Richard’s Second Tampa Adventure

Richard’s second Tampa adventure

December 8- Edmonton to Tampa via Minneapolis

Got up to the airport,  got raped on luggage fees for being 12lbs over,  rented a car, drove to hotel, had supper at the beach and to bed.   A pretty average travel day.

December 9 – Tampa


The in water portion of the St. Petersburg boat show. It is about 2/3 the size of the Vancouver Boat Show

Today was boat show day! I went to McDonald’s for breakfast and headed to the boat yard.  Viatori was still there but the yard was locked so I drove to the show parked and walked into the show.   The show was hot, with the sun beating grown and the there was little wind,  despite that it was productive I was able to find a couple of dinghy dealers,  cushion guys,  a sail loft and went to two seminars one on planning the dream by Randy Deering and the other was a brief summary of one family’s seven year circumnavigation by Pam Walls (  The family one was interesting with lots of pictures and a lady who would get so excited and have to rein herself in.  Her trip was awesome and she raved about the Bahamas.   She said that they compared every where they went to the Bahamas.   Looks like we picked right!

The speaker at the dream preparation session is a captain  for hire who I might hire in January to learn the ropes of West Florida from a local knowledge perspective.

I also finally met my boat broker who didn’t really have much to say, but the selling broker did.   He and his buddy gave me some good advice  about cruising with family and about the weather in Florida. They said the most dangerous thing on a boat is a calendar!   It will be a continuous battle for Leah and I to focus on the journey and not the goal of getting to the Bahamas so that everyone has fun on the way.  Both of those guys had seen it happen to other people and gave me that caution.   Perhaps we will stay in the inter coastal waterway to the keys instead of going off store.   Weather will determine the best way to go.

Melanie Neale the daughter of Tom Neale was selling a book she wrote about what Tom didn’t know on the boat as father.   I bought it.  We sat in her booth for about a half hour discussing our plans, what was enlightening was her first question:

“What is your biggest fear about going?”

I answered loosing the morale and support of my crew,  which is a half answer,  the other half is probably wrecking the boat.   Anyway the crew part is harder than the boat part.  The key is don’t rush,  include the crew and include them in the decisions regarding the boat it’s destination,  upgrades, and equipment.  This will require some adjustments on my behalf. It might take longer than a few days to get out of Tampa then originally planned.

Went for dinner at the beach bar and hooked up with a bride and groom in Tampa.   Got a card from the groom who is a hotel manager.   Also met a Serbian who was pumped about our trip and wants to meet Leah in January.  Not sure about that.   Anyway cool couple,  they grew up in Serbia and knew each other the until age 10 then moved apart.   20 years later they reconnect at a wedding and get married.   They are now living in Tampa which she loves and he is learning to love as his business thrives in Chicago where winter drove her away.   I really liked them,  his exuberance for our dream and the idea that you have to push the boundaries (exceed the drift)  in life to succeed in life and her thoughtfulness about our trip and what it means to live 24-7 together on a boat.   I hope to reconnect with them in the future.

I hope they choose to exceed the drift in their own way!

December 9 – Tampa

Slept later then planned but out of the hotel before 930 to check out Viatori! I got there from memory and drove in, the boat was still there. The shop was already open so walked and met Bill Maker the boss of the yard.  Got a ladder from him and went aboard, everything was as I left it except now it was my boat.  To start I began to look around to take stock of what I should do first.

Thus began the first dog hair war!


Typical panel and under floor compartment

Beneteau boats all have floor panels made of marine mdf which lift to reveal compartments where you can store things and some of the pipes and wires for the on board systems are run.   In addition, under the beds and the settee (salon seating) there are compartments which have the batteries,  AC units, water pumps and water tanks. All of these panels must move and flex as the boat flexes when it encounters heavy weather,  they also flex when people walk on them.   This flexing also allows debris such as dust,  crumbs and dirt to get into the compartments below. In Viatori’s case however, it wasn’t the crumbs and dirt that was the issue but dog hair.   BLACK LAB DOG HAIR!

The color of the fiberglass compartments is white,  which means every hair stood out like a sore thumb.   I am sure many of the compartments had not been cleaned since the boat was new judging by the amount of hair. I had forgotten my cleaning supplies in Canada so I retreated.


Example of a spinnaker

I might get a asymmetrical spinnaker for Viatori,  which is one of those big colorful sails you see in sailboat races.  It is a huge light air sail that will allow a boat to sail any course perpendicular to the wind to dead downwind.  It is made of a light nylon and I wanted to see where they are made.   This I combined with a visit with a guy that retired from Shell who had did some work for me earlier in the year.

His name is Jim and he has a 25ft older O’Day sailboat which he sails in the Bay. They used to have a larger sailboat but they switched to power after a few scares in high winds (I think).   Now they are getting back into sailing and taking it easy.   His wife, whose name I’ve lost even though I can see her face, is still building confidence on the sailing front.   She does ride a motor bike so it should come along.   I think a lot of people are nervous about heeling (tipping) the boat and I completely understand because it doesn’t seem “right”  when the floor is at a 30 degree tilt and crossing the boat is more like climbing than walking.

Finished at the sail loft and headed back to the boat with Jim in tow.   We sat down aboard and had a great chat about our adventure and their future plans.


