The Heavy Lift, Part I

The CAP’N LEM rests on the ground and needs to be floating in the water. That’s why I towed her trailer 4414 miles to Happy Valley-Goose Bay Labrador. No small undertaking was that in its own right! But that problem is so far behind me as to be nearly forgotten in the challenge of the next move. There are 24 feet from the bow of the boat to the front of the trailer. So the distance from Port Angeles to Goose Bay has come down to this, 288 inches.

In hope some will find these sorts of problems and the various methods of solving them interesting. I’ll undertake a description of how I managed to move 4000 lbs of from the ground onto the trailer… by myself. I’ll also try to give some insight in the thinking process behind the maneuvers, too.

First, it is “SAFETY FIRST!” The Laws of Murphy, like a polar bear at a seal hole, waits to smite me at the slightest violation. I think the first question I would want to know then is “why alone! Isn’t that a little un-safe?” My logic here is by working alone, I can take my time and time is my ally. I need the time and freedom that comes with it to stop, sit back, look, think, rest, walk around and talk to myself. I need to have only one set of ideas at a time, mine. I’ve never done this before and I must to be able to think it through at every stage.

The friends I’ve met here are wonderful and would come to help in a minute if I ask, but this task needs be done without hast. If someone were standing around waiting to help, I’d tend to hurry. I simply must do it alone. Besides, they have already helped in so many ways. Roy loaned me his chain saw, Philip let me stay in his parking lot and use his electricity. Glenn welded up a crack in the spare tire bracket. I’m not without resources here.

THE RULES OF ENGAGMENT: Never be under something that can fall on you. Block before lifting, re-block after. Never put your hand between something that can snap shut, fall down, pinch closed, or otherwise dismember. Never perform an action without first thinking, sometimes long and hard, about all possible reactions. Never forget you can’t think of everything. Know where your hands, feet, head and body are located at all times. Listen, many things will tell you they are breaking before they break. Be aware, be afraid, be careful.

With all this in mind, I back the trailer to the bow of the CAP’N LEM, unhook from Thumper (the trailer must float free to find its own way under the boat), sweep clear the runners of road rocks and grit and commence the lift.

Oh the wonders of hydraulics! Hydraulics is a gift of the gods. I am extremely grateful for my little red 6-ton hydraulic jack, Jack. With it, I have changed tires in the rain, (flats only happen to me in the rain) and lifted boats. I used it against a tree to force Thumper back into shape when repairing the wind storm damage. Heck, I believe I could move a mountain with it if only I had the faith.

The first stage is not to pull the boat onto the trailer but to pull the trailer under the boat. Jack lifts the bow and I winch the winch, inch by inch. First inch done, so far so good, only 287 inches to go. Hard by the yard, cinch by the inch! I use dunnage to keep Jack from sinking in the sand and to keep from poking holes in the hull. The principle here is spread the load. If one jack is good, two would be great! So I get another jack, (No I didn’t name the new one Jill. I don’t have time for such foolishness. I simply call them both, Jack.)

My quest is to overcome, gravity and friction. Gravity holds things down and friction holds things sideways. I need to go up and forward and to do this I must rely on the ancient principle of the incline plane. I’m told it’s what the Egyptians used to build the pyramids. Personally I think they used magic, but I have to use what I have at hand. So the trailer becomes my wedge.  Block & tackle becomes my hammer.

To be continued…

Capt. Lem meet Jack

Capt. Lem meet Jack


The Wedge

The Wedge

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