Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Preparations for Holiday cruise!

I have completed my first semester teaching at Dine College. It has been a wonderful experience and as of Dec. 8th, I am finished until Jan 10th! Sailing time.

So what needs to happen before I cast off the lines about Dec. 14?
Main mast sheaves (the cover of my new main halyard is pulling threads out- wear is bad).
Install wheel autopilot- I bought a refurbished Autohelm 4000 to replace the one that had
been stolen from the boat before our purchase. Installation seems straightforward and
hopefully plug and play from the previous install. Calibration will wait until out in the
Gulf, but basic operation can be verified at the dock.
Clean, de-mildew, air out cabin.

Clean out engine compartment, figure out how to get my big ole body down there if I have to
repair something!
Clean engine/oil, engine pan, bilge, v-drive, transmission. Start her up!
Tighten stuffing box (too many drips).
Check out Dinghy outboard.
Load in soft goods from storage locker- mattress, cushions, clothes, etc.
Provision for 3 week cruise.
Install repaired bimini/dodger.
Apply new name to transom- Istana has been redocumented JOY!

OPTIONAL
Davits for dinghy.
Repair folding bikes. They don't look like this right now- have 2!

THE "PLAN"
Two days sail down to Tampa prior to Kathleen joining Joy.
Four days down ICW with hops off-shore to Ft. Myers, visit K's Uncle Fred and Aunt JoAnn.
Three days down to SW corner of Everglades.
Two days across to the Middle Keys.
Gunkhole the Keys for a week.
Find a place to keep the boat until summer and drive to the airport, ETD Jan 5.

Have tried to emphasize to K the need for "flexibility" in "planning." May wait to buy the tickets back until after the cruise is underway (still get advanced purchase deals).

We welcome any local knowledge, secret anchorages, etc. Post below!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shakedown cruise in the Very Thin Gulf of Mexico or a boy runs aground several times with old boat while girl becoming somewhat cross.

The shakedown cruise begins! To clarify, a shakedown cruise is a trip where you move a newly acquired boat and do things waiting to see what breaks. To give you the punchline- this was successful in this context. We moved, saw things and things broke. The following is un-expurgated, non-romanticized and only a little softened. If you’re looking for “sailing is fabulous and relaxing”, look elsewhere, this is reality.

The boat in question is a 1979 Pearson 365, purchased inexpensively two months ago after having been brought to life by the previous owner after about 10 years of real neglect. The survey and purchase trip had revealed the systems worked, the hull was solid, the sails were intact but she is not the belle of the ball. One of the repairs made during the time away was a refinished cabin sole (nice, thanks Tom).

I had driven with a load of stuff and Lola, the ancient Springer Spaniel, from Phoenix in three+ days. This is likely Lola’s last big adventure (she’s 13) so we decided to drive and bring her with us rather than kennelize her in Phoenix. I had some business in Austin and Birmingham and a wonderful meal in Northern Louisiana, but otherwise the trip was uneventful. I arrived in Yankeetown Thursday before Kathleen’s arrival on Saturday.

Day -3- Spent the day putting the boat back together, moving foam for the salon setees (that probably sounds better than they are (more like benches in a good-sized closet)), bedding and the new mattress to the boat, assessing systems and doing some cleaning. The NO-SEE-UMS are horrible from about 6-8 pm. Sleep on the boat on the new mattress (pretty wonderful).

