07/02/2011, Fort Lauderdale FL USA
The time came, awfully fast because it was only one day after our offer had been accepted but it was now time to survey, sea trial and accept what would be our new boat.
A captain was hired, as was a surveyor and we rushed to Ft. Lauderdale to be in place for everyone at 8:30am.
Since our offer had been accepted, I hand't slept much as my mind was active with anticipation of our new life. On the day of the survey, I awoke at 2:00am and wrestled with my pillow and sheets until it was time to get up and get ready.
We have put more time in discussing boat names then we did naming our kids. As we drove to where the boat was docked, again, we discussed boat names. The field was narrowing and it looked like Bear was becoming the most appropriate name. I own a 21' Center Consul boat that we called Ook Pik which means Snowy Owl in Inuit, the language of the Canadian Eskimo. When you say the words Ook Pik to someone, you always get the response, what? I learned my lesson, no more odd names for my boats. One of the names we liked was Nanook. It too is an Inuit word and means Polar Bear or continually at sea.
We turned into Las Olas, parked our car and wandered down the dock The surveyor, Jonathan Sands, was already on board looking at the engines and generator.
Over the next hour the other participants of our sea trial arrived and my excitement increased. There was a lot of activity with engines running both propulsion and generator, and we left the dock. The Los Olas channel was crowded and tight. Captain Scott took us down the crowded canal and once we were in the open, I was given the helm. She steered easily and tracked better than my 21' Cobia T top.
There are two opening bridges between us and the Atlantic and they don't open on demand but rather on a timed cycle, so be on time and get through, come late and wait. Waiting for a bridge opening is old hat for me, the boat floats when it is stopped and all that needs doing is using power to compensate for currents and staying out of the way. Captain Scott was a salty old guy who wanted me to crowd the bridge operator. "Show him the whites of our eyes" he barked. I moved in closer than I would have if I were the captain, a lot closer than I felt was proper etiquette. Eventually, the gates came down, stopping the cars, the bells started to ring and the bridge started to open. We don't have to wait for a full opening, barked Captain Scott, move on through.
I am always impressed at the wealth that is represented in the form of mega yachts and real estate in Fort Lauderdale. There were so many large yachts lining each side of the Intercoastal Waterway that it made our boat feel insignificant. I was brought back to reality and Captain Scott barked, "we've got to get going to make the 17th Street bridge opening." I added some rpm's and was pleased at the quietness of the engines.
Approaching the 17th Street Bridge, Captain Scott growled, "show him the whites of our eyes". The bridge opening was uneventful and once on the other side it was time to hoist the main.
Port Everglades is expansive but since 911, Homeland Security keeps all boats from getting close to the Cruise Ships and Freighters and buoys delineate a narrow channel and maneuvering area. Steer for those rocks over there while I run up the main, Scott directed. I would have preferred to put up the main in an area with more maneuvering room, like the Atlantic ocean but steer for the rocks, I did. The rocks just kept getting bigger and my eyes were getting wider and wider. Finally the main was up but not drawing; I tried to put some wind in it but I was confined by the channel. It was wide enough though and I filled it enough to keep the main from flapping like a flag.
My first boat was a 48' Sloop called Stampeder IV. She was the first sailboat that I had operated and we took delivery of her in Fort Lauderdale. My first memory of her was on the sea trial, sailing through the Port Everglades cut into the Atlantic Ocean. I was at the helm of Stampeder when she first felt the rolling waves of the Atlantic coming down the channel. As her deck rose and fell with the waves, she came alive under my feet and we went on to form an emotional bond, Stampeder and I. I loved her and she took care of me; we bonded.
After three wonderful years of cruising aboard Stampeder, I was told by my bank to get my butt back to Canada and start liquidating my assets. This was a hellish period of my life. There were many battles, much humiliation and heartbreak. In the end, the bank ended up with Stampeder and she was sold for pennies on the dollar. I resented the way that the bank had treated me and we ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada; I won. That battle over, it was time to rebuild. We chose to leave Canada for the United States and slowly, we got our feet under us again working very hard until we were prosperous once again. We retired and planned to spend our retirement cruising. Those plans brought us to this boat called Pause.
We were working our way down the Port Everglades cut when Pause encountered those rolling waves from the Atlantic. Pause rose and fell as she encountered the waves and came alive under my feet, just like Stampeder had done 30 years before; it felt good and I realized that I was closing a circle. I was where I wanted to do be. I had prevailed against all of the adversities and adversaries that I had faced over 30 years and returned to to the sea, captain of my own ship; it was where I wanted to be. I had beaten the odds. A big smile crept across my face and I looked into the eyes of my partner in life, my wife, Roslyn.
We sailed North along the beach finding things that worked well and things that would need further attention. My other boats have hydraulic steering and Pause has a chain and cable system which caused me to oversteer at first. I turned on the autopilot and was amazed at the small movements that it used to keep our heading. The sea trial seemed to go quickly and we headed back in. Scott wanted to leave the main up while we showed the whites of our eyes to the 17th Street bridge tender and he made me head into the wind across the channel right in front of the bridge. It seemed a small and confined area to do the deed but by maneuvering with engines 25 feet apart, it was doable.
Soon we were back at the dock and I accepted the boat. It was an odd feeling accepting the responsibilities of captain. I know what will be expected of me as shepherd my ship across God's big oceans, caring for the the lives of the people who sail on her. It is an awesome responsibility but I am up for it. Roslyn and I are up for it.