Now we have a nice hefty deposit for our future retirement boat. Whatever boat that turns out to be.
OK, we do still have a place to sleep. But, we've finally gotten rid of our houses in Colorado and Washington State. The Washington house fortunately sold quickly. We had an accepted offer within three days. The closing went off without a hitch and we were excited to have some of our boat deposit in our hot little hands. And then, came time to sell our Colorado house. This was not fast, or even smooth. It took a few weeks to receive an acceptable offer. Then the closing was delayed several times. Nothing was easy. But, it's finally done! Now we no longer have to deal with any of the hassles of owning rental property remotely. No more calls about tall grass, HOA dues, or yearly taxes. There is a weight lifted off our shoulders and we can relax a little. You never know how the sale of a large asset like a home will go until it's all done. We have owned 4 homes over our lives, so this is not the first time we've done something like this. It is however, the first time we were doing a couple at once. At the same time we're selling two homes we're selling all our possessions, moving into a small apartment, looking for our retirement boat, traveling for work, and still getting to Starjewel when we can squeeze in some time to take her for a sail. Needless to say, it's a busy time for the crew of Unwritten Timeline. It will all be worth it in a few short months.
Now we have a nice hefty deposit for our future retirement boat. Whatever boat that turns out to be.
While the most exciting thing recently has been Lisa's first solo sail we have been pretty busy outside of that. Since we have been neglecting our blog due to being so busy we're going to try and catch up a little bit.
The weekend before the Fall Annapolis boat show Lisa and I chartered a 2016 Fountaine Pajot Lucia 40. You can see our review of that boat here. We originally wanted to charter this boat, as we were planning to have one built for us. However, that didn't work out as planned. The dealer didn't want to work with us on the cost of the additional items. The thought of purchasing a brand new boat only to do months worth of upgrades on our own kind of negated the point of buying new. So instead of paying two to three times the retail cost for equipment we decided to go the used boat route. The used boat purchase is an entire blog entry itself, so we'll save that for another day. Needless to say, it's not easy to find the right boat at the right time with the right price.
After we returned the Lucia we had a few days to fill around the Annapolis area. Since this was our third or fourth Annapolis Sail Boat show we wanted to get out a little bit and see a little history. We took one full day to see the Washington D.C. area. We parked near the Jefferson Memorial and had about an eight mile walk around the National Mall. We saw; the Smithsonian, the Capital building, the White House, the Washington Memorial, the War Memorials, the Lincoln Memorial, and the FDR Memorial. We didn't take the time to visit inside any of them unfortunately but walking by them all made for a nice day out, and we got in some great exercise. After walking around in the DC heat for a few hours we drove back into Annapolis for the night.
The next day we made our way back through the DC traffic and over to Arlington National Cemetery. Being in the military, this is a special place to me. Not just because of the amazing patriots that are laid to rest, but with the actual history of how Arlington became a National Cemetery. With all the horrors of the Civil War this great memorial, to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, was one of the many good things to come out of the Civil War. If you are able to visit Arlington be sure to go to Arlington House and learn about the original owner of this land. We visited the John F. Kennedy eternal flame, Arlington House Memorial, and a stopped by Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Anyone who is in the DC area should stop by Arlington National Cemetery.
After departing Arlington we decided to carry on our military history day. We drove to Gettysburg National Park. We watched the movie; A New Birth of Freedom narrated by Morgan Freeman and visited the Cyclorama painting. The Cyclorama is longer than a football field and they use this painting with lights and sounds to bring the battlefield to life. When we were finished with the indoor tours we drove ourselves around the battlefield for the self guided auto tour. The auto tour spans 26 miles and is completely free to tour the entire battlefield. They suggest at least 2 hours to complete the tour, but if you want to see all the battlefields and memorials along the trail an entire day could easily be dedicated. There is a memorial to one of the units that fought during that hot July in 1863 nearly every 50 feet. Many stories of valor, courage, and grit can be told about the participants in Gettysburg. Fittingly, the auto tour ends with the Soldier's National Cemetery and the place where President Lincoln had his famous Gettysburg Address.
