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Itchy feet is a terminal condition
Delays and progress
Richard,
03/16/2012, St Augustine FL


10 knots from the east, no cloud and a beautiful 26 Celsius. We took Ooroo for a trial sail in the wide open seas.

Skip came along and notices instantly the starboard engine wasn't pumping water. We shut that down to fix the pump another day. The good thing with Cats is that we have two engines.

Yesterday our very expensive inverter also shat itself. The second brand new piece of equipment to not work. That means a wait til Monday or Tuesday to have the new one arrive.

Anyway....we sailed, dolphins escorted us down the river, we passed through the lift bridge and navigated out of the mouth. That alone is an hour and a half trip.

The sails went up, we calibrated our auto pilot we relaxed with a the 10 knots pushing us along at 6 knots. We tested Ooroo at all angles to the wind. To our surprise, fully loaded she sailed extremely well at up to 40 degrees into the wind. I was always told the Fontaines are fast boats except when loaded.

We have a years supply of various food items, 70 steaks, 100 chicken thighs, snags, mince and bacon (just in case Mark isn't the fisherman we actually expect he is). We have full tanks of water and diesel plus 150 litters extra of each, and of course beer and wine.....and she still sailed beautifully.

Jules relaxes on deck and I played with the new toy under the watchful guidance of Skip while Oli and Mark kept jumping overboard.....and then catching a stern line to pull themselves back in. Imagine doing that in pacific 1000nm from land. It will happen.

Oli and Mark swam ashore in St Augustine as we passed the old Spanish Fort to pick up there bikes left rather drunkenly the night before. Skip and I sailed all the way back down the river and onto the dock. I wasn't ever shown how to sail onto a dock..the wind just blow us right on while Skip tied off. Who needs an engine.

So delays and progress all in the same day. Fun and sun - what a sail. Thanks Skip and crew.

Reason to Party
Richard
03/15/2012, St Augustine FL

We are into the third day of absolutely beautiful sailing weather and yet we wait for the last few items to be shipped and installed before we take Ooroo down the coast of Florida to West Palm Beach and make the crossing of the infamous Gulf Stream to the Bahamas with Mark and Jules on board.

It's Thursday and the weather should hold until Monday. Our plan is to move Ooroo to the outside of the Bridge of Lions, lift bridge on Friday. Anchor overnight and depart very early Saturday morning. Today we get our customs clearance, yesterday we purchased $1000 of provisions and the day before that we topped up fuel and water. Ooroo will never again be heavier than she is right now.

I have had a chance to explore some of Florida with Jules. Jules arrived into Miami on the 5th and we spent a wonderful 3 days in the Art Deco, South Beach area. The wind made beach going unpleasant so we wined and dined non stop. We then drove down to Key West, a town that rivals St Augustine in appeal and equals the West Coast Hwy1 coastal drive. Long bridges, turquoise water and glaringly white beaches verses the rugged cliffs, wild oceans and winding roads of the West. This is a great country for driving. We slowley headed back to northern Florida via the austintacious Palm Beach, the contrsting down trodded West Palm Beach to the Cape Canaveral Space Centre. Then we got mixed up in the traffic created by 10,000 Harley Davidsons converging on Daytona for Bike Week. Needless to say we kept driving through Daytona ending up at a cheap and cheerful beachside motel before heading back to St Augustine to do the finishing touches on Ooroo.

Meanwhile, my lovely daughter turned 18. I have now managed to miss both my kids 18ths due to travel but will more than make up for that with some on board celebrations. Oli will also have his 21st on board in July. As if we need a reason to party

Good night
Richard
03/03/2012, St Augustine FL

My words haven't been with me lately....that and the distraction of this great town of St Augustine and the huge amount of works we have done on board. We have had Skip Reynolds fully employed to install all the new you-beaut electronics. I had the job of being up the mast installing the radar in high winds and rain today...warm rain. Thats the job for the little guy.

Oli insulated the new DC refrigeration, Mark replaced bilges with automatic ones and retired most of the dodgy electronics. We have had rigging fixed and even cleaned the carpets. One more large job to do is lifting the port engine to fix an oil leak in the sail drive and a small job of wiring the solar. Then we will be able to stow the tools, clean the boat all in time for Jules arrival.

