We Bought a Powerboat!

Friends, do not worry- we still have Serenity and have been awaiting (for many months) for Parr Marine to update our 20K boat lift to accommodate her… Like all things in Port Charlotte, they don’t bother to call/text/e-mail and will cancel on you last minute, but we remain hopeful that eventually the job will get done. In the words of a man I once worked for, “They are not good, but they are slow!” Indeed- Serenity has developed a lovely slimy bottom since we have been waiting for 6 months for someone to modify the lift… FML and SMH… Anyhoo, since we are depth restricted during the winter (something that we were spoiled with not ever having to deal with at St. Pete Municipal Marina), Brian has been itching to get a little power boat. After many drive-byes and test drives of many boats, he found a Trophy Pro 2103C in Tampa off of Craigslist, and once the owner and we determined neither was a Nigerian prince, came to a very fair deal. The boat needed some cosmetic work (like cleaning) and once we got the title, had to make the choice- do we tow it with the Nissan (the trailer is crap) or bring it by water via the ICW (AND, we did NOT do a sea trial on this boat…) On a weird Friday night, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and tow it with the Nissan (after changing out the ball hitch, and pin… Don’t ask…) The Nissan, while it struggled on the hills, performed beautifully. Being that I did not realize we would be towing the boat down, did not bother to fill the gas tank, which was at a little over half full. FML, the gas light went off 5 miles from our exit (NOTE: I have never run out of fuel in my life. But this was not the time to tell Brian. So I panicked internally!) Once we hit our exit, we were able to refuel and drive our “barge” the remaining 5 miles to the house. The next day, we stopped at the gas station to fill her with rec fuel (FML- next powerboat I buy, I will make them not only deliver the boat, but have a full tank of fuel!) and launched her (still nameless boat) from the local boat. A powerboat is TOTALLY different steering wise, but it is bad-ass to be able to get from point A to B quickly. The previous owners of our house had a similarly-sized power boat, so we did not need to adjust the bunks, either, which was pretty awesome! While it could never replace a sailboat (I love my Serenity), it is still pretty awesome and a great boat for exploring the more shallow local areas.

Sarasota

Once we made the left hand turn into to ICW, we had two bridges to go under- Anna Maria Island and Cortez, before sunset. Being as that we did not know how many miles we would get under our belts before the sun set, we did not plan our marina stops in advance (and we would have to stop at marinas on this trip, as the tiny brown and white fur children STILL will not go aboard the boat- despite my newest effort of collecting dirt from their preferred potty sites to entice them to go on it… Why are they so stubborn?!? We ended up calling Marina Jack’s in Sarasota to inquire if they had a transient slip 45 minutes prior to arrival- indeed! We were in luck! While this is not a cheap marina ($3/foot per night), the crew and facilities are AWESOME! Atlas and Luna were grateful for the dog walk and park, which were really nice. The marina has a few restaurants, which were hopping, and the bathrooms were incredibly clean as well, which was paradise compared to our marina in St. Pete. While it was an early night for us, we did get to meet our really nice neighbors aboard another sailboat, and have thus deemed, this is a great marina! The next day, we departed early and our attempts to get to Port Charlotte were hindered by the bridge schedules. Sun was setting on day 2 and we found ourselves in Boca Grande after the last bridge closing. We called Uncle Henry’a Marina, and hence began a fiasco- Irma knocked out a few pilings, and the navigation was not showing up for this marina on the RayMarine Dragonfly. We ran aground, and hard. Stuck and embraced, I flagged down a guy in a pontoon boat (who was skeptical initially at helping us, but succumbed to my desperate pleas… This marina is not for those of draft beyond 3 feet- we ran aground again near our designated dock, and we able to free the boat. What a PITA. While the marina is charming, clean, and has concrete docks with shore power, it is not really depth friendly for sailboats. The pups were happy to have land to do their business on, but what a pain. We left early, so I taped money to the office door for our slip- ironically, we ran aground a few more times trying to leave the channel during high tide. SMH… The last leg of our trip consisted of more bridges and the turn into Charlotte Harbor- seas were still confused, and this made a bumpy ride for which Atlas was not pleased, and Luna, well, it is Luna- she slept. We found our main channel to our lot, and once again ran aground when making the turn. Remembering what our powerboat neighbor said, “Cling to the wall- it is deeper there!” I swear the final turn of going into our channel was the worst part of the trip- “FML- will it be deep enough? Did we buy a sailboat access house we can not even access?” No worries- the channel is actually deeper than the main one, and we were easily ably to maneuver Serenity into her new slip (oh, vey, it was close though- if we had a bigger boat, we’d be crying.) The look of surprise on Atlas’ face, though, was priceless to pull up to his new beloved backyard.

