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Becoming Re Metau
2005
Twin Dolphin Marina, Shoreside
~ Twin Dolphin Marina, Shoreside ~
Starting Point
Meanwhile, Back to the Office…
As new boat owners, we now had three big bills to cover each month; a mortgage payment for our house in Ohio, a personal loan payment for our boat, and our dock rental fee for our well-appointed marina. We were confident the loan for the boat would be covered by the profits from the sale of the house, but it would take 28 months, 2 price drops, and a realtor change before that happened. So, being newly unemployed, I needed to focus on landing a new contract.

Back in Y2K, I went from being a valued employee to being an expendable asset in the blink of an eye. That layoff ended my desire to commit to a long term relationship with another company, and introduced me to the seductive aspects of seeking only brief affairs by way of contract work. Not only did this arrangement clarify everyone's viewpoint of my loyalties, dominion and worth, it made it far easier to sail away whenever the whim blew just right.

So I updated my resume, and thanks to having a variety of experience in a high-demand field, soon began to receive calls from Florida headhunters. Despite showing up to interviews with my hands stained in 5200A marine adhesive of insidious strength., I quickly landed a contract on Tampa's west shore. It was a long, though beautiful drive, and I couldn't have been more grateful that Don had chosen to splurge on the resort-like Twin Dolphin Marina for our transition to this life living onboard.

Twin Dolphin Marina, Waterside
~ Twin Dolphin Marina, Waterside ~
See What 'C' Dock Offers
Because each morning when I stepped through the lifeline gate, I disembarked onto the long finger pierA structure built on posts extending from the dock, used to disembark from the side of a ship. of a floating dock. This meant each tidal change didn't change the level of our deck with regard to the dock. As an ITInformation Technology consultant, my dress needed to be professional, and work related accoutrements needed to be transported over the gap of water between the hull and the pier. It was all very civilized.

Imagine what it would have been like to hike over a waist-high stern rail – in a skirt and pumps! Picture dropping down to the dock 4 feet below – when the boat is bobbing! Visualize doing this with a laptop, a purse, and a lunch bag slung over your shoulder – in the pouring rain. This was my experience at the marina to following, which had fixed docks and no finger piers. I learned to leave the heels in the Honda, and the Toshiba in the trunk.

To make Don's job easier, cable TV and Wi-Fi were provided with our slip at Twin Dolphin; services whose lack of existence would plague us while trying to work from nearly every subsequent landing. The cable company in Bradenton allowed us to connect directly to the internet, which provided Don with the higher bandwidth and greater security his company required. I'll never forget how blown away the installation technician was to discover that Don's office was a sailboat.

The Marina from the Mast Top
~ The Marina from the Mast Top ~
Messy Business

And on weekends, those long finger piers gave us the space we needed to attack the plethora of boat projects we had in store, and the personal dock boxes at each slip provided a place to deposit the chemicals, tools, rags, and mess that we certainly didn't want to bring onboard. The trash bins at the entrance meant we didn't have far to go to discard that mess, and the multiple dock carts assigned to each dock made it easier to haul everything to and fro in one trip.

At the less accommodating marinas to follow, we would try to pursue projects out on the dock. But inevitably someone would want to pass and we'd have to pick up to get out of their way. Stepping on cutting slivers of steel or tracking teak dust all over was the result of doing the deed on deck. And once I had parts that'd been left drying on shore stolen by the staff! So having our own space to sprawl undisturbed was helpful beyond measure.

Pump-outs, were also provided slip side. Strict laws are enforced to prevent human sewage from being jettisoned into near shore waters. In Florida, the marinas were banned from allowing live-aboards unless they had the facilities to empty a boat's holding tank. Most required an inconvenient trip to the fuel dock for that chore. But each week, one of our guys would arrive with a long hose, climb aboard, and suck it out without our lifting a finger.

Finally, each of the six main docks were locked behind large gates secured with a frequently changed key code. Though Bradenton was a small, safe enough town, it eased our minds to have our property and ourselves shielded from the multitude of shore side spectators milling around.

