Lay up this year was particularly exciting, not least because it involved an overland haul from Superior, Wisconsin, to Bellingham, Washington. As I write this, I am sitting at my desk back at home in Colorado, still pinching myself at the realization that Windleblo has finally arrived at the Salish Sea.
Two days after Emily flew home Jocelyn arrived, having driven from Applewood in our Honda CR-V. The two of us would team up to tackle the job of getting Windleblo ready for transport and laying her up in Washington.
Take the long fall decommissioning punch list and multiply times ten. That’s what prepping a yacht for overland transport feels like. Fortunately, we got great coaching from the good people at Barker’s Island Marina in Superior and Cross Country Boat Transport out of Hastings, Minnesota. Both provided excellent advice on how to get Windleblo ready for the 1,750 mile haul over the continental divide to Washington.
Combine battening down for a big blow with stripping the deck to the bone and you have an idea of the scope of the job. Not only does everything below decks have to be ultra-secure and chafe protected, but everything above decks has to either be removed or lashed tightly to withstand three days of hurricane force winds. The mast and boom were of course taken down as were the outboard hoist and wind generator spar. We even had to remove the signature Hallberg-Rassy hard dodger to meet the thirteen-and-a-half-foot oversize load height restriction. All this on top of the usual winterizing chores – antifreeze the engine and domestic water system, disconnect and blow out all pumps, and wash, dry, coil/fold, and stow all sails and running rigging, to name a few.
As soon as she was tied up in Superior the fun began. One week later, she was ready. Finally, H hour arrived. Our driver, Nate, quickly put all our anxieties to rest. He expertly guided the process as Windleblo was hauled out and secured to his high-tech low boy trailer. After thoroughly checking height, attachment points, and equipment lashings she was road worthy. The entire process from haul out to departure took only three hours.
We followed behind for the first mile. Then, Nate turned left and we turned right, ready to begin our road trip to Washington. Nate would spend the weekend home in Hastings, giving us a two day head start.
Prior to this trip, Jocelyn had been to all but two of the 50 United States. Only North Dakota and Alaska remained. Our route that first day took us slightly north of west, crossing from Minnesota into North Dakota at Grand Forks, home of the University of North Dakota. We stopped long enough to take in the sunset and pick up some Chinese food, then pressed on, arriving at Minot, North Dakota, around 10 p.m. We checked into a Days Inn and crashed.
Our road trip continued bright and early on a northwest heading, entering Canada and Saskatchewan at Portal, ND. We breathed easier in Canadian air. Putting miles behind us, we crossed into Alberta and shoved the pedal down until Calgary. We found a farm to fork vegetarian restaurant in the Lower Mount Royal neighborhood. It felt a lot like the gentrified parts of Denver – lots of Millennials, plenty of craft breweries, the streets buzzing with hipsters. Too soon, we retreated to a hotel for sleep.
Having gone more than 1,200 miles in two days, it was time to slow down. Over the next few days, we played tourist in Banff, hiked above Lake Louise, laid over in Golden, British Columbia, one night and Kamloops, BC, another. Our final stay was at Harrison Hot Springs, BC, only 90 minutes north of Bellingham, where we soaked our cares away before crossing back into the U.S. for the final stretch to Seaview North Boatyard.
We arrived there only a few hours ahead of Nate, who pulled in with Windleblo dutifully tethered behind, no worse for wear. She unhitched just as easily as she had hitched and was soon resting in her spot on the Yard perimeter. We spent four further days putting her to bed, leaving her each evening to stay at a nearby AirBnB.
Finally, on September 17th, she was all buttoned up and ready for hibernation. We bid the Yard manager adieu and jumped back in the CRV, this time for a 1,400 mile road trip home to Applewood via Yellowstone National Park. We arrived September 20th with Jocelyn claiming she had sampled 14 different mattresses over the past 20 nights. Sleeping in our own bed never felt better.
Season’s end is always bittersweet. Sweet because the land-based life beckons, with all its attractions. Bitter because it means no more sailing for a while. As any good sailor knows, you never enter your destination in the log until it has finally been reached. We’re not in Alaska yet, but with Windleblo hibernating nicely on the left coast, its lookin’ mighty good that the ten year plan – Sweden to Alaska – will soon become reality.