Sunday, May 20, 2012

Marking Time in the Marina and a trip to UK

May 20th 2012

Position N 27° 22.225’,
               W 82° 37.075’.

Longboat Key Club Moorings, FL 
To reiterate the mission is to report on the travels of ‘Partners’, our 42’ Kadey Krogen, the places we visit, our life on board, both good and bad; what it takes to run a boat and, hopefully, to encourage those of you who are already interested in a cruising lifestyle to actually get moving forward with a plan. It is not to ‘sell’ the idea of a cruising life style to those who don't have a basic interest. We want to deliver real information, good and bad, about our lives and travels aboard ‘Partners’. For those who stumble across this blog and are not interested in a dream of cruising and exploring far off places then be encouraged to follow your own dream whatever it may be, do something.

One of the things that many of our friends have asked is “how do you manage the maintenance and repairs on the boat?” Well, I am not a diesel technician, plumber or electrician, I am, however, willing to learn and realize that there will, not might be, an occasion or occasions that require me to wear those hats. The main thing here is not to be affraid to try. Believe it or not the most difficult thing I found is actually getting started with each job. Once you are going the mystery tends to evaporate and one ends up saying to one’s self “that wasn’t so hard”. Another retrospective thought is we are glad that we have given ourselves a year at the dock to prepare and practice. I have added tools and materials to the tool kit and spares collection that if we had just sailed off I wouldn’t initially have had but would have needed. I am not saying that one couldn’t get by with a basic tool kit and the minimum of spares but believe you me, a comprehensive tool selection and a few speciality ones does make life a lot easier. The bag of plumbing pieces, a selection of hose clamps all make sense to have. The obvious spares such as a fresh water pump and a starter solenoid are easy to remember the windshield wiper blades and spare navigation computer (we use Nobiltec software on a laptop which drives the autopilot and supplies the navigation data to the other instruments) are other items we have accumulated in the last six months. We plan to travel south to Key West, across to the Bahamas and then the Caribbean where getting spare parts and the qualified labour will be more difficult. We want the independence to be self sufficient and not be spending all our time as ‘marina queens’ waiting for a part shipment and having to ‘trust’ an unknown labour force. Doing it one’s self is the way to go, most serious cruisers, both sail and power, share this opinion and are prepared to help each other out. In all ports of call there is radio communication among cruisers and the ‘net’, as it is known, is a daily broadcast usually in the morning when one can listen for the activities of the day that are planned and anyone will have the opportunity to ask for or offer help if it is needed. In other words one can find the labour/help within the cruising community.

All the above said, I can’t tell you the satisfaction that one gets from successfully accomplishing a task or makes you wear that ‘Cheshire Cat’ grin. The Admiral also becomes more confident with the Captain, very important! Not exactly miles under ones belt but may allow the Captain to go and get the miles under his belt, if you know what I mean! You smile but this is the real world...Lavinia had no reason to believe I could perform and execute a home maintenance programme, jump to in an emergency and avert a disaster, she had never seen me do anything other than cut the grass, clean the car and other minor ‘labours of love’. During my full time working life anything and everything required someone else to repair everything, I simple did not have the time or the inclination. The budget afforded it whereas now the budget needs a lot more ‘management’ and besides, the more we have from the budget for the fun things of life the better; this is what our lives are all about nowadays.

