Later today we will shove off and make the drive down to Fort Meyers, FL where we will board a 38' Leopard Catamaran and sail it around Key West and up to Beaufort. Needless to say, we are a bit excited (Jennifer and I). First and foremost, we love to hit the road and to spend the Easter Holiday on an adventure makes it all the more exciting.
She made me promise that we would do a bit of shelling on Sanibel Island Beaches and of course we hope to catch a glimpse of the Green Flash as I have never seen it and she has only seen it once at Sanibel a couple years ago. WE GOT SH@#! to DO!
Then on Monday a crew of six will join the boat and we will depart for Northern Waters via The Florida Keys. Jennifer will drive Buxton and the rental car back to Beaufort (no doubt stopping for Chicken Nuggets at least once along the way to keep Buxton's spirits high- when Buxton isn't happy, the whole car suffers with the windows down.) I will miss them both and was hoping they would join us for this journey, but alas the cards did not work out that way.
I will also be missing my First Mate and Friend Matt as he too has prior commitments that he could not beg off of to sail a thousand miles back to home. But of the crew we have we are quite lucky.
My Friend John was the first to commit to fly down to join us. He is a great friend and a long time student of mine. He stood by me when all the world abandoned me in Bridgeport and he is a good man to know in a jam as he is quite resourceful and has a good head for machines.
Next to commit was Ryan. He is a current client of mine and a boat owner. He doesn't have a ton of sea miles, but has a good grasp of the concepts and has a youthful curiosity for how things work on his side. He's looking to learn what he can and I see this voyage as a bounty of learning opportunities. Accordingly I am stocking all the necessary charts and bringing my two sextants with to pass the time and grow the knowledge base.
Next to call was Alex- a sailing instructor I know from Long Island. We sailed together in a Nor'Easter off Oyster Bay two Novembers ago and he has dreams of sailing into the Sunset. He's originally from Ukraine so there is a lag in conversation comprehension at times, but he's a good man and a good sailor. He's also brings a captain he is friends with who hails from Fort Pierce and I believe has made this journey around the bend once or twice- why reinvent the wheel when you can tap into local knowledge?
Finally, First Mate Matt couldn't join us but he wanted to help in anyway he could. So accordingly he called up a salty friend of his who he tips beers with in New Bern who lives on a sailboat he restored a few years back. His name is Jay and I liked him immediately in part because of his "Devil May Care" attitude and in part because one the first things he packed besides his sleeping bag was his guitar. Music makes the miles tick off a lot faster at sea I find.
I drove out to meet him yesterday and picked up some necessary gear that was going to cost me $1000 but because he had it on his boat and said we could use it, I didn't have to spend the cash. Whilst there, he loaded me down with pretty much every possible piece of safety gear we could need from drogues and jack lines to a Hand Held GPS and a a pile safety lanyards and harnesses. He said, "This Boat has been to Kenya, if we need it, we will find here." He was super generous and I am very certain he will be a great asset to this adventure.
And so I am packing the car, feeding the cat and waiting for Jennifer to get off work so we can disembark. I did pretty much everything I needed to do yesterday in my excitement and if we don't have it, we (thanks to Jay) can buy it in Fort Meyers. But here's a couple tips that helped us save a buck and get prepared properly for this adventure:
1) Type 1 Offshore "May West"-Style Life Jackets- They are required for offshore passages and a good idea as they are guaranteed to float an unconscious person faceup for long term rescue situations. But they are super expensive at West Marine and our boat didn't have any. But even with my Port Supply discount, they are $50 each and finding six of them proved to be impossible by Good Friday. I stopped in to Anchors Away Consignment in Beaufort and they had Four of them on the shelf with lights and whistles for $20 used. What was going to cost me a $400 I got for $80- Cha Ching! They might smell a little funny but they are USCG approved and serviceable. Besides as my wife pointed out, May West was not that well endowed and calling them "May Wests" is a misnomer. We should pick someone else- like Dolly Parton to name them after- Jen thought that was a good idea and nearly pissed herself laughing saying, (In a metro-sexual affect) "Ahoy thar Matey, Get me my "Dolly", the boat is going down!" I have to buy three more in Fort Meyers, maybe we can start a trend and sell them on the idea of renaming them.
2) Life Boats- the vessel has a lifeboat, but it hasn't been inspected and past its date. It is no longer USCG compliant. With no way to buy one and get it to Florida by Monday, even if we had the cash, we had to make some other arrangements. And a Walmart Inflatable is not a life raft. So we found Aviation Survival Rentals in Tampa. They can get us a boat, ship it to us at the Marina and even gave a return label to ship it back to them from wherever we land, all for $60/day with $25 shipping to us and $35 return shipping. Its more than I want to spend, but worth every dime to have it just in case we need it. That is a money and a Life saving tip you want to stow away for future use.
Finally food. We have to go shopping when we get down there as its not worth packing ice and all the food for two days, just to pack it in a cooler for five more. So Easter Monday at 5am we will be shopping for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 5 guys for five days. To save what we can when we can, we canned a couple gallons of chili this winter which turned out pretty good. We have four quarts we are bringing with us for at least one meal afloat and Jen plans on boiling a few dozen eggs for us to snack on while underway. We are aiming to have a ready supply of high protein snacks that can be passed around on the rolling deck with minimal fuss and less plastic by products. The hard boiled egg and glass packed chili fits the bill perfectly. We also plan on stocking the boat with lots of nuts, cold cuts and 5-gallon water jugs that can be refilled and used to fill reusable water bottles. As Jen says, "we prefer no plastic".
And so with that I will sign off. I'll take lots of photos and check in on Facebook whenever I can. There is no wifi in the Gulf Stream so radio silence may be kept for a few days at a time. But by Next Sunday, I have to be back on shore to teach a class at the college- so wish us luck and fair winds and lets see if the Gulf Stream can launch us North to Beaufort by next Sunday.