A Big Flippin’ Deal

For months I’ve been wanting to flip the boat hull so I can start working on the topside. This is no easy feat as the thing is 8 foot wide by 20 foot long. It will take at least 12 people to flip it safely and lift it onto the trailer. I originally planned it for late last year but the scheduling didn’t really work for people, and honestly there was a lot of stuff, particularly with the trailer, that could be done before the boat was flipped.

So here we are in early spring, and it’s time to flip the boat.  I sent out an invite to a few friends who I love working with or who had been dying to come see/work on the boat.

“There will be good beer (and rootbeer) and BBQ sausages and veggie burgers. It will be fun and harrowing and crazy. We will all feel like Superpeople at the end of it. I’d like to find the weekend day that you can make it. If it doesn’t sound like something you are into or are too busy, feel free to pass with no guilt.”

I found a weekend that most everyone could make. I made arrangements with the nearby fire station for parking so we wouldn’t be overrun by cars on Lawrence’s farm. Jen offered to run a shuttle back and forth.

This is the Final Details email that went out to the dozen friends who were planning to come:

“The Plan: We will be flipping the boat
shortly after noon.  So maybe we will have a quick snack, a
beer to calm our nerves, and discuss The Plan.  We will
stand the boat on its side, then lower it down on its hull,
then after we catch our breath, lift and carry the
boat to the boat trailer. By the way, I’ve seen video of a dozen people flipping the hull of this boat, so I’m reasonably confident that this is possible.”

It was important to me that this be a social and rewarding experience. The farm where the boat is being built is one of the most beautiful places in the world to hang out on a sunny day and I wanted to share that with my friends in style.

“BBQ and celebration: After the boat is
flipped and safely on the trailer, we can celebrate with a
BBQ!  I’ll make sure there are sausages and veggie burgers
and some beer at the BBQ. If you want, you are welcome to
bring other BBQ/picnic style items.  Suggestions: hot dogs,
chips, your grandma’s potato salad, fancy homebrew, fruit
salad, pie/cobbler, corn-on-the-cob, coleslaw,
and sauerkraut.”

I’d checked in with the land owner and indeed they had some (gentle) reservations. I prudently added this to the communication with the Boat Flippers:

“Fine Print: The land owner may have concerns that someone will be crushed on his property (though I think it is unlikely), so I might ask you to sign something to release my generous boat-landlord from liability. Hope that works for you. I really want to work hard to respect any concerns that Lawrence and his family might have.”

The day was bright and sunny, a perfect spring day. Jen shuttled people from the parking site. People arrived promptly, signed a release, and had a snack and a beer.

We took a while going over The Plan.  We talked about safety and how we wanted to protect our precious soft little bodies. We even demonstrated with our hands as a visual aid, precisely where everyone would stand as we flipped the boat.

At the end of our discussion about The Plan, just before we sprung into action, I asked the most important question:

“If any of you are thinking something right now, that later, after everything goes horribly wrong, you might say ‘Yeah, I was wondering about that,’ or ‘I thought that might be a problem,’ I urge you to share it with us now.”

There were no strong concerns or reservations and so we sprung.

We fiddled with the trailer to make lifting the boat onto it easier and safer. We brought the tongue down and put a tire over the hitch mechanism to protect the hull.

We got into places with some butterflies in our tummy.

We went over The Plan one more time.

Jen had an important role.  She was responsible for making sure the hull landed on the tires that we had laid out to receive the boat.

Okay, wait, one more time. Just making sure we got The Plan.

With a count of ONE-TWO-THREE-LIFT! we lifted the hull to a vertical position.

At the ends, we needed people responsible for keeping the hull upright while everyone else transitioned to the other side.

 Alex and Myriam were at one end.  Kai and Frank were on the other.

Meanwhile, everyone else went around to the other side and prepared to lower the boat. James, Mikey, Charlie, Jason, Jeremiah, Baerie, and I.

Another countdown and we were slowly slowly lowering this crazy heavy object from a vertical position (which somehow seemed gnarlier than lifting it).

There was some concern that the bottom would kick out as we lowered it, but it didn’t.

High-fives all around.

Now we took a deep breath and prepared ourselves for lifting the boat onto the trailer.

 How heavy will it be? Who knows?

Will we even be able to lift it? Hopefully, but we don’t really know.

Someone suggested a test lift. Good idea! Let’s see how heavy it is by just lifting it a little bit. We will lift it and then put it right back down.  Okay, ready, lift!

And up it goes! It’s not a million pounds! This is do-able! Someone suggested (probably me), Fuck it, let’s just do it. So we do it.

We lift and carry it to the trailer.

And on the trailer it goes.

Later, several people tell me that there weren’t really enough people at the front. So they weren’t up there thinking, “Oh, how light! How nimble!”  They were up there thinking, “Arrrggghhh! What happened to the Test Lift?”

Again, I am reminded — as if I should need another reminder — about the importance of sticking with The Plan.

A round of celebratory Boat Boarding! Kids, dogs, everyone!  Hadasa, Nitzi, and Ziva were the little ones who joined us on Boat Flip day.

And now it’s time for barbecue!

Kai and Hazel warmed up the BBQ.

After a few beers, it seems imperative that the boat building form must be removed from the boat right now.

More high-fives!

And we hang around for another several hours stuffing ourselves with sausages, cobbler, Baerie’s homemade cider, and beer.

Thanks to awesome friends who made this not only possible, but tremendously fun, my favorite boat work day so far. And thanks to Madrone who was official photographer for the day.

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