01 Jun Ft. Lauderdale, FL – January 1 to June 1, 2003
We flew home from New Zealand on November 14, expecting to enjoy the holidays at home and then return to Auckland on January 10. One of the major lessons that people learn when cruising the world is the necessity to be flexible. We had been pondering the question of “where do we want to cruise next?” all year. We both wanted to continue West to the Mediterranean, but couldn’t figure out how to get to Europe without dealing with the very real issues of pirates in Asia and a war in the Middle East. Neither of us wanted to cruise anywhere that would require having guns on board. On the flight home from Auckland Don had a brilliant idea: Dockwise Express was bringing a load of big yachts to Auckland for the America’s Cup and it probably wouldn’t have a very big load heading back to the US.
Upon our arrival home we called our friend Jeff Last who runs Dockwise Express in the US and asked him how much it would cost? We agreed on a price that we could afford and arranged to ship Starr on November 29. Barely home a week, Don turned right around and flew back to NZ on Nov. 20 to settle our personal business and to prepare Starr for the passage. Once back in Auckland, Don sold our Nissan Taurano and closed down our New Zealand checking account. Starr was loaded onto the Dockwise transport vessel and headed to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Starr arrived on December 29 in good condition with the exception of a small crack on the starboard rail where the majority of her weight was braced against the hull of the transport vessel (which was easily fixed). Don flew down to Florida on December 30 to unload on January 2, and I flew down on January 3. It felt weird but nice to have Starr in Florida. We decided that if we didn’t feel safe to go around the world from East to West, would go as far as we could from West to East instead. Our plan is to leave Ft. Lauderdale for the Atlantic Coasts of Spain and France, via Bermuda and the Azores, on June 1.
We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale until January 21 doing maintenance and repairs. Our good friend from the days of Superyacht NW, Greg Tiemann, helped us find some good subcontractors and we started out by finishing the touchup painting that wasn’t completed in New Zealand. Then we flew our friend, Radar Dave from Elfin Cove in Alaska, down from New Hampshire where he is now living to solve the noise interference problem on our single sideband radio (which had never worked from the time we became owners of Starr). It took Don and Dave a full week of chasing down possible sources of the interference, but it is now fixed! Dave stayed with us on Starr and it was fun and rewarding to have the time to get to know him better. We didn’t finish what needed to be done for Starr to be ready to make the passage to Europe, so we scheduled a return trip for February 13.
In February, Don continued to check off tasks from his list of repairs, maintenance and improvements: he upgraded the temperature controls and compressors for the air-conditioning; he and Adam, our “super electrician”, traced out the electrical grounding system for Starr and installed a lightening grounding system; he installed new covers for the engine room fan vents to prevent water that would flood the decks during rough weather from spilling into the engine room; checked out the stabilizers, and replaced some of the start batteries, etc. Once a year Starr needs a “spring cleaning”; therefore, while Don focused on the mechanical and electrical side of work on Starr, I cleaned, polished and organized, clearing out every storage space on Starr and creating a new inventory list. Together, we stripped the boat of all unnecessary items that were important for South Pacific cruising, but that we wouldn’t need in Europe. We shipped home boxes of books and folios of charts. We ordered new canvas covers for the Novurania, canoes and kayak, rowing dory, steering consoles on the flying bridge, anchor windless and the pilothouse windshield.
We carefully examined all of our safety equipment: while the eight-man liferaft had been inspected and re-packed in New Zealand, we did it again in Ft. Lauderdale and during the process Don and I were given a lesson in how to live in a liferaft at sea. We purchased a new GPS Epirb. I reviewed and renewed our Medical Kit and we purchased an AED. Back home we refreshed our First Aid training by taking a class in CPR/AED at Seattle Yacht Club. I reviewed and edited our Procedures Lists: Guest Orientation, Safety Equipment, Abandon Ship, and Man Overboard. I felt that I needed more training in navigation, so both Don and I took an advanced coarse on Nobeltec navigation software. We studied cruising guides and compiled a list of paper charts that we would need for the Atlantic Coast of Europe. I continued to study French and brush up on my Spanish language skills.
We are almost ready to go. We fly back down to Ft. Lauderdale May 15, and will then finish our chores, fuel and provision. Our friends (and crew) will join us May 29: Dennis Reiser and Roxanne Dole from Orlando, Florida, experienced sailors who have kept their own sailboat in Europe for the past 25 years and Stephen Szoradi, a friend of our son Brooke who now lives in Geneva, Switzerland.