The decision has been made. Our target for taking off is next spring. This is based on Barb's son graduating from high school. The loose plan as it stands today is to leave Texas as soon as possible after June 1st, 2005 and make for the East Coast before hurricane season. The goal for 2005 will be to sail "home". I was raised in Wallkill, NY, which is about 80 miles north of New York City and 15 miles west of the Hudson River. I look forward to sailing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, past Lady Liberty, and up the Hudson to Newburgh. When the air turns cool, we'll head south and spend the first winter exploring The Bahamas. Summer 2006 will be back up the East Coast with a goal of Maine. I visited Maine by auto about ten years ago, and knew then that I would love to come back by boat. In the fall of 2006, we'll head south again, either down the coast or perhaps via Bermuda. The plan this winter will be to go on down to the Virgin Islands and then work our way south to be on the south side of the hurricane belt in the summer of 2007. From there who knows. I know enough about this before even leaving, to know that any schedule has to be a loose one. If the departure is delayed much for any reason, the whole thing may get re-ordered accordingly.
Preparations are under way. Over the past few months, I have been adding the things needed before we leave. Back in April 2004 we went to the Pacific Sail Expo boat show in Oakland, CA. At the show I purchased a wind generator, radar, radar display, fishfinder, VHF, GPS, GPIRB, and a PSS dripless shaft seal. Between show special pricing and no sales tax by shipping out of state, I saved about $2000. And we also had a nice weekend in California. The trip didn't cost as much as I saved, so I figure I came out ahead.
About this same time, I had a custom made stainless steel davit/arch system fabricated by Jason Zepeda at Custom Rails in Kemah, TX. The davits conveniently hold our AB RIB dinghy. There is a mount on the rail for the Honda 9.9 four-stroke outboard. The dinghy lift lines have a 5:1 purchase making it a one-hand job to lift it as long as the motor is not on it. The port side davit has a track on the bottom with another 5:1 purchase lift for hoisting the motor and sliding it back to the back rail for securing. The launching or hoisting of the whole thing is a breeze for two people and can be done by one. On the aft edge of the davit crossbar, is a pole for mounting the KISS wind generator. This puts the generator far up and aft, so no body parts should ever be anywhere near it. Also on this aft crossbar are mounts for antennas. The GPS antennae, a TV antennae, and soon a sat-phone antennae all mount here. Also, the stern light was relocated to this crossbar so it is never blocked by the dinghy. There is an arch built on the fore side of the davits to mount the Raymarine radar on a Questus gimbaled mount. This whole structure is extremely strong, as it is mounted to the hull at four points with four large bolts and backing plates at each point. In addition to it's own weight, the weight of the dinghy and motor, and all the other equipment, I can climb up on it (another 250 lbs) with no worries. It makes a great vantage point to see what's going on.
With the new Raymarine radar, came a RL80CRC display. This is a 10" color LCD display that displays radar, chart plotter, and fishfinder data. To mount this at the helm required replacing the existing pedestal guard with an angled one to accommodate the display and the other instruments. While I could have replaced most of the original instruments because the data is also displayed on the RL80CRC, I chose to keep them all so I have redundancy in the event the display fails. Of course the angled pedestal guard is a 1 1/4" diameter, while the original was 1". This meant new holes and mounts to the floor of the cockpit, bending and adjusting of the mounts for the cockpit table, and most seriously enlarging the holes in the Edson pedestal cover. Jason at Custom Rails once again came through and bored the holes to 1 1/4" as well as welding a reinforcing strap around the holes so I didn't have to replace the cover. Getting all the cabling for the original instruments, the radar, and the Raymarine hsb2 interface all pulled to the right places was a bit challenging, but it's in. The Raymarine hsb2 interface allows me to also use my laptop at the nav station to repeat the radar and chart data, using the Ray Tech RNS 5.0 software.
My propeller shaft packing has probably never been touched, even tightened, since the boat was new, 11 years ago. This is because there are two additional batteries mounted in the engine compartment right over the stuffing box. As a result, quite a bit of water leaks in. The amount varies with use of the boat. My theory is that the marina water is so scuzzy that after a couple of days, it seals the shaft. But whenever I take the boat out, this scuz seal is broken, and water just runs through in a steady stream as opposed to a drip. This copious leak will continue for a day or two after using the boat, until the scuz regains control and seals it up. Well, knowing that my scuz theory wouldn't work once I was in clear blue water, I figured I better address the situation. So, I replaced the stuffing box with a PSS dripless shaft seal. To do this without testing the durability of the bilge pump requires a haulout. So, I got hauled, had the shaft seal installed, had the new transducer for the fishfinder installed, and had the bottom paint touched up. Several months ago, I installed a bilge pump counter and high water alarm, so now I can visually see the difference that the new shaft seal makes.
