Let the Refit Begin!!!
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Folks I kid you not, the day after we arrived in Boston my oven crapped the bed.  The front burner on the electric stove only has one setting- Super hot. It sparks when you turn it on.  The dishwasher throws the plastic cups and tuper-ware around in the tub.  When the cycle is complete, half of them need to be re-washed because they are filled with dirty water.  I’m not sure why they placed the dishwasher under the electric stove on these boats, but it seems crazy to me.  The microwave takes 3 times the amount of time to heat then it should.  The freezer gets tempermental every now and again and thaws all of the frozen foods, despite the fact that I dropped $350 in repairs before we left Alabama.  I am ready to make some changes to this galley.  I am completely uninspired to cook anything.

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I have already begun to bring the new appliances aboard.  The davit was a huge help with that.

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The carpet in here is horrible.  We clean and clean, but it will be impossible to completely get rid of the stale musty odors until I dump this carpet.  I have never been a fan of carpet anyhow, just for this reason.  It gets dirty too easily, is difficult to clean, throws dust particles around and holds odors.  I cannot wait to tear it all up.  My uncle came by and helped me rip out the carpet in the salon.  What a great feeling that was.  It made a huge difference in the smell.

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Two of the heads will also get a facelift.

This is going to be both interesting and challenging for me.  I have renovated many many homes, but I have never renovated a boat.  I know that I am going to have some things to learn in this process and hopefully will not make many costly mistakes.

Some of this refit (renovation) will happen now and unfortunately for me, some things will have to wait a couple of months.  My favorite carpenter is out of town.

I have a bunch of stuff to figure out, but I am excited, anxious and touch bit nervous to get rolling.  I do plan to document the process.  If you’re out there in blogland and have a good idea or notice something that I am doing incorrectly, stupidly or simply know a better way.  Please let me know.  I welcome feedback.

 

Let the refit begin…

 

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“The boat is sinking!”
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I was on the way to pick up my truck. We had just arrived in Boston the night before and I was really tired, exhausted even.  A friend had driven down to the marina to give me a ride.

Since the purchase in June, my kids have been on the boat alone plenty, without any problem.  I explained to them as I always do before I leave to call me if there is a problem.  But this time I did something different. They are smart kids and I have been trying to teach them about the boats’ systems, just as I have been learning myself.

I always turn off the dock water when we leave the boat and when the kids are going to be alone on the boat, but, not this time. This time I pointed out the bilge alarm and explained to them that in the event the bilge alarm rings they should shut off the water at the hose on the dock and call me. I also explained that if a plumbing hose inside the boat were to break it could flood the bilge, and if there were a pump failure, theoretically the boat could eventually sink.  This is why it was important that they shut off the water if the alarm were ever to sound.

It was about 8pm and I get a call from Skyla, who is in tears and clearly very upset. “Mom, the boat is sinking!”  Just as I began to ask her if they shut off the dock water, and why she thought so,  the phone went dead.

I had my friend turn the car around and go back to the boat. We were 20 long miles away.  All the while I was calling the phone back, but straight to voicemail.

I arrived at the boat short of breath and sweating profusely from running through the parking lot, down the boardwalk, and down the dock.  As I stepped on the boat it was dark and I could see the red light, laughing in my face.  It was the a/c power alarm, not the bilge alarm.

The breaker tripped because I ran the the dishwasher, not realizing that my Mom had started the washing machine. With the air conditioners running, that is a definite no, no and the perfect recipe for a guaranteed breaker trip.  The mistake that I made was neglecting to be clear that there are 2 alarms that could potentially go off, not just one. I confused them, but it’s all a learning process for my kids and myself.   I am generally much more careful about overloading the power and have come to be quite good at managing the load and keeping the power alarm happy, but that night I was tired and careless.

“But MOM, you didn’t tell us there are 2 alarms.” And they were right.  How foolish of me to show them one alarm and not the other.  Especially the power alarm that we have lots of experience tripping.  The alarm went off and they thought the boat was sinking causing a power loss. They ran outside and shut off the dock water as instructed. I was proud of them. I spent an hour showing them both alarms again. I also told them that from now on I would continue to shut off the dock water when I leave the boat, so they wouldn’t have to worry about it.  I also showed them how to turn on the breaker at the dock to restore power. We practiced different scenarios for both situations and they have a good handle on it now.  As do I.

And the learning continues…

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And finally……. BOSTON!!!!
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Arriving in New York was a sure sign that we were finally on the last leg of a 2 month journey. We had been to New York many times, by train, plane and car, but never by boat. The view of New York from the water was amazing.

