No surprise here. We bought the boat. The closing, in and of itself, was quite uneventful. Just some signing of documents, exchange of papers and emails back and forth. But, our broker was excited (not in that I just made a sweet commission kind of way), but in a genuine, yet even more selfish, I just got another friend with a boat kind of way.) Through the boat-shopping process, we definitely made a friend out of Kevin, and it came out that he and Phillip shared an equal appreciation for all things pig. Chops, ham, bacon, oh my! He gave Phillip and I a great “Congrats on Closing!” gift:
In case you were wondering, we did try the chop recipe. The book calls them “Sweet and Garlicky Pork Chops” (page 191). We more appropriately named them Kick-ass Asian chops and gobbled them right up!
The BBQ Bible is fab – get you one: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/listing/2688835178385?r=1&cm_mmca2=pla&cm_mmc=GooglePLA-_-Book_15To24-_-Q000000633-_-2688835178385
So, with the closing behind us, we were now faced with the daunting task of planning the trip to sail the boat back from Punta Gorda to Pensacola. I, in my infant, virgin, sailing days (I reflect back on those now with affection and a little chuckle, thinking, “Awwww, Annie … tssk, tssk”) I thought it was going to be a glorious vacation. Beautiful, sunny days, the wind blowing through my hair, while I lay basking in the sun on the main deck, not a care in the world. What a grand excursion this would be, I thought. What should I wear? Which bathing suit should I bring? The sporty one? The string bikini? Decisions, decisions! It was like Legally Blonde sets sail!
(In case you were wondering, to my surprise, it appears that has already happened: http://broadwaytour.net/legally-blonde-sets-sail-with-norwegian-cruise-lines. Yes, they made Legally Blonde into a musical. It was that good.)
Now, you all, who know me well, know I’m far more rough-and-tumble than frills-and-lace, but I simply had no idea how volatile sailing could really be. I didn’t know it was completely, and I mean utterly, inescapably, dependent on the weather. Hence the name of this fine editorial: Have Wind Will Travel. Translation: no wind means no sailing. Extreme wind means extremely rough sailing. Bad weather means bad sailing. On and on. And, I can assure you, sailing, while at times can be just what I envisioned, a pristine sunny day, the wind dancing through your hair while you lay, stretched out like a Brazilian supermodel on the deck (I don’t know about you , but I always look like a supermodel in my daydreams – always), the remaining 68.4% of the time, it’s work. Hard, manual labor. Up and down the companionway stairs, holding the helm against rolling waves, cleaning, scrubbing, cooking, adjusting the sails, coiling the lines, closing the hatches, opening the hatches, cleaning, scrubbing, cooking, folding, packing, docking, up and down the stairs. And, did I mention the cleaning? Scrubbing? And cooking? And, the HEAD, don’t even get me started …
You want me to clean the what?
Yes. With tiny tissues and Clorox wipes. Get to it. (And no, I did not pack the bunny ears for this trip. But thanks for asking.)
I know now what hard work it can be, but I did not know that then. Yet I can assure you every ounce of exerted energy is worth it. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, like being out there on the water. It is incomparable. But, while a hard worker and great cleaner/scrubber/ cooker, I was admittedly new to this whole sailing business, and Phillip knew he needed a good, trusty sailor (a.k.a., a “real salt”) or two to help us make the crossing. While many were interested – apparently, for some, crossing the Gulf in a sailboat is a real bucket list item – few could really take the time off to make the trip. It was going to be a 5-day passage, at least, longer if the weather did not behave (and, clever foreshadowing be damned, know that the weather, in no way, shape or form – behaved. She blew like a scorned mistress. That bitch!).
But, we finally lined up a second mate. (You may be thinking the more talented, knowledgeable bloke is the Second Mate?? You’re darn right. I had already started this blog by then and deemed myself First Mate so … too bad). With our Second Mate, Mitch, whom I will give a raucous, Chaucer-worthy rendition of later, on board, we started planning for the trip. This was going to be quite the excursion. Getting settled into a boat for the first time while simultaneously planning a 5-day passage across the Gulf is kind of like … like packing for a … Or moving into a … No, it was just as it sounds, like moving into a boat, sailing it 150 miles off-shore then crossing the Gulf of Mexico in it. There is nothing I can compare it to. (And believe me, as a writer, I tried, first with a camper trailer trip cross-country, then in an RV on a safari … ). Nothing worked. Nothing could compare to prepping a boat for this passing. There’s sails, rigging, lines, an engine. The galley, stove, saloon and head (I mentioned the head). A life raft, flashlights, flares, emergency provisions. A radio, electronics, batteries, etc. And we had to make sure all of that worked, could be fixed, or could be done without, in the middle of the Gulf. For us, it was a new boat and a new crew, and we were going to give both a massive shake-down right out of the gate. We spent weeks trying to think of everything we were going to need. From paper towels and soap to flashlights and flares, and food. My God! We were going to have to stock a whole kitchen from scratch. It was daunting.
But, thankfully, it resulted in a finely-tuned, every-trusty Provisions List. We created this especially for the Gulf Crossing but we’ve vowed to run through it every time we leave the dock as it’s a great reminder of all the crap you’re going to need to make a passage on the boat (big or small):
As you can see, it was quite detailed, and thorough. And, I can assure you, we still forgot stuff. Plenty of stuff! But, we were definitely of the impression this was a work of art when we had finished it. We planned to drive down to Punta Gorda on a Wednesday (April 17th), set sail early Thursday morning and bring the boat into Pensacola late Monday night. That was the plan, anyway. It always starts with a plan …