This is So Far From Glamping

Wednesday June 10, 2015

Daze Off

Glamping: Shorthand for glamorous camping; luxury camping.  This is not what we are doing.  Serendipity may have been considering glamping to some as it was a step up from camping, but we have fallen so far from there.  So very far in fact that I might have to say that we’re a level below camping.  This folks, is because we have just moved onto Daze Off.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.  We will be living on the boat that we are remodeling.  While we are remodeling it.

‘So you’ve decided not to rip the whole thing apart, but instead just fix little bits here and there?’

Nope, we’re still ripping the whole thing apart while we are living on it.

The original plan had been to live on Serendipity while we were doing this remodel, comfortably floating in a slip at the same marina where we’d have air conditioning running down through a window vent and a comfortable place to kick up our heels at the end of the work day.  Assuming she would takes months and months to sell, as most boats do, we thought that we’d at least have all the major areas finished before there would be any thought of moving on to Daze Off.  The v-berth, forward settee, galley, and hopefully the head.  Basically as minimal as you can get to comfortably live.

But because the ‘Dip sold so darn quick, which in a way we are very thankful for because at least we won’t be paying $1,100 to the marina each month, we are now left homeless.  House-less is fine by us as we’ve been that way for nearly three years now, but at this point we don’t even really have a home.  We have a hunk of metal that’s in pretty bad shape, and that’s before we even begin tearing apart what’s there.

To make the situation somewhat bearable we’ve decided to break the remodel into sections so at least the entire boat won’t be in shambles at one time.  The most important thing for us is to have a comfortable place to sleep so the v-berth is going to be project #1.  We’ll probably couple it with the forward settee as our v-berth is really just a murphy bed that folds down into that area anyway.  When those are complete we’ll move on to the galley since cooking on the boat will be our next concern after sleeping.  From there we’ll move on to the head and then finish out with the pilot house and quarter berth.

We’ll get by, I’m sure, but I also know these next few months are going to be a bit hard until we’re past at least the first two stages.  Even though we’re working on the v-berth we’ll be sleeping in it every night, cleaning up what we’ve worked on during the day.  It hasn’t been terrible so far although it does kind of suck that the boat was left with no cushions in there.  At the moment we’re sleeping on a combination of cockpit cushions and sport-a-seats.  My back is not loving it.

Then there’s the eating arrangements at the moment.  We have no working fridge or chill box on Daze Off and the propane is not hooked up to the stove or oven.  Luckily the marina has a grill on it’s patio area down by the slips and so we’ve been wandering over there every night to fix ourselves dinner.  With only a grill and microwave at our disposal though, meals are going to have to be well thought out.  At least the slow season has come upon the marina and we’ve managed to commander a drawer in the fridge as well as one of the cabinets in the kitchen.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget one of the other fine things that puts us right down there with camping.  We have no electricity at the moment.  What we do have an extension cord that we’ve fed through a hatch to power our air conditioner and a few tools or electronics but we don’t have wiring for lights and that is unfortunately months down the road. When the sun goes down we rely on our Ryobi rechargable flashlight to get us through the night.  I have to say, it actually does a surprisingly good job.

So that’s where we are at the moment.  Living in the stone age and planning what we want to do next.  Our surveyor is coming out in the next few days to do an ultrasound of the boat and hopefully we’ll be able to get the welding started right after and have the keel fixed and all those pesky holes filled. While we’re having that done Matt and I will attack the v-berth and maybe a few leaky hatches. With any luck we’ll have her livable within a few months, but until then, please pray for us.  And maybe send some beer.

Daze Off in travel lift

Daze Off moving to work yard

Daze Off moving to work yard

Daze Off in work yard

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: Mama I’m Coming Home…Again

 

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment still leaves us in St. Augustine, a little over 6 weeks from the last Throwback Thursday, and still working on getting Serendipity seaworthy again.  After having waited four weeks just for the insurance adjuster to come out (they were incredibly busy with claims from Hurricane Sandy), we were finally able to get a total on the damage.  Some of the items we had contracted out to the yard in which we were staying and others we had done ourselves.

Without much for me personally to do besides get in the way and take up space, I decided to leave Matt for a week while I went out to visit my parents in Arizona.  That way he was able to tear apart the boat to get to some of the really dirty projects and live in filth while I was able to enjoy a few creature comforts.  He was able to get a lot done while I was gone, but I did find later that he’d work himself so long and hard that his dinners every night ended up being tuna.  Straight from the can.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday January 24, 2013

1.24.13

I knew this was going to be an early morning, and a somewhat rushed one too, they always are when you’re traveling, but I was not expecting the knock that came on hull sharply at 8 am.  The alarm had been set for fifteen minutes after 8 where I had planned on taking a quick shower, shoveling down some breakfast, and making sure all my bags were packed before departing for the airport at 9:30.  My parents ha offered to fly us out for a visit, and I was only more than happy to take them up on it.  So this even earlier wake up call that we were not expecting left us with questions of “Who is it, and what do they want?”.  Opening the door after a few seconds of pounding on the companionway and voices coming from outside saying, “Let me in, it’s cold out here!” we opened the door to find the guy that was going to be taking out the transmission and engine.  Who as far as we knew, wasn’t supposed to show up until 1:00 that afternoon, after Matt had gotten back from bringing me to Jacksonville (he has to stay behind for all the projects to commence this week).  Unbenounced to us, and even though he knew we were leaving that morning, the guy thought he would pop in for an hour or two to get the process started before the big work of actually removing the engine was to come that afternoon.

So before we were even fully awake or had the chance to get out of our pj’s, we were busy moving all the items from the aft cabin up into the v-berth and salon to make room for him to work.  And all of these new items were now being piled on top of everything we’d already moved out of the port side settee.  A project that had been done on Sunday night to make room for another guy that was supposed to come on Monday to repair all our broken tabbing.  To which he never showed up on Monday.  Or Tuesday, or Wednesday.  The boat was now literally a disaster area.  Still having to stick to my morning schedule, after helping Matt remove the bottom two steps for better access to the engine, I grabbed my shower supplies and went to get ready.  The real trick came though after I had gotten back, and needed to get dressed.  I hadn’t been smart enough to bring my change of clothes with me and was now forced to change in the head.  Which was now also full of crap that we were trying to get out of the way.  There were some real acrobatics involved changing in a space that small with no floor room.  Back in the salon   I was maneuvering around the small space, unpacking and then repacking things into my bag until I was finally ready.  We sent the engine/transmission guy packing, I gave Georgie a long hard snuggle for as long as she’d let me hold her, and took one last look at my home that I hadn’t been away from for almost six months.

Waiting outside the boat yard gates for us was Chris, and we started the hour long journey up to the Jacksonville airport.  Matt was along for the ride as Jacksonville has a very large and well stocked West Marine, and there are definitely a few more things we could use.  Getting dropped off I said a quick and hard goodbye to Matt and went to check myself in.  Initially at the wrong counter, too.  Good thing I noticed I was on US Airways and not United before I got up to the counter and made a total fool of myself.  But soon I did have my tickets in hand and a lot of time to kill when I realized I had never eaten that morning because the galley was ‘blocked’.  Having been offered Starbucks on the ride up but originally declining, the one shining in my face at the airport looked too good to pass up, plus it had a seat right next to an electrical outlet, so I rushed up and ordered a venti caramel macchiato and a scone.  It didn’t dawn on me until I was surfing the internet with a large drink in front of me that I remembered I’d probably still want to give myself an hour to get through security and to my gate.  Which left me 30 minutes to chug a piping hot 20 oz coffee.  Tried as I might, there was still a good 1/3rd left when my timer was up.

Quickly getting through security and the new x-ray machines that there is so much conspiracy about (it was my first time using one), I was sitting in front of my gate in a matter of 10 minutes.  After having passed a Starbucks inside security.  Damn.  We just didn’t have perks like that back in Grand Rapids.  Making sure I was one of the last people on the plane, because, who wants to sit on one any longer than they have to?, I was once again lucky enough not to be seated next to an over-talkative cat lady.  (Wait, that’s not going to be me now, is it?)  During the first leg of the journey (there was a layover in Charlotte) I became engrossed in the in-flight magazine and came across a very interesting book review for something I might need to find and check out of the library.  It’s mostly based on sayings parents will tell their children on safety that have rolled down the generations, and if they’re actually true or not.  Kind of a Myth Busters of ‘Don’t run with scissors’.  Before I knew it we were landing and I had to almost run through the terminal to get to my next flight, which was boarding as I got there.

