Monday, March 06, 2006

Back from the Left Coast: Friday and Saturday in Ventura

Despite a late flight, the last members of the boat retrieval squad are now back in New Mexico.

Gerald and I arrived in Ventura a little before 8 pm Friday night with the cell ringing just as we reached Oxnard to inform us that the Rat Pack - - Carol Anne, Braxton, and Larry - - were a hungry crew but had successfully seen USA 125 / Black Magic.

The crew was much more mellow, though still tired, after dinner, given that their drive to Ventura took around 15 hours and concluded with Braxton's diesel truck squirting power steering fluid in the boatyard driveway, requiring a Saturday appointment with a mechanic near our motel.

Saturday morning, Carol Anne was up early but the other guys weren't moving too fast, so I visited USA 125's seller nearby and got the title and registration signed over and told him that we'd be delayed in getting to the boatyard because of an appointment to repair the truck. In turn, I learned that the boatyard was shorthanded and wanted to pull the boat out earlier in the day than we had planned, so we decided that the test sail would have to be cancelled. Carol Anne would have to wait to sail Black Magic in New Mexico.

After rounding up the guys, we also found an important part that had fallen off Larry's boat trailer and headed for West Marine. Half an hour later, I was more than $500 poorer, but had all sorts of sheaves and blocks and lines and sailorly equipment, plus a replacement for the broken small wheel attached to the front jack on Larry's trailer. Then we met the seller, Jack, at the boatyard, where he had started helping the boatyard folks remove the mast.

The future Black Magic was lifted up on a 35-ton or so Travelift, pressure washed, and transferred to the repaired trailer, but by then Braxton and I had gone to check on Braxton's truck, run him through a shower, and buy straps to secure the Etchells to the trailer - - the old ones that Larry and Braxton had were rotted and hadn't been brought along for the journey. By the time we were back, the boat was on the trailer and it was time for us to grab lunch. The sushi place that Braxton had set his culinary hopes upon was shut so we found a nice Italian cafe, where Braxton and Larry worked on charming our server, Gabrielle, and recruiting her in becoming part of Team Black Magic. Carol Anne also had another near-miss experience in attempting to connect to the Internet at the cafe.

Much poorer after paying for food and beverages, I drove the gang back to retrieve Braxton's truck, which was at last re-united with the trailer. I managed to incrementally increase my poverty by paying the boatyard bill for unstepping the mast, hauling the boat out, pressure-washing her, and grabbing a quart of $38 per quart boat paint. We attached the boat straps but then had a scare when - - you might have guessed - - power steering fluid again erupted from Braxton's truck. Fortunately, it turned out the mechanic simply hadn't tightened a fitting enough and the problem was only a short hiccup along the journey. Soon, perhaps about 4:20 Saturday afternoon, the Rat Packers were en route leaving me and Gerald to worry about how that bunch would ever make it to New Mexico in one piece. Especially if Larry talked them into going to a pre-Academy awards party with Selma Hayek or stopping for a little R&R in Palm Springs. Then there were the Hawaiian blackmail....

The rest of Saturday was much quieter. Gerald and I enjoyed the Sunset from the beach near the harbor, found a money machine that eventually accepted my ATM card, and had an $8 dinner from the In-n-Out Burger.

Oh yes. Larry thinks the sailing club should buy a spare Travelift that the boatyard has for sale. He thinks it'd be great for launching club boats, especially when the lake is low. There would be the minor detail of moving it 900-plus miles.


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