Once the chainplates are reinstalled, Andrew reattaches and re-tensions my rigging wire. (I almost feel like a whole boat again!) I start getting excited to go sailing. “Can we go?” I ask. But, Andrew still has a number of other projects that reared their heads when we peeled open my roof lining. Notice to Mariners: You must know that when you open up one problem on your little ship, you are highly likely to discover three more you didn’t know about. This, is life with a boat.
So, Andrew turns to repairing the rotting deck beneath my cleats. He gets to practice his epoxy skills, and he constructs for me strong, lightweight, and corrosion proof backing plates made out of a special plastic called G10. Look how pretty it is!
Finally, the end of July, it seems I’m back together well enough that we can go sailing! All we have to do is restring my halyards. I’m in such a good mood, I consider not throwing Andrew and Leslie any curve balls. Then, on Saturday morning, I see Andrew’s cheery face and I know if I am ever going to drive home the point that a sailor must be willing to take whatever the sea gives him, I cannot get lazy now. Today will be my Coup de Gras, the apex of Andrew’s first test; we are going to find out of what he is made.
So innocent and good hearted, my Captain. I am quite in love with him as he re-checks his rigging tension to make sure it is still seems to be correct.. He bounces from wire to wire, checking pins, tugging, inspecting. His heart is unfurled and carried away in the breeze to which he imagines setting my sails. “Leslie, clean up down below so we can be sail ready!” He says.
There are only a few things left to do. A few weeks ago, while they were working on a few other tasks, he decided to take my sails to the sail maker for inspection and to refit the sun protection cover. While we did that, he also took the halyards out of my mast and took them to be inspected, repaired, and get the older main halyard replaced. Today, he has to restring them through the mast. Taping the last halyard end to a small string he has used as a place holder, he plans to tug the little string through and pull the halyard up and into place. This is - categorically speaking - the right way to do this job, but the devil is in the details. Instead of knotting the small string securely to the halyard, Andrew is making a handful of loops, then wrapping tape over the knots to protect them from being pulled off the end. It worked for the first four halyards!
If I had hands, I’d be waving them like a conductor leading a symphony in the tense moment just before the fall. When Andrew tugs the small string for the main sail halyard skyward, he feels it let loose right at the top. The small string falls down through the inside of the mast, and the halyard comes tumbling onto the deck, landing in a colorful tangle at his feet. My symphony plays their measures of dashed hope and crushing failure!
Andrew doesn’t say anything. Instead he sits down on my life raft and just stares at the crumpled halyard at his feet. He takes slow, steady breaths. Leslie hears the thump on the cabin top and emerges from below to see what is the matter. She sees Andrew staring at his feet. She looks at me with her hands on her hips.
I shrug. Tough love, people! I am not sorry. This must be done. Before you start feeling bad for them, just remember the look of victory in Andrew’s eyes the day he cobbled together the Frankenator while Leslie sailed me along with her bad back - in waves, and an approaching storm. This prepared them for exactly that. It would be poor form of me to go easy on them during their refit. I am also not worried. One good day of sailing erases months of misery.
Leslie moves forward and stands beside him, not saying anything. “I just want to go sailing!” He says, shoulders slumping, sweat starting to glisten atop his forehead. Leslie rubs his back.
“We will, we will. It’s okay. We’ll figure this out.” Andrew, for one, is fatigued of figuring stuff out. He’s been on a pretty long binge of figuring stuff out.
“Oh, this is ooooooonly the beginning,” I smile and think pleasantly for a moment of all the attention and bobbles they have already bestowed upon me, of all those yet to come, and all the character tests they’ve already withstood. Just before a somewhat evil cackle escapes me, I remember the drama playing out on my deck. I cough and gather my wits.
Andrew sighs, goes down below to sit in the shade while he peruses YouTube to figure out how people string a halyard when their tracer line breaks. The problem is, the mast is only so big, and it is already filled with ropes, GPSs and VHF cables, and other menagerie. You can’t simply string the halyard down through the top because it’s too fat and too flexible. It gets stuck on other things and piles up in a big blob. This is why you are supposed to hold the halyard’s position with a temporary “tracer line” and the pull the halyard back into place when you are ready. Without the tracer line, we have to figure out a way to string the halyard through in where it is supposed to go.
Within the hour, he has a plan. He emerges back on deck with the tracer line in hand, he strings a series of nuts stacked atop on the line and secures them in place with a knot. In theory, if he goes to the top of the mast with the end of the tracer line, he can drop the weighted end down the mast. Because it is heavy, small, and flexible, it will “snake” its way around obstacles until Andrew can fish it out of the hole at the bottom of the mast where the halyard is supposed to come out. Then, he can retie his halyard to the tracer and start again from where he left off.
Andrew straps himself into the Bosun’s Chair – a harness in which he can sit as he works atop the mast. Leslie takes her place behind the winch and systematically hoists him to the top.
“Up the mast you go, Captain!” I cheer. A little encouragement never hurt anyone.
It doesn’t take long before Captain Andrew executes the plan, and Leslie lowers him down. Back on deck, this time Andrew ties the halyard to the tracer line in a much more secure fashion and he successfully leads it through its path.
I am so proud.
We emerge, victorious! Now, let’s go sailing!