I meet Jules in Miami on Monday to have a much needed catch up after 3 months on the road. We plan to drive the Key Lago and the back up here. That will take a week...then...... we sail. Yep thats what we are here to do. Not sit in a marina, but to hoist the sails up our 63 foot mast and head offshore.

Charlottes is primed to come join us in April. She would have turned 18 without me and it will be the longest we have ever been apart. I so can't wait to see her, hear her guitar and voice. I would have achieved my aim of being in a lovely boat in the Caribbean and having both my kids on board. Charlotte and boyfriend Dakota will be in for some exciting sailing. We had expected to be much further south for there arrival but now should still be in the Bahamas.

And again an interruption to this blog...as a result of Marks surfboard blowing overboard I had a to dive for it. A well meaning motor boat tried to pick it up but almost took out the new Ooroo signage in their effort. . Not a nice thing to do in a marina...swim that is. Got to look about for floaties.

Now showered, with beer in hand and Oli's beloved Radiohead playing out of our kick arse stereo I can relax. Now.....all those people who know me well......yes I can relax.

Oli takes possession of his surfboard via a very nice surfer chick who will drop it off in an hour or so. It's my meager 21st birthday gift to him. That and a sail across the pacific. What will be the ultimate location of his July 10th birthday? Will our oven handle a cake, will we even be able to sit down and enjoy it. It's the not knowing that is the reason for this journey. Do we even know ourselves?

Well this has been a bit of an all over the place Blog....sorry about that. But at risk I am about to continue that theme but telling you all a bedtime story. If you fall asleep reading it then it served it purpose. Charlotte edited my awful gramma and spelling. Its my first attempt at writing since primary school. It's also a story theme that I use to tell Oli and Charlotte as kids. Until know they have never been written. Sleep well.


