August - November 2011

Taylor family vacation


Our trip back to the U.S. was a little longer this year than in the past. We started off our visit with our annual family vacation with all the kids and grandchildren at Tugaloo State Park on Lake Hartwell in Georgia. We had all the family members attending for the first time in three years. The total of 32 included the 19 grandchildren ranging in age from one month to 14 years (three of whom had been born since last vacation and that we had not seen) and 13 adults. Everyone enjoyed the lake, water sports behind the ski boat, roaming in the woods, floating down the Chattahoochee River in inner tubes, and visiting with siblings and cousins. This is one of everyone’s favorite vacation spots for the family.


John Jr. &  Jenn at triathlon

Daughter Jennifer and son John Jr. found a triathlon near Lake Hartwell and we had fun watching the competition and cheering them along the course and across the finish line. Congratulations to Jennifer and John!

A few days later we were at the Taylor family cottage in Higgins Lake, Michigan. We continued our tree cutting activities as we felled 42 large pine trees on the property. We had nice visits with John’s Dad and Mary and his sister Nancy and her husband Gene.

In Georgia, John had an opportunity to play volleyball with some of his buddies and he remembered how much he misses volleyball. John also worked on several projects at Ann’s parents including replacing a wooden porch railing with vinyl, hanging ceiling fans, painting outdoor benches, etc.

In mid-October we attended the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) meeting in Punta Gorda, Florida. We spoke to about 175 members about our cruising experiences over the past six years. We were nervous about speaking to a group which included many experienced cruisers, but we had a great time with the presentation, catching up with old friends, and meeting new cruisers. Our cruising friends Joe and Traci previously on Sea Loco (see January 2007) were wonderful hosts in Punta Gorda and it was great to catch up with them and hear about their lives on land.

We were itching to get back to Livin the Dream and get her back in the water in Trinidad. In early November we arrived in Trinidad and found Livin the Dream in the boat yard doing well except for lots of dirt on deck. It took almost a day to clean the decks. John immediately started working on the rudder that had been left to drain and dry out over the past three months. He had ground out several spots of fiberglass and had to build the rudder up to get it smooth with new fiberglass and several coats of epoxy.

Finally John was ready to paint with an epoxy barrier coat and bottom paint. As he was painting the rudder, Ann turned the wheel to get the rudder at different angles to reach all the spots that had to be painted. As she turned the wheel, she found it was difficult to turn. This started a thorough investigation into the whole steering system and we discovered the rudder was bound at the point where it goes through the hull (the rudder log as it is technically called). 

After several different approaches to free the rudder post from the rudder log, including acid and a twenty ton hydraulic jack, the only remaining option was to cut through the bolts holding the bronze rudder log to the boat. Because of the angles involved, this also required cutting into the fiberglass around the log to get to the bolts. Once this was done, the rudder dropped down from the boat with the rudder log attached. We were left with a hole in our boat.

A boat with a hole can be repaired. A boat without a rudder is useless. John was very depressed during this entire process which took about 5 days to get the rudder out. Once the rudder was out it was taken to a special machine shop where the metal was heated and 20 tons of pressure were applied using a hydraulic jack. The heat and the pressure did the trick. Once the two pieces were apart, it was an easy matter to clean them up and reinstall everything.

Cruisers' Thanksgiving


It took several days to repair the damaged fiberglass on the boat. During that time John continued to prepare everything related to the rudder to get it back together. We asked for assistance from Hunter on Arctic Tern to replace the rudder and he was invaluable with good advice and a level head throughout the process. Once everything was installed it worked perfectly. We installed a grease nipple so we can periodically grease the inside of the rudder log to hopefully prevent a repeat problem.

 We participated in a great Thanksgiving celebration during this maintenance nightmare. Several cruisers organized a wonderful potluck dinner with deliciously roasted turkey and about 50 attendees. It was a delicious meal and a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving away from family.

We continued to boost the Trinidad economy with some new rigging and a boat survey. With the new rigging purchased, we have now replaced every wire holding up the main and the mizzen mast. After putting the boat back in the water, we spent four days at a marina to finish up projects and we were ready to head North.