Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seven Days and Counting

It's 12/29 and we are kind of winding down a tad on things that have to get done before we leave for Pompano Beach on 1/5. I pretty much have my major tasks done. Lisa is still grinding through some of the heavier things on her list, but she is making it.

One of the things that we have had to do is to ship boxes down to where the boat is since we are not going to be driving down there. We have made several trips to our local UPS Store and they have been very helpful. The total cost of shipping these boxes has already been about $200 on shipping charges and there are still two boxes to go. Ca-ching.

But all is well.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Report from St. Louis

Let's see....St. Louis - today's forcast is for a 30% chance of rain with a high temperature of 43 degrees, seas are, well, nothing. Pompano Beach's forecast is for mostly sunny skies with a high temperature of 81 degrees and East southeast winds 12 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. Dominant period 5 seconds. Intracoastal waters a moderate chop. No small craft advisories at all. I'll take that.

We have been working very feverishly to get all of our unfinished business moved to the finished category. We are packing boxes to send down to Florida with the first shipment of 4 or 5 boxes going out today. Just this morning we booked our flight reservations to return to Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 5 leaving STL at 7:20am arriving at FLL at 1pm. We are going to rent a mini-van down there so that we can make plenty of runs to all of the stores that we need to. The West Marine store on Federal Highway in Pompano Beach is going to become our favorite haunt. (info: West Marine for boats = Auto Zone for cars). We are sure that plenty of our money will also end up in the hands of Target, Walmart and Home Depot.

One of the things that Lisa and I have been discussing is that the very first thing that we have to do when we get on Why Knot is to do a complete inventory of all of the things that are part of the boat. Things such as the lines (and their lengths), engine parts (fuel and oil filters especially) and all of the other things not physically attached to the boat itself.

14 days to go.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Random Notes

Bumps in the Road
I have said that perhaps the greatest salesman ever is the guy that sells the water amusement centers that many towns and municipalities have constructed. Talk about an intangible sale - "What you need is a water park for your citizens so they can have fun!" (Fun is the most intangible of intangibles). The second greatest salesman is the guy who sells carnivals to Catholic schools. I thing the third best might be the guy that sold almost the entire state of Florida on the concept (and the corresponding products) that every mile of interstate highways and roads need to have reflector bumps on the dividing lines attached to the pavement. Even just changing lanes you get that machine gun fire ratta-tatting shooting up through the suspension and up into your teeth. These are almost as big a pain in the neck as......

Most of the above mentioned streets and boulevards have some kind of concrete dividing median going down the middle. So you can't make a left turn onto one of the above mentioned streets from a cross street or parking lot exit. You end up having to make a right, go down until there is some kind of cut in the median, then make a U-ie. What a pain. The same goes for wanting to make a left turn into something when you are driving on the divided street. I could see that the reason for this craziness is that there was some well-meaning road official that concocted the idea that the occurance of accidents might be high on streets without medians. And maybe they were right. But believe me, this dependence on u turns is chaotic in it's own way. Nuts.

Jacksonville needs boats.
In a previous post I said that Lisa and I stayed at a hotel on the south shore of the very wide St. Johns river in Jacksonville and that the vista seeing downtown was very nice. But the waterfront was dead as a rock. There were docks all up and down the river banks and it is obvious there had been attempts made to get the banks to be a cool place to be but things were just dead. The reason is very obvious, even to non-boaters. We walked from our hotel kind of on the east end of a river walk built out of some nice docks and piers towards the west end to one of the only restaurants on the riverfront. We liked the view but were disappointed by the lack of life. We then saw the reason. There were signs that said, "No docking of boats." (like what else would you dock. A blimp?) That's the problem. No boats allowed at a dock...on the water. Huh? There are two reasons why this is a big mistake. First, boats and boaters are colorful and fun, and people are attracted to that. The second is that as we have been on our adventure we have found the rumor that boaters are just about the nicest people around to be true. Get a bunch of nice people together and good things are sure to happen.

And the restaurant winners are...
In a previous post I said that we were kind of disappointed with the restaurants down in Florida. Here is an indicator that this is true: There were only two restaurants that we went to three times, and they were both donut shops. Bradenton Donuts in Bradenton, and Dandee Donut in Pompano. Honorable mentions go to the fish restaurant in Marathon, FL where we had lobster reuben sandwiches, the italian restaurant in Bradenton with the name we can't pronounce (two visits) and Heavenly Pizza in Pompano.

One Friday evening in Bradenton we stopped at a Wendy's for dinner. There were two elderly gentlemen there wearing shirts and ball caps of the local high school football team. One man had left to go to the bathroom. The other man was standing there so I asked him if there was a big game that evening. When he spoke to me, to my surprise, he spoke with the biggest hick accent that I think I had ever heard. "Yep," he said, "Weez be playing dat teem from Pie-nellis countee, up thar in Tampy." (Translated - We're playing that team from Tampa, up in Pinellas (p-nel'-lis) County.) Gotta love the locals, ya'll.

Gator Tail is boring
Lisa had deep fried Alligator Tail tidbits for dinner Friday night in Jacksonville. Pretty much bland and tough to eat. If you see it on the menu skip it. The gumbo was good.

Indigenous trees
One of the very obvious differences between northern and southern Florida is the trees. Mostly fir trees up north, palm trees down south. Nothing earthshaking in this but it is very obvious.