After a couple days of walking through America's history it was the day of the Annapolis Boat show. Since we are almost pros at this show, we can say that Thursday is the best day to visit the Fall show. Lisa and I were hoping to already have our boat picked out. This show visit was supposed to be all about picking out our electronics, or dingy, or sails, or whatever we needed to put on our new boat. Unfortunately we still don't have our retirement boat so this makes picking things out for the boat a little difficult. We only walked aboard a couple boats this year since we wouldn't be purchasing any of them. I'll admit to being a little morose about being at this show without a boat to fix up. I'm sure I'll cheer up when we finally have our retirement boat.
Today is Sunday, a day of rest and reflection of the past week or the one you are about to begin. For me, it is the week I just had, or dare I say day? Yesterday, I ventured on my first solo sail. And I must say it was amazing. Did I do everything right? Absolutely not, but I went and had the time of my life.
The process began on Friday at work. All day I was thinking I need to go on a solo sail, I want to go on a solo sail, I have to go on a solo sail. I have had this thought in the past but the couple times I was alone on the boat Mother Nature did not cooperate. I thought for me to do this thing I need the marina water to be as placid as glass and no wind. You heard it here first folks…a sailor praying for no wind. I just needed no wind or current so I could gently slide Starjewel out of the slip unscathed. I also knew the tricky part was going to be getting Starjewel back into her watery home without rubbing either side of her or smashing the bow.
Ok, I have a thought…solo sail, now to make it happen. I actually made it through work without saying anything about my big secret. Well, if you don’t count telling Durla and Xenia that I may have a story to tell on Monday. Other than that, I kept it hush hush. I didn’t even say anything to Dave. Just in case it did not happen or I crashed and burned.
So, we got off work 15 minutes early, woohoo, I love that! But my car wasn’t driving fast enough for me. It seemed as though I was moving in slow motion. As soon as I got home it was time to walk the dog, pack some food in the cooler, load the truck and off on my 3 hour journey with Sophia in tow. We arrived sometime around 9 PM, I drove straight there, no stops and YES the car was in slow mo again. Why is that?! Anyway, unloaded the truck while Sophia was free from the leash running around and exploring all the new smells. By the time we were settled in, it was definitely bedtime and we had a big day tomorrow…well hopefully a big day.
Saturday morning starts with the usual routine. Walk the dog, eat breakfast and check the weather. Hurricane season has really hit the Caribbean hard this year. Since Starjewel is on the east coast in Oriental, North Carolina some of the affects of the storms have been felt at Pecan Grove Marina. The weather pattern has changed slightly since we have been sailing there the last 2 years. The Neuse River current has been choppier with strong under currents. When we first started sailing the river the water would be pretty calm especially compared to now.
I check the water, its glass. I check the flag, no movement. I think we are a go my friends! I untie all the lines the engine is idling in neutral and Starjewel is gently humming. I look both ways, nothing coming in or out and slowly reverse out of the slip. Success, I made it without even a slight bump or tap! Once out of the protected marina and on the Neuse River the winds picked up quite a bit. I was seeing anywhere from 8 knots to 15 knots of wind. And the water, holy smokes it was wavy and choppy and all kinds of undercurrent. I got out in the middle and started to put the bimini back on, it was a bright sunny day with a high of 85 degrees. Poor Sophia was feeling every bit of the sun since we didn’t have any shade and she is a solid black dog.
Autopilot on, check. Bimini on, check. Now it was time to throw up some sails. David usually does this part, raising the sails, trimming the sails, I drive the boat. I try to raise the main, and the darn autopilot was not able to keep the boat into the wind with the current and wind pushing us towards land. It’s definitely a different feel watching the chart plotter and depth and sails and lines and the dog, is she still on board, yep there she is. Not able to raise the main, ok lets try the Jib. No luck, quick call to David and I remember on our boat you do not raise the main with the main halyard and you do not raise the jib with the jib halyard. Those sheets are only used when you initially raise the respective sails. These things are easy to remember when you're not alone and unafraid on your first solo sail. Aha triumph, I unfurled the jib and sailed up and down the river like I was the cat that ate the canary.
