We closed on the purchase on February 11th. We were in Ireland visiting family but we had everything set up to settle remotely.
We arrived back in Jacksonville on Wednesday the 17th and rented a nice size SUV one way from Jacksonville Airport to Stuart. On Thursday afternoon we loaded the SUV with everything we needed to have on board to bring SONUS home.
This included a Grind-And-Brew coffee maker, and a bottle of Champagne to celebrate out first night on board! And we didn’t forget Grace the boat dog.
One other thing we packed was a pair of “marriage-savers” which we had ordered from B&H. These were Eartec Simultalk 24G Full-Duplex Wireless Intercom radios with Slimline Headsets. This allows us to talk quietly while in close quarters docking and departing slips rather than screaming at each other over the engines. We decided that being on opposite ends of a 53 foot boat wasn’t conducive to a solid relationship!
We had previously asked the engine surveyors (who were also the engine manufacturer’s authorized engine shop) to prioritize what work should be done from the survey prior to a 280 mile trip. We had agreed on the work and they had this completed the week between closing and when we went to pick SONAS up. We called the mechanics on the way down just to make sure everything was completed and they told us… “yes, except…
The work had all been completed and the mechanics had been cleaning up when one of them bumped against the port fuel tank sight glass and smashed it. This was more of a nuisance and nothing that would prevent us from bringing SONUS home. A sight glass in a long glass or plastic tube that is on the fuel tank and has a measurement that shows you how many gallons are in the tank. The downside was that I would not be able to tell what fuel I had in that tank. They would be ordering the new parts and sending to my yard in Jacksonville to be installed at their cost.
We arrived at the boat yard in Stuart, off loaded the provisions, and took the rental car back.
Paul spent the evening in the engine room with a focus on the fuel and charging systems, and in the pilothouse and bridge making sure that he understood all of the controls completely. When looking in the chart drawer, he found….
Same model, just with different headsets! We will probably check them out to ensure that they are working and offer them for sale.
Pretty excited, we bunked down early, as we wanted to get to the fuel dock as soon as it opened to be underway. The starboard fuel tank was showing only 34 gallons of diesel, and we could not gauge what was in the port tank because of the broken sight glass. But we had to assume that it was a similar amount.
Next morning, Friday February 19th, we cast off the lines for the first time with SONAS and went over to the fuel dock. Because we didn’t know how much fuel was in the port tank we put 200 gallons into each of the port and starboard tanks. SONAS has a third forward tank that we did not put fuel into. Paul made sure that both the feed and return valves were open on both tanks.
Departing the fuel dock we headed east on the St Lucie River. It was blowing quite hard from the east, and would stay that way all day. The aim on the first day was to first see what speed we were making and at midday estimate where we would be by 5pm and call ahead to a marina. By midday we estimated, at the average of 8 KPH, we would reach Sebastian. A distance of around 60 nautical miles. Using the Cruising Guide we called the Sebastian Rive Marina and Boatyard and reserved a slip. We got there around 5:00 and, with a very strong wind on our tail managed to get into slip bow first. Unfortunately the marina had narrow short fingers and we had to get off and on via a ladder placed by the bow.
We were up before dawn on the Saturday. We had the coffee prepared to go and as soon as we had enough light we pulled out of the slip and headed back north. Our plan was to run for around ten hours so as to give us a good opportunity to reach Jacksonville on Sunday. Again we waited until around noon to see how we were tracking before making a decision on the marina. The day was flat calm after the strong winds of the day before. In fact we didn’t even get a breeze until late morning.
By noon we were comfortable that we would reach New Smyrna, and perhaps Daytona. So we delayed the marina decision until later in the afternoon. We did reach New Smyrna by mid afternoon so decided to head on to Daytona. We called Halifax River Marina and reserved a slip. Pretty much as soon as we reserved the slip we missed the ICW turn out of New Smyrna and took a detour which added at least 45 minutes to our trip. he result was that we reached the slip in Daytona right at dusk. Security came along and helped us tie up.
Our run for the day was just under 90 nautical miles. At dinner that evening we realized how lucky we were to get a slip, as it was Daytona 500 Weekend!
Up again and off by dawn on Sunday 21st, running North on the ICW. Our aim today was to get to our home in Jacksonville. We ran the ditch through Palm Coast and Matanzas, up into St Augustine, and then through Palm Valley and into Jacksonville Beach. We got to our destination around 4:00 pm having run approximately 85 nautical miles. We live on a fresh water lagoon with lock access to the ICW. The lock was closed for maintenance so we tied up at the floating dock right outside for the night and got a ride to our house.
The next day we left mid morning and took SONAS over to Lamb’s Yacht Center on the Ortega Rive near downtown Jacksonville for additional work identified during the survey.