Escaping Tampa Bay!

This was an old post from November 2017 that I never published: We have been looking for the perfect weather window in which to move Serenity- which is always a funny thing when the weather man says one thing, and one finds the forecast to be totally out of whack and absolutely wrong. Last Wednesday, we made the command decision- we are moving the boat. On the inside, I was still damning Poseidon, and would have preferred to have an off-shore sail. But, we have two tiny dogs who refuse to pee on their little pee-station, and, despite the initial forecast 2 days prior promising happy seas, awoke to a Small Craft Advisory in Tampa Bay and offshore. Well, hell there went my hopes and dreams of making it to Charlotte Harbor as we were getting beat up in Tampa Bay just trying to get to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Brian was questioning our decision, and I think he wanted to turn back, but I kept to my decision, “No, we are going to just do this.” As we approached the bridge, we heard the calls of a shipping vessel hail us on channel 16, “Sailboat on the other side of the Sunshine Skyway, what is your status?” There was some confusion, as there were a few other sailboats nearby, but since we were motoring into the channel, we figured it was meant for us, as our course was the only Southbound one. After relaying, “We are the only true Southbound sailing vessel, next to the red and white trawler, and will give way to you. What is your ETA?” “10 minutes.” “Copy, thanks, and standing by” we jogged into big waves (this was so not fun) and waited… It seemed like forever until he finally passed, thanking us for giving way as he did with a few toots on the horn, but once he did, we were able to motorsail a little further with a little sliver of genny out to keep us a tad more stable until we made that left-hand turn into the ICW… The journey through the ICW was relatively uneventful, as the waters were significantly calmer. In our minds, we would make great timing and just would be a lot of motoring to make it to our dock. Had we not had the pups, I would have just chanced it and sailed offshore, but with two stubborn tiny brown and white dogs who refused to pee on the boat and held it all day, we were forced to seek solace on the first night at Marina Jack’s in Sarasota.

Update

We have, sadly, neglected this blog for the past few months as life has gotten in the way. Things have been quite busy, fellow sailors! We’ve had three major life events occur:

First, and foremost, on a lazy Friday evening, Brian, being well in his cups, was perusing our local dog shelter website. “Look! A tiny Atlas! Who needs to be rescued!” Little did he know this would come back to haunt him, as indeed, I deemed we needed to save this little insane being… While she does indeed have similar markings to Atlas, that is where similarities end. She is definitely a chihuahua, and came from a hoarding situation where 107 dogs were confiscated. I felt, like many projects in my life, “We need to save her!” Brian insisted this was a bad idea, and it was, as she was pretty much feral from day 1. Needless to say, Atlas was less than pleased, but warmed up to her at the 6-week mark. (The vet stated that had she stayed in the shelter another week, she would not have survived. Unfortunately, Luna, as we have named her, has zero gratitude. Every day is a battle of teaching her manners and that it is NOT okay to pee on the furniture, eat poop, and kill things.)

Second, while we had pretty much given up building on our sailboat -access lot (prices, by greedy contractors, had increased $60K in a 5 month period), we found a house by accident, which met the 80% requirement parabola. Submitted offer, offer was accepted, and had to wait while sellers’ new house was ready. No worries- Serenity is still nestled in her St. Pete slip until we get ready to move her the 100 miles south. We are in hurricane season, people- hence, the fact this may be deemed an “easy day sail” by some gets a little complicated when you add two dogs and daily rogue thunderstorms- 54′ aluminum mast is no bueno. Hell, had it just been the two of us on Wu, we would have done it. Multiple fur children (especially a crazy one) and a taller mast adds a whole new level.

Last, but not least- I finally retired from the USAF! Hooray! This is a major life-changing event as I prep one house for sale, work on the other one, and make a huge transition into Life 2.0. Brian is still working as a contractor (someone has to pay the bills!), but it is a pretty big change!

Fair winds, happy sailing, and I will post some Serenity stuff soon!

Chris

Engine Woes, and Good Sailing

Engine Woes, and Good Sailing


dinkgirlDue to the cold front that came through last weekend, our sailing plans were thwarted. Making lemons out of lemonade, we bought a new (to us) AB Navigo VS 8′ RIB. In our never ending quest for the “perfect dinghy”, I think we are on to #10 now. While we do still have the Trinka 10, it is far to nice to use as an “every day dink to row Atlas to shore while cruising”, and while the very good inflatable one that came with Serenity is perfectly fine and holds air, it is large. The AB is a rigid-inflatable, and is the right size. It is really solid, and we are actually quite pleased with it.

