Ch 6 - King Tut

Columbus Day, October 12th, 1997.  We left Czar at the motel while we drove to where the boat was (hopefully) docked off the Manatee River in Bradenton.  Dan arranged for a friend to hand over the keys and show us around.

It was a quiet Sunday morning and the weather was perfect.  The neighborhood consisted of single-story homes with expansive lawns, but at the address given there was no boat in sight.  I swallowed my panic as we walked towards the front door; when suddenly Santa Claus in a pastel polo shirt and deck shoes hopped up to introduce himself.

“Hello there!  I'm Chester, and I’ll be showing you the boat.”  He took no time in leading us around the side of the house towards our future.

Cap and I stopped dead in our tracks at the sight of King Tut bobbing gently in the canal, paint gleaming in the sunshine. After the nail-biting events of the past few months we were really here, and so was King Tut.

“It’s just like the picture!”  I felt light as a feather from the sense of relief.

“It's better than the picture.  Look at the size…it’s huge!! We can do this.”

Thankfully, a recent paint job erased King Tut’s name from the transom.  Cap and Chester spoke animatedly while I silently trailed behind in a state of disbelief.  Let’s go aboard and check her out, our jolly guide suggested.

Note:  At the time I was in awe and shock, so there aren't many photos from when we first moved onto the boat; therefore most photos will contain accumulated junk and later modifications.  Here's my cook's tour to help set the stage.

From the dock we stepped onto the swim platform and through the heavy swinging door in the transom.  The back deck was nice and roomy: approx. 12- x 8-feet. The basement, or lazarette, contained the steering mechanism and space for storage.
The sides of the boat were about 24" above the deck floor and topped with 14" tall stainless steel stanchions supporting thin wooden railings (I'm leaning against it).  King Tut was one of the first fiberglass-hulled boats  (in production, at least); and because of the unknown the hull was built extra thick, 4-5inches, Cap claimed.  I cannot confirm or deny this claim, but at the time it was meant to reassure me, which it did. The cabin itself was wood.

From the back, steps on either side led to narrow walkways towards the bow (r). The railings were too low to hold as you walked, so wooden handrails ran the length of the cabin, above the windows (l).  A sliding door on the starboard side led to the inside steering station and galley area.
We loved the large, picture windows.  Sailboats seem like caves, but we could look out easily in any direction.  The side windows were dark Plexiglas; and Dan bequeathed blue Sunbrella fabric snap-on covers for the front and back windows.
Samson Post and Pulpit

The bow was primarily taken up by a raised deck about knee-high (r) with a hatch (not shown).  This raised area was in fact the roof of the V-berth (bedroom) below.  Returning to the back deck, Chester slid open the door and we stepped into the saloon, pronounced salon, and which I always called the living room.

There were those tweed bench seats and tacky roll-up blinds from Dan's photo; but I hadn't noticed the counter tops were mauve, too.  It was crowded with the three of us standing inside.  Chester gave his own cook’s tour of the endless gauges, levers and switches which made no sense to me, but Cap nodded in understanding, so he could explain what I needed to know.

Chester led Cap below while I gazed at my kitchen for the first time. So that's what was on the other side of the cabinet with the fake potted plant.  An upright refrigerator/freezer, with a microwave on top, dominated the space.  It was added by the former owner, as was the ice maker in the living room.  King Tut was set up for dockside Happy Hours.

The original cooler would have been no taller than the counter top, allowing for additional counter space and not blocking the view.  The monolith jutted out a couple of inches, too; making it awkward to reach the corner sink, or crawl into the cabinet if something fell over and rolled to the hull.

A removable counter top covered three electric burners.  The only cabinet in the galley for dishes or ingredients was a long cabinet above the counter; approx. 8" tall x 8" deep.  Sliding doors hid the contents.

While I gawked I heard Cap trying his best to make his party-boat experience and marine engineer license sound equal to the task, but all I heard from Chester was, "Uh-huh, good, uh-huh."  He didn't need forty years' experience to spot a couple of landlubbers.

"Remove the stairs and panel to reach the generator," under the galley floor. Countless times over the years I stepped down without noticing the stairs were missing, while the Captain was momentarily working elsewhere. The rest of the engine compartment was accessible through four heavy trap doors in the floor of the living room.  There was no evidence of a mount for any table, so we'd just use TV trays on our laps.

All of the brightwork, the mahogany and stainless trim, was freshly varnished and polished.  The place looked like a new penny.  The only areas which hadn't been touched were the back deck and parquet floor inside.  I liked the weathered-grey look outside; but the parquet would definitely take time to refinish.

The main drive station was next to the side door, opposite the fridge.  The Captain's Chair was a small cushioned seat, no larger than a bar stool, hinged to the side of the tall cabinet opposite the wheel, and propped up with a wooden stick.  A step-drawer led out the door.

"Let's go up top," and off they went while I continued to explore below. Two steps down led to the stateroom, bath and closet. The original setup was a V-berth, with two elongated twin-size foam pieces placed along each side of the boat and meeting at the bow, thus the name. Within a week the rock-hard beds were replaced with plywood and a futon, placed cross-wise.(right). On the far side of the bed: a trap door to  the anchor locker, a compartment for the anchor rode and chain tucked in the bow.

If I was surprised by the galley, imagine when I saw the head.  The strange door was in two pieces, hinged lengthwise; which was the only way to get in, shut the door, and get out again. It was an all-wet bath, draining through the teak floor grate to the bilge.  A hose with  a small shower head was hung behind the door when not in use.  The hose connected to the faucet; and whether using a fixed holder or showering by hand, everything got wet.  The tiny space had a surprising amount of storage: a roomy cabinet above the sink (with sliding wood doors); cabinet underneath; plus two small drawers on the side. The bottom trap door led to the plumbing for the macerating toilet. Not seen is a small window above the sink, and a too-tall mirror on the wall which looked like a porthole.

The fellows came down and announced that we needed to move the boat as soon as possible, since it wasn't Chester's home nor dock.  He recommended a local marina, and we arranged to move the next morning and stay for a month, for $450 plus electric.  Before leaving for the day, Chester offered to come along, thank God.

"Want to look up top?" Cap's excitement was adorable.

"Do I have to?"   But I would, sooner or later.  Climbing up the ladder was easy, but once up top it was terrifying.  It felt like being on the ledge of a second story window, with nothing to hold on to while swaying side to side.

"Oh my God!  There's nothing to stop us from falling over!"  A flimsy-looking railing surrounded the empty space, and to reach the second steering station you staggered for 10-12 feet before grabbing the mast, which held a couple of instruments, lights and antennas. A blue Bimini cover offered some protection from the sun.  I couldn't wait to get back down.
With added panels

"Think of the possibilities!  I can build seats around the edge."

"As long as you put something around the edge!"

Fast as we could we carried boxes across the lawn and filled every space on the boat.  We dropped off the U-Haul at a dealer, grabbed some Chinese take-out and went back to the motel.  So far, so good, except we brought too much crap.

Next up: Life is Short-Have Dessert First!

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To read from Chapter 1:  A Rough Start

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