The Next Phase

October 28, 2020

Home Free is being prepared for the journey south, and thus far it has been a bit of a whirlwind. A few weeks ago, an old friend from my university days retired from work and as an avid sailor seemed to be a good fit to join me in taking Home Free south. Paul agreed to join me and on Monday we jumped on a plane for Washington, DC.

The boat is in Chesapeake, VA, but with COVID, the flights to Norfolk were twice the price of flying to Washington, and a one-way rental car and a three hour drive made more sense for a couple of unemployed middle aged men. The dealer upgraded us, for free, to a Mustang convertible, so we must have ticked pretty much all of the boxes for a mid-life crisis excursion.

Home Free was remarkably clean upon arrival. Exactly as she was left, the work could begin on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, the yard was behind schedule, so the haul-out, bottom cleaning and anode replacement couldn’t be performed until Wednesday. Instead we focused on house keeping items. Groceries, gadgets and maintenance.

After running the boat on my own for most of the time, it is a joy to have another person on the boat who, in general, knows exactly what needs to be done, and isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty doing work. The work load has been cut in half clearly.

One of the biggest issues is that my boat deck has begun leaking after blocks were installed to raise the dinghy. Paul put a silicone caulking around those blocks for now to hopefully prevent more water ingress. If more needs to be done, a better job will be done when the boat reaches N. Palm Beach.

As we prepare for a long visit over the winter in The Bahamas, there are a lot of little things that we need to do, and again Paul is a big help. First off, ensuring the boat has all of the equipment and supplies necessary. These work out to cooking supplies (food and gadgets), alcohol (because the sun sets every. single. day!) office supplies (because Jinhee will be working) and telecom connections to make sure no calls are missed. Oh, and the boat has to work too.

Yesterday, first thing in the morning Home Free was hauled. I was very concerned that the bottom was going to be a mess given the amount of time it spent in the warm waters of Florida, not moving. At the same time it would be ideal to replace anodes/zincs. When Home Free came out of the water, the bottom was very, very clean. The zincs were in okay shape, and in reality, I could have waited another year before doing anything. I’m kinda new at this. Now I know. In any case the cooling grids for the main engine and the stabilizers got a good cleaning, a few barnacles were scraped off and the muck from sitting still was sprayed off. Perhaps the fuel savings will make it a good financial bet too?!

Following that experience, 1,150 gallons of fuel were added to ensure the tanks are as full as possible before heading out. Diesel here is about as cheap as anywhere and it also makes for decent ballast on the open water.

The rental car was returned to the airport and more grocery items brought aboard, but some key elements are still missing. In Canada, buying bread makers is hard because they are sold out. Here, nobody carries them in store. I will have one of those shipped to the boat in Florida. The same is true for high speed printers. To work from the boat, Jinhee needs a better, faster printer than the HP that we have now, but no stores carry the model we are looking for, so that will have to be shipped to the boat.

On the other hand, we are upgrading the internet bits to a Peplink Max BR1 Mk II router with a super high quality, external antenna. That has arrived at the boat, but not yet installed. It should dramatically improve our signal reception as well as our ability to use dock based wifi, while allowing us to switch over to cellular based internet whenever it’s available. That should be a big improvement as we ply the open waters of The Bahamas.

Theoretically, we could leave today and begin heading South, unfortunately, the weather suggests that is a bad idea. With hurricane Zeta being blown to bits by the jet stream overhead over the next 24 hours or so, winds are going to be a little crazy, so we will wait until tomorrow morning and then begin our journey. We will still suffer the ‘back fill’ after the storm passes, but it shouldn’t last long and we will be in the ICW so have a little protection and no significant water to deal with.

Home Free is just south of the green dot

Today, the focus will be on cleaning, getting those connectivity bits installed, swapping fuel filters and doing some more modest maintenance around the boat and then a good sleep before an early morning departure.

If you have been reading the blog for a while, early in the year I purchased a new, very shiny, and supposedly amazing anchor. It still hasn’t touched the water, so I am looking forward to using that as the journey south progresses. In Florida, a new dinghy motor and a service of the davit are on the agenda and those will be nice to get out of the way. As well a new hot water tank, some replacement screens for the port holes and who can forget the prospect of a nice bike ride on a flat road with a shoulder (especially the wide, paved shoulders in central Florida).

Until the next update, I hope those of you suffering the cold in Canada are staying warm!!

3 thoughts on “The Next Phase

  1. Hi Don. Welcome back. Always a good read. Things are pretty bad over here especially as the markets fell a lot yesterday. I can’t wait for the madness to end and I bet you are happy that you have something else to think about. Safe travels. David

  2. Stay safe and well.

  3. Micheline Montreuil October 29, 2020 — 9:35 am

    Safe journey. Look forward to updates along the way.

    Mitch

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