Stay tuned. Next time Lisa and I go home for a quick last trip, and then we pick up some good friends for crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
Check out www.distinguishedmarineservices.com for my surveyor/USCG Captain website.
After a few weeks of working on Unwritten Timeline and getting her ready to start sailing around the world it was time for me to go back to school. I started back at Chapman’s for the Yacht and Small Craft Surveyor Course. Their program prepares students to enter the field of marine surveying. Students will be able to develop vessel appraisals and present condition and value of vessels. They cover many aspects of surveying in areas of hull design, construction methods, electronics, and systems aboard most vessels today. They train you for the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Standards test and entry into the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS). After 6 weeks I was ABYC certified and completed the paperwork for entry into SAMS. I am currently not a SAMS member since my plan is to sail around the world and I don’t really have a “surveying business” per se. I am available for surveys while sailing if you do happen to be in the same anchorage as Unwritten Timeline. Who knows, maybe it’s something I’ll start for my second career in a few years time. I do already have a website, so that’s 90% of a business in today’s world.
Stay tuned. Next time Lisa and I go home for a quick last trip, and then we pick up some good friends for crossing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.
Check out www.distinguishedmarineservices.com for my surveyor/USCG Captain website.
My oldest friend, Charles, took my 2010 FXDF Harley Davidson Fat Bob to store until summer. I now needed to sell it to help fund our retirement. The bike was being kept in Newport, KY. It was October. It was cold in Kentucky. So, of course this is when I decided to fly to KY, pickup the bike and drive south. The original plan was to bring the bike to Florida and sell it on Craigslist or take it to a Harley Davidson dealer if it didn’t sell and it was time for us to leave. The story went the same way the best laid plans of mice and men always go.
I arrived at the Northern Kentucky Airport and called my good friend Jake. Luckily he was off work and available to give me a ride from the airport. We spent the next couple days catching up while he was kind enough to chauffeur me around town. He even put me up for the night at his house. Since the bike was stored for so long I had to get it serviced and some new tires for the long trip home. Charles was out of town for work and I didn’t get the chance to see him. He’ll just have to visit us in the Caribbean for a drink or two.
The first day of the ride I got a late start since the bike was being serviced and didn’t even make it out of Kentucky. I got a hotel for the night just outside of Corbin, KY. The next morning I impatiently waited for the temperature to rise above 35F before getting on the bike. I made it to the next exit, which was about 3 miles down the highway. In case you’re not familiar, it’s bitterly cold at 35F and a 65mph wind in your face. I stopped at a gas station and picked up a facemask and heavier gloves. All suited up I jumped back on the road. It was just a little brisk going down the highway but it was at least manageable. The next night I had made it to Southern TN. Another day and I was in Atlanta. That is where I should have ignored my phone. Another friend wanted to buy my bike. How serendipitous! Here I am already on my bike and I have a buyer. He says he’s getting a loan, I provide the VIN and other pertinent information. Unfortunately he’s in Texas. Well I have about 10 days before I have to start class so I make a right turn and start riding towards Texas. A couple days go by as the buyer and I are exchanging texts. He tells me he wants the bike and will buy it in no uncertain terms. Unfortunately I think the Texas border has a cell phone border wall. When I passed Louisiana I couldn’t get a response. No worries, I think. He has a job that sometimes requires time away from a cell signal. Surely he’s not flaking. I continue on for another two days with no response. When I arrived in town I got no response for another couple days. I finally decided that he no longer wanted the bike. A little heads up would have been nice. But no matter, I got to ride a motorcycle across Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. So on to Florida I went. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone from West Texas to Florida before but Texas is hhhuuuuuggggeeee. A couple days later and I was back at Nettles Island Marina. A little worn out, but it was the longest bike ride I have done. It was pretty cool to ride across half the country. I got an epic ride out of it. I would thank the Texas “buyer”, but oddly enough I’ve never gotten a text back even after 5 months.
We ended up taking the Harley to a HD dealership near Stuart Florida right before we set off on our journey.
After graduating the Professional Mariner Training course Lisa and I had a few weeks before I started the Yacht and Small Craft Surveyors course at Chapmans. We took this time to get a few last minute projects completed like getting our water maker serviced, replacing a hot water heater, and servicing the engines so we could be ready to leave for our circumnavigation. There never seems to be any downtime when you’re getting ready to sail around the world. That’s also why these blog posts are so terribly late.
