Jen Bart Boot Key Harbor, December 15, 2017 Boot Key Harbor at dawn, looking east.

Patricia

December 23, 2017  by RJMS  •  Moving On

Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal, while others, on the contrary, obtain victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.  —  Herodotus

So. much. has happened.

2017 Timeline:
5/13 I leave Costa Rica. It has been almost 20 months since I crossed the border in my Jeep at McAllen, TX. I fly to Nashville to spend some time with Randy. His wife, Fabianna, has just passed away after a 14 month battle with cancer. They were partners in their lives like few ever are. They were together for 25 years and literally did everything together. They have a 4 year old son, who they had recently adopted after 10 years of foster parenting for several young children. Now, at the age of 59, he is faced with having to raise him alone.
 
6/22 I travel to Stuart, Florida where I am enrolled in the Chapman School of Seamanship for a 9 week course on all things boating. I buy a bicycle to get me around.
6/25 Classes begin. The first class the first day the instructor is an hour late. He had forgotten something at home that he wanted to show in class, and decided to go home and get it. He is our “instructor” for 9 more 2 hour classes in the first week.  He is not very good at it. I estimate that in those 18 hours he has given us perhaps 2 hours worth of good information. At one point when he is attempting to teach us about boat electrical systems, he gives us information which I know to be incorrect. I politely ask if I could get up in front of the class and try to better explain what he is trying to. He agrees, and I do. I do it again the next day.  After class several students thank me on their way out.
On the plus side, I do get one 1/2 day on the water with a 35 ft twin screw power boat, during which time we practice tight quarters steering,  and docking. I don’t hit anything.
7/3 I meet with the registrar to talk over my concerns regarding the several instructors lack of class preparation. In the end I leave the school because several of the teachers, especially that first day, first class person, while possibly good seamen, are not good teachers. I decide, that the remaining not insignificant tuition money would be better spent purchasing a boat and paying others to learn how to sail on my own boat. I get to keep the textbooks.
7/10  I arrive in Palmetto. I am renting a room at Captain Bart’s house, the man I went sailing with over 2 years ago. A week after arriving I buy a used Ford SUV off a lot in St. Petersburg. Meanwhile I am shopping for boats.

Patricia

7/28   I purchase a boat. It is a Watkins 27, built in 1979. I like it because the owner is a nice older gentlemen (74) who was selling it because his wife no longer wished to go sailing (not sure she ever did).  It comes with 2 free months of marina slip rent, with electricity and water, and I am allowed to work on it (not all marinas allow that). He also agrees to go out sailing a few times with me to show me how she works, which we eventually do, but only twice.
8/1     I begin work on the boat…it needs a few things. A new toilet, which takes a full week to do, some new 12 volt batteries, wiring upgrades. I add a solar charging system. I remove the air conditioner. As time goes on I find many other things in need of attention. I begin buying the needed tools and supplies. I end up working almost every day for 8 hours or so. Bart helps me out with a couple of the projects, in trade for me helping him out with projects on his two sailboats.

The Hospital

8/13    Saturday afternoon, 4pm. I am in my room at Bart’s when I suddenly realize I am having a stroke…I ask Bart to call 911 and I end up at Manatee Memorial Hospital. It is what they call a TIA (transient ischemic attack).  After lots of tests and lots of doctors stopping by to see me, they release me on Sunday at noon. The follow up with the hospital residency clinic doctors happens a few days later. There is no damage. But the MRI shows a slightly less than 50% blockage of the carotid artery in my neck. Most of my bloodwork results are completely normal. But I have a slightly elevated cholesteral level and marginally high BP. I am given prescriptions for both which I continue to take.  I also further adjust my diet and eliminate all high cholesteral dairy (cheese and butter) and cut down on eggs. I stopped eating meat except for occasionaly about 18 months ago. I have a burger from time to time, that’s about it. I am to return in January for follow up appointments.
           Doctors are often making best guesses, I know. And they often differ on their opinions, as we all know from watching episodes of “House”.  The emergency room doctor who first interviewed me said the fall I took about 2 weeks before the TIA incident, when I hit the back of my head pretty hard (I fell while entering the boat at the marina), would not have knocked lose a bit of the artery plaque. The doctor at the office a few days later said that was in fact a likely scenario. Bottom line is only 25% of people who have TIA’s have another stroke. So now we know, and I must be more careful.
           I received the Medicare statement from the hospital a few days ago. Total billings for the 20 hours of service at Manatee Memorial, something north of $40,000. The invoices asking for payments I am responsible for are trickling in.

