Friday, October 23, 2009

Step and Splash

I am diving back into the primordial ooze I came from. The Kooza tour now comes to my hometown. I went to high school up the street. The big top shimmers next to the Santa Monica pier. I wanted to have my boat down here as well and with the help of a bunch of really great people I actually got to Step & Splash.
But before I could do that Valhalla had to endure...


They have you sign a paper.

When you take your mast off your boat for transport.
It is called a decommissioning.

A more repellant piece of paper no captain ever had to make his mark upon.

A Big Step

They call it a Step and Splash.
It's when you install or "step" the mast and lower the boat back into it's true habitat: The Sea.
I had Warren
and Carmen of Moger Yacht Transport truck Valhalla, my 1969 Sparkman and Stevens designed Yankee Dolphin 25 from Fortman Marina in Alameda to Marina Del Rey. (Wow. I've suddenly got a yacht.)
After taking the opportunity of having her out of the water to slap on a few coats of bottom paint on her it was time to step the mast.

The placement of the mast into the hull in ancient times signified the moment when a “shell” truly became a ship. To commemorate that moment, the Romans placed coins under the mast for good luck or to help deceased Sailors into the afterworld. Today, coins, often reflecting the ship’s hull numbers, are typically placed under or near the mast for good luck in a small ceremony.

Stepping the mast is now done with the help of a crane and not stepped with the feet like a ladder but it's still the same thing.
I commented to my trusty rigger Dalton Eann as he was tightening the shrouds of Valhalla that he was engaged in an activity that had been practiced for hundreds of years.
Dalton, a practicing Buddhist and son of actor/author Chris Eann nodded knowingly.
"Thousands." he said.

Excerpts from the Log of the Valhalla

"October 12th. 11:30 AM.

Decommissioning at Svensen's Boat Yard in Alameda."

"The indignity of being transported across dry land was somewhat mitigated by a smooth road trip on the carpeted blocks of a trailer with 3 axles."

"3 days lay by at the boat yard. A soaking rain"

"Barnacles scrapped."

"October 13th:

Weather clears. Bright Southern California sun makes appearance."

My bottom looks good.

"Hull pressure washed and painted with 3 coats of a leaden blue hue."

"October 14th, 7:00 AM:
Slung in sling."

Launched in Marina Del Rey."
(621 miles from original berth i
n Alameda.)

Dalton makes the"Right There." hand signal.
"7:35: Mast stepped."

"9:35: Arrival in berth at Neptune Marina, Marina Del Rey."
(Thanks for the slip, Therese Steinlauf!)

The Splash

So the decommissioning was only temporary.
Moving Valhalla was a big step.
But sometimes you gotta paint your bottom.
And when it's over you're back in the water, better than before.



Floriana said...

OK, said this before, I think. Really enjoy your writing. Loved learning a bit of the history of stepping the mast. Hope you and your boat are happy in SoCal. Cheers.

Dana M said...

Hi Ron. I'm sure someone at Cal Shakes told me at one time that you are a sailor, but it flew out of the back window of my mind.

I am a want-to-be sailor. I started to learn last summer on Lake Merritt (yes, you can sail on Lake Merritt and Oakland Parks and Rec has lots of great classes on the Lake and on the Bay). I have not kept up with it, but I am going to get back to it and hope to one day take a real trip (or many) somewhere glorious.

I hope you get many lovely sails in during your time in So Cal.

Josh Rigo said...

How exciting that the show is now in your home town! Can't wait to hear more about it!! :-)