Lisa was able to become an apprentice to Janelle from Atlantic Canvas Company. Janelle was kind enough to bring Lisa under her tutelage and teach her the ropes for making canvas enclosures and outdoor cushions. Since Lisa finished school she was busy making wench covers, a grill cover, seat cushions, and seat backs. Lisa had been using her Sailrite LSZ-1 sewing machine to teach herself to sew while making several projects for Starjewel. She was able to learn so much more from someone who had been doing this for years. To learn from an expert craftsman was a dream come true for Lisa. It’s always the seemingly small things like how to hold multiple layers of heavy fabric together to make stitching easier or what thread to use that you just don’t always get from reading a book or watching a YouTube video. Janelle was able to impart a great deal of knowledge in a short amount of time so Lisa could learn how to sew things more efficiently and make quality items that will last a long while.
We also made time to hang out with our friends Brad and Brittney. They have been living in Stuart for a few years, so they know the town and all the great places to eat. Brad even recommended we get a hold of Janelle to learn about canvass work. It has been so helpful not to mention entertaining to end up living near long time friends like the Bost family. They have been kind enough to let us send them all of our mail, which turned out to be more than a few boxes from Amazon. We have borrowed their car and had them show us around town so we know where all the cool kids go. Not that we actually went there since we’re no longer cool. But we did see them hanging out as we drove past on our way home for bed before 9pm.
We tried to make the most of our time before school started again, and my days were taken up with learning even more about how boats work and how to survey them. I think we did just fine.
The big reason Lisa and I came to Stuart instead of heading straight for the Bahamas is to attend the Professional Mariner Training at Chapman’s School of Seamanship. While you don’t need to be a credentialed captain to sail your own recreational vessel, we thought the training would be worth our time. Chapman’s also accepts the GI Bill so it was a win, win.
From the beginning we were impressed with the school. The registrar, Bruce, is very knowledgeable and always goes out of his way to make sure you have the right information. The registration process was simple for us, due to his efforts. The school was 11 weeks long and covered all areas of seamanship from sailing theory, customs and courtesies, marlinspike, basic vessel maintenance, STCW training, and USCG exam preparation. They also provide a hands on portion which is a great advantage of taking this course in lieu of a 100% classroom option. We had the opportunity to sail on 3 different sailboats around 25-30’. We operated around 12 different power vessels as large as 52’. All in all we operated around 15 different vessels ranging from 20-52’.
All the instructors were fantastic, but I have to give a special thanks to Jim and Tom who helped run the program and still found time to provide excellent and engaging instruction. All instructors have a wealth of knowledge and most have decades of experience in the Navy or USCG, so they kind of know what they’re talking about when it comes to USCG regulations or operating vessels. They use the Chapman Book of Seamanship for their textbook. So, if you want to get ahead and be prepared you should read Chapman’s. They will issue you one when you attend so you don’t necessarily need to purchase one. The classroom facilities, textbooks, and training aids were all top notch as expected from a school bearing the name of Chapman’s.
Overall the course is designed to provide the classroom instruction, training, and testing for up to 100 GRT USCG Masters credential and supporting training to operate a vessel in the US and internationally. What credential you receive is based upon your experience. They not only train you for the USCG standards which most institutions do, but give you the training on STCW, CPR, First Aid, and Firefighting that can allow you to work on a vessel internationally. The course isn’t really designed for someone like us, since we are only recreational sailors. It’s geared more for someone that wants to run an offshore fishing boat, ferry, dinner cruise, or a myriad of other positions in the marine industry.
The great thing about having attended the PMT course is that we are now credentialed to run vessels with more than 6 paying customers. We don’t foresee a lot of work in this arena since we are retired, but it’s always good to have the option if we need to make a few dollars. And if anyone is buying a new vessel to sail around the world like us, and you are looking for a fully qualified captain that is living aboard and circumnavigating drop us a line. We can do a delivery from factory to you or sail with you for a short time while you learn your vessel. We’d love to help if we have the time.
Be sure to check out our YouTube video on the course.
Once Unwritten Timeline, Lisa, Sophia, and Bastet were settled into Nettles Island Marina I reserved a car to go back to North Carolina to sail Starjewel down to Florida. Unfortunately she didn’t sell in North Carolina and we decided it would be best if she was near us while she was up for sale. This way we could keep an eye on the boat and make sure she was always clean and presentable for any potential buyer. We also listed Starjewel on AirBnB and Boatsetter on the off chance we could make a few dollars while we impatiently waited for the sale.
