We finally left Washburns and had a lovely run down past the Potomac, and into a lovely anchorage at Fishing Bay on the Piankatank River, just north of Mobjack Bay. As we had our sundowners, we saw N55 April K on AIS, and watched as they anchored a little way from us in the fading light. Paul hailed us on VHF and we chatted for a while. They were heading offshore from Norfolk, and had left by the time we got up the following morning.
We continued the next day to York River Yacht Haven. I had originally booked another month with them, thinking we would spend October here but the delays at Washburns meant we would probably only stay a couple of weeks. Lisa helped us tie our lines and welcomed us back to what we consider our Chesapeake home port. Ted checked in with US Customs to report our movement across the state line into Virginia, which our cruising license requires us to do.
The next day we gave Southern Star a long overdue wash-down, after spending two months at a dirty boatyard. It was good to get her shiny and clean again. The weather was lovely for our first few days there – sunny and mild.
Back in August we had arranged to visit the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, aka FLIBS, and spend some time with Katie and Michael on Kya. They had since told us they were listing Kya for sale, and while we were sad to hear the news, we were not surprised after the awful experience they had firstly being hit by the big boats, and then the appalling treatment at the hands of their own insurance company.
Monday morning we called a Lyft and were dropped at Richmond Airport about 45 minutes away. This is a lovely regional airport which has direct daily flights to Ft Lauderdale, and which I’d booked in August. Michael, Katie and Penny met us at Fort Lauderdale Airport and we got a rapturous welcome from Penny. Over drinks that evening we learned about their pending purchase of a large piece of land in Byron Bay back in Australia. Michael was definitely back to his old self talking about his plans for the property and the buying process which was particularly complicated as part of an estate settlement. We were delighted that they have found something new and exciting to focus on.
Kya was looking gorgeous with her new hull job so bright and shiny, all the stainless like new, and the interior immaculate. While there we helped with some minor jobs, cleaned windows, and did a major wash-down when we learned there were some potential buyers coming to view the boat.
The broker also came to reshoot some video and drone footage, for the web listing. After they’d finished we shared an Uber to the boat show as it turned out the courtesy shuttle between the show and the marina was running late.
FLIBS is an extraordinary event. Held over five days, it consists of multiple huge air-conditioned tents each dedicated to a portion of the marine industry. Boating accessories, engines, electronics, destinations, all have their own areas. Then there are the boats: everything from small dinghies, kayaks and paddleboards, sailboats, catamarans, trawlers, cigarette boats, motor yachts and superyachts – all are represented.
Ted and I had a short but important hit list. We needed a new life raft for our upcoming ocean passages as the one on board is overdue for recertification, and is 15 years old. To recertify it would cost about 2/3 of a brand new one. We wanted to research satellite communications options for offshore, although Ted was pretty certain about what he wanted. And we needed to talk to insurers as our own insurance is due at the beginning of December, and with our plans to go to Colombia, Panama and through the Canal, we know our insurance will be a much greater cost than the past two years just cruising the US and Bahamas. We were also interested in any marinas from Central America who were exhibiting. The show is so overwhelming that unless you plan to spend all five days there, a short and focused list is the only way to be efficient.
We found our life raft on the first day, purchasing a new Viking 4 person raft which we arranged to be delivered to us in Brunswick. That evening when the show closed, we had been invited to drinks and snacks at the Lauderdale Marine Centre booth, where Kya has been since May. So we ended the first day of the show, and then headed back to wait for the courtesy shuttle, which did finally come.
Earlier that day we found the Sealegs booth and Ted reconnected with Josh who was manning the stand from the Bristol office where Ted had spent several weeks over recent years while at Sealegs in Auckland.
The next morning we were cleaning the boat, and preparing for the viewing that evening, so didn’t get to the show till the afternoon. We bought an Iridium Go which is a very cool device offering messaging, internet, access to weather data, and a US phone number, so that anyone trying to call us via satellite only has to call a US number. All of this in a device not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes.
