As usual, the crowd was large at Stillwater Basin. Tension is always high as the big crane arm swings ominously above all the fresh gel coats and anti-fouling. Most craft bob lazily at their slips under the tender gaze of proud owners. However it is showtime. The pumps are at the ready, the crowd quiet and as usual, Gary huffs down his 5th cigarette. Slings are in place and I'm at the ready with the roller of anti-fouling for those few touch ups as Inward Bound cautiously leaves the earth.
In previous years, Inward Bound has earned a reputation for putting a good show for the crowd. The 35' S&S pilot sloop is notorious for being slow to swell at the seems. The only wooden boat for miles, she is a spectacle to behold. The crowd remembers one year she took on water at such as high rate that the floor panels were callously tossed aside by the violent rush of freshwater. It had become tradition to have a few gas powered trash pumps at the ready as well as enough electric pumps to drain a lake in short order. The crowd was excited to see some action. Much like spectators at the race track, they were there to see the crash.
With the exception of "Pinky" our crew was assembled and ready for action. Chris readies the pumps as Gary finishes his last smoke before we begin hoisting. Harbormaster Bob signals the crane operator to do his thing as fellow boat owners man the fore and aft lines while other look on in anticipation. Inward Bound dangles majestically in the air as I scramble to apply anti-fouling. Losing only half a quart to my pants in the process, I dart out of the way as she swings over the wall towards the water. Agile as ever, Gary scrambles aboard almost before her keel feels the first cool caress of the bay. As the crane lowers her in, the crowd prepares to hear the all to familiar roar of the pumps. Instead, there is silence. Confused the crowd begins to wonder. Now manning the line dockside, I can hear members of the crowd asking if the pumps were fueled. Were the electric pumps plugged in? Had the crane lowered her enough?
Much to the disappointment of the masses, Gary bleats out triumphantly and dances a jig on deck. Careful hull preparation stymied the flow of water, so ready to threaten Inward Bound. The straps are removed in record time as Harbormaster Bob stares in disbelief. The crowd dissipates quickly as the crew crack open a few Corona in Celebration. Despite the rain, it was the best lift in ever.