Noah and Me

9/6 – 9/9 Hurricane Irma is on her way here. I spend 2 days taking down all the sails and other canvas and various other things, double all the dock lines with newly purchased ropes, and I secure the boat as best I can and drive north, just ahead of the storm, which arrives in Palmetto the next morning.
 9/10 – 9/19  To/At Randy’s house in Nashville, Tennessee.  Irma passes thru the Bay Shore Gardens Marina on the 10th. On the 11th I get a message from the woman who has a boat in the slip next to mine letting me know “Patricia” made it thru with no damage.

Boom secured, ready for the storm.

9/20 – 10/2  I put her sails back on and reverse the other things I did to secure her for the storm. I install the new batteries and the solar panel and a do few other things to make her able to be ok on a mooring ball instead of in a slip at the marina.  The slip contract expires and Bart offers to let me use his 3rd mooring ball in the Manatee river. His 2 boats are adjacent and can be seen in the picture on either side of mine. It takes us about 5 hours to sail/motor to her new location.  I am at the helm for about 90% of the trip, with Bart playing the role of navigator and talking to the bridge operators along the IntraCoastal waterway, to get them to open their drawbridges to let us pass.  Access to the boat is now via his dinghy from shore, which we store at his mom’s house which is about 100 yards from the river. A few weeks later I purchase my own leaky dinghy and an electric motor for it, which enables me to go out to the boat without Bart’s assistance. After a few trips I decide to fix her, and I paint her hull with bottom paint to stop the leaks. It works.

Moored on the River, Bart and his leaky dinghy.

10/3 thru 10/18  I continue to work on boat projects. I decide it is time to try living on her, so I spend 3 days/2nights out on the river, and I feel like I am “home”. It is a great feeling. In addition, I pay Bart for several 1/2 day sessions out on the river, during which I practice the basics of sailboat handling. It feels good to be sailing.

Hauled out

10/19  Bart and I motor “Patricia” down to the Snead Island Boat Works to get some work done.  After she is hauled out and power washed they find some delamination of the fiberglass on the port aft keel. It more than doubles the original 10 day estimate for the time she has been “on the hard” as they call it, but the estimate is only $400 more to do the repair, which turns out to be wrong. The total bill comes in a bit less than $4,000, $1500 over the original estimate. Which is how it always works with boats.

All done.

 11/15  The boatyard put her back in the water today.  She will stay in the slip there till Friday, when I will move her back to the mooring ball on the river for a week.  I will use that time to finish a few above the waterline projects and to provision her for the trip south.
11/24 11am We cast off the mooring ball and head down river. We set 2 hour watches, with 3 of us we get 4hours rest. By 2pm we are in the Gulf of Mexico and head south by southeast, with the wind on our stern for the first 20 hours. We make good time, 5- 6 knots for a lot of the distance. We sail for 30 hours before dropping anchor a few miles south of Naples in a protected anchorage.
11/26  A second anchorage at Pavilion Key in Everglades NP.  A somewhat odd choice, as it requires us to spend most of the afternoon heading due east, for no apparent reason, but Captain Bart thinks it a good idea, so what do I know?
11/27 2pm, a few miles offshore of Cape Sable, Everglades NP, at the entrance to Florida Bay.  A decision to go the distance. We arrive at the poorly illuminated 7 mile bridge near Marathon after dark, and another boat, a beautiful ketch, has just hit the bridge. People can be seen struggling to get off assisted by the local sheriff’s boat. The mizzen is bent and caught on the bridge and the boat is heaving up and down in the swell. We motor thru and Bart gets up on the bow to shine the searchlight on the many crab trap buoys. We anchor in the lee of Boot Key.
11/28 We motor into the harbor and pick up a mooring ball, O1. My new home, for at least one year, thru the end of 2018.

Boot Key Harbor, looking east.

love,
-bob
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