When we purchased Rafiki she was a lightly used, well equipped boat. We did our research, decided on the kit that we felt we needed for a trip of this nature, did rough budgeting (very rough) and started to peel back the onion. Unfortunately, we encountered more challenges than anticipated and perhaps in hindsight, our time lines were too aggressive and unrealistic. We had hoped to be floating by November and on our way by December however shortly after we purchased the boat her deck was damaged when we were celebrating Halloween in Ft Lauderdale with the Kovens. This significant emotional event required the boat to undergo a complete deck grind, relaying of the non-skid and repaint. The job took eight weeks but she looked great when we picked her up.
One of the first jobs was to install 700W of solar panels onto the coach roof which took nine days of engineering, wire pulling, and crawling all over the boat. On the final day when I could no longer bend over, breathe without sore ribs and had bruised and cut hands, Alex walked by and asked if she could help. My initial frustrated response quickly ended when I realized that she was about the same size as the battery compartment….thus began your first electrical lesson.
When we purchased the boat, the broker boasted that this was the Owner’s version and had upgraded electric heads in all bathrooms. This meant that there was no back up in case of electrical failure…perfect. For about three weeks I systematically changed all heads, hoses, tanks and pumps. It seemed that I was perpetually covered in the contents of the boats septic system, to the point that the family became very quiet and avoided eye contact as I ranted about changing never ending plumbing and electrical motors.
There were too many challenges and repairs to detail here but we were trying to get the boat serviceable enough to take offshore. Every time we set a date something else would fail so, instead of returning to Florida after Christmas and setting sail immediately, we spent two months at a lovely marina in Stuart getting the boat ready.
The silver lining was that we met lots of new friends, saw a lovely part of Florida, and were in town to welcome the Koven, MacMillan and Springer families when they visited. Instead of Spring break we instead had “Springer Break”. Finally, on the 15th of March we left Stuart and made our way down the Florida coast towards Miami for the crossing to Bimini.