Sunday, April 24, 2011

Over the water and through the waves....

To those of you anxiously awaiting the saga of Serenity's trip north, I apologize for the delay.  I had almost completed the story last night = in fact, I was up to her arrival in NY when I did something with my hand - still don't know what - and erased the entire post!  Two hours of work, gone.   Well, I'm not a quitter, so here I am back with the story.  Hope you all enjoy it.

Since Tom and I were unable to participate in Serenity's trip home (this is one of those times when work becomes a colossal inconvenience), we engaged the services of 3 exceptionally well-qualified captains - one of whom is a KKY person and the genius responsible for her impeccable commissioning process.  Who could be better for this endeavor???

On a sunny April 3rd Sunday morning, Serenity's lines were cast off her slip in Stuart and the journey north to NY and her new home began.  Her able crew guided her out of Port St. Lucie inlet into the Atlantic Ocean.  Thanks to warm, light winds, Serenity was soon swept along into the warm gulf stream and angled northeast.   Once the crew organized themselves into 4 hour watches, they settled into their respective places.  With the generator humming away to keep the boat comfortably cool, the crew began to enjoy the beautiful day.  They were heartened to see that the crystal clear blue gulf stream was offering them the push north they were hoping for - to the tune of 10 knots (which is supersonic speed for a trawler!).  With Serenity's bow pointed north, all was well.
Thanks to a southeast breeze, Serenity was in her element, enjoying following seas.  At the risk of sounding the ad copy writer for KKY, full-displacement hulls celebrate following seas like sailboats welcome a full breeze.  Night brought its own gifts, with winds in the 10-15 knot range, contributing to speeds in the range of 10 knots - fabulous!
The weather was so favorable, that one of the captains who was off watch was able to drop his fishing line to try his luck.   He was soon rewarded with a big marlin (which he released), a bonita, small tuna and a mahi mahi who got away (don't they all?) lol

Mid-morning on Monday gave the crew reason to check the offshore weather at more frequent intervals. Thanks to the Sirius satellite weather system we had installed on the boat, the crew was able to get current and detailed weather forecasts.  Maybe this wasn't such a good thing because the crew soon got warning of unpleasant weather ahead.  By midnight, they could expect winds  approaching 40 knots, rain and small craft warnings.  As the crew pondered whether or not Serenity was included as a small craft, they decided to be safe, that she was indeed a small craft.  When the seas are churned up by 40 knot winds, anything short of a massive freighter is small craft!  With this in mind, a decision was made to detour a bit and head for Charleston Harbor Marina, a trip of a very long 88 miles.  Though Serenity was more than capable of handling this weather, the crew felt they would be happier tied up to a nice, solid dock.
ASIDE:  While all this was going on, Tom and I were following Serenity's progress on SPOT, an on-line satellite tracking program.  We became a bit panicked when we saw Serenity change course, but luckily had no idea why.   This is when ignorance is bliss!

The closer Serenity and her crew got to Charleston, the more severe the weather became.  When Serenity finally entered the harbor around 12:30 am and eased her way through the breakwaters, the wind began to howl at 40 knots, with gusts exceeding that.  The crew had decided to tie up at a floating dock that would work to keep Serenity off the pier.  With very little room to maneuver (due to proximity to the carrier Yorktown), the crew began to nose Serenity into her assigned spot.  A ( as it turned out a too short) mid-ship spring line headed aft was put out; however, because of the wind and close quarters, it soon caused the boat to get stuck.  Since there was no way of getting the line off the boat's cleat, it had to be severed, despite several tries to get Serenity into her slip.  The minute a knife touched the line, it exploded apart.  That done, the crew got the boat turned around and docked.  All 6 fenders were put out and the crew breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Tuesday morning April 5th dawned miserably - very windy, rainy - a day to stay in port with covers snugly pulled over one's head.  Since the work of a delivery crew must move forward despite inconveniences, Serenity was soon headed into the ICW on her way to Georgetown, SC.

After several hours of miserable weather, the crew soon saw breaks in the clouds and began to enjoy clearing skies and warm temperatures in Georgetown.  Once tied up for the night, the crew was able to relax for the first time in several days.

