Vero Beach Municipal Marina
April 11th, 2013
So, where to begin?
Refresher: I last wrote from the Ragged Islands in early March ‘11. We were returning to the States for my daughter’s wedding and a family reunion, and we were heading to Riverside Marina in Ft. Pierce, FL to work on the boat. (We had an unbelievable sail over – averaged 8 knots over a 60 hour passage from anchor up to anchor down, 20-25 knots of wind – if you picture that in your mind, you’ll see it was hard to do *anything* but sail and lose weight!). Riverside is one of the few yards in FL where you are (1) allowed to live aboard while you’re on the ground and supported with jack stands, and (2) do your own work. We needed to renew our bottom paint, varnish the companionway, and install a skylight in the sliding hatch over our bed. That was our entire list – 3 things - all of which we were comfortable doing ourselves, and which we planned to complete before we set off for the family reunion.
We completed the varnishing and the skylight ... (twice, actually, since we used the wrong cleaner in our prep work, which was a great lesson to learn!) and left someone sanding the bottom of the boat while we went to Charleston, SC for the festivities. We rented a house in Folly Beach, and filled it with family ranging from my Mom at 86, to Harrison, who was 3 and everyone in between – it was a fantastic memory-maker. The week culminated in Emily and Patrick’s very beautiful wedding, which created another reunion with old friends. It was a very, very special time.
We returned to the boat to finish sanding and painting the bottom, before I was scheduled to return to Clayton for the birth of Sawyer, Jessica’s second child. After that, our plans were to take my mom cruising again; she was waiting patiently for us to finish the boat, and at her age, we didn’t have time to dawdle. However, once we had the bottom paint sanded down to bare fiberglass, Skip spotted some water seeping through the hull. (Uh-oh.) He chased it with a small grinding ball – which lead to fiberglass delamination. Blisters. (Remember I wrote a log about this once in 2006 – likening blisters to acne?) We groaned and cried and got the grinder out, and knew that our tidy little plans were not to be. Funny how that happens.
As a result of the bottom job – the HUGE bottom job that we ended up doing – we’ve been here in Florida for over two years, and close enough to be a part of many other important family occasions that we hadn’t anticipated. Skip’s father passed away at 88 and we were grateful to be a part of the celebration of his life. Sawyer, Selah and Ira Vann were all born and furry grandchildren were added to the pack (we’re very fortunate to have wonderful furry grands, too). Another grandson is cooking, and is due in August. We had two lovely visits with my uncle and his wife in the Panhandle, and two of our children and their families visited Disney World, visiting with us at the same time. My youngest son finished his 4 years in the AF, and I was able to see a bit of him. My other son, Samuel, found his soulmate, Dawn. and we just returned from their very beautiful wedding – another huge memory maker. In the 23 months we were in the yard, we were off visiting family for 8 months.
As time passed and we continued our work on the boat, my mom migrated to Vero Beach, where she’s been staying with a close family friend. As she waited for us, the inevitable physical aging crept up on her, and she’s now concluded that while she’s in astounding shape for nearly 88, she’s missed her opportunity to cruise comfortably on the open ocean. On the other hand, she’s planning to stay on in Vero Beach indefinitely, where she’s only two blocks from the marina where we’re tied to a mooring ball at the moment. It’s a wonderful spot, and perfect to cruise into for extended periods if need be.
On a February full moon, when we had finally finished the work we wanted to do on the boat, we splashed again, and began sea trials. Sea trials are intended to shake the boat down; to discover anything that needs repair that was missed, or that wouldn’t be apparent until the boat was back in the water where the engine could be put under load. And it wasn’t just about the boat; two years off the water made us rusty sailors, and we were (very) anxious to get our chops back. I admit to having been very nervous, as well as terribly excited.
As sea trials go, they were productive – pretty much everything that hangs off the engine, broke. But without exception, all of those failures (be it the raw water pump, starter motor, alternator, bilge pump, and most recently, the refrigeration) happened at anchor. We never had an “incident” or felt our safety was threatened while we were sailing, anchoring, or navigating in tight quarters (thank you, God!) In all cases we had spares, but we took advantage of being in FTL, the sailboat center of the world, and found a gifted mechanic to do the rebuilds for us. Best of all, his shop was within walking distance; that, in itself, was such a gift. Sending off broken parts for repair through the “mail” from a sailboat is always a big production.
When we left Ft Pierce, it was with the Florida Keys in mind as a destination during our shakedown. We never made it past Ft. Lauderdale, as it turned out, which turned out to be a wonderful thing. We anchored in protected Lake Sylvia for a week, got our repairs done without drama, met old cruising friends and found some new ones, and enjoyed some fantastic exploring by dinghy. Ft. Lauderdale reminded me of Venice, Italy; the local museums can be reached by water, and the New River perspective of the city is really stunning. I mean *stunning*. (When I asked if these homes along the river were owned by the 1%, I was told that most of them weren’t Americans. Hmmm.)
I’m also thrilled to report to anyone who is contemplating tackling a blister job, that it was worth it J Flying Pig has picked up a couple of knots on average – and she feels like a thoroughbred champing at the bit. I never anticipated such an evident improvement from a fair bottom, but it’s a wonderful reward for all the back breaking work. Time will tell whether we did our bottom job well. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that if a fiberglass job is worth doing, it better be done perfectly or you’ll end up doing it again one day. There’s only one way to deal with chemical adhesions – and there are no shortcuts.
So now we’re at the beginning of another cruise, another chapter in our lives, which appears like it might be up the East Coast again, chasing summer weather. We’ve purposely tried not to make hard plans, because they never seem to materialize our way, and we’ve learned to trust that it really makes no difference; it all happens perfectly anyway. Remaining open to surprise seems like the right way ;) I’m so grateful we’re in the position to do that!
I hope that those of you who have been wondering how we’re doing feel caught up, and for those of you who would like to be off the mailing list, please let me know.
It’s very good to be back in the saddle again J Stay tuned!