Our choice of boat, a Kadey Krogen 42’ walk around, was made based on the sea keeping qualities first and the liveability second. Obviously the ability to carry us to the places we want to go is imperative and to be able to cope with the occasional adverse sea condition important. Equally though to be able to accommodate us and provide the space and layout which fits our lifestyle is a big consideration. Other details that come into play is the range, i.e. fuel capacity, storage capacity for provisions and spares etc., there are other capable and comparable boats to choose from, enjoy the ride, we had so much fun looking at different boats and making our choice, it is very exciting! Nordhavn, Diesel Duck and Selene were all considered. An opportunity will present itself when you are ready and in our case this is what happened. I had a list of desired equipment which included stabilizers and a water maker which not all used boats have and as a retrofit are expensive to add. The Admiral had an affinity to Kadey Krogen, especially the liveability, the president of the company John Gear had gone out of his way to help us and avail his time and services to show us different boats and advise us. All these things convinced us that a Kadey Krogen 42’ was the boat for us. Only buy enough boat for the job, the bigger you go may not be what you need and will cost more to maintain and run. We had made the decision to sell our house and get the ball rolling. A buyer came along for the house and we had made arrangements to rent a small villa until we found the ‘right’ boat. Just before we closed on our house sale what appeared to be the ‘right’ boat came up on Yachtworld. I said to Lavinia this could be the one...her reply was just buy it! (I should explain that we had been looking for well over a year and had seen a couple of boats that met our criteria. We did not get them alas; we were ‘pipped at the post’). I immediately called John Gear and made an offer sight unseen but with the contingency ‘subject to taking a look’ and, of course, a survey. We did minor negotiation and the price was set that day. The next day I jumped into my car and drove 700 miles to New Bern, North Carolina. The rest of the story is history we closed on the boat purchase eight days after the house sale closed. We had disposed of much of our belongings and continued to move into the rented villa as the boat needed some work so would stay in NC until the end of hurricane season which I have written about in previous renditions. We have truly not looked back; both of us love our boat and have completely adjusted to less space and a whole different routine and life style. We are now six months into fulltime live aboard status. I brought the boat from NC to FL during November 2011 and we moved aboard Dec. 1st. One thing all of you ‘wannabees’ out there will experience when your time comes is a revitalization, a new fresh approach to life. This living on a boat and cruising lifestyle is physically demanding and mentally absorbing, yes, you will lose weight! Both of you! I still work as a realtor and our friends ask “how is work” my reply is “which job” both are full time jobs really. Boating is not for you if your idea of retirement is doing nothing and not having to worry about a thing, in other words vegetate. Cruising and boat ownership is stimulating, it is fun and above all it keeps you interested in life. The thirst for life is actually never quenched as long as you are actually living it! We are in our mid 60’s and are constantly looking forward to future adventures and life ahead not reminiscing our lives and the memories of the past. Don’t get me wrong past experiences and memories are great and make stimulating ‘current’ conversation. It’s where you are having the conversation, with whom and what one actually did that day which presented the opportunity for the conversation...that is life.
May  15th 2012  

We have just returned from a visit to England where we visited my Mother, Brother and many friends; I emigrated from UK some 31 years ago. The trip was really to say ‘good bye’ to everyone as once we head south at the end of the year and begin cruising full time it will be more difficult to leave the boat for long periods and fly off to destinations afar. My Mother will be 90 this year and each visit is precious as time does run out! We were reminded that Britain is great, the food, often maligned, was wonderful. Many of the pubs are now gastronomic havens and offer much variety. The public transport everywhere is second to none. The downside is the cost and the weather, cold rainy and everything, except the food in the grocery stores, where the selection is phenomenal compared to the US, was expensive. Lavinia’s sister and brother-in-law flew over from Switzerland, where they live, to their club ‘The Sloane Club’ in Lower Sloane Street for our last weekend and entertained us as their guest. The Club is beautiful and very centrally located. We saw ‘Top Hat’ at the Aldwych Theatre, and the show was fabulous. We had dinner afterwards at the Wolseley CafĂ© & Brassiere in St. James’ Piccadilly, very elegant. We did indulge ourselves one more day and on Sunday had a full English breakfast, a cream tea in the afternoon and a scrumptious Indian meal in the evening. During the day we did manage to visit the Tate Modern and The National Portrait Gallery museums, busy busy. Our visit was too short of course although successful and special but we are glad to be back onboard ‘Partners’ in the warmth of the Florida sunshine. Oh and watch out Starbucks! There is a chain of coffee shops with the same business model as Starbucks called Costa Coffee which in our opinion serves better coffee.
The two Sisters!

Today I had a visit from Tex who was on a trip to his future home which he and his wife bought recently here on Longboat Key, yes Tex from Key Biscayne, owner of Manatee ‘Bucky’. His wife Eva was not with him on this visit as she was the last time. We spent some time on board ‘Partners’ chatting and talking boats...

In the marina this morning I saw some enormous tarpon breaking the surface of the water, in fact making it boil, presumably chasing the plentiful mullet satisfying their breakfast appetite. I had no idea that such big ones were visitors to the marina.