Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Drama on the High (almost) Seas!

Memorial Day dawned sunny and warm.  Yay!  A perfect day for our first trip away from the dock - and with our daughter and son-in-law (another Tom) aboard.  My husband and I felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment as we completed our pre-sail checklist and bustled about importantly.  More than once my daughter expressed her apprehension at leaving the dock (she was aware that my boating experience was less than 6 months old).  We stifled her objections and assured her that we were just taking a short spin in the harbor, how could things go wrong in the harbor?

First mistake was our naivete that we thought nothing could possibly go wrong in the harbor, our own backyard for heaven's sake.  Within an hour of boarding, the captain was easing For Us out of her slip.  I coiled the lines like I've been doing it forever, took in the fenders and went up to the flybridge to check on the captain.  All was well up there, so I headed down the ladder to get our binoculars and charts from the pilothouse.  I was just taking a chart out of the drawer when I heard the engines slow down.  Since that was our agreed-to signal that something was needed or God-forbid, wrong, I dropped everything and bolted up the ladder to the flybridge.  When I saw the look on Tom's face I knew he didn't slow the engines cause he needed a drink of water!  In a much too calm voice he said, "Bunnie drop the anchor".  The what I thought?  Anchor?  Oh God, now where was the anchor?  My brain leaped into life as I recalled the one anchor lesson we had with Captain Patti in April.

Down the ladder I flew to the bow where sure enough, the anchor was.  In my haste, I stubbed my toe on the windlass (the thing the anchor chain is attached to).  That's why boat shoes were made, by the way.  Somehow I remembered to remove the chain stop, give the anchor a bump to get it out of its little holder and then step on the down arrow to get the anchor moving.  I had no idea how much chain we had, no idea how deep the water was there, no idea of anything.  Except one thing, the engines were completely stopped by this time and .....we were drifting in a narrow channel that was surrounded by moored boats and other boats entering and leaving the channel.  Not a good place to be!

Tom was now on the radio (frantically) calling Sea Tow.  I calmly (not) reminded him that we were not members of Sea Tow, but rather BoatUs.  Since Sea Tow was the first to respond, we asked for their help; luckily he was just a few minutes from us.  We still hadn't been acknowledged by BoatUs.   While Tom was on the radio, the police boat pulls alongside us and asks about the problem.  Isn't it obvious I thought, but knew better than to be sarcastic at this time.  While I was speaking with the police, I got a glance at my daughter's stricken face.  My motherly instincts kicked in and I gave her a job to do.  "Watch these 2 (moored) sailboats on our left side (no time to be nautical here) and make sure they stay near us".  As I tried to give the police the documents they were requesting, Sea Tow came alongside and asked for our help lashing the towboat to For Us.  He must have thought I looked like a bona fide boater decked out in Ralph Lauren navy and stripes, 'cause he asked me to tie us up with a few bowlines.  Bowlines???? That line was only shown to me once on our last night as Captain Patti's crew - and - after several glasses of wine at dinner!  That's the one where the rabbit goes in and out of the hole, right?

I think I sounded in control when I told him that the only way we were going to get tied together was with a clove hitch - that is unless he wanted to wait for me to get my knot tying book out and proceed with step one....  Voila, I convinced him.  While this discussion was going on, my daughter frantically came over to tell me that she couldn't do what I had asked because the sailboats she was watching left.  Left to go where????   No one was on those boats!  Sure enough, I peeked over the Sea Tow operator's shoulder and saw that we had indeed drifted an alarming distance from our original stopping point.  By this time my Ralph Lauren stripes were sweat soaked, my heart was threatening to jump overboard and the look on my husband's face devastated me.  He kept asking himself how this could happen.  How could our trustworthy John Deere engine built to last forever do this to us?  After what seemed like an eternity, we got lashed to the tow boat, the police did their paperwork and we were on our way back to the dock.  Though it seemed like we were gone for an eon, it was really only 45 minutes from casting off the lines at our slip to casting them onto the tow boat!  Our dock neighbors gaped in utter amazement as our little parade made its way back to our slip.  They all helped get us untied from the tow boat and pulled, tugged and dragged us into our slip.  By this time the tow boat operator and I were old friends.  I invited him to come aboard the next time he was in the neighborhood.