The past weekend was spent readying the boat for the Harvest Moon Regatta. The Harvest Moon is a race from Galveston, TX, to Port Aransas, TX, which is the entrance to Corpus Christi Bay. For me, it's not so much of a race, as it is a shakedown cruise. I have done a lot of things to the boat in preparation for taking off, and this will be a good chance to see what works and what doesn't. And of course, there is a great party featuring a great band at the end.
The most important job this weekend was in the instrumentation area. After all the work I had done adding the chart plotter and radar, the one piece of instrumentation that didn't work was the wind indicator. Pretty important one for a sailboat. While I suspected a wiring problem, the original ST50 had never been reliable. I was always having to adjust the direction to match the high-tech yarn I had tied to the shrouds. In addition to the directional problem, I had noticed that lately the wind speed would have to get up to about 10 kts before the anemometer would start to spin. This left me doubting the accuracy of it at all. So, I bit the bullet and bought a new ST60 Wind kit. The first installation task was to climb the mast using my Mast Mate ladder and replace the transducer. I was planning on replacing the anchor light with an LED one at the same time, but that will require some drilling, so I put that off. I then took apart the Navpod at removed the ST50 display. Of course, the ST60 requires a different sized hole in the Navpod, so I had to enlarge it. Once installed, the new instrument still didn't work, proving my theory that there was a wiring problem. I started tracing the wiring with a voltmeter and determined the problem was between the instrument display and the splices in the engine compartment. This run included splices I made to extend all the cables when I installed the new taller pedestal guard. In frustration, I pulled all four cables for the wind, speed, depth, and Seatalk back into the engine compartment, ran four new cables from the helm to the engine compartment, and connected them all with nice terminal blocks instead of butt splices. And it all works!
While many would question this, I also prepared the dinghy for the trip. Most racers would remove something like the dinghy, but my davit system is new, and this is a check-out cruise, so I want to see how it rides. I already learned on a day-sail that the bridle I was hanging it by was too long, so I shortened that and added a line to reduce swinging. I added a lanyard to the drain plug so it can be out while traveling, thus not collecting rain, but not get lost in any bouncing around.
Another task was replacing both bow lights with LED bulbs. When I did the Harvest Moon in 2001, both bow lights bit the dust during the night. I'd rather that not happen again, so I bought LED replacement bulbs from OGM. I now have LED bow and stern lights, and will replace the anchor light when I have a little more time.
While we didn't remove the dinghy, we did remove a boatload of other stuff. Since one of the crew will stay on the boat with us while in Port Aransas, we cleaned out the v-berth so he has a place to sleep. Once we go cruising, the v-berth and forward head will be used primarily as storage space, but for now, there is a bunch of stuff in the back of my SUV.
Stay tuned for an update after the race.
10/29/04 Harvest Moon Pics
The race started on Thursday the 21st. The race starts offshore from the Flagship Hotel Pier in Galveston. That means there is a four hour trip from Kemah to Galveston, out the jetties to the Gulf (the wrong direction), and back along the shoreline to a line between the pier and a mark out in the water. From about 7AM on, there was a parade of boats going by the marina on their way out. The crew for the trip was my girlfriend Barb, a co-worker who really races sailboats, Gary, and a Parrothead friend, Stale, who is Norwegian and grew up with boats including being a tanker captain, traveling around the world. I had told the crew we would leave at 9:00, given our 2:45 start time, and was beginning to question if that was too late. I needn't have worried. We left exactly at 9:00, and were off the Flagship with about an hour and a half to kill driving around in circles. Even though I do not look at this trip as a race, it would be cool to place. Since I'm not a racer, doing the start right is a weak point. We badly misjudged exactly where the start line was, and probably didn't cross it until five or more minutes after our fleet started. We appeared to be last across in our fleet. (The race is about 200 boats, divided into seven fleets based on characteristics.)
