For a week after Poe died, it felt strange when I’d return to Swell–no more chirping, no more fishy stink, and no more fuzzy head popping up? Instead I found only piles of progress-less projects staring at me. Despite grinding off the recent epoxy job and making a more precisely-fitting steel washer, the ‘extracteur’ continued to fail at removing the shaft tube. Finally, a sledgehammer swing by my friend, Josh Humbert, broke the ‘extracteur’ for the third and final time–severing it in half at the upper threads and sending it flying across the yard.
So the shaft tube remained stuck in the hull and Laurent’s behavior (the yard glasser who was supposed to help me) continued to puzzle me. He would walk by me stone-faced and cold, dead-set on disregarding my existence. It was obviously time to seek out other help…but who? Where? How?! Rain poured down and I wandered circles around the yard in a cloud of despair. The weather matched my bleak humor as I stomped puddles and squished mud between my toes. It seemed useless to fight anymore. I was defeated, broken, sinking on land…doomed to indeterminate boatyard purgatory…
Then on Friday afternoon, Mike, from ‘Apple’ (another sailboat in the yard) yelled down at me from his shiny blue hull over on the ‘east side’. “Hey Liz! We got my rudder shaft out today using a hydraulic jack.”
“Fantastic,” I replied, struggling to sound enthusiastic.
“This could be your answer!” He said. “Take it over to Swell see if it might work push against your tube!”
…You’ve never seen a girl sprint faster with a 15-lb hydraulic jack in hand. I hauled it up the ladder…
“It fits!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I cheered with a shuffle-step-wiggle. “I’ll have to remove the v-drive…and cut some wood and steel supports…and it will have to work on its side so I’ll need some extra fluid…”
At once a surge of hope rose inside me. I raced cheerfully back down to the Friday gathering. The owner of the yard teased me as I arrived, “Lize!! Ma belle, we don’t want you to fix your boat, anyway. We like having you here. You love it here, don’t you? ”
“Of course!” I replied with a smile. “In fact, Jacques, how about you sell me the land underneath my boat so I can start planting a garden!?”
“I’ll tell you what, Liz,” Mike interjected from across the ramp, Hinano in hand. “I’ll be at your boat at 10am tomorrow. If I can’t get that tube out in 2 hours…it’s officially impossible!”