I knew I was driving home the same day so after a few hours of pure joy it was time to figure out how to get Starjewel safely into her slip. My plan was to try and lock the wheel with the auto pilot, glide in neutral and jump off and the tie the spring line as quickly as possible. Here I come snaking through the channel to Pecan Grove, we are in the front our slip, and the river is coming into the marina which means I will be pushed starboard to the dock. I’m making my plan eyeballing the dock and see someone standing in my slip, it’s Ryan! He sees me coming in solo and comes over to grab me…too late I’m being pushed too far starboard and I abort the turn. I go into the marina to do a U-turn. Great, I very rarely make the docking from this angle. I initially have to rev forward to go against the current, once 2 slips away I go into neutral, start my turn, holy crap it’s looking good! I go gliding straight in with giving only a little reverse, Ryan grabbed the dock lines and tied me off. Whew, I made it! Holy Smokes that was freaking awesome! How do people not LOVE THIS! How am I supposed to go back to work after this kind day?!? And I love my job, but not like I love sailing.
Now, it was time to shut her down and close her up. Next weekend David and I are going to the Annapolis Boat show, hopefully to put in offers on a couple catamarans, the retirement boat. I’m ready to start this retirement thing and really get this adventure started.
The next morning Will met us at 9am to sign our Charter paperwork given that we were going to take the boat out for an extra day of sailing the Charleston Bay. Will remained on board while we moved the boat from its slip to the outside face dock. This way it would be easier for us two novices to dodge the array of boats within the labyrinth of slips. Will jumped off and Lisa and I were large and in charge of a 44' catamaran for the first time. Since sailing is sailing, we decided to get in some more docking practice. We took about 10 turns at the dock, trying to perfect pulling a large boat to the dock close enough to step off, but far enough to not destroy the transom. Needless to say some approaches were better than others. Lisa gave the phrase "coming in hot" a run for its money. But in the end we both had several successful docking attempts.
Once we mastered our docking skills we set off for a little sailing. We departed against the current with a 15kt wind off our port side moving us over the ground at around 6 kts. Before long we started running out of water and needed to tack. Since a catamaran takes a little wider angle to tack, we transitioned through about 110 degrees and were racing with the current. The winds didn't really change, but our ground speed jumped to 10 kts and higher. The motion of the catamaran is different than a monohull and some people don't care for it. However, Lisa and I sure do appreciate the ability to make lunch without losing all the cookware at 10 kts. Not being heeled over 20 degrees has its advantages.
We returned to the marina, practiced docking a couple more times then Will met us to take the boat back to her slip. After we secured "Dream Cat" we jumped in the car and headed to downtown Charleston to celebrate my birthday. Future cat plans may have been the "big" topic of discussion.
I received the contract for a brand new FP 40 Lucia and was negotiating the add-ons while I was on my last trip to Slovakia. I wanted to wait to sign until I returned from the ASA 114 course. Well the best laid plans never survive first contact and buying a boat is no exception. Will offered up a nice FP Lavezzi that happened to be priced really well and was in a marina right in Charleston. The three of us drove over to take a look. It was a nice boat and the price was such that Lisa and I could almost pay cash for it. That is a very good selling point for a boat. However, we also found a Broadblue 435ST for sale in Oriental that same weekend. We have liked the Broadblue cruising catamarans ever since we started looking. When the company moved away from cruising cats to their performance models we gave up purchasing one. The used Broadblues are rare, like Antares, and they stopped making new ones in the 40+ range. But here was one for sale, literally 5 miles from where we keep Starjewel. We had to check it out. Early Sunday we jumped in the car and drove to Oriental. We drove past our apartment in Fayetteville to go to Oriental. All together Sunday was 9 hours in the car to look at a boat for 1 hour. Ahhhh, boat buying. You have to love it, if you don't you will drive yourself crazy looking.
But wait there's more.... We consider Antares to be the gold standard for 40' liveaboard catamarans. If we had a million dollars lying around we would have the factory build us one, no questions asked. So as I'm doing my check of Facebook what do I find? An Antares for sale a mere 4 hours away from our Apartment. Well, it's kind of an Antares. It's a PDQ 42'. PDQ was Antares before they were Antares. It's almost the same boat, just 2' shorter at the transom. It is a 2003 model so it's quite a bit older, as boats go, but it's also listed for $410,000 (within the boat budget, of course). Every other Anatares I've ever seen for sale is $750k or higher. For boats 5 years old. These things hold their value.
