Today was the first solo cruise.  It was also the longest cruise so far.  I packed everything aboard the boat, parked my truck and trailer on an empty lot, and prepared to disembark.

Tom (the previous owner) came down to give me the last few items for the boat.  A door for the sundeck area (the other door went missing in the hurricane), extra cables, ropes, a dock box, and more.

I could tell it was emotional for Tom as we undid the lines and I drove Mary Louise away from the flybridge.  He video taped from his dock for many minutes as I motored down the lagoon.

I can only imagine what it must have felt like for him to have that boat for 20 years and so many memories.  Bittersweet I’m sure.

Here’s a few pics of Tom and me prior to departure.

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I took off and headed down the intercoastal with my phone as my chartplotter.  Standing on the flybridge, waving at Tom, Tom says “don’t forget to bring in the bumpers” and I said I would after I got out of the lagoon.  Turned out I’d forgotten several things in my nervousness:

  1. I hadn’t eaten breakfast, making a sandwich was going to be tough while driving solo
  2. I hadn’t turned on the VHF radio nor the depth finder
  3. I had forgotten to poop.  How was I going to poop while underway with no one else on board to drive?

Running down from the flybridge to the pilot house (that’s the helm inside the salon) became a routine thing after the first hour.  The first few times I did it freaked me out – it’s a ways (18 steps and 6 stairs) and a lot can happen when you’re moving.  A couple of times I thought I had plenty of space and a long runway (so to speak) but I’d accidentally turned the wheel at the flybridge just a couple of inches before walking downstairs and when I got downstairs I was already very close to the edge of the ICW channel.

It turned out that the coast guard had disconnected the depth finder power supply when they were looking under the flybridge so that was an easy fix.

I found a way to turn on the depth alarm on the depth finder (it beeps at 10 feet now).  I think of it like those little ridges at the edge of a highway, if you get over on the shoulder at highway speeds you hear PBBPBPBPBPB and it lets you know to wake up!  Same thing here, the ICW is about 16 feet in the middle of the channel, so as long as I’m not near the edge the finder doesn’t beep.

I found a spot to ground the boat and shut down the engines to go take a poop.  That was weird, but kinda cool.  Pooping in your own boat while beached along the ICW with the generator running.  HA!  Who’d of thought?!!!

I’m learning the lingo for the tugs, channel 16 is business-only, don’t really get much chatter except the occasional cussing sailor and coast guard warning.  “Tug boat James Gordon, this is pleasure vessel Mary Louise coming up behind you.  Pass on your one or two?”

“Ehh…take me on the two, two whistles.”

“Roger, have a good one.”

One whistle means pass on his port side, or if your head to head, pass port to port.  Two whistles means pass him on his starboard side.

These tugs move along at about 6 knots.  My boat moves at 9-10, so it can take a looooong time to pass a big tug with several barges being pushed.


Here’s a video from that trip.

Mooring at my friend Brett’s house was challenging but Brett’s neighbors are professional captains who came by to help.  We tied two spring lines to the bow port and starboard back, and put the aft swim platform about a foot away from the seawall.  This will ensure we don’t break the swim deck if the tide goes out, and we can still board without an external ladder.

It works well, but when the tide is out she’s on the bottom.

Here’s a pic of the boat tied up to Brett’s dock with that supermoon above it.  A beautiful sight!