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Work on nthe Boat Continues
(March 1 - March 24, 1999)

Monday, March 1, 1999.  Jan and Bill are both back at Sterling for the first time in two weeks. Staff meeting updates and a two lengthy meetings with John Walsh quickly bring us up to date on events. Things are under control. We have excellent managers and executives at Sterling which will enable us to complete our Great Circle trip without undue worry about the business.

Monday evening, we arrive back at Viking Boatworks about 7:30pm, after a full day at the office, and a short pit stop at Publix for groceries.  We board Interlude for the first time as our home--our refuge from the elements, and our castle.  A little scary.   Progress on the boat is significant for one day--the hydraulic pump for the bow thruster has been aligned with the port engine,  shelves are being built in the office, and the sat phone system is being installed.  We plan to leave Viking on March 11, so we need to see progress daily.

Thursday, March 4, 1999.  Work continues on all upgrades.  Bookshelves in the office are nearly ready for use, the bow thruster hydraulic lines have been pulled (a tedious program of threading three two-inch lines through numerous bulkheads without twisting, bending, or injuring them.).  They will supply hydraulic fluid to the motor that runs the thruster.  Pressures are over 2000 psi, and the run is over 50 feet, so it has to be done right.

Brend Welsh of Yacht-Tech has the satellite TV working well -- it consists of DSS (DirectTV) plus a stabilized antenna that is gyroscopically controlled so that it points at the broadcasting satellite even when the boat is moving, pitching and rolling.   The picture is sensational.  The satellite telephone also works, but the cell-phone component is not complete, nor is the interface with the phone switch on board the boat which also serves as an intercom.  We will incorporate land-side phone in our communications system so that we'll have a "low cost" option when we're docked.

Sleep is coming easier and for longer intervals as both of us become accustomed to the new sounds on the boat -- sounds of pumps running, water slapping the hull, and the animal sounds of an estuary.  Yet, life is lots of little problems to be solved.    Today we located the cover for the sun pads on the bow.  Sun pads are "built-in chaise lounges" on the bow deck. To prevent excess wear and tear on the cushions, we keep them covered with a snap-down cover.  We do, that is, now that we've found the cover in one of the deck boxes.  We also noticed a high frequency "alarm" in one of the numerous built-in radios near the guest stateroom.   I've got Yacht-Tech looking into it. 

One week from today we move the boat to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club to receive guests and plan a farewell party for employees at Sterling.

Wednesday, March 10, 1999.  Work continues on the boat at Viking Boatworks.   While at times it seems that it will never be complete, progress is being made.   At midnight both of us head to Tampa airport to pick up our daughter Lisa who is coming "home" for spring break.  (Lisa is in graduate school at Harvard in Boston.)  We bring her back to the boat yard, unlock the gate which says "Caution, Bad Dog".  She observes the barbwire, and in we go.   Not the way you typically plan a new introduction--but it's dark so it isn't so bad, and anyway, tomorrow we'll move the boat to St. Petersburg Yacht Club (SPYC) downtown.

Thursday, March 11, 1999.  Late in the morning, we move Interlude to SPYC and berth at S5 on the end of the "tee".  It's a good location, and we make the move without incident.  We spend an hour cleaning and preping the boat for visitors.  Late in the afternoon, John and Sherry Ferne, Jan's brother and his wife from Ohio, visit.  While we are doing the tour, Mary and Stu (Mary is Sterling's receptionist) stop by on their way to dinner at the Club.  Introductions are made all around.   Boats are wonderful social tools, something like walking a dog or a baby carriage in the park.  They almost always get the conversation going.  We take John, Sherry and Lisa to dinner at the club--Thursday is lobster night, and all feast together.

Friday, March 12, 1999.  We spend some time at the office, then some shopping and errands, before J.J. Rohrer arrives. J.J. is Lisa's friend from Harvard.  He arrives about 9:30pm, and we have a late supper of grilled shrimp with prosciutto and fresh basil plus a great 1989 Rioja.  Dessert is fresh berries on ice cream.

