We decided in March that Stew should start applying for longer running gigs. So far most of the gigs he had done were one to three days. Each required a lot of set up, organization, and just plain stress. It was like starting a new job over and over again. In April this paid off and Stew was offered a job on the set of an Alabama renovation show for A & E Network called “Flipping Alabama” (title for now). He would need to spend 4 months in Birmingham Alabama. The lead time was very short – we needed to get the boat on the hard, hurricane ready, pack and be on our way in 2 weeks! And, what was I going to do during this time??? Crazy time began.
First up was the vaccinations. We were not residents of Florida so we needed to jump through some hoops to get our vaccinations. But we felt it was important since Stew would be on set with lots of people and I would probably be traveling, at least for the first month.
Second up was a quick trip to Charleston to see Cole.
Third up was where to put the boat on the hard. I called about 15 marinas and boat yards up and down the coast of Florida. We finally settled on one in Green Cove Springs, Holland Marine. They could take us (which was half the battle) but we would have no water or electric and we could not stay on the boat while it was on the hard. It was about a 5 day sail up to this marina and it would be tight. Once there we would need to spend a few days getting it hurricane ready. This would be very difficult with no water or electric!
I reached out to my friend Bob Allenick regarding the hurricane prep. He is my Freedom sailboat expert and always helpful. He provided a great checklist and I also used The Boat Galley checklist to begin gathering the things we needed. Stew and I spent hours on Amazon ordering sun covers, ratchet straps, damp rid, bug traps etc. It was very overwhelming since we needed to do this in such a short time.
But we got started and first up was to get Pete cleaned, deflated, and on board. Then to work on the sails and solar panels.
The day before leaving for Green Cove Springs we made a decision not to try to sail up there after-all. It was several days sail with weather not looking good, we did not think we could get the boat there and hurricane ready. Plus we did not know anyone there that we could trust to look after the boat. With no water or electric the AC/dehumidifier could not be run… mildew etc would grow. Plus we did not know what infestations the boatyard had… so, we decided to remain in the water in Titusville. We did add our name to the emergency haulout at the boatyard next door (1.5K for emergency haulout). We also talked to one of the dock hands, Mike, that lived on our dock about checking regularly on the boat – he was game to do it.
With our new found time we decided to become Florida residents. We filled out all the paperwork and headed to Green Cove Springs to register the boat and dinghy (if you are in Florida water more than 90 consecutive days you must register your boat and dinghy). We also plan to get Florida Driver’s licenses and file our domicile form. This should help with our LLC bank account situation.
Our mail service, St. Brendan’s Isle, is located in Green Cove Springs and the DMV there is knowledgeable about how to process full time live aboard sailors for residency and driver’s licenses. Although they are knowledgeable, we got the “new kid on the block” and spent several hours standing at the counter trying to get all the proper papers filled and payments made. In the end, they made a mistake and had to send us a check for $159.00!! We planned to register our boat as an “Antique Vessel” which is $7/yr. They did not do this correctly and charged us the regular yearly registration fee… Thankfully I was on the ball, otherwise we wouldn’t have noticed the mistake. It was all super stressful!! We were glad to have those tasks behind us.
During these last days we tried to continue to bike ride and take some well needed stress breaks. Inbetween packing up all the food, wiping things down, securing breakables, organizing and packing clothes, returning all the amazon stuff since we were not on the hard… We were able to say goodbye to most of our regular haunts…
We worked very hard on the boat interior. Opening things up and hanging items so that they would not get mildew. We have an ac unit that we set to run (exhausted was attached to the window in the cockpit where we had a screen to prevent critters from entering) and I cut out blackout curtains for all the windows to reduce the sun exposure. I bought blackout drapes from Walmart and using velcro, attached pieces to each of the small windows and the hatches. We removed everything from cupboards and set it out or hung it. We also had dampRid and charcoal in containers set all around the boat. My friend Todd Stebleton helped us out with bug traps to keep the bugs at bay. I think we are all set – we hope!
It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure. – Ernie Harwell