It is amazing to me, when I think of the big suitcase sat phones in use when I worked at Inmarsat back in the nineties. I visited the Inmarsat stand at FLIBS, but knew no one there. It seemed like another lifetime that I used to attend shows like this, my days starting with breakfast meetings for my boss, and then manning the stand during the day, punctuated by a hosted lunch, and then off to organize cocktail parties and hosted dinners. It would be after midnight before I’d collapse in my hotel room, only to start again around 6am the next morning. And all of that in high heels!
But now I’m the one attending the fancy parties instead of organizing them. That evening we had all been invited to drinks at the Nordhavn stand at FLIBS. They were showing another N68 Migration, which was being sold by friends of Katie and Michael, as he had purchased a new N68. The new N59 Coastal Pilot was also on display. They have improved the internal layout of this boat since the earlier model, which we saw in Marathon when we met Larry and Jamie on N59 Independence.
At the party we met up with Keith from N47 Acqua Dolce, who had cruised with N47 Roam last year in Newfoundland, and who we had met in the Bras d’Or lakes on their way back. His cruising plans are currently on hold while Romy recovers from knee surgery. Later we chatted with Devin Zwick who we’d met at Trawler fest two years ago, and who had some great observations and suggestions as we plan for our next adventure to Panama and Mexico.
The planned open boat on Kya on Friday evening did not occur, and was rescheduled for 9.00am Saturday. We had done all we wanted to at the show, and the thought of walking around the show for another day at the weekend in the Florida heat, with double the crowds, did not appeal. We helped make Kya beautiful for two groups of people coming through, and then headed off to Lester’s Diner for breakfast.
While we were in Fort Lauderdale, Ted and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Michael and Katie had their anniversary only a few days earlier, so Katie booked a table at Grill 66 for Saturday night, and we had a lovely evening with great food, wonderful friends and looking out over all the superyachts at FLIBS.
In a bizarre coincidence, we had discovered that our good friend Tyler was also at Lauderdale Marine Center, where the superyacht he works on was hauled out for maintenance. He and his girlfriend Emma were staying aboard, and so we arranged to meet up with them while Katie and Michael showed the second group through Kya. They came back to the boat with us when Katie texted the all clear and we invited them back the next afternoon when Ted was planning to put a load of wings on the grill.
So our last afternoon in Fort Lauderdale was spent with great friends on board Kya, enjoying too much food and wine, all while Sunday football was showing on TV. A perfect day.
We flew back to Richmond on Monday morning, picked up a rental car and spent two days provisioning Southern Star. By now it was 5th November. My US visa expires on 9th December, and I must be out of the country by then. Given possible weather delays, we decided to take advantage of the Costco in Newport News, and the ability to provision while at York River.
Provisioning Southern Star for six months cruising in remote areas requires a lot of planning, starting with taking inventory of what is already on board, and reviewing the spreadsheet I run showing usage of items. Then I have to balance what makes sense to purchase in the US, as it all has to be stored, and while Southern Star has a lot of room, space is still limited, particularly in the fridge and freezers. I had done this work prior to leaving for Fort Lauderdale, and had a shopping list for Costco, another for Total Wine, and a third for regular supermarket shopping. Some of the quantities at Costco are just not practical for us.
We did the beer and wine shopping on the way back from the airport, also picking up an autopilot pump that had been rebuilt. The rest of the day was spent unpacking and storing the wine and beer at various points around the boat. The next day was Costco – a full day by the time we drove over there, filled up two large carts, piled up the car and drove back to the boat. We could only unpack half of the stuff that day, finishing up the bathroom supplies the next morning before returning the rental car. Then we used the marina courtesy car to finish up other items we could get locally, leaving only last minute fresh items to buy just before we leave the country.
As we had the courtesy car, we also decided to arrange for renewal of Ted’s blood pressure meds, after visiting two clinics that refused to issue an annual prescription, we found one in Newport News that would, and got that done as well, to save any last minute scrambling further south.
We left York River Yacht Haven, probably for the final time on Saturday 9th November, giving us four weeks to get down the ICW through Virginia and North Carolina to Morehead City, then wait for a weather window to get hopefully down to Brunswick, Georgia – 350 miles, 50 hours at sea, then wait for more weather, for the next 350 miles to West Palm Beach, Florida where we will need to do our final provisioning and check out of the US by 9th December.