So as of this writing Lisa and I are in a conundrum. Do we get the; 2007 FP Lavezzi that we can almost buy outright, the 2010 BB 435 that is a great find, or the 2003 Antares that is the oldest, but best original quality? The new FP Lucia is off the table right now with these 3 boats on our mind.
We've started getting insurance quotes and trying to secure financing. Our Washington house has sold and we have an accepted offer on the Colorado house so we should have plenty for a down payment and make our mortgage reasonable.
Decisions, decisions. I can't wait to see what we end up with.
It was a great weekend. I had just returned from a trip to Slovakia, took a little nap, and then drove down to Charleston, SC with Lisa to take our ASA 114 Catamaran class. We signed up with Charleston Sailing School to dive into learning how to sail a catamaran. Charleston Sailing School teaches most ASA courses from 101 up to 114. They have a fleet of 12 boats, so there is something suitable for any skill level. Their instructors are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to sailing and boats of all sorts.
We arrived at 0930 and met with Will Miller the Owner/Operator and currently the only ASA 114 certified instructor at Charleston Sailing School. After introductions along with some paperwork we were walking the docks to the Voyage 440. She was the beautiful boat we would be sailing and staying aboard for the weekend. The course is only two days of training, but Lisa and I paid for a bareboat charter for a third day. This way, we could get more practice in while it was still fresh in our minds.
Will showed us around the boat and we talked about the different systems on a catamaran. Most things are the same for monos and cats, just doubled. The difference is the way they drive. Since the catamaran has two widely separated engines, you can steer without the rudder at low speeds quite effectively. The shallower draft and high freeboard also means you are more affected by the wind. That afternoon we practiced maneuvering under power. We pulled away from the slip, motored around the marina, docked a few times and that was about it on the boat. A thunderstorm was rolling through Charleston that afternoon so Will suggested we make it an early day on the boat and get the written testing out of the way. The ASA 114 exam is a 50 question test that covers the material in Cruising Catamarans Made Easy. Lisa and I passed the exam and were on our way to being ASA 114 certified.
After our testing was complete we drove to Harris Teeter to provision for the weekend. It was our first time in a Harris Teeter, and it is quite the grocery store. We were going to grab some drive through on the way back to the boat, but decided to just get something there. They make sandwiches, like subway, they have a full salad bar, pizza, and other stuff ready to eat. We ended up getting a couple bags of groceries and some sushi, and a sub sandwich for dinner. After stuffing our bellies full of chow we readily stowed our weekend travel bags and started getting ready for bed.
The next morning was going to be an entire day of sailing, exactly what we were hoping for. There were just a few small rain showers, nothing that would even begin to stop die hard sailors like us. We departed the dock; practiced maneuvering the catamaran under power for a few minutes, and then it was time to hoist the sails. We tacked and jibed several times on our way over to Mount Pleasant. We tied up at the dock near Vickery's Bar and Grill for lunch. Will, Lisa, and I had some good grub consisting of a tuna melt and special made blackened fish sandwich and yes it was tasty too. We discussed sailing, our long term plans, and what we would be doing for the rest of the afternoon. After a filling meal we cast off the dock and motored over to an anchorage to practice setting the anchor and bridle. Since the hulls are far apart a bridle is used to keep the boat from "sailing" at anchor and to relieve the strain from the windlass. After a successful anchor drop we retrieved the "large fish hook", hoisted sails and started our way back to Charleston City Marina to dock for the night. The winds picked up to a brisk 15 kts. While en route we practiced man overboard drills. Honestly Lisa and I could have done better. It's been awhile since we've practiced and it showed. Eventually we were able to get the PFD back on board and navigate our way back to the marina. We tied up, and got our completion briefing from Will. We are officially ASA 114 certified sailors! Woohoo!!