THE SANDCASTLE STORIES
"The First Discovery"
By Richard "Dad" McLeod

Oli and Charlotte had spent hours in the sand pit at the back of the garden, and what a beautiful garden it was. The sand pit was huge...well, doesn't everything look huge when you're 7 and 9 years old? And the sand within it's wooden confines was as white as snow, but very dry in the hot Australian summer. It was December and the lawn was brittle brown but the roses and fruit trees looked wonderfully alive.
Oli had run the hose from the tap near the house and filled up three big buckets with cool water. "This is how we build a great sandcastle..." Charlotte watched as he turned on the tap..."add a little water to the sand to make it strong like the house...and drink a little as well!"
"Yeah...we can't make a good sandcastle if we die of thirst" said Charlotte.
Charlotte and Oli were right...it was very hot. Dad made sure these little builders had hats and sunblock, but he really didn't need to. Charlotte learned from the previous summer...she was so badly burnt that she cried herself to sleep for nights on end! Oli remembers it so well. "Don't be a baby Charlotte. Just because your redder than the belly of a black snake, it can't hurt that much". But he knew that it hurt, he just liked to talk tough sometimes, so he wasn't going to let that happen to Charlotte or himself again.
Charlotte new exactly the sandcastle she wanted to build. She had a wonderful imagination. She stated by drawing a large circle in the sand and dug a big hole in the middle. "This will be the dungeon here," she said. They then placed spikes from the rose bush around the hole and covered it with leaves.
"That will keep the bad guys inside alright," noted Oli as if talking to himself. He did that a lot, which Charlotte liked, because sometimes he would say something really stupid and she could have a good belly laugh at him.
They then mixed the water and sand in a bucket. When the sand was like mud they turned the bucket upside down on the circle that Charlotte had drawn. They did this 8 times. These were the turrets of the castle. From the top of the turrets the soldiers could stand with their bow and arrows to defend the king and queen who would be all tucked up inside.
Between the turrets they made smaller walls of sand and water, sticking small sharp sticks about as long as their little fingers into the top of the walls to stop the bad guys climbing over. They made a gate out of two pieces of wood from dads shed. Already everything looked so real.
Charlotte cut holes in a shoebox for doors and windows and put them in their rightful places. After all, the king and queen needed a palace...and what a palace it was! Their mum had all these expensive shoes, and they came in the most wonderful cardboard boxes! This one was gold and silver in colour, and had stars on the side that were purplish pink and big words fittingly spelling out 'Windsor'. "The real king and queen have a castle called that!" Charlotte was happy with her creation already.
They finished off by adding a small mote around the outside and used some more wood from dad's shed as a bridge. It was a drawbridge that could be lifted by imaginary ropes to allow the soldiers to cross. No one would ever swim in the mote because it was full of crocodiles...well, they imagined it was anyway.
When finished, Oli was all covered in wet sand and Charlotte looked like she had been freshly showered. How is it that some girls always look so squeaky-clean? She was actually really dirty but she just didn't look it. They stood back and admired the sandcastle. "It's so magical!" Charlotte was in awe.
"It's so real!" Oli added, and what happened next was truly mysterious. Charlotte said the magic words...although she didn't know they were magic yet.
"I wish we could live in there..."
That was when the magic started. The sandcastle started to grow! Or was it that Oli and Charlotte started to shrink? This would freak out most kids...but not these two. As it happens, they were in fact shrinking! The water buckets were now like rainwater tanks and the garden hose looked like a massive tree trunk curled up and twisted on the sand. The castle itself was so large that Charlotte and Oli were eventually standing in its shadow. Charlotte, as cool as a cucumber, breathed a sigh of relief. "It's nice to be out of the sun!" Oli, on the other hand, was speechless.
"That's a change," thought Charlotte.
Usually, this garden would be full of lots of amazing animals...most of them cute and cuddly. But when you're only 5cm tall they can be seriously scary! Oli saw it first..."RUN!" he yelled, and without another word they hightailed it to the drawbridge with a huntsman spider in hot pursuit. When you're big, a huntsman is bigger than your hand and scary. When you're small it's like being chased by an eight legged spaceship! Huntsmen have sharp fangs, which Oli knew only too much about. When he was younger and sillier, he mischievously picked one up so he could hide it in Charlotte's lunchbox. Of course, it bit him, and of course, it hurt! The drawbridge was down but as they approached, it stated to lift. There were soldiers on the other side and they didn't want this Huntsman turning them into lunch either! Oli and Charlotte ran even faster...and at the last minute, they jumped.
Charlotte gripped the drawbridge's edge like a spider-monkey (speaking of spiders!) She was dangling with her toes just above the water, her hat now slowly floating towards the water like a feather in the wind.
"Your hat!" Yelled Oli. To his horror, it didn't even make it to the water. A gecko snapped at it in mid-air before disappearing below the murky water. Oli grabbed hold with one hand and swung himself to the top of the fast rising bridge. He just loved to show off! When he saw the gecko rise in the water he went white...now is not the time to be a smarty-pants. He grabbed Charlotte by the hand and they both clambered over the now upright drawbridge and down the other side to safety. Or so they thought.
