DEC 2009 – May2010
Back in Australia, we dragged the sale out for as long as possible and watched the Aussie dollar hit $0.85 then $0.90 and we finally did the deed at $0.927. The owner was not happy but as I said to him if the boot was on the other foot I was pretty sure he would have done the same.
The MHC had the paperwork completed and we paid in December. This gave me to the 5th of May to leave Florida waters. Boomerang was removed from the US Coast guard lists and transferred to being an Australian registered vessel, the EPIRB was transferred into our name also. We received the ships papers and Boomerang finally felt like she was ours.
Two days before we shut down for christmas we moved into our new 95% finished house, here we go again, I hope it doesn’t take 18 years to finish this one.
I had a heavy workload back in Margaret River with the 2010 vintage starting in January and finishing in April sometime, so we gambled on the dates coming up with a Virgin flight on the 16th April for me to Florida and Mollie, our 18 year old daughter, to follow a fortnight later. We enlisted a mate, Murray, a sailor and also a very reliable bloke, Jen was going to stay home and run the business until we got to Tahiti, then Jan my sister was taking over until we got back. This proved to work brilliantly.
Mollie and I went and did our HF and VHF license, hard day in the classroom that one after a pretty heavy night on the Jacks but we passed with flying colors, just.
I had looked at a few charts of the trip from US to Panama and there were heaps of guides that the owners sold to us on the boat for the Bahamas.
We weren’t even sure where our travels were going to take us so planning ahead didn’t make much sense and I have got through life winging it to now, so no point in changing.
I had met a bloke, Vinny, who was also going to be sailing across the Pacific at about the same time so I got in touch with his skipper. They were leaving from the Caribbean so the idea was to either catch up with them there or Panama.
I rang Darrel up and told him the dates and to confirm that he was going to come with me on the trip from Cape Coral to Fort Lauderdale, the owner had pulled out, but Darrel seemed committed so I went with that. I had Boomerang booked into the Lauderdale Marine Centre on the 19th and wanted to stick to it if possible.
The owner didn’t reckon it was possible as the wind had been blowing from the North for the last 2 weeks and had blown all the water out into the Gulf of Mexico,we would not have enough water, even on highest tide. I told him not to worry it will all work out and sure enough the wind changed, the water filled back in and the tide was high at 1600 on the 16th.
I departed on the 16th, Premium Economy all the way, only way to fly, and rolled up at the Fort Lauderdale International airport at 0500 on the 16th, got a hire car to Darrel’s, woke him up and dragged him whinging about having to look after his ex missus’s dog.
We hit the road for Cape Coral just on 0700 and pulled up out the front of the Smith’s at 1100 and sent them into a spin as they expected us to stay for a day or two, no wonder they thought my schedule was impossible. We installed the new tender, a brand new West Marine RIB and new Mercury 15 HP four stroke outboard to the davits, fitted perfectly, went for lunch at some rib joint, pretty weird way to cook meat, then did a bit of shopping for the trip, beers, wine, coffee, milk, biscuits, chips, jam and bread. Darrel loves his coffee. We also filled the dinghy tank with fuel.
Once back at the boat the tide was getting good, the Smith’s now realizing we were leaving, we’re starting to get all sentimental, and it didn’t take long and they were balling, we said thanks and seeya later for now as they were coming down to Fort Lauderdale in a weeks time.
We followed the canals and then the intercostal waterway and then out into the Gulf to be greeted with mirror like conditions for my first night sail, motor, you couldn’t have asked for more, it was hooting. I sat up front and drank beers as we motored in the balmy conditions south for Key West. The only concerns were ships and crab pots, the latter were everywhere, but had been set in a perfectly straight lines so you find the middle of the row and set the autopilot, otherwise you would be stuffing around dodging in and out all night. Seemed to work as there were thousands of them and we didn’t hit any.