Once back in our slip, Tom ventured into the engine room.  After being gone only a few minutes, he reappeared looking half disbelieving and half embarrassed.  Oh oh I thought, this can't be good.  In what I hoped was an authoritative tone, I demanded to know what had happened.  Very slowly the answer emerged.  It seems that the day before, the captain had decided to polish the fuel in anticipation of our trip.  Since the captain isn't too keen on reading owner's manuals (or for asking directions), he just went right ahead with his polishing.  Open this valve, close that valve, etc.  Well....it seems that he neglected to open the valve that allowed the polished fuel back into the engine, so in essence starved it.  Our trustworthy John Deere engine tried valiantly to do its job, but without any fuel, did what engines without fuel do - stop!  I wasn't sure whether to fall down laughing, look sympathetic or scream.  I'm pretty sure I handled my reaction well since none of the above occurred.  I knew he had to deal with his feelings of misery and failure, so no sense adding fuel (bad choice of words?) to the fire.  After arriving at the dock, tying up and washing off the boat, we decided that since the boat wasn't broken (just our egos), it was time to do enjoy apres boating and discuss our heroism during our disaster at sea.  Needless to say, we were instant dock celebrities and had to endure much ribbing.  Though it took a long time to live down our introduction to the marina, boating and our neighbors' jokes, we managed to make the best of it - and learn some valuable lessons along the way (know how much chain you have, how deep the water is and how to tie a bowline - fast)!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Summer That Was

From the moment For Us arrived home to the day there was ice on the dock, I rarely missed a day aboard.  Having her so close to home was a gift.  Nearly every night after work, I would march aboard with a friend in tow, clutching whatever food struck our fancy that night.  Tom's work enabled him to visit earlier in the day, so we each had the boat to ourselves during the week.
The marina security staff soon came to know me and my entourage since we were often there until midnight (yes, even during the week and in any kind of weather).  Once aboard, it was almost impossible to drag myself off.  Upon boarding, I would open the saloon and pilothouse doors, turn on the music (which was wired throughout the boat), open the flybridge hatch and settle in with wine for a fabulous evening.  Sometimes we would watch a movie, but most times we would sit on the bow and watch the sun set and the neighborhood lights come on.  Believe me, there is nothing better than a balmy summer evening, starry sky, good friends sharing good food and drink and a Kenny G soundtrack playing on the radio to give you a glimpse of paradise!  Thank you For Us for enriching our lives!

Welcome Home For Us!

The day Tom and I were anxiously awaiting was here - Sunday, May 2 had finally arrived!  With the arrival of this glorious day came our beloved boat to her new home at West Shore Marina in Huntington.  By 8:30 that morning, Patti was on the phone with us, giving us her position and estimated arrival time (she thought it would be around 2 pm).  From that moment on, we were in high gear, pacing around and making endless lists of what (we thought) needed to be done.  By 1 pm, I was just about leaping out of my skin and begging Tom to get going.  Never mind that we live only 5 minutes from the marina (6 if the light is red).
By 1:30 he couldn't stand me any longer and off we went to the marina.  My heart rate bounced up to triple digits as we entered the parking lot (entering our code and watching the gate go up sent me into a tizzy)!  Since there really was no place to wait, we sat in our car trying not to look at our watches every 15 seconds.  It was one of the rare moments in my life that I was virtually silent.
A few minutes before 2, Tom sat up and whispered, "there she is".  OMG, I catapulted myself out of the car and ran to the end of the dock to get the best view.  Within seconds, For Us glided into view in all her splendor.  I could contain myself no longer and began jumping up and down, shouting to her and waving my arms like a person gone mad.  My throw-away camera could hardly keep up with my frantic snapping of For Us, even though she was moving like a snail (just a tad slower than her usual snail-like speed due to the no-wake zone). 
We followed her around the bend and held our breaths as Captain Patti eased her into her new home! Once the last line was secured and the engine turned off, we cheered (I cried).  Our girl was finally home safe and sound.  By this time, we had attracted quite a crowd.  Our new dock neighbors came over to welcome all of us and asked the inevitable question, "what kind of boat is that?"  While I was holding court, Tom was inspecting every inch of our boat.  It was comical that he was trying not to be too obvious, but everyone noticed and chuckled.  It would be the first of many chuckles believe me.
Being anal about the care and upkeep of this boat was about to make the record books with Tom's picture in the masthead!
Once we remembered our manners, we jumped aboard and thanked Patti and her crew for bringing our girl home safely.  They recounted all the details of their trip (I again wondered why I was hearing the stories instead of telling them) while Tom inspected the inside of the boat.  I guess he was happy with what he saw since he announced that we would all go to dinner to celebrate.
It was a wonderful ending to a happy day.  As we drove away from the marina after dropping Patti and crew off to spend their last night aboard, I told our girl I would see her tomorrow and for many tomorrows after that one!