During the next four hours of that flight I read up on Aruba in the same in-flight magazine (can’t wait to get there), edited some photos, and listened to music.  I can’t wait until I can get a new charger for my Nook and having that work on the way back.  I’m not sure if it’s because of the watches in the cockpit or the past six weeks of stuffing myself behind the desk at the nav station with my computer, but the seats on the plane didn’t even feel very small to me.  Bringing on two big bags since I’m not checking luggage, and then having them sit at my feet since the overhead compartment was full cramped my foot space a little, but it really wasn’t a bad ride.  After landing I walked through the Phoenix airport and it’s many levels to find my mom waiting for me at the baggage claim.  A few big hugs and we were on the way to the car where my dad was waiting for us and a cold Pepsi was waiting for me.  My favorite!  Then when I walked into my home away from home and went into the bedroom to drop off my bags there was a jar full of Skittles waiting for me on the nightstand.  Another favorite.  And the cherry on top, after getting to see my parents of course, was my engagement/wedding ring that had been stuffed away in a bank, ready for me to wear during my stay.  Do my parents know how to take care of me, or what?  I may have just walked in the door, but I can already tell this is an amazing week spending some much needed time with family, and possibly, getting spoiled rotten.

In St. Augustine news:  The pulling of the engine/transmission did not go as smooth as we had hoped.  Smooth as in, our companion way is no longer that.  Because of a few cords that should have been disconnected and were not, while the engine was being pulled out of the companionway by the crane, it snapped back and sent the engine flying into the wall.  From what Matt described to me, even with the height of the door handle for the head, there are now 7-8 pencil eraser size dents, and they’re deep.  I haven’t heard if they can be filled, but it sounded like the only way to fully repair this would be completely replace that wall.  Poor Matt.  At least he has chocolate chip cookies to soothe his pain.

1.24.13 (1)

1.24.13 (2)

Cute couple dancing to Frank Sinatra in the airport.

1.24.13 (3)

 

Cutting the genoa line off the prop.

Comforting to read while you’re flying on a plane.

 

 

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Delivering the ‘Dip – Part II

Sunday June 7, 2015

Jessica, Georgie, & Matt

Yesterday morning we were out of LaBelle almost with the sunrise in hopes that we may actually make it to the delivery point by nightfall. It was a measly 40 miles from where we stood until the Gulf, but the extra run up the coast to Punta Gorda had us a little unsure.  Once we passed the Franklin Lock at mile 121 there was nothing keeping us back other than the setting sun.  The only issue is without guided mile markers from that point on and doubts of the actual miles from Cape Coral to Punta Gorda, we didn’t know if we could beat it.

Matt had woken up feeling a little under the weather and as soon as we had backed out of our space at the free docks and had all lines back inside, I sent him off to bed.  I didn’t mind having to handle the boat myself for a few hours though, since shame on me, I didn’t want to share the last Donut Stick with him anyway.  Having him down below slumbering ensured I would have it to myself, and trust me, I took full advantage of the sugary situation.  Activating the autopilot on a straightaway I ran below to fix myself a blueberry crumble latte using my AeroPress (can not rave enough about this thing) and once again set the stereo up to play some Florence and the Machine while I enjoyed a quiet morning to myself on the water.

I knew I had a few hours before we came up on our first lift bridge and thought maybe Matt would be up and about by that time. As we came within a half mile though and he was still dead to the world under a heap of blankets I began to stress just a little as holding the boat in place under current has never been my strong suit and I normally hand the wheel over to Matt while I handle the radio.  But…maybe it was possible to do it all on my own.  Getting within a half mile I put the autopilot back on to quickly run below deck and radio ahead that I would need passage in about 5 minutes.  Getting the all clear that they would lift the bridge as I came up to it, I went back behind the wheel to slow our speed and time it just right with the opening. It turns out I may have slowed us just a little too much as they ended up waiting for me after closing the road to thru traffic, but hey, at least I didn’t end up with our mast smashed into any thing.  That is always a success in my book.

With another one coming up five more miles down the river, I hoped Matt would be sleeping still so I could once again prove myself and maybe not hold up the bridge tender and impatient motorist so much this time.  Through the next three bridges I did get better each time and I happily waved to each tender as I passed through and radioed my thanks every time I was clear, each time wondering if they thought to themselves ‘This girl is on a boat by herself?  Good for her’.

Little did they know I just had an apparently very ill husband below deck. Although I could totally handle this boat by myself now.  Except in the locks…that one area I did wake Matt up to give me a hand since even though I am proud of my new confidence behind the wheel while approaching immobile objects, I did not want to show up to deliver the boat with scratched all down the side because I misjudged the speed or my depth perception was off, or any number of things that could cause me to harshly bump against the concrete side.

Okeechobee Waterway

Okeechobee Waterway

Georgie on Serendipity

coming up to a lift bridge

With that task done Matt was back in bed and I was only an hour away from entering the city of Fort Meyers.  Making my second blueberry crumble latte of the day I settled back behind the wheel while Matt settled back into bed with what he was afraid might be the flu.  Not a fun time for him to get sick, but at least this was just easy ICW days with rest stops at night and not like when he had the flu on our Azores to Maderia passage where he was forced to go on shift every 4 hours for 9 days and could barely keep himself awake. I was completely ok taking on a full day of travel myself though and had no qualms with him staying in bed as long as he needed to in order to feel better.

Just as we began to pass the skyscrapers of the city and enter larger bodies of water, it was very evident that some very strong storms were on their way toward us. It was one of those situations where you’re under bright blue skies but just off to your side it’s as dark as night and rumbles of thunder echo through the air.  For the longest time I was thinking we might get by unscathed, everything passing just to the side of us, but unfortunately it kept coming closer.  Just as I was able to get all the hatches and ports closed the wind jumped up from 10 knots to 25.

This obviously wasn’t a bother as we had no sail up and were in a protected waterway.  We would not be left completely untouched though.  Minutes later the winds jumped up into the 40′s and along with it came the driving rain.  The kind that is so bad you can barely see 50 feet in front of you.  All of a sudden my worried turned into oncoming traffic on the water or missing a buoy and finding myself outside of the channel and in the 3 feet of water surrounding us.  My only hopes were that other boaters could make out our nav lights if I couldn’t see theirs, and that our charts were spot on with the markers out there.

And then came Murphy’s Law.  A large motor catamaran came up behind us trying to outrun the storm and threw up a huge wake which in collaboration with the waves, left us rocking very violently side to side.  Truly not a big deal on it’s own, but we were quite low on fuel at the time and this little trick will sometimes kick up sediment from the bottom and cause the engine to cut out until everything has settled back down.  Which of course it did to me right now.  With gale force winds blowing us into the shallows immediately outside the channel.

I had a few minutes to work with the engine before we were too far from saving or before I had to go through the trouble of trying to unfurl the genoa just the right amount to sail ourselves out if need be.  I’ve worked with it in those force winds on our Atlantic crossing though and it takes a very strong arm to keep the wind from grabbing onto the sail and unfurling the full thing, forcing you to round up into the wind just to get it back in.  With already impeded speed and being forced sideways, rounding up was not looking like a good option if need be.  Instead I would most likely find myself running and straight into a sandbar. Luckily the 6th time is a charm and just as I was about to give up, the engine roared to life and stayed on.  I no longer cared about the pounding rain coming down on me, and even had Matt make me a glass of hot chocolate to raise my spirits as I continued to steer through the finally dying storm.

Fort Meyers, FL

storm over Fort Meyers

Jessica behind wheel

 After another hour or two the storm left us completely and left us with overcast skies in it’s wake.  By this point I was now fully exhausted as well and it was only 3 in the afternoon.  We were just coming up on Coral Gables and I was in no mood to push myself all night just to make it to the marina.  All I wanted was a place to anchor and fall deeply asleep.  Consulting our Waterway Guide Southern we looked for a place to drop hook within the next 10 miles.  It was so lucky we had this or else we would have been completely for a loss of possible anchorages along the way.  Also getting the down low on Pine Island Sound we were able to find out that the inside channel was mostly meant for small boats or those with local knowledge.  It looked as if we would be taking the long way around.

