Even tasks that take twice their anticipated time do eventually complete, and so Gjoa emerged from Homer Boat Yard’s Bay Five thirteen days after Mike Stockburger and team initiated their “four or five day job.” The delay had been inevitable; the quality of workmanship, high. I was pleased.
Already I had decided to leave Gjoa at Homer Boat Yard rather than truck her back to Northern Enterprises. Both are reputable businesses, but Northern is geared for the commercial fishing trade and provides fewer services to a clientele who need none but lift and splash.
The crew eased Gjoa into her space behind a shock of pines and then grabbed her mast from Northern for the two mile return trip. Finally the boat and appendages were all in one place, and I could set to the reconstruction. The rush was on. The goal, to launch in five days.
Problems arose immediately.
While installing the spreaders, I noted cracks in the aluminum extrusions near the bases. Two cracks, one on the lower leading edge and one on the lower trailing edge of the lower spreaders. The cracks were small, two and three inches, respectively, and in line with the extrusion.
The thought of sailing into the North Pacific with a flawed rig seemed out of the question. Thus, in an instant I had been gifted a new project.
This was Sunday.
The mast and rig are made by Selden, a large, highly regarded European company famous for its cutting-edge technology, attention to detail and record keeping. For example, each part of a Selden mast is stamped with a six digit number, and the mast itself is inscribed with its own unique identifier next to an inscription of the boat’s name, all of which gives one the impression that there is, somewhere, a vast warehouse with replacement parts awaiting just such a requirement as mine.
On Monday, I called the Selden dealer closest to Homer, a famous rigger in Port Townsend, Washington. A short conversation confirmed Selden’s reputation for detail.
“They are Swedish,” said the rigger. “Very Swedish, and they have a way of reminding you that you are not. But that’s not entirely bad when dealing in precision parts.”
I sent the requested information, part numbers, photographs, measurements of the spreaders, mast height, boat width, distance from mast base to lower spreaders, year installed, boat name, year built, contact information.
On Wednesday, I called. “Let’s see. Oh, yes. I haven’t been able to open your files,” said the rigger. “The photos say ‘will not download from server.’ Isn’t technology wonderful? Resend your spreaders and I’ll have a look.”
I resent the photos.
On Friday, I called. A woman answered the phone. “He’s traveling today,” she said. “Will be presenting at a boat show in California.”
“Did he leave any progress notes for me?” I asked.
“Is your name Bill?”
“No, it’s Randall.”
“No, no notes for Randall. Jerry?”
“Randall. Is he available?”
“Such a week. He’s been so very busy. I’m not sure when he sleeps. Are you asking me to call him?”
Something in her tone suggested I should pity the difficulties that attend upon those of genius. Would I seriously request she interrupt Mozart while he conducted The Marriage of Figaro simply to ask when he could get around to fixing my piano stool?
“I know my issue is a small one,” I said, “but I’m stuck. I’m beginning to get a little frustrated at…”
“Lit-tle fru-strated,” she said, scratching out a note.
“No, don’t tell him that!” I said, “He’ll never call if…”
“Ne-ver call,” she wrote.
“I mean, it’s just that it’s been all week and I don’t have any information. I’m trying to get this boat ready for…”
“Be-en we-ek al-ready.”
“Stop! I mean, I’m in a hurry too, right? It’s kind of upsetting not to have anything…”
“Ki-nd up-setting…OK…I’ll make sure he knows you’re upset. You have a lovely weekend.”
Monday. Nothing happened.
On Tuesday, I reached out to a famous Florida rigger. By afternoon I knew that replacement spreaders, in whole or in parts, were not sitting in stock in Sweden nor anywhere else. They’d have to be made to order. It might take two weeks. The Florida rigger would have a price quote by Thursday.
On Thursday, nothing happened.
On Friday, I called the Florida rigger. Selden needed until Monday to produce the quote, he reported. They’d be sending the spreader tube dies out to an extruder in Europe; all very complicated. Could run into some money. He’d call me back.
On Monday, nothing happened.
Given the rules regarding anticipation of project timelines, discussed above, I knew I needed an alternative solution if I wanted to depart Homer before Christmas…