All Good Things Come to an End

Well, the day I wasn't looking forward to dawned clear and bright (as did all the days of this cruise).  The captain and I were packed except for the 2 loads of laundry still going around in the marina laundry.  While waiting for the laundry to finish, I felt a burst of enthusiasm and decided to make us a real breakfast!  Yup, real food from the previously untouched stove.  While I went up on the flybridge to start the propane flowing, Captain Patti ran for her camera.  Tom just stood there in shock, thinking surely someone had snatched away his wife and replaced her with an imposter.  Ha ha to all of you, I'm about to cook on my very own boat.  Never mind that I wouldn't even consider going anywhere near my (6-burner Viking stove) at home, this was an adventure and I love adventure! 
I hunted around my lovely galley and located a skillet (pristine in its plastic from whatever store it came from).  Okay, now for utensils...found them!  Since we actually had a few eggs in the frig (I'm sure Patti is to be thanked for them!), I decided to make omelettes.  I do a pretty good job in that department, so no big effort.  I'm not sure if the omelettes were all that good, but I did serve them up - with buttered toast and coffee.  Since the galley is so pretty, I'm sure a burnt edge here and there wasn't noticeable!
Now that breakfast was over, we had to face the fact that our departure was imminent.  The laundry was done, bags packed, personal effects stowed...Captain Patti's crew arrived very excited about their upcoming delivery cruise.  As they chatted on the back porch, I asked myself many times, "what's wrong with this picture"?  Our cab was waiting to take us to the airport, so hugs were exchanged, promises made to talk to us every day and take wonderful care of our baby girl and we were off (with tears in my eyes).
I can honestly tell you that I did a lot of thinking during that endless ride to the airport.  Though work is a necessary evil at this point in life, I vowed to not make it the driving force in my life.  Spending this week aboard our precious boat, taking life easier than we had ever done, reveling in gorgeous sunrises and sunsets and just enjoying being in the moment was a lesson in living.  Life is about the small but memorable moments - and taking the time to capture and live those moments fully.
Carpe Diem!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost Time to Say "See You Later...."

Our last full day aboard For Us dawned clear, sunny and mild.  Patti and I completed our pre-sail checklist in the dark (as usual), had coffee and discussed the day's agenda.  Today was my day for the lines and fenders (the rubber things that protect the boat from the dock in case the captain misjudges).  Though I still feel like I'm all thumbs when handling the lines (especially when the captain is impatient to leave), I do see a small glimmer of progress.  At least I'm not always dropping them in the water!

 Today's scenery consisted mostly of marshland (how's that term for a New Yorker?) and not too much else.  Since the scenery was so serene, we dialed up some disco music on the satellite, just to liven things up.  Today's destination is Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island - a short cruise.  We were tied up by noon in a marina that seemed to fill up as we got the boat cleaned off.  What a pretty place - and just steps away from the cutest town with tree-lined streets and the quaintest shops. Right up my alley!  After having lunch with the captain, Patti and I made our way ashore.  Never mind the laundry I told her, we can do that later.  See, I'm already in the cruising mode!  What a lovely afternoon we had!  I found a great little gift shop that had the most amazing carved birds.  We visited the oldest saloon in Florida, took pictures with a stone pirate (he was quite cute) and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  In fact, I made 3 separate trips to the store with the birds as I thought of different people to give them to.  Even For Us got 3 birds of her own!  I think the one in the photo is a willet.  Don't know anything more about that subject, so don't ask.