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But it was Lady Liberty that we were in awe of, as she somehow served to remind us of this new way of life we had embarked upon, and the sense of freedom that before this was an imagined ideal. We, all of us, had contacted a case of wanderlust. The kids are already asking

“When we leave again” questions!

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It’s busy, bustling harbor was a bit intimidating after Port Judith, a beautiful little port which typifies old New England, and the salty smell of the tide told us we were nearly home.

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All the places we’d been and things we’d seen came flooding back.

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The history and beauty of this great country we call home.

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The long passage up the LIS, then the wait……

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for signs of old Cape Cod and the familiar entrance to the canal.

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And there it is, the Railroad bridge!

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Ahhh….. finally!

 

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The look out for Boston Light and then……

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The Boston Lighthouse, otherwise known as “The Boston Light” which has guided mariners into Boston Harbor since it was built in 1716 and finally lit in 1783.

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And then, finally! BOSTON HARBOR and home!!!

Onward to Boston!
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Well folks,

I’m knocking on my door as I write this, but looks like we just might make it back before school starts. Our biggest obstacle because of the side effects of Cristobal was offshore at Cape May; traveling the Jersey Shore, and we did that today.

We landed at the Annapolis Public Piers the night before last (really hated leaving Annapolis) and last night at South Jersey Marina.

I woke up this morning not really knowing what would be, but it all worked out.  As we approached the exit to the inlet we were snatched up by the current as dolphins frolicked about. I could see swells on the horizon rolling into the beach, but no white water.  The swells at times were fairly large at 5-7′ giving a smooth rocking motion and plenty of sea spray on the deck, but very little slamming.

Capt. Al solved the sliding fridge problem with a couple of screws. When I do the galley refit, I’m going to have to be sure that all of the new appliances are well fastened.

I also discovered 2 leaking windows today with all the spray.  They are both fairly bad leaks that are wetting the mattress as water runs on the inside of the frame, behind the teak paneling and along the hull onto the bed. I will have to have them both re-sealed soon as I get home.

I’m very relieved that  we have arrive in New York without any delay, but still cautiously optimistic as we are not home yet.  Today, things are looking good.

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Stuck in Virginia
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This is what my last two ship log entries have looked like:

8-24-14  

  • 7am Departed Hampton Public Piers
  •  8am Returned to Hampton Public Piers – Too rough (swells 3-4′)

8-25-14 

  • 7am Departed Hampton Public Piers
  • 8am Returned to Hampton Public Piers – Too rough (swells 3-4′)

 

You know it’s rough when the fridge, which is secured at the top with wood brackets, slides out from the wall.  Lots of slamming and stuff flying all over the place.  I was soaked taking photos from the bridge; had to hold the camera with one hand and and brace myself with the other.  Who needs an amusement park?  Ride em cowboy!

Yesterday, when we made our first attempt at heading out, Christian’s chair tipped back and he fell into the entertainment center.  He wasn’t hurt, but a bit surprised.  I had to have everyone sit on the coach while I scurried around securing loose items and continuously pushing the fridge back in place.  I’m sure that we could have kept on, crew would have gotten through the intense movement, jerking up and down and back and forth, but I really didn’t want to, as Capt. Al says, “beat up the boat”.  Doable, but not worth the risk.

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We departed St. Augustine on the 17th.  So far, it has been a great run.  Seas have been relatively calm, all in all, a nice ride.  We mostly ran outside (offshore) and came into the ICW when we hit Cape Fear.  We run from 7am until as long as we can go, depending on the location of the next marina.  The goal is 100 nautical miles a day, but has been as few as 70 and as much as 120.  We try to avoid running after dark as much as possible.  My favorite time of day is early in the am.  The waters are quiet and calm and watching the sun come up is pretty.  It’s also nice and cool in the morning, and I love being on the bridge, so I usually sit up there running the boat until 9 or 10 when the sun starts heating me up, then it’s time to come back down.

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Passing through Norfolk was the most interesting.  Seeing the military ships was a lot of fun.

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So for now, I’m stuck in Virginia, and quickly running out of time.  Feeling stressed that my kids are starting school the first week in September.  Might have to figure something out to get them home.  They say that Cristobal won’t directly impact the Eastern coast, but may effect the wave action, swells and current.  The wind out there this morning is at 20 knots.  Not looking like good travel days ahead for a small pleasure craft, like me.

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Relaxing In St. Augustine
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Well, most of the time I was relaxing.  But, first order of business, an oil change.  The oil in the engines is supposed to be changed every 100 hours.  We were getting pretty close to that.

