27 May 2011 | Stuart, Florida
21 May 2011 | Still on Land
17 May 2011 | Indiantown Florida
Are we ready?
28 May 2011
The question arises because so much requires testing and checking. The engine now seems to be sorted and the sails all hanked on but as yet unused. Ivan is not a good communicator at some levels and to understand what he is thinking or planning takes a little more guesswork than I feel comfortable with. Our route through the Carribean is still a work in progress and the often conflicting advice from the many seasoned yachtsmen around here only adds to the air of uncertainty. Our charts are, for certain areas, quite old, and too much faith in our electronic GPS charts is a little presumptuous. In particular the weather patterns in the Carribean and the Gulf of Mexico will determine our route. There was a suggestion last night that we could make for Honduras or Guatamala and leave the boat there if we can't make Panama before the onset of the Hurricane season. The delays in preparation have inevitably brought this possibility about. Personally I hope we err on the side of caution.
A faltering start
27 May 2011 | Stuart, Florida
The anticipation of setting off was mixeed with the frenzy of packing supplies, including about a $1000 worth of what seemed to consist solely of cans of chopped tomatoes, sardines and oats. No space for beer and dips! But set off we did, only to return four hours later down the canal under sail with a repeat of the engine failure problems we thought had been fixed. Another day in dock and finally the problem was identified by expert and expensive technicians and we set off again, missing the lock opening time and spending the night anchored beside an eerie and mosquito infested swamp with attendant alligators standing by on the shore.
Now we are in a deluxe anchorage in Stuart among the millionaire's toys and a few ocean wanderers. The last of our sail wardrobe issues are being sorted and everything shipped and stowed properly. Although properly is hardly the word as we have a distinct list to port due to the distribution of water,fuel stores etc which means I have a slight struggle staying on my 450 wide berth. We hope to set off on Sunday night for the Bahamas, aiming to arrive in Westpoint before nightfall.
Last Day in Indiantown?
23 May 2011
It looks like we can finally extract ourselves and Brio from the clutches of Indiantown marina. Although it has its charms and a convivial atmoshere, nearly four weeks is enough for me and the eight weeks of unceasing toil for Ivan and Louise was starting to look like a life sentence. Listening to the stories and cautionary advice from so many so often has started to become repetetive and hardly instills confidence, so it's as well we leave before overcaution erodes our will and sense of adventure, and of course the weather starts to deteriorate with cyclones in the Carribean. Tomorrow we head down the St Lucie canal to Stuart for some final additions to the sail wardrobe and the chance to iron out the inevitable wrinkles that will appear, and then across the Gulf Stream to Westpoint as the first port of entry into the Bahamas. We won't be the best equipped or the most beautiful to make the journey but I am confident the boat will take a lot of punishment. At least we will be giving it a go unlike so many of the sad sights in the marina of boats that have been left to rot in the marina
Indiantown never lets you leave!
21 May 2011 | Still on Land
The picture shows the rolling front which tested the hatches etc for leaks.
It looks like we may finally be on the move although not very far - just down the St Lucie canal to the city of Stuart, where we will provision, stow and add a few modifications to the sails. There is noboby among the yachtsmen at Indiantown, it seems, who does not know of some disaster or another, such as pirates, grounding on unmarked reefs or major equipment breakages. Not very reassuring. So it will be good to finally get going and get busy again. At the moment I'm doing very little as Ivan sorts out the electrics on board with a technician. Definitely no available space on board while that is underway. So soon, possibly Tuesday, it will be farewell to Indiantown - a small town in the middle of nowhere in particular and farewell and to a host of friendly yard operators and sailors.
The first post- Still on dry land
17 May 2011 | Indiantown Florida
The adventure , for I'm sure that is what it will be , emanates from a yacht bought via the internet sight unseen. The plan was to spend a few days on the final fitout and then set sail. Three and a half weeks later we are still here in Indiantown - essentially a remote country town, mainly Latin, in the heart of swamp country a long way from the wealth and glitz of the east coast.
Ivan , the owner whose acquaintance I made barely a month before I left Nungurner to pick up the boat in Florida, struck me as a capable and resourceful man and his wife Louise, as a strong level headed and practical woman. The yacht seemed perfect , if a little small for the three of us. "Brio" is a Dudley Dix designed 33' sloop robustly constructed in steel. The survey report had been reassuring- all sound, give or take some superficial rust in places. So I left Melbourne confident and excited that I would be able to scratch an itch that I had lived with ever since I had been a young man dreaming of building a yacht and crossing an ocean. Twenty four hours later, deep in the heart of steaming Florida, I was to make a slight reality check.
Ivan and Louise had been hard at work for over a month, and I mean hard for they started at 7.30 and finished at 1930 working in very trying conditions. Brio was not as perfect as she had seemed and there was a major project to be completed before the onset of the hurricane season in the Carribean (June -July). At this stage it was early May. Basically: a lot of welding to get rid of major rust- described in the survey as superficial, complete painting of all surfaces, a bank loan load of electrical equipment and the fitting of safety equipment. My heart bled a little every time Ivan forked out another large payment. But he seemed to hide his bleeding well.
So there was a lot of hard work to do. Ivan and Louise left me floundering in their wake whilst I struggled to keep up in the heat. I put it down to acclimatization but maybe I didn"t share their desperate motivation to get out of the yard and to get the boat launched as soon as possible. Besides there were other distractions and interesting people to meet and talk to about boats etc.- Andy a canny Londoner running his businesses and his girlfriends from his iphone and his crew Craig slaving away to get his 40' ketch ready, John Sapphire, whose Westsail 32 was meticulous in every detail but still not meticulous enough for his standards. All of them seemed tremendously capable. The marina was for the large part occupied by Canadians returning from the Bahamas having escaped their winter.
The yard itself is a treasure trove of yachts of all shapes and sizes- some of which are on sale at bargain prices, which had me fantasising to a reckless and financially ruinous level. I am resisting although I still hanker for a proper ocean going yacht of my own. Brio will fit the bill quite well and give me the experience I need. In comparison to all the other yachts , she is much smaller. "Thirty three foot!"exclaimed one German. "Such a small boat , and the waves, they are so big!" Not very reassuring. However the boat is not the issue. It will prove very seaworthy. The fact that there are three of us and that we only carry limited supplies of water is the main issue as far as I can see. We will ration supplies- and given the present heat, which has me drinking gallons a day at the moment, it raises an important question. We shall see.
The boat is now launched (10thMay) and the initial manoeuvres were hopefully not propitious. The engine failed twice in two days but in spite of the doom and gloom, the problems were soon ironed out. We are in the process of finding a space for everything and finishing off electrical work. The rigging, lights and water tanks all need inspection and maintenance. We progress slowly in spite of Ivan and Louise's continued pace. One or two steps forward, and then one back as things don't go to plan, people don't show up or fittings don't fit as they should.
The 13th May and not long hopefully until we set sail- down the St Lucie canal and into the ocean. The weather remains hot and oppressively humid but the rain refuses to fall.
15th May...Until today that is...Huge fronts of rolling black cloud ,spectacular sheet lightning , and, after the ferocious squally front tearing at the palm trees, sheets of rain all morning and the release of clean fresh air and cooler weather.