STUFFED

IMG_52452

Okay – so it’s all about the means to the ends, right? Actually, before talking about what happened for the past two days, I want to say Amy and I are working on this entry while sipping a glass of wine in the salon of Sequel! It’s pouring out – with lightning flashing around the boat – but, unlike our loft, it’s not raining inside!

Right – so let’s back up a moment. We’ve been hanging out in Miami because Amy is planning a program for a group that’s executing in October (oh and if  you don’t know, Amy and her business partner Lisa run an event planning company called Paramount Planners that do high end events all over the world). I, like the slug I am, tag along whenever I can because they only go to the best places and do the most amazing things. And part of the “amazing things” bit means eating at the most amazing places. And when they are checking out restaurants to see if they work for a given event, well, I become a professional eater. Tough job I know!

Case in point – yesterday. We were staying at the St Regis hotel, which is a stupidly off the hook amazing hotel. Here’s my poorly executed walkthrough of the place:

 Amy and Lisa were off doing their thing while I suffered through a day on the beach. We met up for a dinner extravaganza (and the point of my post), with them already suffering from a food coma after a luncheon feast at Yardbird, though Amy was so full she didn’t even want to say all they ate. But no worries – I’m about to detail the eating that follows next.

So we went to Michael Mina 74 in the Fountainebleau and met with their contact for the property and had a “light snack”…

Miami_Beach_FL_Fontainebleau_name01

and ate… tuna tartare, ahi and hamachi poppers, crab summer rolls, Japanese wedge salad, duck confit and scallion crepe, lobster pot pie, Rocky Road profiteroles and Macallan 18 beignets – along with some very cool cocktails and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

Amy’s quote of the night was found in the ladies room (I did NOT take this picture)

Day 1 - 4

So full – beyond full. EXTREMELY full.

But then we had to go out to dinner. Onward to 1826 Restaurant and Lounge, and yet another eager contact who wanted to show us the best the place had to offer.

1826 Restaurant & Lounge_lounge floors (rendering 1)

And we ate… leek croquettes, king salmon tartare, summer truffle risotto, lobster and crab poached with scallop dumplings, wild ramps and pastis, chicken roasted and confited with polenta orange and spring vegetable fricassee, plus more cocktails and vino. Ugh – not complaining but so damn full!

All I wanted to do was sleep, wake up, and drive the 90 some odd miles to Jupiter, FL to see Sequel – but mother nature had other plans and dazzled us with hours of insane lightning and spine tingling thunder – the like I’ve not seen in a long time.

But finally day broke and we headed out – a cloudy morning giving way to extreme southern Florida heat. And finally, after literally months of waiting, planning and dreaming, there she was!

Day 1 - 1Day 1 - 2

We made it – and though I have much more to say, I think it needs to wait till tomorrow. Suffice it to say it’s been a loooong day of prepping, shopping, storing, discovering, and yes – getting rained on. But that’s a story for later. So I’ll leave you with one last picture – and the reason for the title of this post. Oh, how the mighty have fallen, and how glad are we for it!

SONY DSC

Till then (and tomorrow’s Friday the 13th)…

John

<– Back to ICW 4

 

THE THIN GREEN LINE

(Amy running the line. One of those glasses is mine – because it’s not a Map Party without…)

When people think of the Intracoastal Waterway, aka the ICW or simply the “Ditch” – if they think about it at all – they probably picture a long, straight canal that runs from southern Florida all the way up the east coast to New England. I know that’s what I thought. But I was wrong. Hell, the ICW doesn’t even run north of Norfolk, VA. I mean, technically it does, but it’s been years since that part of the ICW has been maintained, so it’s all but impassable save for the smallest and shallowest draft craft – which definitely excludes Sequel. Rather, the ICW is a collection of canals, rivers, bays, and sounds that wends its way from southern Florida to Norfolk, VA. Some sections of the ICW are very exposed and quite vast – so vast that you are miles from shore. And other parts are so narrow and winding that approaching vessels have to take great care when passing – and where shoaling is a constant concern. Then there’s the insanely busy harbors and treacherous inlets from the Atlantic, as well as, apparently, loud and squabbling peacocks. It’s quite a mixed bag of challenges and fun.

chart_xq_Eastern_US_Routes

(The GREEN line along the east coast and ending in Norfolk, VA is the ICW)

How do I know this? Well, I’ve been researching the trip for some time. And of course we’ve inundated ourselves with more cruising guides than is proper. But most interesting of all, Amy and I have discovered (Thanks Steve) a series of short videos posted Matt Mattson and his wife Connie of their own experience running up the ICW as they traveled from Florida to Maryland to deliver their boat to its new owner. Their trip concluded at the end of April and the videos provided us with an excellent, and current, preview of what to expect – at least up to VA.

