We rounded the west coast of Antigua, bashing into wind and waves; after passing Prickly Pear Island (probably the tenth island we’ve seen with this name in the Caribbean), we pointed south to enter the channel for North Sound Marina – our final destination and Free Range’s new home.
The end of the road.
Stéphane pulled up to the concrete wall and docked our girl (perfectly, as usual) for the last time.
Immediately, it was time to get to work. Free Range will be on the hard (this means she will be sitting on blocks out of the water) until her new owners have time to come down and play with her, later this year. To prep Free Range to be on the hard, or “decommission” her, we first start with removing all of the sails. Here I am sliding the mainsail off of the boom.
Releasing the jib halyard so the jib can be removed.
Stéphane removing the jib (front sail) from the roller furling.
We lay each of the sails flat and make sure they are dry.
Next we fold / roll them up nicely and put them in their sail bags so they are protected from the elements. They’ve done good these past eight months and deserve a rest.
We are spoiled with easy access to FRESH water! We’re able to get a hose run to Free Range so we spray her down. It’s important to keep the salt water, as much as possible, OFF of the stainless steel, the fiberglass, the windows – everything, really. Salt corrodes.
The Decommissioning To Do list. A few items we were able to cross off before we even arrived at North Sound Marina: filling up the fuel tanks and emptying / cleaning out the holding tank.
Decks scrubbed, a few fiberglass stains attended to, and stainless steel rinsed and cleaned with metal wax.
Decomissioning Day 2: Time to get Free Range out of the water. Here two of the marina workers are pulling Free Range forward with lines on either side. We just squeezed past the boat on the left.
Free Range set up front and center under the Travelift. The travelift is a pretty amazing machine. It’s a giant crane on wheels! What they do is place two thick straps under Free Range and then, slowly, the travelift lifts her out of the water.
Setting the straps just right.
Emerging from the water! That keel hasn’t seen the light of day in many moons.
Here is a better picture of the enormous travelift – Free Range is dwarfed by it! See the wheels? Once the boat is safely out of the water and high enough off the ground, the travelift moves very slowly across the boatyard, delivering Free Range to her new home on the hard.
Here is a close-up of one of the through-hulls on Free Range’s hull. Through-hulls are holes that go through the hull. We have nine. Why would you want a hole in your boat, you might ask? Well, to empty water (fresh, salt, gray, and black) into the sea or to bring sea water IN! We have one that goes from our sink out; one from our gray water holding tank out (water from the shower), one from our black water holding tank (toilet), several “intakes” (meaning water comes in) – we suck salt water in to help cool the engine, etc. Anyways, so over time, these through-hulls have become encrusted with barnacles! Stéphane has been doing his best to clean them off when he goes swimming but these buggers are pretty persistent!
Free Range is set up on the hard. And yes, those little metal supports actually DO hold her weight (seems like they wouldn’t be able to, right?).
Work continues, this time on the inside: removing our personal belongings, organizing the items that stay (spare boat parts, tools, books, cleaning supplies, charts, snorkeling gear); removing the cushion covers (the new owners are going to get NEW cushion covers made! Free Range is going to get a facelift!!!); dusting, sweeping, washing, cleaning, throwing out, etc.
The ladies bathroom at the marina. In case you were wondering, this one is for FEMALES ONLY. And just to be sure you understand what FEMALE is, we’ll include a photo of Kristen Stewart. One can’t be too sure, after all.
And, just like that, we are homeless again. Other than a few boxes of winter clothes and a guitar that we shipped back to Montrose, these are our only belongings in the world (the breakdown of which, as follows: 50% climbing gear, 25% power tools, 10% pots and pans, 10% electronics, 5% clothing).
After two days of hard work, Free Range decommission is complete. She is clean and in good order: ready to be handed off to her new owners. So, all that is left now is to say goodbye.
Beloved Free Range, Thank you for keeping us mostly dry, partially sane, fully safe, and for taking us on such a wild ride these past months. We leave you only because we know you are in the very best of hands. Fair winds and following seas, friend. Your – S&S