Our generator

After Jim left,  I headed out to home depot to buy cleaning supplies and a shop vacuum.   It was intention to find a Honda dealer and buy a generator from them but Home Depot had one that looked exactly the same for half the price. It has a three warranty and is a Ryobi and I though why not.  Home depot was an awesome spot and I was able to get a walk of stuff off my list. $900 lighter I headed to the parking lot where I watched a guy straighten out a badly dented fender on a truck with a hammer and metal block.

On the way I had seen him start and though that it would be a disaster by the time he quit,  but I was wrong. The fender was really close to the original shape just with creases in it like crumpled paper has at you flatten it back out. I was impressed.

Back to the hotel for dinner and then hang out at the beach bar and off to bed.

Decmeber 10 – Tampa

I woke at 430 could not sleep an more… The previous day I had intended on returning to the boat after shopping so I left the ladder I was using leaning up against the boat.  The yard isn’t in the best neighborhood and I had visions of the boat being best case ransacked or worst case trashed and still occupied. Hurried over but everything was fine,  won’t make that mistake again.


The windlass which pulls the anchor up.

I am buying a new anchor chain for the boat but need to buy the same size chain as what is already on it and the windlass can only be sized of one kind of chain at a time.   The windlass is an electric motor that lifts the anchor for you instead of hand lifting,  which really isn’t an option with an 85lb anchor. I measured the chain but the using only a tape measure which isn’t really accurate enough to determine size or type of chain,  so I had to cut a link off of it.   This took a while as the chain was under tension so I had to cut it at a bad angle using bolt cutters and a hack saw.  The pieces of the broken link fell into the anchor locker so I had to find to half links in a pile of chain and rope,  nothing is simple.

Link in hand I went to a gas station to get fuel for the generator and to the boat store to get the link measured.   That done, it was time to storm the boat and retake it from the dog hair forces.


I’ve won the battle on the dog hair, but fully expect at least one more counter attack before the war is won.

The next 5 hours are a hot,  sweaty blur as I moved from area to area removing panels,  crawling into place, vacuuming up the hair,  washing the compartment and replacing the panels. I think this was maybe one of the hottest jobs I have ever done,  there was actually drops of sweat running down my back as I worked. I don’t normally sweat that much so this was unusual for me. On the up side in order to replenish my salt I ate MacDonald’s twice in two days.




I headed back to the hotel showered and then out to meet Ernie and his wife Lorna who I know back in my Syncrude days. Back then he took Leah and I flying in his Cessna when Leah was pregnant with James.


Taken June 17, 2005 at the Fort McMurray airport before a flight with Ernie

We ate at a family restaurant called La Cote which was in this awesome arts district. The restaurant was also setup like a bunch of old dinning rooms with tons of classic paintings and antique furniture, lighting and decor. I had Jagger Schnitzel which was excellent.  A few hours later back to hotel where I crashed hard.  The next morning the road to get to the yard the quick way would be closed at 900 so I needed to be checked out and rolling before then.

December 11 –  Tampa to Edmonton via Minneapolis


We were worried that we would be short on book storage but they all fit with room to spare.

I made it to Walmart on the other side of the construction by 830. Of course I forgot my list and had to just buy stuff as I walked down the aisles. I ended filling two carts, one with housewares and one with food.  Back to the yard where I loaded the boat,  decommissioned the generator and closed the boat up.  Off to the airport through security and off to Edmonton.


More book storage


How the boat sits right now


Walmart must use a million bags a day!

10 thoughts on “Richard’s Second Tampa Adventure

  1. What a whirlwind trip Richard!!! Buying, cleaning, making new friends and meeting old ones!! More buying and yes more cleaning!! A bit of sleeping and lots of eating!! WOW!!! Sounds like it was productive!!
    And now you own a boat – a relatively clean and stocked boat!! No more car, no SUV and pretty soon no house to live in – just a boat and a grand boat it is the Viatori!! I can’t imagine what that must feel like. So much to learn and lots to get ready before your big sailing adventure begins.
    It’s great that you could get out there and do the initial cleaning before the family arrives Richard, although we all know Leah will be in there with a fine tooth comb!!
    And I love the Wal-Mart shopping bags – something like what we’ll be doing in Hawaii next week minus the household goods!! You’ll have fun as a family getting the it all organized.
    Thanks for the pictures! We have a much better idea of what your living arrangements will be now.
    So let us enjoy the next few weeks together! A cozy family time all under one roof and then off you go!!! Take care!!

  2. It was great seeing you Richard. Thanks for sharing the airplane picture. What an adventure you and your family have ahead, you are living your dream.

  3. About time you showed a little sweat on your brow buddy, although I have a hard time believing it…. lol. (got to be the heat) By the way, do not christen your boat with scotch or rum,champane it cheap and not well liked anyway! actually, the only thing it is good for is the side of a boat! Stay away from the tourist spots! meet the locals! Have fun and find out about the caribiean people really live. Want some addreses for Trinidad? I’ve got a few buddies there. might even be down there later next year.

  4. Richard, her name’s “Jen”, good seeing you again, glad you found everything. Maybe we’ll see you when you splash the boat and get on your way. If not, safe travels.

    • Hi Jim, thanks for the reminder… I beat my head against the wall trying to remember her name. We should be splashing her around January 10th.

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