30 September 2014 | Tampa, FL
Departing St Petersburg FL for a short 21 mile trip through Tampa Bay to our new slip, all was well but we got a late start so arrival would be in the early evening. We were motoring simply because we did not know the boat well and the route we chose was a bit narrow in some places. All of a sudden, the motor quit! A quick check revealed no apparent reason unknowing that the regulator had burnt out on the engine alternator. Sails went up just in time for the wind to die to nothing. After dropping anchor, more troubleshooting and mounting frustration, I remembered we had just recently enrolled with Sea Tow. Within 2-hours, a Sea Tow captain arrived and after a shower of troubleshooting questions about fuel (check), prop entanglement (check) and battery levels (check), the obligatory "jump start" did nothing. By this time I had convinced him that I knew what I was doing and that it was an ignition issue - so he hooked us up and began the 3 hour tow to the new marina. Our Sea Tow Captain was terrific. He towed us into the marina fairway (by this time it was really dark), swung around and hip-tied us and effortlessly backed us into the new slip. As we cleaned up the paperwork he wished us luck in finding the problem...I signed the worksheet as he announced - "No Charge." I had to ask - what would this have cost me if I was not a Gold Member? His response: "Around $1200.00." Shocked - I asked if that was the norm? He said people pay it all the time! As the Sea Tow Captain departed - The Admiral says: "Best $149.00 investment we have ever made!" The night was far from over.
As we secured Take Me There! around midnight in her new slip, we still had to drive back to St Petersburg to pick up one car we had left there to start the trip. My son, accompanying us, realized he had left the keys to the car we positioned at the arrival marina in the car parked in St Petersburg! It never ends. After a long cab ride we recovered all keys, vehicles and finally hit the sack around 5AM with just enough time to nap and head for work at 8AM! Albeit a long "next day" ... the giddiness of new ownership overcame temporary fatigue as preparation for our adventure would unfold over the next 16 months.
Our plan: Since deciding to forgo the beach-front property vision and opting for a more mobile solution (resulting in our purchase of Take Me There!), the Admiral and I set our sights upon me retiring from the military (16 months later) and looking for a job in the Chesapeake bay area. Included in this plan was sailing the boat up the East Coast and living aboard for the next 3-years while the Admiral finished her PhD. To save the guess-work...we achieved our objectives and now live aboard just south of Washington DC on the Potomac River.
The next series of posts will detail our preparation for, and execution of, the East Coast trip from Tampa FL to Washington DC. A quick disclaimer here - Although I had 20 years of experience in boating, I was a novice sailor. Prior to our purchase of Take Me There!, the Admiral surprised me with formal sailing instruction and I was fortunate to have a very experienced private instructor who put me through my paces on a 50ft sloop over a period of about 6-weeks. When Bob was done with me, I was confident and practiced enough to take on advanced sailing which required our own boat - hence...Take Me There!
I would spend the next year with 3-objectives: (1) Outfit the boat for full time cruising; (2) Build hours in the sailing log and (3) Prepare for the trip up the East Coast for the next chapter in our lives (after retirement). None of these was easy! More in the next post.