We are back at the marina in Savannah, Georgia after our whirlwind trip to Fort Lauderdale. Today is the big day, the day we officially "move" from Odyssey to Vector. Fittingly, today is also the day the sign company will arrive to remove the old name from the boat and apply the new one; we have a bottle of champagne all set to be sacrificed to Neptune in the official de-naming ceremony, which must be done in the short window while the transom is blank, and tomorrow we will use yet another bottle to christen the boat with her new name.
I actually had planned to post here yesterday morning, with our final Odyssey road-trip report before the big move. However my laptop froze immediately after I booted it, first cup of coffee in hand. Thereafter it would not boot at all, and it took me the rest of the day to repair it. There were some bad spots on the hard drive, and a couple of them ended up in critical Windows files, including the paging file. I've had two or three similar crashes in the last couple of months, which I had attributed to bad antivirus software, the removal of which had seemed to cure the problem. I can probably put my preferred antivirus back now, but I will need to get myself a new hard drive -- generally once this kind of decay starts, you can count on it to continue until the drive is completely unusable.
In any case, what I would have said yesterday morning is that we were at a small truck stop in Darien, Georgia (map). It had the advantage of being right across the street from a Ruby Tuesday, where we ate after a long driving day. The restaurant turned out to share a parking lot with an outlet mall. Although half the storefronts in the mall were vacant (not sure if the mall was dying, or brand new), after dinner we stopped in to browse and ended up buying a number of kitchen items for the boat at the kitchenware outlet, as well as two pair of boat shoes at the shoe outlet. The truck stop adjoined a commercial tire shop and was a fine stop for the night, right where we needed it to be. We arrived just before sunset.
Monday morning found us at the Walmart in Fort Pierce, Florida (map), a familiar stop. On our last visit there, I wrote that security asked us to park with the other RVs, which were all at the north end of the lot. This time when we arrived, all the rigs were at the south end, and we simply parked among them rather than tempt fate with security. Once again there were plenty of rigs, perhaps a dozen or so, and a sort of campground atmosphere had broken out in the lot, with people strolling around among rigs and chatting. At least we did not see lawn chairs and other camping accoutrements on this visit, as I have noted there before.
After dinner at Cowboys' restaurant next door, where most patrons had crammed into the bar to watch the big game, we went into the store to continue filling our boat outfitting list, since getting bulkier items once we're parked at the marina is tricky. I ended up buying another half dozen or so large plastic bins for storage in the outside lockers in the Portugese bridge and flybridge coaming, and we added to the growing collection of floor mats, linens, and other items needed in various spots around the boat. I am certain there are "yachtsmen" who will be horrified to learn that we are outfitting the boat at Walmart.
We got a fairly early start Monday, but our first stop was just a quarter mile away, at the Home Depot. There we bought two comfortable patio chairs for the aft deck, along with a pair of hardwood folding chairs and matching folding table which we can use on the aft deck and the flybridge. We had scoped all these items out at our Home Depot visit in Jacksonville on the way south. The one outdoor chair that came with the boat was just done, and we gave it away. There had been a pair of them when we first saw her in July, but the other one apparently disintegrated before we arrived for the sea trial. Between all the storage bins, patio furniture, and other items, the living room of the bus was chock-a-block with boat items by the time we rolled in to the marina.
We only made it as far as Fort Pierce Sunday because we got a late start from Dania Beach. After my last post here we met up with local friends Steve and Harriett. They have a Neoplan Spaceliner similar to Odyssey (theirs is longer, wider, and newer), which was recently featured on the Travel Channel in the Mega RV Countdown. They also have a large boat, and over brunch at nearby Lester's Diner, we got to talking about tenders, and Steve mentioned he had a Novurania RIB he wasn't using and would be happy to sell us. So we ended up heading over to his storage unit after brunch to look at it, and, while we were there, we also looked at the golf cart he just finished modifying to fit in one of his luggage bays, replacing the single-seat ATV he's kept in there thus far.
It ended up being a longer day down south than we had planned, but it was productive, because we decided to buy the tender to replace the one we have now, which needs some work and is not the style we prefer. It comes with a trailer, so we will end up swapping our existing tender onto the trailer so we can sell them together, which will make things easier for whoever buys it. Unlike our current one, the "new" dinghy (they are the same age) sports running lights, a steering wheel and throttle lever instead of tiller steering with twist grip, real seats, a VHF radio, a GPS chartplotter, and integral fuel tank. As we plan mostly to anchor out, all these features will be welcome.
We were pretty happy with the decision, but things got even better when Steve texted us on our way here to say he is interested in the Frigibar chest freezer we have on our aft deck. It's a fantastic unit; my jaw dropped when I looked them up to see how much they cost new. The previous owner had it installed on the boat when he fist bought it. But, as nice as it is, and as handy as it would be when we finally start cruising offshore, it takes up valuable space on the aft deck that we would rather have for dining, cocktails, or just relaxing. The area barely holds two chairs now, and with the freezer gone we can fit four chairs around the table I mentioned above. So I had listed it on the Trawler mailing list as well as the local Craigslist.
If Steve ends up taking the freezer we can make the swap with the tender in one trip, and we'll only have a single cash transaction, easier all around. If I can get a few bucks for the open-style Nautica tender and 25hp Honda that we have now, our out-of-pocket costs for the new tender will be quite reasonable. That will leave more in the kitty to fix some of the other problems on the boat.
As we rolled into the Savannah area yesterday we stopped at Petsmart for a new automatic litter box and Home Goods for more linens to round out the great outfitting expedition. The litter box was non-negotiable, as I need to have the cats' necessities handled before we move them aboard later today. The cats sometimes seem to run our lives, and this will be no exception: once they are aboard, we will officially be "moved in" and tonight will be our first night on the boat. We want to get them settled and at least partly acclimated to the boat before our training captain arrives Friday and we shove off Saturday morning for a four day training cruise.
Once we are on the boat our access to the Internet will be much more constrained than it has been on the bus. I expect my posting frequency to drop considerably. I also do not plan to post our location in real time any longer, the consensus among cruisers being that it represents something of a security risk. But stay tuned, because there is lots more to come. Among other things, I plan to do an Odyssey wrap-up at some point, wherein I will share some of the statistics from eight and a half years on the road.