Summer slips by far too quickly. Ariel came out of the water a little over a week ago, and now she’s resting on her winter cradle, winterized and (nearly) ready for the snow.
For those unfamiliar with the haul out process, it’s no small task to lift an 8+ ton boat out of the water, set it in its cradle, and then move it around the yard. Even after all these years, the process still causes me major anxiety. Ariel is first backed up to the haul out well – something that can be an adventure of its own, as anyone who has ever backed a Cape Dory can attest. A Travel-Lift with two heavy-duty slings then parks over the haulout well and the slings are lowered into the water deep enough to allow Ariel’s keel to slide over them. Ariel is pulled backward into position over the slings and tied in place as the slings are brought up tight against the keel and hull. With the forward and aft straps in their proper position – to avoid damaging the rudder and to keep the boat balanced – Ariel is raised slowly out of the water. The slope of her keel requires two lines that tie the front and rear straps together and prevent the forward strap from sliding out of place.
Once she’s lifted clear of the water and the well, the Travel Lift is maneuvered over land where the yard guys give the bottom a rinse with a pressure washer. From there Ariel is loaded onto her cradle and transported via hydraulic trailer to her storage spot for the winter. This year we had the mast unstepped (lowered) so I can replace the standing rigging, the wires that support the mast. Unstepping a keel-stepped mast is another somewhat stressful event. Not only are there several connections that must be prepped, but lifting the mast means pulling the bottom 7′ or so up through the partner, a small opening in the deck, without scraping any of the interior. So far we’ve unstepped the mast several times without incident.
Although the end of the season brings a certain melancholy, admiring Ariel from her lesser-seen angles is always a delight. She’s a pretty boat, with all the right curves and proportions.