Day -2- Kathleen was due at the Tampa airport at 5 pm. My plan was to give the boat a final cleaning and get things shipshape before heading to Tampa. Best laid plans… We (Lola, the ancient Springer Spaniel and I) woke to a classic Florida rainstorm. Hmm, boat cleaning was on the agenda for the morning but mother nature intervened, so we got in the car and headed off to West Marine. Having bought a pack of flares (USCG required) for 2.5x the WalMart price, I got back into the car (still raining kittens and puppies) and pulled out of my spot. The car died completely in 20 ft. Started right up again, and died again in 50 ft. and would not start. Problem, but Kathleen wasn’t due for 8 hours so time to recover. Called AAA for a tow to a local AAA-recommended service place, they would be here in one hour. Went into Wendy’s for some chili and called the garage AAA recommended. Found they were busy and probably couldn’t do anything on the car til Monday. Called AAA again and asked for a garage on the way to Tampa so at least I would be moving in the desired direction. Found one in Tampa that instilled some confidence over the phone and was put on the flatbed and taken to Tampa. 80 miles on a tow truck, closer to the airport but the boat would get no shape shipping (ship shaping?).

When we got to the garage the mechanic recognized the problem immediately, fixed it for free and I was on the road in 30 minutes. A little shopping and it was time to pick up Kathleen. Everything went smoothly at the airport, easy drive home and a FANTASTIC dinner at a seafood bar in Homosassa called “the Freezer.” A bucket of mussels in garlic sauce, 2 lbs of shrimp and a couple cold beers and the day’s stress was gone. On to the boat- would she or wouldn’t she?
Quick answer- she would!!! She saw the value and the utility. Istana (now re-documented, but not completed “Joy”) is not a beauty pagent winner, but the galley passes muster, the salon is comfey, the new mattress in the V berth is A HIT! And not having the day to get the boat polished meant I didn’t take the hit for not having polished well enough! (lemons/lemonade, silver lining/grey clouds)

Day -1- Boat cleaning and organizing, trips to Wal-Mart, West Marine, Harbor Freight, Winn-Dixie and the storage locker. By the end of the long day we were ready to push away from the dock with the early high tide. Tom (the guy who has done a lot of work on the boat for the PO and for me) came over and chatted with K and I and among other things started the engine (immediately, with no hesitation) with a comforting diesel rumble.

Day 1!!- Missed the high tide, but plenty of water to get away from the dock. The high tide was at 6, we left the dock about 7:30 and were hard aground by 9:30!! The water is thin (not deep, shallow) and I strayed a few feet to the right of the channel. Nothing serious, Kathleen took advantage of the stable pause to take a shower (shower is a plus, good pressure, etc.) Only problem was one of the pipes in the cold water side of the system pulled loose and we pumped one tank (of 3) of fresh water into the bilge before we had it diagnosed. Spent a significant amount of time while aground trouble shooting and were level and floating again before we knew it. At this point I made my second error of the day and decided to continue for our planned destination- Tarpon Springs, about 40 miles (maybe 55) away.
Had a great day sailing on the starboard tack, jib, main and mizzen all drawing and moving us at 6+ knots. Smiles all around, although we had some testy moments figuring out the delay as the compass moved more slowly than the sailboat changed course with the wheel and learning to sail to the wind. But sunset came before Tarpon Springs and we still had 15 miles to go. Altered course for Hernando Beach and we were aground again, literally in the channel. Did I mention thin water? On this occassion it was just after high tide, the water wouldn’t lift us off the bar until 5:30 the next morning and we spent a terrible night on our side, in the channel, with commercial shrimping boats going out around us and coming back around us 7 hours later. Kathleen took the first watch on deck, the boat was on its side at 28 degrees and now saltwater was coming in through one of the (normally) above water-line through-hulls. Still safe, the bilge pump handled the inflow fine, but not a perfect ending to not-a-perfect first day with our new old boat.

