Spring Launch 2012

With Idyll Time’s launch date a few days away, our RV is loaded to the max with accumulated boat stuff, clothes, and groceries. Nate and Homer, our two parrots, along with Sebastian, our Jack Russell, take their assigned seats in the RV for our two day trip to Michigan. Having made this trip now many times, we have the routine down pat. We stop for the first evening in Lexington, KY at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground. This is our first time here and we find the campground one of the best we have seen. One could spend several days here touring the Horse Park and we have marked this as someplace to visit when we have more time. We have a long nine hour drive the second day to the marina in Grand Haven. Arriving just before the marina closes, Jeff makes a quick trip aboard IT to make sure everything is in order. She is resting peacefully in the warehouse and everything seems good for our 10:00 AM launch tomorrow. The marina has taken good care of her while we were gone. Over the winter, they waxed her exterior and did some other minor repairs. She shines like a new penny.

Jeff goes aboard IT as soon as the marina opens this AM to ready her for the launch. The main job is bringing her back to life by hooking up her batteries. We then check all the holds and ready the lines. The wind is already gusty and forecasted to increase each hour. The sooner we can be launched the better. Like clockwork, the lift is positioned under her precisely at 10:00 AM and the jacks are removed. It takes over an hour to carefully maneuver her out of the shed. She was wedged against the wall with literally3” of space. Chris, the owner, is very good and slowly works the fat girl away from the wall and soon has her resting in the slings of the big travel lift. IT looks good as she slowly peaks her bow out of the shed and sees the sun for the first time in seven months. DSC00155 This is always a nervous time for us when she is being transitioned from land to water. We are relieved when she is once again floating. DSC00157 After opening all the raw water sea cocks, Jeff hits the starter button for the engine. She starts up immediately without missing a beat just as if she had been run yesterday. DSC00162 Everything seems to be going well. We have one more hurdle to overcome. The wind is now blowing like stink and it will be a challenge to get her docked in the slip. Chris lowers the slings and we begin backing out of the lift well. The wind is blowing us hard against the starboard side. Things go downhill from here. While backing up, we quickly realize one of the sling straps is caught on our starboard stabilizer. After maneuvering forward and backward several times, we are still caught. The wind is not helping the situation as it is blowing us hard against the starboard wall. We have experienced this problem in the past as the lift operators always seem to underestimate how far down our stabilizers extend into the water and they do not lower the slings far enough. We can usually overcome this but today the wind is making things more complicated. After several minutes of contemplation, Chris decides to undo the port sling from the lift and drop it to the harbor bottom. He is then able to pull the sling up and out of the water from the starboard side which frees our stabilizer. Several helping hands are waiting for us at our slip ready to grab our lines. IT is quickly secured before the wind can blow us sideways. With the wind blowing this hard, the dock help is much appreciated. IT is now safely resting in slip #59 which will be her home base for the summer while we explore more of Lake Michigan. DSC00168

The next few days are very busy. Our big project is to change all six of IT’s batteries. These are the original batteries that came with the boat. Although they are still working fine, testing them last year revealed only 50% of remaining capacity. In addition to the two engine starter batteries, the other four run everything on the boat when at anchor. We feel it is best to replace them before any problems develop. Six years is about the normal life span anyway. We are not talking about small batteries. DSC00175 These things each weigh around 140 pounds and getting them out of the engine room is no easy task. Krogen was very far sighted in designing our boat. The saloon floor has four removable hatches that open the engine room up for projects just like this. DSC00171 Jeff and the mechanic rig some dock lines so that they can hoist each battery up and out of the engine room. It takes about three hours to replace all six batteries. It was hard physically but everything went smoothly. DSC00176 We kept busy for several more days doing the normal boat maintenance. Impellers were replaced, stainless rails were polished, the interior cleaned, and the dinghy was tested. It always amazes us how much work needs to be done on a boat.

IT is now in tip top shape and we are ready to begin the cruising season. Our tentative plans are to spend the summer exploring more of Lake Michigan before heading south along the Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, and finally to the our home port on the Tennessee River in Chattanooga.

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