As was the case three years ago when I did this race, the winds were not out of the southeast like they are expected to be this time of year. They were from due south this time. Better that 2001, but in order to sail the rhum line which is southwest, we had to sail about as close to the wind as this boat will go. We could get better speed if we fell off a little, but that would have meant tacking later to get back offshore enough. We did tack offshore once, a couple of hours after the start. We had seen other boats do the same, some before us, some after. From this point, we pretty much held a steady course.
Auto pilots are not allowed during the race. I had driven from Kemah to the start, and for about an hour after that. I then turned the helm over to Gary. Shortly after leaving the helm, I started to feel queasy. After fighting it for a half hour or so, I lost the fight and hurled. If you ever find yourself in this predicament, remember, downwind side and go for distance. I had gotten a prescription for The Patch before leaving, just in case this happened. I hadn't put one on to start, because I'm quite unpredictable in this regard. But, I put one on after my little episode. While I didn't hurl again, I didn't feel great for the rest of the trip. We took turns at the helm in roughly two hour shifts for the rest of the trip. When we weren't at the helm, one of us could nap in the cockpit, and one could nap below on the downhill settee. At various times, the other person would either crawl up in the v-berth, or be awake on the uphill side of the cockpit.
We had hoped to make Port Aransas before nightfall, but that wasn't going to happen. We could hear boats on the radio, which were apparently behind us, but my gut feel was we were near the end of the arrivals. We entered the Port Aransas channel about 9:30PM, Friday. Since the channel at Port A is not very wide if there is a large commercial vessel coming in or out, we furled the headsail and had the motor running in case we needed to maneuver. We made our way in, and contacted the race committee. I never was exactly sure where the finish line was, but they finally told us we had crossed it. In the conversation between the race committee and the marina, I learned that there were two other boats within a half mile behind us, and only four other boats unaccounted for (out of 200 or so). So, I guess we won't be getting any trophies. We contacted the marina on the VHF, and were told to come in and raft up. The deal with the marina is that they fill all their empty slips, and then start building rafts of boats in the fairways between the docks until the place is full. We ended up being the seventh and last boat out from the bulkhead in a raft. That meant nobody had to walk over our boat, but to leave our boat, we had to walk over six other boats to shore. As we came in, we passed The Back Porch, where Hanna's Reef was playing, and we tried to shine our Q-beam at them, although they didn't notice. Stale's wife had driven down and gotten a motel room, so he headed for the party to find her, and see the band. Gary went ashore to shower, while Barb and I showered on the boat. We then relaxed in the cockpit with a few adult beverages, and listened to the band from there until midnight. After that, we crashed for a well deserved night's sleep.
Saturday morning, we slowly awoke, had coffee and pastries in the cockpit, and then finally made our way ashore. I turned in our official check-in sheet, and collected our goodie bag, which consists of a pint of Bacardi rum, a pint of Coke, a lime, and a plastic cup. I knew there was a reason I sailed all night! We walked around the marina for awhile, looking for boats we know. We found a boat that wasn't in the race, but rather was a couple we had gotten to know in the spring when they were in Kemah for some boat repairs before going cruising. We thought they had gone to Central America by now, but turns out they didn't get off before hurricane season, so they waited. We met up with lots of friends and traded stories of the trip down. The official party starts about 4:00PM with four kegs of beer. At 5:00, the Bacardi bar opens up, and the barbeque dinner begins. At 7:00, the Bacardi bar closes temporarily, and the awards ceremony begins. There were about 200 boats in the race, and about 100 trophies to be awarded. This took until about 8:30, and I'll be damned, they never called MoonSail up for an award. I thought maybe we should have gotten some recognition for making sure everybody got in ok. Oh well. Immediately after the awards, the Bacardi bar re-opened until the rum ran out, and Hanna's Reef started playing until midnight. The crew left the captain, one-by-one, to uphold the reputation of the boat's partying capabilities, and I did the job well.
One of the deals of rafting up, is that you agree to be willing to leave at 8:00AM. We didn't set alarms, but woke up about 7:30. Shortly after 8:00, a man in a dinghy started removing the lines across the entrance. We had made a deal with a friend with a car to get us some bottled water, ice, and bread for the return trip. Carrying those supplies over six other boats didn't seem like a good idea. But, the boat in the slip right behind us wanted to leave early. So, as soon as the lines from the entrance were removed, we helped them the squeeze by us, and we unhooked from the raft and backed into the slip they had. Our supplies arrived right on time, and we loaded them easily from the slip. By then the rest of our raft had broken up and headed out. We said goodbye to the friends onshore, and headed out.
