I can’t believe it’s been a month since we packed up our lives in Grenada and flew to Florida to meet our new boat. Time sure does fly!
It was much easier clearing our big blue barrels of household goods into the US than it was on the Grenadian side. Less than a week after we arrived in Stuart, Florida we had all of our things and just needed to figure out where to put it all.
The town of Stuart is absolutely lovely, but we didn’t get much opportunity to enjoy it at first – we had too much to do…. We bought a larger, used dinghy from our friend Bill Roy and Capt. Mike spent a few days getting the outboard running smoothly. For his next trick, he installed dinghy davits – arms that allow us to lift the dinghy out of the water at night for safety, and to carry the dinghy out of the water while we are sailing. They turned out great!
Next, we went to work on solar power. Our boat has a nearly-new inboard generator which efficiently sips diesel to generate power. But it takes about two hours in the morning and another hour and a half in the evening to keep the batteries full while running the fridge and lights and keeping things charged. That’s a lot of noise! Not the way we want to live off- grid long term. Mike worked with Alexander to build a stainless steel structure above the shade Bimini and installed three 200-watt solar panels. After pulling loads of cable and installing a Victron MPPT controller, we have power! On a sunny day, our batteries are full by noon.
We have many more complicated systems than we had on simple little Sanitas. Lots to learn! For example, Mike said on this boat we’d be able to drink the water right out of our tanks because we have a built-in filtration system. But because the boat had been sitting unused for a while, the water initially tasted gross. So … we dug into every cupboard, found the water filter system, ordered new filters and voila! Yummy, great tasting water.
Then, the first night we venture out to socialize with other Island Packet owners at a Marina happy hour, we returned home to find a flashing red light illuminating the interior. Apparently our “magic head” (electric toilet) wasn’t so magical at the moment. We’ve got this super cool space age Electro-Scan head that uses electricity to sanitize waste so you can legally eject it overboard… when it works properly. We had to do a lot of investigating and eventually send a few emails back and forth to the extremely patient previous owners before we figured out how to add extra salt water to the system.
After a week of perfect sunny Florida weather, a week of rain set in, and we discovered that our hopefully dry cockpit… wasn’t. With enough rain, the Sunbrella fabric quickly got saturated, and the rain just flowed straight through. So we ordered a gallon of 303 waterproofing and went to work. Did I mention how grateful we are that Amazon delivers to Sunset Bay Marina, and how equally grateful I am that the marina employees didn’t shame me for the number of packages I picked up in one month?
Eventually, we came up for air and started to enjoy the marina lifestyle. And we had friends! Beth, on Stargazer, was moored only two balls away from us. And Adele and Herman, on Willful, made it safely back from Puerto Rico via The Bahamas and joined us in the mooring field. We met new friends, like Ray and Amanda on Elysium who bought their beautiful boat the same week we did. And Matt and Brooklyn on TwoCan who work hard on yachts in Fort Lauderdale all week, and then spend the weekends in Stuart working on their own boat. We even had the chance to finally meet up with Hayden and Radeen on Island Spirit who helped us buy our Island Packet and who serve as the gurus and cheerleaders for the IP community.
And, better yet, we had two different visits from family during our month in Stuart! My parents came to visit just before they started their big road trip back north to New York for the summer and Mike’s Mom was visiting a neighbor on the west coast of Florida so she made the trip over to Stuart to visit us and to see our new boat! It’s so nice to know that our parents can picture this life we are living and our new home! It’s very special.