On Wednesday morning, Serenity headed offshore out of Winyah Bay, finally on her way to New York.    No more stops the crew told each other.  Being the true lady she is, Serenity had other plans for her crew.  About 30 miles out of Georgetown during a routine engine room check, it was discovered that Serenity had sprung a leak - to the tune of losing 275 gallons of water!  It seems that a small 1/8" line connecting the water supply to our recently installed ice maker in the freezer had ruptured.  Since the crew really did need fresh water (despite being the hardy seamen they were), another stop was in the making.  This time, they headed to Southport

Within an hour, the tanks were filled and Serenity and her crew were once again on their way home.  They cruised up the Cape Fear River, headed for Wrightsville Beach and the Masonboro Inlet.  Due to the narrow and intersecting channels, the crew named this portion of the river "Pucker Parkway".  All 6 pairs of eyes were focused on the water ahead of them - the smallest shift in attention here was not an option!  By 10:30 that night, the winds were again favorable, out of the southeast - Serenity's bow was pointed northeast - to her new home.

The next day Thursday, found the crew rounding Cape Hatteras, making good time in Serenity's favorite following seas.  Since there never seems to be a day at sea without incident, this evening was no exception.  Just north of Cape Hatteras, the crew was surprised to pick up a disconcerting sight on radar.  Less than 1/2 mile off Serenity's bow was a Navy tower and buoy - no lights or reflectors gave a warning.  Suddenly it was there!  Good thing for Serenity's state-of-the-art radar!

On Friday, Serenity passed the coasts of Maryland and Delaware, approximately 20 miles offshore.  While checking the weather ahead, the crew was disappointed to learn that the forecast was for freshening winds and building seas.  Here we go again, was everyone's thought.  As the winds intensified, a check of the boat revealed that the zipper on the bimini had peeled back, putting great stress on both the bimini and the struts holding the entire enclosure to the flybridge housing.  Serenity was turned downwind to take the bimini down.  Those few minutes proved to be the only respite from the fierce wind.  Though Serenity was still enjoying following seas, those seas had now built to 10 ft.  Since Serenity rode the seas downwind like a freight train, it took just a tad over 10 minutes to take everything down.  Once headed north again, the relentless wind resumed its punishment.

The weather continued to deteriorate during the night - another small craft advisory was in effect.  Winds were blowing 20-25 knots from the northeast and seas building to 10 ft.  As the night progressed, the crew was aware of intensifying wind and building seas.  Not a good night at all.  As Serenity crossed Delaware Bay, she was pelted with torrential rain.  It was just at this point that she was transiting busy shipping lanes.  Luckily for all, the AIS system we had installed on the boat helped track the various targets the crew encountered.  During the storm, the bow pulpit was constantly buried in seawater while ocean spray and rain pummeled the pilothouse windows.  If you recall from earlier photos of Serenity, both the bow pulpit and pilothouse windows are quite a distance from the water, so you can imagine the ferocity of this storm!
At this point, the crew wished we had installed a seat belt on the helm seat, since staying put became quite a challenge during that night.  The captain who had the 10 pm - 2 am watch was mighty glad to be relieved!

Saturday morning April 9th (DELIVERY DAY) found Serenity off the coast of New Jersey in steadily improving weather.  No rainy delivery day for Serenity!  Within a short distance of the Manasquan Inlet, the sun came out, though the temperature was a cool 35 degrees.  Never mind, the crew was delighted to trade their slickers for fleece jackets.

As always, the ride around Manhattan was riveting and the fierce currents in Hell's Gate a welcome push - at 10-11 knots for the last leg of the trip.  After the currents of Manhattan, Long Island Sound stretched before the crew like a (cold) pond.  Such tranquility gave the crew the opportunity to use the last of their fresh water to wash tons of salt off the boat, making her bright and shiny for her imminent delivery.  Each crew member had their parts rehearsed and down to a science.  The boat was cleaned, a huge basket from the KKY team was put on display in the salon along with a gift from a special friend and our "Best in Show" award, a wood-covered log.

As Serenity was expertly backed into her slip, Tom and I were barely breathing on the dock.  The crew moved as if they were in a dance, every move precise and polished.  They even found the time to smile and wave to us as if they had just come from a day on the water.  They looked none the worse for the wear and still had energy to share our excitement and jubilation.

This was the very moment that Tom and I had been dreaming of since the momentous day in November we decided to make Serenity a part of our family.  Watching her (through tears of joy) eased into our very own slip less than 6 minutes from our home was more than a dream come true.  Our beautiful girl was home, safe and sound, never to be parted for so long from us again.

I apologize for not having more pictures to show from the delivery, but as you can tell from my narrative, there weren't very many photo ops.  The crew are my heroes.  They kept themselves and our precious girl safe at every moment and got here as quickly as they could.  If I can find the time to develop my pictures (yes, the old fashioned way from a throw-away camera), I'll post the pictures of Serenity docking in her slip for the first time.

Now that Serenity is home, I promise photos of her getting "dressed", tales of our adventures (there have already been many as we acquaint ourselves with all her creature comforts), and many updates that will keep you informed and laughing.

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