Friday, September 30, 2011

Getting Closer

We are in constant communication with Sailcraft Service in Oriental and work is progressing well, we are getting closer to the day we can sail 'Partners' south. As I have written before we are using the time that we are waiting for hurricane season to pass, when our insurance company will let us head south, by having the yard do some essential survey reported items and other elective work. As with any new boat owner whether a new boat, or like us, a pre-owned boat it is nice to start off with the boat in as good shape as can be. Our first trip and ‘shake down’ cruise will be one of 1,014 NM and most of it in the open Atlantic ocean or so we hope, I say this as, weather permitting, we plan to sail non-stop to the Dry Tortugas where we will take a rest day to recuperate and adjust our arrival time before continuing on to Sarasota, our home port. My friend John Buzilow and I will be the crew; John has much sailing experience in the Caribbean and is a practical sailor to boot. John and I hope we will not have to fix anything but if the need arises I have total confidence in him to help me ‘right the ship’. John also professes to be able to cook and fish! Depending on weather will determine the level of gourmet cuisine we will be consuming. It could be Coq au Vin, or Mahi Mahi washed down with a bottle of Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc or - if it gets ‘lumpy’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Aside from the difficulty of being many hundreds of miles from our boat which has been tough we are excited planning our trip. For me it will be the longest non-stop run I have made since leaving the British Merchant Navy some 30 + years ago. We bought ‘Partners’ on July 6th 2011 so we have owned her nearly three months now, our target for launching her at Sailcraft is November 2nd. John and I plus our ‘better halves’ Lavinia and Carol will arrive the evening of the 4th so only another month to go, tempus fugit! In fact I am getting a little worried that we will not have disposed of all our furniture and the lifetime of ‘stuff’ we have accumulated that won’t be coming with us on the boat. When we get ‘Partners’ back to Sarasota we will move aboard and have no land based home with nothing in storage. It is our intention to have no land ties at all which we feel will give us the freedom to wander wherever we choose and to settle, once the boating days are over, wherever we want. We are hoping we will fall in love with a beautiful spot in our travels but we have no preconceived idea of where that may be! The girls will not be cruising with us and will drive back to Sarasota after spending just a day or two with us at Oriental; Lavinia must be back in Sarasota, where she is an RN at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, for work on Tuesday. 

Let’s talk about Oriental and Sailcraft Service for a moment...Ellen, our liaison at Sailcraft, has been marvelous she has patiently communicated the work list progress and no question or request has been too much trouble for her, a real gem. Talking of gems if any cruisers out there are considering a stop in the Neuse River area and Oriental please try Sailcraft Service, they are a great bunch and have all the equipment for hauling and the experienced artisans to do excellent work. The town too is a super small friendly place with a selection of B & B’s, restaurants, a West Marine and grocery store. Local to the marina are a selection of services including canvas workers, sail makers and many other specialties’, after all Oriental is known as ‘The Sailboat Capital of NC’. Almost everything is within walking distance and Sailcraft Service has a courtesy vehicle for making short shopping trips when you need a 'mule', all in all a place to remember.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Visit to Oriental, NC

We are back from our visit to see the progress being made on ‘Partners’. We travelled up from Sarasota, FL to Oriental, NC on Thursday 8th and arrived there at 19:30, we checked in at The Inn at Oriental and were greeted by Lorie who made us very welcome. I made the reservation and received a compliment from the Admiral “you picked a good one here”. The B&B was very nice and Lorie showed us around and eventually to our room which was spacious with a large four poster king sized bed; we had Wi-Fi and a comfortable chair in which I couldn’t wait to sit after the 12½ hour drive...a snooze would have been wonderful. There was, however, little time to linger as Lorie had explained that if we wanted supper now was the time to go out to find a restaurant before they all closed. We drove for 3 minutes to arrive at the Broad Street Grill, everywhere is 3 minutes drive! Oriental has a population of about 875 so it is small. Notwithstanding its size, during our visit we sampled two of the restaurants, the other being M&M’s down by the waterfront and both were great; real tuna instead of canned etc, we were impressed…the people of Oriental were extremely helpful and friendly. They were so upbeat considering only the week before hurricane Irene had made a direct hit there. In M&M’s they had had two feet of water up the walls and in just a week had completely redecorated and rewired in order to open up again, very resourceful people.

The bed was comfortable and after a well needed rest our morning started with a great breakfast of eggs and ham, Lavinia had french toast. Immediately afterwards we headed for the marina where we met with Alan, the owner of Seacraft Service, and went through our work order item by item. A surprising amount of the work had been done considering the distraction of ‘Irene’. After the office visit it was time to climb aboard and for Lavinia to either approve or disapprove of my purchase with her first view of ‘Partners’. The boat was not looking her best because of the work going on, the water maker was in pieces in the galley sink for example and the back deck was cluttered with our dinghy outboard motor and other gear which would normally be stowed elsewhere. Our dinghy was missing and I was concerned, not for long, however, there it was high and dry stacked and lashed down to one of the rakes; thank goodness. We had no damage from the storm and both of us were relieved. Lavinia liked the boat, sigh of relief, she said it was as described and just like the pictures. Both of us looked at each other knowing each other’s thoughts…this was our future home and we are impatient to begin the adventure. We had two additional appointments, one with Donny the sign writer who was going to paint the name Partners, and hailing port Sarasota, on the stern and also on the port and starboard name boards up where the navigation lights are situated. The other appointment was with the canvas lady Elizabeth from Down East Canvas who was to measure and give us an estimated for a complete compliment of new canvas, if the cash flow allows us to do it while the boat is in Oriental. We were going to have it done in Sarasota but it would be nice to have it all done while we are not aboard. We haven’t had the estimate yet so have not decided if we will have it done now. Elizabeth, I must say, was thorough and seemed very professional, both Lavinia and I had no doubt that she would do a great job. It was hot and we were thirsty so it was time for a lunch break so off to M&M’s we went, the first Blue Moon didn’t even touch the sides, so yes, I had two! Duly refreshed we went back to ‘Partners’ where we met with Chris the master carpenter and went over the design of a pilothouse table he would be making and also the caulking of the deck seems he would also be doing. He pointed out one leak that we had around the port side deck prisms which I agreed should be fixed. We left at 16:00 as we had to get ready for a trip into New Bern where we would be meeting our daughter Jennifer and her husband Paul for dinner; they live in Raleigh and were driving to their weekend apartment in Morehead City. Busy, busy we were definitely on a time table. Our venue for dinner in New Bern was Capt. Ratty’s. We enjoyed a really good dinner and had a conversation filled evening. We drove back to Oriental and were in bed by 22:00 as we would be up, out and on the road by 05:30. Alas, our visit to ‘Partners’ was over. During our drive back we were already planning the next return visit in about a month…