All around Florida
We drove the entire parameter of Florida. I-10 on the north. US-19 (could have been a FL state highway) and I-75 on the west, US-1 to the Keys, and all the way up I-95 on the east coast.

Back in STL, the drive home.

We are back in St. Louis. The first day of our drive saw us leaving Pompano Beach about 9am-ish as we knew that we had a short day ahead of us. We also had to do a bit of laundry. And we wanted to drop most of that clean laundry onto the boat, as Jerry and Siste have been very nice to let us do so.

The reason for the short drive to Jacksonville on Friday is that we had a date to see another boat. Yes, we did buy the Why Knot and that has not changed. But we were going to take a look at a Great Harbor GH-47 trawler that was brought down from the Norfolk, VA area for the winter and it was going to be docked at a marina in Green Cove, Florida, just down the St. Johns river from Jacksonville. This particular GH-47 is called Vegas Girl and it is a boat that I have actually known about for quite some time. It is a 2009 and the most recently built GH-47 by Great Harbor. I have known about it in fact for a long enough time that it's picture has graced my computer desktop just like Why Knot has. Lisa had found out that it was now in our neck of the woods and arranged for us to take a look at her. The GH-47 is the boat that we aspire to eventually get. And it is a beauty. The GH series of trawlers are kind of chubby looking and the general opinion is that they are very much an acquired taste. But the opinion on it's capabilities, accouterments, live-aboard-ability, economy, sea worthiness and general passage-maker-ness is universally positive. We were very excited about this opportunity and the real thing did not disappoint at all! Vegas Girl is a beauty. First of all she is in absolutely pristine condition. Gorgeous. Up to this time I had only seen many pictures of her and other 47s. But seeing one face to face was a BIG highlight of the entire trip. Perhaps what impressed me the most was that Vegas Girl is only two feet longer than Why Knot (47 feet versus 45 feet) and they both have a 15 foot beam. But the GH-47 has so much more room and more of a feel of massiveness than other boats. Very impressive.

We stayed in Jacksonville Friday night. Nuff said. Sorry to say that even though we stayed at a hotel on the wide St. Johns River right across from downtown Jacksonville, and that was a pretty vista we were wholly unimpressed. The hotel room had a nice comfy bed but that was about it. Move on.

We woke up very early on Saturday morning and got on the road. We made good time on up into Georgia through Macon, Atlanta and other small burgs along the way. The time and miles passed very quickly and we soon found ourselves in Nashville TN mid-afternoon. We futzed around there for awhile. We saw the Grand Ole Opry (snore) located in Opryland (even more of a snore) and we headed north on I-24 in search of a hotel as Nashville was going to be our stopping point for the night. But we had made such good time up to there and since it turned out we had only 290 miles to go to St. Louis we pushed on. We pulled into the driveway about 9 pm, for a total of 877 miles in 17 hours. Whew.

So here we are for a few short weeks as we do some final preparation work before we head down to Why Knot and start our Great Loop adventure.

Friday, December 9, 2011

MIssion Accomplished

It's Friday morning December 9, 2011 and we are sitting on our balcony of the Beachcomber Hotel in Pompano Beach FL. The skys are overcast as a front moves in from the east. We just watched a very large container ship under steam glide past us from the north to the south: probably going to Miami from some port up east, not too very much offshore, we could see the details of the superstructure and containers very clearly. A yacht, probably a 100 footer just past us going south also.

We have completed the purchase of Why Knot. All that is left to do is wire the money from the bank in St. Louis Monday morning. Easy. We have dropped off some of our stuff onto the boat yesterday which was a great relief to the Mazda's suspension. This will be our last morning in Pompano Beach and we will be travelling much lighter going back then we did coming down to Florida 39 days ago. From here we are travelling to Jacksonville FL to pop in this afternoon to see a Great Harbour 47 trawler which is actually the boat that we want to end up with a few years down the road. Tomorrow we will travel to Nashville (most likely), and then make it in to STL on Sunday. (I understand the weather there kind of sucks. Dang.)

We will be returning here in a few weeks to actually take possession of the boat. The sellers, Gerry and Siste Sheppard have been very kind and accomadating to us. Since the survey (which went well) we have spent the better part of two days going over all of the systems of Why Knot such as the engine, generator, electrical and plumbing. I have learned how to perform all of the routine maintenance such as the oil changes that are needed every 200 hours for the main engine and 100 hours for the generator, keeping the electrical system in check, cleaning, the electronics. Jerry and I have spent a good amount of time in the engine compartmet and I feel confident that I am up to the challenge. I do have few lingering questions about the electrical system that Jerry was not able to provide solid info on. I will get those answered when we get back here. Lisa has spent alot of time with Siste and while I know (and fully expect) that she wants to be involved with more than just the "domestic" or "first mate" kind of things she took in all of the info that Siste offered up. Lisa and I have always worked very well together so we will together grow well with Why Knot. As to the Sheppards generosity the boat is still tied up at their residential dock (free!), they will keep a close watch on her while we are gone and have kindly offered to let us linger there a few days when we return. We are anxious to get on with our adventure but not so stupid or naive to turn down as much education as we can get.

All is well. Our mission started 39 days ago is complete. We have had a wonderful time down here and we are very happy with Why Knot and are looking forward to many wonderful miles on her. But for now it is time to return home to St. Louis for the holidays, take care of some business and to get ready to return here most likely right after New Years day.