It wasn't their sandcastle anymore! A soldier not much taller than them stood with a crossbow aimed menacingly towards them. It's funny the thoughts that go through one's mind at a time like this. Oli was thinking, "hey! I own you. I made you!" while Charlotte was wondering why his uniform of old sheets and tin foil looked so home made, and why the cross bow looked so very real.
"Come with me," he said in a kid-like voice, which reflected exactly what he was...a kid. Oli and Charlotte looked at each other and then back at the soldier, and after some thought they decided to do as they were told...for once.
The castle was truly beautiful in a medieval sort of way. The turrets were now solid stone. The castle doors, which stood meters above their heads, slowly opened. Inside there was so much activity. Snails pulled carts along narrow streets. Stalls were loaded with barrels and sacks to sell. Bare foot Soldiers marched in columns and were all dressed like Oli and Charlotte's captor. Women and children wandered around just like in real life, except for one thing. They were all the same size! Listening to them talk was really funny. Mums, dads, soldiers and kids all sounded just like them...like children!
The place was alive, and another kid now accompanied the little soldier. Oli and Charlotte could tell the new kid was the boss because he stuck his little chest out as far as it would go and tried with all his might to make his voice sound deeper. "Who are you and what are you doing in MY castle!" He bellowed.
Charlotte hoped that Oli wouldn't give a silly answer like, "we were just looking for the lolly shop, "or "what...this isn't our school?" So she got in first.
"I'm Charlotte and we come in peace" Oli looked at her in a 'that-was-a-lame-thing-to-say' sort of way. She glared right back at him.
"We are here because we built this place and a huge spider wanted us for lunch," said Oli, a little annoyed that they didn't give he or Charlotte credit for creating the home in which they live. Instead of thanking him, the tough little soldier stuck his chest out even further (if that's possible) and demanded they be taken to the dungeon. Not a very friendly place it seemed.
When they arrived in the dungeons, Charlotte realized she had designed them better than she thought. The rose thorns looked incredibly sharp and the leaves were like steel. There was a heavy door with chains and locks and beyond it was a windowless, dank space as small as Charlottes bedroom and as dirty as Oli's. 
 Charlotte was furious. "Those...those KIDS can't do this to me!" Anyone who knew her would know better than to make her angry, as Oli had learnt when he put that snappy spider in her lunchbox. If she could only bring those emotions on now it would surely help them escape.
The thing about sandcastles is that they are - well - made from sand, and remembering that fact, Charlotte formed a plan. "Dig" she whispered towards Oli. And he did, which was probably the first time he ever did what his little sister told him to do. Although he didn't show it, he was now getting a little scared himself.
Oli had already dug a small hole in the sand when he suddenly stopped in his tracks, fear spreading across his face. "What is it?" asked Charlotte, noticing his skin turn pasty white.
"The sand is moving!" he shrieked, and with that he jumped backwards, almost into Charlotte's arms. She started to giggle, but not long after her smile withered as she saw what Ollie had seen. Slithering out of the hole was a massive worm!
It was huge! As round as Oli's waist and longer than both of them if one was standing on the other's shoulders. It came towards them, slowly and threateningly filling the dungeon and pushing Charlotte and Oli back towards the corner. It was very dark, almost pitch black, but Charlotte remembered that earthworms live beneath the ground and can't see. The worm moved quietly past them as if not noticing the two kids, shivering in their little boots. "Go away!" Oli squeaked, holding on tight to his little sisters arm. Charlotte liked seeing this side of him...he wasn't so tough anymore. All of a sudden, as if it had heard what Oli had said, the worm slithered through the sand wall opposite and disappeared into the ground again. Suddenly confident again, Oli shouted in the direction of the worm, "That's right you stinking worm, I'm the king of this dungeon!"
"Let's follow it!" Charlotte said, enthused.
"You're kidding me" said Oli, shrinking down again.
But Charlotte wasn't kidding. She was smart. As the worm disappeared it left in its wake a small tunnel. The only problem was, Charlotte remembered learning that earthworms eat the sand as they travel and poo it out behind them. Yuck! This was NOT going to be fun. They slithered and slimed after the worm. It was hot and smelled like sand after a rainstorm. Better than smelling like poo.
"This may just work!" thought Oli, and in less than ten minutes the worm had made it's way into another room.
Now Charlotte looked really dirty. The room was unlocked but equally dark, and as they opened the door, the worm continued into the wall opposite to resume its sandy journey to, well, who knows? Just like the worm, Oli and Charlotte had to keep moving. They made their way to a door on the other side of the dark room. Oli pushed at it and it opened without a struggle.
The light was blinding, but as their eyes adjusted they realized they had made it outside! They could see the castle just a short distance away and figured that they could hide where they were until dark. But Oli's belly was rumbling, and he wanted to make a break for the outside world before he missed his lunch. Charlotte remembered making a door at the back of the palace, and she also knew that she built the walls smaller at the back. The thing is...when you make a sandcastle, you tend to make the part you can see better than the part you can't. They headed that way.
