Rivers2Seas                                                             Florida

Swimming from the slide aboard Rivers2Seas

Our time at Gateway Terrace retirement home is coming to a close.  The place has been great, but talking

SUPing around the neighborhood

solely with octogenarians and above is getting rather slow.  We have been here since mid-September; so just about 2 months getting Rivers2Seas in working order, provisioning, living life aboard and waiting for hurricane season to end.  We had planned to do all this in 4 months time, but that didn’t work out so we have been working long days and nights.

We arrived with our red minivan stocked to the gills with our treasures from home that would make Rivers2Seas our home.   Moored

"My room is so BIG!"

to a dock in the canals of Fort Lauderdale with swimming pool 20 yards away is a play palace for the kids.  They first exclaimed upon seeing their rooms, “this room is huge!”   Our preparations for life aboard had meant even smaller rooms in their minds than their slightly bigger than a full-size-bed room with 40 inches to the ceiling.  When we first arrived I set up some HeroCams in some of the rooms to record the kids’ reactions to the boat.  Apparently, Chase disappeared for 20 seconds down below without our knowledge.  He made it to Ella’s room, took a right into the bathroom and straight for the toilet.  At 3 years old, his little butt cheeks twinkle as he stands and pees, flushes the toilet, and joins the festivities without us knowing of his little venture.  The cameras had us howling.  Our little seaman has arrived.  Chase is 100% in his element on Rivers2Seas.  A child’s intuition can be astounding.  They each know so much about boat life without us teaching them.

Ella working on her writing skills

Lindsey has been homeschooling Ella and a bit with Chase.  The process is a learning experience for all involved.  It is amazing how thorough 1st grade education is these days.  On our road trip we passed through a museum in Tennessee that had samples of the first grade education from the 1800’s.  The 10-page single textbook is a bit different than the 22 100+-page textbooks Ella received as part of her curriculum.  Chase listens attentively to everything that I am telling Ella and wants to participate.  Homeschooling is tough.  Sometimes I find myself expecting college work from Ella and I am not satisfied until she delivers and then I remember that she is only in 1stgrade…..The stress of messing her up for life is sometimes overwhelming and then I back off a bit and let her run her course, and I am blown

away at what she picks up naturally.  The kid is smart.  It is amazing the ambient education she is getting.  Two days ago, she called for one of the biggest bridges in Fort Lauderdale to open.  She was beaming when the bridge engineer called back

Music class in the salon

and immediately opened the bridge (as he always does at the top and bottom of the hour, we just happened to hit it

perfectly), although to a six-year-old, she without a doubt just moved a mountain.  One of her lessons the other day was to talk about animals in their ocean environment, instead of reading the science textbook and cutting out pictures of fish and dolphins, we donned a mask and snorkel, walked off the back of our boat and stuck our heads in the water and looked for manatees, fish and anything else we could see.  Instead of sitting in a classroom and reading a glossy paged book, she is feeling, touching, breathing, and drinking her education.

Measuring rainbows

Brad has been working on the boat.  A new navigation station with Air speed, direction, barometer, water speed, speed over land, bring the boat up to date with her electronics.  Hours of work on the heads has resulted in many new parts and some horrendous “groover” stories.  Almost every piece of trim on the boat has been removed to get behind at the bowels of our ship.  Here the maze of wires truly astounds as so many systems entangle themselves.  It’s like having all the wiring of a car and house together.  A new boom attaches to the

Ready for the pool yet, dad?

mast now after a frustrating series of errors by the manufacturer.  An old guy lumbers over to tell me one day, “mind if I give you some friendly advice?”  At this point I have realized that an insult is coming from one of the old men who watches my entire day as I work all over the boat.  He tells me to hire an experienced rigger to put the boom on.  Using a pyramid of self-equalizing harnesses around the sail and boom, I can easily pull it up with the mainsail winch.  I see it as a work of art to save a lot of money.  Glad it worked because with the manufacturing issues I needed to remove it three times.

