"Let's see if it floats."
The first step in building a boat at the Gannon & Benjamin yard is called lofting. Before a single board was cut, the skilled boat builders penciled a full scale design drawing of the 23-foot catboat "Christine" on the floor of the shop. That's the start of the process.
The end of the process took place late Monday morning as Christine Mitchell, whose first name graces the stern, handed brass letters up to Nat Benjamin, who drilled and screwed them in with a practiced eye.
"We're almost done," said Bill Benns, one of the craftsmen who put thousands of hours of work into the vessel. "Let's see if it floats."
"All I could think of was my parents, thinking of a name for me," said Christine. "It's really a dream of my husband's. I didn't realize how much of a dream it was until it became a reality."
"Just elated," said Doug Mitchell, the boat owner, displaying a perpetual smile. "One of the most pleasurable experiences of my life. I'm looking forward to many seasons of sailing."
The culmination of the process that started nine months ago with a drawing on the floor came just after noon on Monday when "Christine" slid down the railways and touched the waters of Vineyard Haven harbor for the first time.
She did indeed float, in all her shiny varnish and brassy sheen.
"All right," said Nat Benjamin with mock seriousness. "Let's get the next boat started."