The palace was open and inviting. Oli and his rumbling belly lead the way while Charlotte kept a sharp lookout for soldiers. They crept through an amazing array of cluttered rooms. You could tell that they had really nice stuff inside, but the mess was astounding. "This entire castle looks like a kiddies play room" Charlotte said as she tried her best not to sit down and start playing. It was no time to be a kid, that's for sure.
Peaking into one room they saw a couple of messy looking kids dressed like a prince and princess. Unlike in fairy tales, these guys we're not the sort you would fall in love with at first sight. In fact, they reminded Oli of warty little cane toads! Food scraps sat at their dirty little feet and broken toys littered the floor. An unmade bed was hardly visible under the weight of dirty clothes.
Suddenly, the two sets of puffy eyes turned and spotted them. It was time to run again. The prince and princess struggled to find their feet while they tried to yell, croaking like frogs instead. The food that they had stuffed into their mouths fell out in yucky lumps. Charlotte and Oli let out a chuckle as they ran past the slow, lazy, muted kids.
Running towards the back door, they could see freedom only meters away. The wall was lower and didn't have as many sharp sticks to slow their climb...but they were now clearly visible from the turrets.
The alarms were raised and bells started ringing. Surely this was the alarm to bring all the soldiers out in hot pursuit of the little escapees? They could hear much commotion all around the castle, along with cries of fear, but why weren't they being chased?
Whatever was happening elsewhere in the castle was distracting the soldiers! "Score!" yelled Oli...they had an easy climb to safety. The slow moving prince and princess hadn't even bothered to chase them, but Oli and Charlotte were positive they would tell someone the direction they had gone soon, so they climbed.
The sand was dry like soft rock, allowing them to make toe holes effortlessly, and the wall had a gentle slope, making it easier to climb. The sticks at the top we're loose, so they pushed them out and over the other side of the wall. All that was left now was the jump down the other side, which looked scary, but Oli and Charlotte threw themselves into the air without a second thought. They were free, or so they thought. Up until now, they had forgotten about the mote.
Charlotte led the way around the castle, making sure they stayed in the shadows of the walls. When they were in sight of the drawbridge, they could also see what the warning bells were for.
A scorpion with a razor-sharp, poisonous spike in its tail had scurried across the drawbridge!
"Why is it that scurrying animals are always the most sickening?" Charlotte thought as they watched it in horror. Oli was thinking the same thing. It was shiny black and had dark holes for eyes.
"Gross," he said.
A split second later, the soldiers attacked. Arrows filled the air and came raining down on the scorpions armored back. It didn't slow. A very brave soldier went to meet the scorpion with nothing more than a spear and shield. The scorpion was ruthless. With one slow flick of its tail the soldier went flying through the air. "The drawbridge is down!" Oli said, "let's skedaddle." And they did. Once on the bridge they turned to watch the fight. Out from the castle's main door came a very distinguished knight, riding yet another scurrying animal...a rat.
"Ewe!" said Charlotte, screwing up her nose, but although the knight was riding a rat, she couldn't ignore that he was brave. The rat charged the scorpion with the knight holding on tight to a long lance. He hit the scorpion at full pace, the lance piercing its shell. With the pain of the blow the scorpion spun around, hurling the knight to the ground only meters from Charlotte's feet. The scorpion approached the knight, its lethal tail cutting through the air, ready to strike the now defenseless knight. It's funny how things this serious seem to play back in slow motion. Funny, but no one was laughing.
Charlotte saw an opportunity. The lance was still sticking out of the scorpion's side, which provoked its intent on injecting its poison into the knight. Without thinking, Charlotte pounced on the lance, pushing it further into the scorpion's side. Oli, realizing her plan, joined in to add strength to the task. The scorpion wasn't happy. It spun and heaved and scurried out of control, it's legs buckling with the effort and pain. And then the tail struck.
The spike missed Charlotte by inches and imbedded itself into the wooden bridge. Oli went for the lance again, assisted now by the upright, but still slightly groggy knight. The scorpion tried to turn but was held back by the imbedded lance, and it slowly began to fall sideways. Oli and the knight, using all their strength and might, pushed the lance one final time. The scorpion fell from the bridge.
"Splash!" It appeared from the bridge that there were more than just child-eating geckos in the water. The mote bubbled and churned as the scorpion slowly succumbed to the frantic feeding frenzy below. Oli and Charlotte found each other, both looking dirtier and hungrier than ever. Everything was still and quiet.
Suddenly, the silence was broken by a very familiar and cheering voice.
"Oli, Charlotte!" It was their dad, calling from the house. "Lunchtime!"
The two grubby kids started to grow, the shadow of the castle receded, and the hose resumed to its normal size, along with the bucket, that started to look just like a bucket should. And the sandcastle, well, it was simply a sandcastle.
"Let's eat!" said Charlotte, making her way inside.
"Dad won't like that you lost your hat!" Oli called after her, his tummy churning as he imagined what their dad had made them for lunch today.
"We can go back tomorrow and find it..."
"Oh no we won't!" Oli protested.

