"We miss our boat!"

First Voyage (February - April 2000)
We're finally ready to bring the boat down the Intercoastal Waterway.

Tuesday, February 8, 2000: Yesterday and today were beautiful (though a bit chilly), and all our neighbors were taking their boats out. We desperately want ours here, but she's buried under 8 inches of snow in Annapolis. This poses us with an agonizing decision: Do we (1) wait until the spring (mid-March) to bring the boat down the coast ourselves, or (2) pay a delivery captain to bring her to us ASAP? The latter seems such a cop-out, since we miss out on the (much needed) experience of bringing her down ourselves, but I'm afraid that we're missing all the nicest sailing weather here. In hindsight, we probably should have brought her down the coast prior to our move, but events conspired to deny us that option. In truth, I don't even know how much a delivery captain would charge, or if I could even find one to move the boat this time of year. Guess I'm tending toward bringing her down ourselves...

Tuesday, February 29, 2000: We're finally getting settled here in Florida, and the weather's been marvelous! The only problem is that our sailboat is languishing (though professionally winterized) in a slip in Annapolis, and we really miss her. We've been waiting for the weather to warm up a bit before starting our trek south, but it's time we start planning the trip.

We've decided to break the trip roughly in half, the first leg being from Annapolis to Daytona, and the second being Daytona to St. Pete, via the Keys. This will give us an opportunity to drive home for a little bit in the middle to pay bills, check on our cat, etc. With decent weather, each leg should be about two weeks long. We could save a day or two by cutting through the Okeechobee Waterway, but we'd have to pull the mast, and those few days hardly seem worth the hassle, expense, and risk. Besides, we'd miss some great ports in the south of Florida!

We anticipate making most or all of the trip via the Intercoastal Waterway, spending most nights either at anchor or in a slip. We'll probably have more of a sense of urgency during the first leg of the trip, because we'll be eager to escape the cold weather. For the second leg of the trip, we'll probably take it a bit easier, and squander some days in port. Because Theresa and I have so little cruising (as opposed to sailing) experience, we really need help for the first leg of the journey. We'll also need help if/when we decide to go "outside" the ICW.

We've selected the following waypoints for the first half of the journey. Each is about 60 miles from the one before -- an ambitious, but reasonable distance to travel in a 10-12 hour day -- and each has a nice, protected port:

  • Annapolis, MD *
  • Solomon's Island, MD
  • Norfolk, VA *
  • Alligator River Marina, NC
  • Bellehaven, NC
  • Morehead City, NC
  • Wilmington, NC *
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Charleston, SC *
  • Hilton Head, SC
  • Brunswick, GA / Darien, GA
  • Jacksonville, FL *
  • Marineland, FL
  • Daytona Beach, FL *
The ports with asterisks have major airports, and could serve as places for people to embark/disembark. Ernie and Jean will be helping us with the very first couple days of the trip, from Annapolis to Norfolk, and my dad will be helping us for the entire first week. Uncle Richard may be able to join us for the second week, but we still need help for the rest of the trip.

We haven't decided exactly when we're going to start the second half of the journey. It depends a lot, of course, on how the first half goes, and on how close we're getting to hurricane season. In any case, we've tentatively selected the following waypoints, based on the same criteria used above:

  • Daytona Beach, FL
  • Cocoa, FL (by the Kennedy Space Center!)
  • Vero Beach, FL
  • Jupiter, FL / West Palm Beach, FL
  • Pompano Beach, FL
  • Virginia Key, FL
  • Lower Matecumbe Key, FL
  • Little Shark River, FL
  • Marco, FL
  • Fort Myers Beach, FL
  • Gasparilla, FL
  • Tierra Verde, FL
We would also enjoy some company for this second half of the journey, but we hope to be a little more confident in our boat-handling by then, so we won't be quite as needy.

Thursday, March 23, 2000: Uncle Ernie seems certain that we'll need a maintenance manual for the boat's Yanmar, so he called around and found a place that had one. I found the engine's model number on the marine survey, and called the company back to place the order. I got an answering machine, but they never called me back.

Meanwhile, I called Beneteau to order some blanks for the companionway key, so that I could make some copies. I also asked about the mast height above water, and where I might get an engine maintenance manual. The boat's "air draft" is 58'1". The Beneteau folks gave me a number for the manual, but it turns out that the company was in New Jersey, and couldn't ship to Florida. They gave me a new number though, and that company is in St. Petersburg! They have the manual, and I can just pick it up tomorrow.

