By Janet Lee Knizner-Enders
After a few years of serious searching for a boat, Michael came across a couple of 44 ft. Morgans in Annapolis, Md. He suggested we take a whirlwind weekend trip to check them out. Houston to Annapolis and back in two days. Being the AdventureUS person that I am, I booked US an early morning flight in November, 2011 and we were off, hopefully to find our floating retirement island!
We visited both ships and spent the rest of the day browsing Annaplois' quaint shops and sipping on adult beverages of our choice at a local pub. Sometimes one needs fortification to aid in the decision making process. The Chesapeake Bay crabs at Cantler's and wonderful conversations with locals also helped! The next day we lunched on $1 Bloody Mary's and oysters before returning to H-Town.
For the next few days all we could talk about was Contessa. We decided to make an offer!
After several weeks of long-distance negotiations, our bid was accepted. We were now the owners of our very own retirement island! It was time to make arrangements to bring her home to US. It was time for an Adventure with the 2 of US!
As we dreamed of christening AdventureUS2, we researched the means by which we would bring her home. We hired a captain who came highly recommended.
We longed to move Contessa out of the shipyard and into the water so the good, or NOT so good captain, could bring her to US. He set sail on February 23, 2012. Within a few hours he returned to the dock. The Contessa was overheating. The problem proved to be nothing serious so she was back out in the delta heading south the very next day.
Due to the inclement weather from all the tornadoes sweeping the country, the good captain was forced to take the Intercoastal Waterway. I requested that he check in with US every few days. At one point the weather allowed him to escape the ICW for a day or so but mostly the weather continued to be bad. By the time he arrived in Miami, he was days past his projected arrival on the third coast, the Texas coast.
Then the drama began.
The good captain and I had planned on touching base Sunday morning. Monday rolled around... nothing. Late Monday afternoon Michael called me at my office to see if I had heard from him. I told him that I did not. He wasn't even responding to my texts to him. Michael proceeded to tell me this heartbreaking story.
The owner of a shipyard in Miami phoned and said that Contessa was brought in late the night before, de-masted. The dinghy motor was missing. The pit of my stomach cratered.
For the next four months, our Contessa, soon to be our AdventureUS2, lay broken in a faraway shipyard on the South Miami River while we were in Houston trying desperately to deal with the good and the bad news that followed.
The good news, the company who manufactured her mast was still doing business. The bad news, there were 3 masts to be manufactured before ours. The good news, our insurance covered approximately $80,000 for a new mast, standing and running rigging, framing for solar panels and new solar panels, new Bimini and framing, and a few other things.The bad news, while she lay broken, she was burglarized... again.
Just when does the last Adventure end and a new one begin?
Back up a few sentences. At this point we were not aware we had been robbed until the Coast Guard tried reaching US in the middle of the night. When I missed the call they sent one of Seabrook's finest to our door at 2am. Apparently the thieves dropped the Epirb into the water and it was sending out distress signals. The police gave me a number to call to verify Contessa was our ship. The Coast Guard told US that the coordinates the Epirb was sending out gave the location of being somewhere off the coast of Miami or Spain.
Thoughts were racing through my head. Was our retirement island lost at sea, never to be seen again?
"Handle this in the morning," they said. "I THINK NOT!" I thought.
Immediately I called the shipyard and woke the night watchman. After convincing him to get out of bed, get dressed, and venture out into the rainy night to check on Contessa, I promised to 'hold'. He returned in a few minutes to assue US that she was docked.
Early the next morning the owner of the shipyard called Michael to let US know that our Contessa had been burglarized.
Next item on our list, find the NOT-so-good captain. Finally, after numerous texts and phone calls he informed me that he was composing an email with the details of what happened. He preferred to speak to me AFTER I heard the entire story. In all the words he intimidated me with, all he really said was, "I became complacent and broke your boat."
Fast forward another four months to the second week of July, 2012. After working with Heather and the very efficient ourside adjuster from Progressive Insurance, we hired another captain - a local man - who gave US a list of references. We met him. We liked him. We hired him. He and two friends flew to Miami to bring The Contessa, soon to be AdventureUS2, across the Gulf of Mexico to US and to her new home at the Seabrook Marina!
There you have it! A lot of detail left out but what a journey Contessa has had on her journey to US!
We took her out into Galveston Bay a few times before starting her 'remodel'. She is superb! Just one more thing...you can bet your 'bippi' that with all the negative things that happened on her journey to US, we will be christening her, offering gifts to King Neptune, and throwing in a virgin or two, if there are any still around. We will do whatever we can to start our lives together with her on a positive note - the AdventurUS2 and US!