Thursday, February 28, 2013

We're Off and Cruising! (Part Deux)

After arriving in Key West, we were both elated! We have actually started our dream! We survived the 30 hour trip down here and we are ready to enjoy our anchorage! We sat out on our aft deck and had a “sundowner” and some cheese and crackers while observing the anchorage and all the excitement of Key West. I made an easy dinner of spaghetti with mushrooms and a salad and – of course – the glass of wine. Then after playing on the internet for a while – we hit the hay – exhausted!  
Arriving in Key West!

Monday arrived and we were both up early to see the sunrise and have one of Richard’s delicious English breakfasts on our aft deck.  Then on to the jobs!

First job was to install the part that delayed our leaving on Thursday – the Whale foot pump – a manual pump for water at our galley sink (-Which had been leaking). T his does not need a motor and is an excellent alternative to the tap for water and electric conservation, as well as a back up to our main water pump and so we needed to replace it. It was one of those perfect jobs – like you see filmed on DIY on TV – went in smoothly and worked instantly –with about 20 minutes of labor for the 2 of us.

Great! – Now on to project #2 – get the water maker going and make some water!...............Uhh…..not so easy..  I have no idea about that job – and Richard had a handy step-by-step checklist he wrote when he started it up with John, on the trip down from Oriental NC, where we bought Partners. But Richard went through all the steps –again… and again - and no water. Until he decided to look elsewhere for the problem, and – aha! - Hose clamps are broken and need to be replaced.  No biggie – we have lots of those spare. And Voila! – Water! And it tested pure and perfect! Yeah!

So I did some laundry while the tank was filling and made us some lunch. We both were elated that the jobs were successful and we mostly spent the rest of the day relaxing under the sun and watching the day go by in a very leisurely way – my kind of day! I made lamb chops and scalloped potatoes, peas and Brussels sprouts and we enjoyed the evening with a glass of wine and listening to Jimmy Buffett music until dark – heave
Day 3 –Time to be a tourist! Today we get the dinghy down and go into Key West for some fun!  It took some wrangling to get that dinghy down – it’s all new equipment on the boom – but we did - and I brought my bag with water, towel, hairbrush and sun block. I reminded Rich to get the VHF Radio and boat registration – brought our cell phone and life jackets and off we went.  We found the dinghy dock and bought a $6 day parking pass. Then we hit the Turtle Museum and the Museum of Nautical History about the Dry Tortugas. Of course I had to see some clothing and jewelry stores too!  We walked over to Duval Street and ended up at Sloppy Joes for lunch and a beer. It was packed – no tables – so we asked a couple if they would mind sharing their table and they were happy to!  They were quite nice and came from NY – but stayed 3 months in Key West in a small trailer they had. Eventually they left and Richard got presented with our bill and asked me for the money. -----What money? – didn’t you bring your wallet?!! - No! -So another couple asked if we were leaving – could they have the table – and we said yes – but only if I could remain “hostage” for the waitress, until Richard walked back to the dinghy dock – motored back to the boat – got his wallet – returned and paid the bill! I was having a cool afternoon listening to the hot young talent singing on stage… blonde long curly hair and a great body – umm! And the couple were so nice – Chuck and Judy from Pennsylvania and Indiana – drove to Florida in their RV. She was 72 and an RN – still working 3 days a week in a Cardiac floor of her local hospital! He was 82 and they were both widowed for a while when their kids fixed them up. They were really nice and made the time go fast. Before I knew it Richard had returned panting and dripping with perspiration…I really felt bad… did the waitress. She brought him a cold ice water without us even asking!

After that we walked around Key West seeing all the sights and I was amazed Richard didn’t pass out from exhaustion! We came back to the boat for the evening so tired! Richard opened the lazarette to put away the dinghy anchor and life vests and noticed our steering assembly was loose! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!  Richard was saying we may need a haul out if our rudder was damaged. Apparently it was missing some nuts and washers to hold the huge bolts in place. He went to his ginormus tool box and got out all these wrenches and started tightening the bolts. He flagged down the Florida Wildlife and Marine Patrol (cops) to ask for a ride to town to get nuts and they pulled up to our boat to see if they could help – but they couldn’t give Richard a ride and it was too late and difficult to get our dinghy down – so in the end we “wickied” it to get us to Miami – where we will get what we need then. It was fine the whole trip – although we kept checking it to be sure.  The Marine Patrol boat came back to re-check on us – they were really great! We assured them we were okay and as they pulled away they said: “Don’t forget to turn your anchor light on.” ----(It is on – thought Richard)- but it had quit – for one reason or another. Since the anchor light is atop a 14 ft mast -Richard got out our dinghy light and tied it to our halyard and hoisted it like we would a flag – and it worked! Since it was an LED light it went well all night…..another job to do ….        

At 7 am the next morning we raised the anchor and cast off towards Miami up Hawk Channel with plans to stop for the night at Marathon. The weather was glorious and all was great – except for the CRAB POTS!! Gosh – there were hundreds of them – it was like a mine field and we had to dodge them left and right so they didn’t get hung up on our prop or stabilizers. We worked together to watch closely – but – wouldn’t you know – we hooked one on our port stabilizer fin! I looked out our stern to check and could see a line and a red thingy and in the distance I saw the trap bobbing up and down! RICHARD!!!  WE GOT ONE CAUGHT!!!

Did I tell you I’m a “newbie” to all this? We had a 50ft Grand Banks – but we were working and just did weekends. We lived aboard this boat for over a year at the dock – but were also working – so did not take many trips – mostly locally. So now here I am – IMERSED in all the excitement of this adventure. The dictionary definition of adventure is: “An exciting and very unusual experience. A bold and usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome” WOW! – Maybe I should have read that definition BEFORE I started this voyage! So – suffice it to say – I’m “on board” with the whole plan – but it is not always easy and very often SCAR Y for me! Thank God for Richard! He calms me down when I panic – which I have done- and comforts me when I’m crying with fear – which ( I’m embarrassed to say) I have done too….. I’ve read in books and other blogs – that the first year is the hardest…. (Kind of like a marriage)- Just getting to know the boat and what to expect. We’ve had rough seas and that is very tiring; we’ve had things break and they have to be fixed before anything else is done. There are priorities when cruising – just like any other job or situation in life- and they go before the drinking and the sightseeing and the reading and relaxing…. I’m learning!

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