Friday, March 24, 2000: Theresa and I took Claude (our cat) to the vet today, so that we can get papers for him if we decide to go to the Bahamas this summer. I also picked up the Yanmar manual today, along with a standard Yanmar repair kit (fuel filter, oil filter, belt, etc.). And finally, the three key blanks arrived from Beneteau via overnight delivery.

Tuesday, March 28, 2000: Theresa and I took a cab this morning to the Tampa airport, where we caught our flight to BWI. We arrived before noon, and rented a car. We headed straight for the boat, stopping only to grab a bite for lunch. It was great to be back! Serendipity was doing just fine, and we got to work stowing gear and cleaning up the mess that we made back in January when we dumped the last of our stuff on board. I found Dirk Jabin and asked him how I could fill my fresh water tanks, since the water wasn't on at the docks yet. He agreed to let me use the hose out of his shed tomorrow.

Around dusk, we checked into our hotel, and went to dinner at Chile's. (Some of you may be saying, "So you didn't stay on the boat?" The answer is "No, because the water system was still pickled with anti-freeze, it was cold out, and the heat didn't work!")

Wednesday, March 29, 2000: We met a technician from Annapolis CruisAir at the boat first thing this morning. He checked the main compressor, and determined that it wasn't pumping water sufficiently. He showed me where the water filter was, and we took it apart and cleaned it. We had a bear of a time getting it back on so that it wasn't leaking, but a little Vaseline did the trick.

The unit was still showing "LO PS", so he checked the coolant level, and found that it was a little low. He added some freon, and it fixed the problem. He explained that the amount of coolant needed was dependent on the temperature of the surrounding water, so we might need to remove freon after we move to Florida, particularly if we're running the A/C while sitting in warm water. That's good to know.

After the CruisAir guy left, Theresa and I went to the grocery store to provision for the upcoming 2-3 weeks. Theresa had developed a complete meal plan and shopping list, but the shopping still took hours! We filled two grocery carts, and spent over $650! Some of that was general stuff like spices that we didn't have on the boat because we'd never taken her on a long trip before. Theresa based the shopping on the assumption that we'd have five people aboard for the first three days, and four people aboard for the rest. She also figured that we'd eat out every third or fourth night, so the way we figure it, Theresa and I could probably provision for ourselves for about $100/week, provided we continued to eat out 2 nights/week.

Once we got back to the boat, we hauled all of our provisions aboard, and Theresa started repacking it all while I filled the water tanks. I got the tanks filled, but they still had anti-freeze in them from the winterizing, so I still needed to completely purge them and fill them again. Unfortunately, Dirk turned the water off at 4:45pm so he could lock the shed and go home. I started running the tanks dry, but it takes a long time to purge 215 gallons of water through the sink faucets, so I took the time to clean the various water filters, all of which were completely disgusting.

Theresa and I worked until dusk, when we returned to the hotel to meet Joe & Elizabeth for dinner. It was good to see them again, even if only for a few hours. Later that evening, we got a message from Uncle Richard that he wouldn't be able to join us for the trip. That's a bummer.

Thursday, March 30, 2000: We left the boat yesterday in something of a hurry, and the entire cockpit was littered with unstowed provisions and gear. Theresa began stowing the provisions while I finished purging the water tanks, and filled them again. This time, the water ran clear, so I declared the task complete. I never dreamed that filling the fresh water tanks could be so time-consuming!

Once I was done with the fresh water, Theresa and I went to Boat U.S. to buy random boat stuff. I wanted to see how their prices compared to West Marine's, and we found them to be fairly much identical. They didn't have as good a selection as West Marine, and the clerk wasn't very friendly. We probably won't go back.

We went to West Marine next to pick up a handheld VHF and some spotlights that I ordered last week. The service was friendly, and I enrolled in West Marine's new rebate program (which is identical to the Boat U.S. program). This all served to reinforce my decision to do my boat shopping at West Marine. Besides, they seem to have better store locations.

Once we got back to the boat, I emptied and repacked the lazarettes to make room for the new gear, and Theresa finished stowing the provisions. Finally, the boat's looking neat and orderly!

With the cabin in order, I dropped Theresa off at the grocery store, and went to the True Value to make copies of our companionway key. True Value recommended that I go to a real locksmith, since the key was so weird. I drove out to the locksmith's, and he copied the key without any problem. I asked him how confident he was that the key would work, and he suggested that I take it back to the boat and try it before making the other two copies. This worked fine. On the way back from the locksmith the second time, I filled our gas canisters with unleaded for the dinghy.

Theresa and I worked on final preparations until almost 9:00pm, then grabbed dinner at a little pizza place on the way home. The refrigerator doesn't seem to be working correctly now, but other than that, I think we're ready to go!

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Changes last made on: Mon, Nov 20, 2000
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