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....................--- Pre-Florida Trip Preparations ---
.........................................................................--- and ---
................................--- 2200 Mile Road Trip to FL---........................................
The Goal and the Preparation:
Ruth and I have friends that sailed in Florida a few years back. They helped us by looking at our Mac in Phoenix, AZ and then delivering it right to our door. When they saw the boat one of the first things they told us was that it was the perfect boat to sail the Florida coast and keys with. With that in mind we started reading about Florida and finally decided that we would put it on our list of places to go.
At the end of our 2009 sailing season we decided to try doing Florida in 2010. We hoped to go back to Lake Powell in late spring and then do Wyoming and Idaho with the boat in the summer of '10 and then go to Florida in the fall.
Well after being injured on the Lake Powell trip with a fractured shoulder and torn rotator cuff and then having hernia surgery in Nov. our plans started to fall apart. I then had cataract surgery in Jan. and just wasn't doing too well with the shoulder and then when I found out I had to have hernia surgery on the other side things really fell apart. I had that surgery in June, so forget the trip back to Lake Powell and throw out the Wyoming/Idaho trip also. Now the goal was to make it to Florida in the first part of Oct.
We also started looking at doing Florida in the Fall and leaving the boat there over the cold part of the winter and returning in the spring and staying until it got hot. Then trailering the boat north to family in PA and Conn. and either then or later in the summer sail Long Island Sound some and then go through NYC and up the Hudson and do the Erie canal over to Buffalo.
Well if we were going to do all of that we needed to make the boat even more friendly for long cruises out on the water. We wanted to add a new main and a roller furler, run all new standing rigging, add a frig, add more storage compartments, increase our on-board water supply to around 40 gallons, build a low amperage 12 volt ship's computer that could also be used as a real time chart plotter running SeaClear and NOAA charts, single line reefing , a cockpit mounted up-haul for the centerboard`, a sail pack/sail cover with lazy jacks, improve the preventer line setup, build double bow rollers for two anchors (22 lb. claw and 25 lb. Manson Supreme), install a 19 gallon gas tank in the lazarette along with a new floor in the lazarette, an exhaust blower for the lazarette, a bilge pump, a new outboard mount for the new Tohatsu 9.8 HP, extended controls for the outboard so that Ruth could reach them, add a fuel filter/water separator, put a bottom barrier coat and 3 coats of bottom paint on the boat, rewire the whole boat, build a new overhead console above the sink for the new VHF with DSC, add a Cuda 350 GPS fish finder and mount it on the lifeline, a cockpit bed, a mosquito net to cover the cabin area and whole cockpit, new cockpit cushions with new covers and new cabin cushions and covers, add solar panels with 180 watts of output.
Well Ruth and I got all of that done by working 8-10 hour days 7 days a week from July till we were finally ready to leave in November when the following trip log takes place.
In addition to the above in the Spring between surgeries I had managed to get the trailer stripped to bare metal and add a second axle to the trailer with disc brakes and strengthen the trailer frame and extend the frame rearward and add a third bunk. The trailer was re-wired with lots better lighting and painted with epoxy primer and single stage acrylic paint and added a bicycle rack.
Most of the above mods are documented on the site, but not all, but hopefully eventually they will be.
With all of the above finished we were about ready to go, but I still hadn't put the mast back up after finishing the new shrouds and adjusting it and the lazy jack lines and mosquito net lines were still cloths line. I wanted to finish those items, but the temperature dropped into the 30's and we got a little snow and the wind was blowing like hell. Finally I told Ruth I would rather deal with these items someplace where it was warm and lets just pack the boat and Suburban and leave.
So tired and exhausted we finally left on the 16th of November 2010 for Florida 2200 miles away hoping to catch up on our rest and exhaustion during the 4 day trip to the Port Charlotte area of Florida.
So the trip finally begins...................
The 2200 Mile Road Trip:
Well after months of preparation we finally pulled out of Blanding on the 16th of November about 8 in the morning and headed south by southeast towards All American Covered Boat Storage 2200 miles away just west of Port Charlotte, FL......
......stopping at a gas station on the Ute Reservation just south of Blanding where I had my first look at the tires and such.
We were on the road, but there were still unanswered questions. One was I'd moved the forestay up the mast some with the new Johnson lever and roller furler. In the process I'd ordered a second set of hounds from BWY and had installed them higher up where the new roller furler forestay was attached. I left the lower original ones on and the old forestay which I could pin to the double bow anchor rollers if needed for an inner forestay. I took the shrouds off that attached to the old hounds and made new longer ones to attach higher to the new hounds there. Because of the weather I hadn't put the mast back up and checked all of that, so we were going with new shrouds and a new roller furler that still needed to be rigged. Hopefully there would be no problems there.
