We took off from Long Island's MacArthur airport on a 7:05 am flight on Thursday, December 11. The weather was a sleety mix of wet snow and freezing rain. Lovely weather to be leaving, even though the de-icing of the plane made us a tad nervous. Frequent checks of The Weather Channel on our iPhones promised glorious Florida weather for the duration of our trip.
We were not disappointed for one second of this trip - Florida served up some of the best weather I've ever seen. Crystal clear azure blue skies with not a trace of humidity. The mornings were cool - in the high 60s -, the days warmed up to the mid-70s, and the evenings cooled off to the mid-60s again. Though it got progressively warmer during our trip, it was delightful. We were in bathing suits by Sunday! Well, the girls were; I was in working clothes the whole time.
Upon arrival in Stuart, I headed to KKY's office where closing paperwork awaited me. The form on top was the one that produced a fountain of tears - "Acceptance of Vessel". Though I technically owned the boat, this form was the final step in saying, "she's mine". Each line that stated my name as "owner of the vessel" was a reminder that this was a sole ownership, something that was never contemplated on July 1, 2013 when Tom and I signed the Purchase Agreement. For those of you who have not yet had the good fortune to sign closing documents on a boat, it is a moment of truth as well as a moment of sheer excitement as the possibilities of a new life burst forth. My tears were tears of joy to be sure, but also a mixture of fear, anticipation, trepidation, pride and a whole host of other colorful nouns.
We were quite a procession leaving KKY's office - in addition to Gregg and his new assistant (won't even attempt to spell his name), my guests - who now included 2 more friends who had just driven over from Sarasota - all piled into cars for the 2 minute trip to Apex Marina. Gregg followed in a KKY truck that was laden with all the "stuff" I had ordered and had shipped to KKY's office.
This is what the cockpit looked like BEFORE I brought the things from my storage bin aboard!
Once everyone and everything was aboard, I announced that we were now going to empty the storage bin. My guests thought they were going to rest after the ordeal of their flight. When we got to the storage facility and the contents of the unit were revealed, groans could be heard back in NY. They thought I was kidding when I said the unit would be emptied then and there and stuffed into the 2 cars with us. Though the cars looked like the doors would pop open, we got everything in and eventually onto the boat. I say eventually because the one constant that never changes and is inversely proportional is that the more stuff you have, the less likely there will be a dock cart within miles - and the boat will be on the dock farthest from civilization! We flagged down any and every able body with free hands that made the mistake of coming into our line of sight. Several hours later, everything was on the boat, including the 2 huge suitcases of summer clothes I brought to put into Olympia's closets.
It was now cocktail time and here we were with no cocktails, no glasses or cups from which to drink the cocktails and no place to sit outside except for the floor. It was a tense few minutes until a lovely human being with compassion brought over a bottle of wine and some plastic cups for this all important late afternoon ritual. The ritual started less "late afternoon" as the week progressed. I thought you should know that.
So lest you think we didn't find time to have fun, we certainly did. This couple is more near and dear to my heart than words can say. Ron was Tom's graduate school college roommate when they did their Executive MBA program back in 1981 where a stay "in-residence" was required at the beginning of each semester.
By virtue of their last names ending in "E", a life-long friendship was born. These people flew up to NY immediately upon hearing of Tom's passing and stayed with me in the house for the days leading up to his memorial service. Our children grew up together, we attended first holy communions, confirmations, graduations, weddings, births, and every other life event in between. We traveled together and spent countless weekends in each other's homes. To maintain the tradition of being there for each other, they drove over from Sarasota to share my first night aboard as Olympia's owner, despite knowing ahead of time that there were few creature comforts aboard. I cherish these people.
The next morning, we sent Ron out for coffee and something to eat while I acquainted myself with some boat basics. I think it was a mistake to do this on an empty stomach, but that realization came after the fact....
Yikes, and that's not everything! Later on, I took more peeks, but this time, fortified by alcohol-based spirits. Smart move.
