Here begins the narrative of Jan and Bill Haueisen's great adventure--The Great Circle Route trip around the eastern half of the U.S. aboard the motor yacht Interlude during eight months of 1999. The narrative contained herein was mostly written during the adventure, and posted weekly or as we could. It is for the most part written in the third person plural so that either of us could write in the diary and keep the voice the same. We contributed jointly to almost each section.
Jan and Bill Haueisen
Monday, December 28, 1998. Doug Sanders, our broker calls and says he thinks he's found another Hatteras 70 for us to look at. So far, Doug and Bill have traveled the length of Florida looking at 70's. We've seen half a dozen, and the good ones have sold out from under us before we could even get an offer on the table. Guess these are good economic times. (The others haven't been worth looking at, so we're frustrated.)
To put the dilemma in perspective. We, Jan and Bill Haueisen, have sold our house and our new home won't be ready for a year. Our plan is to buy a large yacht and live about her for the year. Concurrently, if conditions at work allow, we'll use part or most of the year to do the Great Circle Route trip. So we need to find a boat both fit to live aboard for a year (or more) and fit to make a 6,000 mile trip. And we need it soon, and we need it in good repair. That's the dilemma and the challenge.
Doug says this boat, the Am-FM, potentially looks good for a couple of reasons, first it has Detroit Diesel 12V92 engines, which he likes, and feels are much better matches for the 60-70 ton boat that the other alternative, 12V71's, which he feels are underpowered. Most of the boats we've seen, in fact almost all of the boats we've seen, are powered by 12V71's.
The second reason he likes this boat, is that it's spent most of its life in fresh water on the Great Lakes. That implies it has spent half or more of each year out of the water, as well. So we hope to find a boat in good shape, but we need to act quickly. Bill asks Doug how he thinks we should handle it and Doug suggests we put earnest money down right now, and make purchase subject to a visual inspection, a survey and sea trial. We ask him to research it more, and give Bill a call later in the day. In the meantime Jan and Bill talk and he asks her what she thinks. She agrees.
Doug calls back, and gives us the price, gulp! but it's in line with other boats we've seen. We tell him to call them and say we will fedex a check today if they'll agree to a full price sale with the contingencies we've described. Doug says lets wire the money.
He calls back 30 minutes later and we have a deal--this one won't get away, but the seller is giving us 15 days to complete our inspections. So we plan to visit the boat day after tomorrow--Wednesday. We can determine if this boat is in the running quickly using the "blink test".
Wednesday, December 30, 1998. Doug and Bill leave for Ft. Lauderdale at 7:00am. Jan is tied-up with a meeting and cannot go, so we'll take a look, and if we don't like what we see, we'll end the transaction, and free up our funds for the "next boat".
We find the Broward Yard on the New River about 11:30. For making such beautiful mega yachts, the yard is really a dump. But AM-FM is under a shed roof. The Captain, Carl, is aboard and expecting us. Doug goes first to the engine rooms. He likes what he sees. The captain's area is a mess, but the rest of the boat looks good. I don't care much for the decorating, but we can change that easily enough. All in all, we like the boat, is doesn't look like a 1989 boat -- 9-years old! Guess that's the difference of spending most of its time in fresh water and under less intensive sun. Less wear and tear.
Bill discovers the air horns. Wow! We give them a brief toot and send hundreds of people to lunch early. This things are awesome. Doug says they're probably worth $20-30,000 alone. New ball game.
We decide AM-FM passes initial muster and decide to get Jan down to look at it as quickly as possible and before we need to schedule a survey. That way, if she doesn't like it, we won't pay for the survey. With that in mind, we head home.
Monday, January 4, 1999. Jan and Bill drive to Ft. Lauderdale with Tom and Ina Berkey. Tom and Ina are our dearest and best friends. They live in the Washington DC area and are vacationing in Ft. Lauderdale and had come to St. Petersburg for a day to visit. Upon our return together to Ft. Lauderdale, we visit AM-FM (It is still in a covered slip at the Broward Shipyards.)