Serenity also came with a circa 1990-ish Nissan 2.5L 2-stroke dinghy outboard. Brian has pretty much rebuilt the entire thing. We looked at newer outboards, but prefer this one. It is lighter, there really aren’t many 2-stroke outboards around anymore, and I hate to throw anything away without trying to save it first. This outboard has been the bane of Brian’s existence- just when you think you solved one problem, another appears.

The weather has been phenomenal this week, so the plan was to spend one night at dock (so that we could properly test the new dink and rebuilt outboard), and to anchor out tonight. The dink test was not without a few hiccups- the outboard stalled after about 15 minutes (luckily, we were 100 feet from the dinghy dock, and a very nice gentleman offered us a tow from his Achilles.) I took Atlas to “mark many things”, and Brian got the engine going again. Off we went, and spent a good hour exploring the docks of our marina as the sun set without any further mishaps. Ironically, all of our boat neighbors did stopby afterwards to comment on the “new ride”. (They must think we are insane, as we have had the kayak and the Trinka out here as well.) While we were gone, Serenity’s ice maker did its job, and provided a fine medium for the celebratory rum and Cokes. (Review for the dinghy itself- well, it only took us 13 years to find the right one! It is great! It was an eerily calm night at dock- generally, there is a slappy halyard to be heard or boat wake, but there was none of that. After a slow start this morning (I swear time goes by faster on the weekends), everything was off kilter. Our boat neighbor left a few minutes before us, and threwall of his lines on the opposite side of the piling- this threw me off, and I spent a good 5 minutes cursing at him, the piling, my carpal tunnel, and the damn snubber on the line which makes it a pain already to secure. Which also threw Brian off, as he thought I had the lines secured. Brian was cursing at the Dragonfly chart plotter- “The damn thing- now our maps are jacked up!” (I remembered, “Oh no! We forgot the memory card with the maps at the house!”) Ugh. Apparently, we also forgot to pack our sea legs, as both of us were tripping everywhere on the boat. After motoring out and passing the minefield of crab traps, Brian noticed the white vapor cloud emitting from the exhaust. Chalked it up to perhaps the bottle of fuel cleaner he added. Me, “The engine sounds weird to me. Can you go check it?” “It sounds fine to me, but okay.” A few minutes later, “Dammit!” He discovered the sea water strainer had a leak, was sucking in air, and remedied it with a atlas-dinghytemporary fix. At this point, I remarked how we had so many bad omens that day. Brian gave me the choice, “Your call.” “Well, let’s motor a bit further… But it still doesn’t sound right…” Five miles into the trip, the engine overheat alarm sounded. Oddly, I remained calm and stated, “Okay, let’s kill the engine, and sail back.” At this time, a large pod of dolphins appeared as if to say, “Oh hello! We see you are having engine problems! Need a lift?” I think the entire moment of stress was lost with these guys- seriously one even kept just popping his head up, as if he was posing for a camera. I referred to them as “The Dolphins of Instagram” and the one who kept posing as “Hashtag- Creature of the Day”. Sails up, we headed back. The wind ended up being absolutely perfect to get us back to port. More dolphins (I think they were intrigued by the dinghy), and a sea turtle surfaced and swam next to the boat. When we were near the channel, we took down the main sail, and continued to sail into the marina with the genoa (which is a first). Once we were near our dock, fired up the engine and were able to back in and tie up without incident. Although our day ended up turning out pretty good despite these nuances, a joint decision was made to go to the land-based house for the evening. As for the Serenity’s inboard- it could be a number of things- impeller, exhaust elbow, the fuel cleaner, or karma for remarking how great the inboard has been running. Tomorrow is another day. Additionally, props to Atlas for not freaking out when the engine alarm went off! Everything happens for a reason, and I will say, I’d rather it happen in the Bay, which we know well, vice, in a strange place where we do not know the topology nor people.

Living the Dream!

