For the last 1-2 months we had been putting it off for what felt like week after week, but now it was time. The moment we had been waiting for was finally here: Milagros got a wet bottom again. It was time to finish all the projects so we could pick up in the marina where we left off: preparing Milagros for her first trip.
Boats don’t like being out of the water. In the water they are in their element, where they belong. Jacked up on the dry dock, Milagros showed various side effects of her dreary existence. The wood in the cabin was particularly affected. More and more cracks were appearing. Our wooden floor in particular had suffered, and the constant, light treatment with all the sand had taken the shine off it. We also caused a few extra dents here and there. Mostly from falling parts and tools.
Sand, dust and dirt
We don’t really need to say anything about the deck. At some point we just gave up on constantly removing the dust, sand and dirt. We could have scrubbed the deck every week. We just had to close both eyes; we’ll have enough time to clean it once back in the water. The problem is not necessarily the sand on the deck, but that the small particles get stuck in all the winches, blocks, cranks and rollers. These are mostly small, complex mechanical mechanisms that absolutely cannot cope with sand and dirt and can even be damaged as a result.
We finally want to get away
It was time to leave the Cabrales boatyard. Slowly but surely, we’ve had enough. Milagros must finally sail away. Everything was ready for splashing, the engine was running again, the last inspection with Marga had revealed nothing problematic. We watched the weather to choose the calmest day possible. When the weather window was there, we sent a message to yard manager Salvador that we could launch. Shortly before, Craig had returned from the USA to his sky-blue sailing boat “Small World” and had kindly agreed to help us with the launch and the short drive to the marina.
Cabrales professional skater
We knew the procedure very well, as we had already helped a few other sailboats with the splashing. First, the workers load the boat onto the “skateboard”. This extremely manoeuvrable little vehicle is used to move and park the boats in the tightest of spaces in the boatyard. The big “travelift” is responsible for launching the boats, and in its slings hang all our belongings, our work, our money and our dreams on a regular basis. Carlos and Marcial are the responsible lift pilots and do a really good job. I don’t want to reveal too much about the travelift itself, but it remains to be seen how regularly and well the thing is maintained. So, eyes closed and through. We had no other choice anyway.
We leave our corner
As Milagros slowly rolled away on the skateboard, we had certainty. We were now leaving our corner at the Cabrales boatyard. Maybe for good, who knows. The day before we had tidied up as best, we could, but all sorts of stuff was left behind. Most of it had been installed by our previous owner and we have now torn it out again. A lot of it is still usable. That’s why we didn’t want to just throw it away. The bronze of the old seacocks and thru hulls and the stainless steel of the water tanks, for example, have already aroused the eagerness of the workers. Without further ado, I cut a few “fillet pieces” out of the tanks. These remain on the boat. As we all know, a bit of good stainless steel never hurts.
The time has come
In our company, Milagros slowly moved towards the slings of the big crane. An imposing sight. So much time, so much work. And now what we had waited so long for was becoming a reality. She was going into the water. Crazy. My nervousness was surprisingly contained. It could only go wrong. I had full confidence in what we were doing, the engine had always started without a problem on a few more test runs. The only worry I had in the back of my mind was the old thru hulls that we hadn’t replaced or removed. We could only hope that the sun, the dryness, the heat, and the sandblasting of the hull had not caused any damage. But we had no control over that.
We are in the slings
After a short ride on the skateboard, Milagros was jacked up again and then loaded onto the travelift she had been hanging from the year before when she came out of the water. Dangling in the slings, she started moving with the travelift towards the water. Halfway there, we crossed the road through the boatyard. Drivers are always amazed when they have to stop for a boat. Mobile phones are pulled out, photos are taken. And soon Milagros was hovering over the water. Halfway down into the harbour basin, Pati, Craig and I climbed aboard. There was no turning back now. The workers lowered Milagros completely into the water. And indeed: Milagros can still do it! She swam as if she had never done anything else in the meantime. That was good.
Last checks before departure
The engine started without any problems and in no time our newly installed rawwater intake was spraying water out of the exhaust that it was a joy. Yeeesss! Now it was time to check if all our old and new installations were watertight. And what a relief: not a single drop of water far and wide! Not with the new water supply for our engine, not with the brand-new shaft seal, not with our newly installed thru hulls and not with the old ones either. We were able to leave!!! Back on deck, thumbs up to the travelift crew and all the helpers and then we could say goodbye to Cabrales boatyard. Finally!!!
Beer at the dock
At the jetty in the marina, Marc and Laura from SV Liquid were already waiting for us and took up our lines. And then there she was: tied up, water all around, our Milagros. So beautiful! And how happy we were after all the strain and worry lines that everything had gone so smoothly. Quickly we went to the fridge, got some beer and toasted. We skilfully overlooked the fact that our waterline could easily have been 10 cm higher. So, it really happened. We are in the water! Who would have thought it?
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