It’s often been said that the hardest thing one does when they intend to go cruising is to just leave the dock. I couldn’t agree more! After a month of working, provisioning and planning we finally removed our dock lines on Saturday December 15, 2012 at 7:30 am. I am sure we somewhat surprised a few of our neighbors who were beginning to believe we were a permanent fixture. After 5 1/2 hours we arrived at our current location, Offats Bayou , Galveston, Texas. We were more grateful than words can express for our GPS/ chart plotter/radar as the channels would have been almost impossible without it!
Within an hour after we anchored the kids and I had our first adventure on shore by dinghy. We went to Moody Gardens to play on the playground and get some pent up energy out. It was beautiful with all of the lights and Christmas music. It was also fun to travel by boat from our boat and back again. Seeing our floating home from shore made us realize how very small we are in a big body of water.
On Sunday our first front came through and it rained and poured!!! By the middle of the day our floating home was saturated through and through! The cockpit enclosure was leaking from not just the seams but everywhere so all the cushions were wet, the towels to dry things were wet, the carpet inside were wet, everything. It was torrential and kept us boat-locked so that we could see our friends, Tracy and Steve, who had come on shore to visit but could not get to them to visit. Fortunately one day was all it lasted and the following day we were able to begin to dry out.
On Monday our beloved Marina returned from her friends wedding over the weekend and we had a bit of work done on our manual windlass (the thing we raise the anchor with). The windlass has a stripping pin that is supposed to slough the anchor rhode off the windlass so it will go into the anchor locker. This mechanism was on backwards and bent so we had to remove it and fix it. Our dear friend Winfield came to the boat and spent 2 hours with Mark removing the stripping pin and replacing it straight and proper. We also came to the conclusion that our belt driven refrigerator will not work so we will live without one for the time being! Should be educational for us all!
On Tuesday we woke up and tried brewing a pot of coffee and the inverter beeped long and high telling us we were low on battery power. We spent most of that day in the engine room tracing wires to figure out what was wrong. In the end it turned out our running lights, including the anchor light at the top of our mast, all run off the starter battery, whoops, so that must be fixed. We also figured out (on Thursday) that our house battery bank is not being charged by the motor unless we turn on our battery switch. This is not huge, but since we didn’t know that and it is not how it is set up we will have to work on these two issues as well.
Wednesday the wind began blowing ahead of the cold front coming and so we could not go anywhere, so instead did final prep for our imminent departure. We got all the kids and ourselves dressed up and fitted into our life vests, harnesses and tethers. In the evening we washed everyones hair with our bug sprayer (filled with 2 gallons of fresh water) in the cockpit. It worked well and only took about and hour. Marina said “that was the best part of the day,” however, I thought laying down, relaxing and reading for a change was the best!
At 3:30 am on Thursday morning the boat was hit by a gust of wind that shuddered it violently and woke us all up (except Marina), the cold front had arrived! True to what the weather radio said it was gale force winds, upwards of 35 -45 knots that were now toying with our home. We all stayed up for awhile making sure our anchor didn’t drag and all was as well as could be with the winds onslaught. Slowly we all returned to our beds and some of us slept better than others. The wind did not subside until the following evening at about 8 pm. We were sick of the wind and, again, boat bound due to weather circumstances but decided we liked the wind better than the rain and would be glad when the fronts stopped coming for a few days.
Today is Friday and we all had a good nights sleep on a quiet, peaceful boat. Today our energy issues shall be solved, Sara, Kathryn and Hannah get to go out to lunch with our friends Otto and Gloria from our old home, dock 13 in Waterford harbor, and Marina and I get to sit in Target charging our laptop batteries and telling everyone about our adventures thus far. This evening we have more friends coming to town and we will meet them at Moody Gardens and at some point make a trip to the grocery store to provision for our new imminent departure (tomorrow?).
I must admit as soon as I think something is one way, circumstances seem to clarify my lack of control. We came to Offats Bayou for a shakedown to see what, if any issues, we had left to deal with before we depart. Obviously this week has done just that and I am thankful we are here learning these things and not out alone offshore. We learned much about our boat and it’s systems in the last month but we still have much more to learn. This week has helped us understand our electrical system and track our water usage. Living off the grid is an education in itself and it’s really cool to know we have everything we need on our floating home, Invincible. She has been strong and stable this week as we’ve gone through 2 storm fronts and our first gale on her. It is these experiences that are building our trust in her, in fact I’m quite certain her capacities far exceed ours at this point.
I apologize for not having written sooner and intend on keeping up better from here on! With our electrical problems solved (notice my optimism) we should be able to use our technology for pleasure not just the kids schooling once again. The other surprising thing about living on board is how much time we spend in the galley!!! The kids are always hungry it seems and we fix 3 meals a day plus snacks yet we have all lost a little weight. Cooking takes a bit more time and organization on board and clean up must happen immediately. Every time we get out something we must stow it again for safety and as such just normal things consume more time! Also, Mark and I have more leisure time at anchor than we ever had at dock because the time consuming work is done, now it’s all problem solving and maintenance. The first day I took off from boat stuff was Friday, December 14 the day before we left. When we set foot on the boat on Nov. 12 we anticipated a couple of weeks work but soon learned we were sorely mistaken. The fastest outfitting we’ve heard of was 7 weeks besides our own 4 weeks. Our departure never would have happened in this short of time without much help from many hands and we want to thank all who helped us out along the way!!! Thank you!
We thank God every day for this opportunity and for the many friends we’ve made already, as well as his continued provision and protection!! We wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and expect to post again before New Years! Our next leg will take us to Pensacola Florida and will take at least 4-5 days if we don’t stop anywhere to escape the weather or rest.
Many Blessings to you all,