Treating myself to one of my last Costa Rican beers I put the ‘Dip on autopilot as as soon as we hit the sound and counted down the minutes until we could drop hook.  Some dolphins kept me company along the way and just before 6 we were once again still and I was right next to Matt in bed, not caring if dinner didn’t get served until 9, because I absolutely had to have a nap.

floating shop on Pine Island Sound

anchored in Pine Island Sound

This morning we woke to beautiful sunny skies and what should have been a very pleasurable and relaxing last few hours on Serendipity, but it was anything but. Yesterday was supposed to be our full clean down of the boat so we could hand her off in tip top shape, but as Matt was sick in bed and I was behind the wheel, there had been no time during the day and both of us were too tired in the evening.

Since Matt was still feeling a little under the weather it was decided that he would stay out in the cockpit since we could still keep the boat on autopilot now that we had a larger body of water to travel through, and I would go through packing up all of our remaining items as well as give everything one last scrub down.  There was still surprisingly 20 miles to go which left me about 4 hours to get everything sparkling once more.  It still amazes me how fast one can get a place dirty just by occupying it.

Amidst all the cleaning I would try and take small breaks to let myself not only enjoy all the stupendous beauty of Charlotte Harbor, but to treat myself to all the last little items in the fridge that I had been saving for our trip.  The last bit of Amish cheese, a small glass of red wine, and real brand name Pepsi.  Not that $0.84 Sam’s Cola that we’ve been living on for the last three months now.  But the work was more than I imagined and snack times were few and far between. Now that I look back at it I’m not even upset that I didn’t get to enjoy all my treats.  I’m just sad I didn’t get to sit out in the cockpit of the ‘Dip one last time and enjoy all the sights around me.  This place truly seemed to be a sailor’s dream inside the US.

Pulling up to the marina just after noon we had all of our belongings packed up and every surface shining. Meeting up with the new owner we gave him a full run down of Serendipity and her systems before moving all our things off and signing the final paperwork.  And just like that, she wasn’t ours anymore. Ready for a new keeper and new adventures. For as many wonderful times and adventures we had ourselves, I was prepared to let her go.  She’d done her job and served us well. But that part of our lives is now done and we have our own new adventures to start without her.  Not that we won’t always hold a special place for her in our hearts though. Nothing can replace your first boat love.

Serendipity at Burnt Store Marina

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Delivering the ‘Dip – Part I

Friday June 5, 2015

Matt on Serendipity
At the moment we are sitting at the free town docks in LaBelle, Florida, on the second day of what is to be a 3-4 day delivery of Serendipity to her new home of Charlotte Harbor on the Gulf Coast of Florida.  It’s been a short day, mostly due to lock schedules. Which kind of sucks because we’re just about at the longest day of the year and now we’re stopped at 3pm because the locks shut at 4:30, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.

Our delivery began yesterday morning with a hopeful departure out of Indiantown Marina within an hour or two of sunrise.  Of course things still don’t always work out as you hope though and our schedule was now at the mercy of a boat tipper that could only fit us in during his lunch break around noon.>
Boat tipping?

Yup.  Just before entering Lake Okeechobee there’s a railway bridge with a clearance of only 49′.  Since our mast is 52′ you can do the math and figure out that we wouldn’t fit under it without delivering a slightly damaged boat.  In comes Billy the boat tipper to the rescue.  For a fee of $200 he will come out to you in a little skiff of his, filled with 55 gallon barrels and one big water pump.  Fastening the empty barrels on to your deck he’ll then fill them with water from the river until the added weight on the side they’re attached begins to tip closer to the water, thus putting your boat and your mast at an angle. With about 5 barrels full of water on our starboard side our mast was deemed low enough to safely make it under the bridge.

I won’t pretend to know a whole lot about what was going on since my job was to stay behind the wheel and keep us from drifting into the bridge before we had enough room to go under it, while Matt was the one on deck helping Billy and another guy.  All I did catch is there was a stick dangling from a piece of string attached to our mast, and when it touched the water it meant we were tipped far enough.  Only 17 degrees in the end actually, I thought it would have required much more of a heel than that.  Give us a good breeze and we could have done it ourselves!

Jessica in front of railroad bridge filling water barrels boat tipping

boat tipping into Lake Okeechobee

Okeechobee Locks

entering Lake Okeechobee

 Out in to Lake Okeechobee we were met with something much nicer than we had originally been expecting.  Having looked at photos online before to see if it was a place we wanted to ‘weekend’ with Serendipity on our days off from boat work (before knowing about the railway bridge just before it), I had only been met with images of swamps and fishing boats and crowds that I assume watch Duck Dynasty on marathon.  But as we exited the lock onto the lake we were greeted with a wide expanse of open water and puffy white clouds in a bright blue sky.  Too bad for the fact of that railway bridge (and that after this we will no longer have the ‘Dip) or else I think it would have been a wonderful way to escape the work yard and all issues that I’m sure will arise, to enjoy a life as a freelance cruiser at least a few days a month.

Raising the sails for what may be our last time on Serendipity, we fought the wind left and right to try and get them to fill in 8 knots of wind as we traveled close hauled, and eventually had to accept that we would be motoring across the lake.  True to all of our passages before, given the first opportunity Matt was down below deck for a nap and I happily shut up the companionway to belt out some Lana Del Rey and Taylor Swift.  No alone time and fairly public showers does not give one much opportunty to sing at the top of their lungs as they please.  Just another reason to miss the Sailing Conductors and our music nights at the patio.  Sniff….

Enjoying the sun I stripped down to a bikini for the first time in three months and enjoyed the scenery from the bow along with one of the Costa Rican beers I made sure to pack. Rain storms threatened off to the side but never made it close enough to worry. Winds did begin picking up for us as we rounded the maze of channel markers that would eventually lead us out of the lake and as one towering cloud looked to be coming especially close, I had to wake Matt to help me get the main sail down.

When it was tied up we also noticed it was time to anchor.  As the depths before us raised suddenly from 10 feet to just 3 outside the channel we knew we had to take the opportunity to get our anchor down in the lake while we still had the option.  Only 5:30 in the afternoon with plenty of daylight still ahead of us but we didn’t know of another place to drop hook for the night for miles.  It was all fine by me though as I forgot how utterly exhausting a day of travel can be.  Forget working days in a stifling hot boat yard with about 30 trips a day up and down a ladder.  Stick me in the cockpit of a moving boat for over 6 hours and I will be zonked out in minutes.

Throwing leftover pizza in the oven and enjoying the bouncing motion of being on a lee shore, we tried to keep ourselves awake until a reasonable hour of the night.  We did take in an absolutely stunning sunset from the cockpit before moving ourselves below deck again to watch a movie before bed.  All of our little traditions that are about to be sacked, for a time being, until we can gain some kind of semblance of our old life back on a boat.  Which will be months and months from now I’m sure.  But, it’s all part of the adventure.  I can’t say we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.

last sail on Serendipity

Lake Okeechobee

sunset on Lake Okeechobee

sunset on Serendipity

sunset on Lake Okeechobee

 

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Throwback Thursday: I Got 99 Problems but a Bilge Ain’t One

 

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment picks up just a few days after where we left off from last week’s Throwback Thursday when we had a hard grounding while coming in the inlet to St. Augustine Florida.  Having gotten ourselves towed to the St. Augustine Marine Center, it was the dreaded day we had been waiting for ever since we were safely attached to a mooring after our accident.  The survey of Serendipity to see how extensive the damage actually was.

