Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Drive Up

First of all, we discovered that the Essential Baking Company (link not included because it's one of those annoying websites that shrinks your browser to fit its picture) opened at 6am—coffee and pastries for the road! Our plan to hide our trailer overnight at our marina worked like a charm, and with a great deal of backing and filling and frustrated talking to myself (why, WHY can't I just get this right?!?), I backed the trailer down the Sunnyside ramp and collected the boat that Ian brought around. Six-thirty in the morning is a relatively traffic-free time to head north on I-5 from Seattle, and things were fine until we hit Lynnwood and a guy in a beat up old van next to me drove slightly into my lane. Now, I was not all that comfortable with what I was doing—after all, I had only been driving a boat on the freeway for about 15 minutes out of my whole life—and so I honked and I swerved—a normal evasive maneuver—to avoid him.

Let me say right here, NEVER SWERVE if you are pulling a trailer. It set the trailer rocking back and forth, which of course started pulling the car back and forth. I'm good at driving in snow, and so I started to do what I do in snow—I let my foot off the gas and tried to adjust to match the motion. This did not work. Fortunately, Ian knew what to do, which is to hold your hands as steady as possible and allow the trailer to stop on its own. "Just hold your hands steady," he said, quite calmly. "Just drive straight and keep your hands steady."

"Wow! Thank you!" I said, once we were moving smoothly again. "Thank you for knowing that, and thank you for being so calm about telling me!"

"My exterior belied my interior," Ian admitted.

The next potential challenge was to gas up the car and boat. Boat gas is simply regular unleaded gas, with a different color additive and a different (much higher) cost. We had wanted the tank to be mainly empty for the drive, not wishing to add unnecessary weight to what we were towing, but figured there was a good place in Anacortes to stock up, before getting on the ferry. This actually went very well, and included compliments from passersby about our boat.

We got to the ferry dock soon after that, and paid $185 for the two of us and our car and trailer. Okay, yes, a lot of money, but probably not so very much more than we would've paid for fuel driving the boat from Seattle, and we were able to go 60 mph for most of the 100 miles instead of 25. Plus, that was round trip. We weren't necessarily aiming for any particular boat, but we happened to make the 10:05am, just barely. They slotted us into a space that appeared to have been made for us—narrow around the car, just slightly wider to accommodate the boat and trailer, maybe one car behind us. We were in the middle of the main deck, between a large moving van-type truck and a tanker with a trailer. Driving the whole set up felt big on the freeway, but on the ferry we looked little.

We arrived on Orcas, managed to leave the ferry without getting scraped or scraping anyone else, and drove to our land where we picked up some camping gear from the outhouse and loaded everything into the boat. After a brief slipping and sliding on our pasture grass and having to put the car in 4WD Low to get out, we hauled over to West Sound Marina to enact our plan.

Our plan was to put the boat in the water at the West Sound ramp and have one person motor over to the county dock and the other person return the car and trailer to our land, then walk down to the dock.

Except that it turns out West Sound does not have a ramp. We cleverly stopped the car and trailer in the parking lot and went to look on foot before driving down what we thought was a ramp, so it could've been worse. We then asked the marina owners who did have a ramp, and got a number of a place in Deer Harbor, just a bit west of us. They said sure, come along, and so we went. It was somewhere around here that I realized Ian knew, much better than I, how to back the trailer, and so he became the driver and I the spotter for the narrow, dockless ramp leading down into the north end of Deer Harbor.

Well, suffice it to say that we got the boat safely, if slowly, into the water; Ian motored around to the West Sound County Dock as planned originally, and I drove car and trailer back to the land and walked down to meet him. We cruised over to Odlin on Lopez to meet our friends, only jumping one wake in a way that made me very uncomfortable (and I was the driver.).


threedee71 said...

I should get over my fear of driving the trailer, shouldn't I? But Mike is so good at it! Looking forward to reading of more adventures...

BTW, if you're using Firefox, you can get it to NOT resize at those annoying sites. Here's how:

luler on the fly said...

"My exterior belied my interior," there are so many situations where that sentiment is in play, and I suspect there will be exponentially more in our new lives as parents. Well put, Ian!
- Juniper