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December 2005

We won’t bore you with the long story of the search for the boat and the negotiations over price, but we finally found the boat we wanted to live on for the next 5 – 7 years.  (See About the Boat for more information.)  We closed on the boat on 11/17/2005 and John went down to Melbourne, FL to get it ready for the trip north to Savannah.

The boat had been sitting mostly unused for the last 2 years.  The previous owners owned the boat for 4 years, but did very little except to replace the electronics where were destroyed by a lightning strike in 2002.  They had a survey from January 2002 when they purchased the boat and most of the noted deficiencies listed in that survey were still uncorrected when we had the boat surveyed in 2005. The good news is that none of the problems were related to the boat hull, structure, or rig.  The problems the survey found were mostly minor plumbing and electrical issues and some missing safety items.

We wanted to dock the boat in Savannah closer to our home in Atlanta so that John could get the work done that would make the boat comfortable for cruising in the islands.  Before leaving Melbourne, John took care of the mechanical and safety issues to make sure the boat would be legal and seaworthy for the trip north.

It took 3 days to do the work, and then John headed back to Atlanta for Thanksgiving with his daughter Lindsay and our grandchildren Adam, Amaya, and Olivia.

Walter RobinsonJohn needed someone to travel with him on his trip north.  Ann was working, Ann’s parents were too worried to go along, and most of John’s friends were working.  One day Ann’s dad called to say that he had found a “boy” interested in going on the trip.  John was concerned if this boy would be mature enough to make the 5-day trip north on the intracoastal waterway, so he asked how old the “boy” was.  Ann’s dad replied, “He’s 74, one year older than I am.”

Walter Robinson had boating experience, but none on a large boat.  He was a tremendous help in steering and standing watch while John went below to check the engine room each hour.  The trip from Melbourne to Savannah took 5 days.  We left each morning right after sunrise and usually stopped when the sun was just about to set.  The days were short so we generally got about 9 hours of running time each day.  Walter was good company as we enjoyed the wide variety of scenery along the intracoastal.

When we left Melbourne it was shorts and tee shirt sailing with the wind behind us from the south.  Two days later, a cold front came through and it was long underwear, hats and gloves, and motoring into a wind out of the north.  Each night the fuel filter had to be changed.  The fuel tank had a big load of algae from being laid up so long.  The fuel filter went on white but came off black after 9 hours of engine time.

We passed a lot of other cruising boats, both sailboats and trawlers.  They were all heading south of course as it was right at the end of the Caribbean hurricane season.  One white bearded crusty old sailor we passed looked at us, shook his head, and started pointing south indicating we were going the wrong way.  I had to agree with him.  We would have liked to have been heading south but there was still a lot of work to do on the boat.

It was a great trip.  We didn’t run aground once, which based on subsequent experience on the Intracoastal Waterway was really lucky, nor did we experience any serious mechanical breakdowns.  We saw dolphin each of the 5 days.  The sounds between the Georgia barrier islands were favorite parts of the trip.  The Georgia islands of Jekyll and St. Simons have bridges to them and are developed.  The Georgia islands of Cumberland, St. Catherine’s and Blackbeard remain mostly undeveloped and have spectacular wildlife and natural beauty.

 Over 5 days we covered 320 miles, passed under 20 bridges and through 14 opening bridges.  We also passed approximately 946 aids to navigation which include lights, range markers, buoys, and channel markers.  We anchored out every night except one, when we stayed in a marina in Jacksonville.