We’re living on a boat!
After nine thousand road miles, a couple round trip flights, mind-boggling hours of screen time, ten weeks living in a camper, a Cannonball Run across state lines to find a notary, a lot of waiting for suddenly urgent administrative events, and of course our driver’s license saga, we have officially turned the page to the nautical chapter of our adventure and on Friday April 2 we became owners of The Boat Formerly Known As Southern Cross! (Okay, and more money than we thought a boat would cost, but that’s kind of endemic to the boat world.) All this since an August day at St. Croix State Park whilst in the throes of pandemic restlessness when Dave mentioned The Great Loop and I said ‘why not?’ Recently I asked Dave for some information from our house sale, and while digging through emails to find it we realized it had been less than three months since we were still tiptoeing along icy sidewalks while walking Roxy in our Minnesota neighborhood. Yet it seems like ages. But we are now living on a boat, and she’s a beauty!
I mentioned our Cannonball Run across state lines to get the final loan documents notarized. We had to go to Georgia because if we had it completed in Florida apparently it would have cost us $2500.00, so we decided that the four hour drive each way was worth it. Around the same time, Florida opened up COVID vaccination to anyone 50+, and I was able to score a couple of appointments at a CVS in Jacksonville. Add an Ikea along the way that had some specific storage stuff that was perfect for the boat and a sporting goods store in Daytona that had a kayak Dave was interested in, and we had a full day mapped out. This after a week of just sitting around waiting. So early on the last day of March, we loaded Roxy in the car for what was going to one of our final road trips and headed north on I-95.
First stop was for our immunizations. The afternoon before, I had found a CVS in Jacksonville with slots available. We had been advised that since Florida sees so many snowbirds from out of state, they were accepting a copy of your rental agreement or in our case the RV park receipt showing that we were residing in state. We had them with us, but no one ever asked to see it. They checked off my name and pointed me toward the Minute Clinic where they were administering the shots. While waiting in line, I noticed a group of five people in business suits hanging around, observing, which seemed a little out of place in a drugstore. After a completely painless shot, I’m sitting in the socially distanced post-vaccine waiting area for the required 15 min wait when the Nurse Practitioner seeing regular Minute Clinic patients sticks her head out the door of the exam room and tells the nurse that the paramedics are coming and to make room for them. He starts rearranging the post-vaccine waiters, looking a little flustered.
“Great. Our vice-president is here today and this happens,” he confesses as he sits back down at the desk near me.
“Well this is your chance to show them how well the clinic does its job.”
“It’s my first day.”
“That I would suggest you leave out.”
A few minutes later, three paramedics arrive and cram into the Minute Clinic patient room so they can close the door, followed shortly by four big firemen pushing an ambulance gurney who stand in the waiting area looking uncomfortable at everyone staring at them. I noticed a middle-aged woman walk up to the vaccination station whose eyes went wide as she saw them with all their equipment. She glanced over at me, since I was the closest person sitting there. “It’s not for anyone that had the vaccine,” I told her. She looked relieved and no longer like she was about to turn tail and run. The ‘patient’ walked out on her own power with the paramedics after about five minutes, looks at the gurney, says ‘are we really going to do this?’ and looked her share of uncomfortable as they wheeled her down the Antacid and Allergy Care aisle in route to the door as the guys in suits stared . That CVS certainly was a hoppin’ place that day.
Once done there we headed just across the border to a UPS store in St. Mary’s, GA. There we were able to print the multi-page document (we don’t have a printer in the camper, something we were discovering could be a problem even in this day of everything supposedly being electronic), sign in multiple places and get it notarized, and send it out overnight delivery all in about 20 min. We have become big fans of the utility of UPS Stores – we have used them A LOT lately. From there, we dashed back across the St. Mary’s River into Florida to Ikea. I wanted one specific thing, but those places are laid out so strangely that you can’t just walk to the department and I had to do the mouse-in-a-maze routine of following all the arrows on the floor for the longest distance between two points, only to realize I had walked half a mile to get 50 yards from where I entered the store. Meanwhile, Dave was waiting in the car with Roxy wondering why it was taking so long because the sporting goods store in Daytona closed in less than two hours and we were an hour and 40 minutes away. I didn’t even have the door closed and he was putting it in gear and backing out. We raced down to Daytona (see what I did there?) to this small local skateboard place that also happened to be about the only place between Miami and Virginia who had this Hobie kayak in stock that Dave wanted, I suspect because nobody even knew they carried kayaks. And they had ONE. We arrived 20 min before they closed, Dave walks up and tells them he wants the kayak, runs around with the sales guy grabbing accessories off the racks, all the employees follow us out, lock the door, and Dave and I are left in an empty parking lot trying to secure an 11’ boat into a 5’ truck bed. Roxy’s domain in the backseat was being encroached upon by paddles and pedal drives as we went in search of food before the final two hour drive back to the trailer, arriving back at the trailer 13 hours after we had left that morning. Our final reckoning for the day? Two states and another 500 miles on the road, two COVID shots, closing paperwork for the boat done and sent, saved $2500 on some weird Florida fee, then spent over $4000 on a fully accessorized kayak.
