Wednesday, March 8, 2017

First sight, maybe not love but certainly like.

It's Wednesday, March 8th. 11 pm, I'm in Crystal River, Florida. About 50 miles from the town I grew up in. I flew into Tampa, rented a car ($8/day- love you Priceline), and as soon as I was on the state roads I was home! Haven't been in Fla for at least 15 years, but it felt like I was 17 and driving to the beach in my old Fury III. Spanish moss, crooked roads because thare is a lake behind every pine tree. I had a WONDERFUL fried fish, shrimp and oyster dinner last night at the Gator Cove Restaurant. With a beer- $18. Go, Gators!

Today I met the boat owner and his neighbor to move the boat over to the Twin Rivers Marina for a haul out to see the bottom. Robert is from my hometown and used to own the local hardware store! When I found that out I had an immediate comfort level with him as a partner in this transaction. He had posted a number of videos of other potential buyers walking the boat, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking at. When we got to Yankeetown, the boat was waiting and just as I expected. There's standing headroom (pretty much) (I'm 6'3"), a nice galley, a separate shower! (a Kathleen requirement), and really pretty decent. It's not the Pharoah's barge, but it's workable. It's a ketch, so that'll be a bit of a learning curve, draws 4.5' so it'll get through thin water in the Keys and Bahamas (if we go there) (hopefully), nice cockpit, wheel steering, heavy, comfortable manners underway. A true cruiser. This model has sailed around the world. I certainly wouldn't suggest it with this boat as it is, but its possible ...

We toured the boat and got underway. It is moored on a private dock on the Withlacoochee River so we motored about a mile till we were in the Gulf and another four miles until the water was deep enough to turn South to Crystal River. We unrolled the jib and hoisted the main and mizzen in a light breeze. The sails are intact. I'm not a sail technician and wouldn't presume to grade these sails as to cruising ability, but they're intact, no broken seams, the main has two reef points, the roller furler works and there's a "mizzen staysail!" I'm psyched. We got to the marina, they weren't ready to haul us and didn't really have a space to put us if they did haul us. So ... it took five hours, but we went to "Crackers" for lunch, had a grouper sandwhich with hush puppies, cole slaw and a beer! Did I mention I'm back home? Fun.

Back to the marina and more waiting, watching, chatting and we were ready to move into the slings. The boat weighs almost 20,000 lbs., so the slings were loaded! There were lift points specified by the manufacturer on the hull, so we got the slings positioned after three tries and up she came! The hull was amazing! This boat hasn't been hauled for 19 years, but has been kept in fresh water. There were no barnacles, only a layer of slime which will come off with the pressure washer. After a quick once over we thanked the lift man and his assistant, got in the car and drove Robert and Dale back over to their vehicle at the dock (15 minute drive vs 4.5 hour boat trip). Robert introduced me to the dock owner, had a nice chat with Ann and paid her for the next two months moorage. Want to get off on the right foot with Ann because two months moorage is one bill! Yay.

The surveyer didn't understand we wanted him today, but with the delays in getting the boat dry it was fine, he's coming tomorrow and will fine-tooth-comb the boat. I don't think he'll find anything major, I'm sure he'll call out some things to earn his fee, but I think this will be our boat by tomorrow evening!

Went back to the boat after hanging out at McD's for an hour using wifi and having a fish sandwich (not quite like dinner and lunch, but on my diet. Gave Kathleen a pretty thorough rundown of the day's events (I can lay down stretched out in the vee berth and my feet don't touch! That's awesome!) I think we'll be able to sleep together on the boat! Then I went back to the boat to see what progress had happened after we left- not much, the boat is still in the slings, the jack stands are in place, but walked around the boat in the dark and it's still wonderful! Not beautiful yet, but it'll be better by the time I put it back in the water on Monday morning for the trip back to Yankeetown. (I was 19 before I knew damnedyankee was two words).

What's right with the boat is eveything works. That's huge. It's not "stinky" or "icky." It is cosmetically rough, but that's fixable- and kind of fun.

I'm at the hotel for the night, but intend to sleep on the boat the rest of my trip. More tomorrow.

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