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by David Nichols - Austin, Texas - USA

Valora Comes Home

We left Austin early so eleven hours put us dropping the trailer at Schubert's late Friday afternoon. I planned to load Valora early Saturday morning and be home late Saturday night. Well that did work out as planned because Schubert's is closed Saturday and Sunday. Somehow I misunderstood.

It worked out because it Gene and I a chance to finish up a few things and recover from the bump, bump, bump.

By Monday we had more than recovered and were ready to go. We had Valora at Schubert's dock first thing and then it was hurry up a wait. All there was to do was wait because we had worked so hard to get her ready for the haul out. Most of the work revolved around pulling the mast. All the electronics that had come with the boat were tied to the back stay and it was not easy to get it all apart. I should say it wasn't easy to get it all apart and be able to reassemble it again.

I took a lot of photos and made lots notes. Everything was careful labeled and stored in marked bags. The wedges around the mast were all numbered so they could be replaced exactly as before. Where wiring was unattached I labeled both ends. All of this made sure this large jig saw puzzle could be reassembled with a minimum of problems.

When the waiting was over we pulled the mast and lashed it securely to a cradle I had built.

With the mast securely tied to the cradle and bow pulpit it was time to haul Valora. I never feel good when Valora is in the slings. Even during the survey when she really wasn't mine I was uncomfortable. The boat is most vulnerable while she is being hauled. She knows it and so do I.

It took us about two hours to secure Valora on the trailer. Personally, I didn't exhale until the sling was pulled and the tie-down straps were tighten. Two hours is a long time to not exhale.

Watching Valora sail through the air, something sail boats aren't suppose to do, was my biggest source of anxiety and I was very happy to see her resting on the trailer. I was also delighted to see that she actually fit on the trailer. We thought she would but that was something we weren't really going to know until we tried.

So Monday afternoon just in time for afternoon traffic I began to breathe out and breathe again. And somewhere in the middle of Lake Pontchartrain thunder rumbled our way. At first I was going to say, "Good ahead, do your worst. You don't have us to shoot at anymore." but I thought better of it. The sailor that thumbs his nose at Nature always winds up unhappy.

I decide to just be content that Valora was safely on the trailer and she was once again traveling west.

It turns out she didn't travel very far west. We were just outside of Baton Rouge when a Good Samaritan pulled along side and indicated we needed to look at the trailer.

When we were able to pull over and look we saw smoke, lots of smoke. The trailer had a bad wheel bearing, a really bad wheel bearing. If it had gotten much worse we would have lost one or both wheels and maybe the boat in the resulting accident. But we were lucky and able to limp to the next exit where we landed in a Firestone parking lot at 7:30 PM. There was nothing to do but find a nearby motel and deal with it in the morning.

I guess I could have been angry or upset but I was grateful this happened where it did and when it did. We were about 10 miles from the bridge over the Mississippi River and this happening on the bridge was scary. We were about 30 or 40 miles from the very long bridge over the Atchafalaya River and Wild Life Refuge and that was another very scary scenario. So Valora was still east of the Mississippi River and while I wasn't dancing with joy I was very grateful she was where she was.

The next day we decided to have the Firestone people do the work. We got a price we felt was reasonable and work started. All the bearings and two axles were replaced. They did a good job and were very fair about the whole process.

Tuesday evening found us pulling into a motel just east of Lake Charles. Valora was finally west of the Mississippi River.

The rest of the trip was thankfully uneventful. It was easily forgettable and unmemorable. Nothing the least bit exciting happened and both Gene and I were very happy about it.

The most exciting part of the rest of the trip was putting Valora in front of my shop.

Actually this worked out better than I first thought. On the trip both Gene and I had come up with ideas that would fine tune Valora to my wants and needs. There were a number of small projects that would be more easily accomplished in front of my shop than in a marina in Corpus Christi.

So with Valora sitting comfortably in front of my shop the fine tuning process started.

David's plans are in the Duckworks Store

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