S/V Charlotte
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Loading truck at Watergate Yachting Ctr.-Clear Lake, TX

It wasn’t easy: getting Charlotte from Houston to Seattle over land.  We finished the aquatic portion of our journey at the end of June and began work to prepare Charlotte for trucking.  Texas was HOT.  Even the locals were complaining about how hot it was, and humid to boot.  Luckily the new docks at Watergate Yachting Center were fitted with ample 220V AC power to keep our air conditioning running and the interior cool and comfortable.  With the help of El Indio and crew at South Texas Yacht Services Watergate yard, we stepped the mast and spent the next week removing dodger, davits, and other gear to get our height down.  We took a break from the sweaty work over the fourth of July weekend to visit with friends Tony and Teresa who had recently moved to San Antonio.   We celebrated the 4th with a fun cookout and broke in their new pool and volleyball court.  On Sunday we toured San Antonio’s Riverwalk and of course, The Alamo.

Loading the U-haul in 105 degree heat
About 5000 lbs of boat gear

Back in Houston we also shopped for a new car and cell phones.   Some twisted evolution of logic found me convincing Kirsten that purchasing a used Subaru Outback wagon in the “low demand” region of Texas and then driving it back to the “Subaru-haven” Seattle made perfect sense.  We ended up at Clear Lake VW and settled on a 1998 Outback Wagon with 120K miles on it.  Hey, the VW dealer would have wholesaled this one if it wasn’t in great shape.  With this confidence I figured we could be assured it was up for the 2300 mile trip home.

From The Bilge--Some Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum

With our truck waiting at the boatyard, and Charlotte ready for the road, we motored from our slip to the travel lift.  We had purchased tickets to visit the Johnson Space Center and we guessed that we’d be able to spend the afternoon there.   Once clear of the water, El Indio maneuvered the travel lift and deftly positioned Charlotte over the trailer.  Ron, the truck driver, quickly began installing and adjusting supports.  I headed back aboard to remove the steering wheel and pedestal, and secure the dinghy on the bow.  With enough supports in place, the travel lift backed away, placing Charlotte’s full weight on the trailer.  It quickly bottomed out, hitting the pavement.  Ron tried pumping up the trailer’s airbags but soon declared that the boat was “too heavy.”  After a series of tense phone calls to Deepwater Transport(the company owning the trailer), and Dudley Trucking(the company we contracted for the haul) we came to the sickening realization that we need to remove about 5,000 lbs of weight from Charlotte if she were going to be hauled on this trailer.  Gerald at Dudley Trucking whom I’ve known for years assured me that a larger trailer would be difficult to find and very costly.  We were in for a lot of hard/hot work.

Imagine the disappointment we all felt.  Kirsten and Alden didn’t stay down for long and we all rallied to “make it happen.”  We first phone a local U-haul store and reserved a 14’ truck and car trailer.  We then began removing all the gear lashed on deck, jettisoning it over the side, and into the parking lot.  I arranged an hour of yard crane time to remove the dinghy and batteries (seven 8D’s weighing 150lbs each).  We then snuck away long enough to pick up our U-haul truck.  We then worked until about 6:00pm removing sails, anchors, chain, line, rigging, on and on.  Don, the truck driver, was inspired enough to help us; an amazing contribution in the sweltering Houston summer heat.   It kind of felt like the Grinch removing Christmas items from the Who’s homes: everything up and over the side and into the U-haul.  Alden was a great help, playing Gungadin, supplying us with ice and water.  By 6:00pm we’d had enough.   We spent the evening with our Kings Point friend Ronnie Baughman who happened to live just a few miles down the road.  Hot showers, cold bear, warm pizza, and soft beads in Ronnie’s air conditioned, lakefront home did wonders for our soles and bodies.  The following Saturday we hit it again.  Ronnie graciously helped rather than do his normal Saturday morning Harley ride.  Two more hours of work had Charlotte’s lockers and bilges empty.  We ended up leaving our rust anchor chain, very heavy stainless steel swim ladder, some Panamanian beer and Caribbean rum with the boatyard crew.  Ronnie ended up with one very used 12’ Caribe RIB and some Caribbean rum.  By noon we were locking the companionway and jumping into the U-haul.

Just about to Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Driving to meet them I was alarmed but an overheating engine.  This is not supposed to happen.  After letting the engine cool, we topped off with water from the fountain and headed down to Jackson for dinner.  With one eye on the temperature gage, one eye on the road and a third eye on the adjacent meadows looking for wildlife we made our made our way through Moose lane and stopped for dinner in Jackson Hole.  On our way back through Jackson, the temperature gage began rising forcing a pit stop for more coolant.  With extra coolant aboard and a tank full of gas, it was about 10:00pm as we started our forty mile return to the Hatchet Resort.   Our cooling system was not to allow a successful transit.  With a spiking temperature gage, we were forced to pull over, pop the hood and proclaim more than a few explicatives.  In short order, a local contractor pulled over to assist and was extremely helpful as we conscripted him for a ride up to our hotel.  My plan: return to the hotel, get a good night sleep, then drive the U-haul and trailer down to pick up the car for delivery to a mechanic in Jackson.  Once back at our hotel(thirty miles from the car), we determined that the U-haul key had been left in the car.  Ugh!  So much for sleep; I spent the night tossing and turning while coming up with a new plan.  Right after sunrise, I headed back to the car, hitchhiking with some extra water and tools.  After a half hour with my thumb out, another nice Hatchet Resort guest picked me up and drove me down to the car.  After draining the coolant into one of Alden’s Lego bins, I removed the thermostat and refilled the coolant system.  I then drove to Jackson and purchased a new thermostat.  As the car was holding temperature I decided not to have it worked on and returned to pick up Kirsten and Alden.  We spent the rest of the day driving up to Yellowstone and Old Faithful before returning to the Hatchet resort for dinner.  Only one small coolant temperature rise and a distressing “check engine” light illumination.   We woke early the following morning, hoping to make McCall Idaho by dinner.  The best laid plans were quickly dashed when we somehow locked the U-haul keys in the cab.   It was at this point that I sat down on a rock and contemplated the meaning of life while Kirsten ordered pancakes and called a locksmith in Jackson.  Two hour later and a locksmith’s fee and travel expenses poorer, we were trucking west again, headed for the engine straining, brake smokin’ 8500’ Teton Pass.  The rest of the day was uneventful as we enjoyed our drive through the mountains and fields of Idaho.  From Boise, we headed north up the Payette River valley to McCall where our Seattle friends, the Bogets were vacationing.   How wonderful it was to spend the weekend enjoying splendid Lake Payette with them, skiing and touring on their Century Resorter.  On Sunday morning we set off on the final leg of our drive to Seattle.  After two years away, it was with mixed feelings that we crested Snoqualamie Pass and entered the city just before sunset.  The next morning we started a new chapter of our lives as we unloaded “Charlotte” from the truck at Canal Boatyard and began accumulating the things one needs to live and work in a big city.