Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dumpling – back where she belongs

A sailing boat looks odd propped up in the countryside amid gnarled olive trees and dry stone walls. What looks even odder is a sailing boat in mid-air. It all looked very odd indeed yesterday (Wednesday) morning -  nerve-rackingly so – as Dumpling was hoisted over telephone wires, before being lowered on to a truck to be transported back where she belongs – in the water.
“I could do with another day,” said Nick Cole, as he worked feverishly on essential last minute tasks before the huge crane and truck arrived.
He could have done with another two days, another week, another month. Fastidious improvements and fiddling can go on for ever, but time had run out.
Dumpling had been parked at Nick and Sally Cole’s rural retreat for years. She had been painstakingly refitted stem to stern, intensively so over the last six months. Now, with the red antifouling on her hull gleaming in the early morning sunlight, and the fresh white and blue paint on her masts and spars barely dry, it was time to go.
Suddenly, Dumpling’s weight was a worry. Apparently the crane could only manage a maximum of nine tonnes. Would Dumpling make the weight limit? Would she be able to leave at all? As the crane took the strain and started lifting, the weight registered as six tonnes, seven tonnes, eight, nine…. ten!
To great relief, the crane’s capabilities turned out to be more than adequate. After a careful loading operation that lasted all morning, the truck drove Dumpling on the scenic route through beautiful countryside to Silves, over the bridge and on past Lagoa, to the fishing harbour at Portimão.
It took most of the  afternoon to get Dumpling safely into the water.  It had all been rather tense, but it had all gone better than anyone could have expected.
Nick had confided at the start of the day that he was “excited but anxious.”  Now he was obviously knackered.
Sitting next to deep-sea trawlers and navy vessels, Dumpling looked small and vulnerable. And that’s when things went unexpectedly wrong….
We’ll talk about that later today.

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