Other people celebrated Christmas a couple of weeks ago. For us, it arrived yesterday morning around 8:30, when a big truck came rolling into CSR Marine’s boatyard, carrying our Island Packet 38 from San Carlos, Mexico.
This was the day we’ve waited for since the end of July, when we first saw the boat in San Carlos and decided it was the one for us. It was a long four months until we could get back down to Mexico to decommission the boat for its trip north, and an excruciatingly long month since then waiting for it to arrive in Seattle.
For the past couple of weeks we’ve been counting down the days until Boat Day. Yesterday morning, we were like a couple of kids on Christmas morning, scrambling out of bed as the sun was rising, impatient to get over to the boatyard and see our beloved boat here, finally, in Seattle.
The knowledge that the boat was en route to Seattle has been somewhat of an abstract concept, since we weren’t in Mexico to see it loaded onto a truck, nor in Tucson to watch as it was lifted onto a U.S. carrier truck bound for Seattle (though our friend Mike Mead, who lives in Tucson and keeps his boat in San Carlos, graciously went by the boatyard and took photos for us).
Since the boat left San Carlos on Dec. 29, we’d been picturing it winding over mountain passes and down long stretches of highway, wondering at random points in the day where it was and how much longer it would take to arrive. It was a little unsettling to think that an item that cost as much as a house in some parts of the country was rattling along at 70 miles an hour for days on end, at the mercy of the elements and our driver.
I kept recalling a horror story an American told us while we were at the boatyard in San Carlos. Like us, he’d had his boat trucked back to the United States. At some point along the way, the driver stopped at a roadside restaurant to get something to eat.
When he came back to his rig, the section of the boat’s mast sticking out the back of the truck was bent at a 90-degree angle. Another vehicle, likely a big truck, had hit the mast and bent it so badly it needed to be replaced. The owner spent the next several months hassling with his insurance company and waiting for parts before he could get the mast replaced and use his boat again.
So we couldn’t help but worry a little about our boat. It was scheduled to arrive in Seattle on Saturday, but it took longer than expected for the driver to get over Snoqualmie Pass, so he spent the night in North Bend. We’d been eagerly awaiting its arrival all week, so having to wait another day just heightened the anticipation.
Arriving at the boatyard yesterday morning and seeing the boat again was almost surreal. Before that, the only connotation we had for the boat was San Carlos, and the only boat we’d ever associated with Seattle was our previous one, Camelot. It was difficult to imagine our new boat in any other context but Mexico, and during the two weeks we spent there in November, the boat never quite felt like ours. It was too new to us, the setting too unfamiliar.
So to finally see the boat in Seattle, to walk its decks on a chilly Northwest morning instead of under a hot Mexican sun, was mind-blowingly cool. We couldn’t stop smiling. “This is our boat! And it’s here!” we told each other. It was hard to believe.
To our relief, the boat arrived in one piece, with no damage we could see, aside from a fresh water hose connections that burst due to frozen water—our fault for not thinking to drain that before the boat left Mexico. Duh.
That’s not to say she was looking good. She was caked in grime. The salon and the aft cabin were disaster zones, piled with coiled rigging, lines, dodger and biminy frames, bagged sails, an outboard engine and various other parts. And she was smelly. The holding tank hoses, which need to be replaced, reeked up the cabin with a gag-inducing odor that sent me running back up to the cockpit while Marty cracked some hatches. But it didn’t matter. We could still see the diamond under the dirt.
We watched as a boatyard worker positioned the travel lift in place, preparing to move the boat off the trailer. The truck drivers, husband and wife team Monroe and Connie LeFevre, stood by to assist as needed. I chatted with Connie, who told me she and Monroe had been on the road almost steadily for six months, delivering boats all over the country. They take turns driving, and Connie said as far as she knows, she’s one of very few—if not the only—female truckers around who drives oversized boat loads.
“Wanna see our family?” she said, grinning, then walked toward the cab of the truck. She opened the door to reveal, to my astonishment, a pack of 13 excited, yipping chihuahuas emitting a cacophony of high-pitched barks.
“Oh my god,” I said. “Do you travel with them all the time?”
“Yeah,” Connie said, explaining that the dogs curl up with the couple in the truck’s tiny sleeper. “They always come with us.”
After the truck was lifted off the trailer, we thanked the eccentric LeFevres and they headed off, bound for San Francisco to pick up another boat. Then we climbed onto our boat and tried to figure out where in the world to start. The rest of the afternoon was spent removing all unnecessary gear to make room to work on the boat and showing our new toy to Marty’s family, who stopped by to have a look.
We have a massive amount of work to do over the next few weeks. We need to paint the bottom, wax the hull and replace the shaft seal, cutlass bearing, holding tank hoses and engine hoses. We have to clean the propeller, replace the zincs, reassemble the rigging and step the mast. Being fastidious types, we’ll also be doing a lot of preventive maintenance on the engine, chainplates, winches and other parts.
Down below, we’ll empty, clean and reorganize the holds, a treasure trove of spare parts and extra items—the previous owner seems to have been a compulsive boat part buyer, stocking the vessel with all manner of back-up parts and nice-to-haves.
We figure it’ll take until March to have the boat in shape for the coming season. We’re anxious to get started; the sooner we do, the sooner we can finally launch Three Sheets and get back to doing what we love most: sailing in the Pacific Northwest.
But first, we have some celebrating to do, and I’m busting out the champagne.