Re Metau
People of the Sea
Pearls of
About Our Journey
Becoming Re Metau
Anna Maria Island Bridge
~ Anna Maria Island Bridge ~
Our Grand Beginning
A Regal Send Off
Our dream was here. The place was now. This had been my desire for nearly two decades, and in less than six months Don and I together had made it materialize. Yes there was doubt; there was despair, discomfort, and disorder. But the bow was turned toward our future, and we were overwhelmed with excitement.

After pushing away from Bradenton Beach Marina, we hailed the Cortez Road bridge tender for an opening. We loved those past few months spent living on Anna Maria Island, with its charming, small town atmosphere, powdered sugar beaches, and slow, mellow pace. Though we were sad to leave, we were eager to become fulltime live-aboard sailors. And we felt the best place to begin that journey was from Twin Dolphin, a resort marina on the Manatee River.

We had to clear both of the Bascule bridges that cross between the island and the mainland. Perspective is everything. When these leaves lifted and delayed our commute by car, it usually caused a lot of cursing. But now at the launch of our Grand Beginning, having traffic stopped while sirens blared made us feel like royalty. I even cast a queenly wave to the tenders as we passed them by on our slow procession over the blue expanse of the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Skipper Brave and Sure
~ The Skipper Brave and Sure ~

Though everything was firmly re-attached on deck and safely secured below, we hadn't gotten the rigging tunedAdjusting the amount of tension on the cables that run from the mast to the hull to prevent failures caused by the forces of wind on the sails. yet, so we choose not to set any sails. Instead, we were drawn to our destination by thirty horses (our Yanmar engine) – way more than ever pulled a gilded coach!

Cue the Gilligan's Island Theme Song
The passage was to be brief; ♪ A Three Hour Tour ♪ across the southern edge of Tampa Bay and up the river to our tropic island nest.

♫ The weather started getting rough. Our tiny ship was tossed! ♫

Actually, it wasn't that bad. The skies were unusually overcast and we seemed to be the lone brave souls on the bumpy bay, but once we rounded up the river everything calmed significantly. Just like our old sailing grounds in Sandusky Bay, it was nice to know we could spend time on the water even when the wind was high.

The Manatee River is a 36 mile long body of brackish water that wiggles its way from east to west. Our destination in downtown Bradenton was about 8 miles up on the southern shore, just before where the old Tamiami Trail crossed over a fixed bridge too low for us to traverse.

It's Primitive as Can Be
Though a broad river with as much as a mile between its banks, it was shallow. And with a 6' keel, we run deep. We'd many, impressive looking gauges and instruments mounted in front of the helm. But none of them appeared to be working; the tachometer, the speedometer, the anemometer, and most meaningful, the depth sounder – all remained mute.

Our only means of electronic navigation was a handheld GPS so basic its model number sunk down into the double digits. Our paper chart promised at least twelve feet of water in the channel. Don stored the coordinates of every marker, and so our somewhat crude course was set. We'd snuggle each of the seventeen sign posts to steer clear of the shallow shoals, then point the bow south just before we banged into the bridge. How Captain Morgan were we, weaving our way up the river like rum soused sailors!

Cormorant on a Channel Marker
~ Cormorant on a Channel Marker ~
The Courage of the Fearless Crew
At the last marker before the marina, Don decided to practice maneuvering in reverse. Every single-screw vessel has prop walk, which is a tendency for the turning propeller to pivot the boat a bit. It pushes the sternBack of the boat. sideways, toward either the left or right depending on which way the shaft spins. This rotating motion is much more noticeable in reverse, so being wise to the way she walked would help us back her into her slip.

After a few spins of the stern, Don felt he had a handle on how she would hook, then shifted us back into forward. With a grinding pop, the prop abruptly stopped. Now no matter which way we shifted – forward or reverse – the transmission wouldn't engage. We were genuinely dead in the water.

Our lazaretteA storage area near or aft of the cockpit on a boat. is accessed via a large hatch that functions as the portLeft side of the boat when facing forward. side cockpit seat. It is fairly deep, and with the removal of a few boards down in the bottom, one can scrutinize most of the shaft. Don quickly flipped the lid, leapt into the lazarette, and futzed around to figure out a fix.

Meanwhile, I took the helm and tried to keep the boat in the channel. But with no water running across the rudder, it was futile. I warned Don that we'd started to drift toward danger. A quick drop of the anchor lifted that concern (once we were confident it'd grabbed and held) and gave us a chance to gather our wits.

It's An Uphill Climb
We were so close! So close, in fact, that I could see Aunt Marie and Uncle John standing on the T dock at Twin Dolphin's entrance. They'd participated in much of this process, and had come to raise a glass to the launch of our new lives. Instead, they were raising their palms in bewilderment of our impromptu anchorage.

Seeing them waiting there prompted me to contact the marina. Since we were new to…well…all of this, we had called ahead to request that a dockhand be ready to catch our lines. I went below to radio that our ETA was DOA so they wouldn't think we were MIA.

I figured the next best thing to do would be to hail TowBoatUS and climbed up the companionway to see if Don concurred. Our cockpit is flush with a small, deep wellA recessed area on a boat. in the center that is mostly filled by our large, bronze binnacleA waist-high stand mounted in front of the helmsman, in which navigational instruments are mounted.. So we typically tread on the seats. When I stepped toward Don at the helm, my world suddenly fell out from under my feet!

It seems the hatch to the lazarette was still open, but the cushion had unfolded back over the hole. I dropped down into the depths, gouging my shins and splitting some tendons well beyond their normal measure. Now I literally had a royal pain in the butt! Fortunately, it was just a flesh wound (visions of Monty Python's Holy Grail seeping in here).

Our Tropic Island Nest
~ Our Tropic Island Nest ~
A Tale of a Fateful Trip
After waiting a good long while, TowBoatUS finally arrived. I whipped out our membership card, believing it entitled us to a $50 tow.

I was wrong.

It granted us $50 OFF our tow; a service that cost us closer to $400 – to go less than a thousand feet! The price was calculated point to point, and our good knight apparently sailed from St. Pete. The diminutive discount for our Silver membership didn't make us feel privileged in the least. I vowed we'd ascend to the Gold unlimited free towing level, as soon as we conquered our current predicament.

In a matter of minutes, we were hauled over to our new home and deftly docked. I didn't feel regal anymore, more chagrined, a bit poorer, but relieved nonetheless. Rather than a majestic moment of fanfare, our 'Grand Beginning' began rather farcical! We dusted off our egos and related our tale to John, Marie, and all the multitude of marina members who'd come out to watch the spectacle unfold.

We're Here for a Long, Long Time
Upon learning that we were new boat owners, the marina staff were certain they'd soon see our ship sporting a 'For Sale' sign. But they didn't know how determined Don and I were to fulfill this dream.

It was going to take more than an escaped halyard, a pea-soupy sea trial, a 60 day separation, a ruined radial, an obstruent screw, a dead Diehard, obstinate insurance agents, a concocted box, a category 5 hurricane, a pathetic excuse, an eleventh hour renege, an uncorroborated company, rain & more rain, an impossible mission, many missed milestones, government red tape, unobtainable equipment, abrupt unemployment, an off-track trucker, inoperative instruments, a rudimentary route, a stopped prop, big blue bruises, and a highway-robbery haul…(deep breath)…to knock us off our goal! We were here for a long, long time!

About Us
About Re Metau
About Our Journey
Becoming Re Metau
About Our Cruising Kitty
Tour Our Floating Home
Big Living on a Little Boat
About Our 1st Boat
A Morgan 24 – Points Unknown
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