 

Tuesday December 4, 2012

12.4.12

Yes, I have been saving that title for quite awhile now.  (It’s in reference to a Jay-Z song) No, I did not want it to be used in a case like this.  In my head it was to be used for something along the lines of It’s raining today and we won’t be able to lay out on this tropical beach we just arrived to.  Not for I crashed my boat coming into an inlet and now this is going to cost us a lot of time and money.  Let me see if there are any other ones that need to be scratched out before they bring impending doom to us or our boat.  Hmmm.    Rock You Like A Hurricane. Gone.  Under The Sea.  Could have been used for snorkeling but now it’s too risky.  Sunny With A Chance of Rainbows.  Wait, no.  That one needs to stay.  Now don’t think I’m superstitious enough to believe that a pending blog title caused our little accident.  That’s silly.  No, it was the cat’s fault.  Notice how this happened just after we got her?  Pretty sure she’s bad luck.  (Just kidding Georgie, mommy and daddy love you)

Now where was I?  Ah yes, the ill-fated results of our haul out and survey.  Things were looking hopeful this morning.  We’d had four days to get over the initial shock of the accident happening and after being talked up by many many people we started to believe what they told us.  It’s going to be fine.  Boats are strong, people are usually the wink link.  I’ve done much worse to my boat and the damage wasn’t that bad.  It will probably just be a few small scratches.  You’ll be back in the water before you know it.  We wanted to believe all this.  We needed to believe.  So when we woke up first thing in the morning and there was not a cloud in the sky and it was already warm enough to ditch the jacket, our minds were in the ‘perfect day’ sort of frame.  Sea Tow was ready to bring us over to a large slip and then the lift would pull us out of the water, we’d be washed down, and then set on blocks to have a proper survey done.   Easy peasy.

Things were going along smoothly and we were still optimistic until the hull was completely out of the water and the keel was exposed.  All along the seam was a long crack and on the fin were scrapes and scratches.  I won’t pretend like I know all things boats or the make-up of them because I don’t, but even I could tell at this point that it wasn’t good.  And the fact that Matt was off to the side shaking his head repeating  ”This isn’t good, this isn’t good” just confirmed it for me.  The bottom was given a quick wash and then we were brought over and set on some jack-stands set of to the side for us where a ladder was strapped on to get on and off the deck.

Taking a closer look at the outside we started to see other things wrong besides just the scrapes and cracks.  The rudder, although it still had it’s full range of motion, was cracked at the top, scraped on the bottom, and overall looked to be crooked.  The prop was not doing well either.  Besides the fact that it had our genoa line wrapped around it so tight that it now almost looked like a permanent part of the boat and needed to be cut off with a very sharp knife, the strut was twisted and chipping away from the faring compound that was holding it to the hull.    There were a few other things we could tell were wrong, but not knowing how to correctly put them in a paragraph I’ll just include them in a list in a minute instead.  (Just remember when I write this that I may get a few things wrong.  Luckily there is a person on this boat who actually and correctly does know all the issues, that person is just not me)

Getting to the inside of the boat with the surveyor we had emptied our garage (aft cabin) with all it’s contents out on the deck so all the parts of the engine and the stern would be accessible.  More accurately I’m told, things like the motor mount and stern tube.  Moving through the cabin we pulled out drawers to give access to the tabbing  (the part that connects the bulkheads with the hull) and where the bolts are that would remove the keel. Lastly the bilge, mast step, and remaining fiberglass tabbing was checked.  Throughout the survey we’d get sound effects like “Oh, that’s bad!”.   Or that sound where you suck in your breath because you just saw something you’d rather not have seen.  Then they were concluded with “Wow, you guys really took a pounding”.  Did we tell you about how spaghetti we had sitting under the floor boards burst out of it’s package because we hit so hard?  Yes, we really did take a pounding.  But there was also good news to come out of our surveyor’s mouth as well.  ”Wow, the damage should be a lot worse than it is.  There are so many things on here that should be broken but look to be fine.  You have a well built and sturdy boat.  You’re very lucky.”

Lucky as we can be I guess.  Had we just decided to turn around and follow another boat into the inlet or continue down the coast and skip St. Augustine we wouldn’t be in this mess at all, but hindsight is 20/20.  So it looks like we will not in fact be out of here in a few hours or even a few days.  Serendipity is going to require a lot of work.  Enough, it looks like, to even get insurance involved because there is no way we can fix it with what’s in our pocket and still continue the trip.  We contacted them today and hopefully and adjuster will be sent out soon because until then there will be no check cut to the boat yard and work can not start.  And even if work does start right away we’re looking at a two to four week stay here.

As promised, here is a list of things to be fixed, taken right from Matt’s text to his mom, so you know it’s correct:

To be fixed by the yard:

  • Transmission needs to be sent out and inspected
  • Rudder bushings are gone
  • Rudder shaft is bent
  • Drive shaft is bent
  • Strut is twisted
  • Motor mounts are shot
  • Lots of tabbing is broken
Other issues because of the grounding:
  • Anchor was lost and will need to be replaced
  • Dodger window was broken and will need to be replaced (and after all my hard work on it!)
  • Microwave took a nasty spill and will need to be replaced (yes, we are from the Hot Pocket generation, leave us alone)
  • Chalk on the starboard bow was broken
So there you have it.  We’ll know more once we have the report from the survey and I can give a breakdown of the actual work to be done to Serendipity.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but hey, at least the bilge is still working!

The line that’s causing all this trouble.

Chips on the rudder.

Cutting the genoa line off the prop.

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Everything is Changing

Tuesday June 2, 2015

The Sailing Conductors & Jessica

That seems to be my motto lately.  Serendipity is sold.  Big change.  We have at least moved her to a slip after sitting on the hard for the past 7 weeks.  Change.  Our boat yard buddies the Sailing Conductors are leaving us to begin their sail back to Germany and there’s a good chance we’ll never see them again.  Big change (for me….I love those guys!).  Our other friends Hanna and Mark will be out of here soon enough as well to begin their lives as cruisers and spend the season in Guatemala.  A change that I can thankfully at least put off for a few weeks.

And while all our friend’s lives are changing for the better and I am so happy for them, I have to look at our upcoming future, and honestly it makes me a little melancholy.  And a bit apprehensive.  Trust me, I am all for the renovation of Daze Off, I’m the one that pushed for it more when Matt was unsure.  I know it will be a great boat for us once it’s finished and we’re traveling again.  The only problem is, that is a long time from now and we have a very hard road ahead of us.

I want the new (to us) boat that we know every nut, bolt, and screw; and have also tailored it to exactly our taste, the only problem is I don’t want it 6-12 months from now….I want it tomorrow.  But as Scarlet O’Hare would say ‘I can’t think about that right now.  If I do, I’ll go crazy.  I’ll think about that tomorrow’..  Right now we do still have our good friends with us and I’d like to enjoy every moment of it possible.

Sunday we brought our whole group together at the marina for one more German night.  Now that we have one more addition from that country (Hanna), and we had been enforcing so many American things on them (with the exception of the cheap Costa Rican beer we’ve all been turned on to, thanks to Mark) I wanted to sample another treat from Deutschland.  The Königsberger Klopse Hannes made before was so good that I couldn’t wait for another delicious sample of something I had never tried before.

Gathering for the night and being told to bring nothing other than ourselves, I found out the meal of the night was to be stuffed peppers.  Something I never knew had German origins, but apparently they do.  (Or maybe Hungarian.  Close enough.)  Unlike last time, we had two new sets of hands which meant all I had to do was sit back and enjoy a few cold Becks.  Just after the sun had gone down, I think we tend to get distracted when all of us are together and meals take 2 hours to cook, we pushed two tables together and chowed down on appetizing German (Hungarian) stuffed peppers.

When the plates were cleaned away we brought out the wine and guitars.  Since Hannes now had 2 with him after having his grandfather’s refurbished in Nashville, one was handed over to me and I lamely tried to strum along even though I’ve now had almost three months to practice yet can not play the A chord Ben tried to teach me the first night we all hung out.  Eventually my duties turned into ‘flashlight holder’ and I sat perched at the end of my seat, making sure to illuminate the pages of whatever tune the guys were playing.

Mark, Hanna, & Ben

dinners on the patio

Matt & Jessica - MJ Sailing

stuffed pepper dinner

Captain Ben Bart

Jessica, Ben & Hannes

Tonight we said our final farewells to Ben & Hannes, which was incredibly hard to do.

This morning they left Indiantown bright and early with a newly decorated Marianne (thanks to Jack), with plans of anchoring in Stuart for the night before pushing on toward Fort Pierce where they’d do last minute provisions and wait for a weather window to head out into the Atlantic.  Plans were for Matt and I to head out and treat them to a nice dinner, a thank you for letting us take their place as sailing instructors to the Bahamas back in April when the original request had been for them.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Ben that afternoon that they were making it all the way out to Fort Pierce in one day and would in fit in our schedule to have dinner that night instead?  Well…we’re in the middle of packing up Serendipity to get everything that isn’t being sold with her onto Daze Off, which is still in storage at the moment.  Not to mention that I still wanted to turn this into a Fancy night out since I’d been promised one by Matt ever since we reached American soil again in March and so far had not happened.

