Sunday, May 31, 2015

Our first Day Sail

We took her out for a day sail yesterday. It was our first trip out of Port Everglades (I have traversed the port a few times on other boats, including a big aircraft carrier :)

We first had to swing the boat around at the dock. She was facing west and we didn't like the idea of trying to back all the way down the canal which has boats on both sides and a tree that need trimming!

It took about an hour to get from the slip to outside the port, there are 6 bridges to negotiate, but one is tall enough that we can sail under it during all by very high tides.

The rest open on request and are really very good at opening within a couple of minutes of a request.

Once outside, we hoisted the sails and headed NNE on a beam reach to get used to handling the sails.

 Peggy at the helm did really well. Then we tacked to SSE and headed for the 3 mile limit. I must remember not to go swimming near the 3 mile limit 

The macerator worked great.

Then we eased off and headed back to the port entrance, we turned up just outside the first marker and lowered the sails. I wrapped up the mainsail while Peggy turned us back towards Port Everglades. Traffic was not too busy, but it gets choppy just near the mouth of the Port.

Once inside we turned north to head under the 17st Causeway Bridge (56' clearance at that time) then we left Party city to Stbd and took the turn west into the New River.

Now on our 3rd traverse off the river, we're getting a little more relaxed, hopefully we will learn to chill with more experience. The 7th avenue bridge responded to our call to open with a 'Sorry guys, got a mechanic working on the bridge right now, it'll be a few minutes' So we did a few dosie does for about 10 minutes, the current was quite strong inbound. Once they fixed the bridge, we had to remain on station while a mega yacht was towed out. The bridge tender kept it open for us, so on our last turn we headed up and through without incident.

The bridge tenders seem to do a really good job of minimizing the delay while the bridge is opened.

We approached the dock at very slow speed and I was able to hook the line we left trailing between the dock posts and pull us close to the dock so that I could step off. The wind was from the east and I used it to help swing the boat around with the bow now pointing east for our next trip.

The slip landlord was gracious to help tie the boat up and our first day sail was over. A great day.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Launch Day

We're heading up to Stuart to launch the boat and bring her down to Fort Lauderdale.

Our F150 was loaded! we took the Dink & Outboard, Cooler for Food and Drinks, bedding, linens, Navigation materials, charts, Electronics (Tablet, VHF hand held, Hand held GPS, SPOT) and the list goes on. There was barely any room in the truck bed or the rear passenger compartment. I think there's a kitchen sink in there somewhere.

Upon arrival at Port Salerno Marine, we stopped to look at the boat, it's the first time Peggy has seen it out of the water, it's Sooooo much bigger than JD our Catalina 250 (up for sale) and the yard has done a great job on the hull. Time to check into the hotel for the night and get some dinner. So far today I have worked until midday, then we loaded the truck, drove Peggy's car and the truck to the Dock home in Fort Lauderdale, and finally headed up to Stuart - we're beat!

Bright and early Friday, we headed to the Grill for breakfast (and to recover my Cap that I left behind on Tuesday) then down to the boat to see how the final progress was going.

We had to haul all of our gear up from the truck up to the boat deck. The crew helped, but it was a hot day. They were finishing off the new Cutlass Bearing, polishing and Zinc Painting the Prop, shifting the boat stands so that they could finish the bottom paint. The hull was looking Good!

As noon approached, I asked Jack, the owner of Port Salerno Marine, what time he expected to be able to launch, and his response was 'Probably after lunch when it's high tide' So Peggy & I headed off for lunch and a quick trip to West Marine for a few last minute things. VHF remote mic, 2015 Waterway Guide, and a gallon of Engine Oil (little did I know that Deke had left half a gallon bottle of fresh oil in a cabin locker.)

By the time we got back to the yard, the boat was in slings and they were waiting for High Tide.



After the yard crew lowered the boat into the water, I went aboard and checked for leaks! We had put in a new shut off valve on the Sink drain line and a plug in the none working fish finder thru hull transducer. Just wanted to make sure we were ok.

Now it's time to head home down the ditch. About 90 miles. Here goes!

See you in Fort Lauderdale.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Survey

Have to get the boat surveyed

Read any book about buying a boat and they all advise to get a survey, and if the boat is being financed, like Eximius, the Finance company will want a survey. We could pull the money out of our savings, but the tax would be heavy, so I reached out to Essex Credit and found out the ground rules.

