The last time we spent three weeks in one place was back in Marmaris. We lived in a blissful delusion back then because we thought we’d simply spend a few weeks preparing the boat, then head off to go sailing around the world. That idea now seems quaint to us – everybody who’s done this before knows that sailing doesn’t work that way. Preparing a boat for an around the world trip takes an enormous amount of planning and hard work – the systems on these boats are far too numerous and complicated, and the marine conditions too harsh, to ever allow three weeks of prep work to be enough.
The systems we rely on are generally things you never think about while living on land. When you need electricity, you plug into the socket and like magic, the power is there – you don’t even need to know what a volt or an amp is. We don’t enjoy that luxury here on Tamarisk – every amp (a unit of power) we consume must be generated and stored somehow without plugging into anything…. our new generator is what makes this task manageable. At home you plug your computer into the wall and somehow the internet is always there and communication is instant. We need sophisticated satellite and radio equipment to get routine weather updates and manage communication tasks that would seem basic to people living on land. In the southern hemisphere oceans, where satellite communication is prohibitively expensive, we’ll use our new sideband radio to send email over radio signals at exactly the right frequency so they bounce off the atmosphere and arrive at a base station thousands of miles away. Our sails were 16 years old with brittle cloth, which put us in some potentially dangerous situations in the Mediterranean, and again on the Atlantic crossing. We’ve solved those problems using new sails, which should stay strong for another 5-10 years. Cheeky Little Bugger will be happy to know our mainsail (his favorite snack) is now in the dumpster just down the road from us. Then there’s the autopilot, which we successfully destroyed on the way across the Atlantic, and the anchor chain that was rusted almost to the point of breaking, and the bilge pumps, and the persistent problems with the rear toilet pump, and the spare parts for things that might break…. and you get the point.
After three weeks of intense work, we’re now back to doing sea trials where we try to put everything to the test out in the ocean. If anything is going to break on this boat, we want it to happen now where we can fix it easily. Our first sea trial off the Miami coast was on Saturday and we hope our final one will be tomorrow, then we’re off towards Central America as soon as we feel the boat is ready. The only thing holding us back at this point is the new autopilot hydraulic, which just refuses to cooperate – as much as we love Florida, we’re ready to get the hell out of here.