First thing Saturday Captain Al pulled the power cord from the dock, and Joe and Tom cast off the lines setting Dragonfly loose once again for a winter adventure. For those not lucky enough to get all the past years’ proofs, of yet to be published Dragonfly’s Adventures, we’ll try and give a few highlights from our “impressment” this winter.
There are actually 3 couples on the first leg of this passage south and we are lucky enough to be the least experienced crew on board. Jill and Al have been sailing Dragonfly since she was built & launched 14 years ago and have been chartering and cruising her since then. Helen and Joe have DejaVu a 43′ catamaran that he built & launched almost the same time as Dragonfly. This year DejaVu has been moored in Georgetown, Bahamas for the summer and they are coming along for the ride back to their boat. A real advantage for them and for us: they get to haul down to their boat a van-full of supplies, and we get their company, expertise and help with the watches. And once they get DejaVu re-rigged they’ll buddy boat with us for some of the passages south. Earlier in this blog I recorded a trip north from Guatemala to Florida with Joe on DejaVu. Another cat builder/owner Don Pole accompanied us on that passage as well.
It’s really great when we can all get back together for quality time on the water. Thankfully Dragonfly and DejaVu are still in the fleet. Paradox and Don’s cat Polecat have gone their own ways.
Chores for the first 36 hours on board were repairing the faulty macerator pump – installed by Tom (two out of three worked, in self defense), reattaching a jiffy-line that supports the boom, re-installing a nut on the traveller block, repairing a smoked 12v supply wire, working on the AIS source to the Cap’n, bolting down the new flat screen TV, and installing a new mount on the Sirius radio. We also managed to hook 3 Tuney fish in the morning and Jill seared us some Sesame Ahi with two kind of salad for a sumptuous lunch.
There was time for snoozing, reading, testing the spin bike addition to Dragonfly and a little blogging. Regarding the latter it’s interesting to learn that the blogging software on the iPad doesn’t appear to save when it can’t Publish (without the Internet), so I’ll be drafting future blogs in a word processor app to copy and paste when we re-enter cyber space.
Provisioning doesn’t just mean carrying on food and beverages onto a sailboat. It implies getting everything ready for the passage. But before you can bring more things onto the boat, you need to scrub and clean all the decks, compartments and storage lockers so that when you stow things away you don’t have to pick them up again.
I like the routine we established many many years ago when we first took out Jorge’s boat. Kurt, McKenney and I went through every locker and cleaned the ship from stem to stern. This way we knew where everything was and it gave us a chance to see everything uncluttered. Al and Jill do the same thing every season when they come back to Dragonfly. Of course they have two or three pages of lists to give them some guidance on what they need to repair, replace or purchase, not to mention scrub and clean. Parts and spares are much more readily available in a place like Florida than they are on a small island in the Caribbean.
I wish I thought to take a photo or two of Joe and Helen’s van when it was piled to the rooftops with stores for the winter cruising season for Dragonfly. That was just one of many trips to Sam’s Club, the local Publix grocery and of course Walmart, West Marine and any other Wally World Franchise in the Tarpon Springs area.
It’s been cool enough to wear fleece and long pants several mornings, But since I refuse to bring anything to remind myself of cold-weather, I had to try on one of the standard-issue Dragonfly jumpsuits. These jumpsuits are designed so that after you eat so much you can hang around like the 1970s RV set in their “one-sies”. Last time I wore a set of coveralls was when I got a flight suit from the Coast Guard.
For those who have not been in the boatyard in a long while, here’s what it takes to modify one inch battens to three-quarter inch. Note the hand lathe, belt driven by a handheld hand drill. We did five iterations of this system until all 12 batten ends were tapered. Al is “shoe-shining” down the fiberglass with a 24″sanding belt.
It takes a 100-ton crane to splash Dragonfly and you don’t really get a sense of just how massive she is until you see her suspended in the air above you. Before Donny got the American crane we had to take off the mast before pulling her from the water, nowadays they just move her with the mast in place. It makes the process much faster and saves wear and tear on the rigging.
As you can see from the photos it takes quite a number of “handlers” to put her in the water: tag lines from each end of the two hulls, not to mention about eight people required to rig the hoisting straps to the crane cables. When ever these big cats get “picked” it draws a crowd of volunteers as well as onlookers.
Dragonfly has only about 10-12″ clearance in and out of the notch, so the line handlers need to “spot” the cat as it drops into the notch. Fortunately this 40,000 pounds moves around easily when suspended from 120′ up.
On this day we splashed the 64′ Dragonfly and pulled the 60′ Bossanova, a boat that was built exactly the same time Al built Dragonfly.
Hugging the head is something that people do when they over overindulge. And since it was my birthday you might have thought that I was celebrating. Many of you don’t know that the joys of boating are always either preceded or bookmarked by the joy of working on the boat head. It seems that anytime we had guests on Paracas, our first boat, we always had to work on the head when guests came aboard.
I’m not sure of the head history on Dragonfly, but Al decided to be proactive and change out the macerator pumps prior to our departure. Since he and Joe were busy drilling holes in the boat, I took on the the task of replacing two of the three head macerator pumps. Fortunately with the boat laid up for over six months all the lines were dry.
There’s always a list of things to do prior to putting the boat back in the water. Al and Jill had one half-page left over from the last cruise and another whole page generated over the summer. With four of us working on the list quite a number of things get crossed off hourly. And every time the UPS or FedEx truck arrives those new replacement parts quickly get installed. One thing that amazed me was that Al would order two replacement parts and one extra for a spare, that’s literally unheard of on Dragonfly.
The day wasn’t all work and no play. We went out for the evening birthday celebration at a local fish restaurant called Paul’s, and had delicious grouper, shrimp, Mahi and crabcakes. Stanna planned an ice cream and cake celebration when we got home from the restaurant, but as you can see from the photo we didn’t have matches to light the six and six, so we just had to enjoy the fact that she purchased them with our Carrot cake.
A good time was had by all.