Monday, October 1, 2012


Typically, after sailors, buy a boat they do an excursion in the new vessel called a shakedown cruise. It's a way to get a real feel for the boat under sail for an extended period of time—testing out systems, putting her through the paces of maneuverability, steering, motoring, etc. It's typically more than a lazy weekend afternoon out but less than an ocean crossing. Our shakedown shaped up pretty well. Since we are registering Interlude in Wisconsin, we needed to deliver her to her new home port in Racine. And that's exactly what we did.

We set out on Saturday around 12:30 with an overnight bag, snacks, and pup in tow. Yep, we brought our petrified-of-bathwater mutt, Bella along. I knew this would be interesting. Since we've begun to plan for this trip of ours, we've discounted taking Bella with us for various reasons. Mostly because she HATES water but also because with a dog of her size it simply isn't fair to confine her for days at a time while we are underway then force her to stay aboard once we reach our destinations (many countries have quarantines that last upwards of two weeks!). However, since we plan on living aboard this boat at the dock for as much time next season as humanly possible, that means that she'll have to get used to it. This was a great way to see what exactly we can expect (behavior-wise).

There was light wind, mostly steady and for the majority of the time out we were on a port tack (this means that the wind was coming over the left side of the boat to fill the sails). Josh tested the auto pilot, I got plenty of quizzing on names of maneuvers and anatomy of the boat, we tried out the chart plotter (which is pretty cool actually since we didn't have paper charts), and I worked on my tacking and steering. 

Bella wasn't petrified. True, she did NOT like being picked up off the dock and set aboard Interlude but it could have been worse. The cockpit has nice high walls all around it, so I think that definitely helped her feel secure once we were moving but she paced incessantly—almost the entire 6 hour trip. She didn't seem terribly curious about exploring the boat itself but would look out over the port and starboard side and sniff at the lake breeze. Luckily, Interlude has these really durable cushions that fit exactly in the cockpit that she was able to walk on so she wasn't slip sliding around on the wood under them once we needed to tack more to get more use of the wind. Eventually, we brought some cushions from below that were a bit more plush and she lay next to me at the helm for a few minutes at a time. She must have been exhausted with all the newness. Normally she snoozes on her bed most of the day when we're at home.

We sailed all but the last 2 miles. At that point, we were losing the sun and our ride, Tae, was waiting for us at the marina to take us back to our car in Waukegan. We kicked the motor on, I learned a bit more about right of way for sailing and motoring vessels and we made it to the dock just as the sun dipped behind the horizon.

After another traumatic transfer, this time from boat to dock, and a bit of leg stretching and of course, potty break, Bella got back on the boat and stayed below deck while we ate dinner and then retrieved our car. She ended up sleeping on the bench in the dinette for the entire night. I was worried she'd bark at any sound outside the boat, or get antsy or nervous sleeping in a new place but apparently the pacing all day wore her out. She jumped into the v-berth with us around 7:30 in the morning.

Speaking of the v-berth, if you want an adventure, try sleeping with 2 people in a triangular space with your feet squished together, 24 inches of headroom and only one way in and out of bed. I suspect it will take more than a few nights to get acclimated to it, especially for someone like me who gets up for a bathroom break at least once a night. We discovered, rather uncomfortably that there is some sort of bowing of the boards underneath the cushions and we pretty much slept side by side, our entire sides touching from shoulder to feet. I slept pretty well, but Josh was terrified he was going to roll over on me and slept poorly. 

Next up is staying on Interlude for a few days at the dock. We'll head up either Wednesday or Thursday and hopefully stay on her all weekend. Josh's parents will be joining us to celebrate his birthday so they will be testing out the dinette bed (the table drops and has a cushion, voila! double bed!). I grocery shopped yesterday in preparation and will be trying out the stove and oven. Squee! Nervous and excited.