Hurricane Irma blew threw fierce as ever. It was the hurricane that would NOT end. Honestly it was the longest lasting hurricane I think I have ever experienced.
Our biggest concern of course was our little Bristol because all of our hopes, dreams and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears have been poured into her. She is the foundation of our next phase in this adventure we call life. The thought of losing her had my anxiety spiked and knots in my stomach.
Day 1: we could not get downtown to see if she had made it through the storm. The city had been shut down. So we turned around and headed back to the house. Fingers still crossed and continually telling myself she was just fine and happily floating exactly were we left her. Day 2: we made it downtown. The town was already buzzing with everyone cleaning up the mess that Irma had left behind. We pulled up to the sea wall and got out of the car. Digging out the binoculars as I was shaking violently was a challenge. The fear as we looked past the boats that had broken loose of their moorings and slammed into the seawall was very unnerving. It is a devastatingly sad sight. I couldn’t even see through the binoculars because I was shaking so bad. I finally found a good spot to rest them on so I could actually see where she hopefully was still secured and floating. Tears, hugs, squeals of joy and high fives all around because she was still exactly where we left her. She made it through! I don’t even know how to begin to describe the relief and joy that washed over us when we saw her floating secured to her mooring.
Off we went down the street to the marina. Holy Shit!!! It was a disaster. Docks were destroyed and at least 3 boats had sunk. Marina staff was already hard at work cleaning up the mess. Although we could not take our own boat out to check on Señora del Mar the marina staff took us out to her so we could check the lines and make sure she was secure and dry. We are so very thankful for that. Now we wait till we can go back and get to work putting her back together.
Well, it was a lot of work, but we did our best to prepare the boat to give her the best chance of survival. Here is a list of what we did. Hopefully this may help you if you are faced with a similar situation.
Removed roller furling head sail
Removed main sail
Removed anchor to prevent line chafe
Re-tightened all window screws
Checked bilge pump and lever
Removed solar panel
Shut down solar controller
Removed bimini and frame
Installed 2 new 5/8ths double braided rope
Secured anti chafing gear in place
Secured motor battery bank with tie down straps
Had a beer with a neighbor that is crazy enough to stay with his boat through the storm
Removed dinghy, scraped the bottom and stored her in the garage
The one thing I forgot and regret not doing is to turn the 2 dorades (ventilation) to face back in the cockpit area. Water will more than likely enter here since there is no actual dorade box, just the pipes that lead directly to the inside back of the boat. Unfortunately it’s too late to take care of now.
The rest is up to God and Mother Nature. Wish us well…..
Ok so…. The boat is all settled in. She is on a mooring ball as we work on her. The frustration has mounted as we take 2 steps forward and 5 steps back. There is much more work than we anticipated. Oh boy is there more work. The leak elimination was going well. So we thought. For every leak we fix we find another. While fixing the window leak in the head it starts pouring. Turn your head and what do we see across the way? If you answered another leaky window, you are correct. We didn’t know about that one. Also we Fixed the leaky mast only to find out there is water coming from inside the mast as well. Oh the joy of a dry boat. She will most definitely be a very dry boat by the time we are done with her.
Surely you have seen hamsters running on a wheel. This how we are feeling about now. And yes at any given moment one of us may be ready to jump ship. The thought has crossed our minds a time or two. That isn’t happening though. We are in this together for the long haul. The rewards will be AMAZING. That is what keeps us chugging along one project at a time. We have accomplished a lot though . To stay motivated we have to look at the projects we have accomplished. She was an 1 1/2 hrs. away before so every trip was less productive than it is now. The engine is installed and running properly. That took a bit of work. Not much info available for that installation. Dennis is working on a post all about that project. The house batteries and solar panels are up and running. Sometimes things got done more than once. She has gotten a good scrubbing on the inside to get rid of mold and mildew. The bilge has been scrubbed and is now free of past diesel and whatever the hell else was in there. It stunk. The shower drain leads away from the mast and into our nice clean bilge now instead of water sitting at the bottom of the mast. Several leaks have been repaired so she is getting drier each time we go out to work on her.
We need to take her out for a joy ride soon though. All work and no play makes for a grumpy crew.
A journey that expectedly took longer than expected. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? First off we got a late start from Titusville and didn’t quite make it as far as we had hoped. The wind was not blowing and our engine is not set up for a long journey so we used the dinghy with the 9.8 outboard. Everything was cruising along smoothly and we anchored for the night. It is such an AWESOME feeling when things go so well.
How short lived that was. The 9.8 dies because we ran out of oil, the shaft slips on the inboard and it is no longer operational. We are now left with old reliable, the little 5hp champion that seems to always save our asses. Oh but it always gets better. The sun is setting, we are cruising at a super slow speed and not sure if we have enough gas to get to the marina to dock for the night. There is no place to anchor and we are not prepared to sail at night. The universe was not going to completely kill our spirit, we did make it to the dock. Have I mentioned that I have never in my life brought a boat into a slip. With a dinghy no less. A bit of a struggle but we got tied up for the night.
