Launching Into Spring

  Monday, April 13, 2015 / Stephanie / News  

I'd say we're a bit overdue for a new here is a quick recap of the previous four months.  After exploring Barcelona, Spain we continued a southwesterly drive along the Spanish coastline.  It was Thanksgiving, and we went to Murcia, Spain to visit my cousin for the holiday.  I must thank Robert, Paco, and their roommates and friends for a fabulous visit!  We felt instantly at home and learned much about Spanish culture.  Robert cooks a delicious turkey!  Afterward we returned to France; we winterized Detour and departed, bound for the United States.  We kept warm throughout the winter by keeping ourselves surrounded by family and friends.  We traveled to California, Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia for many, long-overdue visits and introductions to newly arrived kiddos.  Our friends have been busy while we were cruising the Caribbean!  We also completed the sale of our dear Rode Trip and gave her new owner, Prashantt, a proper tutorial on how the 'ol gal works.  We look forward to learning of Prashantt's new ventures with SV Namah.  Inbetween social visits, we kept our refit skills at the ready by doing a bit of remodeling at the Grandjeans' lake house; it's ready for renters and we promise you'll have a splendid holiday at Lake Wallenpaupack, PA! And now begins chapter two of our cruising tale.  We've returned to France and promptly readied Detour for the water.  There were minor details to get started, for instance, getting access to the inside of the boat.  This proved difficult because our key had broken off inside of the lock at the locked position.  In we go, through the hatch, and immediately out came the tools! Then there was a bit of unpacking; this remains a daily task of organizing as we find new, permanent homes for our worldly possessions. Brian settled into his ample work space to complete the installation of the Webasto forced hot air heater.   I kept busy outside sanding and painting the hull. While we worked, Giraffe eagerly anticipated a watery view. We had a rental car for only one week and during that time managed to get some necessary hardware items, grocery items, and found me a new set of wheels.  Brian had flown his own bicycle with us.  Now we are both equipped for European exploration.   Projects continue, as they do on boats, but we were water ready!  We cycled to the chandlery to buy dock lines (there were none aboard) and jerry cans.  Then we scheduled a fuel delivery to be certain that our diesel tank was tip-top full.  Our tank holds 300 L (80gal) and we now have an additional 80 L (21 gal) of jerry cans.  We also have installed a 10 L (2.5 gal) tank for the Webasto heater which should keep the heater running for approximately 20-hours at full blast.  Hope everyone is looking forward to metric!   The morning of the launch we felt ready.  Brian checked the rig; added new pins to the lifelines and added a few nuts that were missing to the bottom screws on the stantions.  We'd installed hanging annodes in three locations to be plunked into the water at dockside.  Brian reset the isolation transformer for water usage.  We were scheduled for an afternoon launch and so we waited. At 3:00pm it was finally time.  Everything happened very fast!  We watched one boat prior to us launch so we had an idea of the process.  We returned to the boat to rig dock lines and fenders.  When it was our turn a Scandinavian looking, very muscular, dashingly blonde man whom we will henceforth refer to as 'Hulk' drove a tractor to our boat and scooped up the cradle trailer. Hulk gave no instruction whatsoever.  He motioned for us to be down on the ground, so we got off of the boat and grabbed the ladder.  Hulk was off at a pace that made us think he had 20 more boats to launch that day!  We followed our boat at a very brisk pace through the yard toward the docks. The cradle trailer was pushed beneath the sling.  We watched as the boat was adjusted into the sling and then the trailer was removed.  Here, we had pre-arranged with the yard to have a moment's pause in the sling so that we could add bottom paint to the areas where the cradle had been resting against the hull.  There was no conversing with Hulk to reconfirm this plan.  I held up the paint can and brush and Hulk gave a nod that it was now ok to walk beneath the boat hanging in the sling.  Quickly I painted the little red squares of previous bottom paint remaining while Hulk parked our boat's cradle trailer elsewhere.  Once painted, I moved away from beneath the sling.  Brian and I stood watching as Hulk returned to his post at the controls of the sling and maneuvered our boat over the water.   "Get on board," Hulk instructed Brian.  Brian scampered over the anchor and onto the boat.  "Start the engine," the next command was straightforward, in English.  Brian looked to me and shouted that he wanted to throw me a stern line, but I was not granted permission to walk along the edges of the launch to receive a line.  Instead, "Get on board," accompanied by a head nod toward the bow of the boat.  I too scampered over the anchor and onto the boat.  Brian had started the engine, meanwhile the slings were being released!  Brian had not a moment to check the condition of things; he'd envisioned running the engine, checking the bilges, checking the centerboard, making sure we'd not sink.  But within moments the boat was free from the sling and Brian was shifting into reverse and getting a crash course lesson in maneuvering the new boat.  With a slight nod, Hulk bid us farewell.  With the least bit of grace, yet without blunder, Brian maneuvered Detour away from the launch area and out into the narrow channel which leads to and from Port Napoleon.  He turned the boat around in the channel and returned to the marina to select a slip at the G docks...allll the way at the farthest back, dead end, corner of the docks.  Docking was uneventful only because we didn't try any more fancy backing, simply pulled into the slip.  (The next day the turn-around at the slip was interesting, but we had help from a neighbor to back the boat in so that we could actually access the water and electric.)  We did learn, however, that while the bowthruster is in the down position for use the thing beeps shrilly and incessantly.  That has been added to the ever present list of to-do's. Parked!  Giraffe could now enjoy his new view, and so could we!  Next comes canvas and sails; also the systems on board the boat that require water cooling, pumping, etc. to function properly (namely the fridge and toilet).   As any superstitious sailor will tell you, a newly named boat requires proper ceremony when entering the water for the first time.  Brian and I had a bottle of champagne for this momentous occasion!  We toasted Neptune and shared a sip of champagne with the Sea God with hope it would ensure our safe passage on the sea.  