Day 2- As I took the second watch about 2 am, I assessed the tide state and the timing of high tide and realized the next high tide wasn’t very and if we didn’t make it off with the next tide it was going to be another 12 hours until the high high tide of the day. I called TowBoatUS and arranged to have them on site an hour before the high tide to be sure we made it off. They were there, got us off and Day 2 was looking up! More beautiful sailing, both Captain and crew enjoyed a beautiful sail and we motored into Tarpon Springs to Turtle Cove Marina about 1 pm.
Got in the channel without running aground! First time docking this boat in a marina, no problems, a little mis-communication, but the dock guys got us secure easily. Turtle Cove is a pretty amazing facility with four-story racks and forklifts for big motor boats and slips all around an artificial island. Very convenient to the old part of Tarpon Springs and we were enjoying more great seafood at the Rusty Belly Restaurant by 4 pm!
Took Uber to Ace Hardware for parts, was able to find what we needed to replace the through-hull for $9 at Ace (respectable marine section in this historically marine industry community). Other purchases brought the tab to about $100, but we felt pretty good and started the repair that evening. Late night swim and hot shower made the day seem pretty successful.

Day 3- In port. More repair, mission accomplished, laundry, some additional provisions, more tourist activity, more seafood and a great relaxing day.

Day 4- We planned to sail out to Anclote Key, anchor for the night, dinghy ashore with Lola. Got away from the slip about 4 pm after getting the holding tank pumped, lunch at the Rusty Belly, more provisioning, etc. Got out the channel without incident (other than one wrong turn), raised the sails and had a great sail over to the east side of Anclote Key. Realized when we got there that the easterly wind was making the anchorage quite rough and we would be only a few hundred feet from 1 ft depths and another grounding.
Changed course and decided to anchor on the west side of the island, which was about a 1 hour sail. As we rounded the south end of the island the wind rose to 15-20 knots with some white caps.
Great sailing, but we decided to reduce sail by rolling in the jib (for you non-sailors this is normally a trivial tug of one line). We tugged the furling line, the furler turned, but the sail didn’t roll up. Yikes. Dropped the main and the mizzen, started the engine for control and assessed the situation. Back in my M-16 days on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis dropping the jib was trivial, but this was un-familiar equipment and a big jib. Going up to the bow and examining the furling system, it was apparent that a 40-foot long nylon zipper was wrapping the forward part of the jib around the furler. To drop the jib I needed to unzip this zipper while Kathleen held the bow into the wind to de-power the jib. All went as planned, the jib came down, but another boost of adrenaline we really didn’t need. Then we realized we were aground again! Calm water, smooth sand, and the tide was coming in, no problem, we would float again. Fifteen minutes later we realized our reading of the tide info was wrong and if we didn’t get off the sand quickly it was going to be another night on our side! Yikes. Fortunately, the boat still swiveled on the keel, so it wasn’t stuck hard, revved the mighty Westerbeke and broke free! Alleluia! By the time we were anchored again we were about a half mile off-shore, the chop was much rougher than it would have been if we were closer in, but we were in 7 feet of water, had 70 feet of anchor rode out and laid safely through the rough night. And if the anchor dragged we had 500 miles of sea room before we went aground in Mexico.

Day 5- Motor-sailed from Anclote to Crystal River (about 50 miles), arrived in King’s Bay by about 6 pm, anchored in about 7 ft of water. Not much sailing as we hadn’t raised our somewhat funked up jib, but still … Crystal River is where I had hauled the boat during the purchase process, so I had seen the channel going in. We read all the markers correctly, dolphins sounded beside us, somewhat magical!! Success! A full day of moving boat without crisis. Got the dinghy in the water and rowed Lola to an island nearby. She promptly ran off into the undergrowth and I feared (sort of) never seeing the old dog again. But just as I stumbled through the mud back to the water somewhere the dinghy wasn’t Lola popped through the grass and swam out to come along. Back to the dinghy and the boat and only a little wetter than I had been after spending a couple hours doing boat repairs in the FL humidity (that is soaked to the skin).

