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Craigslist advertisement for our slightly used Portland Pudgy

As we move on into our third week on the hook in St. Augustine, each day of our extended stay feels like penance for some poor decisions we made while outfitting our boat for cruising. Admitting that those carefully researched, perfect-on-paper choices haven’t panned out in real life hurts the soul and the wallet. So here we sit, eating crow and waiting for parts to ship.

Our dinghy setup has been one of our biggest headaches so far. We loved using the Portland Pudgy in calm, protected anchorages like Weems Creek, but we found her to be no match for the ripping current and waves we’ve seen everywhere else we’ve anchored, and poorly designed for daily chores that require hauling lots of stuff and more than one person (for specifics, here is the email that I sent to the company and their response). She’ll be a fine vessel for someone with different needs and expectations, so we put her up for sale and found a buyer almost instantly.


Justin, Brian, Jon, hoofing it to West Marine

dinghy 2

The current in the anchorage here strong and relentless – we’d be stuck on our boat if not for Justin’s help. He’s been a patient and generous chauffeur. We’re so lucky to call him our friend.


Dinghy ownership is a painful but necessary part of cruising. On this run, we’re carrying three boat’s worth of clean laundry back from the facilities at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina.

pudge sale

Towing the Pudge to the dock to be sold to her new owner

In addition to dinghy woes, we’ve continued to struggle with our energy setup aboard. After weeks of frustration and tinkering, Brian finally figured out why the new alternator was producing a third of the amperage it should, but not before he’d purchased an additional alternator and a new regulator. The batteries and flexible solar panels we’d installed in Deltaville also proved insufficient for our needs, so we’ve doubled down on batteries and solar.

battery hauling

Another lesson learned – one can never have too many batteries. We tracked down more of the elusive Trojan 6 volt type at a golf cart supply store on the edge of town. We were pleased that they exchanged the fried battery we’d been sold in Deltaville, no questions asked.


Comparing alternators at the Sailor’s Exchange shop

solar panel

Brian and I, holding onto a new 345 watt SunPower solar panel for a dinghy ride back to the boat.  This panel is designed to power brick-and-mortar homes and should triple our charging power. It’s not pretty, but it will get the job done.

davits on boat

We resisted putting davits (brackets to lift and carry the dinghy) on our boat, but installing them became a no-brainer once we decided to switch to an inflatable dinghy and add a hard solar panel to the mix. The new davits, pictured above, will support both.

placing the solar

Justin and Brian demonstrating how the solar panel will sit atop the davits. It was a very windy day.

with davits

New AB inflatable dinghy hoisted on davits, with our new supply of colorful jerry cans to carry additional supplies of diesel, gasoline, and water. Nightingale Tune is, at long last, almost ready for cruising.

With this round of projects behind us, we’ll be in St. Augustine for a few more days, awaiting the arrival a package of spare parts for our engine and Justin’s girlfriend Sherri, before we make an overnight run down to West Palm Beach. We’re over the ripping current and non-stop wind in this anchorage, and looking forward to sailing on to more protected waters.