  1. From Stephanie Grandjean on Apr 20, 2015
    Hi Penny! I've so enjoyed your photos of this season at LI! Keep the good times rollin' We'll likely not be in the Bahamas next season, taking some time to explore Europe while fortunate enough to have landed a boat here. xoxo

  2. From bahama mama penny on Apr 16, 2015
    WOW! Amazing! I can not keep up with you and Matt and Jessica!!! You all are amazing and I MISS YOU!!! We are winding down our time here =+( It has been a wonderful winter and summer will be fast with a 3 week trip out west! Will we see you next season here? xoxox

  3. From Stephanie Grandjean on Apr 15, 2015
    Emily, I had to be ready in time to get you properly prepared for vacation with a bit of sunshine and adventure ;)

  4. From Stephanie Grandjean on Apr 15, 2015
    Maria & Patrick, CONGRATS! Good luck getting to know your new boat, we're doing the same. Big change from our first, full keeled Westsail. So far excellent! See you out on the water one day. Happy Sailing!

  5. From Maria and Patrick on Apr 15, 2015
    How exciting ! We only recently found your site while looking for blogs about sailing in the Med and boats with swing or lifting keels. We will be having a "shakedown year" in Brittany (France) with a new swing keel boat this year, but will head into the Med next year. We look forward to your posts to get some good tips and inspiration for our future travels. Cheers and bon courage !

  6. From Emily Kennedy on Apr 14, 2015
    You guys look great! I am so excited for this next adventure and that the blog is back up!

  7. From Stephanie Grandjean on Apr 14, 2015
    Grandma, it's really fabulous to be back! More 'About the Alliage' coming along so you'll get an idea of where we live now. HUGS!

  8. From Stephanie Grandjean on Apr 14, 2015
    Janet & Bill, it was a sad moment when the classy, electrical tape was peeled off and Detour was outfitted with customized letters.

  9. From Stephanie Grandjean on Apr 14, 2015
    Hi Ann! We and Giraffe are all back in our natural habitat and it feels spectacular! - Giraffe remained behind the scenes on Rode Trip but now that his good buddy, Annika (4-yr old friend in NH) is getting old enough to read we think Giraffe will be making more appearances. Plus, he really seems to like Europe!

  10. From Grandma on Apr 14, 2015
    It is so good to see you again. I have missed seeing you. Your write up about the launching and our peek at the inside of the new boat was great. Happy sailing.

  11. From Janet & Bill on Apr 14, 2015
    What's with the fancy paint job for the new boat's name? Is that orange tape! Love it! Happy Sailing you guys!

  12. From Ann Landau on Apr 14, 2015
    What a story! You look so happy and I love Giraffe! Every giraffe wants to go to sea but few get the opportunity.....happy and safe sailing to all of you!!!