The trip back gives you options. Some boats go back offshore all the way to Galveston, basically retracing the route down. Some choose to motor back up the ICW, since their crew had to be back at work Monday morning. Some go outside to Freeport, and in the ICW from there to Galveston Bay to cut off a few miles. Some go in the ICW to Port O'Conner to have dinner, then outside to Galveston. We chose offshore all the way. The day started calm, and motoring. We tried sailing once we were outside the Port A jetties, but there just wasn't enough wind. So, we motored for several hours. The wind started to fill in, so we hoisted the sails and cut the motor. The wind was still from the south, so we were on a broad reach with quartering seas. Much more comfortable than the ride down. And, we could let the auto-pilot drive. I drove from the start for about eight hours. Since Auto was really driving, it was more like babysitting. During the trip, the winds continued to build. We reefed the main about 30% early, and then around Freeport (1:00AM) we furled the jib and started the motor. By then, the wind was about 30 knots, and the auto pilot was having trouble keeping the boat from rounding up. From Freeport to Galveston, we motor-sailed. We arrived at the Galveston jetties at dawn and finally hit the calmer waters of the bay. We motored to Kemah and arrived about 11:30AM. The return trip took us seven hours less than the trip down, and was much more comfortable.
What worked and what didn't? Well, we found that the auto pilot did very well, except after a while, it started occasionally displaying a message that the "drive stopped". That would go away after a few seconds usually, and eventually it quit doing it. Looking at Raymarine's website after getting home, I found that one cause of this can be excessive weather helm, which we had. The Raymarine solution? Change course. Why didn't I think of that? Another problem was the radar scanner and display losing touch with each other. I suspect this may be a low voltage problem, as it only happened near the end of the trip to Port A, when we had not run the motor for 30 hours. The wind generator has me wondering if it is putting out juice or not. This will require some more research on a windy day in the marina with a meter. I learned why you don't mount the float switch for a bilge alarm over to one side of the bilge. Once you are heeling that way, false alarms are too easy. That switch has been relocated now, as well as the primary bilge pump replaced just because it was ten years old. There is also now a switch on the bilge alarm so it can be silenced. No sense having an annoying alarm adding to the stress if you are dealing with high water. The TV antennae which I had just installed a couple months ago broke off on the way back. Fortunately, it fell into the dinghy. When we got back and I evaluated where the mount failed, it was a wonder that anybody would have thought it could have ever worked. The mount (from West Marine) had a threaded piece just held into the flat bracket by a small flaring of the end. West Marine cheerfully replaced it, and I had Custom Rails weld the pieces together on the new one before remounting it. We did have a spot at the base of the foresail, where it goes over the lifelines, that chafed a significant hole through the sail. While in Port A, West Marine had a table set up to obtain stuff from their Corpus Christi store. I got a roll of sail repair tape from them, which we applied on the return trip to avoid further damage to the sail. Also, when we furled the headsail, way later than we should have, and had it flogging in about 30 knots of wind, the ten year old sunbrella cover pretty much shredded. So, it will be going to the sail loft next week. We had to have at least one leak, and we had two. One from above and one from below. The one from above came from the forward hatch. Turns out the gasket has shrunk away from the corners. It doesn't leak when it rains from above, but when the sea comes over the bow and up under the edge, it did. The other leak was at the rudder shaft packing. I hadn't tightened it since having it repacked about two years ago. I have tightened it since, and the bilge pump hasn't run in over a week.
Overall, the trip was very good. It accomplished exactly what I wanted. We found what worked and what needed attention, and had a lot of fun doing it. Did I mention the party at Port A?
The plan proceeds. There is a list, and I know already that the list will not be complete before we leave. Some things just don't need to be done before leaving, and some will be better done later, like making the decision about a water maker. In addition to the boat to-do list, there is a to-do list that anybody would have to deal with if they were moving. We recently got a mailbox at a UPS Store so that we can get forwarding service. I don't know if they are all the same, but this particular store was a Mailboxes Etc, and they have experience with cruisers and forwarding to them. Our friends Dan & Jaime (www.neriea.com) have been using them and recommend them. We switched our individual cell phone accounts to a family plan, and will add a data card to the account when we leave so we can get a high-speed Internet connection. Since at least half of our first two years will be spent along the US East Coast, the cell connection should be a good alternative to Satellite, SSB, or looking for wi-fi hotspots. We have replaced the chain/rope anchor rode with 275' of chain. It totally fills the locker, and due to the poor mounting position of the windlass, I think it will help keep me in shape. I installed a fishing pole holder - of course, I still have to learn how to fish. We outfitted the dingy with a storage bin in the bow to hold an anchor, two life vests, the stick-on nav light, the oar locks, and tool kit. I also mounted a battery in the dinghy, so I can take advantage of the electric starter on the Honda 9.9 4stroke outboard. This will prevent any more incidents like happened in the BVI in 2002. (See previous logs). I also replaced the Smart Tabs that I had installed about two years ago. The originals had rusted at the hinges, but I can't fault the product. I left the dinghy in the salt water for about six months, and did not have zincs installed on them as directed in the product instructions. Now that I have my davits, the dinghy won't sit in the water, and I'm rinsing the tabs off when I hoist it.
