READY FOR LAUNCH
It was in January when Ama was finally ready to leave the school’s large tent. I spent several weeks working on the details required for Ama to take to Port Townsend Bay. Three friends at the time were helping once the school got her onto a trailer and over to the Point Hudson Marina yard where I took over fitting her out. The next weeks and months involved installing bronze and stainless deck fittings, brass interior hardware, my lovely old 6-inch Dirigo flatcard compass, new and reconditioned bilge pumps, a frustratingly complex electrical system, depth sounder, VHF, fore-and-aft fire extinguishers, and countless other necessary things.
The day of the launch was frantic, what with tying up many loose ends, yet the anticipation of the launch centered my efforts. Around 200 local folks, friends, and family witnessed the launch of the largest vessel the boat school had ever built. The local paper had interviewed several of the people involved, so many locals knew what was happening that day. A good friend from the East Coast, fellow boatbuilder Peter Watson, had woken the crew on the Point Hudson boats that morning, warming up his bagpipes for the launch. I bedded and snugly screwed in the three tall bronze letters A-M-A where I had drilled the transom the day before, carefully letting no one see her name before the actual launch in order to honor a maritime tradition, and superstition. We had three Port Townsend Brewery kegs already in place with two tapped and tested for the celebration. My remarks for Ama’s dedication were swirling around in my head.
The actual launch felt magical and many there were moved to sing Ama’s praises; my wife and I most of all. I got to tell the story of Ama’s naming, and to thank everyone involved. The bagpiping started, Ama was lowered, then released, and her first voyage of 200 feet to an adjoining dock was a success. Sadly, I was unable to take our friends and everyone who had helped build Ama for a trial cruise around Port Townsend Bay, because