And the boat still Floats! The past 3 weeks have been an absolute blur. I had two weeks to finish as many projects on the boat as possible before the boat was scheduled to be picked up. Some of the required projects included wiring the solar and new alternator charging systems, mosquito nets for the main salon hatch, bottom paint, work in the anchor locker, boat name sticker on the hull side, and the list goes on and on. Along with all the boat work I also had a pile of paperwork to take care of before leaving the good old state of Illinois. And to top it off, we had to move out of our rental house. Yikes. Well, Needless to say we accomplished everything that was required and I finished pulling the last zip tie strapping the bimini frame to the cockpit at 10 a.m. when Derek Leslie, The sailboat transporter, showed up ready for business. If you need your sailboat moved, talk to this guy. He loves your boat as much as you do. Which is really important if you are as O.C.D about boats as me. He knows his stuff and is extremely efficient to say the least. Plus as an added bonus, his trailer is hydraulic which means he can load and launch in freshwater. He also has the capability to raise or lower your mast with his gin pole built onto his trailer. Really cool stuff.
The next evening S/V Pascagoula Run was sitting in Bradenton,Florida. Early the next morning Derek arrived at Snead Island Boat Works and began prepping the mast to step. And by 9 A.M. she was sitting in the gulf of mexico. It was amazing watching the keel sink deeper into the water as the lift straps lowered deep into the water. After doing a quick check to ensure none of the through hulls were leaking we fired up the yanepillar and pulled out of the slings. A few seconds later we were tied up in a slip 3 spaces down from Deb and Tim’s sailboat Kintala. Deb and Tim Kept S/V Kintala at the same marina in Boulder and in the winter we kept both boats in the same slip. Who would have thought that both boats would be side by side 1000 miles away from Boulder.
I was fortunate enough to have Deb and the yard manager,Bill, hop onboard to help get the boat tied to the pilings. Snead Island was a really cool place with some really cool people.If you ever need any work done or just need a place to crash for a few days I definitely recommend checking them out. I know I will always have a soft spot in my heart for that place and hope to visit again.
Emily arrived on Friday to help prep the boat and also force me into a little R & R after working non stop for nearly 3 weeks preparing the boat. We spent some time lounging on the beach and in the sun and also a fair amount of time loading food and supplies on board. Something that isn’t exactly simple on a 31 foot sailboat. (Think 10 lbs in a 1 lb bag…). Unfortunately Emily had to travel back to Illinois to finish the last few weeks of teaching before she is onboard all summer. After finding places to store food in the boat I didn’t even know existed she hopped aboard a big silver bird to head towards Illinois and the rest was up to me. I really hope I don’t starve…
After pushing my dad and myself to the max for a week straight putting the boat back together and finishing last minute projects we were finally ready to cast the bow lines off and start heading south. Deb is a cruising veteran and I couldn’t really say no when she offered to go along on the first leg of our southward journey. The water depth the entire journey would have made carlyle look deep. That was somewhat of a shock to me. We were happy when we saw 2 feet of water under the keel. After threading our way through a particularly skinny patch the channel opened up into Sarasota Bay. After reviewing the wind direction we decided to see if the boat would still point close hauled despite nearly 1000 pounds of water and fuel, plus food, supplies, tools, and extra stores. Not only did we sail close to the wind all the way down the bay with all the stuff on board, but we moved at an average of 4.5 knots with just the headsail in 10 knots of breeze. I really do like this boat.
And after 2 draw bridges, 1 fixed, lots of shallow water, and catching the mooring ball on the first pass we were securely tied up in the same mooring field that I looked upon at a younger age. I remember watching with envy as all the dinghies would race out to their boats before sunset and telling myself that one day “one of those boats will be mine”. And that day is today. It truly feels sureal.
I will be soloing part of the journey so I had to practice getting the dinghy in the water and motor mounted. Sounds simple, right? Try doing it sitting on the back of a bucking bronco. After coming up with a decent technique I was abe to get the motor mounted without dropping it into the water. When I tried to start it, no matter how many times I pulled it wouldn’t fire. I knew the engine ran great before I left and I knew there was plenty of gas, but i could tell it wasn’t getting fuel. Always think fuel, air , and spark. Deb mentioned again “are you sure the gas is on”? It was at that moment that I remember there was a second fuel valve. I turned the valve and it started right up. Cool.
The next obstacle was taking the tippecanoe to shore to pick up my mom and bring her back to the boat to watch the sunset and drink wine while I took Deb back to Snead Island. The walker bay is a little more tippy than an inflatable and I didn’t have much of a chance to test it on anything more than flat water. The choppy waters made for a good learning curve, and I knew that I must have been doing something right because as I was pulling away from the boat I was followed by a pod of dolphins. It was almost as if they were trying to tell me to relax and everything will be alright. Ever since I took their advice things have been great.
I will keep the boat here in Saraota until the weekend finishing up boat projects. Believe me, they never end. Sunday I plan on heading towards Venice and continue the southward journey towards the other side of the state. It has been an amazing journey over the past 6 years. I can’t wait to see where the rest of 2016 takes us!