Thursday, November 12, 2009

Leaving Rhode Island

After a one day delay, Dockwise Transports was ready for loading. Still windy and cold but winds were finally less than 20 knots. Super Servant 4 was our transport. She took on enough ballast to sink herself, filling her cargo hold bays to a depth of at least 8 feet. 49 yatchs, a record number for this crew, loaded one by one, sailing in under their own power, some stern in. SS4 crew fit us in together like a jig saw puzzle. The whole loading process started at dawn and continued to around 10am.

Once all the engines were stopped, 14 scuba divers went into the water aned proceeded to cradle the individual boats. They started with the ones with the deepest draft and then pumped out enough ballast so those already cradled would settle. Then they cradled the next deepest draft boats and then pumped out more ballast, and so on and so on, until all the boats were cradled and the transport bays were dry. Next, crew came in with welding torches and strapped each boat directly to the floor of SS4.

It was time to leave our yatchs. I had tried every which way to get them to allow us to travel south with our yacht, but the rules are the yacht has to be 90 feet or more and require systems maintenance enroute. Steadfast didn't qualify. Wearing my ear muffs, winter jacket, boots, gloves and scarf (such non-boating gear), I climbed across the boat between Steadfast and the center gangway (a one foot wide steel girder which divided the cargo bay of SS4 into 2 separate bays) and heaved myself up. I was carrying Nelson in one arm and a bag of "stuff" in the other. How was I going to make it, a distance of about 400 feet, balancing on the narrow walkway, climbing over and around criss-crossing lines, straps and cleats? Nelson was wondering the same thing and began to tremble and squirm.

So...I put Nelson down...and then I even let go of his leash. It was time for each one to fend for him and herself. He only looked back at me once and then with great determination/doggedly he made his way forward to safety and the waiting arms of the crew. They scooped him up and cheered him in Ukranian. Nelson took it as his due and proudly informed them that his full name is Admiral Lord Nelson Grisly Nick. I was proud of him for doing so well, but I sincerely doubt he would do it again of his own free will.

Good bye to Rhode Island, our cruising waters for the past 4 years. We will never forget you and do promise to visit our dear friends as we pass through from now on.
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