Uncle John's Blog

Sailing stories and other realities about life aboard a boat.

01 November 2009 | Molasses Reef in the Morning
12 July 2009 | Key Largo

Shakedown Overnight Nov '09

01 November 2009 | Molasses Reef in the Morning
It was lovely
Despite the fact that I was on anti-biotics with swollen glands and an ear infection, I went along ...

Our friend Miles and his new bride Becky drove straight through from Virginia to The Keys immediately following his graduation from the Coast Guard. They had a few weeks before he needed to report in Seattle, WA and wanted to have a sort of honeymoon down here.

Jack worked extra hard to make sure everything was safe, secure and working well on Uncle John so we could take a bit of a shakedown cruise. After all, Miles had been the guy to install the new engine last February.

No matter that I've spent hours working on the teak above deck, there is still so much to be done to make this boat yar. So much wood, overly dry and gray and sanded way to much by previous owners (or their ex-wives) so there isn't much more I can do than varnish, varnish, varnish. Even trying to fix some of the dents, holes, etc is not worth it because it really doesn't make it any better. Of course, my inexperience isn't helping nor is the lack of money to just make it all bright and new.

No complaints, no complaints. We had company and a reason to get it out of the slip. Oh yes, it's been in the water for awhile now - but without a head sail we haven't taken it out for a sail. Just move with the motor a bit. We still don't have a good head sail - but Jack put up a light rainbow colored sail (in need of repair) just incase we could find a light wind.

Any seasoned sailor will notice that I am not - a seasoned sailor.

Anyway, since I was not in the best of shape myself, I left all the provisioning, etc to the guys and the bride, Becky. It was only an overnight, what could go wrong.

We have no fitted sheets and still using the nasty old cushions in both berths. Again, a money matter.

None of the kitchen equipment was stored on the boat anymore, so we had to bring that on board. The newlyweds went to the store and boat way too much, but plenty of ginger snaps and ginger ale for the sick girl!

I took some motion sickness stuff that morning and didn't each much more than half a bagel. Eating wasn't on my agenda much since I'd been sick, but I knew I wanted something in my belly on this day. They were planning to snorkel off Molasses Reef and I'd be sitting on deck ... didn't want to get water in my ear. Of course the motion of the ocean while attached to a mooring buoy wasn't such a great plan either.

I did not throw up!

I did go below and make the beds and felt quite close to losing it before racing up the companion way to get some fresh air.

While the winds were weak, the current was strong and the three of them were back to the boat within an hour - saying it was just too much energy to stay snorkeling.

We moved to a gentle spot between Molasses and Pickles, which was our next destination so the guys could do some spearfishing in the morn. Have to be a certain distance away from land/sanctuary to do that in the Upper Keys and Jack knows the spot.

Inside the reef gave us easier waters for the rest of the afternoon and evening. It was beautiful. Miles and Becky made dinner. We watched the sunset over Key Largo and the moon rise on the ocean. When I say we, I mean Miles, Becky and myself.

Jack was down below, busy checking wires and amps and volts and leads. He was above, climbing the mast and staring up at the unlit anchor light on top. We all had crooked necks for awhile.

It had been working but now it wasn't and we needed to make a choice. Rather, Captain Jack, needed to make a choice. Head in, with assist because now we have no running lights either and the sun is setting. OR, McGyver his way out of the situation ... which is how we ended up singing Donna Summer before we set to sleep. He rigged up a strobe light on the deck which blinked all night long...

In the morning, Jack and I woke with the morning star. Once the sky lightened a bit we woke the others up with a serenade of songs ... with a little help from our CDs ... Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison and our favorite lady Nina Simone ... ...I'm feeling good.

Just a little background...

12 July 2009 | Key Largo
A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a high near 90. East wind around 10 mph.
Hello and welcome to Uncle John's Blog. This is supposed to be a ship's journal kept by me, Bonnie, the first mate (and one helluva galley wench). Captain Jack will contribute at some point too.

Uncle John is a 35ft Fantasia. It's a double ender designed by Bruce Bingham. We got it from Jack's dad, after a few years of neglected maintenance followed by nearly 2 years of sitting in a yard upstate.

Translation: The boat needed work.

And, a year of yard work (and fees) later, we are in the water but not going anywhere - yet.

We will.

In the meantime, we are sanding, repairing and still installing stuff. In fact, as I write this, Jack is on the back porch cleaning and sanding pieces of the companionway hatch cover. (There was rotten wood between the teak veneers.)

So, please stay tuned to the Uncle John's Blog to find out more about how we got to here and follow our future adventures on this blog.
Vessel Name: Uncle John
Vessel Make/Model: Fantasia 35'
Hailing Port: Key Largo, FL
Crew: Bonnie & Jack, and the always entertaining Izzy NaNa Troupe
Not your typical crew, or are we? You decide. Capt. Jack is the son of a sailor and for the most part knows everything about the boat. [...]
Extra: The Izzy NaNa Troupe includes our two favorite feline fellas. Previous members include the beloved Princess Dave and the incredibly large and in charge sweet Sasha, whose spirits have moved on yet whose lives continue to make for great fiction.
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Uncle John's Photos -

The Crew

Who: Bonnie & Jack, and the always entertaining Izzy NaNa Troupe
Port: Key Largo, FL