Day 6- At anchor in King’s Bay, Crystal River. Mounted the motor on the dinghy, tried on the snorkeling equipment and struck out for a day of aquatic adventure! The little 4 hp Johnson outboard worked GREAT! I was somewhat shocked at how the Crystal Springs experience had degraded in the 40 years since I scuba’d Crystal River as a senior in high school. The water was cloudy, the spring bowls full of debris, and development threatening the whole eco-system. State government is in the process of approving a further residential use of up to 11% of the flow from the 30 springs in the watershed! Insane, this is a preferred mating and wintering ground for the manatee and it’s clearly under pressure as it is, less water flow certainly won’t be good. Used the dinghy to do a little more boat repair shopping. Got back to the boat about 4 pm.
If you’ve never crawled over the transom of a big sailboat from a small, tippy, dinghy you can’t imagine how hard it is. And our dinghy, while seaworthy, easily rowed, efficiently motored, and other great qualities, is quite tippy. As Kathleen arose from the dinghy like Venus from the half shell, the dinghy had the temerity to whack her on the shin causing a yelp and a bruise! “I’m never getting into that dinghy again!” So I got Lola onto the dinghy for her potty trip ashore, ordered takeout from Cracker’s Restaurant (yummy) and dinghied back with yummy hot food to go with cold beer from our (wonderful) cold refrigerator to find Kathleen back to her even-keeled self looking up dinghy’s and boarding a sailboat on Google and our Kindle reference materials! Yummy dinner, more boat jobs (changing oil in V-drive for the second time on the trip) and exhausted from a good somewhat painful day! New mattress is awesome!

Day 6- Got underway early for the trip back to Yankeetown, motored the whole way, no incidents (other than that very brief grounding (hardly counts)). Left Crystal River about 8 am and were back in the lagoon by 1:30 or so. Started cleaning up, went in to Yankeetown for a pizza, got the sails off the boat, washed, folded and into the car, the bimini and dodger taken down and the canvas in the car, packed more stuff into the car, got a motel room for 2 nights. Excellent move, a nicer hotel would have gotten me more points. Is this a vacation? Not really, shakedown cruises are painful.

Day 7- Monday in Yankeetown. After unloading stuff at the storage locker, we rented a jeep for Kathleen to be mobile while I drove to St. Pete with the damaged jib and the canvas for repair. Trip went smoothly, can’t say enough about Peke at Adriatic Lux Canvas in Tarpon Springs and Tom and Mike at Sail Technologies in St. Pete. I know the valuable boat parts I’ve entrusted to them will be better when they’re done working on them. Got back to Crystal River, met Kathleen at McDonald’s for ice cream sundaes and resumed cleaning and preparing the boat for hurricane season in Yankeetown. We’re not planning on being back to the boat until November, so we stripped the boat of extra windage, rigged lines across the lagoon for holding the boat off the dock and swinging in the lagoon rather than against damaging hard parts. Good stout lines tied around trees and strung back to strong cleats on the boat. Ran an anchor out to the mouth of the lagoon, talked to our waterlords about our preparations and they suggested we put the dinghy under their house- PERFECT. Very late night, Kathleen went back to the storage locker with her last load while I worked to finish so we could leave Tuesday morning.
When I got to the motel and went over our list Kathleen asked a couple questions I didn’t know the answers to. We would have to go back to the boat Tuesday morning.

Day 8- Woke early, took my load to the storage locker while Kathleen enjoyed hot water and shampoo. When I got back to the motel, I loaded our travel equipment into the car (just) and we returned the Jeep to Enterprise. Thank you, Enterprise Crystal River! Great service.
Back to the boat, short list quickly completed and we were on the road for Savannah, GA for a day of sightseeing. Some Vacation after a Shakedown cruise (not vacation)!


Summary- Shakedown cruises are not vacations! Things break, other things are learned. This is a big, powerful sailboat and lots of the systems worked perfectly- the engine, the galley, the head (almost). Some things broke and we were able to fix them or stabilize them and minimize the impact. Our navigation system with Android tablets, laptops and OpenCPN worked beautifully. Didn’t use some of the gadgets (wind speed is too little, just right or too much, you don’t have to know whether it’s 18 or 23 knots). Binoculars, cell phones, VHF were all essential to navigation and calling for information and assistance.