To celebrate we decided to visit a little bit of downtown Charleston. We had a dinner at TBonz steakhouse and walked around the Charleston City Market, Customs House, and watched the sunset from Waterfront Park. It was a great ending to a beautiful day of sailing a catamaran around Charleston Harbor.
Check back next week for Part 2.
Lisa and I have been extremely busy the last few weeks. We moved all our furniture to the first floor of our house. We put a price tag on everything. Everything must Go! And, it did. You never realize how many possessions you have until you start pricing every glass, every trinket that has a memory attached, and every piece of furniture you bought to fill your four bedroom house. Needless to say it took awhile to get it all accomplished. We would work for a couple hours every night when we got home from work until it was time to get ready for bed.
Then the estate sale weekend finally came. The first weekend we sold almost all our furniture and about 40% of our other household decor. The goal was to finish the sale and get rid of everything in one weekend. We advertised in all the Facebook yard sale groups for the area, Craigslist, and hung signs all over the housing areas. However, we still needed another day for the sale. The following Saturday we opened for 4 more hours and managed to get rid of all the furniture except for our bedroom suite. About 70% of our other things were gone, but it still wasn't everything. We still had several boxes of books, records, candles, vases and all the little things that you accumulate over 20 years. Some items went to 2nd and Charles (used media and book store) for a mere pittance. We donated an entire 12' enclosed trailer of clothes, and other odds and ends to Goodwill. We still have about half of a 12' trailer to be stored in Ohio along with three tuff boxes that we'll take to Florida. The tuff boxes are filled with things we want to have on Unwritten Timeline, but won't fit on Starjewel. Our good friends Brad and Britney live close to where we'll be going to school for our Captain's license when we're living in Florida next year. We'll be based out of Stuart, Florida for the start of our circumnavigation so it works out perfect to keep a couple things at their place until we're ready to take off.
Overall the estate sale went as well as it could have. We didn't clear enough to completely fund our down payment, but it's a good start. Some of the items that we donated to Goodwill could and hopefully will be put to good use in the community. It also gives us a healthy tax deduction and that's ALWAYS a good thing. Another positive is we now have less stuff. There were so many things around the house we had forgotten about until we were displaying it all for the estate sale. All of our remaining belongings, to include the items going to Ohio for long term storage and the stuff we're taking to Florida, fit in the bed of our truck and in the 12' trailer. Not too shabby considering we started with a 4 bedroom house full of stuff.
Our current apartment is less than 700 sq. ft. and we have plenty of floor space available. When we finally move aboard Starjewel, in about 9 months, we should be able to sell or donate the few possessions we have left and get aboard. This apartment is a way for us to get a good feel for our retirement boat. We have less than 700' now and Unwritten Timeline will be a little less than that. This move brings us one step closer to being full time liveaboards.
Be sure to check out our video on our sale
Over the Independence Day weekend the Spalding family was driving around North Carolina and had a couple days to come hang out with us. They arrived a little late due to the holiday traffic so we had a quick meal, played some rock band and called it a night.
The next day Lisa and I got up early threw some breakfast on the stove and took off to meet Greg and the girls at the boat. After the long drive and late night partying on the PS3 they slept in a bit. It was nice though. It gave us some time to get the boat straight before they showed up. We usually like having the boat ready when guests arrive. It's just easier for Lisa and I to get Starjewel all set up without the extra help on the 32' boat.
While we were there we noticed the water was pretty low and I had some reservations about going out. Our boat only draws 4' 6" but I don't like to press it. I'm not going to be the guy who gets stuck in the Pecan Grove Channel. I've seen that guy already since we've been there, and I'm not that guy. We waited around a bit and the tides started filling back into the marina so we were able to get out on the river for the day. It was a grey gloomy, windy day, but it didn't really rain on us, so it wasn't terrible. We only had the main up the whole day. The river was choppy and I could tell Sophia (the dog) was feeling it. She was just laying around trying to find a comfortable position. We didn't want to unfurl the jib and lean the boat over anymore. We were even heeled enough for Lisa, Sophia, and Mia to sit on deck and dip their toes on the low side. The girls seemed to be having a good time walking around the sailboat as we tacked back and forth along the river. We didn't really go anywhere in particular since our guests would be leaving early the next day. We just hung out talked about sailing and tried to convince Dana and Greg to buy a boat and hang out with us as we travel around the world. We'll see how well we fared.
