It’s a question we struggled to answer from our hosts and neighbors at Faith UMC in Jacksonville, where we remained as we scrambled to prep the boat to take off to the Keys. We had projects at the church, on the boat and in the RV that needed to be done before we could make a move. And there was the weather in the Keys. And the mooring waiting list. By the 2nd week of the new year, we were ready to go, but the weather forecast for launching the boat in the Keys wasn’t clear. And the waiting list for a mooring was growing. By January 10th, it was up to 37 boats, with a very crowded anchorage.
Hmmm . . . Not sounding very attractive.
Just as we were weighing our options, we heard from Pat and Fred. Want to join us in Jacksonville? Guess we’re going to stay longer.
But, now we have to get the boat ready to put into storage.
"So, . . . when are you headed out?"
After eight months of storage near the woods and minimal attention created a number of issues onOrion Jr. First and foremost, she was dirty – inside and out. The decks were covered in green algae and black mold. Below decks, it smelled of mildew. The temporary hatch boards were delaminating. The freezer had died. The water tanks had been winterized and needed to be flushed and sanitized. The regular hatch boards were for some reason too big to allow the companionway hatch to close. And the batteries were old enough that they needed to be replaced. It was time to get to work.
The problem with the outsized hatch boards still has us scratching our heads. But it still needed to be fixed. Cathy spent a couple of hours sanding the top and bottom of each board to get the 1/16th” clearance that was missing before. Go figure.
Since our (initial) plan was to put the RV in storage, we took pains to wash and wax the exterior. After a lot of research on covers, we decided to buy one from Camping World to protect the exterior from the sun. By mid-December, we had received the paperwork necessary to register the trailer in Florida, which we finally did in January in preparation for moving it again. While at the DMV, we also re-registered our boats and trailer so they would be legal for the new year.
There were a few housekeeping items as well. The table support frame needed to be replaced because a weld had failed. We got this done one Saturday at Camping World. Cathy began an inventory of the RV to help us keep track of the things we were leaving behind. And since David had mounted the Living Room TV on the wall, Cathy made a strap to secure this in place while underway.
With the colder days since we returned in January, we purchased a vent cushion, which is basically insulation for the bathroom vent, which makes a huge difference in moderating the temperature in the bathroom.
As we were preparing to leave the RV to head to church service on the Sunday we returned, we got a phone call from Pastor Barry –“There’s a lot of water coming out of the main valve.” Oh no. It had been 3 weeks since we had cutover to the new plumbing our Nomads team had installed. Could it really be leaking now? Well, it wasn’t just leaking, it was boiling out, having filled the ditches from the main valve into the campus that were not yet refilled. Still in his Sunday clothes, Dave reached blindly into the water to turn off the valve, which luckily stopped the water flow, but also meant there was no water to any of the buildings for the time being on this Sunday morning.
Since Loren and Donna and John and Eileen had left their rigs at the church for the holidays, they were also around on this Sunday. After lunch, with the water having drained from the hole, they were able to determine that the problem was a cracked fitting, which was likely caused by the fact that the recent rains had washed away the support from underneath and the box may have been sat or stepped on without any support, cracking the connection. By day’s end, the connection had been replaced, and the water was back on without leaks. Over the next few days, Dave and Loren spent a lot of time getting the holes filled and the access boxes in place to prevent a recurrence of the problem. So far, so good.
We also took the time to finish the roofing project we had started on the Peeler Memorial building. We had a smaller “L” section to place a tarp over. Cathy had sewn some tarps together before Christmas. On a slightly windier day than would be ideal, we headed up to the roof to lay out this tarp and nail it down. With the wind, we sought all hands on deck to help us hold it down until the nails could secure it. Since its placement the electrical room underneath has stayed dry.
Since then, there have been numerous projects underway. Not all of them are easily completed. However, we were thrilled to get some help from an unexpected source when Pat and Fred decided to join us here and see what this Nomads stuff was all about. Although it wasn’t an official project, we quickly got them into the swing of things, working on a punch list of tasks on Pastor Barry’s list, and some that weren’t on it. We helped remove Christmas decorations, continue to map out and upgrade the wireless network, help with meals, and even worked with the gas company to get them to live up to their contractual obligations (having run out of gas just before a church dinner).
By the 11th of January, the RV campground was pretty full, with a new Nomads project underway. This group would be working at another church. So, when Pat and Fred arrived, they were taking the last of the available slots. We had moved a camper stored in the campground to make room for the expected arrivals. However, it became clear, that we needed to get it ready for occupancy to accommodate a drop-in arriving without an RV in tow. It’s been a busy place, and it’s not looking to slow down any time soon.
We were given a rare opportunity to see a slice of old Florida up close, when we were invited to join another couple of Nomads at a nearby nursery that had been in operation in the same family for over 100 years. It was in nearby Baker County, west of Jacksonville on I-10 in Glen St. Mary’s. We were given a tour of the nursery operations, the historic office building and museum, and two of the beautiful historic homes. In order to diversify their income, the homes are used as venues for events such as weddings and catered parties as the business rebuilds from the downturn of recent years. It was a beautiful place with a lot of history.
So, with our prolonged stay in Jacksonville, the likelihood of ending up in Marathon on the boat is remote. That’s forced us to change the list of projects and priorities as we look to put Orion Jr in storage instead of the RV. Maybe we shouldn’t have bought that RV cover . . .