Our first night aboard, we decided to dress Olympia in lights. Between the bow lights, pilot house lights and cockpit lights, our girl was quite a sight....
She looked pretty good in the daytime too, from a few different angles...
Though the lighting is not ideal, I wanted a few pictures of Olympia looking like real people are living aboard. I've put out a few personal effects - just enough to make Olympia look like mine. There are still some work items around, but she is starting to look like home. What you didn't get to see is me walking around clutching the pillows, putting them in every spot until the right spot showed itself.
Looks better without the plastic on the settee, right? I'm sure I'll change things around, add pillows, rugs, etc. but this is definitely a start. The things are from Serenity, which also makes everything even more special. Though hard to see, the bigger pillows are from my Huntington house. They are a cinnamon and ivory plaid with dark green fringe that perfectly picks up the dark green granite.
The all-important bar is getting set up. Once the radio is installed in the cabinet beneath the bar, there will be more room for more bottles! I'm hoping to fill the bookshelves with some of our favorite books and an accessory or two to add a touch of class. Tom loved a carved teal duck someone had given us, so I'm looking for a place for the duck to call home. The duck is still in NY, so will have to wait until Olympia is here to move aboard.
The galley got well used during this trip. My newly delivered All Clad pots and pans found a lovely place in a large cabinet. My guests bought me a Keurig with assorted Kcups, so we could face the mornings. I'm thinking of putting a model of a J boat above the sink on the back of the cabinet that's facing us. We did something similar on Serenity; it looked really nice. I have some plastic tumblers and wine glasses in the glass cabinets, but will replace them with some Waterford pieces (now that I found my Museum Putty while unpacking). The storage under the steps is awesome! In addition to several steps lifting up for storage, there is a door in the curve of the steps that holds a 15 roll pack of toilet tissue AND a case of water, with some room to spare!
The master was fun to decorate. A KKY friend called to ask if I needed anything from Bed, Bath and Beyond - poor girl - I gave her a list! Luckily, all the pieces I ordered shipped from NY arrived and were ready to be pressed into service. There are no less than 8 pillows on the bed, 2 teddy bears and a beautiful jewelry box Tom brought back for me from a training cruise trip to Barcelona while he was still in college. I'm covering the windows with fabric from the bedskirt that came with the comforter. Someone gave me an excellent idea for how to do this - and it won't cost a fortune! The closets are pretty full - all my clothes are on matching black velvet hangers, all hanging in the same direction. I found a shoe rack that fits perfectly into the closet - 9 pairs of shoes are all standing at attention in their respective holder. The guest stateroom is pretty comfy too - same hangers in the closet, sheets and blankets in the drawers under each bed, box of tissues and soon, books in the bookcase over the starboard bed. Eventually, there will be a perfect print above the bed.
The girls couldn't resist a picture of me as I took a break and climbed out of the lazarette - once they knew what a lazarette was!
The first 2 ladies are the "girls" from my bereavement group. Without them, I could never have accomplished what I did on this trip. Yes, we worked very hard, but we did find time to play too! We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and a gorgeous sunset that evening (which you can see in the background)!
You can see by our bare arms that it was a beautiful evening.
While we were there (Sailor's Return), I decided to walk over and take a look at the slip Olympia will move to on January 1st or 2nd. Not much to see, but still exciting.
Two nice pictures of the captain taken right before leaving the boat. If you look closely, you can see the tears in my eyes. It was very difficult to leave - that in and of itself is nothing new, but since I know how much Olympia depends on me, I felt actual pain upon leaving.
...and in my soon-to-be perch......
I hope you enjoyed the story and pictures. Next trip is January. I'll be meeting Olympia on the last day of Trawler Fest and taking her back to Stuart at the helm with 2 helpers!
I'm going to confess to you that I've been typing and attaching pictures for well over an hour and have Tucker staying over, so too tired to do any good proofreading. Therefore, I apologize in advance for any typos or poor grammar.
Stay tuned for more as the story continues to unfold.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a happy healthy New Year to everyone!