Today was truly like a vacation day.  In fact, it is our vacation and the last full day too. 
Tomorrow is our day to return to the real world.  Boo hoo.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh no, it's already Thursday!

Yup, it's Thursday, April 15th and almost the end of our part of this trip.  I'm more determined than ever to squeeze every second out of these next 2 days aboard For Us.  This boat was fast becoming my best friend and playmate.  Even more important, she was showing me that there really is a life out of the corporate rush, endless to do lists and playing beat the clock.  For those of you unfamiliar with trawlers, playing beat the clock is a sure trip to a company's brokerage site (meaning you have to sell the boat).  There is absolutely no way to go full speed ahead (well you can, but that speed is only around 8 knots when you're in a rush)! And guess what?  You won't want to go full speed ahead, you want to cruise and take in every sight.

We have another unbelievably sunny, warm day with a bit of a breeze.  I think the weather is trying to let us know what a wonderful choice we made to buy this boat and embrace this lifestyle.  Since I've been suspiciously absent from the galley (kitchen), Patti decided today's lesson would involve using the stove.  My husband's grin said it all since I make sure to give the stove at home wide berth. 

Well if you think using a stove is a no-brainer, try using one on a boat!  You first have to go on the flybridge and under the bench seat to open the propane tank.  Then you run down to the galley and press a bunch of buttons to get the gas flowing.  Once that's done, you have to hold down some thingie and pray you don't blow up the boat while waiting for a flame.  Exhausting!  Much easier to go on OpenTable.com and make a reservation!  But Patti insisted I add this talent to my boating skills and how could I refuse such a sane request?

Once that effort was past, we decided to have another early day and tie up in Jacksonville Beach.  This was a very quiet marina with virtually nothing going on.  I needed to arrange for our flight home on Saturday and had to find a computer pronto.  Not so easy.  I had to walk a mile to the marina service center, then convince some workers that I needed to make plane reservations and had to use their computer.  Much schmoozing later, I was able to log onto to the computer the marina manager used (luckily he was off on a errand of some sort).

Dinner that night was not my favorite.  We had to eat at a nearby fish shack.  For someone like me who tries to eat nothing that is fried, greasy, carbby or otherwise unhealthy, tonight's dinner was a challenge.  So what, I made the most of it - at least the frozen margaritas were top-notch. 

Tonight's sunset was incredible - an gorgeous pink/orange sky reflected in absolutely still, mirror-like water.  There was virtually no sound other than birds settling in for the night.  I named this marina the "lonely marina", but will remember it for its magnificent sunset.  Early to bed - tomorrow will be our last full day aboard For Us.  Already New York was creeping into my awareness - and I don't like it!

"Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Oh What a Beautiful Day......"

Okay, so now I've become a seasoned boater (well, almost).  My hands don't shake quite so much when I have "line duty".  Patti had the boat as we backed out of our slip - effortlessly I might add, once Tom and I cast off the lines.  Another day cruising on the ICW was a dream come true. The day dawned clear and sunny with temps in the 70s and light winds - a perfect boating day. 

This leg of our trip took us past Punta Gorda, Tiger Woods' community.  What incredible homes!  I used my binoculars shamelessly nearly the entire day to see as much as I could behind the neatly trimmed hedges and azure pools.  Today found me asking to have not 1, but 2 bridges raised for us.  One time our arrival was slightly behind a big sailboat, who courteously waited for us to catch up (good thing he wasn't in a rush to get somewhere)!  I chatted with the bridge tender and thanked the sailboat as if I do this every day (I wish)!  This is really fun I found myself saying to myself.  I must have had a dumb look on my face while having these secret conversations - as evidenced by the quizzical look I found Tom giving me. 

Today in keeping with the exquisite scenery, we listened to beautiful classical music.  How wonderful it is to be listening to Mozart's Magic Flute while gliding past mansions!  After another glorious day, we saw the historic town of St. Augustine beckoning us.  Though it was only 3:30, we decided to call it a day and spend the late afternoon exploring this beautiful city.