Frustration over the marine industry continues, from a guy who condemned two AC units and a Freezer to be replaced for only $7000.  A few days later a different contractor had it all completely fixed for $417.  We saved another $10,000 when I was able to install all the electronic instrumentation from masthead to thruholes in the hull.  Most of the people who work aboard Rivers2Seas are happy to teach us how to fix future similar problems.  They have been great teachers for each of us.  They patiently explain all the working parts and the difficult areas.  We go to sleep exhausted from the constant physical and mental strain.

Bedtime stories

A West Marine store, largest of the boating suppliers, was moving to another larger location and had some great clearance bargains.  75% off the clearance price and I was getting all sorts of spare parts, fishing gear and new flexible diesel tanks.  These tanks are normally priced at $1250; I was able to get them for $225.  That was cheaper than buying the jerry can equivalent.   We have bought a ridiculous amount there preparing for all sorts of calamities.

Ella and Chase run all over the boat catching pirates and princesses.  Their imagination is wonderful.  One of the major downsides of a trip like this is the lack of interaction with other kids.  They play so well together that it makes it easier on us all.  The boat is now home.  At the store one day with Chase after being in Florida for two weeks I said “let’s go home.”  Chase lost it and screamed that he didn’t want to go home, “I want to go to my boat!”

Friends have visited from Colorado which has been wonderful.  It’s hard to get the construction area put away and then ready to sail, but certainly worth it.  We had a slow sail with Elysia and Rob Clemens and their kids Harper and Conner.  At 8 months, Harper didn’t do much moving around.  Conner more than made up for his sister by pushing and twisting everything he could touch.  We visited the Sawgrass

Petting some of the local wildlife

National Park via airboat with them, which was a fun and loud way to travel.  Kay Reynolds, lindsey’s mom, visited for a week.   We had a great sail to Miami and then a bouncing rollicking one back the next day.  Chase was puking, Grandma matched nicely with her yellow lifejacket and a nice shade of green.  Ella loved the bouncing.  I practiced at singlehanding a boat.  I loved running from one side to the other as we tacked up the coastline.  Pete Wells came aboard with his parents and four other friends.  A great daysail out into the Gulf Stream had Rivers2Seas moving fast.  The trip back was a little hectic with all the puke flowing about but we managed to get her docked again.  Pete has been able to teach us a fair amount and terrify us with his sailing stories (he has a bunch).  The Fetters, Toni, Dave, Madelena, and Patrick arrived for some serious rain.  The heavens opened up and released a torrent of rain for 5 days.  In that time 12-15 inches of rain fell.  Storm sewers were running amuck and whole neighborhoods were underwater.  We ventured up to DisneyWorld for two days of play inside Walt Disney’s head.   The man had a great imagination and business mind.  It’s fun to see it from both sides since my dad has been such an admirer and given me business books on Walt.  Ella loved Space Mountain careening around the roller coaster in the dark.  Her hands raised high she screamed with glee.  Chase liked the Astro Blaster where he could spin us around high in the air.

Driving the boat up the Intercoastal Waterway took us through 21 bridges on our way to the boatyard where Rivers2Seas would be hauled out

Morning fishing from our home

of the water.  It was a packed week as we accomplished many tasks onboard like replacing the shaft seals on our saildrives (which then turned into replacing one shaft and one propeller), bottom antifouling paint done, sewage thruhull replaced, buffed, speed transducer put in the hull and a ton of minor fixes.

During that week I had to fly to Colorado to kick out the renters to our house.  Their rent checks were bouncing, bills had not been paid and I was worried.  It turns out they had over a dozen adult dogs and many puppies in their puppy mill inside our home.  They are gone and we now have a new management company to take these hassles away from us.  In one four day period I was able to get nine hours of sleep.  Nothing like trying to accomplish something with many different deadlines.

We sold the minivan to two guys from Patagonia who work with surfing racks.  She is in good hands and we are now keyless adventurers ready to set sail.

We leave today for Miami and then off to the Bahamas tomorrow!

Chase has fully embraced the freedom of our new sailing life