Lift out & Lift off - 38:46.48N, 076:33.82W

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Tue 22 Sep 2009 09:33
The weather turned unseasonably foul on Labour Day with overcast skies, and by mid-morning we had idyllic Baby Owl Cove all to ourselves, there having been some 12 boats sharing the anchorage the previous day. We made the decision to return to Herrington early to prepare the boat for lift out and after that our flight back to the UK
To cut an hour off our return journey we negotiated Knapps Narrows, a delightful but shallow cut through the peninsular lined with marinas and restaurants. A single Bascule bridge links the southern part of the peninsular to the mainland which opens on demand. Then we shook the moths out of the sails and romped across the bay at a breathtaking 5 knots (well we were foul on our bottom - so to speak).
The lift went perfectly, a truly professional service form the boatyard guys, taking great care to get the slings in the right place underneath the boat.
We retired to the customer lounge whilst Ajaya was jet washed !  .........                                 then chocked off in the yard.......
The underside was in reasonable condition although our starboard propeller was slightly loose which we had noticed for some days due to a vibration through the hull at cruising revs. Nikki blamed the idiot that had fitted the props back at Hayling prior to launch, and for once I couldn't think of any good excuses.
Being out of the water presented us with a new problem.  We were now over 200 yards from the washroom facilities and having pumped out the holding tanks prior to arriving in Herrington this meant we were faced with a long walk to answer the call of nature. As with most people of our age, getting through the night without a bathroom visit was extremely rare, but taken for granted. But now, in a bleary eyed stupor we had to negotiate the back steps of the boat, then down a step ladder before striding purposefully (but sometimes running) across the gravel to the facilities in whatever clothing one could grope for at that hour of day, hopefully avoiding the attention of any rabid foxes said to inhabit the boatyard (according to the Harbour Patrol chappie). Needless to say, our liquid intake of an evening was reduced to almost zero to avoid these nightly excursions, but, mid-life habits are so hard to break !
With Ajaya safely tucked up for a few weeks we left for BWI airport and the 7 hour flight to the UK where the inevitable delays stacked up over Heathrow after a very pleasant flight. The landing in a difficult cross wind was somewhat hairy and the need for the very heavy braking of the Boeing 767 was blamed by the pilot on a rabbit sitting on the runway!
With no room at terminal 5 the plane had to park on a remote stand and then there were no buses available as all the transatlantic flights had arrived simultaneously - yes, we were well and truly back in the UK but looking forward to a reunion with family and friends and a visit to the Southampton Boat Show to catch up on ex-colleagues who continue to ply their skills within the marine industry in these difficult times. On the day we felt a sense of irony that the area in the show formerly occupied by our company over many years had been turned into a children's play area!  Hope they have as much fun as we did over the years.