 Once docked, we left the captain with his boat and set off for our adventure.  We were not disappointed!  Patti and I had a wonderful time walking around and marvelling at the sights.  After another wonderful dinner, we settled on the back porch for my knot tying class.  For this class, I used our chamois mop and a (getting frayed) piece of line.  Patti always has a plan and tonight's class consisted of learning the bow line and practicing the clove hitch until I was giddy with exhaustion.  In a later post, I'll tell you how the clove hitch saved us from a potential disaster (you have to wait for that post, sorry).  Another idyllic day came to a close (oh, if only every day could be like this one)!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On the High Seas - April, 2010

Harborage was a speck in the distance when the excitement began!  Fishing boats on their way in from the ocean were fast approaching us, seemingly from all directions.  Thank goodness for Captain Patti's calm demeanor as my hands shook on the helm.  I must admit feeling a few seconds of panic as I steeled myself to not turn the wheel every which way.  At one point Patti suggested we simply slow down (how much slower can this thing go before we stall I thought) so that the fishing boats would know we were yielding to them.  Great idea, let 'em go!

The rest of the day passed uneventfully, though what a thrill to ask the bridge tender to raise the bridge for us!  At the appropriate time, Captain Patti asked me to contact the bridge giving our height and ETA for going under the span.  As we approached, I heard the bells ringing, saw the cars stopping and lo and behold, the bridge slowly began to rise!  All because of little ol' me!  Wheee! 
Our first stop for the night was Melbourne Marina, which in trawler terms, made for a very long day on the ICW.  We got tied up around 5:15, took on some fuel (didn't really need any but I think the captain - Tom - felt it was the thing to do), pumped the holding tank and decided we were famished.  All that adventure made for some very hungry mariners.  I must say dining at the Chart House in a pair of shorts, polo shirt and topsiders was a first for me.  I don't normally go anywhere dressed like that, let alone a white-tablecloth restaurant.   But hey, we're boaters and (almost) anything goes!  Once seated, we were amazed to see at the top of our menus that it was "Captain Patti Moore Night".  To this day, we still don't know whether it was a coincidence or just a maitre d' with a sense of humor.

(Very) early the next morning, we were on our way north once again under mild sunny skies with a bit of wind.  I was starting to get into a routine:  up before dawn to check the weather, then down to the engine room with Patti and my checklist, back up to the galley for coffee and a discussion of our plans for the day.  Our lines were off as the sun rose over the horizon and another day of adventure had dawned. 

We were away from the marina for about a half hour when we were treated to the spectacular sight of dolphins playing in our bow wake.  Patti explained that our speed was perfect for the type of wake the dolphins enjoy.  They seemed to be having the time of their lives as they leaped out of the water and disappeared under the boat only to reappear on their sides in our bow wake.  I have to tell you that I was moved to tears.  Once the show was over, it was time for breakfast: granola bar for Tom and something a bit more substantial for Patti and I.  Since we were cruising, we had to run the generator for electricity - another lesson for me: how to start the generator!  Once the mystery was solved, breakfast could get underway.  To illustrate how fascinated I am with all things marine, I was amazed to see my waffles pop up as we sailed under a fixed bridge.  An ordinary occurrence achieved elevated status on a boat!  Who would've guessed!

Later in the afternoon, Tom got to try out his autopilot.  Another source of amazement!  To add to the excitement, we turned on our music, courtesy of Sirius XM radio (which Tom had installed throughout the boat, including the flybridge) and cruised along singing to tunes of the 60s and 70s.  Believe me, it doesn't get better than this!  Another long day ended at New Smyrna Beach.  We thought of trying for Daytona Beach, but decided to call it a day while we were still alert (and hungry of course).  This marina was municipal, so a little less glamorous than Melbourne.  However, it had good laundry facilities, a friendly cat, entertaining birds and a surprisingly good restaurant, Jason's Corner. 
Tonight a dream came true for us.... we sat on our "back porch", had a cocktail and watched the sun set.  After dinner, I sat down with a book and reveled in living my dream.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homeward Bound!