We are plotting how to get rid of all our "stuff". I still have an apartment full of stuff in storage from when I moved aboard six years ago. And, of course, Barb has a whole house full of stuff. Her neighborhood has an annual garage sale weekend in the spring, which we will take advantage of. We'll move all my crap from storage to her garage, and then do a joint sale. I hate garage sales and am not looking forward to it.
We have officially told our employer (we work at the same place) that we will be quitting work on May 31st. They have been outstanding in accepting that news. We work in the same department, so there will be an impact to loosing two of us at once, but they have been very supportive, and let us know that if something happens, the date can be revisited, or if we want to ever come back, they want a call. It's going to be very different to not have a job. I have never been unemployed since I got out of high school at 16. Of course we have to resolve health insurance and numerous other logistic tidbits before we go.
There still seems to be a lot to do before June. Since it actually became 2005, the date became a lot more real. One thing is for sure - June will be here in about 107 days whether we're ready or not. Better get ready.
Well, several large steps have been taken since my last update. We had the big garage sale. On Easter weekend, we rented a large U-Haul truck and moved all of my stuff from a 10 x 15 storage unit (that was well packed) into Barb's garage. My stuff was pretty much the full contents of a two bedroom apartment I had before I moved on the boat. Back in 1999 when I moved aboard, I said I would store the stuff for a year to make sure I really liked living aboard. And if I did, I would get rid of the stuff. Well, have I mentioned I hate garage sales? So, one year turned into six, and the stuff was still there. Had it not been for a few family heirlooms, it would have been tempting to just quit paying the storage bill and let them deal with it. I hate to add up how much I spent on the storage unit for all those years. The stuff certainly wasn't worth that much.
Over the next two weeks, Barb and I spent many hours unpacking my stuff, sorting through it, and pricing it for the garage sale. When all the stuff was expanded, along with the furniture, it took up the entire two-car garage. Barb had been spending considerable time over the previous weeks going through her stuff, deciding what to sell, and pricing it too. All her stuff was still in the house in various piles, and closets. She had to decide what to sell, and what she will give to her son when he graduates. He is taking a lot of the furniture, so the fact that they are still living there post-garage sale, is not a problem. We also had to go through the boat and make sure anything here that we didn't need made it to the sale. Likewise, there was stuff from the house that had to come to the boat. Add to that, the few boxes of pictures and family heirlooms that I was going to ship to my son in Phoenix and daughter in NY, and you had quite the logistical nightmare. Somehow, by April 7th, we were ready to sell.
Barb had picked April 7th, 8th, and 9th as our sale dates. The 9th was a community-wide garage sale, so we took advantage of that by choosing this particular weekend. Garage sales don't usually start on Thursday's around here, and all we did was put out two signs to get people in. We were open from 8am to 2pm each day, and had a steady stream of customers almost the entire time. In three days, we probably sold 80% of the stuff and made almost $3000. Of course, we sold $30000 worth of stuff, so it was a little frustrating. Most people have a garage sale to get rid of their crap. Stuff they don't want any more. We were selling the stuff that we lived with everyday. This was good stuff. Everything worked. One customer commented "everything is clean". I guess that's unusual for garage sales. Overall, we had little emotion over doing this. I enjoyed telling Barb stories about my stuff as we unpacked it, but I really didn't mind getting rid of it. The only time we got emotional, was over a few items that were expensive things, bought at antique shops, or places like the Smithsonian, that were bargain basement priced already, and somebody wanted to offer you half your price. On most items, we bargained easily. On a few, we simply said no. We'd rather give them to a friend than sell them to a stranger for nothing.
