Fri 23 Apr 2010 15:54
42:13:04 N
74:37:53 W
We've been home for almost a week now. We kept meaning to post some sort of update, and of course never got around to it. Today I received an email from Norm Wolfe, a Shallow Water Sailor, asking how was our homecoming, and what would we have done differently on the trip, what would I change on the boat, etc.? I started a quick email to him, which turned into a long email, so I figure I may as well take the lazy way and copy-and-paste it here, with a few additions. I know Lilly has a lot to say that is more thoughtful and less technical in nature. I hope she'll get to add that soon.
I drove the car and trailer home; Lilly and the girls flew back to LaGuardia, and then went to the home of our friends Sharene and Matt in Pelham, where she had left our car. The emergency brake had frozen in our absence. With a lot of WD-40 and several hours of work, Lilly and Matt got it to release. We all got home on April 17. That afternoon and through the evening, we had a few snow flurries.
AAAAAGGGHHHH! No!!! Make it stop!
(It melted away the next day and hasn't been seen since.)
Catching up on two months of mail and work and regathering our many animals has been a bit overwhelming. We're happy to be home, but sad to not be living on the boat any more. Strangely, home can seem just as crowded as the boat, at times.

All our best hopes for the trip were realized. We really bonded as a family, and had an adventure we'll remember forever. Everyone came out of it empowered in many ways. We've always been a pretty close family, but I have to say that after the trip, the affection really flowed. Lots of hugs, even still. And I think Lilly and I, having gone through this intense experience of relying on each other so much each day, have new love and appreciation for each other. I keep thinking of the passage from Nassau to Bimini, when we had to do an all-nighter, and Lilly came up at 1 AM to tell me to get some sleep, and she took the tiller and steered us on for several hours through that dark night. Wow.

We returned just at the beginning of the girls' spring break, which was lucky, as they both have some schoolwork to catch up on. They've gotten to see some friends, but haven't had to deal with re-entry to the full chaos of school yet. We left that extra week of padding in there in case we really got socked in by weather. If we hadn't crossed back from Bimini when we did, we would have used up the cushion. I think we pushed it a bit too much crossing on the day we did -- hindsight being 20/20. Better to have an easy crossing and get home late, but that's a hard decision to make.

I'm planning out a new and stronger rudder system, which will probably take a while to get built. Thicker blade, thicker rudder cheek, heavier pintles and gudgeons, larger aluminum backing plate for the side of the blade that isn't against the cheek.

Aside from that, there isn't too much different we would've done in our preparations. Buying a bimini might be on the list -- the sun exposure was pretty oppressive at times -- but before we left for this trip we were completely spent out and couldn't have afforded one anyway. Maybe a year or two down the road. The polytarp awning I made is complicated to set up and take down, and can only be used at anchor, not while sailing, so it's not ideal.

We did return with a lot of excess food, but we figured we would. Better to have too much than to run out. So we'll be eating our home-canned stews for a while yet.

What else is on my "boat" list?
-- New water hand pump (our old one cracked internally and leaked incessantly).
-- Larger wheels & tires for the trailer. I had 1 blowout on the way down, and 2 on the way back. We're hauling nearly 5000 lbs. on four 175/80/R13 tires -- two of which are load range D (1610 lbs), and two of which are load range C (1360 lbs). Works in theory, but not in practice. Two of the blowouts were C, and one was D. I'd like to get some 15" wheels and tires rated to 2150 lbs or so. That's an expensive change, but it's also expensive buying new tires to replace our blowouts. . . . I just need to do some measuring to see if we'll still have room for the trailer shocks to move properly.
-- Oh yeah: put up that USCG-required oil placard. . . .

I'm itching to get back to the Bahamas, but it may not happen for a decade or so, until our girls go off to college. Clearing that amount of time with work and school, and getting all our animals taken care of, was almost impossible. We do joke often now -- whenever it's cold, or we have to deal with anything unpleasant -- "Quick! Back into the boat! Back to the Bahamas!"   We may try a Florida Keys trip in a few years, and just squeeze it into a couple of weeks during a school break.

Not much else I can think of now. Got to get that rudder built, and get our lives sorted out here. We will go to Cape Cod in late July, and maybe a boys' fishing trip in Maine in August.
Here's a shot of our bent rudder blade. The lower pintle is bent, too.