Sunday, June 9, 2013


After an epic deluge on Friday, launch day dawned dry and only partly cloudy. It was a perfect day to celebrate the completion of the two Beetle replica whaleboats, by launching them in the Penn's Landing basin, and rowing them around a bit.  Because there are two boats, it was only natural that a race would ensue once they were in the water.  A good crowd gathered for the event, and it was enjoyed by all present.

It wouldn't be an event without a speech from CEO John Brady. 
The boat launch was begun with the ceremonial smashing of champagne bottles over the stems (all four) of the two boats.  It was a bit painful for us boatbuilders and volunteers to watch, especially when one young christener needed at least five shots to break her bottle.  At least white oak is a very hard wood, and so damage was negligible.  

The ceremonial breaking of the bottle of champagne.

There must be something wrong with that bottle!
In the crowd, Lee assures himself that the boats will be fine.
Finally, the bottles were all broken, and the actual launch could proceed.  
Launchings of boatshop vessels are generally a bit of a challenge due to the lack of railway, travel lift, ramp, or even a permanent crane.  Nevertheless, Jeff rose to the occasion, as he always does, maneuvering a borrowed forklift to within inches of the concrete bulkhead to lower the boats into the water.

Jeff heads down the ramp in the borrowed forklift while Bruce entertains the crowd.
All hooked up and headed for the water.
In the water, and floating.  One in, one to go.
The launching of the second boat was smooth as the first.  

Jeff and helpers swing the boat out over the water.
Down she goes.
Looking beautiful in the water.
Each launch was followed by a ceremonial blast on the  conch shell trumpet by Bruce followed by a hearty "hip hip hooray" from the gathered crowd.

Bruce demonstrates his musicianship.
Once the boats were in the water, crews were assembled to row them around the basin.

A whaleboat crew awaits the start of the race.
Meanwhile, many of the guests took an opportunity to check out the boatshop which, for the day, had been transformed into a veritable banquet hall.

Something different to do with a workbench.

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