Well, it's April 13th and our last trip to Stuart was upon us!  Off we flew with a one-way ticket, not knowing from which city we would be returning home (VERY adventurous for us Type A folks).  We arrived as usual in Stuart on a Friday night.  As we flipped the switch to turn on the lights, nothing happened.  Now what we grumbled?  Well whoever was last to work on the boat forgot to turn the boat's electricity on, so we stumbled around (a lot) until we discovered the problem.  Okay, so now we had lights and a plan to get up early, whip the last-minute workers into a frenzy and start provisioning the boat.
The next day passed in a blur of errands, final good-byes to the marina staff and a thorough inspection of every inch of the boat.  The last-minute workers were indeed in a frenzy and were crawling around the boat like ants.  It was discovered that our custom screen was not built out properly, so a frantic call was placed to both the carpenter and screen maker.  Since it was a Saturday, both had family plans.  Using every wile known to me, I cajoled both into coming first thing Sunday to make everything right.
Our captain, Patti Moore, arrived on Sunday.  We immediately set out to buy every imaginable thing to eat that our imaginations could conjure up.  You would think we were leaving the civilized world for unknown parts instead of the ICW!  After leaving the "spirits" store with a few cartons, I could feel the quizzical eyes of the cashier boring into my back.  Good, let him wonder what we were up to.  We arrived back at the boat to find both the carpenter and screen maker up to their ears in "stuff".  Their tools were strewn in a wild arc around them and neither was saying much.  Oh, oh, time for a nice refreshment of some sort I thought.  That thought saved the day!  I rustled up something for them to eat and drink and the project was completed (after about 3 hours) with smiles all around.
We planned to leave the next morning at first light.  I got to see the first of some very spectacular sunrises.  Normally, I would have balked at getting up at that hour, but the adventure ahead of us was compelling enough to have me up and about without encouragement.  I must admit I felt a little sad to see the Harborage become a speck in the distance.  We spent some very happy days there on our special boat with new friends.  As we sailed off with hot coffee, the sun rose higher in a crystal clear blue sky as if to beckon us on our course north.  We were taking our girl to her new home in New York!

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Fun on For Us....

Now that things were getting done on For Us, the trips down to visit her were becoming more relaxed.  Yes, the boxes still continued to arrive and yes, folks were still doing things, but our girl was becoming quite a lovely lady and her decor was taking shape. 

During our visit in late January, we even had time to participate in a Thursday night "meet n' greet" around the pool at the Harborage.  There we met other Krogenites as well as some seasonal residents of the club.  The night of our 1st meet n' greet, I proudly wore a polo shirt my daughter had made for me with For Us embroidered on in red.  Wanted to be sure everyone knew what boat was ours!  It was the perfect entree to meeting lots of wonderful folks.  They were all very curious about the newcomer since there was never a day that someone wasn't doing something on her since she arrived.  I of course was more than delighted to tell them about our plans for the newest addition to our family.

Our next trip in February was very exciting!  The chairs, cushions and other items we had ordered were ready for pick up. It took countless trips with the dock carts to get everything from the car to the boat (never mind the time since everyone we met had comments).  Now at least we could sit on chairs (instead of cardboard boxes) on our back porch and place our wineglasses on a table.  What good is sitting on the back porch without a drink and snack I ask you?   We were getting to look like quite the boaters day by day.   We didn't realize how we were "making do" running around in the dark since we didn't have anything on the windows.  Now we could actually turn on our lovely new lamps and not worry that everyone who passed by would know what our pjs looked like!
More excitement on this trip!  Captain Patti Moore from Seasense came to give us 2 days of training.  I should say gave me training since most everything was familiar to Tom.  He chuckled when he watched me learning to throw a line to Patti.  It was only later in the summer that I realized how very important that skill would be.  I tied enough knots to hang an elephant, no make that a circus of elephants!
By the time the 2 days of training concluded, I knew what an engine was, how to check its parts, how to steer, back up, go in a circle, (avoid other boats), and other nifty skills to know on a boat.  We didn't attempt to have me dock - Tom said his heart wasn't strong enough for that.

