Tuesday, April 13, 1999. We arise exhausted but relieved that the stereo guys are gone. There is a note that suggests everything is working (more or less). That remains to be seen. We depart, at last, at 7:30am. The adventure has begun! Weather is perfect and we head south toward Ft. Myers at 10 - 11 knots -- our cruise speed. Winds are blowing from the north at 10 - 15, but it's not enough to bother Interlude.
Our objective for the day is about 125 miles, a long day at 10k, but we need to be in Melbourne by Thursday night, so we have three long days ahead of us before we begin a more leisurely pace. During the day we notice a couple of small problems we'll need to attend: (1) The port engine volt meter indicates the voltage coming out of the alternator and voltage regulator is too high. It is a potential problem since this can cause batteries to boil, and even eventually explode. Bill checks the batteries and they are slowly boiling. We'll top up the water in the morning before we leave, and will have the voltage regulator and alternator checked in Melbourne if we can make it that far. By afternoon, the voltage seems to drop a little back into a safe area. We'll continue to watch it.
(2) Bill discovers an hydraulic fluid puddle in the port engine room when we goes below to attend a hydraulic fluid level alarm. The port stabilizer is leaking. We need to have that worked-on, too.
(3) The sump pumps in the day head is running too much. We need to find out why. Further, a couple of the bilge pumps are also running. What gives? We'll need to inspect it.
We arrive at Ft. Myers at the Royal Palm Yacht Club about 7:00 PM. A long day, but no problems. By the time we do our daily chores, we find we're too late for dinner at the club, and settle for cold sandwiches and a glass of wine in the bar. We return to Interlude and check the news and weather before we turn in. The entertainment center still doesn't work...we need to call Savi tomorrow. Steve can meet us in Melbourne and work on it some more.
Wednesday, April 14, 1999. We run 110 miles across the State of Florida using the Okeechobee Waterway which connects Ft. Myers with Stuart via the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee, and the St. Lucie Waterway. We arrive at 5:30pm at Indiantown on the St. Lucie Waterway. It is early, but we've pushed hard, running the last three hours at 18+ knots. We make it across Lake Okeechobee in one hour. Wow!
Before dinner, there are the usual chores including a good wash down which is not a small task with a 70' boat. It takes more than an hour and that's without scrubbing.
Thursday, April 15, 1999. Our destination today is Melbourne, Florida where the annual Florida Trawlerfest event is being staged.
Trawlerfest has been our first destination since we got started with planning the trip. It is a regional gathering of 500-800 people who are interested in long range cruising by boat. We have attended several of these meetings in the past, and look forward to each new event.
We arrive in Melbourne at Telemar Bay Marina and Trawlerfest about 3:00pm and discover there is a crowd of boats waiting to dock. Winds are blowing at 20+ knots, so every docking is a tense event. We hover in the lagoon for more than an hour before we dock in the high-rise haul out slip. We are met by friends, Bob and Trish Birkenstock, who drove over from St. Pete and will spend three or four days with us during Trawlerfest.
Trawlerfest features speakers, workshops, exhibits, etc. -- all focused on trawler-type cruising. We attend with special interest a session on "The Great Circle Route" given by a Vermont professor who has just completed the trip with his wife and dog. Jan and Trisha also attend a session on introduction to diesels and Bill goes to a good session on anchoring. Bob Birkenstock and Bill attend another good session run but a naval architect on boat designs for cruising.
Saturday, April 17, 1999. Another day of sessions and we learn that our web page has problems, its down!--Bill will finish the update then re-download everything. Wonder what's going on. Downloads almost have to be done when we have access to a land line because the file is very large and our satellite communications data link is rather slow (4800 baud max). Many marinas have phone service right out to the boats and we can tie those lines into our on-board phone system. But where phones aren't available on a dock, often you can arrange to use a phone line in the dockmaster's office or nearby. That's what we will do here in Telemar Bay Marina. We'll take the laptop into the office and connect there.
At the final dinner (held in a large tent), awards are given out and we win one for the biggest boat at the event. Most of the boats here are in the 30-50 foot range.
Sunday, April 18, 1999. Trawlerfest ends, the Birkenstocks head south, and we start planning for the next week. Bill's aunt and uncle from San Diego, Betty and Dave Meyerholtz, call. They are playing golf in Hilton Head, and are coming south to St. Augustine for a couple of days. We will try to meet them someplace convenient. It will be great to see them.
After all the push to get here (12 hour cruising days), all the excitement of Trawlerfest, and the fun of having the Birkenstocks on board, we feel a need to relax. We're anxious to establish some routines, and settle in to serious cruising. We have planned to remain here for another day to allow time for a diesel mechanic to investigate the high voltage coming from the port engine alternator and voltage regulator. He will also check a small leak in the stabilizer hydraulic system. Our plan is to always deal with problems as soon as we can and be pro-active whenever we can with regard to problems. A wait of a day for the mechanic is "part of the plan".
We both spend the day on chores, and our first big session on route planning. We need to layout a fairly detailed agenda for the balance of the month since we're due in Washington DC later this month for a client meeting for the company. This means we need to: (1) be someplace where we have access to an airport, (2) be someplace where we can safely and securely leave the boat, and (3) coordinate airline reservations, rental cars, etc. (we rely on our old friend Denise Becker at Travel Professionals in Tampa for that task). All of this needs to be done with an eye to weather, possible delays for maintenance, etc.
Monday, April 19, 1999. We decide to remain in Melbourne at the Telemar Bay Marina to get some maintenance stuff done. Our voltage regulator issue on the port engine still isn't resolved. Through a series of recommendations we contact J&R Marine Services. Jeff comes out and checks out the alternator and voltage regulator. We decide to remove the whole assembly and take it to an alternator shop for a thorough check. On the bench the alternator fails and it will be Tuesday (tomorrow) before it can be replaced. We use the time to do wash, errands, fix-up, etc. We also get the web page problem fixed and updated. Bill gets all six primary fuel filters changed (more on this later).
Bill's aunt and uncle, Betty and Dave Meyerholtz, from California, call to say they're in the area. We suggest they meet us on Tuesday in Melbourne.
Tuesday, April 20, 1999. In the afternoon the alternator arrives, is installed, and works perfectly. Jeff is good. We also add some extra hose clamps on the stabilizer system to see if we can fix the leak. Later, Betty and Dave arrive, and we enjoy a chance to catch-up on cousins, families, etc. We have dinner at the Eau Gallie Yacht Club together, then turn in rather early. We plan an early departure on Wednesday and Betty and Dave have an early flight to catch.