Our First Spring Launch – Part 1

Are you ready to read about our first launch with Azura? You might want to prepare a hot beverage and get comfy because I’m not sure that brevity is going to be my strong point today.

When we bought Azura, the sailboat was on the hard. For you non-sailors among our readers, that means she was sitting atop a cradle in the compound. The survey from a few years back was good but we were still taking a bit of a  risk in buying a sailboat that we hadn’t ever seen in the water. That said, seeing Azura out of the water gave us a great opportunity to thoroughly inspect the hull. Saturday’s launch was a little daunting and part of that could have been that we’d never launched a sailboat before.

ready to launch

The night before, Bryan and the marina staff positioned Azura at the travel lift so that she could go straight into the water on Saturday morning. Bryan, our daughter Kaia, and I headed out early that morning while our teenage son, Tobias, decided to stay home to work on a school project sleep in.

Paul, one of the marina employees, already had Azura in the sling above the water when we arrived at 8:30 am. The day was proving to be gorgeously warm—quite a drastic change in weather from the previous two days of rain and snow. Bryan and I figured it would take an hour or so to launch, then we’d spend the rest of the day setting things up in the cabin, exploring Port Dalhousie, and then head home in the late afternoon.

The first order of business was for Bryan to hop on board and double check that everything was closed properly before the sailboat would be lowered into the water. He did that and we were good to go. As Azura was lowered I held my breath. Everything seemed to be going without a hitch and then it happened… a few moments later I heard Bryan shout out to Paul that Azura was taking on water. *&#$!

Further inspection indicated that we had leaks in two places. The one spot, which is common, is called the stuffing box.  This is where the shaft for the propeller leaves the sailboat. It would be fairly easy to access and wasn’t something he was overly concerned about. The other spot was the waste discharge valve. It is illegal to have this functioning on the Great Lakes and pretty much any inland waterway. It had been fiberglassed over as well as sealed off  properly but it seemed the nut wasn’t tight enough and water was coming into the bilge. Bryan tried to tighten the valve but it was impossible to get at. He explained to me that we may have to pull Azura back out and access it from the outside.

What is it that they say about the best laid plans?

Paul told us that there might be another way and he called in their marine mechanic to look at our issues. Yunior, a very helpful and friendly guy who originally hails from Cuba,  said that the leaks were small enough that we wouldn’t sink and he didn’t think we needed to pull her from the water just yet. He suggested that Paul and his helper help Bryan line Azura to the service dock and he would come back the next day. Yunior was going to make a tool that would allow him to access the nut from inside the sailboat to tighten it. He would also take care of the stuffing box then.

stepping the main mast

While Bryan was taking care of all of this, Little Miss Kaia and I settled the bill for our summer stay at the marina. We explored the marina grounds, took quite a few photos, and then headed back to the office. We had a lovely chat with Laura and Nena who own the marina. Kaia politely asked Laura for a garbage bag. She wanted to clean up some garbage she saw around the rocks and in the gardens. I put gloves on her and we set to work. It was so sweet of her to offer to help and a great way to keep her out of trouble. Kaia isn’t quite seven years old and all the waiting had to be pretty boring for her.

Now back to our sailboat. Paul and Bryan decided that they would step the masts before moving Azura. Stepping the masts is fancy sailor talk for putting the masts up. Our main mast was very heavy and took several men to lift it onto the transport truck at the Lake Simcoe end during the move. Thankfully Paul and the guys had put it on  a cart the night before and it could simply be wheeled up to the crane. Within an hour, they had both the main and mizzen masts up and Bryan was tightening the shrouds. Azura was then lined to the service dock and we went for a late lunch.

Upon returning we loaded Azura with all the gear we brought from home. Kaia and I spent the remainder of the afternoon organizing Bryan’s tools as well as a plethora of spare parts that we found in the hanging locker. We set up the cushions in the vberth and puttered around. Kaia read her books, played on her tablet, snuggled under a blanket on one of the berths, snapped some photographs, and even helped do some sweeping.

Bryan had been installing the booms when he heard a ruckus across the water. We looked over to see a couple struggling with putting their mast on. A third boater came over to help and the mast was precariously position. In fact, it was close to landing in the drink. He immediately dropped what he was doing and ran along the docks to go help. It was a good thing he did and a half hour later they had it in place. It was educational for us because we had considered stepping the masts ourselves. After seeing that I think we will stick to the crane.

view towards the lake

Later in the day, Bryan decided to check the bilge pump. He disconnected it from the hose and put it in a bucket of water. It didn’t go off like it should have. He checked the wiring to ensure it was getting power. It was. Finally, I suggested that he just go get a new one. I figured the bilge pump was necessary especially with the leaks still not being repaired at that point. Perhaps I might have been overly cautious but that is my nature. I found a shop nearby that had a new pump on sale for a reasonable price. It was 5:30 pm by this time so Bryan hurried off to pick it up as well as something for us to eat.

After a quick bite, Bryan set to work installing the new bilge pump… and it wouldn’t work either. He checked all the wiring again and discovered that the ground wire had come off at some point in time. He put the ground back in place, successfully tested the pump, and reconnected the hose. We decided that we would keep the old pump, which wasn’t broken after all, as a backup.

We called it a day, watched our first sunset from the cockpit, then headed home. The plan was for Bryan to return on Sunday to meet with the mechanic and try to rectify the leaky business while I prepared for a housefull of teens. In my next post I will share the second part of our launch story.

More photos (click to enlarge)…

docks to be set up
at the service dock
the setting sun