Today finds me literally hanging upside down…inside the boat refrigerator trying to clean every nook and cranny of it. For those unfamiliar with a boat refrigerator, these are a bit different than your refrigerator at home. First, boat refrigerators typically open from the top rather than from the front. This allow all the cold air to stay inside when you open the door. Secondarily, boat refrigerators tend to be very deep, irregular in shape with corners that are very inaccessible.

So, my task today is to clean out and wipe out the refrigerator. In order to get to the back corners of the fridge requires me to literally hang upside down with my head way down inside the fridge and my feet off the ground with my body literally halfway inside the fridge.

Good thing I don’t tend to get claustrophobic.

I got all the nooks and crannies cleaned up and it now looks better and smells better too.

Post-script:  I now have discovered the value of a good pair of tongs that can extend my reach and grip a towel or sponge to get to all those nooks and crannies.

Home at last

ah home…home for the boat that is. This is where we dock the boat. So, we are on a body of water called Lake Pepin. I am not sure why this is a lake really, since this is simply a really W I D E part of the Mississippi River, which divides Minnesota and Wisconsin. The lake is approximately 20 miles long and 4 – 5 miles across. There are 3 marinas on the lake to choose from, Lake City Marina located on the Minnesota side of the “river” in Lake City, MN, another marina on the Minnesota side called Hansen’s Marina, and the 3rd, located on the Wisconsin side of the “river” in Pepin, WI called Pepin Marina. We are located at Pepin Marina in Pepin, WI.

Once we got the boat settled in the slip, we finished putting some more items back together. We got the canvas back up for the bimini and the dodger, filled the water tank, hooked up the shore power cords and generally got organized.

We had dinner at the Harborview, which is a great local restaurant located overlooking the marina and later enjoyed drinks with our friends Don & Jodi.

Ahhh….it feels good to be “home” in our slip.

Valium anyone?

So, we think we are about ready to raise the mast on this boat. Now, if you thought that watching the boat be lifted off the truck and into the water was nerve wracking, as the title says, we are going to need a bit of valium to get through this day.

So, the mast was laid on the boat and we motor the boat over to the dock that has the crane lift located on it. Now, we are in small town Minnesota and not some fancy marina on some coast, so this crane is a hand mechanical crane. It has a large wheel much like a boat lift that we turn and turn to make the large wire cable on the crane arm lift anything such as the mast. In other words, we are doing all this work ourselves.

So, here we start out with the cable attached to the mast just below the spreaders. (How much did you say this crane could lift? We can do it with just one attachment point, really?)

Well, Jennifer, our daughter and I cranked and cranked and turned that wheel to slowly start to raise the mast off the deck of the boat. Meanwhile, we had 3 guys who were guiding it’s ascent. We all, at some point, had visions of this thing sliding, not so gracefully, into the water….never to be seen again. Or, it getting wildly out of control and swinging and scraping the entire side of the boat.

Here’s that wheel we had to crank

Up and up we go…

Ok guys, we need to rotate it a little bit…

Looking good…

(In my best Bill Murray Caddyshack voice) It’s in the hole….

Ok, guys, you only have a few more feet…

Now, it’s just like putting the star on top of the Christmas tree…

Wheew……deep exhale!! The mast is in!

Wax on, wax off

The weather was cooperating a bit more today, so we headed down to Lake City Marina once again. On the agenda today, is to clean, wax and polish the mast and all the rigging (those wires that hold the mast up). This task is much easier to accomplish with both the mast and us safely on the ground. If the mast were on the boat, we would only be able to do this by having one of us hoisted up the mast in a bosun chair. If you are not familiar with a bosun chair, it is basically a harness type seat made of board, webbing and nylon, like this:

I am really not quite ready to be hoisted up the mast, 54 feet in the air, supported by a board, webbing and nylon for an extended period of time to clean, wax and polish the mast. I am more than happy to do this job right here on the ground.

The boat has been in a salt water environment for the last 11 years and has sat with little to no attention paid to it for 2 years, so things are a little dirty and grimy to say the least. With a few hours, ok more like 8 hours, of rubbing and polishing things are looking quite nice and shiny. I think we are ready to put the mast back in the boat now.

Or so we thought the work would begin. The weather seems to be conspiring against us today. Rainy, cold and gray today. We did drive down to Lake City and met up with Joe Marz (our rigger) to see what work could be done. When we arrived Joe was hard at work, as usual, inside the boat, checking electronics to ensure things were working properly after some things were reinstalled.

Unfortunately, we are in a very temporary spot on the dock in Lake City Marina and where we are sitting there is no working shorepower to connect to, otherwise we would have plugged in and turned on the heater to see what addition work could be done…it was cold.

As it was, we all decided it was too cold and too wet to be very effective today and packed it in before noon.

With some additional time on our hands, Mark and I drove to Wabasha to look at a cradle for the boat (this is what you place the boat on when you take it out of the water and place it on land for the winter). We knew there was a guy who had an Island Packet 350 around here and sold his boat, but the cradle was still lying in Wabasha. So, off we go to take some measurements to see if it will fit our boat.

