first sight

3 Aug

It’s a very strange thing to glimpse in the real life fibreglass flesh a boat that you’ve obsessed over on the interwebs for hours. When we finally pulled into the boatyard and marched over to the Laura (sitting on stilts), we felt this strange mixture of excitement and trepidation. I think we both wanted desperately to love her, but not be taken for a ride. We really really really (but REALLY) wanted this boat to be The One: it was too (mainly emotionally) exhausting a prospect to start again; to fly back to SA “empty-handed”; to have to maybe endure the same disappointment again (if it could go wrong once, it might flop a second or third time)… But we knew we couldn’t let our hopes get in the way of objectivity. It’s somewhat important to have a boat that is a goody, especially when it comes to crossing oceans.

We were met at the boat by owners Mike and Laurie and our intrepid surveyor: Cecil Lange. Cecil is a proficient Kiwi boat-builder, retired to La Paz and “just loves boats too much to stay away from them”. We marched around the hull, peering and inspecting. Correction: Stof and Cecil did the knowledgeable stuff, I mainly just ran my hands up and down (collecting powdery blue residue) and took photos.

Standing to the side I asked Laurie whether the boat was named after her? If so, why? “Aah”, she smiled blushingly, “my husband always wanted to name a boat after me. He’s a little romantic like that.” Perfect. We’d not minded the name Laura for our boat, but had wanted to know the reason or meet the person after whom it was named to see if we liked her. I liked her already.

Then we walked up the ladder to mount the Laura and explore her cabin.* Frankly, it looked like the pictures. But spacier. And comfier. And so solid. I told Stof later that stepping onto the Laura felt like I’d come home.

While I was completely falling in love (“oooh, pretty boat”), Stoffel was Being Objective. I was trying to be objective with him. But even “bad cop” let on that he was impressed.

The next step was the sea trial. Obv, before we could trial at sea, we had to getoffhardandintowater. Which was a fairly mesmerising process. This beeeeeeg three-sided square moving contraption moved up to the boat so that she sat within its three sides. Then they attached two beeeeeeeg slings under her belly, the contraption fired up and lifted the boat off the stilts and she was floating on air! And then they drove down the road (with our boat) to a double pier where the boat could be lowered into the water (the wheels of the giant contraption fitting on either pier, the boat into the water between the piers). All the while, the vertigo-stricken Mike was pretending he was ok with travelling down the road from the vantage point of his suspended boat.

In summary, the next few days were spent as follows:

Day Two: Sea Trial – light wind, hoisting of beeeeg asymmetrical sail, chomping of Walmart-bought picnic (first trip to Walmart! Surprisingly delicious!), boat being solid and swift. Followed by dinner with Shelly, Mike and Laurie (more Mexican deliciousness).

Day Three: Inventory, tutorial, general chit-chat with Mike and Laurie on the Laura while spending loads of time on the Laura. Meeting with Cecil about What Should Be Done.

Day Four: Meeting with sailmaker, canvas artisan, metal magic-worker, rigger, electrician (Cecil’s beady eye promising to keep a watch over it all). Lifting boat out of the water, back on Contraption, re-securing on the hard in the yard. Farewell to MikenLaurie (a bit emotional). Drive around town (boat shop, fishing shop, bank). Return to boat for StofnSara for plugging the valves, pulling the rigging, measuring up the spaces, generally packing her up. Climb off Laura, exhausted. Trudge to the Walmart at 22h30 to find a taxi. Sign language to taxi-driver to get back to bnb (it took a bit more time than we originally thought)…

Day five: return home as owners of a boat. W-O-W.

It was one of the craziest, most fantastic experiences. (**Cliché alert**) It was made more wonderful by the people. Shelly from La Paz yachts couldn’t have been more helpful and accommodating. She is frank and friendly and genuine. The way she ferried us around, constantly chatting and sharing, blew us away. And we owe her a taco lunch!

Mike and Laurie are gems. We like them whole-heartedly (i.e. with our whole hearts… sometimes it’s necessary to breakdown the word). It’s a privilege to buy their boat: the Laura is tangibly imbued with their love, care and dreams. They are people whose “flag” we hope to fly while we travel. And that we hope to invite into our home one day, and visit them in theirs.

* “mount the Laura and explore her cabin” sounds like it could come from an exceedingly poorly written  Mills&Boon. It’s not… sorry.

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