Additional anxiety came from the fact that I had added the second axle in the spring, but hadn't test drove the trailer except once empty for about 5 miles and the day before we left with the boat on it for about 2 miles.
The original axle had bent over the years and wore the tires off the trailer on the way to Canada the previous year. When I added the second axle I'd attempted to straighten it and felt I was pretty successful, but wasn't sure. Also I had made the second new axle in my shop from some square tubing and stub axles. I felt that the stub axles were welded in straight, but then again there was doubt. I didn't relay any of these thoughts to Ruth as she was tired and wore out also and I didn't want to worry her. I checked the tires a couple times in the first 200 miles and every time we stopped after that along with feeling the axles by the bearings. I couldn't see any obvious tire wear anywhere along the way or when we arrived in Florida and the bearings ran cool, so all of my fears proved to be unfounded.
The trailer towed great, noticeably better than with the single axle and stopping was no comparison at all. The surge disc brakes stopped so well you hardly knew the trailer was there. I have electric drum brakes on a car hauler trailer and I like the ones on the boat trailer much better
The first day on the road past with no problems. I'd hoped that we would make Amarillo, TX, but we came up a little short and stayed in Tucumcari, NM. The second day took us from the TX panhandle down past Dallas/Fort Worth almost to Louisiana. One small problem on this day. We had over 40 mph cross winds for a lot of the day and the mast was swaying from side to side on the boat. When I added the 180 watt solar array I had to raise the rear mast crutch some so that the mast would clear the array on the trailer. With the mast moving side to side the rear mast crutch began to bend.................
.............. where the arrow is pointing in the picture above. I'll need to reinforce it more. I was able to take the two throwable boat cushions/life preservers and put them on the top back of the array and rest the mast on those and the crutch at the same time and tie it down. No more problems after that. There is a center crutch on the mast to prevent if from bending up and down and I also tried to cross tie the mast in the center to keep it from moving side to side, but until I put it on the cushions I didn't have much luck in the high winds
We stopped at...
....a Walmart in TX and the wind was so strong it was difficult to walk back to the vehicle.
Of course we got to Ft. Worth right at 5:00 and had to endure stop and go traffic on the interstate for an hour to get past there. I was sure someone would rear-end the boat, but it didn't happen. Then we still had to go by the south side of Dallas. We stopped at a Red Lobster and ate and when we got going again most of the traffic was gone.
We stopped for the night east of Dallas and got a room. We had hoped to stay in the boat on the road, but with the 30 degree temps and the fact that we were beat and driving late we just got motel rooms on the way down.
After spending almost the entire day in Texas, except for a few miles in New Mexico at the beginning of the day the third day was like being in an air plane. We were out of Texas and across Louisiana and......
.............. to Mississippi by noon. Then down across Mississippi to the Florida panhandle by 5 where we had to endure some more screwed up traffic where there was road work by Pensacola and it was rush hour there. We pulled off for gas and some fast food. While at the gas station a guy pulled out right in from of a semi and got shoved down in the ditch, but no one was hurt. We got back on the interstate and headed towards Tallahassee, but stopped short of there and spent our last night in a motel.
Florida is a little like Texas in that it is a long ways across it if you come across the panhandle and then head south. We stopped in Talllahassee for about 30 minutes so that Ruth could run into a Walmart and I could hit a West Marine for a couple things and they were in the same shopping complex not far off the interstate.
Originally we were hoping to stay in a State Park south of Sarasota and clean up and put the mast up and fill most of the water tanks on the boat. The problem was we didn't know when we would be leaving Blanding and didn't know for sure when we would be arriving in Florida. In Texas we called ahead, but since we would arrive on Friday they were already booked solid for the weekend. They gave us the number for an RV Park, Encore Royal Coachman in Laurel, Florida about 30 miles north of were we were going to put in.
They agreed to let us stay there with the boat, but we couldn't park it in a regular RV spot, but had to leave the Suburban in the RV spot. They said that we could sleep in the boat, but they had never had this situation before.
We arrived there just after 5 when the office closed, but they had left us a packet and a night watchman showed us where to park the boat (above). We moved the Suburban over to the RV spot and returned to the boat.
We weren't as tired as when we left Utah, but still tired, but very glad to of made the over 2000 mile trip with no major problem and in good time.
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