Posted by: bearcruzer | December 6, 2009

Preparations, Upgrades, & Provisioning

December 6, 2009

I know, I know, you probably thought, “They’ve sailed off over the horizon and haven’t even bothered to let anyone know” Well, almost but not quite.  We have been spending the last few weeks getting to know Dancing Dolphin, our 35ft Victory Catamaran that will be our home for the next couple of years.   We have been busy making lists and outfitting her for our extended cruise throughout the Caribbean.   Parts have proved a challenge to come by.  We had to send to England for a new propeller.  Mike has immersed himself in the boats many systems from engine to electronics and has been spending his time changing fluids and stocking up on spare parts as well as learning the many systems of our new home.   Crystal has been studying the HAM operators’ manual and ACED both her Technician and General Operator tests so that she now holds a FCC license to use our SSB Radio for E-Mail as well as weather fax operations.   After replacing the propeller, Mike’s mom and stepdad, Lore & Vince, and Mike and I took Dancing Dolphin across Charlotte Harbor to the Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage, a wonderful family owned boatyard that allows people to live aboard their boats while working on various projects.  We first learned about this boatyard when we were shopping for a boat a couple of years ago.  We had visited and found the yard to be really accommodating to cruisers and others on a tight budget.  To get to the boatyard we had to take D.D. through a narrow self operated lock and then through a nature reserve and fresh water canals to the yard.  It took us about 4 hours to cross and we saw many Stingrays in large groups as we motored our way on a windless day across smooth water under blue skies.  We also were privileged to get to see wild boar, rosy spoonbills as well as a couple of flamingos.    We made arrangements to spend at least a week in the yard to clean and repaint the bottom of Dancing Dolphin and clean and upgrade her sonic outdrive as well as give her a good polish before her trip to the Bahamas.    The boatyard has a wonderful screened central meeting room with cooking facilities, bathrooms and showers, as well as a sewing area.   When we arrived and pulled  alongside the dock, we immediately had at least 4 hands running down from the meeting room to hand off lines to and help us tie up to the dock.   Within minutes we were on a first name basis with many of the people staying in the boatyard and were welcomed with open arms, like I said a real family atmosphere.   We spent eight days working on D.D. and giving her a new coat of bottom paint that we hope will last for the next couple of years.  Mike also spent quite a bit of time working on the Sonic Drive and making it look like new again.   Crystal spent her time painting, scrubbing, polishing, and of course tracking down parts.   We were told we were setting a bad example as we would arrive in the morning and work until sunset when the general work day in the yard did not usually extend beyond about 4 hours. They were forgiving of us though and we were invited to our first cruisers potluck and Dolly Parton look-alike contest.  We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the hilarious antics of the Yard Dog Acting Company, made up entirely of cruisers past and present staying in the yard.  We finally completed many of our repairs and brought D.D. back to Punta Gorda to complete our provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas. The parts for the auto helm just arrived today.  We are waiting for a couple of additional parts and are stocking the boat with the final provisions.  We are finally coming down to the wire and can see us actually sailing over that horizon in the next week or so,  weather pending, as many of our future adventures will be.   We are now on a time line and will be meeting Crystal’s parents in Georgetown at the end of January and entertaining Carl Pitts at the end of February.  We are looking forward to their visits as well as our own explorations of the Bahamas.   I will try not to let so much time go by till my next entry as this one could easily have become a novelette.  Here are some Pics of the last few weeks.



  1. Hey guys,
    Very nice to here from you again. Was beginning to wonder if you sailed off into the sunset to never return. I think that you have some of us hooked out here with your blog updates. Crystal you are a good writer and tell the storys well. I don’t read to many books these days so I really depend on you for my entertainment. At least some of it.
    We are doing very well but are boatless at this time. Our boat went to seattle for a trade in and our new one will be finished being built march 1st.
    We did get a chance to play out in southern cal for three weeks with her before saying goodby. Very nice time indeed.
    When we go to get our new baby We will spend several weeks up in the seattle area getting to know her and making sure there are no bugs. Always something to tweak. I am going to add solar and tracvision to the already very well equipped boat. I will put two KC130 solar panels on the upper sport rack. I will have a house bank of four group31 agm’s with 460 amp hours. That should get the job done.(Mike should like that) We will not need to listen to a generator while hanging in a cove for a week or more. should be able to go without sun for a few days also.
    It is snowing here in pagosa at this time and we are getting ready for a white x-mas. It is all good up till the first of the year then need to find something to do so I don’t climb the walls. I am not as bad as I used to be though. I am also fine sitting by the fire during the days and researching stuff for the new boat.
    Maybe someday we will be able to cruise together. The new toy will be good for that.
    It is good to here that Sage is liking the Air force. That seems to have been a real good choice for him. Keep us posted on his progress.
    Wesley have received a full ride to VT through the Navy and or the Air Force ROTC. He will get his degree first before serving as a officer in one or the other. Must be nice to be 18 and have choices. He has been leaning towards nuclear engineering. The navy is trying to throw a lot of money at him to become a navy pilot. I really think he is a engineer at heart. But what the hell do I know?

  2. Sorry never got a chance to finish the last post for some reason the dame computer posted my reply before I was ready.
    So here is to you guys and your wonderful adventures. My you be blessed with calm seas and lots of sunshine.
    My very best to you both, Stuart

  3. Schedule, Smedule, you’ve got to be kidding.
    Sailing schedules are like Jello.
    Don’t kill yourself trying to meet a plane 300 miles and 10 days away.
    Had a blast! meet great people, and keep us well informed.


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