I  have never changed motor oil in my life and certainly not on these big babies, so I called in a company called “First Mate Yacht Services”.  Boe arrived to the boat with Mike.  I had them change the oil on both engines, the generator oil, and all of my fuel and oil filters.  The oil change system makes this task much easier.

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I watched these guys closely and took notes and pictures of what they did. They were very helpful and explained every step of the process in detail. It’s actually fairly easy.  The only step that I could potentially have difficulty with is removing the oil filters from the side of the engines.  Seems that you may need a bit of strength to turn the canister. Other than that,  I’m sure that I will be able to do it myself next time, which shouldn’t be until we arrive in Boston.

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Captain Al, who got us across the Gulf from Carabelle and down to Miami was scheduled to meet us in St. Augustine to help us get up the coast to Boston. We had a few days of fun and relaxation before we would head out.

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We had a lot of fun in the Nation’s oldest city and I wish I could have stayed longer.  Unfortunately, I have to rush up the coast to get back to Boston by the start of school.

 

Next…Up the Coast to Boston

 

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“Leaving Miami” or Reprovisioning/feeding 8 souls
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The one thing that amazed me about provisioning to feed 8 people, (which we thought would

be a nightmare on a boat) is the amount of space for stores on this 63″ Hatteras.

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Three compartments like this under dinette bench provides ample storage. We thought we would be busting at the seams, but as it turned out, we have plenty of space in the galley with lots of extra space below should we need it. Because we were having problems with our fridge upon arriving, which we did resolve, we had opted to buy a 3.5 cu.ft. small freezer for the aft deck, just in case.

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As it turned out that freezer was a necessity we didn’t know we needed, but it has been the lifesaver and has made all the difference at the end of the day between shopping once a week and having enough to go 2 weeks without shopping for meat, frozen foods, etc…

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A big boost for space saving is removing all boxes, and packaging, thereby also eliminating much excess trash while underway. Another challenge was where to put grease from cooking. That problem was solved with an empty paint can, purchased from Home Depot, which is strong, with a good lid, and has lots of room, should last a few months 🙂

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The only thing I have to admit, that I really miss is not recycling, it is just too difficult to try and find another ‘spot’ for recycles. All food scraps go directly into the sink garbage disposal, and the old, original trash compactor still works like a charm.

When traveling daily, unless we dock early, cooking is a challenge, I have been making a homemade red sauce, with pasta and sausages and that feeds for a few days. As well, we have what is called a “free-for-all”; frozen foods such as chicken nuggets, fries, and pizza that the kids cook on their own, thereby, taking the burden of preparing while underway away from the cook, freeing up time (and energy) for handling lines, hooking up to the dock, and just enjoying the whole experience.

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So far, all the old, mostly original appliances, have held up beautifully, which is just another testament to  the quality of these old Hatts! Well, at least they’ll do until our galley refit. Course, not sure we’ll ever get used to having a dishwasher under a cooktop, but for now it works!

Purchasing new pots & pans, tailor fit to our needs, has made a great difference in storage as we only have what we absolutely need, then add here and there as the need arises.

Dry goods such as pasta, cake, brownie and muffin mixes have found a nice home in the dry bar in the salon, just steps from the galley, having those items rounds out the homey feel our our new home.

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Of course, I have to mention our beautiful new corelle wear dishes, besides fitting a set of twelve in one cabinet, they are just a pretty pattern, a gift to myself that I am thoroughly enjoying 🙂

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Now to our hands down favorite purchase and a welcome addition to preparing meals, this got everyone’s vote! Our new Coleman Grill, it is portable, so it goes down to the dock in a cinch, has tons of real estate for cooking all our meat in one round, (and that’s alot). The grills are a heavy cast iron and cook evenly, all in all, we couldn’t be happier with this addition! Almost forgot, stores very conveniently by our boarding ladder for convenience! Highly recommend this grill for anyone who has a bigger family than most of the marine grills cater too!

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Our Time in Miami
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Initially, Miami wasn’t on the schedule.  After all, we need to head North to Boston, not South.  When I had my survey done, before I bought the boat, my surveyor highly recommended that I get new exhaust risers.  He and Sonny explained that the old risers could potentially back-flow water into the engine at some point and cause a lot of damage.  That was a risk that I did not want to take as a new owner, so I factored in the installation of new risers. This was a fairly large job and I really wanted to get it done before heading to Boston.  I figured that I would get a better price in Florida.  I also didn’t want to run the boat over 1500 miles with the risk of engine destruction.  After pricing new exhaust risers, the decision to head South to Miami upon exiting the St. Lucie Inlet on the East coast was made.