Would like to addruise before the winter c-
Better dinghy/yacht boarding system- wider ladder, swim platform?
Autopilot- we sailed and motor sailed about 150 miles. 10 hours of steering is tedious and inattention results in bad things happening.

Still to fix-
Cold water connection for shower (obscure parts)
V- drive (water in oil)??

Water is very, very thin on Florida’s west coast north of Tampa. This was a shock to this Puget Sound sailor, where I could be in 400 ft of water 100 ft off shore. Mexico they say the gain a foot of depth with every mile off shore. That’s about right. We’re both bruised, tired and bug-bitten. I hope Kathleen is not down on the dream. She is way more valuable and crucial to my happiness than a 38 year old boat and a 30 year old dream.

Hope you enjoyed the story.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Starting on our first cruising adventure!

Yes, it's been about six weeks since I bought the boat. I have been back in Phoenix buying supplies and safety items to build a safety net for our shakedown cruise. There are still items coming in from Amazon.com and Tom (my boots on the ground in Yankeetown) is ticking things off his list. All new halyards, the outboard for the dinghy is running, the cables to the engine (shift and speed) are changed out, the engine starts and runs. These are good things.

The plan is for me to leave this Monday and drive to Florida (with Lola) via my sisters' in Austin, Tx; a property we have a loan on in Oxford, MS and our rental in Birmingham, AL to put eyes on them. Should be in Yankeetown by Thursday. Then I'm buying a new memory foam mattress at Wally World to cut to shape for more comfort and clean in the V-Berth. Will try to get mildew and cleaning accomplished before Kathleen arrives in Tampa about 5 pm on Saturday. Hopefully, the boat will be ready to catch the high tide out of the lagoon on Sunday morning (5:09 am) or 4 pm Sunday afternoon. Time and Tide wait for no man, Kathleen! We plan to hop down the coast to Tampa with our farthest south being Manatee River just south of Tampa Bay. There are three good harbors between Yankeetown and Manatee River. Thinking 1,3,5 down, extended stay in St. Pete harbor- museums, beach, swimming, bars, food (fish), food (shrimp), food (seafood). Sorry, I got distracted there. Then back starting on day 6 to Tarpon Springs, then Crystal River again and home to the dock on about Saturday, May 20. Pack up the boat and start driving north to NY Tuesday am.

Liz graduates on Saturday, May 27th! Yay, Baby Girl!! So proud, then she is going hiking on the Appalachian Trail with friends from Bard after Andy's wedding.

Andy and Sydney get married on June 2 in Brooklyn! Sisters Ginny and Marilyn are joining us at an AirBNB in Brooklyn for the wedding! Kathleen catches a jet out of Newark Sunday, June 4 and I start the road trip home! I hope to stop and see Falling Water in western PA on the drive back, but other than that- ??

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Prepping for the Shakedown cruise

I've been back in Phoenix for the three weeks since buying the boat in Florida. We've been remodeling our kitchen, so we've got quite a mess going. I've spent too much time and money reading sailing articles and prepping for our shakedown cruise. I've decided that we're not refitting the electronics on Istana. They're old, but technology is changing so dramatically that I don't want to buy anything I don't need until I really need it. We're also not 100% committed to the sailing "lifestyle" so I don't want to "invest" in permanent high-cost upgrades. What I've bought is portable and relatively inexpensive. To give you an idea what the sailing press considers "inexpensive"- I just read a Cruising World article about upgrading the electronics on a sailboat and their "inexpensive" package was $5000, their intermediate package- $15,000 and their dream package- sky's the limit, if you have to ask you can't afford it.

