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.
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.
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.
We attended the Miami Boat show this year. It worked out really well since the week before we had a blast with friends on a Carnival Cruise that was based out of Miami. So we got off the boat checked into our hotel and explored Miami for a few days before the sailboat show.
Overall we weren’t impressed with Miami. I know some people love the area but our experience wasn’t all that great. We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations at McAlpin-Ocean Plaza. It was a nice 2 bedroom suite that was just across from the beach. The location was perfect and the hotel would provide beach towels to take with you to the beach free of charge. There were several restaurants immediately around the hotel. The weather was as good as you’d expect, but traffic was as bad as NYC, parking was more expensive, and the public bus transportation was a little confusing to someone not from the area. The public transportation web site and signs at the bus stops list routes with numbers, 103, 120, etc. however the buses have letter designations. I passed on our bus a couple times because I didn’t realize the “C” bus was the 103. To make things even better the “S” bus took us home. Most things were minor irritants taken in isolation, but the transportation and several small things during our stay just left a sour taste in our mouth. I’m sure we’ll give it another try when we’re sailing around, but so far it was disappointing.
The first day of the show a military friend of mine, Brad, came down to see us and the boat show. He’s a sport fisherman so he was looking at the power boat show most of the day while Lisa and I hit up the Strictly Sail Show. We had lunch at Whiskey Joes and Brad ran into George Poveromo and was able to meet him and grab a picture. Needless to say Brad had a great time.
While we were at the sail show we toured the Maverick 440, Bossa Nova. It is a nice boat and had a lot of attributes, but I think we are going to stick with the FP 40 Lucia. The Antares 44i Ona was at the show and is currently for sale. Unfortunately even a newer used Antares is a little out of our budget. Antares does produce some spectacular liveaboards. If you have money to burn you must check out their boats they are the gold standard for catamarans.
The next day we returned to the show and were able to get aboard the new FP 40 Lucia. My biggest heartache with the entire FP line is the helm location. They have the helm raised above the hard top bimini. While you can enclose this raised helm, it is not as weatherproof as the one level hard top the Antares and Maverick makes for their boats. The raised helm also obscures the aft starboard hull unless you are standing up and almost all the way outboard. However, all boats are compromises and overall the Lucia is a fantastic boat that will more than make us happy as we safely and comfortably circumnavigate the globe for our retirement. We’ll post more about the boat and purchase process as we get closer to sail away time.
Friday we had some time before we met up with one of Lisa’s friends from work who was hanging out in Miami. We sat in on a few of the free seminars provided by the Strictly Sail show. First was a brief on the America’s Great Loop Cruisers’ Association by Kimberly Russo. This was an informative brief on the Great Loop that covers the East Coast ICW, Great Lakes, Mississippi, and Gulf Coast. This brief has given me some ideas on our route after moving aboard our boat. I didn’t really consider this route before the brief. I didn’t think it would be feasible with a 40’ catamaran, but now this may be a very good possibility. We may spend a year doing this route before we start our worldwide circumnavigation. This will allow us some time to get familiar with our boat, shake it down and spend some time home in Cincinnati before we sail away.
We also sat in on a Basic Diesel Maintenance seminar by Carl Schlemmer and Doug Dykens. This was alright if you’ve never seen a diesel engine before and don’t know they come with manuals. The synopsis is, your boat has a diesel engine and check the manual for the maintenance schedule.
The last free seminar we attended was on preparing your boat for a long cruise by Tom Hale. This was pretty good and covered a lot of material on: communications, provisioning, navigation, and many other subjects. There was a lot of ideas and considerations covered that people can easily overlook when planning for an extended cruise.
After our day at the show was finished we met up with Cheryl, Lisa’s friend from work. While she was back at Bragg working, Lisa was off playing in the Caribbean and looking at new boats. So she decided to head down to Florida to see, not only us but her husband Mike who is taking a course to get his fixed wing ratings. He has been staying just a little North of Miami flying around and having fun. We met them at our hotel and had dinner at Madero. The food was fine, but at least we had some good conversation. After they headed back home for the night Lisa and I went upstairs and started packing for our trip home.
The next day we started the long drive home, but the trip wasn’t complete without stopping by Cracker Barrel and seeing Brad again, along with his wife and kids for breakfast. We hung out for a while catching up on their new jobs and living the post-military life. I can’t wait. We’ll have to swing by their new place with our boat in a couple years.
The Miami Boat Show was actually two shows in one this year; the Strictly Sail Show and the Miami International Boat show. The venues were spread out between Biscayne Bay and the Miami Marine Stadium area on Virginia Key. The Boat show had water taxis and shuttle busses set up throughout the city connecting the two shows and all the associated parking locations. We took public transportation from our room to the show and then water taxi rides between the two shows. The average wait for the water taxi was about 20 minutes and the ride between the shows took about 15 minutes. The Biscayne Bay area was much better for amenities. There were plenty of local shops and restaurants, but the Power Boat show had many more marine vendors. Albeit they were geared toward power boats. If you are looking at seeing both shows you really need a full day for each one. The boat show was a success, as we found our retirement boat. In comparison to the other show's we've attended, the Miami boat show is huge, especially with the power boat section; however, I think the October Annapolis show is a little bigger. The Miami show is a lot bigger than San Francisco or the Spring show in Annapolis.
So far we have been to the Strictly Sail Pacific in San Francisco, Annapolis Spring and Fall Shows, and the Miami International Show. If I had to rank them from best and largest to smallest it would be Annapolis Fall show, Miami Strictly Sail show, Strictly Sail Pacific, and then the Spring Annapolis Sail Show. All are good venues to check out new toys, but if you can only make one make it the Annapolis Fall show.
It was a great vacation and a great thing about military life is you seem to have friends no matter where you are or what you’re doing. The last two weeks we linked up with three different friends we’ve met since our time in the service.
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