We posted local ads on dregslist and facefuck for our diesel engine and left Key West on a sheet of glass covered in salad.

...all the Atlantic Glass
…shhhhhh, it’s quiet time!

Not a breath, a sigh, nor even a whisper of wind on our ocean all the live long day.

All the boats off Boot Key

…And any day you have to listen to a diesel infernal-combustion engine on a sailboat is a long fucking day!

We anchored on the southwest side of Lois Key for a change of view and because it would allow us to sail off the anchor the next day, which we did. Not only did we weigh anchor under sail, though, we made good time for the first 15 miles to Boot Key. The last 5 took hours as the wind died down, but never quite out, and we enjoyed the quiet and easy motion through the water. We made an average speed of 3.29 knots, which is amazing to think about since we were doing less than 2 knots by the time we were approaching the anchoring area west of Boot Key.

The conditions were gentle enough that we rolled into a good position, James dropped the anchor, and I (Dena) pushed the mainsail to the side so the boat would back down while he let out the chain. We set that anchor with the current as much as with the light wind, but it was a trustworthy bury.

…sweeping just north of us!

We made it back to Boot Key just in time to discover we had a serious offer on that diesel we hadn’t used. The more we talked to the guy who is interested in the engine, the more we discovered how truly serious he was. And that’s when all the other serious offers started to pour in.

On the hook off the Boot
The Show over the 7Mile Bridge

Next thing you know we secured an unexpected but absolutely welcome grant for most of the cost of the electric motor conversion project.

Dean Hankins, you fucking rock!

We mapped out the project. Firmed up the prospective budget, made some tough decisions, and started procuring the equipment and parts we’ll need. Then we went sailing!

Off to Lois Key...
Balanced out at 4 knots on a close port reach, incredible!

Sailing is the perfect meditation on profound revolutionary change. Silently moving through the multiverse at the speed of the Earth around you brings a clarity of combined vision and imagination.

We sailed off the anchor in a rising North Atlantic ocean breeze that must have warmed considerably on its way to us from Downeast. By the time that wind filled our mainsail, it was warm and friendly like the myth of the south.

Tursiops abaft
Salad soup.

We anchored in about eleven feet just off Key Lois, pretty close to where we were when we stopped there on our way to Key West.

All by ourselves!

There was lots of weekend power-boater bullshit going on all around us but none of it was close and we were protected on two sides by reefs and one side by Key Lois.

James photographing the show.
Tripping Balls at Goldenhour…

It was…sublime.

Once again, we sailed off the anchor, this time with shoals on each side and a foul current. We’ve gotten so much more confident in our reading of the wind and water, and especially in our feeling of control over Cetacea at slow speeds. She’s a bit more cumbersome than Nomad was because of her much greater beam (Nomad was only 8’7″ and Cetacea is 10’4″), but maneuvering under sail is a better education than motoring.

...the same tack back to Marathon
A single-tack day

Once back at Boot Key, we anchored much closer to the entrance channel than before. Tursiops, our still fairly new-to-us dinghy, hasn’t been burdened with the outboard since we proved (in Key West) that it could drive the dinghy along. Boy, can that 2.5 horse outboard send Tursiops flying! On the other hand, one of the great pleasures we’d been missing since we sold Nomad was rowing Tinker.

Happy Dena
Rowing Tinker in Yarmouth, Maine 2012

So we’ve been rowing Tursiops in and out of Boot Key Harbor, about a mile each way. The new spot saves us almost a quarter of a mile to the closer (and cheaper) of the two dinghy dock options. We’ve eaten at Burdine’s more than we would have otherwise, so having a dinghy dock is good business for them, and the city marina charges $22 per day for dinghies which isn’t much less than lunch at the restaurant.

James with his dukes up

We get to cut the corner over the shoal area and see lots and lots of fish, birds hunting fish, and sometimes people on small boats netting bait. On the less-charming side, we also get a good view of the damage done by jet skis.

Jet ski damage... what's to like about those angry hornets?

But when we got back to Boot Key, we also got back to work on the electric motor project. The spreadsheet that started as a rough budget turned into a detailed budget. Another tab became the list of each and every ring terminal and battery lug and charger and instrument we’d need to buy. Ripping out every part of a marine diesel system includes the fuel and electrical and cooling water systems, and installing an electric motor includes a whole new set of battery and charging systems.

Because our throttle and shifter levers are on the binnacle (just above the wheel hub and just below the compass), we also are doing our long-awaited conversion from wheel to tiller steering. We found a fabricator here in Marathon to make the fitting that will extend the rudder shaft above the cockpit seat and we’re getting a tiller fitting from Bacon Sails. A new compass will be mounted in the recess that used to house the engine kill pull cable. It’s another set of expenses, but it really has to be done at the same time as the electric motor conversion.

This is it people! We are going electric with tiller steering and that will complete (for now…he he) the vision of the vessel bought in 2018 now known as S/V S.N-E Cetacea.

…Stay tuned!


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