Having the boat moved to a boat yard firmly places our build in to the next phase, and knowing that all work we do from here on out will be final fit out for our Spring launch has us feeling superb.
Putting the move together represented about six weeks of patiently planning and trying to make all the parts come together. I had decided to have a complete brake job done on the truck, the CAT track loader needed some work, the barn door needed to be modified, permits needed to be procured, signage and safety gear needed to be found, etc... The reason I had to go to all this work vs paying a boat hauler, is that in our part of the world there are no boat haulers that can move a boat of this size and configuration, and the grade steepness of our driveway scared away the one hauler I talked to.
The boat moving crew was made up of a few close friends: Ollie, Bud, Dennis, Pat the mayor, and Bill. The night before the move, Ollie and I were getting things ready, and as I moved past the hitch bar of the dolly while on the bulldozer, the bulldozer track grabbed the hitch and tore metal giving us a late day welding repair.
The plan to get down the drive way was to have the boat hooked to the the tow truck, the track loader in front of the truck in case of a catastrophic event, and the 40,000 lbs excavator in the rear holding the load. The biggest problem of moving a hay wagon type dolly down such a steep grade with such a heavy load is that the steering axle is going to want to jackknife. We could not have done this without having the excavator holding tension on the load to prevent a jackknife. The driveway is gravel, and while we did grading work on it prior to moving the boat, the gravel is like marbles, and the truck could not get traction. To much brake pressure on the truck, caused the rear of the the truck to begin to jackknife and the load began to move dangerously off course. The end all solution was to have the excavator hold every thing while the truck was used for steerage with no braking at all. I was able to control the excavator, but it was tenuous at best as it just at the point of breaking free on the marble like gravel driveway. I had guessed it would take 20 minutes to get down the driveway, and three hours later, we finally made it out to road.
Once out on the road, and having the road blocked, one of my neighbors stopped to see how things were going and to tell us there was a wreck in town with two state troopers working the accident. I had obtained an over height/over width permit, but one of the permit rules was that we hire a state trooper as an escort. Given the home made dolly, and the basic unsafe look of the dolly, I felt a state trooper escort would not let us leave, so I decided not to contact the troopers for the move. I had a permit in hand, so I could not get fined for not having a permit, and if I did get pulled over, the troopers would have no choice but to let us proceed. I was betting that a trooper pulling us over was not going to want to deal with having the boat by the side of the road for a day or two while another tow vehicle was brought on site. The trip was only Twelve miles port to port. We were basically asking for forgiveness vs permission with only a reduced fine for not following the exact parameters of the permit if caught. Given that we now knew that troopers stood between us and our only route, we decided to use the time to jack the boat up and re adjust the dolly as it had shifted due to the extreme forces placed upon it as we came down the hill. The "time out", we as we waited on the road gave all some time to calm down and double check what we were doing. We live in a rural area, and our road is narrow and not heavily traveled. We moved the boat over as far as we could to one side of the road, allowing cars to pass with one set of wheels in the grass as we worked on the rig. We sent Dennis down to the area where the troopers were to let us know when they left. With us blocking most of the road and working on the rig on a drop dead gorgeous Saturday morning, our work site soon became a social hot spot as neighbors pulled over to see "wass up?". Two hours later, the rig was aligned, the troopers were gone, and we were moving towards the boat yard.
The rules of the permit were that we have an escort vehicle in front checking wire height, and an escort vehicle in the rear ( along with a state trooper). The Mayor and Bud were in front dealing with traffic, and pushing up low wires as we wound our way down state route 132 towards the more open state route 52. Because our front tires were so severely over loaded and were afraid of heat building up and blowing the tires, we crept along at 10 - 15 mph. Given that it was a Saturday, and with people out and about, the spectacle of moving such a large boat began to feed back to us. Shannon was riding in the dump truck with me, and she began to start seeing pictures of us showing up on face book. It was kind of funny watching people pulling over and taking pictures of us with their phones. Once out on the open US SR 52, the mental pressure on us subsided, and almost an hour later we pulled in to Washington Marine. Hugs, handshakes and some back slapping were had as we quickly unhooked the boat from the truck for the return trip back to our place to get the wheel house.
The night before, Ollie and I had backed the trailer under the wheel house, so all we had to do was jack it down on to the trailer and bind it down. The wheel house is almost 15' wide, and was a little off center on the trailer, so I had to stay pretty much in the center of the road. The good news is that I was able to get up to speed, so the trip down to the boat yard only took 1/2 of an hour. Once down at the boat yard, we backed the trailer up to hull and unhooked it so we can deal with it on Monday. Job done.
I had touched base with the yard about getting the wheel house craned on to the hull early in the week so Monday morning I'll be confirming our schedule. Hopefully, she'll be joined together early in the week, and by this time next week, we'll have made the transition from a dream in the barn, to a legitimate boat inching closer to launch. Heading back home in the dump truck with the windows down and the river shining as the sun was closing in on the horizon, we noticed all the boats anchored in the river on this fine Saturday night, and we felt good knowing we would be joining them next Spring.