End of summer adventure, 12-20 Sep 2019

We have one last loose end to tie. Our AirCam is located near Chicago and needs to come west.

We complete basic maintenance on the AirCam over the first two days in IL. We are ready to go but weather puts us on hold. We spend a few days sightseeing in Chicago.

The Bean
Cruise along downtown
On the pier

We prefer to fly early morning before any turbulence develops. When we finally have the weather to launch, we say goodbye and thank you to our Oshkosh friends and take off.

We fly generally toward the southwest and are rarely over 500’ above the ground. It is amazing to see all the details of life going on below, feel the uplifts as the ground begins to heat and even wave to people below!

On our second day we encounter a storm line that forced us back to the north. We land in Beatrice, NE which became a highlight of the trip. The KBIE airport manager chatted at us when we called in, offered a courtesy car, local restaurant knowledge, hotel critiques and since it was still early in the day, suggested we visit Homestead National Monument just a few miles down the road.

On Homestead NM, replanted to prairie grasses

Homestead NM is not a very big monument. The part we visited was on about 10 acres of land and was part of the first homestead. There are 3 miles of trails and the museum is a 2 story building that you can walk through, reading everything, in about an hour. We were there for over 5. The history is interesting but the Park Ranger/curator/historian made a huge difference in our visit. There is a bank of computers that are connected to ALL the BLM homesteading records, military records, Ancestry.com and US census reports and we typed name after name into the search engines. Steve learned several interesting facts about his family’s relatives.

Headed southwest

The next morning we continue southwest. The AirCam flies at about 70 mph. We plan to fly 2 legs each day and each leg is about 300 miles. We sometimes fly a little less depending on the winds, weather and fuel available at the airports. The plane can stay up a little longer than the 4 hours in our plan but after morning tea, I can’t; however, it’s usually a coin flip as to who starts the fueling and who gets to sprint to the bathroom!

Water is life

We tackled an interesting technical dilemma when landing near Lake Powell. We had made reservations at the nearby lodge. Our directions were to call from the airport/parking lot (U07-Bullfrog Basin) and the shuttle would be along in about 15 minutes. From about 20 miles out and when we landed, we had NO cell phone coverage. The parking lot had vehicles and one other plane tied down but no people. Our solution–we used our DeLorme InReach to text Steve’s brother in CA the phone number to the lodge in UT. He called and asked for our shuttle. Twenty minutes later we were checking into our room.

Flying 500’ above the desert in Monument Valley was awesome. The AirCam has amazing visibility from the canopy.

NOT the Grand Canyon-NE of Monument Valley

We finally get stopped by a huge wind event but are able to land at North Las Vegas. Inbound to the airport, our plan is to tie down the plane, get a rental car and be home by midnight. That changed to “let’s just relax and spend the night in Vegas” which became “Wait! The Eagles are playing tonight and we can get opening night tickets!” Needless to say we spent the night in Vegas and drove home much later the next morning.

The move onboard is complete!

Remember in last post how I laid out this 6 step plan to efficiently prep and move onboard? The actual process went differently…

Clean-I actually was able to do a lot of cleaning before gear came on board so checklist item #1-complete!

Salon cupboard (water pump and accumulator plus lots of empty space)

And step #2 was to evaluate the spaces so I’m counting that complete also; however, the existing mountain of bins were mostly for the 1160 and the 1260 is just a little bit bigger. I made adjustments but I might be making them for awhile…

The great galley bin shuffle!

In order, next steps were: boat gear, galley, beds and clothes…

In the end, clothes came first. We are living aboard now so we grabbed our bags from the camper and stuffed them in our bedroom. The guitars are still looking for their “spot” but they float from the small bedroom to our bed when guests are onboard. So last step became first here.

Next, we finished installing the air conditioning covers in both forward staterooms; so after I cleaned up, I made the beds. We needed a place to sleep and our daughter was coming and I wanted her room ready.

Well, we are living onboard so food would be nice…we empty the camper, buy fresh stores and I sort and store all the galley gear.

Spices and coffee

Staples, tea, instant caffeine

Inside the freezer

The remaining cupboards have dishes, pots, pans, baggies, cooking stuff and deep storage pantry refill stuff.

Last came the boat stuff. With a new boat, this “category” was woefully small. The good news is that space is available as we slowly accumulate all the spare parts, special tools and offshore gear that came with a used boat.

The “library”, systems manuals, part bins

All the boat stuff is stored amidship in the port hull. There are also lower cabinets outboard for larger bins which contain saws, drills, bolt cutters and other tools that aren’t needed often. Since the cabinet in the head has the water maker, the lower cabinet closest to the head has extra toiletries and the first aid kit.

So that’s it! In the end, it all came aboard, just not as I planned. What was duplicated or didn’t fit went back to storage.

Next, we are outfitting for crossing the Gulf Stream, headed to The Bahamas!

Safe travels,


Stepping Onboard for the First Time…

All the trappings of the Miami Boat Show were being disassembled, crated and prepped for removal. I’d arrived too late to be onboard for the demo sail so waited at Whiskey Joe’s for my broker to show me Always. As we maneuver through trucks, forklifts and people, I’m scanning the docks to find MY mast and MY boat and then, there she is, at the end of the dock.

She’s a beautiful boat….but…

She was just a boat. There were dirty rub marks on her side, little bits of construction detritus in cupboards and scattered remnants of bags and boxes left over from installation. She has all her equipment onboard and the mattresses and cushions are in place but she seemed an empty shell…

Then I realized she IS empty. She is waiting to be filled with our life and reflect our personalities, to reflect to others the values we have. She will begin to pick up our style as we bring our life onboard. She is the book binding that is waiting for our story to be written in her. I’m hoping it will be an interesting tale, one I’d like to read if I wasn’t one of the characters.

The next morning Always is being driven north to complete her commissioning. I arrived about an hour before the captain is due just so I can begin our introductions. I ensure there is oil in the engines, check belt tension and fuel levels; on the fore deck, I close and latch all the hatches, tuck the unused outboard fenders into the lazerette then begin wrapping up all the sheets, halyards and other lines correctly. When the Captain is ready, I step ashore and undo the lines. And then I see it! It’s just a quick flash of her name, but that’s when I see a glimpse of the boat she will become with us!

I think it’s going to be quite an adventure!