It is essential to know where you are (and I don't know how to use a sextant) so I've got three redundant navigation "systems", all of which run on hardware I already have. #1, My MacBook Air with OpenCpn, an open-source software product that is FREE, has FREE chart downloads, can interface with a $20 plug-in GPS puck, and is great for planning trips, getting details about anchorages, etc.
#2, My Samsung Tab 8" tablet, with Navionics Marine, a $49/yr software package that has charts for all the US marine areas, trip planning and real-time navigation using the BUILT-IN GPS in the tablet. Awesome! I input boat specifics, draft, sailing characteristics, fuel consumption, etc. and it will automatically plot a route from where I am to where I want to be! Of course, I can alter the route or do one manually, but it calculates time, speed, fuel costs and lots more stuff. This will be the in-cockpit system when we need help. #3, a handheld GPS that came with the boat. I will tell us where we are and we can plot that on the paper charts that I routinely have for our cruising area. Cost for Navigation $49 plus about $50 for charts and chartplotting tools. Also a hand-bearing compass for $31 (with a light!)

Communications- This is not a necessity, people sailed for millenia without a two-way radio! But radio communication is now ubiquitous. A hand-held VHF unit came with Istana and I had one from previous trips. This is line-of-sight, handhelds will reach out about 2 miles to other boats or 20 miles to Coast Guard high antennae. VHF also is a weather information source (very important). Weather info is now one of the main justifications for multi-$1000 communications. I have bought a SDR radio that plugs into the USB port on my laptop and it will receive weatherfax transmissions, weather maps, warnings, etc. Cost- $25. I have splurged a bit on a satellite phone ($150+$25 for 2nd battery) and an ePIRB- a satellite distress beacon- $50+200 for a new battery (over $400 new).
These are emergency equipment, they will allow us to talk to anyone from anywhere in the world (Sat phone) and ask for rescue (ePIRB). I have mixed feelings about being tethered everywhere we sail, but they're cool. I also bought a long-range wifi antenna ($50) that should give us wifi signals several miles from shore- great for email and running our business from the boat (a dream).

Motive force- I love to sail and the sails are super expensive to replace with new, so taking care of the ones we have is essential. Sail tape, heavy thread, massive needles, a sailing palm. (Cost about $50)
A sailing palm is analagous to a full-hand thimble! You push the needle through several layers if sailcloth with it. This is really old school! We have some leather patches to sew in place where there has been wear on our nice bimini, and our mainsail cover zipper is torn out, but this is an investment in staying sailing when the sails tear. If we decide to commit to the sailing life, we will get a heavy duty sewing machine called a SailRite. It can sew upholstery, canvas, sails and more. This could be a business afloat with Kathleen's careful design and execution skills.

I've also had Tom replace all the halyards (5- Main, Jib, Spinnaker, Mizzen, and Mizzen foresail!) ($350 plus labor) Another sail-related expense is a hand-held anemometer! This little thing was about $80, tells wind speed, direction, humidity, barometric pressure, temperature, wind-chill and more! And it connects to my phone or ipad via bluetooth! Cool.
Part B of motive force is the engine. I have enrolled for a diesel mechanics course, but I don't take this until August. In the meantime, I have bought a couple diesel engine books to "troubleshoot". Cost- $15

Speaking of books- I've bought some. Hard tellin, not knowin' but a few-cruising lifestyle stories, how-to, fixing old boats, coastal navigation, fishing, emergency medicine, etc. Particularly enjoyed Dungda de Island by Charles Dougherty, an author from Maine who also wrote a wonderful book about cruising the Intracoastal Waterway. I have to say- reading about it is WAY cheaper than buying a boat!

Monday, March 20, 2017

How's this going to work?

This is the $64,000 question. We live in Phoenix, love our home, but now own a boat in Yankeetown, Florida. How does this fit?

We're not retired, I'm still working in our business, but one of the main attractions to this business is that it's pretty portable, no store front, and few face-to-face customer interactions. For those of you who don't know or have forgotten- we buy and sell mortgages, so internet and phone connections are our essential tools. We have great vendors who do a lot of the work and we communicate with them primarily by email and phone. So we can maintain an ongoing cash trickle from the business. We would, perhaps, rent the house in Phoenix for the winter months and use those funds for the dream (and peanut butter.)