We passed ships and trawlers of all sizes, at one stage we had 5 of them within 6 miles, but finally the sun came up and we rounded some beacon in the middle of nowhere and changed direction for Key West. I was completely out of my league, but Darrel was on to it so we safely navigated our way around the Southern most tip of America and started our journey North.
It was once again a beautiful day and we progressed at 6 to 7 knots up past the bridges to around Key Largo when a change in the weather became quickly apparent, right on sunset. The wind had increased from nothing to about 15knots from the North and was making it a bit lumpy but not to bad as we had stuck to the coast and not headed out into the Gulfstream. The worst thing was the ocean liners, one after the other heading our way, we backed off on the revs and made a steady 6 knots all night.
Well what a horror night, we battened down the hatches and pretty much hung in there, my crew was feeling it and was not the most responsive when it came to getting off the lounge, so I kept watch, the autopilot steered us and the radar picked out all the ships.
I was thinking that this isn’t that much fun as the sun came up but that morning the wind increased to 25 knots and as we passed Miami I suggested we head in, Darrel wouldn’t hear of it so on we went. I was amazed at how many other boats were out there, yachts with tiniest storm jibs, cabin cruisers all just appearing as if from nowhere, they were heading for Miami. Visibility was to about 400 meres but we persisted, the poor boat was crashing off the tops of waves and slamming into the next one, water was coming up the sink, horror. At around 1400 the breeze dropped slightly and it made a huge difference to our well being, the crashing and banging was only every other wave and what had been a hostile environment began to calm just a little, even to the point of cracking a bottle of red wine and a nice big fat cigar, Darrel wasn’t real keen though.
We made it to the entry into the port at Fort Lauderdale at 1600 and headed up through the bridge into the New River, passed through the bridges feeding the city and pulled up at my favourite downtown bar, the Pirate Republic, for a well earned beer.
What an excellent experience that had been. Although we hadn’t set a sail the whole way it had shown me what a Perry 43 could handle when the whole plan goes to shit. That feeling of knowing is worth bottling. I also learnt how to use an autopilot, a radar, a GPS and how to use a chart. Grinning. This trip back to Australia all of a sudden seemed quite makable.
I had booked the same condo at the Esplanade in downtown for a couple of weeks.
We hauled out at the Lauderdale Marine Centre on the 19th as planned, organized new anti fouling, new membrane for the water maker, service kit for the props and a general clean up. The Smiths came down from Cape Coral to help, turned out more a hindrance with a pretty costly mistake with the props, but finally I got it right. The Marina crew, in particular the girls in the office are so helpful and will do just about anything to make sure your haul out goes smoothly. If you ever get there and walk into the office you will know what I mean, the smiles are infectious.
I flew up to New York to meet our daughter Mollie and did most of the touristy things for a couple of days, the highlight was the pizza from Grimaldi’s which is under the Brooklyn bridge. Wear something Australian and the boss will turn on the charm and ACDC at heaps of decibels. Be warned you will have to cue, but the pizza is excellent. We hit the statue of liberty, the tallest building, times square, Hair was on but Moe wouldn’t be in it, teenagers, what is it.
We then headed headed back to Fort Lauderdale and met up with the other crew member, Muz. He was pretty happy when he checked Boomerang out, she was looking pretty hot I have got to admit. Got on it with Darell, Dave who is another cat owner and a really good bloke. He taught us about minutes and degrees and their relationship to distance. Judy the owner of the condo let us stay for a few days extra and was there on the 4th of May at 0600 to wish us good luck, she is a beaut, if you are going there check them out on the Internet.
We had a shocker to start the voyage with a bounce off the boat behind us, wind and current got me, no damage to either boat, thank god. Just before the bump I had called the bridge operator thinking I would be there in a minute or so, ended up taking about 5 or 10, and copped it from him as he had all the cars hooting at him, horror, the next bridge opened and shut without any communications so all was good. Talking on the VHF radio was about as much fun as burning yourself.
We passed under the last bridge and headed for Australia.
Our first destination is North Bimini Island in the Bahamas and from there we would just see how it all panned out.
Captain Rod and crew.