Bender Blog #2 November 2008

Believe it or not, we've finally, actually, really and truly left the dock and are underway as you read this, but here's what's preceded our departure.
November was a very busy month of preparation with numerous projects. We had a harness/snubber made to distribute the load on windless/bow pulpit; generator alternator was rebuilt; the dinghy outboard got a new/spare prop and 2nd fuel tank; replaced several plastic fittings with brass for water supply lines; engine oil changes; replaced genset hoses, belt, coolant and thermostat; installed vacuum gauges on Racor filters; replaced exhaust elbows (and Bill must show everyone who even came near, his "new elbows". One friend said he hoped not to offend but he really wasn't interested in the elbow viewing); purchased EPIRB, new fenders and covers, new dock lines, new teak wonderfully comfy chairs for fly bridge; modified and reinforced dinghy and kayak cradle; installed new windshield wipers and motors; had canvas covers made for 2nd and 3rd anchor rodes, Bill received his very first social security check; Laura celebrated another birthday~~~~~~~~are ya bored yet???
After several November delays to begin our journey, we finally cast off our dock lines and are on our way!!! Several days before we left, another marina friend was leaving for the Bahamas and called us over to his boat and said, "Let me show you how this is done. You untie the lines...just like this...and then you just go. Will see you down there!" and he was on his way. So we took his advice and followed his example. We got together with one of our couple friends two different times for bon voyage dinners. I'm sure they wondered if we were ever really going to voyage!!!
Just gotta say that hanging out in our slip in Charleston was wonderful. We really loved marina life and being in walking/running/cycling distance from historic downtown Charleston and, eager as we were to head out, we also hated leaving. Living in the marina, we're outdoors so much everyday~~as are other live-aboards~~and the friendship and camaraderie among us is the real treat that was difficult to leave. These are the greatest folks who not only are live-aboards here but are weekenders on their boats. We love 'em all and will miss them greatly. Our plans were to depart Saturday, November 29, but there was yet another party that night and several friends asked, "why don't you just stay through the weekend so you can go to the low-country boil/oyster roast on Saturday night?" It's difficult to stay for "just one more party" because this marina is one perpetual party (and we love it)! We did stay and what a perfect ending to our Charleston experience. The party venue was at what I'd consider a bastion of the old salty Charleston, at a semi-working yard on Shem Creek in view of docked fishing boats. What enormous piles of oysters, shrimp, sausage, corn, etc.!!! It was so much fun and made a wonderful last memory of Charleston boating life.
It's taken us every moment of the two months that we've been home from our September vacation to get ready to cruise. We had no idea that preparing to leave terra firma could be such a huge job!! I don't think it took Noah this long to build the ark from scratch, provision it, and fill it with all creatures great and small. Bill's complaining that the only downside to retirement is that he never gets a day off. He's even threatened to go back to work just to get a rest. He's made sure that everything is mechanically sound and that we've got a spare part for anything that could possibly malfunction--and then a spare part for that spare part. Laura has provisioned and catalogued every food item so they'll be easily accessed. I think had we brought one more thing aboard that we'd have surely sunk. Wondered if we were going to have to get a can of paint and a brush to raise the waterline.
Bill finally finished his U.S. Power Squadron celestial navigation and got that in the mail. He began it about 2 years ago but never had time to complete it. Getting that off to the appropriate people was one of his goals before leaving here. His US Coast Guard captain's license is completed~~he's fingerprinted, drug tested, and now a card-carrying captain.
Ol' 14 year old deaf Bailey Dawg has adjusted beautifully to living aboard. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? On the aft deck she has a small green Astroturf mat complete with a plastic daisy in full bloom and that's where she does her business. She loves a romp down the dock to the grass but if not, all's well and she's just fine. A boater we recently met had a deaf dog and he signed to the dog. I'm not sure my patience is that infinite but what a clever thing to do!!!
The current rips through our ex-marina home at about 3-4 knots and visiting boaters who aren't accustomed to that unfortunately have mishaps with their boats when they're entering or leaving the marina. The marina is The Harborage at Ashley but is commonly known as Ashley Marina, however its nickname is "Crashley Marina". It isn't uncommon to see boats being swept sideways by the current nor to hear the sickening crunch of fiberglass--not a pretty sound. Recently a new boat came into Ashley for a few nights and ricocheted off 4 boats plus a dock on its arrival. As it was leaving, the current carried it at an angle down our fairway and hooked the anchor on the bow rail of our neighbor, a 57' Davis sport fisherman, causing the bow rail to look toward its tern. The hit-and-run failed to report his mishap so we tattled to the dock office. Long story short, the Davis was in a boatyard for 3 months for a $30,000 repair. The owner verbally thanked us profusely and tangibly with a bottle of very nice Dom Perignon!! :-) We thought that toasting our long-awaited departure with his gift was fitting.
I have never in my entire life been as cold as I was in Charleston. The temps in Greenville were much colder and often with snow and ice but the Charleston cold goes straight to the bone!!! Perhaps giving away almost all of our cold weather clothes to charities before leaving Greenville added to the marrow-chilling cold. Must've thought we'd be in a perpetual tropical paradise when I pared our wardrobes down to not much more than shorts and tee's. As we progress in a southerly direction, we're very much looking forward to warmer climes!!!
So the best news and last paragraph of our November installment is that we are underway with a whole new world of adventure before us and we're as excited as two little kids at Christmas. The best is yet to come!!! We wish you a wonderful Christmas and we'll send another update in a month.
Fondly,
Cap'n Bill, Admiral Laura, and Swabbie Bailey Dawg Bender
M/V Kindred Spirit III

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