I thought writing this post would be easy.
But weirdly, it has actually been one the hardest ones yet.
It’s only been 13 days since we put Selah on the water, but it seems much longer.
The range of emotions has been wide: elation, joy, anxiety, stress, fatigue, satisfaction, awe and wonder.
Selah was born on the North Coast of Tasmania. Throughout the build, we have had to contend with the prevailing westerly fonts, that at times threatened our shelter and often interrupted our build schedule, especially in the early days. It seemed as if they were not going to let her get to her natural element without a fight. The equinox gales have been relentless this year, and even the hardy north coasters, are wondering if they will ever end. Her first voyage was on the infamous Bass Strait in 2-meter swells and a 25 knot westerly pushing us down the coast as we hurried to reach shelter in the Tamar River, before a 125 kph storm forecast for Port Sorell the following day. She encountered whales and a flock of albatross, swooping around us as if to welcome Selah to the sea. We took that as a good omen.
She carries a few scars to her fresh paintwork, courtesy of her inexperienced skipper, learning the hard way how to maneuver her within the tight confines of a marina, in strong wings and cross currents. My confidence was shaken. Deb received a baptism of fire and has been exceptional. She inspired me, as I reassured her (actually myself) that sailing is all about the weather, and the conditions since launch have been exceptional.
So it has been an eventful 13 days, and we couldn’t be more proud of our girl. She has proven to be more capable than her, at times, fragile owners.
She is strong, safe and comfortable.
Our last post was entitled 18 Days To Go and those 18 days are now largely a blur of activity. When it became apparent that we would not get all the major jobs completed, we broke them down into two lists. Jobs that had to be done to get her in the water; skin fittings, plumbing, motor installation, and commissioning, anchor installed and winch tested, mast assembled and electrical fittings installed, etc. Other jobs were put on the back-burner.
Of course, there are also many small catch-up jobs, such a fitting bench fiddles (timber edging that prevents items rolling off benches and so forth.
We are finding it difficult to drag ourselves back to building mode. We had been advised not to launch too soon. But in our defense, timelines on big projects are difficult to predict, especially at the fit-out stage, when there are so many one-off first time jobs. It’s easy to just “potter-along” and sometimes you just have to push the agenda. The driving factor in getting her afloat in November was the sails. They cannot be cut until the rig is up and measured, so we needed to get her on the water and mast stood, to have any chance of getting her sea- ready before next winter.
Launch day was November 27th. The truck was due to arrive on the Tuesday to load her up, ready for a 6.30am departure. On the Monday, we organised for a crane to lift her off her build footings and swing her out and 90 degrees, in line with the driveway, ready for the truck.
1.3 kilometres from the build site to the public boat ramp was uneventul, but quite a spectacle, as a convoy of offical cars plus friends and family followerd her down by car, foot and bike.
I had two ponts of concern, however. The trees and shrubs at the entrance to the boat ramp area were very tight. Earlier Paul, our brother-in-law (who had flown down from Alice Springs for the launch) and I had tied back some of the bigger branches. Unseen in these videos is Russel and I holding back a particulairy stuborn shrub that threated to scratch the paintwork.
The second unknown was two bollards (seen below in yellow) that could have put a stop to the whole thing. Even Ken, our experienced driver, was unsure if she would fit through. At the begining of this video, we were unsure if the launch would be succseful. You can see how tight it was. Thats me in the maroon jacket, anxiously checking for clearance.
This is the point when we knew we were OK. Deb let out a cry of relief as she inched her way down to the launch position on the ramp.
A gathering of friends, family and interested acquaintances, came aboard for an impromptu launch party. Together we waited for Selah to float for the first time. The wind had picked up to the predicted 25 knots, and at slack tide, we could feel her tugging on the lines. Finally, my brother Roger looked at me and said: “Its time Pete, let her go”. So we unloaded those who were going ashore, I fired up the engines, and we let go the pontoon. Untethered and with the wind behind her, she shot out into the channel like a rocket. Our life afloat had begun.
Here’s the moment:
Finally, we would like to acknowledge the help and assistance from so many who have given their time, experience and support to the project. We are actually quite overwhelmed by the generosity of so many, too many to name them all.
I have written before, that building Selah has really been a family project, and I genuinely mean that.
Dear Rusell and Jody (Debs brother and wife) have been faithfully supportive and generous with their time and their space. They gave us somewhere to build, behind their workshop. Russell has been faultlessly supportive with tools, materials, and advice. He is a natural problem solver, and we could always count on the quality of his advice when needed. His shed was an Aladins Cave of stored up bits and pieces, and there was rarely a time he couldn’t locate just the right bit of something, to solve a problem. I am going to miss our morning chats, and laughter.
Rob and Mary, Debs’s parents, opened their home to us and gave us somewhere to live. During the long cold winters, we would come home to a hot meal, lovingly prepared by Mary. Rob was always ready at a moment’s notice to assist where ever he could, from the first days, helping to lay the concrete foundations for the keels, to cleaning old Sika from second-hand fittings we purchased.
Without them, and the unfailing guidance of the Master boatbuilder (the planet is really just a big boat in space) who unaccountably chooses to involve himself in our everyday lives, the project simply would not have been possible.
Stay tuned for Part 2 …