Three exhausted crews woke up this morning on the Matanzas River. A light rain was falling and the tidal race was about to change again. An Aussie sloop, the only crew to actually see Ft Matanzas, got her anchor up first and as they slid by he said,” hell of a night.” Two tow-headed kids poked their heads out of the companionway hatch to wave. That’s the way it is. A shared experience brings us all closer.
We decided to up anchor. It didn’t look very good and I knew after Escape Velocity’s performance the anchor gear would be a mess. It was.
Ah…to tie up to a sturdy dock with AC, water, and a sound night’s sleep. After docking at St. Augustine Marine Center we found our new city water pressure regulator spouting water like the fountain at Point State Park in downtown Pittsburgh. The problem is that the boat has its own water pressure system which squirted our tank water out of the same fixture, so we were without water while at a dock with virtually limitless water.
After talking to West Marine, which is where I bought the thing, I realized that I had one hour to off-load my bicycle, which we had never done before, grab the part and ride to the store on the other side of the San Sebastian River. I made it and we have running water, out of the spigots.
On the way back to the marina I saw this familiar scene.
Yes that’s a very intense rain and wind cell and that is going to be someone else’s sleepless night. It’s not my problem. Not tonight.
For the first month of boat ownership we lived at a dock. It was just like living in a house, with city water and unlimited electricity and air conditioning and neighbors. Not to mention a car. We were busy with moving aboard and organizing ourselves but I really think we were waiting for the moment when we felt ready to cast off and head out. I should have remembered what my mom always said: you never feel ready. She said this about having a baby, buying a house, moving, whatever. And it’s true. At some point you just have to go and be confident that things will fall into place. Or not.
Last Friday we ran out of excuses and left the dock and after a week of cruising up the coast I can confirm: we’re ready. This first week has been everything I’ve imagined all these years. I’m deliriously happy living on a boat — this boat — and everyone who knows me knows that nothing makes me happier than being somewhere I’ve never been. This may just be Florida so far but it’s our first time on the ICW and as boaters know, the view from the water gives you a whole new perspective on any place you visit.
We’ve had weather challenges, and Jack is grappling with how EV behaves in wind and currents. His familiarity with deep-keeled monohulls is not translating well to a multihull, but he’s climbing the learning curve rapidly and not once in the past few days did my confidence on his boat handling wane one little bit.
Our anchoring teamwork has been great. Jack works the foredeck with me at the helm and the only issues we’ve had are related to the windlass jamming. We watch with envy as boats around us push the button and the anchor comes up, no muss no fuss. With us, it’s 10 feet and jam, 10 feet and jam. We’ll have to figure that out and fix it.
Our engines have performed flawlessly. The refrigerator and freezer are great. I love the galley but not the oven and that’s another thing on the list to check out and fix if necessary. In all of this rain we’ve only discovered one leaky place and that’s in one of the heads, so it’s not critical and it’ll be easy to fix. If you’ve been on a small boat in weather you know that a dry boat is worth its weight in gold. We got a dry one.
The big news, and I say this with the caveat that we have not yet been out to sea, is that I have not been seasick. Not once. Not even queasy. It’s a miracle, I tell you. Even in bouncy wakes and windy anchorages I’ve been belowdecks cooking or doing all the putzy things you do all day on a boat. I attribute it so far to the lack of roll.
Boats move in three different axes, pitch, the see-sawing up and down motion; yaw, slewing side to side; and roll, where first one side of the boat leans toward the water, then the other. It’s this rolling motion that sets my stomach on edge and a catamaran doesn’t roll because there are two hulls in the water a distance apart. Yippee for me, and I hope I’m still good in the ocean where the motion is different from these inland protected waters.
We still have things to work on. We can’t seem to hook up to dock water without breaking the regulator–an expensive habit. We’re frustrated with the amount of clutter and no place to put things. The chartplotter had some hiccups that concern us. We’re unhappy with the lack of visibility from the main saloon on hot days when we have to cover the windows to keep out the sun. All of these things and more will be addressed in due time. But all in all we’re delighted with our new home and eager to set out for parts unknown.
The coming week will be nasty when EV gets hauled out of the water for rudder repairs. There’s nothing sadder than a boat out of water, nothing dirtier than a boatyard, and nothing more uncomfortable than having to climb up a ladder to your home. Izzy in particular will be looking for new places to hole up while there are workmen aboard. But it’ll all be worth it to have healthy rudders and no water in the bilge.
Meanwhile we’re going to enjoy St. Augustine, one of America’s truly delightful towns.