I packed up the rental with tools, food and other provisions I would need for the trip down the East Coast. After the long drive I took a couple days on the boat to get everything ready to leave, buy a few last minute items from the grocery store and rest up.
We had taken Starjewel South on the ICW several times to Cape Lookout so the first leg wasn’t too stressful. Although it was ridiculously hot. The end of June is no joke in the Carolinas. My original plan was to anchor at Cape Lookout before taking the Atlantic South. But, I decided that an air conditioned night in a marina was calling my name. I was sweating just sitting in the cockpit going down the ICW. No wind, blue skies, and a blazing sun had me wanting to sleep in the air conditioning. Perhaps I was still a bit too tired from the drive North from Florida.
The next morning I was up early and leaving the comfortable and cool slip for the Atlantic. The autopilot had other plans. Shortly after leaving the channel into Beaufort the autopilot went out on me. That’s right, day 2 of a 7 day trip and I have no autopilot. Boat life is awesome. No sense in turning around though. Plus, I had to get back to Florida for the Captain’s course so I didn’t have many options other than to keep going. Since I was relegated to hand steering around 500 miles I decided to try make as much distance as I could on the Atlantic where I could go all day and all night. I don’t like to travel at night on the ICW. The route turns; there is more traffic, debris floating and shallow spots you sometimes don’t see without the sun until you’re aground. On the open ocean there are fewer obstacles so once the boat is set you can relax a little. However, without the autopilot or wind vane and a lack of wind to sail South I could only manage 24-36 hours at a time before I became completely exhausted and would check into a marina. On the days when the wind was just not cooperating I would motor down the ICW for the day and with the waters calmer I could do an easy 5 knots. Unfortunately since it’s the ICW I wasn’t always going in the right direction. Since the ICW follows rivers for parts of it I was actually traveling North so I could eventually go South. I wasn’t making good time at all.
The days and nights wore on. Sometimes I would motor down the ICW until sunset and anchor in any little cove I could find. I didn’t want to get a marina every night since they are pricey. I did have one interesting stop. I pulled into a marina for fuel and a nights rest in the air conditioning. I had no idea how great a decision it would be. The marina was also an RV park and they had a band playing that night. The band was actually pretty good and it was a great Southern party atmosphere. People were in their RVs, at the bar, on the dance floor, and in anchored boats outside the marina listening to the music and having a good time. That’s why you travel. For those great experiences.
Eventually I did make it back down to Nettles Island Marina again. I pulled into the marina early in the morning before sunrise. Since it was the last day I pushed down a short section of the ICW to make it home and finally be finished with the trip. Lisa came out to catch my lines, help clean up the boat and I slept in the air-conditioned bed of Unwritten Timeline. It was a great trip…once it was over. If the autopilot would have lasted the entire trip I think it would have been really enjoyable the whole way. Either way, it was a good learning experience and confidence builder and I’m glad I did it.
It’s been awhile since we’ve had any sort of update. The crew of Unwritten Timeline has been very busy though. We completed our courses at Chapman School of Seamanship. Now we are both USCG masters with STCW training. I also completed the Yacht and Small Craft Surveyor course which is the schoolhouse training to become a marine surveyor. So if you need a marine survey or captain services and you see us out let us know.
Since there is so much to cover over the last few months I’ll try to catch everyone up on what we’ve been doing. We moved into Nettles Island marina with Unwritten Timeline and were soon settled in our slip. I drove back to North Carolina to bring Starjewel down to Florida. Unfortunately, she didn’t sell in North Carolina so we brought her closer to us until she sold. I arrived back in FL with about a week to spare before our first class at Chapman's. Lisa and I were in school Monday through Friday from 0830 to 1700 for weeks. We both passed all our exams and sent off our paperwork to the USCG. After graduating the Professional Mariner Training I had a few weeks in between and spent that time getting Unwritten Timeline ready for our big trip. Then it was back to school for another 6 weeks of studying how to survey vessels. I’m no Joshua Slocum yet but I am certainly better prepared to sail around the world than I was 10 years ago when this plan first started.
After all our training was complete and we had our mariner credentials in hand we cast off the dock lines for the last time from Nettles Island Marina. Lucky for us we had a couple friends that were going to help with our maiden voyage across the Gulf Stream. We picked up Greg and Dana in West Palm Beach and headed out around the world.