After the last day, we spent another few hours packing up leftovers for the Salvation Army. We made a detailed list of what we were giving them for tax purposes. The neighborhood by the marina was going to have a community sale two weeks later, so we boxed up some good stuff to give it another try at a friends house. I swore I would only do this once, but two weeks later, there we were with two tables full at our friends house. We sold almost everything. I got to where I wasn't thinking how much money I could make, but rather how big the items that sold were because I wouldn't have to handle them again.
The demographics of the customers were very interesting. In bringing this up, I don't mean to offend anyone. But there were some very noticeable trends. At Barb's house, probably half of the customers were Hispanic. The Hispanic men almost never bargained. They found something they wanted, and paid the marked price. The Hispanic women though, would never pay the marked price. They were hard bargainers and had to get a deal. The exception to the gender division amongst the Hispanics, was a 3 year old boy who wanted to give me $1 dollar for something marked $5. He obviously had done this before. I said $4, he said $2. We agreed on $3. Many of the women seemed to use language as a means of bargaining. Neither Barb nor I speak any Spanish, except to order a beer and ask for the bathroom. So, we were at a disadvantage in not knowing what the people would talk about amongst themselves. And it made it hard to try and really discuss the value of something. I suspect some of them were not as lacking in the English skills as they would like us to think. Many of the customers were of Indian decent. They also were hard bargainers and used language to their advantage in acting like they didn't understand us when we said no. The rest of the customers were mixed and didn't seem to have noticeable trends, but there certainly were some characters. There was the 20 year old girl from the neighborhood, who had a 2 year old and 11 months old twins in the car, whose husband had just left her. We felt like just giving her stuff. There was the guy who bought almost all the coffee mugs (15 or so). There was the guy who bought about 15 small bags and backpacks. All things we got over the years from conferences we attended. There was the young Asian guy who showed up late the first day in a beautifully restored 1971 Mercedes, then showed up late the second day in an original showroom condition 1962 Corvair. He promised to come back the third day in his Cobra, but didn't show. But, on the second day, he bought a ceramic incense burner. Many people tried to get the price down because "this is all the money I have". But a couple went to the car and got more money when we wouldn't come down enough on the price. We had a box full of old jeans. They were priced at $1 each. A man came and asked how much for all of them? Barb counted 11 pair and said $11. He took them. There's a deal.
THE NEXT BIG STEP
We had made our employer, BMC Software, aware of our plans to leave months ago. Our manager and his boss both appreciated us being candid about our plans, so they could make plans to replace us. Well, beginning in March, there were rumors of a large layoff coming up in April. As it turned out, the rumors were true. It was worked out that we took a package to leave early. We ended up with more money than if we had worked through May 31st as planned, we got off six weeks earlier which gives us plenty of time to get ready, and assuming we wouldn't have been on the layoff list otherwise, we allowed two other people who would have been more drastically affected, to keep their jobs. In all it was a win-win situation.
Now, I have no excuse for not getting things done in preparation of leaving. I have been busy working on the to-do list. The largest item was the SSB radio and satellite phone. That is nearly done. The list is actually down to less than a page, and some of the things are going to be deferred because they really don't have to be done before we leave, and may never get done once we get out there and see if they are really necessary. This retirement stuff is hard work.
I did have a revelation recently. I have been looking at our departure date as a deadline to have everything done. Well, it occurred to me the other day, that just because we leave Kemah, it's not like we're leaving the world. We can still get things done later in other places. While our lives are drastically in flux right now, it just means some things will be done differently in the future.
IT'S REALLY HAPPENING
If ending a career wasn't enough to make this seem real, getting rid of my motorcycle was. I sold the motorcycle to my ex-wife and her boyfriend. They are in Phoenix, and the bike went on a truck to them this past Monday (5/2). Barb's car is probably sold to a friend for his son, and we have friends interested in my truck. If they don't take it I'll just sell it to Carmax, who will buy your car for trade in value. Both car deals are great because we can time the actual transactions with our departure and not be inconvenienced. The only big item outstanding is selling Barb's house. It has been on the market for about six weeks so far. I was worried it would sell too fast, but so far, no takers. Getting that resolved will be a big relief.
The farewell party is scheduled for June 4th. We can't change our departure plans even though we left work early, because the departure date was set based on Barb's son getting out of high school. So, the party is still on as planned with our favorite band playing for us at a local steak house. We have about 200 friends who have responded to our e-vite that they are coming. My son and daughter are coming from Phoenix and NY for the weekend, so it should be one heck of a send off. The actual departure date will be as soon as the weather is right after that, assuming no surprise issues pop up.
