Page published 13 February 2021
Originally posted on what used to be "The Blog", this page records my involvement, on on 17 May 2011, in the launch of Deux Chevaux friend Ian's home build yacht.
Ian emailed me! Help would be welcome! It was time to launch Deux Chevaux. After wrecking three of his sanders how could I refuse?
Deux Chevaux is Ian's Lynx14, a craft home built from plans by the prolific small boat designers Selway Fisher. When he built his boat, he added a little headroom to the cabin which has resulted in it having the appearance of Tom in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. You know the scene. Jerry has had an air-line stuffed down his mouth. Jerry has turned on the air and Jerry's slowly inflating and about to explode. This image is made all the more real in my mind as Ian painted the boat in two tone grey.
I should explain, it's not really mouse grey. Neither did Ian plan the colour scheme to give his boat an aggressive battleship look designed to make it appear to punch above its minimal size. Instead, the colours were chosen to echo the car after which the boat is named, as he explains in his blog.
It turned out that the car I was following for the last few hundred yards before reaching Barton Turf Adventure Centre was Simon's, who with his wife, run the place. He had the job of undoing the padlock on the gate. Ian and Deux Chevaux were already in the grounds. Bits and pieces were spread over the ground as Ian moved various stuff from the car to the boat before launch.
I joined in. We transferred all light weight stuff, but not the heavy weights, to be used as ballast, that Ian had brought over to the Centre last week. They stayed in the trolley borrowed from the Adventure Centre. Ian didn't fancy the damage they might do if bounced around in Deux Chevaux on their way to the slip way. Ian's boat trailer is unbraked so, to stay legal and safe, this year a separate trip was needed, as Ian's new Citroen C4 is not as good a tow car as his previous C5.
Next there was a short wait for Simon. We used the time to carry the mast down to the slipway. Ian's first sight of it caused caused him worry. I suppose it wasn't really surprising that the water level was low given the record breaking dry weather there's been this spring. The trouble is that, if there's not enough water, then the bottom of the slip is not deep enough for a boat to float off the trailer. In the worst case you have to push the wheels of the trailer off the end of the ramp and drop it onto its chassis and hope the boat will float off then - but if it all goes wrong the trailer sinks six foot to the bottom. Oo-er!
While we were studing the water level, back at the field, Simon had hooked up the tractor. He soon emerged from the gravel track, which runs from the field where we had been, at the slipway. Ian then prepares DC so that she can float off the trailer and be held by a line from the bows. The plan is that Simon will push the trailer down the slip, as deep as he dares, and then jam on the anchors. DC's own momentum should then take her off the trailer and into the water.
Unfortunately, the cautious Simon, or rather the prudent Simon, doesn't go quite far enough to release DC and Ian needs to give Deux Chevaux a helping hand.
She starts to spin, indicating that she is caught on one side, but another gentle push and she is free - and floating.
While Ian and I prepare to load the four 56lb and two 28lb weights that act as ballast, Simon takes the trailer away back to Ian's car and returns towing the truck containing the ballast weights. Each weight is slightly different in shape and, along with the battery used to power the electric outboard, each goes in a specific compartment Ian has constructed under the floor of the cabin. The photograph taken before the ballast has been fitted shows how the bows lie slightly out of the water at that point.
With the ballast is loaded it is then time to fit the mast. Unfortunately, I need to leave before I see the job completely finished. However, later in the day, Ian does report that he made a successful circumnavigation of the triangular island at the head of Barton Broad before taking Deux Chevaux to her mooring so overall the day can be said to be a success.