And there was a sense of privilege in walking through that gate, knowing you belonged amongst all those yachts. In past years during vacations spent by the sea, I remember looking enviously at those lucky sailors milling around their boats. Now I thought "If I weren't me, I'd wanna be!"

Diana Enjoying the Hot Tub
~ Diana Enjoying the Hot Tub ~
Personal Facilities
Off the dock, we marina members had our own private swimming pool and hot tub, six individual, well-appointed shower rooms, personal post boxes, several laundry machines, secured bike racks, and a book exchange library. The facility also boasted a ships store, a fuel dock, and free parking.

The high-end restaurant at the end of the main pier was associated with the marina, and provided us with 'Captain's Club' discounts and monthly 'Slip Holder Appreciation' gatherings. That, and the many pool deck parties turned us into a tight-knit group of neighbors who looked out for one other.

Oohrah!
Our harbor master, Charlie was an ex-Marine who brought a sense of military order to the place. He was very conscientious about keeping the place ship-shape, a trait I'd later come to appreciate. He made sure the docks were clear of all the crap people tend to collect, and that all the facilities were beautifully maintained. The surrounding gardens were trimmed, the pedestal bulbs were never burned out, the paint was fresh, and the bathrooms were clean. Each morning, the lounge chairs by the pool were lined up like soldiers.

When bad weather was predicted, the staff personally checked all the lines to assure every vessels was well secured. A new, state-of-the-art sea wall was built while we were there, to further protect the marina from foul weather. Though nowhere was ever really safe to be in a boat during a hurricane, steps were always taken to improve the odds of coming out in one piece.

Downtown Bradenton Festival
~ Downtown Bradenton Festival ~
Taking a Stroll Downtown
One of the nicest advantages about the marina was its location. At one end was a large public library, at the other was the South Florida Museum, and in the middle was the Manatee Players Theater. A short walk farther afield was Old Main Street, a 3 block strip of boutique shops, locally owned restaurants, and iconic bars. Each Saturday in season the town held a wonderful farmers market, and the many annual festivals, holiday events, and parades put us smack in the middle of everything. We could literally hang from our hammock on deck and watch the July 4th fireworks!
A Slow and Easy Transition
Moving aboard was just the starting point toward the ultimate goal of cruising full time. We believed it made far more sense for us to live aboard for a period of time, still tied to land to ease the transition. We knew we would need easy access to boat chandleries and hardware stores, and the acquaintances and friends we met at the marina also provided us with a wealth of knowledgeable sailors with good advice and opinions based on experience, as well as a list of trustworthy skilled professional who could be called upon for projects with which we needed or wanted help.

Having all the extra luxuries Twin Dolphin provided made the transition far more pleasant, and the overall experience very enjoyable. Initially, I thought we were being extravagant, but in the end, it was and remains one of my favorite places to call home.

The Manatee Fountain
~ The Manatee Fountain ~
By the Way…
The culprit to our less than glorious arrival turned out to be a flexible coupling. This, we learned, was a rubber doughnut of sorts, that bolted on between the shaft and the transmission. It is designed to shred, should the propeller become bound and thus save the transmission, which would be a far more expensive repair. Our coupler had aged, and the rapid shift in gears caused it to fail as designed.

We ordered a new part (KA-CHING$$), and all Don had to do was remove 4 big bolts to take the shredded coupler off. Just 4 lousy bolts! This first foray into boat repairs was quite enlightening. It taught us that everything takes much longer than expected, everything is incredibly difficult to get to, everything costs more than is reasonable, and nothing is going to be easy.

These rusty, corroded, soot covered bolts were seized onto a spinning shaft. This meant the things he wanted to twist weren't, and the things we didn't want to twist were. With the help of penetrating oil, many tool and lots of sweat, Don eventually got the coupler replaced and we were once again able to leave the dock. To this day I multiply the estimated time, cost, and curse words by 4 – one for each of those lousy bolts.

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