Everyone seems to like what they see. And Jan agrees that we proceed with a sea trial.
Tuesday, January 5, 1999. We take AM-FM for a sea trial to understand how the boat handles water, current, rough seas, etc. We're impressed. (By the way, the New River in Ft. Lauderdale is a fascinating place. Take the Jungle Queen from Bahia Mar on the New River trip--it's worth the time and expense. When you do it, think about encountering large yachts and passing them successfully leaving most of the paint on the appropriate boat. It's a tiny but very busy waterway--and the traffic isn't canoes or kayaks.) That evening Jan flies back to St. Pete.
Wednesday, January 6, 1999. The survey. For 10 hours both a general surveyor and an engine surveyor pour over the boat looking for problems, and trying to estimate its worth. In the end, the printed survey runs for 10 pages and they find essentially nothing wrong. AM-FM has been kept in the Great Lakes, and because of winters has spent half its life in a covered and heated shed near Detroit. The boat belies its 10 year age. I think we have a winner.
Thursday, January 7, 1999. We verbally accept the contract and Doug Sanders and Bill attend to small problems identified by the survey. One surprise, a seawater pump impeller for the big 12V92 engines costs $145 each. In the Interlude-I, a 47' Tradewinds trawler with Volvo diesels, the impellers cost $17. Jan flies back to Ft. Lauderdale with our personal banker from First Union, Gail Lynn. Gail takes us out to dinner to celebrate. Meanwhile, the captain moves the boat to Bahia Mar in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. This is a better starting place for our return trip home. Quietly we move our possessions aboard and spend the first night on the boat. Wow, a king size bed in a stateroom with a full bath including a Jacuzzi.
Friday, January 8, 1999. We assembled at a nearby branch of First Union and close with the bank on the boat. It sure is easy to spend a lot of money on boats. By noon we start our trip home. A strong front is passing through the area, so we take the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) north and reach West Palm Beach where we spend the night. Interlude is 70' and it seems huge to us, but the marina we spend the night in has some 100' sport fish. This is the land of big yachts. Bill has Doug drive while he walks around, listens, feels, senses, etc. trying to get the pulse of the boat. There will be plenty of time at the helm later.
Saturday, January 9, 1999. We get a good start at first light and make our way to Stuart where we will enter the St. Lucie waterway for the trip across the state. We refuel in Stuart and Bill takes the helm for the first time. Crossing Lake Okachobee is uneventful and much quicker at 20k than when we've done it before. (I-1 was capable of about 10k maximum.) We spend the night in Moore Haven on the west side of the Lake. Dinner is in a quaint diner and food is home cooking (comfort food--Bill's happy but it probably means Jan isn't).
Sunday, January 10, 1999. Weather is still gusty. We continue on to Ft. Myers and decide upon the ICW again because small craft warnings are up. We travel as far as Venice and the Venice Yacht Club where we spend the night. This portion of Florida's west coast is the most beautiful cruising grounds in the world. We have dinner at the Crow's Nest, a standard in Venice.
Monday, January 11, 1999. Weather is still gusty and SCW (small craft warnings) are still posted, but we decide to run up the outside any way. Around the ICW, "inside" means staying in the Intracoastal waterway which is almost always protected. "Outside" means running in the open ocean, and usually leaves you subject to the weather. However, running inside also subjects you to many low- or no-wake zones, and innumerable bridges. Interlude is almost 40 feet tall, so virtually every bridge has to open, and most in this heavily populated area open only on a given schedule--ever 15 or 20 minutes, some every 30 minutes.
Running up the outside we shipped tons of water over the bow as we maintained 15k without problems. The stabilizers made for a good ride, but we traveled blind; even with the three windshield wipers running full, we could see little. So we navigated by radar and DGPS. Not bad. Made Egmont at 11:30am and our home in Bayway Isles by 12:30pm. Interlude looks huge tied up behind the house.