April 24 had us on an early flight to West Palm Beach. It had been years since we flew into West Palm and we quickly remembered how convenient it is compared to the mess at Laguardia. The purpose of this trip was to complete our insurance mandated training on board Big Smile. Coincidently we were docked right next to the couple that would spend two days with us on our boat. We had previously met Captain Chris and his wife Alyse in February at Trawlerfest in Ft Lauderdale. We knew we would want to have some sort of training when we bought our boat and as things quickly progressed in February and the purchase was completed our insurance company mandated the training.
We decided to hire Captain Chris and Alyse and we are very glad we did. It was they who suggested the marina we are currently at in Ft Pierce so being at their home port made everything very convenient for us. Our training was scheduled for two full days, Wednesday and Thursday. The weather front that had been blowing strong disappeared and a high settled over eastern Florida which provided gorgeous settled weather for our two days. Chris and Alyse were great. We set our goals for the two days and spent much of the first day reviewing navigation and chart reading, rules of the road, lights, signals and the myriad other aspects of safe boat operation. Late in the afternoon we took Big Smile out for a spin and discussed boat operations.
The second day was spent almost entirely on the water. I wanted to fuel up and so we took Big Smile over to Harbortown Marina just north of the Ft Pierce bridge. It was a perfect opportunity to learn fueling operations. We requested over the radio to pull into the high speed pumps and tied up. Big Smile took 600 gallons out of a total capacity of 1300. My largest single fuel bill to date.
While at Harbortown we practiced docking into the empty slips. Cath took the helm and with the patient help of Capt Chris she manuevered Big Smile perfectly into the slip. Next up was anchoring. One thing Cath and I have done a lot of is anchoring. We motored part way out Ft Pierce inlet and pulled just off the channel to anchor in 15 feet of water. Well as it turns out we could not get either anchor to hold in the thin sand but we did exercise the windlass and it worked perfectly. It was now mid afternoon and I wanted to cover some engine room items so back to our own dock we motored. We all crammed into the engine room for filter changing lessons and a general overview.
It was now near 5 PM and our training was complete. Our two full days with Chris and Alyse exceeded our expectations. Not only do they know their stuff they know how to teach it. They also are good people. In addition to the training Chris introduced me to a local mechanic and electronics guy both of whom will be helpful in the future.