A change in plans meant rushing a few more loads of goods to Daze Off as well as jumping into the shower and furiously towel drying my hair in time to still straighten it before we hopped in the van to head to Fort Pierce.  But….there was no way we could turn these guys down.  They’ve done so much for us in all our time together (and have given me so many free beers) that it was time for when they said “jump”, we said “how high?”.  Getting my hair and make-up done and throwing on a new dress, I was able to get in the Kia with just enough time to meet them at 7.

Getting lost in the vast rows of slips at the city’s marina, we eventually found the brightly painted Marianne and the guys.  True to his word, Hannes even wore his ‘sailor’s outfit’ for our last good-bye, something I’ve been asking him to put on ever since we were first placed next to each other in the work yard and I had been internet stalking them based on their website printed on the hull of their boat.

Walking up the short distance to Cobb’s Landing, a nice little restaurant on the waterfront, we sat down in time to hear not only live music coming from inside, but also that we came on a particular beer special night where all beers start at $0.50 at 7:00 and go up $0.50 on the half hour until they are full price.  With a huge selection in front of us we all ordered something different and followed it by a taste test where we’d pass our glasses around the table so we’d each get a sample of something new.

The food was heavenly and even though I had originally been weary of my choice of lobster & shrimp macaroni and cheese, it is now something I would drive all the way back up here just to enjoy. The four of us continued to sit outside and enjoy the music and cheap premium beer until the sun was going down and it was time for us to get on the road.  Luckily we didn’t have to say a teary goodbye at the restaurant since we were bringing the guys back to Indiantown with us so they could retrieve the magic bus. Of course the whole ride back was filled with jokes that Matt and I would chuck any plans of fixing up Daze Off and instead fly to the Netherlands where of course Matt has already found another ‘perfect boat’.  Placing us right next to Germany there’s no way we couldn’t be sailing buddies again in the future.

Dropping the guys off in front of the magic bus we gave them the biggest of hugs and wished them well on the rest of their journey as well as any future ventures.  I know we’ll still keep in close touch, but with them headed back to a land based life it’s much harder to say ‘Maybe we’ll bump into each other again on the water someday’.  Something I’ve been able to do with so many of my new friends and that I am so grateful for.  But in this case I don’t see it happening and that is incredibly saddening.  As I’ve told myself earlier.  “I can’t think about that right now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

Ben & Matt

Jessica, Ben & Hannes on Marianne

Ben, Hannes & Matt at Cobbs Landing

Cobb's Landing

Sailing Conductors & MJ Sailing

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Serendipity is Sold!

Friday May 29, 2015

Serendipity Sold

Wow, that has to be one of the shortest boat sales in history.  But Serendipity is now sold!  Six days from the time we first put her on the market to when we accepted an offer.  Ten days until payment was made and papers have been signed.

The amount of interest we’ve had on her ever since we listed her (even a little bit before, really) has been nothing short of baffling. When we published the post on the blog that she was now available and also linked to it on Facebook, emails with inquiries began flooding through our mailbox within hours and even the following day there were a few people that had started booking plane tickets down to Florida to come see her in person.

Much of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were spent solely on our computers, responding to to the many request for information, answering detailed questions about the boat, and snapping a few more photos of specific areas in question (i.e. thing that may have to be replaced in the next few years).  I have to admit, not only was it such a sense of accomplishment that we finally had Serendipity listed and it therefore meant that we had finished all our projects on her, but being given access to sit on my computer all day in our air conditioned boat (did I mention we broke down and bought a window A/C unit?) was soooo nice after this last push of work.  It’s funny though how we always want what we can’t have.  Two solid days in front of my computer and I was begging for boat work again.

It did take a few days to get things rolling on showing the boat in person, but this week was supposed to be full of visitors to take a gander at the ‘Dip to see if they wanted to take her off our hands.  We did have a few cases of ‘I’ll be out to look at her tomorrow’ followed by a message at 10 pm of ‘Ooops, I’m going to have to reschedule’, which means we’d spend a good part of the afternoon getting her in ‘show shape’ only to have nothing come of it.  Which was ok, I guess, since it meant less spot cleaning the next day as long as we could the areas mostly polished.

On Memorial Day we did two back to back showings. As usual the morning was a bit crazy with the both of us running around as if we were presenting our boat to the queen, and taking away any unsightly reminders that this boat was lived in and sometimes we could not find the picture perfect place for everything.

“What do I do with the bread? Normally we keep it out on the shelf next to the microwave, but we can’t show the boat with our bread sitting out!!”

“Throw it in the van!”

“What about Mazzii?  Do you think it will put anyone off that we keep the cremated remains of our dog in the vanity?”

“Throw it in the van!”

And so it went for a solid three hours.  The showings were great though, both parties looked to be interested and asked a lot of questions.  The first person we knew was looking at multiple boats in the area and that Serendipity would probably be at the top of their price range if they were seriously interested.  The second person however lived just on the other side of Florida near Fort Meyers, and at the moment we were the only boat on his list.  He came, he looked, we chatted about everything under the sun, and he told us he would be putting down an offer, which we requested be in writing.

Well the next day we did get an offer, along with the request that we deliver the boat to Charlotte Harbor (a free delivery being one of the bargaining chips we were using to try and sell her quickly), and after a few emails back and forth we accepted.  The money was wired today and now Serendipity is sold.

I still can’t believe how quickly it has all gone by. One minute we were getting ready to sell her, with doubts in our mind if it was the right thing to do, and the next minute she’s already on her way out.  I guess the fates have decided, and it’s that they want us to move onto a new boat.  We’re very excited for our new adventure but at the same time we’ll be incredibly sad to see Serendipity go.  For the last three years now she has been our home, our crusader, and our one sense of stability no matter where we go.

But, what’s done is done.  On to bigger and better things.  Not that we won’t always have the fondest place for the ‘Dip in our hearts.  We’ll always have the memories of her, and even though there were times we’d curse her and threaten to burn her down, that was just our adjusting to an unfamiliar life.  She really is the best boat anyone could ever ask for and I know her new owner will love her just as much as we do.

 

(* I dedicate this post to Ric, whom I know is so very excited to read that we have sold Serendipity)

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Guess Who Just Got Back Today?

Tuesday May 26, 2015

Sailing Conductors - Marianne

The boys are back in town!  Maybe they didn’t just get back today, per se, it was more like Saturday, but I’ve got to start condensing my posts so this is what you’re left with. Anyway, The Sailing Conductors (and Jack Mantis) are back in Indiantown!

After touring the US and Canada in their magic bus for the last five weeks they have made their way back to Marianne who has been so patiently waiting for them in storage.  I think she was beginning to feel neglected next to the bus, but she has been receiving nothing but love and care from the guys this week and now has no reason to complain. After hitting up cities like New Orleans, Chicago, DC, and playing shows in Nashville, Toronto, and NYC, Ben and Hannes ended their tour and we finally got our work yard buddies back.

Their stay here will be incredibly short since they have a weather window to begin their trek back to Germany which is all ready to come and go on them, and are trying to get Marianne back in the water as close to June 1st as possible.  From there they will make a stop in Bermuda if the mood suits, otherwise head straight for the Azores as their first stop.

To say I will miss them will be a huge understatement as we did spend almost every day together for a month, and having them gone on their road trip while I had to look over at the empty space next to us in the yard has been hard enough.  But while they are here we’re going to enjoy as much time together as possible.  To celebrate their first night back we had a braii at the patio which turned into us smushing as many tables as we could fit together in the kitchen since the mosquitoes are still out in full force and none of us could stand to be outside. When they go after Matt alone, it’s normal.  When they begin going after everyone in the party?  Time to move inside.

