Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Well, the big move on October 4th went off without a hitch, and our Westsail 32 is now safely moored, portside to, in Troy Boyer's barn in Warren IN. Barb and I drove up to Bay City on the night before so as to get an early morning start at the boat. I didn't want either the crane or the transporter to be waiting on me to get things ready for the move. In the early morning hours we cleared the boat interior of any glass jars (there were a lot of them, for nuts, screws, etc.) that might be broken in the move and to set up the X-frame cradles fore and aft to take the weight of the mast. I chose to offset it to the portside of the forward hatch and the aft companionway hatch.

I couldn't resist a moment of dreaming of sea-spray! I just hope the ghosts of the Titanic aren't watching me! I would have moved out onto the bowsprit platform, but it's about twelve feet to the ground and I don't like heights, plus without a more thorough inspection, I didn't trust a wooden platform that's been in the weather for ten years - even if it is teak.

Torreson Marine did a nice job of building the custom cradle and all we had to do was put 12 x 12 inch carpet samples on the stabilizer posts, as well as to any potential points of contact between the mast cradles, mast and deckhouse. We finished our work just in time for the arrival of the 50-ton crane from McNally & Nimmergood. Scott, the crane operator was very efficient and reassuring, but I was still pretty nervous about the lift.

With the slings and spreader bar around the hull we had to position the slings to align with the internal bulkheads to prevent overstressing the hull. It would have been easier if we had two separate spreader bars, each with it's own sling, but we made it work. The moment when it came off the keel blocks and stands was an anxious time for all of us. The popping and groaning of the slings about gave me a heart attack!

Up she went! Slowly, but surely she lifted off the keel blocks and stands until was able to turn her into the position to be lowered onto the new cradle. It's surprising how easy it is to turn 20,000 lbs! This is a good view of the bowsprit platform with it's stainless steel tubular core. Most of the wood is heavily weathered, but teak does not rot and we think about 90% of it can be restored.

With the boat lined up on the cradle, she was lowered until the keel settled onto the cradle's keel board, then the bracing stands were raised until snug. Not as bad as we thought it would be. The boat now sits just slightly turned to port by about 5%, which will enable us to work on the portions of the hull that were blanketed by the stand pads.

As we were setting the boat onto the cradle, the transporter, from NauticMarine Transporters, arrived on time. With the clock ticking and the bill running up, I was really appreciative of the timeliness. To ensure clearance into the barn, we set the boat down slightly trimmed down by the bow.

Our driver, Tom backed the hydraulic trailer until the side rails surrounded the boat cradle, then fired up the hydraulics to let the trailer squat. In the down position we attached two 3 x 3 inch telescoping steel tubes, one fore and one aft, spanning the underside of the cradle. The only thing holding the whole 20,000 lbs of boat and cradle is four steel pins about the thickness of your little finger! Amazing technology.

With the delicate alignment complete, the trailer was raised into the road position, and the boat and cradle were both strapped down. The final step was to lift the mast, which I estimated at somewhere about 300 lbs, from the saw horses onto the 2x4 cradles on deck.

With a small sling, the crane lifted the 44-foot mast off the decrepit sawhorses and over to the boat where I lashed it down for the trip.

The most anxious moment came when the transporter had to cross the edge of a culvert to get onto the road. The operator used the hydraulics to raise the side on which the road wheels had to traverse the ditch - pretty slick! After he cleared the obstacle, he lowered and releveled the trailer, put on his "oversize load" flags, and we were off to Indiana.

FINALLY, on the road! We followed the transporter all the way home - 300 miles to Warren - all without taking our eyes off the boat! We held our breath going through road construction, where the lane was redirected onto the berm - so close to the underpass abutment that we'll swear the hull cleared by no more than inches!

Five hours after leaving one farmyard, we arrived at another - but this was the end of the road and the new home for our baby. Unable to negotiate the driveway, the transporter had to cut across the front yard, then drive all the way around to the back of the barn to get lined up on the old tractor bay.

After a couple of tries, Tom the operator got the truck into the barn and then used the hydraulics to drop the rig as low as possible. Fortunately, Troy has a lot of land in back of the barn and he was able to jockey into position. With an 11' wide boat and a 14' wide bay, the driver didn't have a lot of extra room to play with. Piece of cake!

Is it going to fit?? We measured the boat and the barn at least eight times!

In she goes, one foot at a time.

Going, going, almost gone.

As you can see from the front catwalk, the boat totally fills the tractor bay with just enough room at the sides to work on the hull. We can use the catwalks above each end of the tractor bay to get onto the boat, as well as a means of rigging tackle to lift objects (can you say "new diesel engine"?) into the boat. It's amazing how having the bulk of the boat in the barn makes you feel more comfortable walking on the catwalks!
From the hayloft/workshop you can see that it's just an easy step onto the deck!

Safe and sound in her new home, the Westsail looks snug but timeworn. We can hardly wait until the weekend to get her emptied out and everything inventoried, but we were so dog-tired that we just went home and crashed. Saturday will come soon enough!


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