When to kill a boat

Lil and her dad

Lily and Mark before the boat tried to come apart. 

On Lily's birthday we decided to take the girls out on the boat for a sail with friends Nate and Sandy.  This was only the third trip out on this little craft and our last trip had been really lovely, so we naturally expected more of the same.  And it was really lovely, despite the tired kids who started off feeling grumpy but who quickly came around with the unveiling of juice and gifts for the birthday girl. And once the girls realized that there was water to attempt to reach, they totally had a blast.

The adults, on the other hand, were quietly managing a tiny crisis.  See, this boat has a swing keel, which means that you can crank the keel up and down, making it much easier to trailer.  But the keel is a really important part of a sail boat as something has to counter weight the sails on the top of the boat.  Keep that in mind.

So there we are, sailing around the bay having a lovely time when I start noticing a thunking sensation & sound coming from the keel.  It's really moving around down there which is not really how it's designed to work.  The cable on which it cranks up and down holds a bit of tension to keep it from moving around too much, but unbeknownst to us, the cable had decided to kick loose and go for a swim.  The keel was thinking about doing the same.  We also started noticing that there was more water in the bottom of the boat than we've seen before.  And strangely, it was coming from the point where the keel attaches to the middle of the boat, directly below the mast.  Hmmmm.  So we started watching (and bailing).  And when the thumping thing happened next, we watched in horror as the center post of the boat split open and then pulled together, over and over again.  

This is not a good thing.

Mark immediately instructed Nate to pull down the sails, fearing that the keel could rip loose at any moment.   If that happens when the sails are full, you're likely to capsize.  I started bagging up electronics in case we did go over and while Sandy kept the girls distracted, we checked their life vests.  We were in the bay so even a full on sinking would bring rescue in a matter of minutes, but we were going to be prepared, dammit.

Mark powered up the tiny electric motor and headed for the dock but it's not really designed to do much more than push us on and off the trailer or dock, so it took a while to get there, all the while more water and more thunking.  I couldn't help but remember the time I was a teenager and had to tread water for twenty minutes with two terrified, small children clinging to me.  That memory is etched in my mind as a rather unpleasant experience and I was loath to repeat it.  Luckily, I didn't have to.  And the girls had no concept there was trouble, so were not at all traumatized.  We made it back in one piece, managed to get the limping beast back onto the trailer and drag it's sorry ass home.

And hey, we only paid $600 for the boat and trailer and can probably get that all back in parts.  But we're laying her to rest without ever giving her a name.  Ah well, she was nice while she lasted.  Maybe now we can spend our time focused on getting Avocet up and running and onto the water.  May she never try to kill us, Amen.

Tomorrow, I'll tackle another item from my list, pinky swear! Although I may be able to get more photos up today if the girls play nice.  For now, click on the photo at the top for the full set of pics from our adventure on Lily's birthday.