3 years ago, in the “Boatyard of Broken Dreams”, we met another couple who were refitting their 1985 Norseman 447 CC sailboat next to us. Their boat was in far worse shape than ours, and B-Mann and I would simply shake our heads, “Why?” and wonder if they would ever make it out of there alive. He- a gruff retired SMSgt; she- a mechanical engineer. They were grinding away at a terrible transom extension, and had so many other issues to contend with. But, despite the amount of sandpaper and tape they used, their area surrounding their boat was always immaculate. I would always feel bad about anything around our boat being untidy, as even their refit was surgical. Last year, they popped up in our marina- and we could not even find the boat initially, as it was completely unrecognizable- it looked amazing! (They are very meticulous, and were still working on it while it was now floating.) Every weekend, we’d pass them as we were going out and coming back in from a sail. Xiongwei promised me she’d text me when they did their “shakedown cruise” so we could take pictures. Well, last week I received a text with a video clip, “Dafuq? Dammit! They “shookdown” without telling me!” I texted Xiongwei back, and she replied, “We sailed to Marathon!” Seriously, I could see a shakedown cruise in the bay, but to sail to Key West right away? Anyhoo, they returned today- me, “Where’s the boat?” Alan, “Well, she’s moored in Marathon. We just decided to pull chocks once we got down there, and came back here to sort out loose ends. We’re heading to Cuba in February, and will decide from there.” I was floored, but so proud of them! We will be losing Chris and Stan on the SE of Disorder in May, and Cary and Maureen of the C-Lover in the Fall as they go about their sailing adventures, so if anything, it is kick in the pants when your yachting family is leaving the nest, and makes one re-evaluate whether you should just say “Screw it!”, sell the house, put everything in storage and follow the sea. If our boat neighbor, Gordon, decides that 2017 is the year to leave the dock to cruise full-time too, I am definitely going to consider following suit. Fair winds and traveling seas! Happy New Year!

Getting the Dog to Go!

Many sailors have and love their 4-legged furry friends. They are our Skippers, Captains, and first mates. Our boat children. Atlas is our tiny rescue Jack Russell Chihuahua. We have tried everything in our rite to make Atlas, “Go potty on the boat. Go potty now!” We have resorted from everything to lugging a piece of sod around in a container, spraying potty pads with “Puppy Go Potty” spray, to me looking like a demented person with a piece of carpet rubbing it after all dogs who pee (the things we do for our fur children.) Atlas, “It smell amazing, but no, mama, I no pee on my boat…” Atlas is an odd duck. He has no issues lifting his leg to a display at Petsmart, a pallet at Lowe’, or a child’s sand castle on an island. But Poseidon be damned if Atlas will urinate on his boat. We took him to the cockpit of disgusting carpet on an hourly basis- his tiny bladder was screaming, but no, “I cannot pee here.” I tried to be firm, “No, we are not rowing your tiny ass to shore!” And little joker held it. He was mad, I was mad- it became a battle until B-Mann gave in to row him ashore 12 hours later. Once we arrived to the beach, I swear that little joker peed for at least three minutes minimum. “Oh yeah, Atlas had to go…” And we are back at square one. Seriously, if anyone has a trick to making their dog go aboard the boat, I am all ears!

Took a time out to enjoy the boating life… Take 2

basin We arrived out to the boat on Friday morning. We brought the kayak along, since we would also test out this elusive new kayak cart Brian bought from Amazon. The verdict is still out on this one, as it is not the easiest thing to install (and the way our gate to our dock swings open, it is a PITA, as there are many obstructions to navigate.) After loading up the boat, we took the kayak out for an afternoon trip up Salt Creek, and around USFSP. Brian pointed out that in the USFSP basin (which is also the Harborage Yacht Club area), there was an anchorage. Be advised, boaters- no longer can you anchor here due to a floating buoy which states, “No anchoring. Area Under Construction.” Since I saw no construction whatsoever, it is rather suspect… Anyhoo, it was uneventful yet fun trip (other kayakers seem envious of the pedal drives as we power past them), and we arrived back to the yacht to greet other boat neighbors (there are quite a few new faces on Dock 3) as they commented, “This is the life, isn’t it?” Indeed. The ice maker was full, so it was time to commence cocktail hour.

