atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#532: One down, one to go

They came and got the powerboat last night. They were going to try to get 'em both, but both of them were too big to fit on the truck. One, I guess, was going on the flatbed and the other would have gone on the trailer hitch, but the bed wasn't long enough.

The flatbed was able to yank the powerboat out like it was nothing, though. I recall how it was in the past, the first time we'd move a boat for the year.

Dad never believed in things like Posi-Traction. He never bought a vehicle with a limited slip differential; when it came time to lug the boat out of the back yard, if there was any resistance at all, it would be a long, drawn-out process to get the thing moving. Usually this would entail long skid marks in the grass and a stop at a car wash to get the grass-and-mud puree off the boat.

There really isn't anything wrong with using a vehicle with an open differential to tow something. And anyway, Dad was an old-school boat guy, anyhow. His first boat (bought in the early 1950s, a wood Owens 21' cabin cruiser) he towed with a Chevy car that had a manual transmission, open diff, and a straight six engine. So I guess he didn't think a limited-slip diff was all that necessary--and, most of the time, he was right.

Still, it was amazing how easily that boat came out last night. First off, the guy operating the truck could cheat--he bolted a 2" tow ball to the thing that goes under the front wheels of a car to be towed, and that thing is maneuverable; and then to get the initial movement he just retracted it all the way. POP! It came out like a cork from a bottle of champagne.

So now we still have the sailboat here, but that's supposed to go today sometime. Then everyone will be happy. The neighbors will be glad the boats are no longer in our back yard. The village will be glad because the neighborhood will look better. And Mom will be glad because she's finally rid of the things (and gets a tax write-off, to boot).

I'm going to really miss the sailboat. Dad bought it--barely used, a year old--when I was 10, and I spent many a summer weekend on that boat. I like sailing, too.

But the boat is 31 years old, and I'm a stockboy at Target, and the definition of boat is "a hole in the water into which you throw money". It costs something like $2,000 per year just to have a dock to tie the thing to; and that doesn't count insurance, maintenance, parts, fuel (it does have a motor, after all) and miscellany. And it's a lot of work to maintain a sailboat, even a new one.

Every once in a while I think about buying a small boat, a daysailer, something I can tow down to Cedar Lake or somewhere similar, spend a day sailing, and then drag home again. Heck, the Jeep could tow something much bigger than that; I could tow a small sailboat with the Escort if it came to that.

But you can't do that with a 23-foot sailboat with fixed keels.

"Wait--'keels'"? Plural? WTF?" you ask.

It's a Clipper Marine 23-food sailboat and it has two--count 'em, two--shoal draft keels underneath. There were only 79 of them ever built, which makes it a rare freaking sailboat; but in perfect condition it's only worth about $4,000, and ours is emphatically not in perfect condition.

Anyway, the twin keels make her a bit of a chore to handle when it comes to getting her off and on her trailer. They have to line up just right with the trailer, and to make things worse the boat requires more depth to launch, so the trailer has a built-in tongue extension: you run the tongue out 6 feet and lock it in place, and then put her into the water.

With a power boat, you just dunk it in and go. When you want to put her back on the trailer, you just BRRT drive 'er right up onto it.

But with a sailboat, you can't do that. And with a sailboat like a Clipper Marine 23 twin-keel boat, it takes a good half-hour or more to get her onto the trailer properly, which is not something you want to do when there are 435 other people waiting to use the launch ramp.

For all of that, the boat handles well, and the twin-keel configuration makes her almost as stable as a boat with a much larger single keel. The shoal draft keels mean you can get relatively close to shore, but you can keep up with many deep-keel boats if that's your bag.

I'm going to miss that sailboat. But even if I had the wherewithal to keep the boat myself and use it, it just wouldn't be the same without Dad.

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