A shakedown cruise was on the to-do list before heading across the Atlantic on m/v Roam.  It would be a test run for the boat, its cargo and new crew.  If Clark & Michelle grew tired of us after the first week, there was still time for them to ditch us before taking off for Bermuda! 

This was an opportunity for Mark and I to see how a trawler handles the seas on an overnight passage.  It was great to have four people to share the night shifts with ~ we each only have one, three-hour shift each from 8PM-8AM.  It’s also a new way to experience navigating in an air-conditioned pilot house with a big, comfy captain’s chair.

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At first light, we slipped out into the ocean and hugged the coast of Florida to stay out of the Gulf Stream.  In our short, five day trip we experienced everything a good shakedown cruise should be...



A king mackerel and several bonito were caught before we pulled in the lines for the day.  We’re thrilled that Roam has good trolling karma and have started a trend of fish tacos that we hope to continue!



Right as the last glimmer of light sunk from the sky on the first night off of Ft. Lauderdale, smoke started wafting from the engine room housing a 175hp Lugger.  A scary prospect!  The culprit was a glowing hot 270Amp alternator when the bearings seized.  

That is what spares are for… it was cooled down and replaced in no more than 90 minutes, which gave us a chance to try out the “get-home” engine, which we learned was a challenge to steer against the strong Gulf Stream current.  We also learned what things needed to be secured in higher seas.





Boot Key Harbor in Marathon is a HUGE mooring field with sparse room to anchor.  Many anchored boats are semi-permanent with a tangle of anchor rodes deployed and a few boats that resemble reef ecosystems.  

We anchored, since no moorings were available, and were facing six boats at sunset that first evening.  In the morning, we were looking at five boats and a mast.  One of the boats sank overnight!  

The situation got worse as a front came through the next day with a wind shift.  This caused a nearby boat to tangle rigs with the sunken boat.  Several dinghies came around to wrestle the boats apart and reposition.  Another boat, now ahead of us started dragging, but also got on the move and re-anchored just in time.




In our three short days in Marathon we got a taste of the local vibe.  As a first impression, I found an interesting meld of classic Florida (deep tans, breakfast beers, bicyclists everywhere and friendly dog lovers) and island-life (sunset worship, time slowing down and seafood abundance).

We took Roam out on the reef one day for a snorkel.  

Visibility wasn’t ideal, yet it was great to be in the water again.  

There were sergeant majors everywhere and we soon learned why, as more and more tourist boats showed up that likely feed them.  

I was happy to get a blenny fix, saw a few snook, a big black grouper and the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen.

Michelle and I started a morning yoga routine on the aft deck and Sailor is our helper!

Whenever we bend down to at her level we get doggie kisses.  

Her favorite pose is savasana!

The day after we pulled into Marathon, Bill and Mara (Puddle Jumper) landed here from the Bahamas.  It was a great bonus visit, since we didn’t think we’d see them again until the winter.  They had the inspired idea to go to the Marathon Community Theater performance and had friends in the cast.  It was a funny play “Bathroom Humor” ~ right up our alley.


Our days are falling into a comfortable cruising routine.  Returning to West Palm Beach after a week together, Roam’s crew including doggies are still happy, content and excited for the next trip!  

Even though we’re still getting to know each other, we each brought good attitudes and respect which have only been reinforced by our experiences together so far.  As liveaboards, we all know cruising isn’t always pink umbrella drinks and pretty sunsets (just mostly)... everyone is entitled to their moments after all!  

It’s all how you handle it when the shit hits the fan, when it’s time to adapt or give someone their space, and when it’s time to get motivated to have some fun.  I think we’re getting that part down just fine.

© M&M 2016