Morning comes and we start the day with the breakfast of champions, ice cream. We set off for the last leg of our trip. The power boats are out in full force so rather than get upset because the wake tosses the boat every which way, there wasDINGHY SURFING to be done. I do believe Murphy was done with us at this point. Our travels to St. Augustine were pretty uneventful. We were going to have to dock again though. There are no moorings till after the 4th. The engine needs to be repaired already. I am saying my prayers and pleading with the universe that it is an easy fix.
After passing our depressive state from the last boat we decided to pass on (Allied Seabreeze). Our impatience was growing so we couldn’t help but continue to look for “our boat”. From what we could tell the best deals seamed to be on craigslist, so we continued to do some hard window shopping. By this time we were in a much better financial situation as we had put together the money for our fourth and final kid’s braces and we have managed to pay our home off!!!!! (WooHOO!!!!). Now we felt like the timing was right.
I was particularly looking for a strong and worthy classic with a broken down engine (Clearance Sale!). It was slim pickings, but we ended up taking a look at a Bristol 29.9 in Cape Canaveral Fl. that had it’s engine removed (bonus!) and was being offered for $6,000. The seller just had the lower hull redone and painted and also just replaced the rudder stock and a couple of through holes.
We could not find a single bad review on this boat and although it was a little smaller than what we were looking for, it’s layout and beam made up the difference. Besides smaller is more affordable to maintain (more fun money!).
I must admit although it sounded like a fair deal, I still hesitated a bit knowing that once we said yes a financial hurricane would come our way. It did not disappoint!
So we did say yes to the deal after negotiating to $5,500 dinghy and 5.0 outboard motor included. Ok so we bought this boat so now what? The owner had now taken her off dry storage where he was getting ripped a new one and and had her docked at a friends house in Cocoa Fl. while she waited for us to pick her up. Only 1 problem, she has no back up engine and I don’t currently have keel boat sailing experience, yikes!
After having an acquaintance bail out on me, another friend too busy at the time and looking into over water and out out of water transport fees I was a bit stressed and overwhelmed. How can we get this boat from Cocoa to St. Augustine, Fl. or at least Marineland Fl. safely without breaking the bank?
Stay tuned to the adventure. We will find a way to get her home. Surely it will be full of amusement for all.
As I lie here this morning slightly depressed, my brain is still trying to “make it work” even though we already decided that it’s just not the right time yet.
We took a look at a 35’Allied Seabreeze that a gentleman was selling for next to nothing yesterday and drove a several hundred mile round trip with full intentions on purchasing her. The largest obstacle to get around was the fact that the Westerbeke diesel engine was not working. Between towing, mast destepping, lifting, trucking, lifting again and once again towing , along with whatever other adventures happen to pop up, the reality of the numbers were starting to unfold.
My plan was to borrow from the nest egg account and pay it back after I finish getting braces on my youngest. In the mean time the boat would have to sit and wait until that financial obligation was taken care of. I still believe that we would have come out ahead in the end and we believe the boat was a perfect fit, but we just felt uncomfortable with the outlay of cash to make it happen. And we know to expect the unexpected surprises, and then what!
It was not all a loss as we learned a lot by speaking with the owner and made a friend, we just felt deep inside that it just wasn’t the right time.
Sorry it’s been a while. I was dealing with boat repairs and then came the holidays.
On the last blog, I had mentioned the damage that occurred to the boat. I ended up taking our 2 piece broken mast to an aluminum fabricator. He ended up reinforcing the broken area by putting a short aluminum rod on the inside of the mast, between the two pipes and the welding the mast back together. The mast was previously broken and welded under the previous owners watch at the same location at some point. The cost was $50 for the repair and took less than an hour. The quick turn around was appreciated!
Next came the the forward shroud that had frayed. I ended up going to West Marine as I heard they supply you with the tools to get the job done. Well, my first attempt was not so good. I’m sure it would have helped if they gave had given me the correct oval sleeve instead of a round stop sleeve. Talk about frustration….
I surrendered after an hour and a half of trying to put it all together with the help of the the West Marine associate.
Google and Youtube to the rescue! After doing some online research I went back and purchased the correct oval sleeve type and size from West Marine and went to work. After another hour and a half hand wrenching, wire bending / holding (not fun for a pro guitarist) and crimping with my arm pit, I was set. Very comical to watch I’m sure. It would have been easier with 2 people, but I was just glad it finally came together. Not as neat looking as the previous one, but it will do.
Next part was the easiest. I had to rivet the two shroud attachments back onto the mast, reattach the chain plate on right side and also rivet the base of the mast back in place with some super long rivets that needed to special ordered online. Lesson. DON’T BE A DUMB ASS! Take your mast down as soon as you get the boat out of the water, even if you can’t find a parking spot.
She is finally ready for the water again. More adventures to come soon.