My offer to purchase the boat is dependent upon a satisfactory survey, including above water, below water and Sea Trial. The boat is in a slip in Stuart, Manatee Pocket, and there are two marinas nearby: Hinckley and Port Salerno. The name Hinckley is well known, they make some impressive boats up north, and local knowledge reported that the marina was extremely controlling when it comes to who can do work on boats on their hard. But they could haul the boat at all tides. Port Salerno allows DIY work but have limited haul that is restricted to close to high tide for a deep keel boat.

After talking with Jack from Port Salerno marina, nice down to earth guy, I decided to get the boat hauled there. He was able to recommend several Surveyors and Service guys to get the work done. A gut reaction selected Brian Galley as my first surveyor to call. He's a Brit! duh! Brian discussed the process and expected a call back when decisions were made. I spoke to Fred, one of the service guys that manages a team that works at Port Salerno, and he was flexible and able to get the work done in my time frame.

Discussing the plan with Deke, we agreed on May 19th as the haul day. Deke would work on being down here for the survey, but has a buddy that could move the boat to the marina for haul out if Deke was unable to make it. I cleared it at work that I would go up on Monday night, Peggy baby sits our grand-daughter on Mondays and Tuesdays, so I would be on the survey alone. Everything was agreed upon with Jack from the Marina, Brian, surveyor, and Fred for the boat service, and Deke for coming down from New Hampshire. Ducks were lining up nicely.

On survey day, Peggy stayed at home with Katie, I drove up on the Monday and picked up Deke at the Palm Beach International Airport just before 11am.

We spent the afternoon going over the boat, me learning the systems that Deke covered, Deke recalled many of the adventures they had on the boat. By the end of the day I felt more confident on being able to handle any engine issues, how to do the routine servicing and we went over the engine start sequence several times. That Monday was a short day, but we covered a lot.

Tuesday morning, we had breakfast at a local breakfast grill (left my hat behind!) and then went to the boat to start putting the sails up as Deke had planned to store them while he was away for the summer. Brian Galley, the Surveyor, turned up on time and quickly got into the work of checking our the boat for me (and the insurance company and the finance company). Around 10ish, we cast off for the sea trial. Brian wanted the engine to be run at full speed for two minutes, Deke explained that he never ran the engine at full speed, ever! But that is what Brian wanted, so we turned into a straight stretch and pushed the throttle wide open. 8.66 knots! Wow! and the engine passed with colors.

Then we motored over to Port Salerno Marine and their team turned the boat and guided it into the haul out dock. I'll add some pics later.

The afternoon was a whirlwind, but the survey passed very well and I was able to setup the team at the marina to do a few things on the boat. That included getting the hull power washed below the water line and new bottom paint, putting a new zinc on the prop shaft, replacing the prop shaft cutlass bearing and cleaning the hull above the waterline and putting 3 coats of acrylic polish on the hull after scraping the name off the transom.

During the afternoon, Deke and I removed the depth gauge transducer which was not working. Upon removal it was obvious why. Water had gotten inside the transducer and it had swollen in the only direction it could - outward. We found a dummy transducer bung in a local marine swap market. $4.00 fit like a glove.

We spent the night at Deke's house after having dinner at the Manatee island restaurant.

Wednesday morning I drove Deke back to the airport and headed to work via a quick stop for breakfast at home.

The survey results arrived just after lunch and I quickly sent them to the insurance company and the finance company with pictures of the current registration.

We have a boat!

Journey to the boat

How Eximius Found us

I had been researching for a larger boat for a couple of years using all of the, today, usual resources, including: Yatchworld, Sailboatlistings, and what seems like all of the published magazines that we receive each month. It's a challenge to find the boat that meets both our requirements and expectations. It was getting old but perseverance is the only way to go.

Many of the friends that I talked to that had a sailing background often commented that you'll find the boat but the best boat will find you!

We bought books about how to inspect the aging sailboat knowing that we could not afford to buy a New boat (again). I knew that the 'new to us' boat would have a diesel engine, so I studied diesel engine mechanics (there's a really good series of videos on OffCenterHarbor.com ), we both studied books on Navigation, Seamanship, boat electronics, Docking, and the list goes on. All the while looking around the web to find suitable boats and gradually developing a priority list of 'must haves' so that we could whittle down the huge inventory of sailboats available on the web.

