Hello, Murphy!

Sal’s boat is already up on the hard (see previous blog). Yesterday was my boat’s turn. Her’s goes up on the lower funicular but mine is hauled up on a marine ways that I cobbled together (after using logs for a few years). It gets the lowest part of the boat about four feet above the highest of tides, not really quite far enough because a storm surge can add two or even three feet but that is what I built and it does the job well enough. I am happy with it.

I installed a block in a cliff face about 50 or so feet away from the top of the ways and through that wove a 3/8″ galvanized cable that is wound on a 5-ton Marpole winch (one old classic from my collection). Given engineers allowances for things, I am guessing that the winch and cable are easily good for the 1500 pound pull. There’s not that much to pull, really. The ways are on a bit of an incline and slippery.

The ways are actually two 6×6 treated beams with a layer of high density polyurethane (HDPE) plastic on top. HDPE is so slippery that (Prairie)kids have it installed in their basements and practice skating on it. It is expensive but it reduces friction like grease.

On this, our most recent fateful day, Sal brought the boat in slowly and nudged the bow in between the two sloping beams of the ways. She pushed up against the 20 degree slope so that the tow-eye on the boat’s bow was reachable for me. I hooked the cable on to that – the same eye that most trailer-able boats have on the stem of their bow. Then I snugged up the cable and Sal crawled over the windshield and off the front of the boat.

So far, so good. AAAAaaannd I began to winch……

The boat started to slowly climb out of the water as intended. We were doing good. Then ‘SPAl-ung!‘ The tow-eye had parted. The cable sprung back. YIKES.

AAAAAAaaand Sal and I watched the boat slip back down the fabulously slippery ways and back into the sea. TTTHHHheeeennnnnn we watched in horror as the boat drifted off.

There it was…about twenty feet from shore and slowly reaching for more distance between us.

There is a reason we have two boats. That reason can be summarized thusly: when one boat goes wrong, we use the other to go get/fix/tow it. But that first boat – that rescue boat – was already up on the hard. NO engine on it.

We watched helplessly as our second boat, the HMCS Pumpkin, float farther away….

I must admit that, for a second, I thought of leaping in and swimming for it but I was wearing enough clothing that, had I leaped, I would have ended up walking back on the bottom fully sodden. Been there. I also have to admit that I looked over at Sally to see what she was going to do and I could see the ‘Should I leap?‘ question etched onto her face, too.

“Sal, you’re quicker. Go over to John’s dock. Get his tin boat.”
“I am not sure I can slide it off the dock and I don’t think I can start it!”
“You don’t have to. Just paddle it. We don’t have to go fast, we just have to retrieve Pumpkin before she gets away.”

Sal was off like a shot and I trudged slowly after her. I got to John’s dock just as she was about to row away. The time difference was spent in her hauling the boat off the dock and jumping in.

“May as well take me. I can help.”

Sal waited. I jumped in. She started to row. We started to sink!

“Sal! The plug isn’t in! We’re taking water. We’re going down! Go back!”

Sal rowed us back and I got out (because she is the weight of a Poodle, the boat immediately rode higher and she then quickly baled it out). Then she found the plug and we started all over again.

I decided that the motor COULD be started and so we changed positions, I started it and delivered Sal to Pumpkin. “I’ll tow you!”

“Don’t be a nut. Pumpkin runs just fine.”

“Oh, yeah…..”

For some odd reason Sal decided to return to John’s dock instead of taking Pumpkin to the haul-out ramp. Fortuitous, it turns out. She tied up as I readied John’s boat to get it back into it’s place ON the dock.

John has a ‘drooping’ part of his float that acts like a ramp. He drives his boat at it at some speed and the boat hits the ramp and flies out of the water landing on the higher floating part of the dock. It is quite a feat.
Not one I was used to.

But, in for a penny….

I hit the ramp in exactly the right place and, if I do say so myself, exactly the right speed. But, it turns out, I was only 3/4 of the way out. The transom was still in the water and, at the new angle and with me at the back, we were perilously close to taking water over the transom. I skipped forward like an aged walrus and jumped/rolled out and grabbed the bow. I pulled it forward a few inches. That act was enough to keep everything fine.

“Sal. You get in. I’m too heavy. And, while you’re there, see why there is so much water still in it.”
“I’m not getting in it.”
“Sal….do you want to explain to John why his boat sank to the bottom?”
“I hate you. …………..oops. Sorry”
“The plug came out when you hit the dock. You were still taking water.”
“OK. NOW we know. Let’s try again. You this time. After baling out the extra water, back up and hit the dock a-flying.”
“I am NOT shooting myself out of the water onto a dock and destroying everything including myself while I do it!”
“Yes you are. You can do this. Take a run at it and stop before you hit. I’ll judge your speed. Then, you can back up and try again with more or less throttle depending on what your initial approach was like.”
We did that ‘practice run’ a few times and, on the third attempt, I was yelling “GO FOR IT!” and Sal leaped John’s 14 foot tinny out of the water at about 8 knots speed. The bow hit the ramp and leaped up. She kept the throttle on and closed her eyes. Her instruction was – the instant the bow comes down, hit the kill switch. We had the leg on un-lock and it should just jump up if it hits. I didn’t think it would hit.

You should have seen her face!

It went perfectly. Boat in perfect position. Engine stopped about two inches from hitting the dock. She got out. Shaken and stirred. We pulled it up the remaining foot. Absolutely perfect!

But then it was time to return to our chore.
“We can’t do it without a tow hook.”
“Yes we can. We just run a cable around the butt (stern)end and pull from there.”
“No way|!”
“Yes! We can do this.”
And, so we did. The boat is up. It is good. Serviced and ready for launching in the Spring.

Three hours instead of 45 minutes. The Murphy factor.

13 thoughts on “Hello, Murphy!

  1. Excellent descriptions. Your “writing skills” havent left you . I could visualize everything. ( sorry but I WAS laughing a few times while reading)


    • I only write about the ones that Murphy causes. I sometimes write about my own. But Sal only gets depicted heroically. Before I quit this 12 year litany of fiascos I will do a year of Sally behaving badly. Problem is: I lack for material right now.
      (And she reads the blog)


  2. Loved your descriptions. Could imagine it every step of the way. Gave me a good laugh. I hope the dock holds up for the rest of the winter and mine too.


  3. I think I told you this before, but John built us a temporary marine ways out of two fir logs in his shallow back bay so we could pull our barge and tin boat up backwards to do a leg oil change. Handy things to have around for boat maintenance. – Margy


    • I agree. And we have the same with an extra small grid. But, to haul it out above the highest of tides and then leave it, required a more skookum system. Takes time. Takes effort. But, it is safe. The other little ‘grid’ is a quick in and out with the tide. You have a ‘John’. I have a ‘John’. Everyone needs a good John now and then.


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