Antigua Slipway, Launch Day
6th Nov 17
This boatyard doesn't use a normal hoist like most places. It uses a bizarre combination of a low loader with six independent hydraulic rams with six huge pads that the boat sits on. This is driven by the same machine that moves your plane off its stand in an airport. But, they don't want to get the expensive bit wet, so they transfer the low loader onto a cable winch which then lowers you, down a slipway, into the water.
Getting the boat onto the low loader is no easy task. It involves skilled driving of the machinery without hitting the pile of Jenga blocks on which the boat rests (because they have now removed the metal cradle). This is performed by a delightful Rastafarian who keeps stopping for a roll-up (Golden Virginia, I'm fairly sure). A heart stopping hour of wiggling the loader under the boat and only gently hitting the Jenga piles a couple of times. Then into the water, check for leaks, burp the stern gland and start the engine.
Start battery completely useless. It hasn't missed a beat since we bought the boat but, just like a car, the start battery only fails on a cold winters morning when you have an important appointment, or on a boat while the entire boatyard crew are waiting for the OK to release you from the underwater low-loader or winch you back up the slipway and restart the whole, expensive, process in reverse. Luckily Scot Free's builders had the foresight to include an emergency switch that connects the domestic batteries to the engine and off we went!
Perhaps if we give it a good charge over at the other side of the harbour where we will have power, water and a daily rubbish collection, it will recover.