“The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry” is how the saying goes, and, not wanting to prove conventional wisdom wrong, our life on AfterMath holds true to the quote’s form. John and I both thought we would be on our way in early January, but here it is, February 18th, and we are still at Lambs Yacht Center in Jacksonville, FL. For at least the past four weeks, Kelly and I have had our “last Friday lunches”, and, for the last four Sundays, John and I have said goodbye to Phil, the gentleman who only works at Lambs on the weekends. This week, we even had our actual departure planned but this is life on a boat where you can always expect the unexpected.
Most of the past month was spent waiting for the return of our 250 lb. windlass, which is the electric winch we use to drop or pull our 125-pound anchor and its chain. Needless to say, it is a very important piece of equipment on AfterMath, and it needed reconditioning before we leave for the Caribbean. The problem was that only one shop was able to do the work, and that shop is in Rhode Island. Although Lambs Yacht Center made it very clear that we were in a rush to have the repairs done, the small business in Rhode Island did not seem to understand the urgency. Therefore, many weeks were spent waiting for the windlass to return.
Carter found the best shell of the day.
Michaela searching for sharks teeth – success!!!
Madison managed to get sand everywhere!
Beaches are great no matter what the weather.
Out on the ice.
The speed demons!
I never knew Craig could ice skate!
Bop and Madison sharing an after skate lemonade.
During the wait, we made sure we saw the family whenever we could. Kelly and I took the kids to the beach one cloudy, cool day and one night we met Kelly, Craig and the kids at the local ice arena. There, John put on skates for the first time in many years, and Carter and Madison tried out the ice for their very first times. I decided to be the photographer and stay off the ice all together! Michaela had only skated once before, so she started out staying very close Craig, but before long, was skating independently and loving every minute. Kelly held onto Madison as she tried out those little legs on skates, and John, raced around the rink pushing Carter in the clever “walker” contraption they have available for beginners. No matter how fast John pushed, Carter smiled from ear to ear and chatted the whole time. It was a great night of family fun.
Finally the windlass arrived and from that point on our boat was a scurry of activity. Besides the re-installation of the windlass, the anchor well was redesigned to more easily accommodate the 400 feet of chain for our main anchor and the 350 feet of rope for the spare. A snubber ring was installed on the bow of AfterMath to make anchoring more secure and easier, the stabilizers were readjusted and rechecked, and the water maker maintenance was completed. Finally, as of last Friday, February 12th, at about 4:30 PM all of our work was finished! The only thing left was a quick sea trial to make sure everything was working as expected and we would be ready to go.
We were very excited because, as it was Presidents’ Day, Michaela and Carter were off from school and neither Kelly or Craig had to work, so they were all to join us as we traveled north on the St. John’s River on our way back to the Intracoastal Waterway. We returned Craig’s car on Sunday after more than two months of using it, finalized plans as to where they would need to drop off a car in the morning before heading down to Lambs to join us after the sea trial, and the children were really happy to know they would be taking a boat ride again.
So, this is what a crab pot looks like when it is tangled around your propeller.
Monday morning came and Ron, the Detroit Diesel specialist, boarded for the sea trial. Off we went, south on the Ortega River. Ron went down to the engine room to see how everything was performing and John and I were in the pilothouse when we heard a clunk. Not a loud clunk, but one nevertheless. We both wondered what it was, and Ron came up to tell us that the engines were running smoothly and perfectly. All of a sudden, though, we heard a series of clunks. Because Ron was sure the engines were in great shape, he told us we must have picked up a crab pot. We have cutters near the props that will cut right through any line, so we stopped, reversed for a few seconds to give everything time to clear out, and all seemed well until we pulled back into the dock at Lambs. Then the clunking began again and the port engine put out a huge puff of black smoke. Ron told us that we had to have picked something up and we would need to have the boat hauled.
Within minutes the Lambs crew had our boat back out of the water and we saw the offending lines from a crab pot. They were not the rope we expected, but heavy duty metal and the entire mess was completely tangled around the port side prop. After much cutting and clipping the men here had the mess cleared, but found that our line cutter was completely broken off by the metal. We also found the zinc paint on the prop was damaged, but, thankfully, the rest of the prop and the shaft seemed to be unharmed. The only good that came of the event was that John found that some of the paint on the rudders had flaked off from our new paint job in January. So, AfterMath was put back on the hard. We ended up back at Kelly’s for a few nights, as a new cutter needed to be ordered and put on, the rudder was sanded, re-primed and re-painted, and the prop was repainted.
It was a disappointment to have been so close to being on our way, but we got more time with Kelly, Craig and the children. This afternoon AfterMath was returned to the water, and Alex, who has become like a new family member, is currently down in the engine room checking that the alignment survived the event. Hopefully we will soon be doing our blog entries from the Bahamas, but we still need to leave Jacksonville!
I know I have said this before, but I have to say again that we have been thrilled with the service and attention we have had at Lambs Yacht Center. Although we would have preferred to be anchored at some tropical island in the Caribbean by now, we both agree that we could not have been treated any better, felt any more welcome, gotten better work done, or met nicer, more trustworthy people than we have met at Lambs. We are comfortable that the boat is 100% ready to head offshore for two years and we are anxious to start the journey. The people at Lambs Yacht Center are impressed with the condition of AfterMath and share our enthusiasm.
Here are some pictures of the crew, the surroundings, and, of course, of AfterMath in her home for the last couple of months.
Peggy Sue, Owner and daughter of the founder of Lambs
Nadia and Matt