Bringing Velvet Elvis Home

August 24

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy Paul -- AKA "Sharples" -- volunteered to ride back to North Carolina and help me retrieve the boat. This was born partly of Sharples' inclination to help out a friend when he has a chance, partly to test the towing ability of his new truck, and partly of an ill-conceived notion that we would party all the way there and back.

We left after work on Thursday and had an uneventful drive to Montgomery, AL before stopping for the night.

August 25

I like Sharples a lot. But he's a weird guy. I would be riding shotgun, reading a magazine, and he might just reach over and tweak my titty. Just for his own amusement. Or stick a finger in my ear. But at least it was a dry finger.

We got through the boring Southeast states thanks to satellite radio. I bet if they raised the rates to $400 per month, professional drivers would still gladly pay that amount.

The drive was boring and longer than expected. By the time we made it to Edenton, we were disillusioned of our notion that we might go sailing in the late afternoon. So before heading to the plant, we stopped in town for a decent dinner, picked up a bottle of Mt. Gay, and then went to the "we refuse American Express" Food Lion, where we added coke, ice, and some nasty cigars to our stock.

I sent a summary of our evening to the Rhodes 22 owners' group:

Rummy wrote:
<<Don't forget the most important provision, plenty of Mt. Gay rum.>>

Amen to that. I forgot to give you all this little story. I rode up with a good buddy of mine, who was anxious to test the towing ability of a new truck. We got to Edenton late in the evening on Friday. By the time we found an ABC store, got something to eat, and hit the food lion for mixers, ice, and some god-awful cigars, it was dark. We rolled out to the plant and even in the dark I knew Velvet Elvis as soon as the headlights hit the boat. It was on a trailer but pulled right next to the loading dock, so we hopped aboard, gave her a quick inspection, poured the Mt. Gay.

Velvet Elvis rigged at the General Boats plant

Sitting in the cockpit smoking and drinking, the past year of non-sailing disappeared. It felt like I had been a few days since I had been there before. It was being home again.

I am grateful for the fact that we bought only one bottle of Mt. Gay. As soon as I finished the last of it, I really wanted more. Fortunately (for the sake of our long drive back), we had no more and had nothing to do other than to go to bed. I can easily envision the scenario where we drink and bs until 2:30 and have a long, hot, dehydrated, miserable 16 hour drive in front of us the next morning.

Actually, we got up early, farted around the plant for a couple of hours, and left around 10:30 (I'm guessing). We stopped Saturday night in Alabama, and made it home just after lunch on Sunday. It was a good, uneventful trip.

The launch is tomorrow. I'll have pictures up soon.


August 26

That message sums up Saturday and Sunday, but there are a couple of episodes worth repeating that I didn't cover there.

Velvet Elvis being hoisted onto a lift at the plant Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, we were connecting the mast horizontally to the boat for trailering. The specifics aren't important, but there's a pin that has to snap into a hole in the mast to keep it from moving around. We were sliding the mast back and forth, trying to make sure it was in. Sharples was on the end of his truck trying to look in. He didn't notice when the pin caught, and one of the Hispanic workers got up there with him.

"Look, the pin is in," he immediately noticed.

"Well fuck me, and call me ugly!" Paul replied with cheerful enthusiasm.

The workers obviously weren't used to the customers dropping vulgarities like that, because I noticed them look at each other and laugh when they thought we weren't paying attention.

Another thing to know about Sharples is that he is, "freakishly strong." He doesn't look particularly big, but his strength really is noticeable to the point where you might make fun of him.

We were moving a trailer by hand, and couldn't get it over a piece of rail out in the yard. Sharples came and gave it a push, which lifted it right over the rail.

"You are really strong!" said the plant worker, with obvious admiration.

"Freakishly strong," he replied, cutting off the ridicule before I had a chance to dish it out.

August 27

The drive from Montgomery to Slidell was uneventful, except for my apparent display of extrasensory perception. We were riding along, listening to the radio when I decided to work my cell phone out of my pocket.

"What are you doing?" Sharples asked.

"Well, by now, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny has gotten to the house and had a few minutes to get bored. Any time now, she's going to call to see how far away we are."

Pause two breaths, and the phone rings. I was exactly right.

A plug

General Boats did an absolutely amazing job with my restoration. I know that they went above and beyond what they had to do, and given the limitations of my insurance check, they went above and beyond what they should have done.

I've never dealt with a company with better customer service or more integrity. They treat every customer as king.

I can't begin to detail the difference between the boat when I left it in Edenton and when I picked it up. The final page of this journal is some before and after photos, but the pictures don't begin to tell the story. I can just tell you that it was a complete and utter wreck, and it came back like new.