Like many boats in the harbor, as our time to leave was approaching, we were starting to watch the weather. Our trip was short, but the wrong winds would make it more difficult and the boat harder to manage. We saw our window of predicted light southwesterly winds, but it was still a few days away. It would give us time to prepare in stages, but that presented its own challenges.
Then there was the matter of the boat bottom. We didn't need anyone to tell us how fast and thick the bottom can be covered with sea life in a couple of months sitting in Boot Key Harbor. Unlike last year, we wouldn't be hauled in a boatyard with power washers available. So, we needed to have someone dive on the boat just before we hauled it. We tried a relatively new business in the harbor, OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Divers. Nothing motivates a diver to do a good job more than knowing his work would be given a very close examination in less than 24 hours. And sure enough, it was excellent. We gave our dinghy a similar scrub the day before as well.
When Tuesday dawned, we were up before the sun. We would have to wait until 8:30am to get access to the trailer, but we wanted to have everything else ready to go. By 9am, we had the trailer re-positioned at the boat ramp, and we were making our way back to the boat. By 9:30, we were dropping the mooring. Our trip around the western end of the island would take only an hour, but we were to discover the wind forecast was pretty far off. While the winds were from the southwest, the single digits were replaced by upper teens. Oops. Missed that one. This mainly impacted us when we were trying to manhandle the boat onto the trailer. Actually, the wind was a blessing in making the work to finish securing everything more tolerable in the heat. Despite the help of several inebriated bystanders at the ramp, we made a pretty efficient retrieval and began the work of getting ready to move.
To speed up the process of securing the mast, Dave used heavy duty 24” cable ties to secure the shrouds and furler to the mast, taking an idea from a trailered boat show boat we had seen in St. Petersburg. We had also been struggling with the fact that there is no readily available fresh water at the ramp. That meant we had no easy way to flush the outboards or rinse the trailer. After batting around a few ideas, we came up with a very simple idea to use water jugs and a garden hose. With Cathy up in the cockpit, Dave hooked the garden hose up to a device that covers the intakes for this purpose. We put the hose in the water jugs and started a siphon. Cathy started each outboard in turn and stopped it after enough water had run through it to flush it thoroughly. It was a little tricky starting the smaller Mercury outboard, since it requires a pull cord. However, the difficulty was more because we forgot initially to put the starter lanyard in place than the difficulty of pulling the cord. With the remaining water, we had a generous amount available to flush the trailer. Cathy followed Dave around as he hosed down the supports and axles. It worked amazingly well.
Four hours after arriving at the ramp, we pulled out, exhausted, but glad to be underway.
Little did we expect that when we changed our address to Florida that we would be considered in violation of the Patriot Act. It started this way. We updated the address on our primary bank in mid-February. The Customer Service representative took the information over the phone and said everything updated without incident. Gee. That was easy.
Shift to early April. We receive a mail delivery from St. Brendan's Isle, which contains a piece of mail from our bank, dated one week after our address change, February 23. It had that chilling phrase that “your accounts will be blocked” if we didn't respond in 30 days. The problem was our address. And 30 days was up 2 weeks ago. According to the provisions of the Patriot Act, we must provide a physical address. We can't provide the address of the mail forwarding service, even though this is legal for us to use on our driver's license, voter registrations, health insurance cards. We had two problems to deal with. The first was the fact that our bank chose to communicate this critical alert by snail mail, despite the fact that we log on to our bank accounts every couple of days, with no indication of an issue. So, we had passed the deadline. And our payment for our Federal tax return was being drafted – today. The second was what address to use.
We called the bank to understand the problem and explain our situation. After receiving assurances that our accounts had not been blocked, we discussed what we could do about the address. It became apparent that any residential address would do. No mail would be sent there. How exactly was this increasing the country's security? We worked out a plan to give an address. It took a day to get an OK, but we called back and our address was updated on all of our accounts. We had them verify that each one had been updated and no blocks were in place. Whew! Dodged that bullet.
But 10 days later, none of our tax payments were getting paid. And then Cathy got an e-mail from her sister. You know that check you sent . . . It turned out that our accounts had been blocked for almost 2 weeks. Tax payments, insurance payments, credit card payments, automatic transfers – everything. We spent hours on the phone with the bank, finally getting someone who realized they had made the mistake, blocking the accounts after we had provided the address they required.
After a week of daily phone calls, we think we're almost done getting things back on track. Just a word of warning for others who are in a similar situation.
We've taken a few days out to spend at Disney (with our annual passes) and are getting pretty good at playing Sorcerors of the Magic Kingdom. We even managed to get a boat project done while here. The unusual hitch coupler on our trailer requires a very small diameter and long (3.5”) pin. Internet searches yielded no useful alternatives. So, we have been getting by with a bolt and a nut. However, the nut came off on the trip to Orlando. We started looking for a better alternative. An afternoon walk one day took us by USA Hardware nearby. We explained the problem and before too long, Chris was fabricating a pin by drilling a hole in a bolt. It worked so well, we had him make a 2nd one. Customer service like that is very rare. And now, it's time to move on further north.