But both he and Charlotte knew they would be back...there was more to be discovered within the sandy walls of their new-found world.


THE END


























Men at Work
Richard
02/23/2012, Rivers Edge Marina, St Augustine FL

If you set your eyes on Ooroo today you would have thought...how can that much stuff fit on that one boat. We have a dismantled 6 meter antenna, 10 Jerry cans, 5 new batteries, massive boxes containing chart plotters and radar....and dozens of little ones containing everything from dingy repair kits to winch springs. We managed to purchase the last 30 winch springs in town and gave Oli the job of dismantling, cleaning and greasing all 7 winches. He was doing a great job right up to us losing 20 springs overboard in the wind. Add to the mess was the dismantled winches, with their parts sitting in buckets of diesel and no way we can get them all back together without the MIA springs.

We have employed this great sailer and suitably named guy called "Skip" to assist with the installation of the new nav gear, batteries, solar and LED lighting. He old sea dog sets a fast pass for Mark, Oli and I to follow. Mark and Skip speak the same electrical speak and because I have the credit card and car....I get to run all around town looking for bolts, copper sheet, lunch, f$&@ing winch springs and small screws +++.

Mark and Oli are doing allot of the research work. Oli finalized the signage and best buys on everything from VHF radios to harnesses and the EPIRB, Mark, things like inverters, starters, alternators, and me...I pick them all up....and pay.

I do get some exciting work....like trying to sift through UK bureaucracy to sort boat registration, USA bureaucracy to sort EPIRB (safety beacon) registration and to license our boat to have the SSB radio. Problems arise with things like.....because we don't have a US registered boat (in fact our boat isn't registered anywhere at the mo) we can't get the SSB license. We wanted to register the EPIRB in Oz but because it was manufactured in the US they won't accept it in Oz. I skyped them in Oz...the response.... "sorry mate, if you want us to regista ya PIRB you'll havta send it in so we can charge you another $150 bucks"

I did get insurance however. And for the mums, dads, daughters, daughters boy friends, sisters and lovers out there, we do have good cover. Unless we do something really stupid. The winch springs aren't covered.

This weekend we will have the boat looking pretty hi tech... shimmicky in fact. We will have 3 massive solar panels hanging off the back, a 6 meter antenna (pointing straight up) along with our new (but very old looking) dingy and motor. Mark and I are quite excited by the dingy...he likes the oars, I like the 15hp motor on our little 3m inflatable. She will scoot. Oli will supervise the installation of the name...Ooroo and Mooloolaba, Australia. We even have a simple logo....stayed tuned for that.

So some rigging, cleaning, provisioning and me collecting all sorts of things....like springs and stuff and we are almost sailing.

So these men are having a relaxing night in....basking in the feeling that we will soon be sailing Ooroo home.


$10,000
Manageable wetness
02/17/2012, Rivers Edge Marina! St Augustine FL

When you spend $10,000 bucks in two days on boat things it is nice that the first item that arrives was our new life raft. Marks comment "send it back I don't like the colour"

Maybe it's nicer out of the bag? We will never know.

So....spending. The banks here are so scared of being ripped off they have a habit of cancelling your debit card (twice for me so far)...when ever they feel like it. I have spent hours telling the banks that I have the card, yes im trying to buy lunch and some more tools.....yes my mothers maiden name is $&@.....and its for a boat. They call it unusual spending patterns. No kidding.....it's a f$&@ing boat. I meantioned that I was leaving the country and that I cant have them cancell my debit card whenever they feel like it so I was asked if I was heading back to California? I may just bank with the local St Augustine Bank....you get free cookies there.

