From Happy Ours to Helios
In 2009, We sold everything and bought 46’ sailboat named Happy Ours. The girls were 4 & 6 when the adventure started.
We bought Happy Ours due to its size, stability and recently being re-fit. The seller had done all the work, but never was able to sail her. She sat there for two years waiting on us to buy her. We stayed in Florida for a couple of months, getting ready, but the boat had never sailed.
This afforded us many opportunities to learn. The drive plate between the brand new engine and transmission blew up within 50 miles of leaving. The new drive train was two months out of warranty and there were no replacement plates in the USA or Europe. With the help of our new Cruising friends we rebuilt the plate and took off (no it did not last). We could have stayed in Florida, proved the boats systems and then left, but when would that have been?
We left in February for the Bahamas. It was our first true “overnighter” out of sight of land. We made to Bimini and waited for a “weather window”. As it turned out, we waited several places along the way for “weather windows”. These were opportunities for building long lasting friendships with other Cruisers. We did repairs to boats (usually ours). We had potluck dinners. We explored different islands. We home schooled. We shared everything including recipes, weather information, music, movies, books and of all kinds of advice.
We sailed through the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and finally made it to St John. Our first day on island, we met Tom Larson. He helped find us a mooring to borrow from a fellow Texan. We stayed on that mooring through Hurricane Earl. We soon moved over and installed our own mooring.
The party was over, so we went to work, homeschool and lived on St John.
Eventually, we purchased a new engine and transmission. (the VP wasn’t the right fit for her). We also purchased a new generator, solar panels, batteries, hard top and wind generator. The strut was leaking water, so we needed to haul out, fix the strut, install the engine and paint the hull.
We sailed her back to Luperon, Dominican Republic. In the end they were unable to haul her out. We stayed and painted, did some other repairs, waited out Hurricane season and then sailed back to St John. We were still without an engine. (that’s a whole different story)
In the fall of 2017, Hurricane Irma was on the way. We moved Happy Ours to its spot in Hurricane Hole, along with about 105 other boats. A friend invited me and two cats to stay with them for Irma, so me and the cats were safe, not so much for Happy Ours. Out of 105 boats only a handful survived. The first report was that Happy Ours had sunk where she sat. That proved to be another boat sunk in that spot and we located Happy Ours up in the mangroves. There she stayed for almost a year until we were finally able to float her. Our friends spent many days helping us clean, salvage our lives and repair the holes we could see. There were more under the waterline, that caused her not to float.
Thankfully, my youngest son Trent, had come down to lend a hand. We stayed up 24 X 7 while we kept pumps running and patched her in that water. The very first morning one person came by and was not happy. A large population of rodents had taken refuge in Happy Ours during the year up in the Mangroves. “like rats fleeing a sinking ship” came to life. I bought every rat trap on the store shelf and gave them to my neighbors in the harbor. I was not popular for a few days!
We were able to haul her out about a week or so later. Immediately we started cleaning to begin the repair process. When I opened the main electric panel and found that the rats had eaten the wiring. That changed everything.
We needed to replace the strut, rudder, solar panels, wind generator, hard top, all the lifelines, windless and anchors. We had major fiberglass work to do. We needed to rebuild a brand new engine, transmission and generator. Now we had to completely rewire her too.
Two days later, anything salvageable was in a truck headed for storage in St John. In January, 2020, we plan to sell the mast and standing rigging. We will salvage the engine, transmission and generator. We will then have to dispose of her remains. I’m positive that will be an awful day, she was our home and the girls grew up on her.
Now “Boat less” and working on the repairs to the Dinner Boat, I started looking for another sailboat. The girls had become used to land living, so I was not looking for another “Live aboard”, but a great day charter boat.
One day I checked Facebook at lunch and saw a 48’ Hinckley for sale in Luperon DR. There were already hundreds of comments. I saw one from a charter boat captain I know. He had offered to wire them cash that day. I texted him and he said the boat sold in 36 minutes. This started me looking at Hinckley’s.
I found a 50’ Hinckley in New England. Steff and I met there and checked her out. Very nice boat in need of updating. This was what I was looking for. We had a handshake deal with the owner’s broker and flew home. When I got back to Puerto Rico, the sellers broker called and said he would “send a contract”. I received that contract and the final price was right, but it was a “lease to own” for three years. That was NOT what we had discussed. When the seller saw my offer, they decided to “donate to charity” and get 100% of the value in a tax write off. The catch was that the Non-Profit could not sell for three years or the seller would not be able to claim the write off. This is not what I signed up for, so the deal fell through.
A couple of days later the local sailmaker Robbie asked if I had found a boat yet. I told him my story. He said his father called the night before and knew of a 48’ Hinckley in Florida going on the market in two days. His father had been on the boat and said she was in good shape and “priced right”. Robbie texted me the phone number of the marina storing the vessel. I went to the beach and called the marina manager. I said if she would send me wiring instructions, I would save her the trouble of listing her. Off to the bank I went.
Later that day I received pictures of her. Looked very familiar. It was the boat that sold in 36 minutes several months before in Luperon. As it turns out, someone made an offer, sent a deposit and had the owner deliver back to Carrabelle Florida. That person never was able to complete the sale, so she was going back on the market. Lucky Us! That’s where Helios story begins.