Tuesday, November 2, 2021

We Are Now Ready to Go!

 In my last entry, I wrote about our plans for this upcoming year. We have been thinking about this trip for a long time. To say we are a bit excited and anxious, would be a huge understatement. We were planning to depart Demopolis on November 4th, but we ran into a big issue. I have spent the better part of the last week trying to find a place to leave SHIFT while we flew out of Punta Gorda, Florida to be with family for the holidays. The boat is safe and secure where we are now, so we considered leaving it here in Demopolis. Then making our trip south after Christmas, but we really did not want to sail in the coldest month of the year. Just today, I found a place that will work for us in Punta Gorda, so that problem is resolved. The other issue is that the river is very busy right now. We had 11 boats arrive yesterday here at Demopolis and then depart this morning. The problem is that all of the anchorages south of here are small and can only accommodate 1 to 3 boats. That means you may get caught anchoring in a bad place. With those huge barges moving along the river at night, sleep could be an issue. The pleasure boat traffic will slow significantly in the next two weeks, so we have decided to wait until then to leave here. It doesn't hurt that we are paid up until the 17th, so our planned departure will be based on weather on the days leading up to the 17th. That will leave us exactly a month to catch our scheduled flight in Punta Gorda.

In my last entry, I wrote about some things we needed to do to get ready to go. I had a long list that I have been ticking off items each day. The largest item on the list was to replace our prop. We purchased a new variable pitch prop called a J-Prop. They are made in Italy and are designed for sailboats. The first thing it will do is allow me to adjust the pitch of the prop to match the engine. We are currently at a 17X12 and I can adjust this unit to the 17X10 that the experts say I need. The other things this prop will do are:

1. Switch the pitch when we are in reverse to give us more control and stopping power while docking.

2. The pitch of the prop will go to zero drag while sailing. This should give us a half to a full knot more boat speed. 

The first thing we had to do was lift the boat out of the water. Here at Kingfisher Bay Marina, when the water is low (like it is now), the lift is over 10 feet. It is a bit scary to see our home that high up in the air. 

SHIFT way up in the air

 Next we had to remove the old prop. My puller was too small. A friend in the yard came to the rescue and brought over his prop puller. We had it off in less than 5 minutes. Then I had to cut the prop shaft. The way this prop is installed on the shaft requires the threads to be exactly 7/8" long. I was going to cut it with a cut off with a cut off wheel on my grinder, but my friend handed me a hack saw with a brand new blade. It made short work of the shaft. Thanks Ray!!

Cutting the prop shaft.

Next up was installing the new prop. That was done in a number of steps, but the instructions were very good and it all went together as expected. 

I put together this short video showing the haul out and the new J-Prop in action.

Haul Out and J-Prop

It has been a busy week around here. We get a new dock neighbor almost every day. It is fun learning about each one and hearing their plans. Many are in the middle of completing their "Big Loop". We have also had two surprise visitors. Our good friends, Dick and Cathy from Arkansas stopped by on their way south to say Hi, and we are so glad they did. It is always great catching up with them. Then, the next day we had a knock on the hull and it was Byron. The only bad thing is his wife, Mary was not with him. We met Byron and Mary in Marathon in 2019. We then met up again in Tarpon Springs and buddy boated across the gulf and then up the river to Demopolis. They then went on to their new home in Northern Alabama.  Byron and a friend were heading down the river to deliver their boat "Serendipity" to it's new owner. They sold this boat and plan to purchase a catamaran. 

That is about it for this entry. I hope my next one will be our first leg of our trip down the river. Thanks for reading. 


  1. Wow, I bet you cannot wait to get on the water and relax a little bit!

    1. I can actually say I enjoy working on my boat. We are certainly ready to get moving. Now we just have to wait another week or so.

  2. I am patiently awaiting your new adventure. I do not have the expertise to do what you are doing so thanks for letting me sail through you. Have a safe trip

    1. I don't call it expertise, I call it flying by the seat of my pants. I can't wait to get going, it should be entertaining.

  3. A lot of work but a nice trip coming up!

    1. We are leaving tomorrow. We are so ready to get moving.