Launch Day!

Photo Credit : Joe Kennedy

It was well into December, and as much as the Boy was anticipating Christmas, Gordon and I were eagerly awaiting the day we would launch Monster and resume our life afloat. We had expecting to be on the hard for only two to thee weeks, but the calendar pages had kept turning. It was a matter beyond our hands, and for the backstory leading up to this point you’ll have to read the previous blog post Monster in the Drydock. The ‘day’ finally came… After 73 days on the hard in the Drydock we launched!

Despite the temperature, we were in the midst of a bone chilling cold spell, the morning was clear and bright. The sun was shining for us. There was a hustle in the yard as the Crew, ourselves included, readied the dock. There was a definite sense of excitement in the air. Not only had it been a long stretch for us, but for the Crew too, as they had been working endlessly on a long running project. There’s a tremendous amount of preparation on launch day. There were other Vessels to be moved in order to open the dock itself, and so Gordon was busy out on the Tug. There was equipment and tools to be stowed away, rubbish to be removed and the list went on. The motor of the crane was whirring away, and the steep stairs resounded with the clatter of boots on the steel. Shouts and laughter echoed within the walls of the Drydock. It was really far too cold to be standing still.

Before long the valves were opened and the Drydock was ballasting, with water pouring into the flooding tanks. Slowly, the water began to creep into the dock. It seemed to take ages for it to make its way along the deck, eventually accumulating around the blocking of the boats. The surface was freezing up as quickly as the water rose. Once the dock started to fill, she really started to fill and from this point on everything happened quite fast. I distinctly recall the moment that the water had sufficiently filled the dock and Monster floated, her bow ever so gently lifting as though she was taking a breath. Our Boy called out ‘We’re floating!’ Several of the Drydock Crew were standing on the wing tending to our dock lines, gently taking up and easing them as the water level came up but also holding tension so that Monster stayed snug against the wall of the Dock. As this was all happening Gordon was below. We had to get the engine started and warming, and we had be sure that all systems were operating properly. It was not the time to discover ice in the exhaust. Most importantly we had to be sure Monster wasn’t taking on any water! It was a frenzy of excitement and activity. The large door, the bow of the Dock was opening all the while and as it did more water was steadily cascading in like a waterfall. The Boy took it all in with wide eyes, sharing in the melee.

‘Go! Go! Go!’… the words yelled out by the Yard Foreman hung in the frozen air. ‘Cast off!’ All our lines were cast off, and just like that we were free. With the engine in reverse we motored out of the dock. I was catching the lines, waving goodbye, shouting out my joyous Thank You’s to all in the dock with a huge smile across my face. Gordon, the Boy and I beamed at one another, there were hugs and kisses, maybe even some high fives. Our friend J was aboard with us to share in the experience and help out as needed. I’m such at this point he figured we were nuts. No, we were deliriously happy!

Photo Credit : Ruth Brown

There was still the matter of motoring across the frozen Harbour. Just as when this adventure began, we had to await the lift bridge in order to exit from the Shipping Chanel and head out into the Harbour. We were so fortunate to have the Tug M R Kane ahead of us, breaking the ice, and creating a path for us to follow. She too, had to return to her berth.

It was a most unforgettable day. The sun was setting, and the temperature was continuing to drop. We weren’t feeling any cold though, the events and the excitement of the day warmed us to our souls. The ice was cracking and crushing along the hull of the boat as we motored along. I imagine such a sound would ordinarily fill many a sailors ears with fright, but for us it was invigorating. It was a metaphor of accomplishment, and foreshadowing of the adventures on which we have yet to embark. At last when we arrived at our slip, there was a crowd awaiting us. What a homecoming it was! We luckily had the foresight to send our bubblers/agitators ahead and they had been bubbling away all day opening and freeing our slip of ice. Before the Tug tied up for the day she made a quick pass into our marina and into our slip, once again breaking a path through the ice for us. Our amazing, friendly neighbors helped with the rest that the Tug had not been able to remove. We were assisted with our dock lines, our power cables, and fenders. The boat was a total mess. Well after the daylight faded into darkness we fell into a slumber of content. We were home. Home and afloat.

Once again, we owe our extended gratitude and thanks to the Toronto Drydock and Crew, to our Friends and Family, and to our wonderful Winter Community.

A special Thank You to Joe Kennedy for capturing the most epic photo of Monster crossing the Harbour; in the golden glow of the sun, and the rare phenomenon of Pancake Ice. It beautifully captures the magic, and the essence of the day.

Please visit for more great Drydock pictures by Ruth Brown.

~~ This post ‘Launch Day!’ first appeared on ~~

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