Preparations to Cast Off - January 1, 2005
Our journey finally commenced on the first day of the New Year! The first destination was intended to be the Florida Keys, but we made an impromptu stop across Lake Pontchartrain at Mandeville, Louisiana due to less than favorable weather and a failed speed log needed for the auto pilot. We knew we would have to be flexible in our plans, but didn't know it would be put into practice so soon. It has all worked out for the best though, as we have been able to enjoy magnificent weather in picturesque Mandeville as we waited for parts and took care of some needed business.
Much to our dismay, our late departure from New Orleans caused us to witness a rare occurrence of snow in New Orleans. Indigo Moon had snow on the decks the day after Christmas as we began to undertake the final provisioning to make our way out of Lake Pontchartain. We were disappointed to have to wear coats and long pants this winter, but we will be in the Keys soon enough and will be able to dispense with the winter clothes we grudgingly brought on board to stay warm until we can make our way south.
As far as the departure delay is concerned, I knew our plans to liquidate and sail full time would require an enormous effort, but let me just say that we vastly underestimated how hard it would actually be.
Since the day before Hurricane Ivan slammed the Gulf Coast on September 16, 2004, we have been buried in a labyrinth of multi-tasking. Hurricane Ivan marked the beginning of an incredible gauntlet for us.
Our house sold on September 24, 2004. The law office sold on October 29, 2004. From mid-September until Halloween, we were faced with long days and virtually no time off to get out of the house and law firm. Imagine: completely liquidate and, in one way or another, physically move or rearrange literally every single thing you own. That's right. EVERYTHING!
It all started with preparing to sell the house ourselves, moving out of the house, sorting through everything we own to either place the items in storage or selling the rest through advertising in the classifieds and yard sales. Then, the same for the office too. We sold the office, stored some items, and then had to deal with completing, closing, transferring, returning or storing hundreds of client files.
Melissa's Miata has been sold. Our dear friends, Chris and Trula Remson, have agreed to sell our 2001 Tahoe so that we were able to use it right up until our departure.
Every account, both business and personal, of any nature or kind had to be tended to: from the Bar Association to the electric company; health insurance to financial institutions; the post office to the I.R.S. And as we all know too well, rarely does anything happen as easily as it should. It seems someone is usually dropping the ball somewhere such that it all comes back around to you in a couple of weeks to deal with again. We have both also been to numerous dentists and doctors for check ups and vaccinations.
Of course, boat preparation and maintenance have been simultaneously ongoing at fever pitch. I have spent every bit of "leisure" time working on the boat making repairs, improvements, and planning the provisioning and packing of spare parts and tools, etc. I have not worked this long at this level of physical exertion since my late teens and early twenties.
The beginning of November marked the first "fun" activity we've had in a while. We made a trip to St. Petersburg, Florida to Sail America's "Strictly Sail Boat Show." Melissa and I visited friends, made some new friends, and we also purchased some needed equipment at good prices.
I bought a new dinghy and outboard motor at the Boat Show. We needed a bigger, faster dinghy. Out there cruising, the dinghy will be our daily mode of transportation once we arrive at a harbor or cove and anchor Indigo Moon. The dinghy is our car, pickup truck, fishing vessel, dive boat, tow boat, tugboat, etc. and we simply had to buy one that is up to the task. So, we bought a 10 foot Caribe "Light" inflatable with a hard bottom and a 15 horsepower four stroke Yamaha outboard. That'll work!
Melissa has also ordered a 13 foot yellow molded plastic Ocean Kayak built for two. We will pick it up in Ft. Lauderdale when we're down that way. With the kayak we can paddle around quietly and explore the shallows when we feel like it without spooking the sea life, not to mention getting good exercise and having a second mode of transportation if one of us has taken the dinghy ashore.
Also, we bought a Village Marine water maker system that converts seawater to drinking water. The equipment we purchased will produce up to 800 gallons per day and over thirty gallons of fresh water in only an hour. It will run on 110 volts AC from our generator. Thus, the plan is to be able to live at anchor and run the generator and both main engines for only one hour or so a day to recharge the 12 volt battery system and to fill all the fresh water tanks. By using that strategy, we will burn hardly any fuel and we can stay at remote islands for several weeks without needing to make port unless we feel like it (as long as my fishing/spear fishing efforts are productive).
The water maker is comprised of several components and must be custom installed. It is a simple system and, but for the need to add a new electrical panel and breaker, it's nothing more than mounting components here and there and routing simple plumbing. My boat-systems-learning-curve is flattening out somewhat, thank goodness. I have figured out quite a lot about the boat and its systems already.
Aside from purchasing equipment, the boat show was a great place to recharge our spirits and get excited again about our adventure. One old salt at the show said: "Get on out there, Buddy! You can always come back but you can't always go!" He's right.
I also met a new friend at the Boat Show, George Huffman (aka"That Boat Guy") and he is making the trip with us from New Orleans to the Keys. He has been indispensable in helping us get the water maker sorted out and getting the boat ready to go.
We will add a couple of sections to the web site as time goes on including an equipment section where I will explain what gear we have, who we bought it from, and what recommendations we have. Basically, I will relay my experience regarding what works and what doesn't.
Also, I will add a maintenance section so that all you fellow "gear heads" can see what dozen things I am trying to fix at any particular time and perhaps offer me advice. I saw a sign in a restaurant and bar named "The Dock" in New Orleans' West End that said: "The only thing that works on an old boat is the owner." Hmmm. . . . I would change that to: "The only thing that works all the time on any boat is the owner." Something is always in need of attention, but it's a labor of love.
Also, Melissa will add a section to the web site addressing her perspective on the cruising experience. While most of my friends (guys) understand why I want to go sailing, many of Melissa's friends (gals) are still unsure and curious about what it will be like for her. While most women would love a Caribbean vacation, they simply can't imagine selling their homes and leaving their hairdresser. Melissa looks forward to sharing her insights to cruising on the web site.
It's the high dive for sure. Our feet have now left the board and we are in mid-flight past the point of no return. And we are grinning. With luck, our next report will be NIRVANA from the Florida Keys. I can think of no better place to catch our breath, get our bearings and reflect on this huge transition. In the Keys we plan to warm our bones, make ready Indigo Moon, and then cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas and beyond.
Until next time, Fair Winds & Happy New Year-