But that is a story for another time.
We departed Hilton Head Island early one Monday morning. It was a great stop over, but we needed to push on to Florida where we would settle down in our temporary home for the next 6 months.
The trip started like the previous sails since we left Oriental, NC. Winds in our face and a little lumpy on the Atlantic Ocean. But we did have a few short periods of just sailing. No engine noise, just the sound of the wind and waves being left in our wake. We would set up 3 hour watch shifts at night so each of us would either get the sunset or the sunrise. It makes sailing so much nicer when you have at least one other person to watch the boat. It's easier to get some rest when you don't have to worry about something going wrong and you not knowing about it until your boat starts taking on water or your autopilot has turned you in the wrong direction for the last few hours.
We sailed South about 30-60 miles from land. This was the best place we could find for any winds, and it also allowed us to not worry too much about fishing boats in the middle of the night. We'd much rather deal with the large cargo ships that have AIS and professional lookouts instead of the fishing vessels that may not have AIS. It just helps us rest a little easier at night.
We did sail through a pretty good thunderstorm on the way down. Luckily the winds weren't too bad, only around 23-30 kts. But, it did bring some good rain. Sophia had to get down from her bench in the cockpit and go inside to a much drier bed. Oh, the troubles of a boat dog.
After three days and two nights at sea we finally pulled into the Fort Pierce inlet and motored down the ICW to our new home near Stuart. We'll be based out of here until we set off 01 January 2019. We can't wait.
After leaving Charleston we had a quick overnight sail down the Atlantic Coast to Hilton Head Island. We wouldn’t normally have such a short leg, but TeddyJ from the Sail Loot podcast keeps his boat Asante there so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with him for a couple days. If you’re looking for ways that people cruise the world be sure to check out his podcast interviews. There are some great ideas out there. He is getting ready to set sail himself so he has a vested interest in figuring out how to pay for a lifestyle at sea. Asante is of course the boat I sailed on from St. Thomas, USVI to Fort Lauderdale, FL. It was a great trip and you can check out the video here if you want to see us sailing across the ocean.
After our 18 hour trip we arrived at Shelter Cove Marina where Teddy and a few marina employees were ready to catch our dock lines. It was a little crazy having a handful of people ready to receive us as we pulled in, but I guess that’s the kind of reception you get at Shelter Cove. There was something else we noticed as we pulled in. S/V Sabbatique an Antares 44 was in the slip right in front of us. It was pretty cool having two Antares right together. I should provide a little context. Antares is not a huge producer but they have more than a handful of boats sailing around. However, outside of a boat show Lisa and I have never seen one in “the wild”. Since we started our trip from Oriental we have seen 3 different Antares, and now we unknowingly get a dock right behind another. It’s a little crazy to see so many after never seeing one outside of a show. Kevin and Monique were great to meet and they showed us aboard their beautiful boat so we could get some ideas on how to set up Unwritten Timeline. We’ll be stealing several of their ideas.
We spent the majority of our time hanging out with TeddyJ and catching up. Lisa got the grand tour of Asante. Since she still had to work when we sailed this was her first time seeing Asante and meeting Teddy, even though we’ve listened to all of his podcasts. We grilled out on Unwritten Timeline and ventured to West Marine (of course) and went out to dinner before Teddy was due back at work. Not much longer for him though. Soon enough we’ll see him in Florida or the Caribbean somewhere.
This too was a short layover before we pushed on to Stuart Florida and what would be home port for the next 7 months.
After a few days of relaxing at Cape Lookout Lisa, Bastet, Sophia, and I put Unwritten Timeline back together and prepared for our first multi day passage to Charleston, SC. We have all been living aboard for a couple weeks but this is the first time the dog and the cat would be at sea for more than about 12 hours.
We raised anchor around 6pm to try and time a mid morning Charleston arrival. Once outside of the last red channel marker we motored into the wind and hoisted the main and genoa. We were reaching on a port tack making good time initially. As time wore on though the winds died and shifted coming from directly where we needed to go, so we had to start the engines. This pattern of good winds shifting to no wind or wind right off our nose would continue throughout our entire trip to Charleston. We did have a few hours of 8+ knots under sail, but the vast majority of the time was closer to 4 knots with at least one engine running. This gives us all the power we need for the boat with the alternators running, but it does kind of defeat the reason to buy a sailboat. We should be sailing!