Then, we drove over to Pepin, WI. This is where we will be keeping the boat, at Pepin Marina. Our friends Don and Jodi were aboard their boat for the weekend, so we stopped by and visited with them for a bit before we headed back home.

Mark and I arrived early at Lake City Marina on Lake Pepin in Minnesota, around 11:30 or so. The boat is scheduled to arrive around 12 noon. We have been exchanging several phone calls with the truck driver with updates on his estimated time of arrival. This day had been scheduled and well orchestrated in advance with the coordination of transport company, marina, rigger and our work schedules, all converging to come together at the same time.

This has been a great journey, so far, through the buying process and in many ways our journey is just beginning. We are so excited to see our boat in MN and with her here…it will finally seem real for us. Up until now, we keep having to pinch ourselves to see if we are just dreaming.

And, here comes the truck…..

Wow, she looks great! We had the yard in Florida put on new bottom paint, wash, wax and compound the hull and re-paint the blue strip at the water line before she was shipped. Boy, did they do a great job.

We had several of the guys from Lake City Marina helping us unload her from the truck and get her positioned in the lift to splash her in the water. They clearly lift, haul and splash boats into the water all the time and are quite good at what they do, however this process still seems anxiety provoking for a boat owner to watch.

Took about 6 guys to lift the mast off the truck (about 300 – 400 lbs? and 54′), they positioned the mast in an out of the way area in the parking lot for us to work on reattaching everything to the mast that was removed for transport.

Lots of work to be done over the next few days for sure, however we couldn’t be more excited to dive in and make her ours.

We bought a boat!

We bought a boat! (To the tune of I’m on a boat)

Yes, today is the day! It’s boat closing day! All we have to do is sign a bunch of papers and then, of course, there’s that pesky issue of wiring some money.

Now….where are my swim trunks and my flippy floppies?

We bought a boat!

Survey and Sea Trial

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, a marine surveyor is someone you hire to inspect a boat that you are looking to purchase. Something like a home inspector, who will come and look at everything, assess it’s condition, function and value and then provide you a written report of their findings.

This step for us is an important one since 1) we are looking to invest a fair amount of money into this boat and 2) we don’t have a clue what some of those things under the floor boards are

So, we were up bright and early today to meet our surveyor and the broker at the boat to conduct our survey.

We spent an exhausting 10 hours today going through every nook and cranny of the boat. Our initial excitement gave way to fatigue and a sense of overwhelm as we think about all the boat systems and what we will have to maintain.

On a positive note, this boat has a ton of storage. On a not so positive note, all the storage areas are full and we had to take everything out of every area in order for the surveyor to do his job.

On a positive note, boy does this boat come with lots of great stuff. On a not so positive note, we have no idea what half of it is.

On a positive note, we had an exhilarating sail during the sea trial, complete with dolphin swimming off the bow of the boat (good sign, right?). On a not so positive note, we grounded the boat during the sea trial on the intercoastal waterway.

On a positive note, the broker said it was the most exciting sea trial he has been on in quite sometime. On a MORE positive note, I think we really like this boat!

Personal Inspection

Well, today is the day…we get to see the boat that we have placed an offer on for the first time. Have you ever seen the movie Captain Ron? I have visions of showing up at the dock to look at the boat for the first time to see what the Harvey’s saw in the movie Captain Ron…I believe the quote was “What would she be worth if she was…in less than perfect condition?”

The picture I included in this post is the boat from the movie Captain Ron…not the boat we are looking to purchase, just in case anyone was confused.

Well, good news, things are never as bad as you imagine them to be. No, in truth the boat met our expectations. We looked in every nook and cranny of the boat with a flashlight, looking for evidence of water leaks and gaining a sense of the general condition. Yes, the boat is a little dirty from sitting on the hard, but I think we can see past that. To our untrained eyes, it would appear that we have passed the personal inspection phase and will now move on to someone with a more trained eye to give us the run down and opinions about the condition of the boat and all the systems.

We are off to Florida

Here’s where we are headed. Fort Pierce, Florida. The boat is lying in the Harbortown Marina just waiting for us to come take a look.

We have scratched a few more items off our list. Purchased plane tickets to Florida. Arranged a date and time for the survey and sea trial of the boat to occur. I mentioned previously all the steps we took to select our boat surveyor, however there were a few other points of coordination involved. We needed to align all the stars to ensure the boat was available to be surveyed – currently the boat is on the hard (meaning on land, not in the water) – it is incumbent upon us as buyers to have the boat either hauled out of the water or in this case, into the water, so the boat surveyor can perform his full survey.

We also had to coordinate dates and times with not only the surveyor, but also the broker, who is typically present during this time. Coordinate ourselves and our work and kid schedules. Coordinate flight times, hotel, etc. Typically the current owner or seller is also in attendance at the time of the survey and sea trial as well, however in this case, they were not able to make it.

So, the stars have all aligned and we are soon to be on the plane heading to Florida to see the boat for the first time! Much excitement!