The day – the big day came for the launching. It seemed to Rich like only a week ago they moored The Odyssey. However, Rich forged friendships that would never be forgotten just as Salty had during his first journey over 40 years earlier.
Workers wandered to the site around 5:00 AM before Salty awoke.
Rich attached a small outboard motor to the dinghy. The motor found stowed in the old boat. Salty had it tuned and gave it to Rich for use on The Odyssey. He beached the dinghy at 5:15 AM.
The smell of coffee and cinnamon rolls wafted through the work site. Everyone mingled and murmured as anticipation mounted.
At 6:00AM everyone positioned themselves for maximum stability of the boat. Everyone held their breath as the ‘38 Chevrolet truck with Rich behind the steering wheel nudged against the superstructure. Salty stood in front running from one side of the boat to the other yelling directions and waving hand signals. When the truck could go no further in the water Salty gave a cut sign across his throat.
“Now,” Salty said, “we wait for the tide to come in and with a little luck and a tug from a friendly boat or two she should be free.”
Rich cupped his hands. “Hey, everybody, we have plenty of coffee and rolls. And Patrick said he was bringing some beer at noon. The tide will be high enough around 3:00; make sure you’re here.”
No one left the site. Patrick brought a tub of iced beer and everyone had a meal together.
After the meal Patrick walked to the back of the boat where a canvass had been placed over the transom. Rich and Thomas motioned everybody to assemble at the back of the boat with Patrick.
Rich stepped inside the office where Salty was nursing his beer and reading a book.
Salty dropped the book to his chest. “You got me into a time consuming habit.”
“Everybody wants you at the boat,” Rich said.
Salty and Rich walked towards the boat. All the workers were gathered to the rear of the boat with huge smiles.
“What’s this all about?” Salty said.
Rich said nothing.
“Come here, old friend,” Patrick beckoned.
Salty looked at the canvass draped over the transom. “That better not be a naked lady behind there.”
“Stand beside me, Abernathy,” Patrick said.
Salty moved inquisitively beside Patrick.
“Rich told me about your father, a good boat builder,” Patrick said. “He told me you learned much from him and the boat you built must be named in his honor.” Patrick grabbed the canvass and yanked it from the transom. “Rumrunner!” Patrick said.
Salty breathed deep and pressed his lips. He shook Patrick’s hand and glanced his approval at Rich. “Perfect.”
As the day progressed and the tide rose the waves began to lap against the hull of the Rumrunner. People from the island congregated; someone estimated 500.
Patrick motored the Jacktar just off shore. He positioned it twenty yards adjacent The Odyssey. Both cast lines to the Rumrunner’s bow.
Salty stood tall and proud atop the Rumrunner’s cabin roof and next to the wheelhouse. He whirled his arm in a start up motion. At slight angles away from each other The Odyssey and Jacktar eased to full throttle and The Rumrunner broke free from the shore. The superstructure floated away and she floated on her own.
On the shore 500 people applauded, cheered, and jumped.
Salty started the engine and motored away a half mile from shore and headed back.
Rich docked The Odyssey and Salty docked the Jacktar on the other side of the pier.
Rich helped secure the lines and everyone rushed the Rumrunner to congratulate Salty. Salty was not used to that sort of attention and tried to hide the pleasure of his accomplishment.
“Not so fast,” Salty said. “We still have to get it inspected and passed. And we are dealing with the British.”
The next day they loaded the Rumrunner with sandbags for weight and the ‘38 Chevrolet truck. Salty and Rich motored 30 miles southwest into the open sea and back. They docked and Salty crawled into the hull with a flash light and there for two hours.
Rich waited on deck for him and finally crawled from the hatch.
“I was about to send in a rescue team,” Rich said. He reached out to help Salty on deck. “Well how does she look from the inside?”
“This is a good boat,” Salty said. “It is tight. I’ll radio, His Majesty, Latimer Wright, and tell him we’ll see him tomorrow.”