My highest priority is maintaining my wonderful relationship with Kathleen. She has sailed before and has enthusiasm for the project, although it's clearly my "dream" not hers. I have listened to her concerns during the boat hunt, and this boat seems to meet her basic criteria (at least until she sees it in person). Assuming that she's not immediately repulsed, the plan is to do a week-long shakedown cruise in late April. 6 days of sailing/motoring gives us a round trip distance of about 500 miles. Sanibel Island is about 250 miles one way, so that would be the outside of a trip diameter. Take it slow and easy, sail when we can, anchor at night, swim on reefs and wrecks, enjoy the wildlife. Return the boat to Yankeetown for the summer and planning for the next adventure.

Then assess. Do we want to do more? It is certainly possible that the one week tells us all we ever want to know about cruising- too slow, too icky, to cramped, not for us. But I hope we are thrilled by the shakedown cruise. Then, what needs to happen with the boat? If we try it and don't like it, we sell it. If we like it, what do we need to change about the boat to take the next step.

After the hurricane season, I hope we will be ready for a longer cruise, maybe a month or two (or longer??) The Dry Tortugas, Keys, Bahamas. Then probably find a home port on the East Coast of Fla or farther north for adventures in the Mid-Atlantic states. Recently read up on the Grand Loop and this boat would do that well, 4.5 ft draft, efficient diesel for motoring! Or how about Maine and Down East?

In short, this isn't a plan for weekend trips. This is a boat built for comfort and hopefully easy living with coffee and cereal in the cockpit under the bimini. The plan is for periodic week-long or longer trips with the boat not necessarily returning to the same home port as we voyage around the country.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

And now 2045 miles away ...

So I'm back in Phoenix in body if not in soul. I've communicated with PO a number of times, he is doing some work to the boat to ensure it is mechanically reliable as he represented at the time of sale. He has changed the starter button and the solenoid. Hopefully, that returns it to 100%.

It's so exciting seeing Kathleen start to buy in! She's reading Kindle sailing books and asked about Chapman's Piloting and Sensible Cruising. I think she was a little surprised that they were on the bookshelves in the house! I've been reading and studying and preparing for this adventure for decades! We're trying to figure out when the shake-down cruise fits in our schedule. I'm working on April 26-May 6. Have found reasonable airfares for those dates, and would like to have the extra days to give us some breathing room on our weather windows and voyage planning.

Signed up for a Marine Diesel course in San Diego- unfortunately the early April session was sold out, I'm waitlisted for that and registered for one in early May. The engine compartment is tight and I'm not, so being trained up will save me

Also discussed the next tasks with Jay. We're trying to remove as much Icky from the boat as we can before the end of April. We settled on removing the loose veneer from the cabin sole, sanding and polyurethaning the remaining plywood for smoothness, appearance and water-resistance. Decided not to paint the deck and cabin because there are obvious leaks and fiberglass repairs to accomplish before painting.

Talked to Tom yesterday about working on the rigging. I'm having the halyards replaced so I know their history. Ropes for sailboat running rigging is several grades up from what you see at Home Depot and commensurately more expensive. The Main halyards (x2) are 86' and the mizzen halyards (x2) are 62 ft. That's about 300' of rope at about $1/ft if I win the bids I've placed on EBay for spool ends. Plus Tom's time. I am also having Dale from Pearson365.com (a rigger in Buffalo) give me a quote on new forestay and top shrouds for the main. The boat has the original NavTec turnbuckles which are stainless on stainless and have had a history of problems with failure. They should have been stainless on bronze. The new stays will have the appropriate turnbuckles. Tom will install the new running rigging but needs to evaluate the difficulty of doing the forstay given it's inside the roller furling (also why the forestay was Dale's first priority recommendation). Generally Pearsons have oversized rigging and I haven't seen any reports of Pearson rigging failures online and have looked. Don't want to do too much expensive replacements until Kathleen and I have spent time on the boat together and she gives me a smiling thumbs-up.