At the end of this trip, there was a major snowstorm in New York.  Hoping against hope, I called the airline to see if our flight had been cancelled.  No such luck, we were due to depart the next day as scheduled.  As we waited for our flight to board, a couple overheard our conversation and asked if we had a boat and was it big enough to sleep on.   I smiled and answered, something like that.  They should only see the Ralph Lauren linens, towels and pillows that were in our stateroom!  We sadly said good-bye to the sunshine of Florida as we headed for home, looking forward to our return in April.  Our next trip will be one-way - we'll be taking For Us home to New York!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Enjoying For Us, December '09-March '10

Okay, so now we're officially boat owners!  Beautiful, isn't she?  This is For Us at her winter home at Harborage Yacht Club in Stuart, FL.  Thanks to the folks at Kadey Krogen Yachts (referred to hereafter as KKY), we were able to get a seasonal membership at this incredible club.  Better yet, many other Krogen owners winter here, so there was instant comraderie! 
What a thrill to board our girl for the first time as owners!  Never mind that the saloon was strewn with the countless boxes we had shipped down to her.  Again, the KKY folks stepped up to the plate by allowing the boxes to be sent to their office.  Not only did they accept a flurry of shipments, but they brought the boxes to For Us as well!  Poor boat, she must have been wondering what the fuss was all about.
Our first day aboard was sheer confusion!  The myriad of folks we had lined up to do "stuff" showed up during different points of the day.  At one point, the boat looked like one of those casino boats (albeit on a very much smaller scale) with people coming and going.  The electronics people were in the pilothouse, the carpenter was in the saloon, Tom was in the engine room and I was in the master (and only) stateroom calmly trying to get sheets onto the bed.  Our girl hadn't seen this much activity since she was commissioned, I'm sure!  That night we got to finally catch our breath and enjoy a few minutes together.  Over dinner, we toasted everyone that had brought us to this wonderful point in our lives.

The next day was filled with much excitement!  Our old friends were coming from Sarasota to spend the weekend.  When my friend asked how many "bedrooms" we had on board, I recommended that she stay at the nearby hotel (do I know my friends or what?).  On Saturday, we had the denaming of the boat scheduled.  My husband appeared like a preacher with a script in his hand, all solemn.  He cautioned me that from that point on, we were never again to mention  our girl's former name (sorry, can't say it). Once the denaming occurred, we were free to call the folks who were going to put the new name on the boat.  While waiting for them to arrive, I dashed to the wine store to get 2 (very nice) bottles of champagne for the occasion.  After closely supervising the application of the name, it was time to pop the cork and get down to business.  On the bow I went with champagne in hand.  The cork popped and a shower of golden champagne cascaded onto For Us (with me trying to catch any stray drops on my tongue).  Shortly after christening For Us, it was down to the saloon with our friends, the folks who did the art work and some folks from across the dock to drink more champagne!  This trip will be remembered for a very long time!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

