|After a month of being closed up, the boat smelled just like a celebrity perfume... Not.|
With a background in Project Management and home renovation, I thought I had a pretty good handle on estimating schedules and padding to account for unforeseen things that will invariably conspire to put you off track. In the Information Technology world, take the developer’s estimate for a task and double it. In construction, take the amount of time your contractor tells you and triple it. For boats... well, I'm not sure what the multiplier is yet, but it's certainly more than I ever imagined. Jen and the boys were scheduled to arrive December 16. It's now December 22 and I've only just arrived in Ft Lauderdale.
The plan started smoothly enough. I left Chicago the Saturday after Thanksgiving and drove to Ft. Lauderdale. It took a full day to investigate whether I could complete the paperwork myself to import the boat and pay the customs duty (the short answer is ‘no’ and ‘it will cost you’). Next, I flew to Freeport, drove the rental to the boat yard, and found the boat (yay—it survived Sandy). Then I tried to get in. Hmmm, the salon door was padlocked.
Having looked at a lot of boats with brokers, I knew all the usual places that owners hide their keys. To avoid the ire of boat owners, I will refrain from listing them here. But I hit them all and ran out of places to look. I was locked out of the place I had planned on sleeping that night. After checking to make sure the boatyard office wasn't holding a copy of the key, the yard manager said "No problem" and appeared with a grinder. After 5 seconds of sparks, I was in.
For those of you that aren't into boating, there is a certain fragrance to the inside of a boat that's been sealed up for over a month. And believe me, the scent is not going to be the next pick for a celebrity branded perfume. So first order of business is to open all the hatches and get some air flow. Great, that's better. Until I realize that the fresh air is also bringing with it a hefty swarm of no-see-ums that are now feasting on my ankles. Screens, even if I could find them, wouldn't do any good because these little bastages are small enough to go right through. So it's either swelter inside a smelly boat or become lunch for the local fauna. Three weeks later my ankles are still itchy. At least they seemed to go away once the sun went down.
Knowing that I would have a full day of work the next day, I decided to go to bed early... but not before sitting in the cockpit for a while, absorbing the view of what was to be our new home. My eyes glanced here and there, at the winches, controls, switches, tables, and lights. I stopped at the engine instrument panel and see a set of keys, dangling from the ignition switch. Oh... so that's where they were.