Saturday, March 13, 1999.  Our plan is to take Lisa and J.J. by boat under the Sunshine Skyway bridge to Egmont Key then up the Intracoastal Waterway for some sightseeing.  But the winds are kicking up in anticipation of a strong cold front, so we pass on the boat and go by dinghy to explore downtown St. Petersburg including Bayboro Harbor, the Pier, etc.

In the afternoon, we travel by car to see more of the area.  Lunch at Woodies is always fun, then a long walk on the beach.  We drive by the "old house".  Dinner is stone crab claws, lemon-dill rice and sugar snap peas.  Wow.  We washed it down with a fine Spanish Albarino.  Later in the evening we observe that the KVH stabilized TV system is not acquiring a satellite.  I'll have Brent at Yacht-Tech look at it on Monday.   Glad to get the bugs out of the system while we have people nearby.

Sunday, March 14, 1999.  The cold front comes through like a freight train.   Small craft warnings (SCW) are up, tornado warnings are up--it rains like crazy...   We make a dash to the car which is parked a block away in the SPYC garage and head to brunch at the Vinoy.  I know it sounds like all we do is eat, but that's part of the fun of life, and it seems that most people expect to do it several times every day.   By 4:00 PM the storms have passed, and the predicted winds from the NW have not set in, so we quickly (too quickly) make a dash to return the boat to Viking Boatworks. 

Half way there (its a 60-70 minute trip) we lose the port engine, then the generator.   Quickly we determine that we're out of fuel in the tank from which those two engines are drawing.  Via some stalling, some investigation, a phone call or two, and a little luck, we restart both the generator and the engine by drawing fuel from a different tank and proceed to Viking where we dock with Eric's help and no further problems.  The event was anxiety producing, but otherwise not serious.  But we did learn a lesson or two.  And Bill has a much better understanding of the fuel routing system on the Interlude. 

In hindsight, there were several important lessons learned today: (1) Don't ever just rush out on a boat that is as complicated as Interlude.  Take time to run down the checklists which have been developed for departure.  

(2) Bill has got to spend more time learning the systems on board the Interlude.  For example, We needed to change fuel tanks feeding the port engine, that was easy.  But it needed to be reprimed,  too.   That was more difficult. The engine prime pump has its own circuit breaker which was off.  Then, how long do you need to prime the engine before it will start?   Further, how do you determine which tank is feeding each generator, and can those tank assignments be changed?  

(3) The changes we've made to the boat need to be incorporated into the pre-departure check list.  The file drawers and wine cooler in the new office need to be secured before we depart, or they'll beat themselves to death. Lamps need to be anchored. etc. It seems that we're a long way from being ready to leave on a major voyage.  Today was a setback, and disappointing, but better to happen in Tampa Bay than in the Gulf or Atlantic, or 2000 miles from home.

All in all, today provided us with a good series of lessons and questions that need to be dealt with before we take Interlude further from home. We'll learn.

Sunday night, we take Lisa and J.J. to Tampa airport for the 7:45pm departure.  At 8:30pm they call indicating their flight has been cancelled and they're rescheduled for a Monday evening flight.  We get them from the airport and return them to the boat.   The 11pm news describes the effects of our storm elsewhere--snow up and down the eastern seaboard.  Airports are closed, traffic is snarled.  We're glad to have them aboard for another day.

Tuesday, March 16, 1999.  So thatyou will have some appreciation for the fun and adventure of preparing a boat for travel, faithful readers, let me share the observations of just one day as work progresses:

As you can see, it takes extraordinary patience to allow the work to run its course. 

Friday, March 19, 1999.  We move the Interlude back to the St. Pete Yacht Club since Steve and Kathleen Kelly are visiting.  In the afternoon, the Kelly's arrive.  We have a good visit--get caught up on what the kids are doing, and see the sights of St. Petersburg. Be sure to see the photos of the Kelly's elsewhere in this web site.

Saturday, March 20, 1999.  There is a Bon Voyage party for Vicky and Ted Steinwender.  We talk boats all evening.  The Steinwender's are planning to spend two years on their sailboat.  It is a strange feeling to listen to them talk since we're getting so close to leaving as well.

Wednesday, March 24, 1999.  It appears that the remaining installation and maintenance issues have been worked out and we're ready to move on to the shake down run to Key West.  We plan to leave at dawn tomorrow.