Instant Cruiser: Just add Water

Monday March 4, 2013

Today is the day we have been waiting for, for three months. To the date. Today we finally went back in the water. Granted, we knew the accident was bad when it happened, but when we arrived to St. Augustine Marine Center back on December 4th, we honestly thought we’d be hauled out and put right back in after a quick survey. After receiving the damage report we were thinking ‘Ok, this is really bad, we might be out for two to four weeks.’. And then we sat and sat and sat. Shortly after being out of the water for one whole month, we finally got the claim approved by our insurance company (they were still swamped with Hurricane Sandy claims), and work finally began. We thought it could be done in two weeks since we had already started a lot of the projects ourselves. Then the keel came off and we found out that bolts needed to be replaced and there was no one in the area that could do the job. From that point it didn’t matter when the rest of the projects were finished, we weren’t going anywhere until the bolts were replaced and the keel was put back on. When we had hope that we could fly someone out to do the job, we forged on with other projects. The engine and transmission were taken out to be fixed, and the rudder was sent off to be straightened. Matt fiberglassed all the tabbing on the port side salon. The bilge and engine bay were painted.

Although we had a great experience with anyone that worked directly for the marine center, there were a few issues with vendors, and work on our boat kept getting pushed back and back. When I got back from Arizona at the end of January, I honestly thought we’d be splashed and moving by the middle of the month. We had canceled the guy flying out to repair the keel bolts and instead went with the owner of the boat yard next door who took on the project and did it fantastically.  There was the long wait for the transmission to  be repaired that we had not been expecting, and then once we were finally being put back together, the fact that the new  bushing for our rudder did not fit.  Eventually after a lot of blood and sweat, but surprisingly no tears, we’re finally put back together and ready to go.  Three months behind our original intended scheduled, and now six weeks behind all of our friends who have been enjoying the white sand beaches of the Bahamas for at least that amount of time.  We’re finally ready to go and join.


Although it’s been spread out through months and multiple posts, you might be wondering what work went into Serendipity while we were here.  Taken straight from the estimate being sent to our insurance company, this is what kept us on the hard for three months:

  • Remove max prop

  • Remove shaft

  • Remove strut

  • Rudder shaft repair

  • Glass repair A.) Rudder B.) Interior bonds C.) Stern tube and strut fairing D.) Fuel tank drained and removed

  • Lift to remove rudder and keel

  • Remove and replace multiple keel bolts

  • Lift to install keel and rudder

  • Repair bushing

  • Align motor and shaft

  • Strut and shaft reinstalled

  • Reinstall max prop

  • Pull & inspect transmission

  • Rebuild transmission

  • Reinstall transmission

  • Install new motor mounts

  • Bottom paint, one coat over entire bottom, second coat on repairs

  • Replace cutlas bearing

  • Canvas – Replace glass on two panels

  • Inspect Rigging

Over the weekend we had tentative plans to launch around 12:30, as close as we could get to slack tide. The river we’re on has a terrible current, and I’ve watched and heard of multiple boats bang up against the side while making their approach into or departure from the well. Having been out of the water for three months, as well as not even being as skilled as some of the captains who have beat up their boats here, we didn’t want to get swept away or banged up our first day back in the water. After talking with the yard manager, he penciled us in after a catamaran getting hauled out for a survey, and said that if it didn’t go over time they’d have an hour available to get us back in the water. Hiding out in the salon for the better part of the morning, and occasionally peeking out to keep an eye on the cat that was being surveyed, we received a knock on our hull, telling us to be ready right after lunch because we were going in.  As the minutes ticked by, I could feel myself getting stage fright and I could feel it growing.  We’d never had to move our boat out of a boat well before, it was always done by the marina, and we had never tried doing it in an area with such strong currents.  In front of a crowd no less.

We tied the fenders to the side and waited for the lift to come.  Georgie was locked below to make sure she wasn’t trotting around deck while all this was going on, although at the first hint of a loud noise she’s usually hidden in the aft cabin anyway.  As promised, the lift pulled up at thirty minutes to one.  We climbed down the ladder for the last time and unattached it from the boat while the large sling was wrapped around the bottom of Serendipity.  Lifting her up and removing all the jackstands, she was slowly moved away from her home and closer to the boat well.  She was lowered down with ease, and just as she was floating, we were allowed to climb back on.  Firing up the engine, everything was looking good and after not having a slip assigned to us we chose the one that was at a 90 degree angle from where we were currently sitting, and would require the least amount of turns.  Backing out, the small current that was flowing through did begin to catch us a little bit and begin turning us ways we did not want to go, but Matt quickly got it under control and while putting us into forward and giving it a lot of gas, began to move us with ease toward our intended dock.  The men working the travel lift were already waiting to catch our lines, and within moments we were neatly tied off.  Floating once more, as we had been waiting so long and patiently for.

We’re hoping to leave on Wednesday, after we finish a few last minute things around town.  The weather is looking too nasty to jump out and head straight to the Bahamas like we wanted, so instead we’ll be making our way south via the ICW once more, getting to Lake Worth and making a jump across once we get there and find a weather window.  But I am so excited to be back in the water, we are cruisers once more!  Or will be, once we take care of that enormous bill waiting for us at the service desk and are given the OK to leave.

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