DCIM101GOPRO

Our boat neighbor, John had returned and when he saw me, started groveling, “I am a dock-line stealing scoundrel…” You see, when we were supposed to launch in December, we had left really expensive dock lines on the dock (and they are pretty unique) and we unable to launch due to bad weather from Salt Creek. A few days later, we returned to the dock to find our dock lines were gone. Dafuq? Asking around and searching dock to dock left us with no prevail- they were gone. This is a jacked up thing, and I am pretty sure we regaled our story to John, who commented, “That is messed up.” So imagine my horror last weekend to arrive on the boat, mix up a cocktail, look at our neighbor’s boat, and say, “Hey, Brian, I found our missing dock lines.” Initially, Brian did not believe me, “Noooo….” “Seriously, they are ours- complete with sweet website on the tag. I bet if you measure them, they match ours…” And they were. Now, word gets around pretty quickly in a marina. Dave, a Dock 3 resident, greeted John when he returned with, “Oh man, Chris, your boat neighbor, is hot- she said you have her dock lines…Scoundrel!” John did try to give me a sad story, “But, when the previous tenant left, they took my bow line, so I thought they left me these dock lines…” Nonetheless, the lines are back. “I am a scoundrel…” he kept stating as he passed our boat. I think his punishment enough is now having the reputation as a dock-line thief and having to go to Korea for a year.

Saturday- after a sleepless night in the V-Berth sweating (it is pretty hot here for May) while wearing earplugs (fans are loud- even faced on you, it was like an oven), we came to the conclusion that we really are going to need air conditioning in order to survive Summer. We spent the morning on the kayak, going up through north St. Pete. When we got out of the bay, which was choppy, we were greeted by a Police boat. The gentleman looked concerned for us until he drew closer. “Where are you heading?” “Just out in the bay for a bit.” “I am just making sure you are okay. I see you have PFDs, so that is good. Do you have a radio?” “Yes, sir, we have a VHF radio.” “Well, you’re better equipped than most. Don’t go too far. There are a lot of drunk people out on the bay already.” (It was 10 AM- how are people already drunk at 10AM? And all we had to do was listen to the traffic on CH 16, and we knew they were. Who does this?) It was relatively uneventful- the water was choppy, but hot damn, the sail drive pedal propulsion does indeed rock. After seeing some dolphins and trying to capture them on camera, we gave up and made it back to the boat. By then, it was noon. Time flies so fast on the water. We took showers and headed to Saturday Market.

dock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was starving by then. Brian, based on last weekend’s most delicious trip, just wanted a tamale, but we had to see the St. Pete Taco Lady to see if she lived up to the hype. “Don’t worry- you will get a tamale after Taco Lady…” Lies. The tamale stand had a forlorn sign that stated, “Sold Out” in front of the empty vats that had a few hours prior contained tamale deliciousness… Nonetheless, they did still have horchata, so that was a plus. St. Pete Taco Lady’s wares were pretty good, and we enjoyed them, but damn, it was not a tamale. Nonetheless. I did not see any cheese curds at Stamper’s Cheese, but Brian spotted them on the way out. The dude sadly informed us that would be his last weekend at the market, and I may have wailed, “NOOOO!!!! WHY?!?” And threw a tantrum at market. Yeah yeah, I can still order them and go pick them up at WineSmith- this is too much effort.

When we got back to the boat at almost 2, the clouds were building. It was too choppy for a good sail, and hot- 95+ degrees. Brian, “Do you want to go home?” Well, I really thought the weather would pass, but after melting again at Saturday Market (and commenting to Brian at Saturday Market- “Why did we even bother to shower today?”) said, “Yeah, maybe it is time to go home, despite the fact the forecasters say it won’t hit the boat.” More lies because as soon as we got home, a huge storm popped up in the bay, and the boat got some nasty weather. Ironically, as we were driving home, Brian (having taken 1 semester of Meterology) was telling me about the clouds, energy, and why it was going to rain… Our weather people major in this, and still cannot get it right, Plus, air conditioning is nice. I am not going to lie- I enjoy having a house to escape to in crappy weather, with air conditioning.