We made it back into our slip with no issues and talked about what to do next. While you're in Oriental you have to stop by The Bean and grab some ice cream so we lowered the dingy and motored over to the Oriental public dock. We checked out the Dragons and they got to see a dragon egg and check out downtown Oriental for a little while before we jumped back in the dingy. Lisa stayed behind to walk Sophia and tidy up a bit so I brought her back a scoop of the toasted almond ice cream, her favorite.
After that we waited for dark and enjoyed the Oriental Independence Day fireworks. The clubhouse at Pecan Grove is a great vantage point. Especially this year. They moved the launch location to the bridge, so we sat out on the back lawn and watched the display. The show lasted about 20 minutes and was really well done. After the fireworks we packed it in for the night. The next morning we had some breakfast and said goodbye to the Spaldings. It was a blast and I'm sure this won't be the last time we have them aboard.
Once again I've fallen really behind in the blogging arena. I hope I'm able to be much closer to real time when we're finally sailing around the world and don't have all this work stuff distracting us.
Several weeks ago around 16 June Nathan, Lisa's son, came down with his girlfriend Alyssa for a long weekend. They drove the 8 hours to our house and went to sleep. A few hours later we were all up and in the packed truck for another 3 hour drive to the boat.
Side note, I can't wait to move to our new apartment so it will only be a 2.5 hour drive.
We got Starjewel opened up and started the AC to cool the boat down from the stuffy 98 degrees to something reasonable. We let the AC run while we went to The Silos restaurant for some pizza and a huge calzone, that only Nathan could finish in one sitting. After all their driving we wanted to get some rest before the 8 hour motor/sail to Cape Lookout. Whenever we have guests that have a few days we always like doing the Cape Lookout trip. It's a nice combination of smooth ICW motoring, a little coastal sailing in the Atlantic ending in a nice calm anchorage with a beautiful sandy beach and lighthouse.
Like every trip it was smooth down the ICW. When we reached the mouth of the river the waves started picking up. Nothing too terrible, but for people unaccustomed to the way a sailboat rides it was a little uncomfortable. The winds were from almost directly east, meaning a little longer sail in the ocean. We took a port tack out into deeper water so we could make a starboard tack run us all the way to the bite. It took a little longer but it was nice to have the sails up heading to Cape Lookout. We furled the sails just before rounding the first red buoy and started to pick out our anchorage for the weekend. Cape Lookout fills up every morning and empties out every evening with people enjoying the sandy beaches before speeding home for the night. When we pulled in there was one 35' motorboat trying to find a good anchorage spot. He was dropping in one location so we moved on up ahead of him to take another. He apparently didn't like the holding so he sped in front of us to take the nice spot we were heading to. Undeterred we went and dropped further back and held the whole weekend. The motorboat still couldn't get set, and after four tries decided to call it a day and headed back home. That night Nathan and Alyssa took the kayaks over to the beach to get out and enjoy solid land for a little bit before dinner. Lisa had prepared several dishes at home so we didn't have a lot of cooking to do in the heat. We tidied up Starjewel and relaxed in the cockpit for awhile before bedding down for the night. With a steady 10-15kts of breeze we didn't even run the air conditioning the first night.
The next day Nathan and Alyssa were running around in the dingy and kayaks exploring the lighthouse and beaches. While they were off running around Lisa and I took some time to go for a kayak race around the coast guard mooring, then a swim to the beach. That evening we grilled out on the back of Starjewel and played a little 500 rummy. I think Nathan was about 20-1 in the win loss columns, but I finally won one hand before we finished. The sail back was much smoother, with a beam to broad reach back to the ICW. We ran the diesel hard on the way back to Pecan Grove to make some time. As soon as we tied up we all worked to unload Starjewel gave her a quick once over and fresh water wash, then we were in the car. Of course no vacation to Oriental would be complete without a stop by The Bean for a scoop of ice cream on the way home.
It was really nice having Nathan and Alyssa down. It's not often you get to see family while you're travelling in the military. It's even better when you can treat them to something as great as sailing in the Atlantic to a beautiful place like Cape Lookout.
