Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 1 - The Adoption

August 16, 2013 - Day 1 - The Adoption

Our family has always loved the beach and anything to do with the water but had never owned a boat before.  Some may have thought we were getting in a bit over our heads but in everything we do we apply the "go big or go home" theory.   So it should be no surprise that after countless virtual tours, trips up and down both FL coasts for showings and adjusting our budget a few times, we chose a 37' Irwin CC complete with 2 cabins both with their own heads, full galley and numerous other systems that we knew nothing about :)  This is the story of adopting Abby Singer and bringing her home.

August had been a very busy month at our house.  The girls and I spent 2 weeks in Texas visiting my sister and her family, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new nephew, Collin.  He did not disappoint - waiting until the morning of our last day there to join us meant an all-nighter the night before returning to Florida.  The girls and I flew in to Tampa and drove into Tarpon Springs, Abby's original hailing port, around 10pm where we were unexpectedly joined by Andrew.
Andrew had been away on his own adventures to India directing photography on Darren Wilson's film "Holy Ghost".  The 10hr time difference and jet lag were messing with him but he broke away from filming interviews in Orlando to join us for dinner and then return for one final day of shooting.  The following night he was joined by our friend, Dylan Wolff-our "sailing chaperone", in Orlando and the pair drove back to Tarpon Springs for the big day of closing!
She's ours!
Our plan was to sail down the west coast of Florida to Ft. Meyers, then east across the Okeechobee Waterway -a lock system that uses 3 locks to step up to the level in Lake Okeechobee and 2 locks back down to the Atlantic level, and finish with an open water sail in the Atlantic up the east coast to her new home in Jacksonville.   We guesstimated the trip to take us 7 days.  We needed to be mindful of our schedule because Dylan needed to return to work mid-week.  We also spent time online and searching the various sailing publications to tentatively schedule the crossing according to the lock hours of operation.  We hoped to be well prepared for what lay ahead..

Friday morning, bright and early, the two guys headed to the marina where Abby was waiting to become ours.  Andrew signed off on the minor repairs that had been done and we got to the task of provisioning and moving in.  That sounds like two small items but let me assure you, it was not!  The girls and I did laundry, grocery run, packed out of the hotel room, a final Walmart run and even a baby West Marine stop.  The guys hit Home Depot, made a few tweaks to the boat, West Marine, Walmart, dry ice (because our refrigeration system didn't work), and back to the boat to unload everything we brought from home and tending to last minute boat stuff.  We were like chickens with our heads off.  My rental car was busting at the seams, stuff crammed into every available nook, with both girls sitting in the front seat holding stuff on their laps!  

We pretty much just dumped everything in the salon and even had the previous owner, Darrell, continue finishing his project riding along while we headed to the marina fueling station before they closed.  On our way back to the slip, Darrell ran her aground on a sand bar.  Andrew swam to the dock to winch her off, not the perfect start but we were so enthusiastic, nothing would deter us.  Returning the 2 rental cars delayed us a bit further but we were all aboard and headed out of the channel at 7pm.  

Now, not knowing what we were about to embark on may have been the perfect "ignorance is bliss" but motoring out the channel started smooth enough and spirits were high.  We text-ed pics to various family members and received well wishes for our journey.  Once we made it to the open ocean, the fun continued with the girls jumping and giggling with every wave spray.
First time we raised the sail - didn't know it would be the last for this sail

I spent some time organizing the galley but eventually came up top to try to avoid the onset of seasickness.  Then things started to get interesting... 
The heat exchanger cap was not fully tightened after fluid check leading us to a boil over which we thought was a blown hose.  While floating in open water under a beautiful sky and napping on the forward deck with the girls, a large squall found us.  We hurriedly tried to batten down the hatches.   As the rocking intensified, so did the nausea on board.  Andrew was chumming overboard regularly while helping trim sails, Dylan manned the helm and sailed us through the worst of it.  The squall came in with such force, a batten tore through our main as Andrew was attempting to bring it down and our Genoa was pretty badly beaten. 
In the craziness, I accidentally slammed Paige's finger in the companionway.  She was bleeding and crying, Andrew puking, all of us feeling less than great - it was not the first 24hrs we had bargained for, but we made it through.  After realizing our engine issue was a loose heat exchanger cap and topping off the fluid, we were able to get Abby started again.  The essential oil drops behind the ears of the girls kept them feeling well enough to sleep and the three adults took turns as lookout while the autopilot kept us on our path through the night.

Our journey continues in "Opposite Ends Of Amazing".

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