Monday, April 10, 2006

On To The Boat

So it’s Monday morning and I’m up at 5:30 am to drag myself to the bus stop which takes me to the central terminal where I connect with another bus which takes me to the Tri-rail Train Station for my ride up to West Palm Beach.

I arrived at Magnolia station around 8:30 where Captain Hans Steiger picked me up. We drove to Old Port Cove where the “Marsha Kay” is docked. There I met Janna the boat’s stewardess and I got the “50cent tour” as Hans calls it. Then I got right to work polishing stainless steel and aluminum fittings, railings, winches, horns, bells, whistles, etc…. When you have a 118ft. floating luxury home to take care of, a lot of the time is spent clearing away the water and salt. It ain’t glamorous, but the boat is and it’s a living.

As it turns out, the one and only crew house in West Palm is booked up and with nothing else readily available it was decided that I would be staying on the boat. Which works out well, since I don’t think West Palm’s bus system is nearly as comprehensive as Ft. Lauderdale’s. Not to mention that the boat is stocked with food and drink, a hot tub, satellite TV, bicycles and marina WiFi internet (although it seemed to be down for the first two days and then the signal is weak and requires an external antenna).

So after my first day of working on the boat, Hans and Janna took off for home and I took one of the bicycles for a spin around. Not really much around that I saw, at least nothing interesting. Just the usual stores and restaurants. I don’t think West Palm is going to turn out to be nearly as fun a spot as Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. But who knows, it’s too early to tell.

The rest of the week was spent working on getting everything set for the Bahamas trip. Replacing the reverse osmosis water purifying membranes (each of which is probably worth the price of a small car) and UV light, shopping for food and bait, other mainly mundane actions and also washing down the 33ft. Jupiter and taking it for a test spin. This turned out to be a real good idea because although things were fine a cruising speed, one of the twin Mercurys started overheating at idle. So the day before we are about to leave we sent it to get checked out and lo and behold the mechanic forgot to replace a cam. Just left it out! Once all the pieces were in place it was good as gold.

So the eve of our departure is upon us. It’s closing in on quitting time and we are reinstalling the osmosis membranes when we realize that they sent us a hose which was much to short. Luckily we still had the old hoses and their guy was able to install the new fittings on an old hose that was still in good condition. Close call and down to the wire, but with this job finished we are ready to roll.

Hans and Jenna go home to chill for a few hours before they come back around 11pm. Also coming along to give a hand is the Dave the captain of “Magic” based in Lauderdale. We go about the business of securing and readying everything for the 16 hr ride across the pond. After the hoses, landline power cables and communications cables are stowed it’s time to untie from the dock and shove off.

Dave follows in the Jupiter and once we get to the port we come together and connect the Jupiter to its harness for a tow. All is accomplished without anyone going for a swim and we are off for the Bahamas. Hans takes us out to sea and then hands over the bridge to Dave and I for the first watch while he and Janna get some rest. It’s a pleasant night for cruising with only 1-2 ft. seas and light winds. Dave puts his Ipod into the docking station and is happy to answer my questions on what is what. Including a lesson on the use of the ARPA Radar. It’s a handy little tool that tracks the surrounding traffic and gives you all the pertinent information on their course. Including how close they will get and if you’re going to collide. In other words it takes the guess work out.

We did a three hour watch and handed the controls back over to Hans and Janna and I climbed into bed around 5:30am. I rose around 10:30am and found the Bahamas to starboard as we made our way around. Around 3pm we were close to our marina and so flew the appropriate flags and loosened the Jupiter to send Dave ahead to warn the locals of our impending arrival.

After tying up we went through the customs customs and I added one more stamp to my nearly full passport. Janna’s had a brand new virgin passport. So we made sure the customs official went slow and easy. But he wouldn’t buy her a drink, let alone dinner! Then it was down to business, washing down the boat. Luckily Hans is a hands on captain. He’s a good deligator, but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. So it’s a big help to have us all washing down the boats even if the customs procedures did pull half of the team away for a significant amount of the time.

I was looking at the falling sun and deduced there wasn’t any way we’d been done before dark. Hans confirmed that when the order was given to put down the sponges and grab a beer. We relaxed for a bit, cleaned ourselves up and then took a walk to get some dinner at a good local restaurant. We started out with some delicious Conch Fritters. Hans and Janna went for the Cracked Lobster, Dave stayed with the Conch motif and I opted for the Tuna. Unfortunately I asked for my Tuna to be cooked Pittsburgh (still flapping) and they must not know what that is because it was way over done. But the peas & rice, mac & cheese, and plantains were very good.

After dinner we walked a little down the road and stopped into a bar with a live band, some very intoxicated (intoxicated, not intoxicating) dancing and at least one local who Dave slyly passed my way who wanted to talk politics and what not. Apparently they don’t realize here that there two things you’re not supposed to talk about in a bar: religion and politics! After putting a glazed look on my face and nodding with a bunch of “yeahs and hmms” he left us in peace in search of his next victim.

The next morning we got back to work cleaning the rest of the boat and the Jupiter as the owners (Bill & Marsha, their son (Ron), daughter in law (Cindy) and their son (Zach(16)) were due to arrive that afternoon on their jet. However, bad weather prevented them from making the trip. So the afternoon was relaxed and I got to go for a swim in what some people refer to as “green Jello”. And later we had the evening off to suck back a few brews in honor of Han’s birthday.

The next day the weather was pretty bad again. They flew to within about 10 minutes of the island and then had to turn around and land back in Ft. Lauderdale. They eventually made another trip and arrived around 4 pm. We cooked up dinner with Janna watching Nascar in the galley and the family watching golf in the salon. Everyone filled their bellies, we had a quick clean up and another day had gone by .….