A new couple in the work yard that we’ve made friends with, Mark and Hanna, were there to honor the occasion as well and Hanna’s German came in handy as I’m sure the guys missed having someone new to speak their native tongue with. When the dishes were all cleared away it didn’t it didn’t take us long to force the guys to bring their instruments out and once again we were delighted with a live performance of Jack’s guitar and Ben’s cello.  I have so much fun with these guys, even just working on boat projects, but I think listening to their music is going to be one of the things I’ll miss the most once they are gone for good. patio at Indiantown Marina

dinner with the Sailing Conductors

Jack playing guitar

Since Matt and I have a boat we’re in the middle of trying to sell and the guys have a boat with a million and one projects that need to be finished in about a weeks time, we haven’t been able to spend as much of our time together as we did before.  One event we could not miss out on though was the final painting of the magic bus. If you don’t remember me mentioning it before, Jack is a well known graffiti artist in South Africa and it turns out his good buddy Seemsoe that has joined in the last week of their journey is pretty well known for the same thing in Germany.

Although Jack had taken over one side of the bus while hanging out in Brooklyn, painting his signature on one side, a group of hippies had taken over the other and left a paint job with a lot to be desired.  Since the guys are hoping to sell the bus before they make their way out of the US, this needed to change.

Wandering over after the sun had gone down and all of the yard staff left for the day, we walked up to find a wet bar set up with scrap pieces of wood, spray paint bottles scattered between ones of gin and tonic. Jack and Seemsoe were already busy choosing colors and getting Seemsoe’s name ready to go on the other side of Jack’s.

Over the next few hours the rest of our gang sat back and watched as the one side of the bus was transformed from something that was incredibly tacky into something that was incredibly amazing.  Things that you wouldn’t think would go together suddenly worked, and Jack also had some bright ideas (literally) up his sleeve, transforming the turn signal into one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever seen.

It was a great night among friends and really one of the first opportunities I’ve had to really catch up with the guys since they’ve been back. We all had fun hanging out once more and in the process, revamping their ride into something that will sell.  Which at the end of the night gave them a sudden change of heart and they decided that after all this they couldn’t let her go and they’re going to try and get their production company to ship her over to Germany so they can bring her on tour when they get back this fall.  So if you’re on the roads in Berlin later this year and you see this hot ride passing by, make sure to give them a honk and a wave for me.

Seemsoe painting.

Jack Mantis painting

Jack & Seemsoe painting

lighthouse blinker

the Indiantown gang

Seemsoe, Jess, & Jack

 

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: St. Augustine – The Cutest Little Town You Could Almost Shipwreck Your Boat In

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Serendipity to sell and Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week’s installment brings us to the day that changed our cruising fates forever.  Where our plans for a circumnavigation turned into ‘Can we save our boat? Will we still have something to sail at the end of the day?’.  Testing our mental strength, we found out what happens when things go really wrong. But we came out the other side, stronger and wiser and with the knowledge to always trust your gut.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday November 29, 2012

11.29.12

With plans to get to the Bahamas ASAP, we almost made the three day journey outside straight from Cumberland Island to Lake Worth just so we’d be able to stock up the boat and leave as soon as the next weather window came.  We knew that St. Augustine, which was a 50 mile jump from channel to channel, was supposed to be a very pretty and historic town complete with another boat exchange shop, so I was able to talk Matt into a one day stay there before booking it to Lake Worth.  Basing our trips on daylight now, as we always have to do, we figured if we left with the sun in the morning we should have just enough time to get inside the inlet before it went down.  Plus the weather was calling for 15 knots from the north with only three foot waves or less, so it would be a nice downwind sail, perfect for Georgie’s first time out on the water.  Getting the anchor up thirty minutes before the sun rose, we fought a pretty nasty current going out the St. Mary’s Inlet which had us moving forward at a measly two knots, but as soon as we were free of the breakers and pointed south our speed shot back up and under headsail alone we were able to average 6-7 knots.  The sun was shinning and it was a beautiful day.  My mind was filled with thoughts of a hot shower and spaghetti dinner that night, and as we crossed into the Sunshine State my spirit lifted with the promise of soon to be warm weather and crystal clear seas.

Even though the waves were low it was not a flat ride, and since we’re not positive Georgie is 100% sure not to jump off the deck even in calm weather, we’ve already discussed that she’ll always be stowed away below while traveling.  Having left our new kitty under the warm covers of bed that morning we constantly went down to check on her to see how she was handling the rocking motion of the boat.  Each time we’d find her bundled under loads of blankets, either unaware that we were moving or so deep in sleep that she didn’t care.  Since she wasn’t getting sick or freaking out I was considering this initial voyage with her a success.  When we were only ten miles out from the St. Augustine Inlet we called the Municipal Marina and made reservations that night for a mooring ball, and with over an hour of sunlight left,  I was thinking that we’d just quickly ease ourselves in through the inlet and be relaxing inside the cabin thirty minutes after.

Our charts of the inlet only showed one green buoy, which was strange since the past few inlets we’d gone in and out of have buoys going out for miles, red and green placed together each mile along the way. Something else strange on the chart was that it didn’t show the depth anywhere in or near the channel.  Having Matt take a look he pulled out our resources and found that constant dredging and shifts are always changing the channel, so that’s why it’s not marked on charts, and entering it should be done visually by relying on the buoys in the water and using local knowledge.  Keeping my eye peeled for the green buoy listed on the chart (even though I wasn’t supposed to follow it anymore) I did not see it, but did catch sight of a red one off our port bow.  Changing course to take the red buoy on the port side, we finally spied a green next to it, Green 1 & Red 2, so I passed between them with no sight of other buoys in front of us towards the inlet.  Following the straight line that we had made between the initial buoys I began to get a little apprehensive when I still couldn’t see any others buoys and the depth began to fall from 25 ft to 15, so I hailed Tow Boat US over the VHF for verbal instructions on how to navigate the channel.

Coming back on the radio and being very helpful, he kept telling me that Red 4 was missing and I needed to find Red buoy 6 and hug it…but I still could not see anything in front of me.   Matt had even gone on the deck with binoculars without seeing any of the markers.  The sun was setting right in front of our eyes, reflecting off the water and blinding us to anything ahead, and breaking waves surrounded us on each side.  Both of us were getting very nervous and were about to about and turn around when we saw a red buoy ahead just off to starboard.  Hooray!!, we were on the right track after all!  Making a beeline for this new marker I still didn’t understand why the depths were not going up if we were supposedly getting closer to or in the channel.  Then, in the few seconds it took for my heart to jump into my throat when I realized something about this wasn’t right, there was a sudden and hard thud as the depth-sounder abruptly went from 13 ft to 4.  We had just hit bottom, and we hit it HARD.  And this wasn’t a drifting forward from deep to shallow water, it was a quick drop on to it.

Quickly throwing the engine into reverse and throttling hard we could not even move before the next wall of water picked us up and threw us down on the hard bottom again.  The stern swung to the side and now instead of running down with the waves, they were approaching us on our beam (bad news!).  It was only a few seconds from breaker to breaker and the next one that came did not lift us up but instead crashed on our side sending hundreds of gallons of water over our deck and into our cockpit.  It was here that the severity of the situation became real, as this is how boats are lost everyday at sea.  We had both been holding on tightly knowing that initial wave was coming and before the next one reached us we both had our life jackets on and were tethered in.  Matt took a hold of the wheel to point us into the waves and I jumped on the VHF to send out a distress call to the guy on Tow Boat US  I had been talking to on 18, and yelled out that we’d run aground and needed immediate assistance.  I let him know we were stuck in breaking waves and required him to come as soon as possible.

Still at the wheel, Matt was doing his best to move us forward and into deeper water.  The waves coming at Serendipity were eight foot breakers and they were completely having their way with us.  Every 10 seconds we’d be lifted up sixteen feet and then slammed down hard onto our keel.  It was like an earthquake inside the boat, and with each slam the whole boat would shake and shudder inside and out.  I was only used to running into soft sand but this felt like we were pounding down on cement.  My mind kept racing with what was happening.  Would we be able to make it out of this any moment basically unscathed?  Would we make it out, but with lots of damage? Or worst of all,Are we going to have to abandon ship and leave Serendipity behind?  Somehow in this I never feared at all for our safety.  Maybe it was because we had on our life jackets and were only a few hundred feet from shore, but I was never worried that we wouldn’t make it out.  Continually slamming up and down though without any sign that Serendipity was about to miraculously make it out, Matt gave me instructions to hit the Distress Signal on our VHF which sent out an alert to all boats in the area, and then after that he instructed me to put out a Mayday call to the Coast Guard.