So for the past week, every night, we’ve been having a Map Party (Amy’s name), where we highlight our planned route in green. Page after page of charts – a thin green line snaking slowly north. A line that’s mirrored by an orange line that works its way up the corresponding state’s DeLorme Atlas and Gazetter (thanks Matt for that suggestion) The route on the atlas is an excellent “big picture” view of where we are.

Of course Map Parties would never be complete without a cocktail and one of these (who we’ve neglected to tell about our impending trip, and who has no idea of what a boat is, nor all the trouble and expense we’ve put into the boat to make it “Bella ready”, but that’s a story for another time)…

ICW 4 - 1

So ready or not, tomorrow we leave for Miami. We’ve shipped over 150lbs of crap to Blowing Rocks marina, where Sequel waits for us. And just now I hit the Order button on Wine.com, so 24 bottles of vino are also heading to the marina (I hope I didn’t screw up the address). Thanks Deb for that tip!

And then there’s the rest of the trip to plan. North from Norfolk. Once we begin travelling we’ll have the decision of going all the way up the Chesapeake and then down Deleware Bay, or opting for the run “outside” in the Atlantic up to Cape May. From there we have no choice – it’s a run outside to Manhattan, then up along the East River and through the Long Island Sound, past Block Island and into the Narragansett to Portsmouth, RI – where we were just yesterday dropping off our car…

Chart_U1_1

(Here’s a view of the northern part of the trip, with Norfolk, VA at the very bottom of the chart and our destination at the top)

Till the next one (which will be from Florida) about getting stuffed

John

<– Back to ICW 3

 

SWAPPING VEHICLES

(Amy says goodbye to Betty our jeep, in Portsmouth, RI)

Today we dropped our jeep off at Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth, RI, Sequel’s new home. So now we’re committed – the only way we can get that sucker back is by taking the long route – specifically, by flying to Miami, driving to Jupiter, then boating 1,400 miles north. Well, we could also just ask friends to drive us back down to RI, but there’s no fun in that.

And here’s our slip – B3. Well, there’s a squatter in there right now, but give it a few weeks…

(Thanks for the lift back home Jon and Lisa!)

Next up – ICW 4 – fun with charts

John

<– Back to ICW 2

 

SEQUEL

Sabre 38 Express running around Yarmouth, Me.

 (The above picture is of a sistership to Sequel. As you’ll read below, we’ve only seen Sequel in person for a matter of hours…)

Okay – so the stage has been set with the first post, ICW 1, but before I can even begin the story of our journey (which, as of this moment is still in front of us), I’d be doing the story an injustice if I didn’t first introduce the boat that is a new part of our family. Sequel is a 2006 Sabre 38 Hardtop Express, built by Sabre Yachts in Casco, Maine. She’s a downeast style cruiser, with a 38′ length at the waterline – about 43′ in length overall. For power Sequel has a pair of 380HP Cummins QSB5.9 electronically controlled, common rail diesel engines that give her a top end of about 30 knots, operated by a TeleFlex drive-by-wire throttle and shifter system. She carries 350 gallons of fuel, 100 gallons of water, oh and 40 gallons of “black” water – three capacities we’ll need to keep an eye on during the trip. She also has an 8kW Onan generator to keep things powered up while on the hook, including four separate air conditioning systems to keep things cool.

Leading down five steps from the helm deck is an interior that is very nicely laid out for a couple on an extended cruise (I’m beginning to sound like a sales brochure), and can easily accommodate guests, as the salon table lowers so that the addition of filler cushions the salon converts into a guest room. We like that there’s a built in wine rack in the salon too – I’m telling you, this boat was designed for us!

The helm deck has a pair of (very comfortable) Stidd helm seats, along with an L shaped settee with a beautiful pedestal table. The Stidds can pivot aft and lower to face the settee, and there’s a second ‘fridge, ice maker and sink here so we won’t have to worry about cocktail hour!

