Once we bought the boat we were faced with the minor detail of getting her home, some 1300 miles away. We briefly considered delivering overland via truck, but quickly dismissed this option because we knew bringing her on her own bottom would be extremely valuable for a variety of reasons. It would be a great shakedown cruise and an opportunity to really get familiar with the boat. From a knowledge standpoint, spending a half day aboard for sea trial and survey is helpful, but spending weeks aboard is the real deal.
In a make believe world, we could take 3 weeks off and deliver the boat home. Reality didn’t support this plan, however. We would have to break up the trip into several parts due to other obligations at home. Regular hospital visits for treatment were now a part of my personal landscape due to a health issue that we became aware of earlier this year. Further complicating matters, as much sense as it didn’t make given we just bought the boat, we also had a two week RV trip scheduled in September. More on that in a bit.
As the plan came together it became apparent that it would be broken up into three phases. These turned out to be the shakedown, the Broventure, and finally the, umm, finale.
The first part of the trip would be a four day run from Sarasota to Stuart, FL. I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have two volunteers sign up, good friends I’ve known for some time, who also happened to to professional Captains, each possessing a vast library of boat knowledge. These were the ideal companions to have when starting a long trip on a boat that you really know very little about.
Kenny and Stew are both retired cops who served together for many years. They are a delight to be around as they are great friends and can tell stories for days. Good stories. Including some so funny when I think of them my sides hurt.
We learned a great deal about the boat over those four hot and humid days and I put together a punch list of items to sort out. We kept the days pretty short to allow for unforeseen issues and overnighted at Boca Grande, Ft Myers, and Lake Okeechobee. On the fourth day we cruised into Stuart and tied up at our company docks where the boat stayed for a month. While there one of my rockstar United Yacht Sales colleagues had his yacht management guys work off the most important items on my punch list. Meanwhile I took care of medical appointments and we took our RV trip to Maine. Who takes an RV trip in the middle of a boat delivery? Well, we do when we hadn’t planned to buy a boat but did schedule a non-refundable RV. The trip was fantastic and quite serendipitous – more on that in another post. For now let’s get back to the delivery.
For the second phase of the trip, two friends going back 30+ years offered to crew with me. They made the trip down from NH to Stuart and joined me aboard. The mechs had done a great job with the hi-pri items on the punch list which made me confident the boat was ready to tackle the rest of the trip. We departed Stuart and headed north up the ICW, with stops in Vero Beach, Titusville, Palm Coast, St Augustine, Fernandina, St Simon Island, Skidaway Island, and Beaufort S.C. It was great catching up with these guys and the boat ran well. On the second day out the bow thruster quit, but fortunately by now I had enough wheel time to be comfortable with close quarters maneuvering as long as the current wasn’t heinous and as long as the dock masters along the way gave us relatively easy slip assignments. Plus, I reasoned, I learned how to drive a boat in a single engine inboard so who needs thrusters? (Truth be told I was glad once we figured out all we needed was a new 200 amp slow blow fuse to get the thruster back in operation)
Once we arrived in Beaufort SC it was time to return home again for more medical appointments. By this time I really disliked leaving the boat. Not because I was worried about it – I just loved being aboard. It was also sad saying goodbye to my friends, but I’m so grateful for them taking so much time out of their schedules to help me with the trip.
For the third leg of the trip my wife and I decided we would do the trip together. I was comfortable enough with the boat now that one additional crew member would be sufficient. Thanks to her company provided cell phone with hotspot, she was able to work wherever we had cell signal. Knowing we’d be on the ICW the whole way we figured there would be adequate cell service. Turns out we were right, and I was thrilled that she was able to join for the third leg which was the longest of the trip with eleven cruising days. After a day of provisioning we departed, making stops in Charleston, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Topsail Beach, Morehead City, Belhaven, Coinjock, Norfolk, Heathsville and finally to the boat’s new home port in Tracys Landing, MD.
Up until now, ever since Sarasota, the water conditions were smooth, so once out in more open water we had the chance to fully appreciate what a sea-kindly hull this boat was built on. The roughest conditions we experienced was in the Albermarle Sound. The day we transited featured Westerly winds of 20 kts+ right down the throat of the sound with plenty of fetch so we were treated to quite a beam sea. The boat handled it superbly. That said we were mighty pleased to tie up at Coinjock that night and enjoy a fine meal.
Out of Norfolk we had just two days left to go to get home, but Mother Nature had other plans. A gale was brewing and we wanted no part of it. By sheer luck I had made a reservation at Ingram Bay Marina which is about halfway between Norfolk and our destination. Turns out Ingram Bay is a superb hurricane hole, so after we tied up we were grateful to lay over the next day as the gale blew through. The following day the Bay was still pretty sloppy out of the South but the boat handled the following seas very nicely.
After 1,300 miles, 145 engine hours and 22 steaming days we made it to our home port, Herrington Harbour North in Tracy’s Landing, MD. It’s good to be home.