holidays but we accidentally ended up with reservations in 2 different marinas!)
Every day we walk the glitzy gauntlet. Just past the shops and restaurants we go up some stairs, through a parking lot, and around a corner to our build site. Every weekday in the parking lot, there’s a man selling breakfast out of the back of his truck. Several reliable sources told us how good his food was, but each time we planned to buy some, something went wrong. Either he left before we got around to it, or we didn’t have any cash. Today the stars aligned! I ran around the corner to grab some cash from Bryan and came back for a late breakfast. While in line, we chatted with a few information booth workers and some other people who worked in the area. I felt like I’d just been inducted into a secret, behind-the-scenes-of-Cabo club. We ordered "Poco de todos"— a little bit of everything— and came back with more food than even hungry boatbuilders could tuck away, and we spread it out on our tarp-covered worktable and stood around shoveling in tacos, sopes, rice and beans, eggs with chorizo, nopales salsa, and potatoes. About halfway through, I realized we didn’t have the camera, so I ran back to the boat to get it (a bit of a fiasco, as I’d forgotten to grab a key card for the gate. Then I got some help getting in and couldn’t get back out. Having a problem is a great excuse to practice my Spanish!)

I got back in time to see the oarlocks already installed and Bryan and Meira working on the rope rub rail.

We’d always talked about doing something like this on Splitpea, but never found the right kind of rope. On Rover, we’d had to screw the gunwales in through the hull, so we were really glad to have some nice rope to cover the screw holes. Bryan twisted the rope open, and pushed the screw and washer through, then let the rope twist closed again to cover the hole.

A couple feet from finished, he ran out of screws. While he was walking to the hardware store, I put some twine wraps on the rope to finish the loose ends and chatted with a fisherman who stopped by to see our progress.


It was hot work in the sun, but we wanted to give the still-curing paint all the help it could get. I asked at the desalination plant for some drinking water and had to laugh when they pointed me to a water cooler, full of brand-name bottled water.
Soon, Bryan got back with the last of our floatation and installed it and the last of the rope. And just like that…we were done. We’d been cleaning up and taking our tools back every night, so it didn’t take long to gather all our garbage (a boat comes around daily to pick it up, so we could just leave it with the shop’s trash) and transition the space from boatyard back to parking lot. It felt strange to be done-done. To just walk away from what had quickly become the focus of our days.
After a few minutes of rest and a bit of fiddling with our video cameras, we headed back for the big reveal. We hooked our GoPro wide-angle video camera to a clamp on Rover’s stern.

Then, with an authoritative, “And…up!” we were off. Someday, I may be able to post some of the video. I hope it shows all the double takes. But I took some still pictures of the area to show you what I keep talking about.


We stopped often to show off the boat to all our new friends. And to rest. Rover  is light, for a boat, but still a lot to carry for 1/4 mile or so. We stopped for a little longer near our dock and I stayed with the boat while Bryan and the girls ran down to the boat for oars and life jackets. A confused man walked by. “I thought I saw you carrying a boat through here a minute ago,” he said. “I didn’t know why you were carrying it when there’s all that water down there!” He gestured to the harbor, just a few feet away over the rails. We all laughed, satisfied his curiosity, and moved on. We made it around the busy ATM corner without any casualties and stopped a couple more times on our way to the marina office. We’d let our friends there know what we were planning, and as we came up to the office entrance, found ourselves the subject of a paparazzi-style photo shoot. They’d all come out with their cameras and we stopped to get a few more pictures (all on their cameras, I’m sorry to say. I may get copies though; stay tuned.) As we turned the last corner onto the boat ramp, our friend asked if we’d brought the champagne. When we said no, he pulled out a small bottle of tequila, perfect for a true Mexican christening! We poured a bit over the bow (a much safer option than breaking glass all over the sidewalk) and tipped the traditional shot for Poseidon into the sea. Then we donned our lifejackets, stripped off our shoes, and waded into the water to float Rover for the first time. I looked up from the water to see friends and strangers on the wharf videotaping and photographing our exciting day. We waved at our cheerleaders, so pleased to have achieved this moment together.

The row to our boat took only a minute, so we took a little tour around the harbor to get to know our new craft. Rover isn’t Splitpea, doesn’t sit the same in the water or row quite as well. But she’s a good, solid craft and, especially for a boat that only took 5 days (instead of the 9 months the last one took us), we’re content.
I told you I didn’t want to live through the loss it took to make this story. That I’d give up the story in a moment to avoid the loss. I think I still feel the same (though the story is a good one, yes?) but I can’t help but feel proud of my family and all our hard work and grateful for all who helped us hit this curve ball right out of the park.
No, we didn't give our youngest Grey Goose Vodka:-)


Before heading off to see The Hobbit, we celebrated with dinner at a local pizza place and toasted each other with the 1/2-off drinks. “To launching a boat!”

No comments: