After 10 months of repairs, new features, unexpected delays and rework inside and out, we’re moving onto Dolce Vento, putting the finishing touches in place, readying ourselves and the boat to take off for our first sail, a full week on the Bay. With the baking August heat, light winds and sudden thunderstorms, there will not be a dull moment. Everything has to be tested on this first shakedown cruise.
The original plan had us sailing by Memorial Day, but, if you’ve been following the blog, that certainly didn’t happen, not by a long shot. We’ve learned a hard lesson — whatever you plan to do or spend in preparing a boat to your liking, add about 1/4 to 1/3 more time, cost or both. It mirrored our experience with the 1906 Baltimore row house which had a major reconditioning and repair by a developer before we bought it. We quickly learned there was much more to do. It required upgrading and expanding the kitchen, adding a half bath, replacing windows, repointing the brick, blowing insulation into its ancient walls, and rebuilding the back yard. We found dozens of problems inside and outside the walls once we got started. We should have anticipated the same with Dolce Vento, a 15-year-old boat. Even though she had been reconditioned in 2013 by her original owner, a myriad of repairs and changes were needed as we progressed through the work. It’s the nature of any ol’ beast.
We’re down to the final fixes to the stack pack that holds the main sail; the poles supporting the wind generator and radar beacon are now perpendicular, the Bimini is up quite nicely (that only took us an hour, surprisingly) and we’ve got the GPS, chart plotter and autopilot software updated and operating.
As I wrote in my last blog entry, this is a confusing time. It has required an almost daily commute between our apartment and the boat. One day were packing up the apartment, sorting out what goes to storage, what goes to the boat, and what, in this last purge, goes to the donation center. By the end of the day, I ask myself, “Where’s my toothbrush? Where’s that pair of blue shorts? Where’s that baking pan?”
Our marine insurance search has settled out. When I made my first big sail 27 years ago, I sailed the Bahamas in hurricane season, although we did cross back to the states just one week ahead of that memorable named storm ‘Hugo’. Now that climate change has engulfed us with increased threats of bigger tropical storms and hurricanes, more restrictions are mandated or you have to purchase very expensive coverage. We found a reasonably priced policy that requires us to be north of the 31st parallel (southern Georgia) from June 1 through November 1 (hurricane season); but we can purchase a rider if we want to sail the Gulf Coast, the west coast of Florida, during that time. We’ll have the flexibility to explore the Bahamas and the whole east coast right up to Maine. Who knows where we’ll sail. That’s half the adventure, not knowing what will be.
But, for now, I’m loving living on Dolce Vento for a time. Come see us here in Maryland in September or as we make our way down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) and our first Florida winter.