The days and nights went on by pulling watch or making meals with a few breaks of excitement thrown in for good measure. We didn’t have any problems, but we did have several opportunities to intimately learn how Asante works.
During the first day we all noticed the bilge light on quite a bit, but didn’t give it too much thought. None of us were really sure what all was connected to the bilge. Maybe it was the refrigerator draining into the bilge or possibly water washing over the decks. There was no high water alarm or water coming up from the floorboards so we didn't give it too much though. But we’ll come back to that later.
We had tried fishing with zero bites for the first couple days, stowing the pole at night so we didn’t have to deal with filleting a fish on the back deck in the dark. After some time we were able to land a Mahi. Teddy had the honor of bringing the first fish aboard his new boat. We started to filet the fresh catch and discussing our new options for dinner. When the first side was cut we heard the whirr of the line being run out behind the boat. We had a second fish on and haven’t even cleaned up the first. Days at sea without so much as a bite on the line and now we have more than we can process. Brett grabbed the pole to bring in the next one while Teddy continued to finish up the first fish and make room for more fish cleaning. The second Mahi was landed, cleaned and put in the freezer since we already had 20lbs of meat to get through. We stowed the pole for the rest of the day. We had the line out every other day with no luck. It was just as well since we had plenty of meat to eat, even if we wouldn’t be able to cook it for much longer.
Jesse woke for his shift, planning to get a nice hot cup of coffee before starting his watch. Unfortunately, the stove refused to light. A quick walk to the back deck to check the propane tank revealed a regulator that was literally in pieces. It had corroded so far that it simply fell apart. With no other regulator on board he set out gluing and taping it back together and hooked it up to the second tank. The first one quickly emptied when the regulator disintegrated. The repair would last a couple days, but it was leaking when we used the stove so we were blowing through twice as much fuel for cooking. It was a great repair for the conditions but we all knew it wouldn’t hold up forever. We changed our meal plans to cook more food until we inevitably ran out of propane again. Then it was tuna and PB&Js for the final push to Florida.
While I was quietly sleeping one night I heard a racket in the cockpit. I figured the wind had just slammed the sail during a gybe and went back to blissfully ignorant sleep. When I woke for my watch Teddy let me know that the topping lift had snapped during the night. The wire portion was currently wrapped around the mast and shrouds while the rope that had connected to it hung limply off the back of the boom. Nobody had thought to bring a bosun’s chair or climbing harness for the trip. I decided to fashion a swiss seat out of one of the docklines. We woke Brett up so he could steer while Teddy hoisted me up the mast with the spinnaker halyard. Jesse heard the plan but stayed in his berth until we turned the boat and slowed down. Unbeknownst to him we just kept on trucking towards Fort Lauderdale and I scaled the mast without slowing down or taking the waves smoother. We didn’t have time to delay and pure testosterone would keep me safe anyway. I tied some paracord around the wire and led it to the boom. Jesse came up on deck and grabbed the cord to stitch it to the line. Fortunately for me he dropped it, sending the wire around the mast yet again. So I got another opportunity to try out my climbing skills. On the second ascent I pulled the rope up with me and fed it through the wire. With the topping lift restrung we were off sailing again.
You usually hear unfamiliar sounds with a new boat and this was no exception. We noticed a loud constant buzzing. When Teddy investigated he noticed the aft bilge was getting pretty full of water. The bilge light was now constantly on but the pump was no longer pumping. It seems the pump had finally given out after days of near constant use. Teddy grabbed the oil extractor and began sucking out the water he could get. We emptied 6 gallons of water and the bilge was almost dry. Not knowing how bad of a leak we were dealing with we waited for the high water alarm to sound again. 3 hours later we had our answer. Another 6 gallons were manually extracted by Teddy. With a tired crew not ready to tackle an unknown leak and no extra bilge pumps on board we continued with manually pumping the bilge. After a day and a half Teddy was through manually pumping water and found that the deck wash had its own water pump. He routed the hoses to the bilge and overboard. Now it was a simple flip of a circuit breaker to drain the bilge. However we still had an unknown leak aboard. Teddy started pulling up all the panels he could. Finally he got to the rudder stock. This is where our leak was coming from. We were 2 days out of Fort Lauderdale, and I wasn’t that confident I could fix the leak without causing more steering problems. I’d rather have a controlled leak than a seized rudder. Jesse and Teddy agreed. It would be something to be fixed when the boat could be hauled, or at least with only a couple feet of water underneath instead of a couple thousand feet.