Happy sails, Chris

Cruising Around St. Pete in a Hobie Outfitter Mirage Tandem Kayak

Cruising Around St. Pete in a Hobie Outfitter Mirage Tandem Kayak

DCIM101GOPROI’ve had a love/hate relationship with this beast since I’ve owned it. We bought it at the Tackle Shack in St. Pete in 2008-ish for an obscene amount of money. Why? Well, I wanted a kayak. And this was after the never-ending “dinghy-gate”- the search for the perfect dinghy for Wu-Wei. (Some will remember we’ve owned a fleet of dinks at one point. Most were disasters. And while Serenity came with a legit one, it required inflating, and this beast was already in my garage.) Cons: It is heavy, and approximately13′ long. Pros: It is a tandem kayak, built-in drink holders, drag being a sailboat is minimal and has the sweet pedal drives. When you have T-Rex arms like I do, you do not want to be wasting your time paddling with your arms. It got a lot of bit beat-up while in long-term storage when we were in Japan (we did not realize it until we went to finally use it. This required some G-Flex repairs.) Anyhoo, the beast is long, and Brian’s truck bed is not- he bought a kayak holder thingie that hooks up to the truck hitch. Sweet! It worked great! We lugged it out to the boat, and discovered the Sail Drive pedal thingie straps were dry-rotted- DAFUQDCIM101GOPRO? Okay, we will take her for a T-Rex-hating oar trip. Yeah, cool, but no- my gun show was like, “No bueno. Get the stupid parts tomorrow. We are not fans of having to use us.” The replacement straps are $12 a pop at Tackle Shack- which is not bad. I also got a spare set, and a few odds and ends. Unfortunately, where the sail goes into the kayak had also cracked, and this proved to be a PITA when we had a good sail going on it. (Seriously, how many kayaks have an optional sail kit?)  No matter- I can eventually fix this- ditched the sail on the boat, and went out. We peddled out and everywhere people stopped to wave from their boats. Apparently, there are not many of us who pay for this option of T-Rex arms-free awesomeness. We passed other kayakers, who seemed quite jealous at our foot propulsion. “Suckers! You with real arms! Have fun using them!” Seriously, this thing is fast, and easy to maneuver. After arriving back at dock at sunset, and rinsing out the sail drives with fresh water, I remarked, “Damn, this thing IS a beast. An expensive beast. But I love it!”

When Your Main Gets Stuck, I Mean REALLY, REALLY Stuck!

main stuck
Stuck 3/4 the way up due to a spit sheave at the masthead.

Stardate: 30 Apr 15. It seemed like a fine day to head to the infamous Pine Key (aka. Beer Can Island) for our first night of anchoring out on the Serenity. Initially, the weather forecasters predicted a day of no wind, but the wind, indeed, did pick up, so we decided to hoist the main. 3/4 of the way up the mast, the sail was no longer going up- it fought us. There was much cursing, as this is the point that always becomes a PITA- it this because the mast is raked? I hang on the main, trying to bring it down- there is only so much 135 pounds can do in this situation. Brian finally assists and it is down. Thinking it was one of the cars sticking, he lubes them with white lithium and here is try #2. And… stuck. Again, at the same point. By now the wind is really picking up, and guess what? We can’t get it down, and have no idea what to even do. We tried everything- to include hooking reef points to the boom vang. We are so screwed. Three sail slugs are now broken. There is a lot of profane language. Finally, we are able to somewhat secure the main to the mast (the battens posed a total b**** in this process) and called SSMR. “Um hello, what time do you close?” “All of our people have departed for the day…” WTF?!? It was 3PM on a Monday! I want this work schedule! Since anchoring out in our current state would be a bad choice (due to the battens, we still had a slight mainsail shape), so figured our best bet was to limp back to dock and lick our wounds. As we arrived back, the winds had calmed and backing in to the slip was eerily easy. Of course, it was a matter of 5 minutes before our boat neighbors came by to stare and ask questions. “Do you have in-mast furling?” I finally just smiled and replied to each “looky-loo”- “We are designing a new sail shape called, ‘My sail won’t go up or down.'” “Well, I ain’t never for the life of me seen anything like this!” one neighbor remarked. Of course, everyone wanted to offer their own advice, and seemed horrified we’d pay someone to fix it. Sometimes, it is better to just trust the professionals…. And those are not the marina neighbors.

31 Apr 2015: We awoke early and headed to SSMR. I called them to let them know we’d be arriving when they opened. “We will be on the dock awaiting your arrival.” Indeed they were- they waved us in, and I sarcastically asked, “How did you know it was us? Hahaha…” (It was pretty obvious with our sail whipped to the mast….) They said this sort of thing happens quite more often than naught. Anyhoo, as we suspected, it was the sheave on top of the mast, which had split and locked the line in. These guys were total pros, spent a good hour beating it out- and gave us way more insight into the Hunters than we even knew- “Oh, BTW- your mast rake is perfect, and here is why…” They took Brian next door to get our sail fixed while we waited- the sail fix? $10. We also had the install the new windex and Raymarine wireless anemometer after they replaced the block. Total bill: $152. We thought we’d pay far more. While the rigging (which we suspect is original) does not need to be replaced, but was recommended, could last us another year, we got a quote ($2300), which is actually reasonable, includes a roller furling upgrade and will be doing this this coming Wednesday. These guys have been in the business for a pretty long time, and really know/love sailboats (the guys who work there ARE sailors.) What really sold me on them, though, is their dog. This puppy was a total sweetheart who really hates powerboats (no, really- all you have to say is “powerboat” and he will go crazy trying to find it and bark at it. Such a good puppy!) At the end of the day, I believe everything happens for a reason, and indeed, we were lucky. Had this happened on a windy day or if we were on a long passage, we would have been screwed. I feel this way, too, about having the halyards replaced- we were here for a reason, and I’d rather pay a few boat bucks now in prevention versus a demasting later on from a cracked shackle.

