We fly to Florida and meet Wind Song

The next morning, in accord with Lane's interest in maintaining margin when second chances are expensive or unavailable, we were at LAX three hours before our flight, carrying the fifteen bags pictured. What a load! Eight of these we checked, and then schlepped the rest, including two computers, through security and onto the plane, which was IMG_2094-sm.JPG mercifully lightly packed. After a leisurely wait for gate time over a tall latte, the last  
we'd likely see for awhile, we enjoyed a quiet flight to Tampa International Airport, followed by another short schlep to Enterprise Car Rental where Roxanne, who had slept IMG_2120-sm.JPG through half the flight, promptly collapsed on the pile of bags and slept some more while the parents got the car.IMG_2113-sm.JPG
Meantime, the truck
carrying Wind Song was encountering the aftermath of hurricane Ivan in Louisiana, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle -- a total of 500 extra miles in detours around absent bridges or road sections of I-10. This left us with a day to cool our heels in the St  Pete region, which we used to find all the stores and services we needed -- the boat yard, the marina where we'll stay for a couple days, no more (*gasp* at $2.45 per foot = $132/day for Wind Song), West Marine Products, Target for toiletries, OTC medicines, and cosmetics, Costco for provisioning, the library for Internet access to get Roxanne's CSS college financial aid profile finished, etc. etc. We collapsed back in the hotel room in the mid-afternoon, but soon thought better of this idea and roused ourselves for a driving tour of the barrier islands of St Pete and Clearwater. Lane wanted to at least see the Gulf of Mexico, for the first time since December1993, and get his feet wet if possible. The day was blustery from the north with afternoon thunder clouds developing. Our first point of interest IMG_2128-sm.JPG on the way was what Roxanne immediately proclaimed the coIMG_2130-sm.JPG olest mailbox on the planet (left), followed by a walk on St Pete Beach (right and below right). This is a white limestone sand beach loaded with shells that reminded Roxanne of her much earlier beachcombing days while cruising aboard Daybreak (below left).

By the way, that building that looks like it's falling over from hurricane damage isn't really. It was built thatIMG_2138-sm.JPG way, slanted back from the beach.

The gathering clouds are part of Florida's natural self-watering system that arises everywhere on this planet where standing water and heat occur in prodigious quantities. Florida has plenty of both. The hammer fell an hour later after we'd completed a south-to-north tour of the islands and headed across the causeway onto IMG_2148-sm.JPG Gulf-to-Bay Blvd, when every car's windshield wiper speed was rotated to "max" and traffic speed dropped by half. Tania got a photo from the back seat (below right).

On the way back to the hotel we located the region's Costco, and elected to eat dinner there. Lane hadn't previously had this
IMG_2151-sm.JPG pleasure, and was astounded to find the entire family could eat to the point of bloat and take home leftovers for $18.97. What a country we live in! And Florida is a prime example.

The boat delivery delays continued into today (Wed 10/6) when the truck was pulled out of line at a weigh station in 
the Florida Panhandle for a full end-to-end inIMG_2154-sm.JPG spection, which took an hour. It finally rolled off the Interstate 175 spur at about 1:30 pm, where Lane was waiting with the camera to record the moment (left).

We caught up with the truck at the next signal and led the driver the remaining 20 blocks or so through residential streets to Sailor's Wharf Yacht Yard, where a tight entrance was followed by a quick offload.
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By this time it was clear to everyone that
Wind Song needed a bottom job and some other minor work before launch. The travelift hoisted her up so her centerboard could be fully lowered (below left). It is apparent from the photo below right that the yard that did the last bottom job had not bothered with this. (Well OK, it was a marine railway. They weren't as well equipped for it.) Then Stefán began the high-pressure power wash to get rid of the major growth, barnacles, and coral fouling.
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Because the boat has been riding lower in the water as we've loaded her with cruising gear, and since provisioning is yet to occur, we had the yard raise the waterline another inch or so before applying bottom paint. That's 2.5 inches since we bought her. We also asked them to grease the inner workings of the MaxProp feathering propeller, which we've seen done with a grease gun before, but these guys -- who, it turns out, are real pros -- shun such shortcuts and
IMG_2185-sm.JPG actually disassemble and grease-pack the gears. Lane got to watch, of course, so now he knows how to do it too. The entire process only took 15 minutes. After reading the instruction book earlier on how to do this, Lane would have budgeted 4 hours. It's amazing what a difference a little knowledge and experience make.

While this was going on, the girls and Lynn made friends with our truck driver, Larry Torres, who let them climb up in the cab and sleeping compartment. They thought this was about the coolest thing they'd ever seen, and very much like a boat, except air conditioned. They were just about bubbling over.
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Lynn, Larry, Roxanne, Tania
                                                                                    The girls got a little camera-happy in the truck.

