Preparations for the trip – by Randy

This blog will follow our family as we make preparations for our grand adventure. We will share with you every aspect of our efforts to make sure that we are ready. This will include everything from preparing the kids for home schooling, making sure we have our ducks lined up to manage our professional lives from  aboard our boat to the proper outfitting and provisioning of the Pilots’ Discretion, our Sea Ray 480 Motor Yacht. It is December 2013 as this is being written and our tentative launch date is September 2014 so we believe we have allowed ourselves an appropriate amount of time to get ready for what we hope will be a very positive, shared adventure of a lifetime.

Once we are underway, we will share with you our experiences both good and bad. We hope this blog will inform and inspire those of you out there who may be thinking of taking on some similar adventure. There will be lots to cover, weather, routing, provisioning etc, etc. Life aboard a fifty foot boat with two small boys and a Cocker Spaniel is not likely to be routine but we are hoping it will be a learning and bonding experience for us all. Stay tuned.

Making progress with our preparations – by Randy

Yesterday (Jan 8, 2014) we had the Pilot’s Discretion hauled so that we could install the thru hull fitting for our new watermaker. In addition to the thru hull fitting, we utilized the haulout as an opportunity to replace one of our Ocean LED underwater lights. Our blue underwater lights were originally installed in 2008. The lights are theoretically good for a service life of 40,000 hours so you can imagine how surprised we were when one of our lights quit after about 200 hours of use. I have to say that although the suspect light was well outside of warranty (over 5 years old) the folks at Ocean were outstanding. They acknowledged that we had not gotten the service life out of the light that we should have and provided us a replacement light at their cost. Their commit

Pilot's Discretion being hauled

Pilot’s Discretion being hauled

ment to their product line and customer satisfaction is commendable. As a result of Oceans prompt and appropriate response to our lights premature failure, we are happy to recommend them to anyone who might be interested in underwater LED lighting for their boat.
We will have the Pilots Discretion hauled again next summer for a fresh coat of bottom paint prior to our departure and we will undoubtably utilize the guys at Pittman Yacht Services in Tarpon Springs to once again haul her as we have always found Dave Matway and the guys to be very capable and reliable.

Following our time in the yard yesterday and after returning to our home marina (Port Tarpon Marina) Wolfe Heinly from Cool Breeze air conditioning spent the day  today getting started on the installation of our Spectra watermaker. We anticipate the watermaker installation will be complete by the end of the week. At that point, we will begin finalizing our electronics updates. We will provide you guys the details as we accomplish the work.

Daydreaming aboard a Marlow

Garmin electronics at Marlow 58 lower helm.

Garmin electronics at Marlow 58 lower helm.

Leaving Sarasota

Leaving Sarasota

a 2000 horsepower wake at 24 knots

 A 2000 horsepower wake at 24 knots

Randy and Theresa on the Marlow flybridge

Randy and Theresa on the Marlow flybridge

As we have reported to you before, our dream boat is the Marlow Explorer. We seriously considered buying one for this trip but ultimately, we concluded that we were not going to be able to make that happen before we leave. Since making that decision, we have been focused on making sure the Pilot’s Discretion is going to be ready to embark on our trip. Our friend and boat broker Eric Gervais refuses to read the memo that says we have made our decision. Eric called last week to ask us if we wanted to join him to run a brand new 58 Marlow from Sarasota to Snead Island Florida where Marlow has its completion center. He only had to ask once. Yesterday, Theresa, Eric and I celebrated Eric’s birthday while aboard the Marlow enroute to Snead Island. We did not buy it but I can tell you for sure that we had a lot of fun aboard David Marlow’s latest creation.

A child’s perspective

In addition to looking forward to the trip, Ryan is a San Francisco Giant fan Extraordinaire!

In addition to looking forward to the trip, Ryan is a San Francisco Giant fan Extraordinaire! Here he is sharing a taco with San Francisco Giants great, Willie Mays in the Giants clubhouse at Spring Training.

(RYAN): About a week ago [25 Feb 2014] I found out my family is going on a boat trip. My parents told me we were NOT going to go to the Bahamas. I was not very surprised. Not until they told me we were going further! They said we are going to the Dominican Republic. I was shocked even before they told me all the details. We are going to visit over 20 different countries! My brother Ronan and I are going to have to learn 3 languages in six months! Those 3 languages are Spanish, French and Dutch. We are going on a boat trip through the Caribbean chain. We will be visiting countries such as the Bahamas, the BVI and Dominican Republic.

Our boat’s name is the Pilots Discretion. It is a fifty-foot Sea Ray. It has three staterooms [Bed rooms], two heads [Bath rooms], a galley [Kitchen], a bridge, bow [front of boat] and stern [back of boat].

When I first found out about the trip I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was at a loss for words. The idea of being home schooled was so cool. I just couldn’t believe it! I had a lot of questions, like … When am I going to get my laptop? … How will I keep in touch with friends? … How long is the trip going to be?

When I learned that I was going to be home schooled, I was excited because then I wouldn’t have to sit in a class room all day and I would be able to go ahead and finish my work and if I went fast then I could play baseball or do something else.

I told some of my friends about the trip. I told them I was going on a really long boat trip that could take up to nine months, and I was getting home schooled. When I learned that we are going to be visiting many different countries, with at least four (4) different languages, I thought when do we start!

I am really looking forward to the trip because I will be home schooled and go to different countries and meet new people.

One step forward, two steps back

It is now mid May and our family has been actively preparing for our trip for almost a year now. Frankly, we thought we would be largely ready by now but the unexpected has a way of sneaking up on you. A couple of months ago we began to have a series of technical issues with some of our electronics. Specifically, our satellite TV system began having problems tracking the DirecTV satellites, our alarm system began to act quirky and a few other things stopped working. We sent our Sat TV system to Raymarine to be evaluated and they reported back to us that all of the internal electronics had been fried. More of the same news from the folks that manufactured our alarm system. I don’t really like to assign responsibility to “coincidence” and the more I thought about it, the more I became concerned that we had suffered a major electrical event. We hired a marine surveyor to evaluate all of the boats systems and sure enough, he found that we had suffered either a lightning strike or a major surge via the shore power. The bad news is that we had lost one chartplotter, one depth sounder, a VHF radio, spotlight and our alarm system. The good news is that we are fully insured and our insurance company authorized replacement of all of the affected systems. Since we are going to both the trouble and expense of replacing all of this stuff, we elected to spend a little extra to upgrade some of our capabilities. We are installing a new Raymarine E127 Chartplotter interfaced with a new digital 48″ open array 12kw SHD radar that is a much more capable unit than the 4kw analog unit it replaces. In addition, we are adding a Raymarine AIS 650 to help us keep track of nearby traffic. As with almost any project of this magnitude, we have experienced our share of frustration as have tried to coordinate a plan to move the installation along. Vendors and installers have blown through deadline after deadline with the net result being that our trip preparations are far behind our original schedule. I am glad we started getting ready early and remain optimistic that we will still be where we need to be when it is time to cast off.