A Three Day and Two Overnight Shakedown

A Three Day and Two Overnight Shakedown

Brian had to work New Year’s Eve, so I spent the day pulling weeds, edging, mowing, cutting the hedges and pressure washing at the house.  We’ve both been so busy with the boat and work that the house has been neglected a bit.  With the yard looking fabulous, I was spent by the time Brian came home and asked for a “bye” as to spending New Year’s eve on the boat.  I needed sleep, and made it to 8PM.  The following day, sore but well-rested, we packed the truck, and headed to the boat.

MMM, Steak and Eggs!
MMM!, Steak and Eggs!

A stop to Home Depot for denatured alcohol for the stove, along with sustenance at Taco Bus and provisioning Bagel Bites at Publix…  Oddly, the marina was pretty dead when we arrived.  Perhaps it was due to the previous evening’s festivities or the fact it was a Thursday.  Nonetheless, we unpacked and Brian set about figuring out our wonky wi-fi module thingie.  After an hour of rerouted calls to different countries, he finally got it working.  Hooray!  During this time, I ventured out and took pictures.  Upon my return, I popped the cork on a bottle of DaVinci Chianti and poured myself a drink in the new unbreakable stemware.  “Aren’t you going to get out your laptop?”  Nope.  I just sat in the cockpit, watching the sun set, and did nothing.  It was so quiet and serene.  We watched a few episodes of Distant Shores, and had our own Serenity cocktail hour.  Eventually, Brian filled the fuel containers on the stove with the denatured alcohol.  We had an Origo stove on Wu-Wei, but never used it.  And now, here we were, about to use our Origo 6000 oven.  Hey!  It worked!  After a good burn in, the oven was ready to receive the small bar Pampered Chef stone pan filled with Bagel Bites. (The story of Bagel Bites- while reading Wayne’s (previous and only owner before us) log, “Went to friends’ boat.  Dinner consisted of mini bagel pizzas…”  This same statement was repeated often.  So it was only fitting to honor Wayne.)  By 9PM, I called it a night.  Crap.  I discovered I left my glasses at the house- I am blind without them!  Good thing the boat has a toilet that works.  I did not sleep well, nor did Brian, and kept waking up every hour and then falling back into a fitful sleep.  The bilge pump going off at 3AM was also a new sound.  (Condensation.)

Awoke to thick, dense fog.  It was chilly, too.   I baked cinnamon rolls in the oven, and we devoured them.  After showers at the marina (by the time Brian got there, there was no hot water.  Dislike!), we ventured out to walk around St. Pete for a bit.  What a neat city!  There are so many things to do and see there.  Around lunch time, we found a Donner-kebab restaurant, and it was delicious.  We walked to Publix to get steaks for dinner.  Once we got back to the boat, we figured, oh hell, let’s drive back to the house to retrieve forgotten glasses, grab a few extra pillows, and a couple of other things.  The drive back took 30 minutes- awesome!  This was convenient!  It warmed up, and the fog started to clear when we got back to St. Pete.  We decided to hit up the much coveted, “First Friday.”  Yeah, not so much- maybe if I was in my 20s… Overrated for our age group.  Went back to the boat and decided to fire up the Force 10 to make steaks while I opened a bottle of 2013 Santa Cristina wine.  Brian had commented he was leary of it.  “But it worked fine in the backyard!!!  What can go wrong?!?”  A lot, apparently.  About 10 minutes after he lit it, the damn grill set itself on fire.  Brian ran for the hose to extinguish it, turned it off, and removed the propane tank before it exploded.  We are both thankful THIS happened at dock.  “That’s it, we are getting a new Magma instead.”  The campfire potatoes went in the oven, and we ate them with a bagged salad.  We slept much better with the additional pillows.

