(Almost) ready for Amanda Grace!

Since the Petty Officer Training Cruise ended and the ship’s meeting is past, for the past few days I have been focused on preparing for theAmanda Grace sail down this weekend. Four of us–Mr. Schmoker, his son, my daughter and me–will sail/motor her down from Lusby, MD to Woodbridge.

Tasks have included: reviewing the list of items still needed for the boat, including a replacement for the missing boat hook, charts, and all manner of galley equipment; making purchases of needed items; washing the dishes I bought at my friend’s yard sale a few weeks ago; taking inventory of donated galley items and searching for those not already covered; finding out whether the anchor/chain/rode was indeed lost and figuring out ways to obtain replacements; providing our driver a map to Lusby; pulling together all boat documentation, like engine- stove and other manuals, arranging a point-of-contact who will take my calls and post updates to our ship’s email list, and more.
We leave the commuter lot at 5am tomorrow. John Ashton will borrow a van and drive us to the boat with our provisions and equipment, including a replacement for the anchor/chain/rode that was lost when Amanda Grace went adrift. Once all that is stowed properly we will conduct systems checks and then will be on our way. The estimate is 132 miles for the course, which will take about 24 hours of actual travel time, that we will need to complete in 36 hours or less. We will not be enjoying a leisurely cruise. Captain Ashton says it will be a tough trip–grueling, even–so my share of provisions is simple: instant oatmeal, trail mix, granola bars, fresh fruit, cans of soup, peanut butter and jelly. No refrigeration, little preparation. At least the temperature forecast is good, with highs in the mid-70’s to 80, and lows in the mid- to low 50’s, so we won’t be freezing at night. I pray for a steady 15-20 MPH wind from the east that will help us have a smooth, swift journey.
My friend Gary thinks Sea Scouting is a great thing, admires what our ship has accomplished in its first year, and wants to have the arrival of Amanda Grace covered in the news, so he is contacting the press and I will keep him updated on our expected docking time. Previous news articles about Ship 7916 have resulted in our acquiring donations, new members and adult leaders, so I am hoping that we can arrive while it is still light, and that our scouts–in their ship shirts–and their families will turn out for the homecoming to give the paper good reason to print a story. Our COR will be the point of contact between the travelers and the rest of the ship, posting updates to our email list.

A big piece of late breaking news is that Carlton Phillips, owner ofPrince William Marine, has made an exception to the marina rules and is allowing us to dock Amanda Grace in one of his slips. Normally, one must purchase a boat from them in order to be eligible for a slip at this highly popular marina. Wow! This is terrific, a very generous gift!

After thirteen months, twenty-two work days, several headaches (Someone did not tie the anchor securely and lost it, the chain and 200′ of line–about $200 worth of equipment.), one near-heart attack (“I thought you came for your boat already; it’s gone!”–down the creek, around the bend, and pressed against a neighbor’s dock, result of aforementioned lost anchor.), a real life crash course in on board diesel repair (did you know that diesel fuel comes out of the injector tip through holes as fine as a human hair at 2,600 PSI?), and a couple thousand dollars, I can hardly believe that Amanda Grace is finally coming home!

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