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I decided to purchase new turbos as the old ones had some corrosion when my riser guy, Marvin, removed the old risers.  Marvin, gave me an unbelievable price to do the work.  He was also very pleasant to deal with; brought us Cuban treats and gave me a tour of his shop.

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While we waited for the risers and turbos in Miami I began working on the To-Do List.  First task, washing the boat.  We had to wait until about 7 pm to begin washing because the Miami heat is very oppressive.  I couldn’t do anything outdoors( besides the beach) while I was in Miami, during the day, except when it rained.  It’s a good thing that I have so many helpers.  It really makes light work of things.  The kids had fun washing the boat.  Half way through cleaning the bridge I realized that I probably should have believed the kid at West Marine who said that you only need a cap full of soap to a 5 gallon bucket of water.  The kids were slipping and sliding all over the place.  I had to make them all put on shoes, and that helped with traction; a lot.  They had fun with this job, and finished quickly. We washed until about 8pm, when we could no longer see.  It was a good thing we had come from the beach and they were still in bathing suits.

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My sea strainers and bilge were both ready for a good cleaning.  They looked like a science project.  The bilge water was black with sludge and floaty things and they smelled like a sour swamp.  I don’t know when was the last time that they had a thorough cleaning, but it took me about 6 hours of scrubbing and continuous flushing and pumping with the hose to get them to the point were the water was clean enough that I could see the bottom of the bilge.

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As I sliced up my thumb scraping barnacles from the plastic viewing housing of the sea strainer with a spoon, I didn’t realize that the entire strainer housing can be dismantled.  After breaking the stem and rod of the housing on a leaky strainer, I not only learned that the strainers should have rubber gaskets to prevent leakage, and that you should not ever over tighten the bolts or wing nuts, but that it is monumentally easier to clean the plastic if you remove it first.  It took me 5 hours to repair the damaged sea strainer, because the access was near impossible.  I met Jeremy at Sam’s marine in Fort Lauderdale  as I had to make a few trips for parts.  He was very knowledgeable and had the replacements parts that I needed to fix the sea strainer.  It was very challenging because the access to the lower pin was killing me, but I managed to complete the repair.

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I had to replace the upper right rod and lower wing nut pin that I had broken.

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After 2 days of cleaning, breaking and fixing, I finally had a very clean bilge and crystal clear sea strainers.  Next time that I do these jobs it should be much easier now that I have a good clean base and have gotten rid of years of build up.  And, the sour smell is gone.

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I also used my time to get some little things done like changing all of the blown bulbs on the boat, installing new windshield wipers and replacing the starter on one of my a/c condensers.  The crew on the boat next door helped me with the last one, but showed me how to do it, so next time I can do it myself.

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My sister-in-law brought my niece down to join us for a few weeks.  It was fun having them both aboard.

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The kids had fun at South Beach in the evening playing volleyball on the beach.  They also enjoyed what they called “pool jumping”, which meant: sneaking into the condo pool next door when the marina office closed.

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My exhaust job was completed about a week later than expected due to the new turbos. That puts a bit of strain on my time-frame for heading North;  kids start school at the beginning of September.  But, I was very pleased with the end result.

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Cruising the Okeechobee Waterway
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We really enjoyed our trip through the Okeechobee Waterway.  We decided to take this route, as opposed to going around the keys because we figured that it would be more interesting and fun for the kids.  We did not regret our decision.  I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone with children.   This post is mostly photos and lots of them.

I’m not going to bore you guys with a bunch of Okeechobee Waterway history.  I pulled this brief description from Wikipedia as a short explanation for those who may be unfamiliar.

The Okeechobee Waterway is a man-made waterway stretching from Fort Myers on the west coast to Stuart on the east coast of Florida. It was built/finished in 1937 to provide a water route across Florida, allowing boats to pass east–west across the state rather than traveling the long route around the southern end of the state.

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Our biggest concern when we decided to take the Okeechobee Waterway was the locks.  We weren’t sure how difficult it would be, especially since we are still working on our line handling skills.  Our Captain, Al, explained the entire process so we would know what to expect.  He said that it wasn’t difficult and he was right.  We went through 5 locks in total.  3 on the west side of the lake and 2 on the east.  It was really very easy.  The most important thing is to make sure that your fenders are positioned properly.  When the lock master opens the gate to allow the water to flow inside the chamber, the boat will rock back and forth.  It is important to be sure that the fenders are in a good position so that they stay in place and protect the boat from the concrete wall.  I handled the aft line and my Mom and Capt. Al handled the bow line.  The first lock that we went through we placed the fender slightly to far aft, so when the boat rocked I had to push it back in place so it wouldn’t get stuck completely aft.  But, after that first lock I moved it forward a bit and it stayed in place nicely with the movement.  It is also important to only wrap the line around the cleat once because you will need the ability to either pull or release slack as the boat moves up or down.  If the boat is moving down and your line doesn’t have slack or is tied off, you could rip your cleat off the boat and that would not be good.  During the first lock I had my line wrapped around the cleat once and then under the center, but I learned that it is easier to pull slack when I wrap once half around.  The lock masters were all very pleasant and told you in advance how many feet you would go up or down and they let the water in and out slowly, so it was easy to handle.

