Hello family and friends from Punta Gorda, FL! We arrived at our boat this last Tuesday after a long day of flying to Fort Lauderdale on Monday. We packed as much as we could without incurring baggage fees on Southwest Airlines. Thankfully, that airline allows two checked bags per traveler, and we made liberal use of that policy to get tools, boat parts, boat gear, and summer clothing since they are no longer needed in Portland. We packed gear and clothing in two duffle bags, a tool chest was its own piece of luggage, and we packed various other tools and spare parts in a larger Rubbermaid bin. Unfortunately, the bin got pretty well trashed by the baggage handlers, but fortunately, nothing was lost.
First lesson learned on this trip: don’t use flimsy plastic containers as checked baggage…we did get away lucky on this one though.
We got our rental car and spent the night in Fort Lauderdale near the dock where we will eventually park the boat for a few months. The following morning, we went and looked at the dock to make sure our boat would actually fit. The folks we are renting from assured us that our boat would fit, but it looked like a tight fit so we wanted to see it in person first before bringing the boat in. We are going to have to thread the needle to get it in there, but I think we can make it work. One thing we aren’t sure of is if our beam (the boat’s width) will block access for a trimaran that is docked further down the channel. It doesn’t look like it’s actively being sailed…so fingers crossed that the issue won’t come up during our stay.
After a short drive across alligator alley, we arrived at our boat a bit before noon. We got all of our stuff onto the boat, and then took a quick lunch break. Ed started in on getting an inventory of what he needed to change the oil and fuel filters on both engines, and replacing the traveler car (the traveler is a part that allows you to move the boom of the main sail to a different position). Ed started with the traveler thinking it would be a quick boat job…aka QBJ…but it quickly became apparent that this repair would have to wait for another time. Ed found lots of stripped bolts and other pieces of the traveler system that were stuck on the track.
Second lesson learned on this trip: NEVER assume ANY repair will go quick no matter how seemingly simple. Neptune/Poseidon will quickly correct your thinking. Always assume the repair will be long and complicated, and be pleasantly surprised when the opposite happens.
In the mean time I started cleaning. We found the boat in fairly decent condition, considering it really hasn’t been attended to for many months. I’ve learned over the years of moving into new houses, boats, RVs, etc. that the first thing you do is clean the space you will sleep in. I stripped the bedding in the starboard cabins, and started in on laundering the bedding. I also did a thorough cleaning of our cabin (bedroom) and the head (bathroom) nearest that cabin. There was no way I’d be able to thoroughly clean the entire boat before setting sail, so I focused on our sleeping and hygiene space. I also gave the galley and salon a pretty thorough cleaning since I need a clean space to cook. The port hull has been pretty well ignored, but I should have some time to attend to it when we get to Fort Lauderdale. After getting cleaning accomplished, I got everything organized and put away. So far, our boat has been a very pleasurable space to live on.
Although we had our hands full getting prepped to sail the boat, we did take some time to enjoy our short stay at the marina. We ate dinner at the marina restaurant since I did not get a chance to provision right away. On one of the nights they had pub trivia, outside with social distancing, and Ed and I managed to win! We had some fans that night since we managed to beat “the team that always wins.” The funny thing was, we didn’t necessarily answer more questions correctly than the three or so teams in contention, we just had a better point wagering strategy. Hey, we got a couple of free drinks and a $50 gift certificate out of it!
The other big task on our to do list was changing the oil on the engines. Ed started in with this task on Thursday once we acquired all the parts that we needed. The engines on this boat should have the oil changed every 200 hours. The oil on these engines had been left unchanged for nearly 500 hours, so we had to get this done before leaving. The oil was nasty and black, and the job was dirty. Ed got it done, with a little bit of my assistance, but we will probably have to change the oil again in Fort Lauderdale regardless of the hours we put on the engines. It was just that nasty, and oil needs to be flushed through the engines a couple of times to clean it up. Ed also found the fuel filters in a nasty state so we changed those as well.
Friday afternoon came quickly, and I went to pick up Captain Phil, our skipper for the weekend. Phil helped Ed move the boat to Punta Gorda while I took the car and did my provisioning errand. I planned out two week’s worth of dinners, sandwiches for lunch, a few breakfast items, and lots of snacks to munch on. I focused on simple, comfort food meals. Good food is essential to sailing happiness.
Phil will be working with Ed and me this weekend to get us up to speed on sailing a catamaran. Many of the concepts are the same as monohulls, but there are some key differences we want to make sure we have a good handle on. I’ve been keeping a diligent watch on the weather, and it looks like we have a good weather window to begin our trek to Fort Lauderdale on Monday. We should be able to sail most of the way without relying on the engines.
We will share an update soon when we get some down time!!