We finally made it into Fort Lauderdale and tied up just inside the ICW since it was dark when we were in the channel. We met up with Kristen from Life in the Key of Sea for a pizza dinner to celebrate the landfall. It was really great that Brett and Kristen were staying in Fort Lauderdale and could help with ground transportation while we were finishing up the delivery. Early the next morning we untied and started making our way North on the ICW. After 7 bridges and some close quarters maneuvering we had Asante tied up just before the rain started. The crew quickly departed a couple hours later for our flights home. Teddy stayed awhile longer to make sure all was secure and Asante had a good wash down since he wouldn’t be able to return for a few weeks.
None of the issues were insurmountable and it most assuredly was a shakedown cruise. The crew worked well together to fix any of the issues we found. We sailed over 1000 miles without ever touching land. The crew and captain enjoyed the ride and compiled a list of items that needed attention before Teddy sets sail on his trip around the world. Asante will no doubt serve him well and I can’t wait to hear all about his adventures.
I had a great time sailing across the Caribbean with TeddyJ from Sail Loot, Jesse from s/v Smitty, and Brett from Life in the Key of Sea. Be sure to check out their pages and follow along on their adventures.
Thanks for the sail TeddyJ.
Well, I’ve just returned from 1000+ miles and 8 days on Asante transiting from St. Thomas USVI all the way to Fort Lauderdale, FL. TeddyJ managed to put together a skilled crew consisting of Jesse from S/V Smitty, Brett from Life in the Key of Sea, Brandy, and myself for the delivery and shakedown cruise. I arrived late Thursday night and met Teddy, Jesse, and Stacey at Tickles. They were kind enough to wait up for me and have a couple drinks. Teddy and I were dropped off on Asante for the night so we could get a little sleep for the next day.
The next morning we were up bright and early. Teddy and Jesse went running around the island finding items to outfit the boat (boat brush, cushions, spare parts, filters, etc.). I stayed aboard to replace a water pump for the raw water cooled freezer so we could store frozen meals on the trip to Florida. As with all pre-departure work it wasn’t always smooth. Teddy was driving from store to store to get everything needed for the day and his late morning/early afternoon return for lunch was closer to dinner time. This worked out for me as it gave me time to get familiar with the boats plumbing and work on the pump. Of course the replacement was larger than the old pump so getting it to fit was a struggle. I secured it temporarily with zip ties and hooked up the wires and hose. It did manage to make it throughout the entire trip. Teddy soon returned and we were off for a bite to eat then head back to the boat to start packing things away before our final two crewmembers arrived.
Brett and Brandy arrived that night, we got their bags settled on Asante and set out to the grocery store for some big provisioning. The five of us piled into the rental car and headed out. It was a little cramped on the way there, so when we came back with the five of us and 4 cartloads full of food it was even cozier. An hour or so after returning to the boat the food was stored and then it was time to prepare for bed.
An early morning sunrise saw Asante releasing her mooring ball and motoring over to the fuel dock to fill up on diesel and water. Once the tanks were topped off and the bills paid we let go the docklines and it would be the last time we touched land for over 1000 miles. We exited Baye de Grigri and were off under full sail.
We were fortunate with the winds and seas. The winds seemed to always blow from East Southeast driving us steadily to our final destination. The waves were never very rough, even when crossing currents that pushed us past 8 knots at times. Like most passages the days were marked by starting your watch or preparing meals for the crew. Jesse, Brett, Teddy, and I were all having a great time taking turns at the wheel or working on deck getting the pole out for some wing on wing sailing.
Of course it was a shakedown cruise so not everything went according to plan. Check back next week to see what things went wrong and our final approach into Fort Lauderdale where we finally tied up.
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