catalina Trailering Trial Lake Harris. April 2010
After turning left at the wrong corner and adding thirty miles to the initial attempt to get to Hickory point, I arrived, rigged the boat and went sailing. Soon there was no wind and having spent several hours racing in light air just three days before, I was not inclined to suffer any more than any other day so I cranked up the iron wind and headed for the dock. At the dock standing in the water up to my pockets I was hooking the Kevlar winch line to the original bow eye of the Catalina. An original 1980 C22 bow eye is cast pot metal and is attached by a single three- eighths shaft that is part of the casting. A friendly and obviously knowledgeable bystander asked me if I would like some advice. I told him that I was always open to good advice and he said “you really need a safety chain.” I refrained from telling him to look at the bow eye that was about to fall off or the totally overkill Kevlar line on the overly large winch. So I said, “I don’t really worry about it on this boat because if the boat breaks into two pieces on the way home I am going to leave both of them right where they lie.” After a short disgusted look in my direction the knowledgeable bystander walked away. I pulled the boat up to the staging area and de-rigged, noting that the boat was not well centered on the trailer. I figured that just before I left the park I would re-float the boat and center it on the trailer. I had done it many times before and generally just backing the trailer in enough to allow the boat to float would cause the boat to naturally center itself. Since this time I have recognized that boat trailers that cradle the boat are much more likely to be self centering. Trailers that have predominantly flat bunks are much less self centering, as is the case with this particular trailer. My first attempt was less than successful at centering the boat, in fact it was so off center that the boat slipped off the trailer to one side, breaking the already nearly defunct bow eye and damaging the forward support of the trailer slightly. Oh well, I knew that was coming eventually, no problem. Guided the boat back onto the trailer, used a forward dock line attached to the starboard bow cleat to tug the boat up close to the winch stand, pretty heavily loaded, hmm may have to back in a little further. Instead I took the dock line around the winch stand and then ran it back to the port bow cleat increasing to purchase ratio. Then I pulled on the dock line … hard. The line broke and I fell back. I’m thinking “oh shit” then “this is gonna hurt” then ” I wonder what I am going to land on”, “sure hope I don’t hit my head”, amazing how many different thoughts you can go through in the time it takes to fall over. It is also interesting how the things that you think about in those few split seconds are nothing like the thoughts that you have when the fall is complete, such as ; How did my foot get caught in the v of the trailer beams? I don’t think my leg is supposed to bend that way. Oh now I am sure of it. Water, a less than acceptable breathing medium, cough sputter glub. Oh the leg, no it doesn’t want to go that way, well it seems like it should, no definitely not. I know this would be easier, would be much easier if I could just get my head up enough to breathe!!! Luckily, my friend, Aggie had volunteered to stay and help me re-center the boat and she guided my head up to a shallower position on the ramp, Of course the truck was still running, but even the exhaust of a Chevy V8 is preferable to trying to inhale a three inch layer of Lake Harris. Why is it in times like these that I remember my brother saying, “you know, you can drown in a teacup full of water?” I managed to get hold of something that allowed me to get my head up and get a lungful of exhaust, then calmly soothed Aggie’s fears that I was really broken or really badly hurt. My perspective on the pained leg thing was totally out of whack, the direction that my foot had to be moved to free it from the grasp of the trailer was exactly opposite of what I thought it should be, but Aggie gently manipulated my foot in the correct direction in spite of what I thought it should be being upside down and underwater, and I was free. Except for my phone, my wallet, a substantial little knot on my left calve I was OK. Maybe I will reconsider threatening my vessel with leaving both pieces where they lie.