So to bore you about my spending patterns......I purchased radar, a second chart plotter (something this dumb arse bind man can read and use) a SSB radio, more safety gear than I know what to do with, hand held VHS, more tools, a bosuns chair (so we can send Oli up the mast), more tools and more safety gear and in anticipation on precipitation I purchased foul weather gear. ..oh and what seems to amuse Oli and Mark the most is all the little storage containers I buy. They are calling me Captain Container....but I shall have the last laugh....when everything is in place, easy to find and if it's food....it won't kill them....or shouldn't.

On that subject, we have cooked whole chickens in the charcoal BBQ, breakfast baritos, and fab steaks....and Mark can cook and Oli can clean? I traded all my stainless pots and pans for non stick, found some really good knives (I have never been in a boat with sharp knives...until now)..purchased more containers and tools and safety gear.

But while doing this we socialise. We now know muso's, bar maids and wino's on first name basis. We know which band is playing where. Which bar waters down the beer and we are invited to people's homes and boats. In fact we are so tuned with this great town, we have a barmaid and a drummer coming here for a BBQ next week.

So the plan? Jules arrives into Miami early March to see the Keys and Everglades...So we will have one last road trip before setting sail. We plan on having the previous owner (Lee) of Echo...now known as Ooroo, skipper us to the Bahamas mid March. Jules will be on board....she likes the sound of having a real skipper. We will take it from there. My lovely cousin Sara and her partner Jeff will meet us there for the great old US tradition of SPRING BREAK. Sara is a teacher so she is not necessarily participating.....Oli and Mark on the other hand may do just that. Then my lovely daughter, Charlotte and Dakota arrive for a month or two....or three. I'm a good host. People tend to stay.

So Lee (previous owner and all round nice guy) thinks that with the music talent we have on board (he has heard of Charlottes music via iPod and my gloating). we will be the place to be at most anchorages. My job apparently is to pass the hat around after a performance.

We have an agenda, we have some hard work to do, we all love our spacious cabins and Mark and cook and Oli can clean. Im so good at spending that even the banks are amazed. Life doesn't get much better than that.

Launch Week
Richard and it bloody cold -1C
02/12/2012, St Augustine Flrida

It's been a good week in more ways than one....in fact it's been a great week.

We launched our Fontaine Pajot 42 into the cold waters of St Augustine (north Florida) and are staying at a fantastic little marina called Rivers Edge. The bar Hurricane Patty's is as American as apple pie and and irresistible distraction from working on our lovely Catamaran. Her name is Echo however when all the paperwork is completed she will be our very own Ooroo. For those non Australian readers check out the definition of Ooroo at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ooroo&defid=6378893 I wrote the definition myself.

We got here because of one amazing boat broker. Tony Brewer of www.littleships.com promised stuff and delivered more. Not only did Oli and I stay with him and his lovely family for two weeks in St Maarten but he used every contact he had to find us a boat. We had a budget and requirements that daunted other brokers...but not Tony. He found our ride home here in St Augustine. He travelled with us here. He new the owner of the Echo well enough that we stayed on board from our arrival. He arranged the survey, he went into amazing detail on what needs to be done and what he would do if he owned the boat. It was like he was buying it for himself. He also drank beer, played pool and told side splitting jokes. Totally unrepeatable jokes.

Mark arrived as well....just in time for the keels to touch water for the first time. He, Oli and I have had some amazing nights out. St Augustine is one of the oldest towns in the US and is already the best US town I have been in. Students and boaters meld. Bars line the old streets and most have live music. Great music. So needless to say, Mark, Oli and I have been out a lot. Oli and Mark get on like brothers already. So we are all family now. Oli is right now teaching Mark how to play Radiohead on the two guitars on board.

The week improved....Jules booked to come out and see us next month...now thats worth hiring a Mustang for? That is if we aren't up and sailing then.

I blew $600 bucks on some kick arse new tools and cant wait to stock the galley with some kick arse food and wine. Tomorrow we install the BBQ.

In fact we need to install lots of items. Solar power, water maker, radar, new chart plotter , SSB radio...and buy a dingy and outboard and that's is just the must do items.

The hit to the bank account doesn't take away from it being a great week. We have a way home now. With friends and family to share the journey with and warm weather over he horizon.

Launch week has been an absolute winner.


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