When we first bought SV Empress, we had no intention of being in one place for eight months, but being our first boat, there was a very steep learning curve, and she needed a lot more work than we had anticipated.
Just for a start, we had to haul her out in the boatyard to check, then replace or maintain everything below the waterline.
While in the boatyard, we used a huge Toyota Tundra V8 to move all of our belongings from hotel to hotel, as well as moving heavy boat parts like our new anchor.
3 to 4 weeks later, we dropped Empress back into the water and motored her around to Boot Key Harbor, where Jonathan lived aboard and started all the other work that needed to be done.
Suffice to say this was a list that just kept growing. With each job unearthing yet another in a seemingly endless rabbit hole of unknowns and mysteries that only exist on a boat!
The standing and running rigging were replaced and chainplates checked, refitted and replaced. A diesel leak prompted the salon floor to be cut out to inspect the tank, which luckily only needed the hose clamps replaced at the filler neck - still, you have to pay for peace of mind!
Overhauling the interior was another mammoth task, which was delayed further by the inconvenient arrival of Hurricane Irma. We evacuated leaving the boat stripped down and storm tied, hoping for the best.
When we were allowed back into the Florida Keys we found Empress still afloat on her mooring, one of 60 survivors out of 300+ boats, with a smashed window, stanchions ripped out and two dead batteries. Still, we felt extremely lucky to have made it through at all.
Fast forward to four months later, and we have just finished the last of the big jobs on the boat - installing the hard bimini top Jonathan built and installing the solar panels on top of it.
Finally with that one job completed we felt like we were suddenly closer to leaving! We can’t stress enough how much easier it is to do this kind of jobs with large parts and materials when you have a heavy-duty pickup truck with masses of storage space and load carrying ability!
Over the last few days, we have installed new stanchions and lifelines, safety tether anchors, a new battery bank, a water-maker and various other small jobs.
In a couple of days, we’ll be sitting down with two friends to plan our possible routes from the Florida Keys to the Bahamas. Watch this space; we’re leaving soon!
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