We were audacious enough to think we could pull off a major refit in a month’s time. We limped into Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a badly clogged fuel system and loads of crud in our tanks. Our sails and sail covers were tattered. Our little generator seemed like it had a terminal case of the flu. One of our rudders was making ominous knocking sounds. Our dinghy engine was on its last legs, having rusted nearly away in its 10 years of life.
We docked at Lauderdale Marine Center after an amusing trip up the New River past waterfront mansions cheek by jowl along the crowded little waterway and immediately started interviewing potential service providers.
Our list of work was long: clean the fuel tanks, replace all the standing rigging, repair the sails and replace the torn mainsail bag, much canvas work (new bimini and curtains, dinghy chaps, permanent screens for companionway door and galley window, seat cushions), refinish deck chairs, remove the old generator and replace with a new one (oh, by the way, this entailed using a crane to pull one main engine out of the boat entirely, set it on the ground and lower the new generator in and then drop the main engine back in), install two air conditioning units, rewire the boat for 240V/50hz power from its original European power, replace the washer/dryer unit, plus a whole bunch of projects we would do ourselves.
We got down to hiring service providers and hounding them to work harder and faster. We really wanted to get out on our timetable because the Bahamas beckoned and we had plans to get up the East Coast and meet up with friends and family. Boat refitting is similar to making renovations on a house, but in much smaller quarters with everything you want to access under, behind or in between something else. This means the whole boat is torn apart. And all the contents of those perfectly stowed cabinets and lockers are now spread over every square inch. Making it hard to work, live, maneuver, breathe.
Everybody worked diligently and understood what we wanted to accomplish. Once they began they showed up and worked hard to get their projects done … except for one company – our riggers. Despite our continuous hounding of them, they failed to show up and do any significant work for about a month in the middle of our stay. It got to the point where all the other workers finished and moved onto other projects. We’d pass them on the docks and they’d ask “Ya’ll still here?”
We eventually gave up on getting to the Bahamas this season, making apologies to our nephews, whom we’d promised some time in the islands, as well as friends Lloyd and Rob, who wanted to do the sail over with us. Also, we were then approaching the time of year when our insurance would not cover us for tropical storm damage because we were lingering in the south for too long. So we also lost the chance to stop in northern Florida and visit with Uncle Bob and Aunt Lorraine. But on the bright side, being stuck in Fort Lauderdale so long allowed us to see family and friends, attend our dear friends’ wedding, see Mary’s folks and Mr Kitty in Central Florida and Mary to travel up to NYC to celebrate her god daughter’s high school graduation. Also, we had a wonderful visit from Uncle Bob, who drove all the way down from Stuart to meet us on Neko. And we saw Mary’s brother Tom (and Andre) before he moved from Miami and who kindly lent us his car for a month.
And Mary made time to help rescue a baby raccoon who had fallen in the water.
So good things do come to those who wait and Neko is almost as good as new. And we leave Fort Lauderdale much better than when we came.