Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What does it mean to turtle your boat?

Wanna know where Tripp and I have been for much of  the past three days? Lake Nokomis in Richfield, Minnesota. Because we've haven't actually sailed our boat in the past two years, I thought it would be great fun to rent a buoy on a lake in the Minneapolis park system. Lake Nokomis is the closest option to where we live. Having a boat already rigged and ready to go at any time seemed a much better proposition than trailering the boat to a new location each time and having to step and unstep the mast over and over again.

We spent the past 3 months getting the boat ready for the sailing season. We bought a boom tent and a jib sleeve and re-rigged the halyards and purchased backup tackle for all of the rigging on the boat. We had to fix a problem on our truck so that the trailer lights worked. Got all that done and launched the boat on Sunday, June 8. We had a nice sail in very light and fickle winds and put her to bed with a  satisfied feeling.

Six days later, Saturday morning, June 14, our region was visited by very strong winds and a phenomenon known as "gravity waves". The next day, when I read in the paper about boats being tossed about on Lake Minnetonka and Lake Nokomis, I got a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Later that day we went straight to the lake and this is what we saw. Nice photo of a dad and his young daughter playing on a paddle board. See the boat in the upper right hand corner with the centerboard sticking straight up in the air? That's our boat. An eyewitness said that the wind picked the boat right up out of the water and flipped it over in one very fast movement. Buried the masthead into the bottom of the lake bed, into the mud. Of course, we didn't know this until we drove up there on Sunday. We worked for a couple hours to free the boat using the primitive knowledge that we had at the time, but to no avail. Discouraged and demoralized barely scratches the surface of our emotions that day. Neither one of us slept much that night with visions of a wrecked boat and no idea of how to retrieve it.

I spent two days reading various opinions online and playing scenarios in my head for our next move. None of this gave me much confidence. I decided to call the Minneapolis Park Board and see what they recommended; this had to have happened to others before us. Sure enough, they suggested that I call White Bear Boat Works which I promptly did.

Jason at White Bear Boat Works talked me through the issues that we would be facing and told me that what I planned to do next was the right thing to do and that we could easily do it and save ourselves $1,000 which is what he would have charged us to do it himself. He spent 20 minutes with me and assured me that we would be able to make this happen.

It took us 2 1/2 hours this afternoon (Jason thought 1 hour), but we were able to pull the mast out of the mud, right the boat, tow it to the dock, load it onto the trailer and bring it home where we can dry out all of the components and clean the rigging and the sails. It took 20 minutes to drain all of the water out of the boat. I suspect that she took on somewhere between 100-200 gallons of water during the three days she was upside down. When the masthead broke the surface of the lake it had mud 3 inches thick over the top 24 inches of the mast. Yuck!

Here's what the mast looks like right now.There's still so much mud in the mainsail channel that I can't raise the sail to the proper height.

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