Still trusting that Serendipity would get this through us I was calm and collected as I talked to the Coast Guard and explained what the situation was.  We had run aground in the inlet and there were breaking waves coming over us.  They took information as to: how many people were on board; did we have any medical conditions; were we taking on any water.  ”Two, no, no.”  While responding I was still bracing myself at the navigation station below, knees giving out underneath me from the force of each slam down onto the hard ground.  I had to wonder if they could hear it on their end as well, the sickening crash and shudder from the drop of each wave.  The  TV sitting on a swinging mount in the cabin had been wildly swinging back and forth this whole time, slamming into v-berth door and leaving indents.  I flinched with each hit, knowing it would leave permanent damage to the door, and then getting disgusted with myself for worrying about something so trivial at a time like this.  We were in danger and I was disturbed with the physical appearance of the boat.

While speaking with the Coast Guard I heard the engine shudder to a stop, but hadn’t even realized we weren’t crashing down on the keel any more.  We had drifted out of the breakers and into deeper water between the channel’s shoal and shore which in itself was good news, but in all the chaos, the sliding genoa car that holds the line for our jib lines had broken loose and wrapped around our prop leaving us dead in the water.  There was a strong current and smaller breaking waves still pushing us toward shore, and due to Matt’s quick thinking he dropped our anchor, a Rocna 25 Kg, which stuck immediately, kept us into place, and allowed us to face bow into the waves.  This wasvery important because not only would we have drifted to shore and shallow water again, but the breaking waves would have also likely turned us on our side and rolled the boat over if we were not able to keep ourselves facing into them (Typically, you only need breaking waves half the width of your boat to roll it over… these were larger  than the 5’6″ our boat would need).  If we didn’t have that Rocna, and it didn’t hold right away like it did, we would not have even had a chance to save our boat while waiting for help to come.  Getting back on the VHF with the Coast Guard I informed them our engine was not working due to a wrapped line around the prop and we were now adrift in deeper water.  With the wind coming from right where we needed to go, sailing out wasn’t an option.

Not having anything to keep him preoccupied now, Matt let his nerves start to get the best of him as he stumbled down the stairs, still assured in his mind that we were going to lose the boat and have to be evacuated.  Between short breaths he tore through the aft cabin pulling out our backpack and stuffed Georgie inside of it.  Going into our hanging locker in the head he grabbed our dry bag and started throwing in our laptops, important papers, passports, and anything else small and of value.  These were all smart things to do, but the look in his eyes was terrified as if to say ‘We’re not going to make it‘.  Calming him down the best I could I assured him that the three of us would make it out of this and that’s what was important.  Even if the boat was lost we’d still have each other.  Even though the chance of losing the boat was not what he wanted to hear this seemed to work a little and his breathing slowed down as he started to gain control again but I could tell his mind was still full of what ifs?.

Not knowing who/when/if anyone was still coming to rescue us since the Coast Guard Station was all the way up in Jacksonville, I was relieved to hear the voice of Tow Boat US come back on the radio and say he was moments away.  By now the sun had already set and pale pinks and blues were painting the coast of the Atlantic.  When I looked over to see the bright flashing lights of Tow Boat US my heart lifted as I could now see help was on the way.  Our Rocna was still holding us steady in ten feet of water, which is enough for our keel to clear the bottom, but now in the heavy breaking waves of the beach’s surf line, we figured that with this assistance we may still save our home.  Communicating through VHF he said he was going to trail a line with a bridle at the end and when it drifted close enough to it, Matt who was at the bow with a boat hook, would grab it and attach it to our cleats up front.  Once that was done we’d pull up the anchor and be on our way.  It sounded so effortless and I began to let myself relax in just the slightest.  We were going to be out of here in just a few minutes and leave this nightmare behind.

As the tow boat made it’s first pass we kept our eyes on the water for the yellow bridle that was to be our savior, but it was nowhere in sight.  When he called back on the VHF I replied that it hadn’t come by yet, but then I spotted it.  100 feet off our starboard side and not drifting any closer to us.  Calling this information back to him he said he’d make another pass.  Swinging around once more his boat passed a few hundred feet in front of us and as soon as he was even with our bow he shot back out into the deeper water.  Once more we watched the bridle pass this time 50 feet to our starboard side with no indication it would come any closer.  I didn’t get why he couldn’t pass any nearer to us or why he wouldn’t continue past our bow before heading back out as in my mind that would seem to put the lines within reach.  Then it occurred to me that he couldn’t do either of those because those large breakers we were stuck in, and by coming closer, he would be putting himself and his boat in danger which would be a lose/lose situation for everyone.  The optimism of getting pulled off was diminishing and for the first time I let myself get scared.  It was getting dark out, the tow boat couldn’t successfully get to us, and we might lose everything after all.  A lump formed in my throat as I tried to hold back tears.  All the confidence and repose was draining out of me and I was moments away from breaking down.

Just at the moment I was about to succumb to the fears building up inside of me, there was another voice on the radio.  Local search and rescue had been listening to the distress call and our interaction with the tow boat on how he was unable to get the line close enough to reach.  They were sending out one of their jet skis that could grab the line from the tow boat and bring it directly to us.  We were thrilled to hear this, but the waiting began again.  Matt was still stationed at the bow and I was in the cockpit.  Both of us would have to brace ourselves as the waves that were starting to grow again would throw our side up before coming back down.  We were now at a 50-60 degree angle to the waves and although they weren’t sending water in the cockpit it was a very uncomfortable ride.  As the sky turned the color of a blueberry I looked back to shore to see a Coast Guard search and rescue truck stationed on the beach 300 feet away with lights flashing, reflecting off the sand and water.  The waves built a higher, and as I’d start to get small rushes of water over the gunnel and into the cockpit, my heart began to beat faster.  I didn’t know how much longer I’d be able to take this.

As my mind started to go into the darkest places of what might become of us we got a call on the radio that search and rescue had us in their sights.  Looking over our port side we saw their bright flashing lights and hopes lifted again.  Coming up to our boat to check on our physical (and probably mental) well being, they advised that instead of bringing the bridle to us they’d instead have us cleat off our own line that they would bring over to the tow line.  Knowing that time was a factor I started grabbing lines from the cockpit floor and unknowingly began to start handing out our reef line thinking it wasn’t attached to anything.  Having come back to the cockpit to feed the line to search and rescue, Matt caught my mistake and dove into the back lazarette for our double braided drogue line and handed it to me to untie.  Although it had been tied and stowed properly, it became a mess as it fell onto the cockpit floor while trying to get all 200 feet ready to hand out.  Using all my strength I heaved and pulled at the now wet line trying to work out kinks and knots.  When we had 3/4 of it  straight Matt took the line to the bow to cleat off and search and rescue made a pass to pick up the other end.  After two attempts the line was secured by them and they made their way back to Tow Boat US who was sitting safely off in the distance.

Keeping in contact through the VHF we discussed the next steps with Tow Boat US.  Once he had the lines secured, he would notify us when we were to take our anchor up, and once we were free, we’d call back to him and he’d tighten the line and begin the tow.  Everything went smoothly on his part and after working our windlass hard to pull ourselves to the anchor and get the Rocna up, which had dug itself in pretty deep, I was given the signal by Matt which I excitedly relayed on the radio and the towing process started.  Being walked through step by step from the tow boat I had the wheel cranked hard to starboard to get us facing the tow boat, and once we were pointed at the stern, I was told to keep it there.  We were now in pitch black and all I had to go by were the yellow and while lights shinning on the top of his boat.  Letting my eyes sneak to the chart several times I kept an eye on the depth, fearful of being pulled back into the shoals we had passed through earlier.  The tow boat captain was knowledgeable of the area though and brought us far to the south of the breakers before rounding to head back into the channel.  Every time we were about to make a turn he’d call it back to me on the radio and pass through very slowly so I’d constantly be able to position myself behind him.

