Yup.. For the third time since we have owned Party of Five, she has splashed again. Its strange to sit here and type that. When I envisioned this whole crazy adventure I was sure I would only post about this moment once (maybe twice). Hell we have cruising friends that made 7 years before a haul date (haul the boat out of water). As with anything, there is a multitude of reasons why we have hauled 3 times in 24 months.
First… Ignorance… Hell we are just a bunch of red neck hicks from northern Alberta. We had NO IDEA what it meant to own a cruising boat. Seriously, maybe you think “What do you need to know?”. Well let me tell you, there is a ton to know and no lake boat is going to prepare you for the reality that is the ocean! We were also “new” to Party of Five herself and she didn’t have time to tell us what she needed yet (and we had no idea, remember, red neck hicks).
So after our initial “refit” in Key West we headed south and it quickly became evident that we had missed some things. To be honest, it was nothing really big and most cruisers would have done most of those fixes in the water.. With one exception… We had listened to the advice of some liveaboards in Key West and choose Sherwin Williams bottom paint. They assured us we would get great performance and some local boats had gotten 24 months of life in the local waters. Ah, there is the key, “The Local Waters”. The Caribbean is not “local Florida Waters” ( no really, Florida is not technically in the Caribbean). As we worked our way south it became very evident around Turks and Caicos that our paint was not going to last and we might expect 6 months of life (I’m guessing water temp). Once we made it to Grenada, I had made my mind up that we would haul and I would paint and fix EVERYTHING on the list while we were on the hard. Queue haulout #2.
During that haulout in Grenada I hummed and hawed about what paint I would apply this time. After Key West, I swore I would NEVER do a complete sanding again (pretty sure that is the third ring of hell). Since the Sherwin Williams paint was still soundly stuck to our hull it didn’t need complete removal (it just didn’t keep things from growing anymore). So with that in mind I checked what paint was available locally and began downloading data sheets to see what might be compatible. Unfortunately the only paint that looked to be %100 compatible was the cheapest paint Budget Marine carried (Nautical Pro Guard Ablative). It was also a brand new product for them and they couldn’t tell me any history. Sigh.. Rolling the dice again! Rhonda and I gritted our teeth, stocked up on beer, and went to work. It was 10 days of sunup to sundown for us to knock all the jobs off the list again. We splashed (to big fanfare) around October 10th. Party of Five had not been in this good of shape for 10 years. We were primed for cruising and sure we wouldn’t need to haul again for 24 months or so!
We then spent the next 9 months running up the island chain with cruising friends (Avanti, Grateful, Higgins, Flip Flops, Time Chaser). During that time we stayed in some very “bio active” environments (Jolly Harbor, St. Martin Lagoon, Elephant Bay, Trellis Bay) and I was sure our paint would fail again. However it turned out my dice roll had paid off. 9 months in and our paint was only growing weed and some very small barnacles. Based on my cleaning I was pretty sure I could get another 6-7 months before I would need to repaint. That gamble paid off big time as I only spent $450 (usd) on ALL the paint for Party of Five. We could run back to Grenada and easily spend the entire season on that paint (maybe next season with some scraping). Kickass!
However…. Sometimes haulouts aren’t done because of technical reasons. As I have wrote before, the logistics and family dynamics play a HUGE roll. So about 6 months out of Grenada, and while we were enjoying the BVIs we began talking about “next season”. We were still hanging out with Higgins so naturally Nick and I had some talks about “plans” (over beers). It was fantastic to have someone as a sounding board, but eventually Higgins and Party of Five went separate ways (stupid USA visa requirements for British boats). Once Higgins departed, they headed towards the ABCs with eventual plans to run to Panama. It was around this point that Rhonda and I realized we needed to put on our “big boy” pants and lay some solid plans. It really only came down to 2 choices. 1. We would run back down to Grenada and spend the hurricane season with our friends in the SWEALTERING heat…. Or 2. We would put the boat on the “hard” and head back to Canada for 4 months……
We struggled big time with this decision.. It wasn’t 1 and 2 (black and white) as it seemed on the surface. Each choice had pluses and minuses. Budget played a big factor in our decision and once the numbers were crunched we realized that storing the boat in Grenada was out of the budget. This meant we would need to store more north in the hurricane zone (another dice roll). In the end we played the “calculated risk” and decided for a trip to Canada while storing in a VERY secure yard in Antigua. After preparing Party of Five we were sure it would take a Category 3 or above to damage her (little did we know).
Opps got off topic a bit. Queue haulout #3. Party of Five sat for 4 months through the blistering summer heat, pouring squalls and YES category 3 hurricane winds during our time in Canada. Its said among cruisers that “Boats get sad when their owners leave”, and the Party of Five crew now understand that saying very well. Although she initially looked just like we left her, a closer inspection revealed the subtle sadness. Dirty decks, rusty items, bird shit EVERYWHERE and absolutely destroyed bottom paint (sun baked and flaking). Sigh…. deep breath… Rent a car, stock up on beer, roll up our sleeves and GET TO WORK…. AGAIN… (I don’t recommend your first right hand drive vehicle, on left hand drive roads be down here in the islands… a little too much adventure). 9 days (only 6 of sunup to sundown as Jared from Una Vida provided a good excuse to shirk our duties for 3 days) of hard work! 9 Days later Party of Five splashed again…. Unfortunately boats being &(*#ing boats, we didn’t get away from the dock till day 10 and motored around to the place in the Caribbean that would be the closest to a “Home” we have….. Jolly Harbor!
350 pounds of gear explodes on Party of Five. This is literally hours after arriving. Rhonda is making some juice as we are already hot and thirsty. We had to walk through piles of bird shirt, the boat stinks like boat smank and stuff is EVERYWHERE. Welcome back to cruising!
Somebitch… I make a cute blue bunny… In all seriousness, even with all that gear on I began to have a constant taste of copper in my mouth after day 3. That paint is bad bad shit… (notice the big chunk of missing paint)
If I ever catch that bastard smurf I will kick his ass…. However Rhonda looks pretty happy!
Coat one done…. As an aside.. The boat spooning Party of Five is Una Vida. The BIG ass boat behind us is a actually a private vessel. It was originally built by the government of Newfoundland as a research vessel. However it was designed incorrectly and was horrible at sea. The current owners bought her for a “song” and steamed her here, where she was redesigned and modified. She had over 20ft added in the rear. She is now very seaworthy and the owners are contemplating steaming her to Figi…. on a single fill of fuel… She can hold 10,000 gallons of fuel (pretty sure that almost the entire interior volume of POF).
Freedom! Here Quincy and I wait for Party of Five to be delivered to the slipway and dropped in the water. (The island is the background is Jumby.. It costs $5000/night/couple to stay there).
Rhonda snapped this picture as Party of Five passed us in the travel lift (she was on board). Yup, I have sweat through my shirt… Ahhhh the ever sexy moob sweat! However, my beard is coming in nice!
On water, on Party of Five… Pretty sure this picture says it all.. If only they could swim!
We motored around to Jolly Harbor and the kids wasted no time jumping in.
Getting back to cruising also wouldn’t be complete unless we used our one luxury item (a 19” LED TV) to watch our favorite movie… ROCKY!