Even though the True Grit was out of the shop and on the trailer there was still a considerable list of things to do. The limited head clearance had prevented me from installing the three antennas- VHF, AM/FM and the television. Because I was concerned about side clearance I had not yet installed the vinyl rubrails. Also, the swim platforms needed to be mounted and the rubrail added to them. Plus, the lower unit needed to be reinstalled as well as the bimini top. An additional glaring item I needed to address was the bottom paint at the waterline. Not knowing exactly where the water would ride on the hull I had decided to wait until the first launch to establish an accurate line. So now the time had come. After five winters of work in the shop and countless hours it was time to let it do what it was designed to do. Let's go boating!
The problem was the only real launch option was the Kaskaskia River. All the others were at least an hour tow away and I just didn't want to venture that far from home the first time out. The quandary was the river had been running at flood stage and above all summer long and the ramps were mostly submerged. But the present levels were the lowest they had been and after driving over and taking a look I determined it would be workable.
I decided on a weekday afternoon knowing there would be less activity at the ramp and I wanted to have minimal distractions. After hooking everything up to the truck we pulled out of the driveway for the 10-mile tow. As this was the first time at highway speeds I was pleased to see that my Ford F150 was handling the weight very well. Running 55 to 60 mph presented no problem and the trailer track straight with no ill tendencies.
Arriving at the ramp we stopped and prepared her for launch. I went ahead and hung the fenders on the starboard side so there was one less thing to worry about when on the water. We then slowly backed in far enough to get the Honda's lower unit well in the water and I fired up the engine for the first time. Started and idled on the first hit. Got to love fuel injection!
Note how far I had to back in to float it off - the muffler was gurgling! The high water prevented the trailer from reaching the steeper sloped section of the ramp. Five days later the water was up again and I would not be able to launch.
As you can see the wind was calm that day for which I was thankful. I knew because the True Grit's high profile and shallow draft wind would have a considerable effect when going slow to dock.
And just that easy we are floating free. I have to tell you at this point I was all smiles. Because I had added a substantial amount of cabin and fixtures in the interior there was a real concern as to how it would set in the water. Would it list to one side? Would it squat at the transom? I spent a lot of time trying to work out the weights when doing the layout BUT would it work? When building these are the kind of things you agonize about in the middle of the night. But now I put the worry behind. Athwartship it was right on the money with no list. It did sit about 1 1/2" lower at the transom and about a inch higher at the bow than the given waterline but when the water tanks are filled things should even out. The fuel tanks sit right on the center of buoyancy so levels shouldn't affect it one-way or the other. Because of the additional structure I added it is heavier and will draft a little more than per plans.
Just had to add this photo showing the flooding debris caught by the dock. This is what makes rivers "interesting" to cruise.
And cruise I will. Looking very forward to spending time aboard and getting familiar with my new toy..........