We arrived in Charleston around 1100, a little later than expected but not too late. We dropped anchor outside of Melton Peter Demetre Park. The anchorage is just outside the channel, but the channel traffic really wasn’t much of an issue. What caused Unwritten Timeline to rock was the tide shift. Charleston sees around a 6’ tide change and the currents can reach over 2 knots. The switch between the ebb and flow would swing the boat around at anchor like she was drifting in a Vin Diesel movie.
Once the boat was secured we had to get Sophia to shore. She did go potty on the boat underway, but she was not happy at all about doing it. She was super excited to have the boat at anchor and see me lowering the dinghy so she could jump in and go ashore. Demetre Park is great for coming in by boat. They have a few floating docks that lead right up to a pet friendly small park. We would end up taking Sophia there a few times during our stay in Charleston.
The next day Will Miller was able to secure us some space on his dock while his boats were out conducting an overnight ASA class. We like being at sea and at anchor as much as the next guy, but it is nice to go to the land of air conditioning, unlimited water, and all the electricity you can use. Since we didn’t have to dinghy to shore we took time to hit up West Marine and Harris Teeter while it was easy to carry everything onto the boat.
Our time wasn’t all spent lounging at anchor or grocery shopping though. We made sure to get out and see some of historic Charleston. We started off with a ferry ride over to Fort Sumter. This is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired when Confederate artillery fired on the Union garrison 12 April 1861. The ferry ride over and back is narrated providing some information and the National Park Rangers are on hand to tell visitors the history of Fort Sumter and Charleston. This was a great half day trip.
The next day we set out again for a walk around the city. There are many historical churches and museums to see around the city. You can hire a guided walking tour, or you can also do a horse and buggy tour around the historical parts of Charleston. There are countless restaurants along the waterfront and the City Market is a fantastic place to pick up a small souvenir to remind you of your stay in Charleston. If you do decide to check out downtown you can utilize the free dinghy dock at Charleston City Marina and jump on the DASH. The DASH is the local bus service and it is free to ride. You can jump on at any bus stop and get off across town for zero cost. You should take advantage of this great service if you want to see the town.
We only had a few days to hang out in Charleston before we were sailing South again. We wanted to be in Florida no later than 15 June and we still had one more stop in Hilton Head Island to see another friend, TeddyJ.
We’ll save that story for next time.
Well, we’re finally getting started! We departed Oriental for the last time…or so we thought. The first time we left we fueled up made sure to pay our dock fees, situated the cat and dog and we were off. The first trip was only a 3 hour motor down to Beaufort Marine Center. This yard is located on the Jarett Bay Complex. Unfortunately Jarrett Bay will not let you do any work on your boat so we were lifted out of the water and taken to Beaufort Marine Center. I would not recommend this yard for any work. You can read my review on Google Maps for further explanation.
After being splashed back in the ICW we had to make a quick trip back to Oriental. The new VHF cable I installed did not have the best connections and the Navigation Electronics were not working quite right so we decided to just motor the three hours back to Oriental to have SeaCoast Marine check it out since we purchased everything from there. Since we were back in our hailing port we took some time to reprovision at Piggly Wiggly and spend more money at West Marine. I really should purchase some stock in West Marine with all the money we give that company.
Its never a good time going backwards when you’re traveling but at least we went back to Oriental if we had to go back at all. After a few days in Oriental we have the new VHF cable all sorted out and we can now talk to other boats miles away and our AIS picks up targets without issue. Pete from Seacoast Marine also made it out to adjust the settings on our electronics and conduct a sea trial to ensure everything was working as advertised and we were ready to take Unwritten Timeline around the world.
Finally on Monday morning we stopped back by the fuel dock for a top off, then headed South on the ICW for the last time…again. It was a quick 7 hour jaunt down to Cape Lookout. We anchored up next to the old Coast Guard dock right in view of the lighthouse. It was Bastets first passage and she was a wreck. The ICW portion was fine for her but when we hit the Atlantic, the tide was against us and we had some good steep waves being funneled up the dredged channel. When we set anchor she was done for the day. We just relaxed that night on the boat after a long day. The next morning we took both Bastet and Sophia to the beach to walk around. Sophia of course loved it and Bastet did really well also. She was walking along the sand and through the tall grass. Since this was really our first time relaxing after moving aboard we took a couple days to just hang out on the hook for awhile. Things are coming together finally. Everything is sold, we’ve moved aboard and now we’ve started our travels South.
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