We made tremendous progress today – most of the running rigging on Mojo has now been replaced (we shudder to think how much money we’ve spent on rope!)  Tomorrow we still have the genoa furling line to replace (and that will be a real pickle – the knot holding the furling line to the furler is covered by the bottom of the furler itself so tomorrow we have to try to take the furler apart), the boom vang line, and the flag halyards. We also want Norm there when we try to fire up the engine for the first time – we are just crossing our fingers that it starts. We have a diesel mechanic scheduled to come and teach us some basic maintenance practices, and also take a look at the beast and see if it needs any major medical procedures. We talked with Norm today about doing an overnight session with him (similar to the Bareboat certification, but not worrying about getting the actual ASA card) and also having his help moving the boat to a DIY boatyard where Joe and I can work on it safely. He said he can help us with all of this in about a week and a half.

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Catching up with the kids
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New halyards
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Mojo at Snead Island Boat Works

Meanwhile, we have some things still up in the air:

  1. The St. Pete marina doesn’t think it will have a transient slip for us after all, due to dock construction going on there. We have to wait and see over the next few days.
  2. Maybe we can just keep floating the boat at Snead Island long enough to get a space in a DIY boatyard, and get Norm to help us move it – but we don’t know if that’s possible yet.
  3. We still have to find an excavator for the lot back in Eugene. Joe and I have reached out to a few, but haven’t heard anything back from them yet.

I also wanted to write about this unexpected issue Joe and I have encountered – the lack of boatyards in general, let alone DIY boatyards where the owners can work on their personal boats. Apparently it is a real problem everywhere along Florida’s coast. It seems that boatyards that had been around for decades have been getting bought up and turned into condos (makes sense, because these yards are often on prime coastal real estate, with deep water marinas already built and running). Those boatyards that do still remain have mostly turned into “full-service” yards and no longer allow owners to do any work themselves. The hourly rates at these yards seem to average $85-$90/hour. The yard where we are right now wanted to charge us $620 just to remove the damaged davits off the stern of our boat! That just seemed crazy to us, when all we need is a ladder and a small set of basic tools to take it apart ourselves. But, we have to find a yard that will let us do that. We have a couple of leads on yards quite a ways south of us in Port Charlotte, and one of them will even let the owners live on the boats while working on them. What’s so remarkable to us is just how difficult it is to locate yards like this.

It seems that it really is getting harder and harder to liveaboard and cruise ‘on the cheap’. Joe and I have read so many books and stories about people who just jumped onto their boats, anchored their way around the world and didn’t have to spend much time or money in marinas. But we are finding that many anchorages (at least around the US) are disappearing, the ones that remain are often pretty crowded – especially on weekends, and many cities are trying to outlaw (or already have outlawed) the right of boats to anchor anywhere inside their coastlines – this push often comes from homeowners who have bought increasingly expensive waterfront property and don’t want to look at boats in the water from their living rooms. Some cities have created mooring fields, which is some kind of concession, but these still cost money (although less than a marina slip), and they are often full. It’s all a little bit discouraging, especially when so many cruisers are really thoughtful and conscientious sailors, and are also living on some kind of budget.

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