It was an event almost 3 years in the making. After the near-disaster of raising the mast back in Mayo, MD when we first bought Jr, we were determined to have a process that was more under control. As we described in our last post, Dave had designed a gin-pole (essentially a big lever) that could be used to control the mast's descent (and eventually its ascent). Early in the morning, a couple of days before departing, the time had come to put it to use.
So, how did we get to talking about the freezer, when this section is about lowering the mast? It's a little convoluted, but it does make sense. Before rigging the gin pole, we need to get some of the boat's on-deck hardware out of the way. This includes the sails and the bimini. We grabbed a brief lull in a very windy week to lower the headsail. Next we took down the mainsail and the boom with the stackpack wrapped around it. (That made sleeping down below more challenging, to say the least.) Despite the increasing heat and intense sunlight of early April, we had to remove the bimini and lash the bows to the deck so they would be secure for the road. With the bimini down, the solar panels were down as well, so we would have less charging capacity. That meant the freezer had to be turned off. (Did you follow that logic?)
The day had finally arrived. We had an 11am appointment at the haul-out slip, but we arrived early to tie up to the wall nearby at Marathon Marina and Boatyard. We needed to finish cleaning and dismantling the dinghy. We also wanted to remove the dinghy outboard while it was easier to do. As Jr came out of the water, it was a study in contrasts. Dave's weekly bottom cleanings had kept the bottom up to the keel clean. However, the keel, which was beyond his reach, was really bad. As the Travel Lift operator cleaned off this growth, the trailer arrived and Jim from South Seas Rigging began making adjustments to the supports to fit the boat.
But we weren't quite as prepared as we hoped. Since Orion Jr extends more than 4 feet beyond the end of the trailer, we needed to put flags on the stern and the end of the mast. In addition, we needed lights and reflectors for traveling at night. The trailer tires needed air. We needed chocks for the wheels . Oh, and did we mention that the trailer brakes weren't activated by the truck's brake controller. It was getting late when we packed up, showered and headed out to find what we could use for flags, reflectors, a trailer pin and chocks. The brakes would wait have to wait until morning.
We called it a day and enjoyed some dinner at Keys Fisheries, sitting by the Florida Bay and eating our last lobster of the season. Tomorrow would be soon enough to deal with all of these issues. Most of them were resolved once we got to Daytona. We found reflectors at Harbor Freight and strips of 12V LED lights at Wal-mart. Cathy made flags for the stern, And the problem with the brake controller turned out to be a blown fuse. All was well for the trip further north.
It's the latest we've stayed in Marathon, but we were rewarded with some absolutely beautiful weather. It continued to be cool at night and the breezes were warm and pleasant. We spent more evenings listening to great music at the marina's Tiki hut, escorted Captain Jack to the SSCA lunch at Hurricane and continued to get more involved at church, even leading a service one Sunday. Rick and Pam from Forever were interested in learning more about our solar panels, battery monitor and overall battery charging system. We enjoyed spending time together with them. And, of course, Rick saved our mast.
But one of the most memorable events took place on our last night. Unable to sleep, Cathy looked around at what should have been a night illumined by a full moon. However, the moon was only a crescent. The Lunar Eclipse was well under way. While we watched for the next half hour, the crescent slipped from view and the moon began to glow red. A blood moon. The clear sky and a gentle breeze made it a perfect night to watch this amazing celestial event. Not a bad omen at all. Just the beginning of a new chapter.