Got a call from the PO at 7:30 today (10:30 Florida time) that they were motoring over to the Yankeetown dock. Success! Wish I was there to confirm results, but I'm sure all is good. Confirmed the work had been accomplished.

Also talked to the owners of the home dock this morning. They understood the shore power need so that is accomplished inexpensively. We will be paying $75 per month for dockage with shorepower! Very happy about this. The dock savings pays for 2 RT airfares every two months! They were also happy that we will have insurance in place as of April 1. Boat US insurance is our least expensive option, but still $1000 more than it would be any place other than Florida!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

And on the Sabbath ...

Not sure that Jesus would have called this resting, but ...

Drove to Gainesville (about 50 miles) to go to church. It was the morning Daylight Savings Time started, so I felt a little more tired than I should have at 9.30. Got there and found out that it was the 150th Anniversary of the church that I had joined 49 years previously! I was a little late, so sat in the balcony where I was able to be a bit of a fly on the back wall. The sanctuary is beautiful, had just been updated with four huge brass chandeliers a la Williamsburg. First Presbyterian holds a ton of memories for me and I visited the sites of a lot of them, my first Sunday School room in Gainesville, the room the youth painted each wall a different bright color (it was the 70s), the high school room where I took guitar lessons (a little), and the choir room where I learned to sing with Willis Bodine (a lot). The Gordon Memorial Hall was packed with at least 400 people and a sit down lunch of BBQ chicken and the fixins. Lovely event, yet the only people I knew were the spirits. The last time I was in the pulpit there I was delivering my Dad's eulogy.

After lunch I met the PO and his family at Sonny's BBQ for (another) lunch. Yum, chicken and pork with cole slaw, baked beans, corn bread and sweet tea! PO and wife are nice folk, had a great lunch conversation and then went over to their house to get a variety of boat stuff he had stored there! More sails- a main, jib, spinnaker), lots of rope, eisenglass window and screens for the bimini, some safety items- flares, flags, first aid kit, etc. In short, I filled the car and would have to figure out what to do with this in Yankeetown without putting it back on the boat. About 4 pm left POs house and drove by my old neighborhood. Our house had had a recent attic fire, so was in considerable disrepair, but the house was a brick and steel US Steel house, so the fire was contained. They are having to do an extensive renovation with new sheetrock, etc.

Then back on the highway to Bushnell, FL, the home of the Florida National Cemetery and the final resting place of my parents- Lt. Col. and Mrs. Frederick T Boyd, Sr. buried head to head in the military fashion. I picked up a couple small bouquets to put on their graves. They're under a spreading Live Oak tree on rolling ground as they had been so many of their years together. They lived in Gainesville for almost 30 years. My father's gravestone notes his service in WW II, Korea and Vietnam- he must have been prouder of his service than I ever realized as this was his choice of eternity. My mother's inscription notes- "Loving wife and mother." That describes her perfectly. I found the gravesite from memory, and was again shocked by the finality of this life. I won't see them again on this earth and there's no one between me and the abyss. I cried, I prayed, I told them about Kathleen and the church anniversary and the fire at our house. I didn't try to explain my divorce, but I told them about the kids and how wonderfully they were doing- their loves, lives, jobs, passions. They had never really understood me and boats, so we didn't talk about that much.
Drove back to Crystal River in the rain. The weather suits my mood. Get to the boat, climb up, light the little brass kerosene lantern and the warmth and coziness suffuses me and the gray lifts. I lie down on the settee, call Kathleen, process the day and life is warm and loving and close to perfect- if only for the drips coming off the handrails. There will always be more to do on a boat, the trick is to enjoy the voyage.