82 in Jan!
January!!! 🙂

I awoke this morning to a beautiful clear day (it was going to be 82 degrees!), and set about cooking breakfast in my awesome stowing boatshow-purchased pans (the removable handles rock, and everything cooks pretty evenly!)- leftover potatoes, steaks, and scrambled organic eggs, on the Origo.  Breakfast was delicious!  There is nothing like a hot breakfast on a boat!  Brian also got a hot shower today at the marina.  Afterwards, we headed to the St. Pete Saturday market- wow!  This did INDEED impress!  Organic farmers’ markets, art, soap and so many wonderful food vendors (is it irony The Taco Ladies are a few stalls away from The Guacamole Dude?)  I commented to Brian, while drinking an Horchata, “From now on, if we are at dock, I will no longer cook on Saturdays.  Tamales, empanadas, AND Thai food?!  Be still, my heart!”  I did purchase a lemongrass plant, some daikon, and cheese curds. When we got back to the boat, I filled out the sadly neglected boat logs while Brian cleaned and packed.  We left with a lot less than we came out with, and headed back to the house.
IMG_2023The good things about the shakedown at dock- it would have been a PITA out at sea to discover the mobile wi-fi hotspot needed to be reset.  And the grill’s “fireball” could have been deadly if we did not have a hose handy.  Also, we underestimated the amount of denatured alcohol the stove uses, the need for eyeglasses and pillows we need to keep us comfortable.  I know, these are first world problems.  On a positive note- the boat is comfy and roomy, and all systems work well.  We need to troubleshoot the mast anchor light (it has stopped working), and probably need to replace the stereo (it draws more than the Engel…  Priorities- faced with the choices of cold beer or Jimmy Buffett, sorry dude…  Cold beer wins!)

Another Great Sail and 2014 Pack NFC North Champs!

Another Great Sail and 2014 Pack NFC North Champs!

vlcsnap-2014-12-28-23h43m03s6
Cap’n Chris at the helm

This morning did not start off without a hitch, as none ever do.  Brian was not feeling 100% and was running a low grade fever.  So, I decided it would not be a good idea to overnight on the boat, and gave him a “bye” for sailing today.  Plus, I do not like fog, and there was more projected fog for after sunset.  Brian will never turn down an opportunity to sail!  The local media stated, “Winds 5 knots, seas calm.”  I have learned weather varies dramatically based on tv channels.  We headed to St. Pete in the convertible- with a high of 80 in the local area, this is absolutely perfect for cruising.  It is odd to think that 2 years ago, instead of the BMW Z4, we were cruising up a mountain in Japan in the dead of winter in a Mazda Eunos with the top down (which is the Miata in the States), and having snow start to fall upon us.

New years day mountain drive W. of Tokyo, Japan
2013 throw back:  New years day mountain drive W. of Tokyo, Japan

Anyhow, as we establish our boat routines, launching was a breeze.  The only concern, “Um, how do we only have a half tank of gas?”  “Um, I did not think we motored THAT much…”  Well, either the motor really gets terrible mileage, someone is siphoning our gas (the diesel is old) or our fuel gauge is off…  We motored out and launched the main.  Winds were about 10 knots.  Seeing as our main sail is ginormous, I figured we should reef it.  Brian was thinking the same thing. Only, I had never reefed a sail before.  Yes, I have only owned small boats before- their sails were small, and 10 knots was to be cherished.  Serenity has a monster sail!  Brian immediately came to the rescue and we discovered we were missing some hardware that is in the garage.  No matter- it worked.  We were hitting speeds of 5 knots- hooray! with just the main.  Finally, Brian let out a little genoa.  We stayed at the same speed.  A great day sailing in the bay.  We have also discovered our high-tech stereo is an energy hog.  Brian switched to the TV in the settee (which one can see perfectly from the cockpit), so I sailed and watched football.  While it was the Saints versus the Buccs, I was cheering for my Tampa losers, who indeed, despite an impressive lead, ended up losing.  But, clad in Packers gear, all I really cared about was watching my team’s kick-off.  (Go Pack GO!)  The trip back to the marina was pretty uneventful, other than the fact, as usual, I could stay all year out sailing and always hate having to go back into port.  I swear it gets easier each time we back the boat in with tying and tidying up.  It was the first day both Brian and I exclaimed, “Wow!  There were no pressing projects we had to do before going out!”  And on a funny note, as we were cruising home in the Bimmer, I looked at Brian and commented, “Dude.  There’s like a middle-aged Harley Davidson motorcycle gang next to us.  I mean, seriously Mom-Pants and everything.”  I have never seen a Mom-Pants Biker gang before- I felt the need to eat all of my broccoli next to these women.  Yes, they do apparently exist- Sons of Anarchy have nothing on this gang.