Friday, October 8, 2004 -- Things are moving a little slower than we planned, but we're pretty close. We'd asked the yard to repaint the rub rails because they were flaking and showing bare wood. Through some communication mix-up, the yard only painted the port side rail. When yard boss Mike discovered
this early this morning he offered to complete the job if we had the time, though this cost him another day and discumbobulated his already jam-packed schedule of hurricane-damaged boats, of which his yard is full. As a result, Wind Song got launched late in the day and just barely got both masts in and the shrouds pinned on before the crew left for the weekend. Lane and Roxanne can tune the rig and bend on the booms and sails themselves while Lynn and Tania can do the provisioning at Costco, Target, etc. All in all, a good morning.

So in order to get this report into an email to our webmaster, Jon Toellner, before the public library closes this evening (we have no FTP capability from the library's computers), we'd better just throw in a few more pix with captions and wrap this up. In summary, we should be floating, functional, provisioned, and able to leave St Petersburg by Monday afternoon and REALLY start this trip. But before we do, we want to acknowledge the excellent work that has been done for us by Sailor's Wharf Yacht Yard here in St Petersburg -- Mike (yard boss), Rob (all 'round crusty old boatyard guru and master painter), Stefá
n (rigger and general jack of all trades), and Briggs (a reliable worker with, I think, underacknowledged talents). There are others whose names we don't have. The bottom line is, this is a good yard with good people doing good work without pretense, at competitive prices. Hard to beat that. We got lucky. Lane chose these guys on the basis of telephone interviews of four yards in the St Pete area.

(Below) Wind Song's rudder post before and after cleaning and painting.
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Wind Song after bottom painting. The light blue tape at right is the starboard rub rail getting painted this morning.
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The treatment of the prop, shaft, zincs, and strut is indicative of the care taken by this yard: sandblasted (with biodegradable organic "sand"), the zinc contact areas masked off, then etched with aluminum chromate primer, coated with anti-fouling paint, and the zincs installed at the end on bare metal.

Wind Song's
original owner, per tradition, had placed coins beneath his masts -- a gold coin under the main mast, and a bronze one under the mizzen -- but these somehow did not make it back into their places after he moved the boat to the west coast. So this morning Lynn stopped by a bank and got two one dollar coins, a Sacagawea dollar for the main mast step, and a Susan B. Anthony for the mizzen. In addition, she and Lane have been carrying medallions in their pockets since we left LA -- Lynn's has an angel on it and says "Believe" on the back, and Lane's has a sailboat and says "Explore" -- and Lynn decided these should go under the masts as well. Here's how they look:

Under the main mast step:
Under the mizzen mast step:
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And here's the main mast step with the coins:

The coins are an ancient tradition, so that in case of a wreck the captain, who of course would go down with his ship, would have the fare to pay Charon, the river Styx ferryman, to cross the river.

And that's all there's time for! We gotta get this file onto a key fob memory stick and get it over to the library. Can't say when the next report will get made -- whenever we find another library or a post office.

It's time to get loose from the land! Looks like we'll be outta here on Monday 10/11.

Saturday, October 9, 2004 -- Well, this report did not go out yesterday by 6 pm, and it didn't go out today either, although we tried. Suffice it to say both Yahoo.com and the St Petersburg, FL main library conspired against us. We'll know better next time, although there probably won't be a next time. Webmail for Lane's company didn't work either. Looks like it's snail mail or nothing for this report.

Lynn, Roxanne, and Lane went down to the boat today while Tania stayed in the hotel working on her three history essays that are due this week -- and every week until her school year is over. She emailed them from *ahem*
the St Petersburg, FL main library. Worked for her.

Down at the boat it was HOT. Sweat-rolling, mind-fogging, sun-beating, heat-stroking hot. Lynn recomposed the below-decks areas while Lane lubed and set up the standing rigging and Roxanne rewired the main mast electrical circuits. Then she fagged out while Lane and Lynn rewired the mizzen mast circuits and found zut alors the coins that were supposed to be under the mizzen mast, that we placed on the mizzen mast step, had been carefully placed on the floor of the crawl space next to the mast by some enterprising yard worker. We think we know who. One can almost hear him thinking, "Oh man, if I leave those there they'll be gone forever, and surely the owners wouldn't want that!"

At present the coins are duct-taped to the side of the mast below deck, but we have a plan: as soon as we have time we're going to hoist someone up the
mizzen mast to where the lower shrouds attach and drop those coins in through the hole there, just like a piggy bank, and they will fall to the bottom where they belong.

We got some tips from the guys in the boatyard today (yes, on a Saturday, because three of them have their own sailboats there at the docks and they were going sailing -- in Florida, where motorboats are king) about where to go with Wind Song between now and November 1st. One suggestion was the Homossassa River, about 80 miles north of Tampa Bay, a spring-fed river that flows crystal-clear out of the limestone bedrock at a constant year-round 70 degrees Farenheit, and you can tak
e a shoal-draft sailboat right to the source and swim in it. Sounds literally "cool". The other suggestion was to take our shoal draft into the shallow waterway that runs right next to the Everglades across the north shore of Florida Bay (the large, very shallow bay between the Keys and the mainland) from Cape Romano directly to the bottom end of Biscayne Bay south of Miami, and then out through one of two shallow passes through the line of keys and into the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. We have about three weeks -- we could conceivably do both.