...and the love story continues

Not long after asking that fateful question, Tom and I found ourselves heading out to TrawlerFest in Greenport.  Since we are both working, we had to go on the eve of the actual event.  That turned out to be a good thing since a Kadey Krogen sales representative was available to meet with us, show us 2 boats and answer a barrage of questions.  If you don't believe in love at first sight, step aboard a Kadey Krogen yacht - you'll become a believer on the spot!  Once I was aboard, I roamed through one of the most beautiful boats I had ever seen!  The wood, finish work, layout and sheer liveability of the boat took me completely by surprise.  As I settled onto a settee, I envisioned myself reading a book while palm trees waved in a Caribbean breeze and blue water lapped gently on a hull that sparkled pure white in the sun.  Now if that image doesn't move you to jump up and write a check for the boat, what will I ask you?  Well, though that didn't actually happen, we came pretty close.  After spending a couple of hours on the two boats, we dragged ourselves back to reality and made our way home.  Can I tell you that the sole topic of conversation was THE BOAT?  Surprised?  The next day, Tom was on the phone with the sales rep and our dream began taking shape.  Tom was put in touch with a couple of owners and made arrangements to visit a boat.  Since I was occupied with bridal shower details, Tom went alone to see a locally owned boat.  When he came back, his eyes were popping!  I moved our checkbook a little closer to him while asking for all the details.  Shortly thereafter, our sales person called to say he found the perfect brokerage boat for us - a 2005 Kadey Krogen 39.  Small problem - the boat was in North Carolina.  Since it was now the month of our daughter's wedding, we had to contain ourselves while we got ready for our family's BIG DAY.  Not a small distraction you could say.  The wedding at Oheka Castle was a fairy tale wedding in every way.  The weather was gorgeous so we had the ceremony in the beautiful gardens, our daughter looked fabulous and the Oheka staff went over and above everything we had been promised.  What a thrill!  With the wedding behind us, we turned our thoughts to the BOAT.  In late October, we took a flight to North Carolina to finally meet the boat of our dreams.  We were not disappointed.  When we first saw her, she was docked in an end slip so that we could walk up and down and admire her beautiful lines.  Of course we had to share her that day with her owner, a marine surveyor and our sales person.  I tried to look nonchalant while the surveyor went about his business, making small talk and eating a "biscuit" with the owner, meanwhile my heart was racing.  When the surveyor announced that it was time to take her out, my nonchalant demeanor evaporated in a flash and the little girl in me popped out.  As the engines were started and lines cast off, I had a glimpse of what our lives could be like - a far cry from anything I had ever known.  We glided past other marinas, waved to fellow boaters and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Then I looked at the starboard (that's the boat's right side) window and nearly died.  The sky had turned black and I could see flashes of lightening.  As I valiantly tried to get everyone's attention (they were all smiles as if nothing unusual was happening outside), we exited the waterway through the inlet into the open ocean.  What timing - the heavens opened, it began to pour and the waves looked suspiciously close to the bow (which by the way, is quite a ways up from the water).  I tugged at Tom's sleeve to ask how high those waves actually were.  The few seconds that elapsed between my question and his answer were all I needed.  I began to get ready to board a lifeboat when I noticed the men looking at me as if I had taken leave of my senses.  They were so thrilled with the weather, that they failed to notice the sheen of cold sweat on my upper lip.  Once they opened the top of a dutch door in the pilothouse, I felt better, but was still ready to abandon ship.  The surveyor explained (did I detect a bit of condescension in his tone?) that the weather I was witnessing was absolutely perfect for a sea trial.  A trial for me or the boat I asked myself.  Well my husband was forced to answer my question and told me that the seas were between 8 and 10 feet and that the boat was built to handle them well.  What could I do at that point but hope he was right?  We eventually turned around and I must admit the ride was never violent or scary.  The boat was equipped with stabilizers that made for a comfortable ride despite big waves and swells.  By the time we got back to the marina, I was an old salt, waving and smiling as if I had been born on the water instead of in Brooklyn.  We celebrated our voyage in a quaint dockside restaurant and raised many toasts to the boat and her excellent sea trial.  The next morning we were having breakfast before our flight back home and of course discussing the boat.  A gentleman at the next table asked if we were boat owners and we answered "yes" in unison.  That moment defined how we would see ourselves going forward and what most of our future conversations would consist of.  As soon as we arrived in New York, we got busy making plans for the boat's purchase and eventually the checkbook did come out.  We became the proud owners of a 2005 Kadey Krogen 39 on November 5, 2009, the day our daughter was informed that she had successfully passed the New York State bar exam (the first time)!  When we asked ourselves who buys a boat in these economic times and why we were doing this, the answer was For Us!  Hence the name of the newest addition to our family.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Falling in Love (with a boat) 101

It's hard to believe I'm even writing on this topic, but here goes....
Way back in June of 2009, our lives were wired into "full ahead".  Our daughter had just graduated from law school, was cramming for the NY bar exam and planning a September 26th wedding.  Just a tad busy you might say.  My husband Tom grew up on the water spending many summers scraping barnacles off hulls in return for a quick spin on Long Island's Great South Bay. After graduating from SUNY's Maritime College, he sailed tankers across the world and never lost his love of all things marine.  I on the other hand, grew up in Brooklyn and had occasional glimpses of old men sailing their boats on the lake in Prospect Park.  Tom's love of boats led him to begin a modest collection of model boats, extended conversations with the owner of the model boat company and subsequently, led us to Kadey Krogen Yachts.  During a casual conversation (that I shamelessly eavesdropped on) one June day with the model boat company owner, words like keel and hull formed the basis of the conversation.  At the conclusion of this conversation, I (not too casually) asked what was being discussed.  Tom reluctantly admitted they were discussing boats, real boats, trawlers to be specific.  "What's a trawler?" I remember hearing myself ask.  That innocent question formed the basis of the love affair that changed my life.