Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bowen Haul Out: Part 1

We have known for a VERY long time that we needed to haul out, the only problem was that we couldn’t find a place to do it. One place in Townsville, we were restricted by draft and tides. Another yard in Townsville had a clause in their contract that rendered our insurance void. After Cyclone Debbie, we were told that all of the yards in Airlie Beach were closed to non-cyclone work for 12 -18 months. In our general area, that left Cardwell, 2 days north and Bowen, 3 days south. Our plans had us heading south so Bowen it was!

The yard at Bowen is a slipway, and was our first time taking the boat out in this manner. In the past, we’ve always used a travel-life, where they put the boat in slings and lift her out of the water before setting her on a hard stand. With slipway, the hardstand, or cradle, is already in the water, you drive into it and are secured and then you are pulled up the railway-like tracks to the work area.

We had been told to report to the slipway at 6:30 am on Tuesday morning to give us the maximum amount of water at high tide (6:31am). So we all got up early to have breakfast and get ready, no easy feat with a 1 year old. At 6:28am, we arrived and the yard was still shut, the cradle was not in the water and there was no one there. We were early, so we did a lap of the harbour. We returned to the yard at about 6:40am to see 2 of the crew working on the cradle and it was still at the top of the ramp. They told us it would be about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, they lowered the cradle and we were instructed to drive on in. The crew then advised us that they were having trouble lowering the cradle all the way because it had hit something on the tracks. We attached some stern lines to the cradle and put the boat into reverse to try and pull the cradle deeper into the water. It didn’t work.

One of the crew dived on the cradle and the boat and found a large block of timber blocking the way that they had accidentally dropped in there a couple of weeks ago. We tried to use Batty’s power to reverse the cradle a bit further again and we were able to bring it out a little bit more. We were now over an hour past high tide and we were instructed to power forward onto the cradle. We made it onto the cradle and then they tucked us in with the forward arms of the cradle. This took a little bit longer as they accidentally dropped one of the bolts in the water and had to get a screwdriver to jam into the hole.  Once we were securely attached to the cradle, they started to pull us up and that is when the cradle derailed from the tracks… with Batty on the cradle… with the three of us on Batty being told to remain still in the cockpit.
Boat, & plans, derailed!
They tried some maneuvers to get the cradle back on the track. They used their work boat to ram against the cradle to try push it into place. They tried pushing it over with their own strength, to no avail. Batty’s 12 tons were not budging. Once it became clear that were stuck, these attempts were abandoned. We were allowed to move around the boat and even allowed to get off the boat. At that point the cradle was jammed against the concrete so she wasn’t going anywhere. 
The dismount!
Bryce returned at low tide to reassess the situation with the work crew. They decided that we would attempt to re-float Batty at the next high tide which was at 7:30 pm that night. 
Night time escapades!
7:30 came and went. There were lots of extra hands on deck, including swimmers (in their clothes, in the cold water with the howling wind) but they were not able to move Batty in either direction on the track. New plan was to try again at the next high tide the following morning. The next morning, a front-end loader (a digger) arrived and pushed the cradle and Batty back into the water. It took nearly all of the digger’s power to make this magic happen and the water was up to the driver. With that roadblock out of the way, they used the front-end loader to clear the tracks at low tide and reposition the cradle ready for another go.

Free at last! 
Thursday morning (2 days after the first attempt), we showed up with Batty at high tide and everything was in it’s proper place. The crew was on deck, the cradle was in the water and the track was clear.  We drove into the cradle, were secured and up we went!
Take 2!
We are able to laugh about it now and occasionally while it was happening, but for the most part, it was a wee bit stressful! The yard was very apologetic and paid for our extra nights accommodation on land due to the delay and they also comped two of Batty’s days on the slip, both of which we greatly appreciated. 


Stay tuned for Part 2 and hear about all of the TLC that Batty got while she was out!

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