Well, the list is getting shorter. Almost everything that must be done on the boat before we leave, is done. The house is still not sold, but we have a friend who is going to take care of the paperwork when it does. We have a friend who is interested in my truck. I'll be getting a price set on it tomorrow and hopefully making the deal. The only big thing keeping us here, is getting Barb's son settled somewhere. His plans have changed at the last minute, and that has to be resolved before we go so Mom can have some peace of mind.
We have had the official going away party, so we have to go now. My brother in NY is retiring this year also, and his retirement dinner was Friday night. We had been disappointed when the date was set for his party, since it was the same weekend as ours. Well, without the knowledge of my brother or any of his family, I arranged to be there Friday night for his dinner. I had contacted the person coordinating the event, and arranged the surprise. At the beginning of the program, the emcee said that Bob had a younger brother who couldn't be here because he was retiring too. At that point I came running out from a hallway behind the podium and announced that I was here. My brother and his family were thoroughly surprised. We had a great evening and stayed up talking and drinking until 01:00 in the morning. Now, the only bad thing about this was that I had a 07:00 flight back to Houston. That meant I had to leave my brother's house at 04:00. So with three hours sleep, I headed off to the airport. I was back at the boat by 10:30. My two children, Chris Jr. and Melani, had flown to Houston Friday morning to be at our party Saturday. Barb had entertained them while I was in NY. We visited and had other friends stopping by all afternoon Saturday. Then a little after 5:00, we went to the restaurant where the party was going to be held. People were already arriving, and the party began. We had a great turnout of almost 200 people, some from work, some from the Parrothead Club, and some boat friends. The band, Hanna's Reef was great as usual. Several songs were dedicated to us. Another singer-songwriter friend, Kelly McGuire showed up and played one of my favorite songs of his, Redfish Island. It is about getting past Redfish Island, which is in Galveston Bay, and getting to the real islands and living your dream. All evening we were trying to visit with our friends. I think we said hi to everybody, but we had so many friends there, that I feel like we didn't get the time with each person that we would like to have had. Many people brought us gifts, although we had discouraged it. In our invitation, we had said that if you must bring a gift, make it something we could eat, drink, or spend, since space is limited on the boat. Everybody was very good about honoring that request. We shouldn't have to go to the liquor store for a while. It was tough to say farewell to many of these people, knowing that we may or may not see them again. I hope they keep in touch and keep track of our journey. Pictures from the party.
Sunday, we took the boat out for a short sail in Galveston Bay. This is the first time we have been out since our October shake-down cruise in the Harvest Moon Regatta. I was glad we did it, because it quickly pointed out two new problems. The autopilot wouldn't work, and the jib furling line is fed onto the drum wrong, resulting in it binding when trying to furl the sail. The autopilot problem turned out to be a fuse re-installed incorrectly after I had connected a wire to the course computer last week. And the furling line should be easy to correct tomorrow. I'm glad we had the occasion to discover these things before heading out for real.
Our tentative plan is to depart this coming weekend. Hopefully everything will be in order. Our loose plan is to go offshore from Galveston to Destin, FL, where we will visit Barb's sister for a few days. From there we will cross over to Tampa, and visit a few boat friends we have there. I expect we will spend almost a week in Tampa, and then head south. We will go inside the Keys to Marathon, then outside up to the Miami area. We will wait there for a suitable weather window to grab the Gulf Stream and go to New York. We plan to spend the summer up the Hudson River in the area I grew up in, out of the path of hurricanes. Several people have asked me how long we will stay in NY. I told them when I wake up one morning in September and I'm cold, we're heading south. We plan to travel south in the ditch, and then in November hop over to the Bahamas for the winter.
I will start updating a different page with our logs next week. Wish us luck.
The time has come! We will depart Kemah tomorrow morning about 10:00. Of course, numerous friends plan to come by to see us off. It will probably be an emotional moment as we actually pull away. The list is done. The boat is provisioned. The fuel and water tanks are full. The cars are sold. We have remarkably stashed all the food, liquor, Barb's clothes, and galley supplies in what we think are secure places. We'll soon see how everything travels. We'll now have time to learn how to use some of the slick electronics we have installed but not had time to learn other than cursory operation. Look for an update soon after we arrive in FL.