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It was fun passing riverfront boatyards.  Love those steel trawlers!!!

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There really is alot to see on the Waterway; plenty of wildlife, various bird species and and alligators!!!  Aiden sat on the foredeck most of our trip patiently watching for gators.  We probably spotted about 7 or 8 collectively.  It was very exciting for the kids to see the alligators in their natural habitat, definitely the highlight of the trip.

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A rainbow

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Next, on to Miami…

 

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Our New Captain and Journey to Clearwater
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In the last post I explained that were docked in Carabelle and captain-less.

 

Minutes after our captain’s depature, I jumped on the phone to Sonny at Dog River.  He really is a great guy and he can be trusted.  We were sad to leave Dog River and I knew when we left there that Sonny was sincere when he told me to call him if I needed anything at all and they would come.  And that they did.  I told Sonny what had transpired, and I kid you not, less than an hour later he called me back to say that arrangements were made, and my new captain was on his way.

Unbeknownst to us, the marina, “The Moorings”, that we stopped at in Carabelle to dump our old captain was affiliated with Dog River marina.  When I walked into the marina office to register, I was delighted and surprised when, Melvin, a very kind gentleman asked me if I knew Sonny Middleton.  I said that I did and he told me that he was picking up my new captain from the airport in the morning.  I was relieved that we had sailed right into a marina were we instantly had Sonny’s network behind us again.  Melvin was a great guy.  He took me to the store and sent a guy to fix some things that needed attention and watched out for us until our new captain arrived.

Early the next day, Alvin, our new captain, was on our boat.  Alvin has been running boats for Sonny for years.  He runs “Southern Comfort”, a 72′ Hatteras that was docked near my boat at Dog River and he even ran my boat for Sonny a few times.  He is a very professional captain and also a real southern gentleman, as are all of the men that we have met at Dog River.  He described to me my options, so that I could make an informed decision about our next move.  He then spent the remainder of the day checking systems.

The next morning, bright and early, we were on our way to Clearwater.  Our departure was at about 5am.  The kids did well on our crossing, but at about 4 hours into the trip, Gaege, my 5 year old puked all over me.  After that he was fine.  Two of my other kids at just about the same time, also began to feel queasy.  I gave the older kids Dramamine.  I also whipped out a box of popsicles from the aft deck freezer.  The popsicles were amazing.  Every time Gaege mentioned that he felt sick I gave him one and he immediately seemed better.  I didn’t take any Dramamine myself and didn’t get sick, but I did feel a bit light headed at times early on, and the popsicles seemed to take that feeling away.  I will definitely remember the popsicle trick and will always be sure to keep a freezer full for any journey.  At about 5 hours into the trip, everyone was good.  We had all adjusted to the motion.

The journey across was boring and uneventful (which is really what I want on an at-sea crossing).  There wasn’t much to sea, at-sea, except a few flying fish, dolphins and plenty of big blue water.  The highlight of our day was talking on the VHS radio to friends on the boat “Crystal Blue Persuasion”.  We met these guys in Carabelle and decided to sorta cross together.  Although they had to leave at 1am, and we left at 5am because we ran our boat at 10 knots and they ran at about 7.5 on the crossing.

The kids slept for quite a bit of the trip.  Gaege rode his new scooter through the galley and salon and we sat back and enjoyed the ride.

About 16 hours later we arrived in Clearwater.  It was dark and there were 2 channels to get into the City Marina.  Not realizing that one of them was an ICW route and the other was not, we did hit sandy bottom in really shallow water.  But quickly realized our mistake and took the long way around the bay into the City Marina.

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Note to anyone going to City Marina in Clearwater:  Our friends on “Crystal Blue Persuasion” reported that there was traffic under the bridge upon entry.  Charter and fishing boats get backed up like a parade and boaters might have to use their hands to push off from one another,  I have been told.  Also, be sure to take the ICW channel going to the right after clearing the bridge heading in.  The channel to the left is shorter, but it is too shallow for deep drafts.  It is better to get in during daylight if possible.  The city lights are bright and it is very difficult to see markings, even with spotlights.

 

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