Aft and down two steps from the helm deck is the cockpit with a pair of benches facing each other, along with the required drink holders and a receptacle in the sole for another pedestal table for alfresco dining. Up three steps both port and starboard are wide side decks leading to a fairly expansive bow (perfect for sunning!), where there’s a 40 lb QCR anchor on a chain / rope rode (the length of which I don’t recall, but will no doubt find out pretty soon..).

Sabre 38 Hardtop Express

Apart from the original setup we’ve also added the following:

– New 4kW 4′ open array radar

– New 12″ touchscreen multifunction chartplotter with built in digital depthsounder

– New VHF radio with DSC, loudhailer, foghorn, and intercom

– New AIS receiver system to automatically display AIS-equipped vessels on the chartplotter, including name, heading, and speed information

– 10’6″ AB RIB with 9.9HP Honda outboard

– Freedom Lift hydraulic dinghy lift with carbon-fiber lifting arms. The entire mechanism is installed beneath the swim platform and is operated via wireless remote

– Rod holders in cockpit (and a Magma grill system that fits in a holder)

Of course, all this (and much more) has been done some 1,500 miles from our home in Boston. The only time we’ve seen Sequel (well, she had a different name back then) was in April when we went down for the marine and engine surveys and sea trial. Still – we fell in love with her, and she’s only gotten better since then.

Following are a few images of Sequel, some as recent as yesterday (emailed to us), by way of introduction.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So that’s about it for now. Once we actually get to the boat on the 12th I’ll post some more pics of her, but this should be enough to give you an idea of our new girl.

Below is from when we were on the sea trial in April. Very much enjoyed being on the boat – luckily, since we’re about to spend a lot more time on her!

And finally, I managed an iPhone video during the wide open throttle test. On board was Amy and I, our broker (an amazing gent by the name of Peter from DiMillo’s Yacht Sales in Portland, Maine), the (previous) owner’s broker, the marine surveyor, and the engine surveyor, and she hit 32 knots. Hence my grin… (and the boat is a lot quieter then what you hear, but the engine room hatch was open to allow the engine surveyor run diagnostics on the engines.)

Next up in ICW 3 I’ll share a bit of the work we’ve been doing getting ready departure day.

Till then…

John

<– Back to ICW 1

1458537_10154176761455413_1121323921_n

Somehow, during the course of this spring, while I was developing the outline for Into the Devil’s Throat as well as working on getting an audiobook in the works for Out of Hell’s Kitchen, my wife Amy and I ended up purchasing a boat. And not just any boat – but the boat we’ve been in love with ever since the first of her kind rolled out of the yard in 2005 (no small thanks to Peter, our boat broker from DiMillo’s Yacht Sales in Portland, Maine). Her name, naturally enough, is Sequel, a 2006 Sabre 38 Hardtop Express. She’s currently in Jupiter, Florida and Amy and I will be flying to Florida in less than a week to begin a 1,400 mile voyage to bring Sequel home.

Sequel 1

 

During the trip I hope to share our experiences on this blog – so that even though I may not be working on my sequel, I’ll be working on the Sequel none the less.

Next up, in ICW 2 – The Boat, I’ll talk about, well, the boat!

Till then…

John

 

Rebreather training

This past December I packed up a mountain of gear and drove down to cave country in northern Florida to get my MOD 1 training on my Sentinel rebreather. It was, well, challenging. Which was exactly what I wanted. Personally if a challenge isn’t difficult then it’s not worth pursuing. Though the twelve+ hour days kept me too busy to really think about shooting any video or stills, I still managed to grab a little video on the last day of diving…

John

Diving the Andrea Doria

Sit down, take a break from reading Out of Hell’s Kitchen, and check out this presentation I gave one diving what some people call the “Mount Everest of SCUBA diving” – the wreck of the Andrea Doria. It was quite an experience for me – one that I hope to revisit soon – and I’m happy to share it with you guys.

Enjoy and let me know what you think…

John

11069927_828785410502403_8049398264273994848_o

Well hang on! They’re currently working thought their next adventure. I just hope they make it! Stay tuned for the sequel to Out of Hell’s Kitchen entitled Into the Devil’s Throat

Ready to read Out of Hell’s Kitchen?

cropped-got_myrtle.jpg

Well then, what are you waiting for? Head on over HERE and grab your favorite format!

Diving Orange Grove cave system

Diving Orange Grove cave system in Florida

I’ve redone my website to make it even easier for folks to keep up to date with news, events, and anything interesting I can think of – including what’s going on with the sequel to Out of Hell’s Kitchen, entitled Out of the Devil’s Throat.