Two days later we met the sellers, David and Char, at The Boat for the key handoff. They turned over to us a boat that is absolutely perfect for our needs, cared for meticulously. They gave freely of their knowledge and several thousand dollars worth of boat items that they no longer needed, and made this an incredibly easy transaction; we feel so unbelievably fortunate not only to have found this boat, but to have them as the previous owners. Since then we’ve been crazy busy. Frenetically busy. Exhaustingly busy. Running between camper and boat for the first few days, making lists, making more lists, cleaning the trailer, cleaning the dog, setting up services and getting call signs and transferring various boat and radio registrations into our name, developing our own ‘operating procedures’ and checklists (okay, that’s mostly Dave), trying to figure out what fit where. Actually moving onto the boat proved a bigger task than we expected. We thought it would be pretty fast and easy, since the trailer was small and we were already down to the bare essentials. But it was quite laborious! I think it was more the mental part of looking at every item from a different perspective. Will it have a use on a boat? Will it stand up to moisture, especially salt water? Can it survive bouncing and rolling? Anything glass had to go. Do we have a place to put it? Suddenly we had to re-examine every single item; this was Moving Mindfulness at its finest. Boat living is small space living with high demand for storage and multi-functionality. Technically we were upsizing, as we were going from a 24’ trailer to a 47’ boat. But boats require a lot of equipment and emergency backups, which has got to go somewhere and takes up a good chunk of storage lockers. No cardboard on the boat, because it falls apart with the moisture and also to prevent bugs. Other than safety equipment, things need to have more than one function in order to be considered Boat Worthy. If you haven‘t guessed, we also spent a lot of time shopping this past week, filling in those gaps of necessary items that failed the will-it-survive-on-a-boat test. All the time spent driving from place to place made us really appreciate Amazon and miss those gray vans with the blue smile, rivaled in number on Florida highways only by the silver alerts on the flashing marquees. The good news is that the Silver Alerts work and the seniors are usually found safe – as are all the Amazon packages, for that matter. Hmmm. Wonder how many of those lost seniors were found by Amazon trucks….
A week later, we are still organizing but settling in to living on a boat. But it’s not all work and no play, as we took The Boat out for her Maiden Voyage with just the two of us. Since we plan on both of us being able to do everything, we decided we are both co-Captains. However, we do have specific roles that we will both do. The person at the helm takes on the role of Skipper. The other person, responsible for line handling, watching for things we’d prefer not to run into, and anything else that needs doing, is Gilligan in honor of all the 60’s syndicated television we both grew up with. We drilled the day before and figured out how we were going to manage the lines for both undocking and docking, communicating, and everything that needed to be done to get underway. Fortunately, Previous Owner David had left Current Owner David wonderfully detailed notes specific to The Boat that supplemented Dave’s general experience and knowledge. Anyway, all went very smoothly and we had a very enjoyable few hours out on the ICW, getting a feel for how the boat handles and starting to develop our own routines and procedures. And no docks or buoys were harmed in this endeavor, so it was an all around success. Now we’re really looking forward to getting better and smarter and setting off on the cruising lifestyle. This last week has completely confirmed that this is where we want to be.
A couple days ago we took the trailer to a dealer to sell on consignment, bidding farewell to Sir Lance-a lot. He served us well for three summers of camping and the last three months of living. But our land adventures have turned to water adventures, and so it is all about The Boat now.
NEWSBREAK: MY DRIVER’S LICENSE ARRIVED!!!
We have a couple more weeks of work and boat things to get done here, to include getting The Boat name changed, which in sailor lore requires a special ceremony to appease King Neptune. Tune in to the next blog for The Great Reveal. Oh, and we are getting The Boat Remote sometime this week; Dave couldn’t be happier at the prospect.