Gradually we 'designed' our boat. Several features were must haves: I favored the Single Spreader Mast: My opinion was that the simpler the mast, the stronger but did not go all out and opt for the shoudless Freedom boats. It had to have a Diesel engine, just don't like having a Gas fuel tank below decks. It had to have a Fridge Freezer, I like to have ice in my drinks! And it had to be from a major manufacturer with a solid web based support group. 

Our first sailboat was a 2005 Catalina 250 Water ballast and the support given by the Catalina-Capri-25s.org site has been incredible. There has not been a single subject of boat maintenance on our C250 that the site did not cover! and if a 'new' subject appeared, the responses on that site are excellent. 

We joined a sailing club locally and dove into it, getting involved as soon as possible, givers gain! The members of that club have been terrific. We have had the chance to sail on their boats, crew on races, socialize both in groups and private Dinners. They have made us very welcome. I can heartedly recommend joining a good sailing club. But get involved.

So we forged on with our search for that ideal boat. It has to be capable of taking us to the fabulous coasts of the bahamas,  to the multitude of anchorages along the east coast to Maine, and the fabled Annapolis sailing grounds.

During a stint at the Miami strictly sail boat show, I met a club member that had recently delivered a boat to stuart from the islands. Tom knew the owner had a boat for sale. I took the info but didn't follow up.

The search continued, we even started to plan; viewing boats in Miami, Tampa, Punta Gorda,  and elsewhere, but research indicated problems before we got on the road to see them.

Then, out of the blue, I received a call from Deke, he called me asking if I was still looking for a sailboat.

Deke's description of his boat was intriguing. We decided to actually go see the boat. He had heard from Tom, the club member I met at the show.

We drove up to Stuart Florida on Friday.  My boss was OK with me taking the day off. We arrived at 2:30 and met with Deke & Chris And quickly headed to their boat, a Catalina 34 Fin keel tall rig.

The boat was definitely special, not the greatest condition,  but loaded  and very well prepared for cruising. And as I said,  Special.

As we drove home with dozens of phone camera pics, we talked about the boat as we detoured to our Daughters home in Loxahatchee before going south back home.

There were so many "what if's" that my head was spinning. I missed two turns on the route despite having our route set on our truck's GPS.

All weekend we discussed the boat. Searching for slips was a challenge, but we found one in Fort Lauderdale. With a fin keel, we needed a depth of 6' else the boat would sit in the mud.

The boat had found us.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Planning the 1st Trip Home

Do I over plan?

Even before the purchase is confirmed, I'm building the plan for bringing Eximius home. When it comes to event planning, I tend to put myself into a virtual event - mind experiment if you like. I literally consider every anticipated action during the event, and that's what I have been doing for this journey.

I use Google Sheets a lot, they are great for having access to them from anywhere. I can keep them locally on my device(s) so even if we're off the net, I can review or edit them.

So the first thing we did for the planning of this trip, was to review the Waterway guide, it's a great book and now their website even includes info from Active Captain. We started by looking at the marina area - Manatee Pocket in Stuart, checking the depths and tides for the date we'll be setting off. That set the start time of the trip as the Marina has to launch her at high tide. We need to arrive at the boat's new slip around mid afternoon on Memorial Day, we want to arrive during daylight.

My boss, Dale, has been really a good friend over the years I've known him, and this trip is only possible because of his flexibility. So Dale was ok with me taking the Friday off before Memorial Day weekend and, if push became a shove, then the following Tuesday would be ok too. So the available time was setup.

Then we looked that routes to getting the boat down here, a choice of inside the ICW (the ditch) or outside, on the ocean. The inlet at Stuart is risky, requires a good bit of fresh local knowledge because of the reported shoaling in the inlet. So we'll take the ICW at the start. We could pop out to the ocean through Lake Worth Inlet, that would avoid a whole lot of bridges, but the next viable inlet is Hillsboro Inlet, that's a long stretch for our first time on the boat. So we figured we would head down the ICW to Old Port Cove where we could anchor. It does require us to leave Manatee Pocket by noon which works for the tides too. From Old Port Cove we would motor on to Lake Boca and perhaps meet some club members before going down the rest of the way inside, or if we feel confident and the weather is cooperating, head outside at the Hillsboro inlet and head down to Port Everglades.

With the rough route planned, I printed out important points on the route from Garmin's Home Port and Google Earth. Those pages were laminated as they would be in the cockpit.

During all of this, we both must have used the phrase 'If it passes survey' a hundred times.