Launchings

Some years ago, while in Canadian waters on a cruise, I was hanging out on board our Friendship Sloop, when the schooner American Eagle came in and dropped anchor. The harbor where we have a mooring on Deer Island, New Brunswick, is a spectacular spot but visiting vessels are few and far between, so I enjoyed watching the schooner come in and then went below to do chores. I was washing dishes when I became aware of another boat close by. I stuck my head up through the hatch and saw a couple in a rowboat resting on their oars and looking over our sloop. We greeted one another and they complimented the boat on her good looks and asked when and where she had been built. I told them that the Apprenticeshop had built her when it was located in Rockport Maine. At this point, the rowers nodded knowingly, let drop that they had suspected as much because they had been at the launching, and thought that they had recognized the boat.
           We then went on to have a delightful conversation about the launching. I was later able to find a picture of our boats first launch in a back issue of WoodenBoat (issue #91), which I cut out and framed.
           Launchings have always delighted me. There something about that magic moment when a boat lifts off her cradle or trailer for the first time and becomes buoyant and a living thing. As far as I am concerned, it does not matter if the vessel is something that the Bath Iron Works is launching for the Navy, or is the launch of a new rowboat, I still get a kick out of it. This is even true when we re-commission our boat each spring. The moment our boat slides down the rails at the yard and floats free is always memorable.
           You can watch the launching of another Friendship Sloop restored at the Apprenticeshop if you are in the Rockland area (Rockland, Maine, has been the home of the Apprenticeshop for some years under the umbrella of Atlantic Challenge). The sloop is the ANSA, I visited her several times last summer in the shop and I read in the Atlantic Challenge newsletter that ANSA will be re-launched on Thursday the 24th of May, I believe the launching is quite early, but may well be worth checking out. Check with the office at Atlantic Challenge for details if you are interested.
                    

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