After five months in Fort Lauderdale—months of good times and laughs with our warm, welcoming cruising friends, Michael and Jennifer—and, concomitantly, five months of frustrating boat restoration and tedious repairs and irksome delays and even a transport cancellation...we sailed last week to Palm Beach for several days of intense prep—removing lines, sails and canvas, covering the new dinghy, wrapping the mast winches and lines, stowing fenders and slathering all the metal and fiberglass with assorted protective polishes and waxes...
After all this hubbub and hyperactivity we can finally report that The LULU is finally safely aboard the SLUISGRACHT and on her way to Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Removing canvas Wrapping mast
Tarp-ing Dinghy Stashed stuff
Pictures of the actual hoisting were impossible because we were removed from the boat during the lift. But we took plenty of shots as we pulled up to the 500-plus-foot MotherShip and before we were whisked away, ferried back to land aboard Palm Beach Port's most elegant transfer vehicle—the city's Poopy Pump-Out boat...Given it was Palm Beach, it didn't even smell bad.
Sluisgracht in port Poopy Pump-out Limo
We were also able to take photos the day before of a hefty powerboat being lifted. We hovered around the Sluisgracht in our dinghy watching while furious officials jumped up and down on shore, waving us off and threatening imminent Coast Guard arrest if we didn't beat it. For some reason these port operations are very hush-hush.
Anyway, the process goes like this. We pull carefully up to the Monster Ship, which, mercifully, is freshly painted, with not even a speck of rust.
Pulling up to the Sluisgracht Waiting Crew
Waiting crewmen (some even on cell phones) throw down big coils of yellow polypropylene tie-down lines (in my case only one requires a re-throw and two I actually catch and drop snugly over our deck cleats. We are now attached to The Ship. Next a rope "monkey ladder" is dropped down and Jeffrey Ballantine (rhymes with Valentine and actually born on Valentine's Day) scurries down, kicks off his work boots and drops onto LULU, begins immediately and efficiently to add a series of fastening lines.
Jeffrey Ballantine …and his boots
A crew of black-suited divers jump into the water. Huge motors whir into action overhead. They lower giant cranes bearing two enormous sling harnesses that get dropped into the water at LULU's bow and stern.
The divers swim the slings into place under the boat. The cranes then lift the boat up like she some kid's toy and not your basic yacht weighing 80,000 pounds.
Stern sling dropping down Boat lifting
They swing her up, then over and finally lower her into position on the Sluisgracht's gargantuan steel decks. Many tie-down lines later, assorted deckhands in hard hats permanently weld the boat down to the deck.
Welders Our buddy-boats Matilda & Feisty on deck
Without wheels, we walk along the railroad tracks over to the port entrance, where we are photographed and fingerprinted (honest!) by U.S. Customs and given temporary badges. No outsider is allowed unescorted in the Port so we must wait for someone to take us to the SLUISGRACHT and LULU.
Walking to Port of Palm Beach Unauthorized personnel
We figure we'll get walked over by a longshoreman but it turns out to be a beefy guy in a hardhat who welcomes us aboard his taxi: a huge forklift—one of those big metal jobbies that scoot 40-foot containers from one place to another in shipyards. Gary wants badly to take one home.
Our forklift “lift” Sluisgracht gangplank
Contortions on deck Ladder time
Next we climb up to the ship on its 100-foot gangplank, then clamber over metal chains, steel coils, massive deck boxes, diamond-plate steps and a series of ladders to get back on LULU.
LULU on Sluisgracht deck
There we need to wrap up those last loose ends—stashing the barbecue, reattaching assorted lines, as well as the backstays, which would have been in the way of the crane handle lifting the stern. Lastly, Gary has the usual bowthruster repair to do, while I remove and store baskets, books, coffeepots and anything that might fly around should the transport hit big seas or—God-forbid—the odd trans-Atlantic storm.
Re-attaching backstays Barbecue & assorted junk in shower
We are back in New Rochelle to wait out the crossing, which the so-far totally inaccurate shipping company estimates will finish on November 4. We are eating like crazy just to get in (and out of) shape for those magic Mediterranean meals to come.
Love to all…
Gary & Louise