Before I knew it we were through the channel and into the Matanzas Bay.  I let out a huge sigh and my tense body was finally able to relax.  We had made it through this.  Looking up into the town of St. Augustine the waterfront was covered in Christmas lights and it looked like something out of a fairy tale.  Letting myself get distracted by something other than the boat I took a few minutes to appreciate all the beauty around us.  As I sat there admiring the lights I heard movement in the water next to our stern and puffs of air escaping the blowholes of a pod of dolphins that came to surface next to us.  I couldn’t see them but they stayed there for a few minutes, as if they were surveying the situation and making sure we were ok.  Unhooking the tow lines our guide boat came up beside us to ‘hip tow’ us the rest of the way to the mooring ball we had made a reservation on for the night.  Secured in we began the paperwork and got the chance to chat with the guy who saved Serendipity.  Captain Justin Daily is the one who heard our initial questions about navigating the inlet and had already been on his way out to help guide us in before our distress call went out.  Through the whole ordeal he was calm, confident, polite and made it very easy to put our minds to rest of the whole situation.  Back at the mooring ball he was insistent on making sure we were alright and worked with us to make the bill as manageable as possible since we were not yet Tow Boat US members.  We could not have asked for a better person to help us out that night.

When all the paperwork was finished and the tow boat was gone we immediately had visitors from Hideaway who were at the mooring ball next to us and heard the whole thing go down on their radio.  Changing out of our soaking we clothes we jumped in their dinghy and after all of us checked in to the office we took advantage of the hot showers and walked across the street to get some food.  We relayed the whole story to them over drinks and a hot meal.  They assured us it probably wasn’t as bad as we anticipated and boats are much sturdier than we think they are.  Asking what our plans were next we could only tell them that we’d have to haul out to inspect the damage.  As far as what was after that, neither of us had a clue and agreed not to make any decisions that night.  If we had that night, we probably would have been two one-way tickets back to Michigan on our credit card.  It was a trying night and we were so thankful to have friends there waiting with open arms, give outside perspective, and remind us what we have to be thankful for.

In the end we made it out mostly in one piece.  We’re safe and although Serendipity will have permanent damage, hopefully it will be minor repairs that will have us back on our way in a matter of days.  She took a very bad pounding but through it all we never had any water coming in, steering was moving freely and besides some cosmetic issues to the interior plus all of our belongings scattered around her, she looks to be holding up pretty well.  Probably better than us at the moment.

Some very big thanks need to go out to all that got us and our home back to safety that night.  Thank you Justin Daily for coming to our rescue, before you even knew we needed you.  You braved breaking waves yourself and held our hand through the whole situation.  Your calmness and awareness let us know we were in good hands and and all of us (boat included) would be taken care of.  The community is lucky to have you around. Thank you to the local search and rescue team.  Without your assistance we may have never received the tow lines that pulled our boat to safety.  You were out to help us without a moments notice and without even being asked.  We appreciate it more than you know.  And lastly, thank you to Rocna Anchors.  Without your reliable anchor that we have trusted since the beginning of this trip, we surely would have lost our boat to the smashing waves of the inlet before rescue could make it out to us.  You make a remarkable product that all boaters would be wise to take advantage of.

If there was any lesson learned today, it’s to always follow your gut.  Both of us had a bad feeling about our entrance into the inlet but didn’t react in time to save ourselves a night full of heartache.  We should have circled back out right away and either re-evaluated the situation, waited for another boat to follow in, or just kept going down the coast until we found an inlet we were more comfortable with, even if that meant skipping St. Augustine all together.  So many people put themselves in bad situations and just get lucky that they come out of it fine.  ’It won’t happen to me‘ is a common phrase in people’s minds and always floated through ours as well.  From now on I have a feeling we’ll be over-cautious in many situations and we’ll be living by the adage ‘Better safe than sorry’.  Because now we know what ‘sorry’ feels like and it isn’t very good.  In fact, ‘sorry’ downright sucks.  Taking a look around though the bright holiday decorations, historic buildings, and friendly people will all help us get through this.  I’ve only seen a little bit of it, but St. Augustine really does look like the cutest little town you could almost shipwreck your boat in.

He’s a map showing where it all went wrong.

st augustine inlet

After talking to local Fire & Rescue I was sent a clip of a sailboat that ran aground in the same exact spot we did, just one year earlier.  They were not as lucky, the keel of their boat fell off causing them to capsize and sending two people into the water, both of whom were rescued.  Click here if you’d like to see it.  The water conditions were the same for both them and us, but  we had clear skies and a pretty sunset.  A sunset that partially caused our demise, but it was pretty nontheless.

 

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Letting the Fates Decide (& Other Stuff)

Wednesday May 20, 2015

storms over Indiantown

The last I left you with our boat situation, we were trying to decide if we should keep Serendipity or if we should sell her and spend the next however long and who knows how much fixing up the quite beaten up Daze Off.  As far as weighing the pros and cons of each, things haven’t changed much.  We haven’t made a final decision on it all.

And that my friends, is why I’m letting the fates decide.  The big thing for us if we keep Serendipity is that we need to find a safe spot for hurricane season and get ourselves there in a reasonable time, meaning we’d want to leave Florida by early to mid-June.  There are some last minute things that would need to be taken care of here, but we think they could be done within a few weeks.

There would be no rushing down thousands of miles to Grenada, or even to Guatemala which we would LOVE to visit again, but more likely end up in the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, where with a decent weather window we could make in a week or just over. Having to then rid ourselves of Daze Off, well, there is a story behind that, but it shouldn’t bee too difficult or time consuming.  There would be selling our new vehicle, getting some other paperwork squared away, but really nothing that would be keeping us here.

How might I be letting the fates decide our lives you might ask?  It’s actually quite simple.  We’re going to put Serendipity up for sale, by owner, for two weeks and see how she does on the market.  If there’s not so much as a nibble we’ll splash her and go.  If there’s a few interested parties we’ll re-evaluate.  And if there’s an offer…chances are we’ll take it as long as it hits a certain figure and then dive into work on Daze Off.  I figure this is the best way since it’s a decision neither of us can seem to make for ourselves and because we are actually so indecisive about the whole thing, I think we’ll be satisfied with whatever the universe throws at us. Problem solved.

What’s the other stuff?  I never really did get a chance to talk much about that new vehicle of ours.  She’s a beauty.  A 2004 Kia Sedona, without air conditioning and about three door handles missing.  We knew when we bought something we wanted it to be a minivan so we could pull out all the seats and fit 4×8 pieces of plywood in it, because heaven knows we’ll be buying plenty of those. Did I mention that every scrap of wood in Daze Off is going to be replaced if we keep her?

Truth be told we would have loved to purchase a Toyota Sienna but it was a bit out of the price range we wanted to pay.  We only needed something that will last us our six to nine months here without completely falling apart on us.  If we can eventually sell it again and get any kind of money back, that’s just a bonus.  We started with a budget of $2,000, and searching all over Fort Lauderdale and Miami we’d found a couple that looked as if they may be contenders.  The photos looked nice, mileage was low enough, and all the listings always said ‘great condition’.  Until we saw them in person or took them for a test drive.  I don’t know if any of them even would have got us back to Indiantown.

Then we came across our current one in Port St. Lucie.  Advertised for $1,500, she had 142,000 miles and the photos showed her in decent condition.  There was a bit of sun damage on the hood and it was no longer shiny, but that wouldn’t be a deal breaker for us. Going to see her in person we found out she drove well, but the check engine light was on and the owner couldn’t remember what was causing that.  ”Nothing big”, he told us, “Whatever it is, it’s an easy fix, I remember that”.  Telling him we had to think about it we went back to Indiantown having our rental for another day and another van to look at in the morning.

Getting back to the ‘Dip that evening we received several text messages from the owner, stating that he would bring the price down to $1,100 and throw in a brand new compressor to fix the A/C.  We still didn’t know.  The next morning we got another text.  ’$1,000 with compressor’.  Well you can’t turn down a deal like that. So running back out with our rental car we purchased her and then registered her to the state of Florida.  Which did require Matt to get a new drivers license here.  Hehe.  I love the Mackinac Bridge running over mine and I’ll be keeping my Michigan one as long as possible.

So there you have it.  A new vehicle, purchase and registered for pretty much what we earned on our sailing instructor gig.  Not a bad little arrangement.

That’s all for me today.  I’m about to get back outside and watch this incredible thunderstorm come in over the storage yard.  If I can handle all the mosquitoes that is.  They are out in such force right now that I have on long pants, socks, a long sleeve shirt, and a scarf covering my neck and entire face except for my eyes.  Sitting on the deck while enjoying a glass of wine along with the storm may be completely out of the question, but I still have a chance of capturing that perfect shot with my camera!

2004 Kia Sedona

putting plates on our new vehicle

our beat up Kia

thunderstorms over Florida

thunderstorms over the boat yard

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