May 20, 2013 - The adventure has begun – and yet, we’ve not even left port yet! Since arriving in Stuart, FL we’ve been provisioning the boat, getting acclimated to all the new ‘noises’ of whirring motors, pumps, and some alarms-that-go-off-without-knowledge-of-the-source, and…oh yes, striving hard not to crash into bridge abutments on test runs! To elaborate:
Michele started off with some shopping, shopping, shopping…like a new bride, it was fun to pick out a bunch of new household goods with space requirements in mind. Ron helped supervise the crews that were applying 12 coats of varnish to the deck railing, re-mounting Spirit Journey’s name boards, servicing the dinghy, replacing pumps, servicing motors and buffing and waxing the new toy among many other dozens of tasks. Many other boaters at the Britt Point Marina, where we are docked, have stopped by to tell Ron “what a good lookin’ boat” the Spirit Journey is! It’s taking some steep learning curves to understand all the electronics on board, but Ron has been creating copious notes and we’re getting better at learning the how to’s.
We had most helpful expert training and insights from Ft. Lauderdale’s Captains Jerry and Wendy Taylor for a few days, and then we’ve been practicing on our own. Ron has been terrific bringing the boat into dock, as well as takin’ her away, while Michele has been handling the lines in order to get practice with some basic knot-tying experience. The use of our new set of electronic headsets has been helpful in providing a way for each of us to ‘boss each other around’ during the docking and undocking! J And by the way, Michele also is getting to be a good Captain at taking the boat out and bringing her into dock by Ron tries to learn the line handling.
On our first practice run on our own… we got away from the dock rather flawlessly, and we took a short moment to semi-congratulate ourselves on the “smooth” achievement! Then, while out on this solo test run we decided to take Spirit Journey on her first pass under our command, under Stuart’s Roosevelt Bridge (a small highway bridge that must be raised). The Roosevelt parallels a railroad bridge about 75 feet away due east, and then another, much taller bridge, parallels the railroad bridge further to the east (within 100’ more or less). Ron maneuvered the boat in line with the others to pass through at opening, and just as we were about to go under the smaller bridge – WE LOST ALL ENGINE POWER!! Nothing but bridge abutments and bridge pylons were ahead if one doesn’t count the 6 -8 smaller boats loaded with women, children and dogs – Unable to get the engine to restart Ron’s quick thinking to drop the anchor saved the day, Michele got on the radio to notify of an emergency (and with nervousness, inadvertently called in a ‘MayDay’ alert), and tried to restart the engine. The engine finally restarted and we regained control within one inch (no exaggeration) of the railroad bridge abutments as the boat swung around due to the current! The gracious bridge controller re-opened the bridge for us and we made an uneventful return to our dock. Needless to say, we spent a few extra days checking the engine out and making new sea trials to assure the engine is dependable. Apparently the root cause was several of the boats large batteries just wore out and could not hold a charge to maintain the operation of the new style electrically controlled diesel engine.
Tomorrow our first day ‘cruise’ plan will take us north towards Vero Beach. We’ll stop early and continue trying to get more ‘stuff’ put away …. And hope we can find it when we want to use ‘stuff’. We understand that the route we’re on is frequented by Manatee country so hopefully we will spot some. We’ve seen lots of dolphin who frequent the bay and play around the boat while we are underway. More pictures and less text in ensuing days