Archive for February, 2009

Entry for February 17, 2009

February 17, 2009

I guess I haven’t been very diligent with keeping up the Blog.  It’s been over a month since my last update and things seem to be happening very slowly around here – the Keys pace….

In January, Laura had a great trip to visit her children and grand-children out west.  She spent a week in Las Vegas visiting her son Ben’s family and new baby Ryan.  Then she flew to Seattle and spent a week with her daughter Paula and oldest daughter Jennifer and her family.  While she was gone, I lived the laid-back life but seemed to spend more time exercising than normal (too much testosterone??).  I did take the boat out once with Hank, Rob, Sue, Bob and their friends Linda and Gary.  We had a nice sail out to the Gulf Stream and back then anchored just off the harbor entrance for a nice lunch.  It was good practice leaving and docking at our new marina when I had plenty of deckhands on-board.

Rob and Sue left on Mandate for the Bahamas around mid-January and they left me their car for the next several months until they return.  It’s an older Saturn wagon with 140,000 miles so I guess they weren’t too worried about the extra miles.  We’ll deliver the car back to them in Titusville when they return in April.

A couple weeks ago I finally completed all the paperwork for running our business in Monroe County, Florida and we received our Occupational License.  We immediately drove to all the local resorts and hotels to drop off brochures for our charter business.  Laura has been keeping busy working on canvas projects for other boats.  She sews up in the cockpit and boaters walking by on the dock stop and talk to her about things they were thinking about covering.  She now has about a 3 week backlog of canvas jobs but the good news is she will make enough money to buy her own heavy duty Sailrite sewing machine by the end of February (it’s over $1,000).  We’ve been using Rob and Sue’s machine that they were “storing” with us.

I’ve been working on a few boat projects but haven’t done a good cleaning because I figured the boat would just get dirty again before our first charter.  Then, on Friday morning around 11 AM we received a call from a couple vacationing down here.  They wanted to come for a dinner sunset charter – FOR THAT AFTERNOON!  YIKES!  We had 4 hours to get the boat ready and prepare the food.  I spent the next 3 hours cleaning the decks and cockpit on my hands and knees with SoftScrub, spraying diluted acid on the stains to brighten them, and general cleanup of everything.  Laura went grocery shopping, baked a Lemon Margarita Cake (our guests choice for their dessert), preparing the Rosemary Pork Loin for the grill and general clean-up down below.  We finished about ½ hour before our guests arrived so had just enough time to clean ourselves up with showers and nice clothes.  Almost exactly at 3 PM we had everything ready as our charter clients waked down the dock.

While we were doing all this work we were watching the weather.  There was a thick fog all around the marina but the weather report called for clearing skies.  One of the locals told us there hadn’t been thick fog here in over 20 years.  Great – just what we needed for our first charter.

We left the dock and motored out of the harbor with less then ¼ mile visibility.  I wasn’t worried about navigation or other boats as we have an excellent radar and I’ve used it a lot.  But…  Our poor guests couldn’t see anything as we chatted for the next hour about our boating experiences.  Then, pretty quickly, the fog cleared and we were in a bright sunny day with clear skies.  All of a sudden we could see 8-10 miles as dolphins swam around the boat which delighted our guests.  No wind but we raised the mainsail anyway to show what sailing looked like.  I was a little late getting to the anchoring spot we had picked and the Sun was just setting as we dropped the anchor.  I quickly started the BBQ grill and Laura got the rest of the dinner on the stove downstairs.  We served dinner about ½ hour later as the last rays of the sunset were just about leaving.  Candles lit the cockpit table as Scott and Kelly enjoyed a nice romantic dinner alone in the cockpit (we spend dinnertime downstairs to let them enjoy the quiet time).  When dinner was finished we slowly motored back into the harbor and slipped the boat back into her dock at the marina. 

This was the first time I had docked at night in this marina so I was a little apprehensive.  But, our planning worked great and we tied up without any problems.  We enjoyed a glass of wine with our guests before they left the boat around 8:30 PM.  They thought the trip was great even though we didn’t do any real sailing.  One of the things they mentioned was they had spend $200 on dinner the previous night at their resort and it wasn’t anywhere near as good as what we served them.  YEA!

We’re now a 1 ½ months into our 3 month trial at the marina.  I feel like we are behind schedule with getting our business going but hopeful of a good future now that we’ve broken the ice with our first charter.  My goal is to do 20 charters here before we leave at the end of April.  We better get busy!

We’ve become friends with a few of the locals (people living on their boats and working at the marina) and seasonal boaters.  We were invited to two dock parties this weekend and Laura of course “wow’ed” everyone with her awesome desserts including 40 Cream Puffs that were devoured by about 20 people last night at a fish-fry.  The snapper fillets were supplied by one of the seasonal boaters who go out fishing almost every day.  We probably fried up 20 pounds of fillets and they were very tasty.  Other boaters brought salads and other dishes which made our dinner buffet great.

I designed some new brochures for the charter business and we’ve been printing them like mad on our little HP printer.  In the past two days I printed about 200 of them and we’ll be going around to the local resorts again today for re-stocking.  I am also working a few other marketing opportunities including a possible partnership with a local company that provides watersports to several high-end resorts.  They don’t offer anything like our charters so I’m hopeful they can send a lot of business our way (for a fee of course).

Our future plans are to still travel back to the Hudson River for summer charters there but we’re going to keep a close eye on the business here.  Several locals have told us business is much more busy and steady in the summer here.  We’re looking at options for staying down here year-round but it’s not our first choice.  We like the sailing back and forth to Upstate NY and really enjoy the summers there with our families and cool nights.  Plus staying here through hurricane season would really jack up our boat insurance.  But…  If the business looks like it will be worth it, we may just stay.