We have been hanging in Florida getting used to the new normal (see below). Weather warm, sun shining. But now its time for a bit of an adventure.
Before our sailing guru contacts put us right, the plan was to leave the safety of Fort Lauderdale and slowly meander south down the Florida coast to Key West. Friends Susan and Neil would meet us there early February, tickets bought, the plan set. But every time we mentioned Key West to the local yachties they pulled a face. Apparently the Bohemian, fey, pinkish Key West of old has gone, to be replaced by a sadder, cruise ship-ridden, frat boy destination that is just not that great any more. Time to change plan.
Our new friend Pam Wall–sailing Goddess and a Walking Encyclopedia of yacht knowledge–sat with us just before Xmas and helped us with a new, improved, and far more idyllic plan. Now we are heading East across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas to spend a few months in the Abaco islands and possibly–after a break from all this stress for a ski trip to Jackson Hole WY–to the Exumas. Susan and Neil selflessly changed their tickets from Key West to Marsh Harbor, Bahamas where they can step off the plane directly into Mimi the dinghy. Once we have our new stainless anchor installed, provision, and the right weather window appears (south wind ahead of a cold front) we will be casting off for the night sail across the Gulf Stream to our first foreign landfall aboard Genevieve. So, if anyone fancies a break from the winter woes, we will be in or around the Bahamas, where apparently “it’s better”.
When you go AWOL, change your lives and do something completely different, it’s not so easy…Duh! This fact was not blindingly obvious to us when we started this adventure, but it has started to sink in!
We have categorized the components of change and challenge experienced to-date as follows:
1. Living on Genevieve
OK, we might be seasoned NYC apartment dwellers, well used to limited storage, galley kitchens, smallish living spaces, little privacy, noise, etc. But it is still a big change to be living on a boat. Not necessarily a bad one though. Being on board all the time has really accelerated our understanding of how Gen works (or doesn’t), and we refer less and less to our “Anal Retentive Excel Locker Inventory” to remember where things are stored. We are both inherently quite tidy minimalistic souls, which helps, and physically we are both capable of getting around the boat. We don’t even bang our heads that often now (down to about twice a day).
2. Sailing Genevieve
Although we still have a lot to learn, sailing Gen has been relatively straightforward so far. We have been out of the Port Everglades inlet a couple times into the Atlantic in quite blustery conditions and Gen has sailed wonderfully. We know what most of the lines do, we can rig her without mishap, and we can get her going at well over 9 knots in a breeze. We are beginning to have a good feel for how she is sailing, what sails to set, when to reef, when to call it a day and head for the marina! No scuff marks or worse on the hull yet! We even managed to not hit a submarine (see video).
3. Looking after Genevieve
In many ways, this has been the steepest learning curve. Who knew John and I had plumbers, electricians, riggers, and diesel engineers inside us (!). We have taken on a number of chores by choice, some by necessity: we decided it was a good idea to disassemble the windlass and give it a head-to-toe cleaning, overhaul and re-greasing; same with the secondary bilge pump and freshwater pumps. We have diligently maintained filters, completed the necessary maintenance on Donkey (the engine) with the generator to follow shortly. We even thought it was a good idea to pull the fully functioning aft head (toilet) apart and replace all the various rubber valves, gaskets and hoses. This was a problem. We had read on-line that head rejuvenation was no easy task and that it would be much more sensible to send the whole thing off to the manufacturer for an overhaul, but how hard can it be to change a few rubber parts? We donned our rubber gloves, unscrewed the head bits and were flying through the clear as “mud” on-line instructions, until we completely messed it up. Anyway, won’t bore you with the details but we decided we had to swallow our pride (after thoroughly washing our hands) and send the 25 lbs of Grocco machinery back to the factory for a professional rebuild. Problem is, courtesy of United States Post Office, all that actually arrived at Grocco was an empty box…no machinery therein! Yes that’s right, our head is somewhere within the USPS universe. Untraceable. Alone. Orphaned. As of today, we have completely lost our head.
4. Being Away
We do miss our pals a bit! We spent Thanksgiving with a whole bunch of dear friends in San Francisco, which was lovely, but seeing and hearing of all the pre-holiday get togethers in the temperate North East did make us feel a bit out of the loop. It would have been easier to deal with if they were all suffering a sub-zero freeze. However, we have not twiddled our thumbs. It is very stimulating to live in a new place (yes, even Florida!). We have met and socialized with great new people from other boats and otherwise, reconnected with old friends who find themselves down here, and made the most of all the things Ft Lauderdale and Miami has to offer. We made great new friends with the crew and owners of the motor yacht next door to us in the marina, taking them out for a sail on NYE day aboard Gen, and in return, attending a great party aboard Ajao for the turn of midnight and well after.
5. Being Together
Ah, this has been the most unexpected challenge. So, before we took to the seas, John and I spent a lot of time apart. At work, socializing with different friends, separate work-out routines and locations, traveling on business, etc. Sometimes maybe a little too much separation. Our new life was going to be a chance to reconnect, spend more time together, rekindle our relationship. But we had not fully considered that now we would be together for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Non-stop. Continuously. Forever. But it has been, and will be, good for us….we just need to persevere! Hey, its all better than working.
Next stop Bahamas. Watch this space for how we do on the crossing and the cruising lifestyle.