A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. John Shedd.
We needed to move the boat out of the water and to a place where we can get bottom work done. (In boating terms..). We had made a decision after the Bahamas trip that we would need to get the boat out of the water for cleaning and painting. Now there are several schools of thought on storing a boat in the water vs. out of the water. There is a definite advantage in keeping a new bottom paint away from the critters that chose to make their residence within the fertile growth that occurs on a boat that sits inactive at the dock. These sea creatures can eat away at the bottom paint over time.(This is actually what marine paints are formulated to defeat this growth. From the origin of sailing and boating, mariners have tried to discourage the barnacles, and aquatic growth by adding all kinds of coatings to the hull of said boats. Before “we” were environmentally conscious (as well as safety aware for health reasons) boats kept in saltwater endured applications of arsenic, tar, sulfur, tin and pesticides! As time and awareness have evolved they have found newer compounds of copper that work as a biocide to prevent heavy marine growth. (OK…boring I know, just one more thing…there are so many paints for the hulls of saltwater boats its incredible. So what’s different? The concentration of copper mainly and how fast the paint wears away to reveal “another layer” of copper to work. And you don’t have to pain the bottom every year!) Just so you know that we don’t needlessly spend hundreds of dollars just to have a “nice looking bottom”.
In hauling Lost Loon out of the water, we would also realize a benefit on our insurance. Additionally she needs to stay above or close to the 31st parallel to stay within the provisions of our insurance policy. So, the closest location to Brunswick Harbor Marina would be St Mary’s Boat Services, a marina that would allow us to have the boat “on the hard” (a nautical term use when you don’t have the boat in the water) in order get some work done and be safe for the summer. The location is just about 40 nautical miles south of where we were currently located. But before we just loose the dock lines and motor off to St Mary’s, we were obliged to get permission from the insurance company as this was at 30 .44 degrees north latitude (every so slightly south of the 31 degree line in the sand we are held to). It took a few days of emails, phone calls, and of course an additional $50. added to our policy (there’s always a hand waiting for money) to get the insurance company to “OK “ the new location just south of 31N.
Once we knew we were clear to make the move we had to decide on a route. We would have 2 choices : #1- intercoastal waterway all the way: full day of motoring basically down a “riverway”, this would require us to leave early in the morning and anchor close to the marina overnight to make the final approach up the creek early morning so we have good light in narrow waters navigating to the marina. (This could also prove to be a VERY LONG HOT trip) and #2- an overnight ocean passage out St Simons inlet south along the Atlantic coast about 20 miles and back into St Mary’s Inlet with arrival early AM at the St Marys inlet for a daylight creek approach early AM for a mid day hauling. Technically, either way this is a 2-day event. We made the decision early on to take the outside journey.
We knew we needed to leave by 12AM to arrive at St Mary’s by 7or 8 AM , (given good weather). As usual we watched the weather for days prior to our arrival in Brunswick, with the hope we had that 7 or 8 hour window to make the run. We had noted a very clear weather window to St. Mary’s on Friday night and that our chances of running into storms increased Saturday and Sunday.
To add to (or complicate, depending on your view of the yin and yang of things) the decision making process, we had reservations to meet up with friends in Marathon for some snorkeling, spearfishing and diving Monday night .
We planned our arrival in Jacksonville early afternoon Friday, and we would drive to Brunswick , replace a fuel filter (critical), uncover Lost Loon, obtain some meager provisions and head off into the night. Sounds good on paper (or the Excel spreadsheet) but in reality flights get delayed, it takes 2+ hours to replace the fuel filter, and we find that some of our navigations lights are not working.
Yes, we arrive in Charlotte, NC and our flight is delayed by almost 2 hours. We have our sweet daughter, Kelsey, now waiting patiently at the airport in Jacksonville for us. She has kindly driven down from NC to help us with transportation, join us on this overnight journey and the rest of the week in “the Keys”.
A Plan in Action
We retrieve our baggage on arrival at the Jacksonville airport, head out with haste in a very full vehicle (with just enough room left for people), and make our first stop in St Mary’s to inspect the marina. We quickly depart after meeting the owner finding this marina very sufficient for storing Lost Loon for the Summer, making tracks north to Brunswick Landing as planned to begin our ship preparations. After removing the trusty canvas that has protected Lost Loon from tons of bird doo-doo in the last 2 months, we debated about who might jump overboard and check the prop. (This wasn’t the Bahamas, Dorothy, it was late in the day with sun approaching the horizon and water that is brackish..i.e., salt and freshwater combined that moves very slowly through the marina.)….Luckily (for me and Kelsey), Mike made a quick decision to snorkel down 3-4 ft from the surface to check on the aquatic growth. We knew this was of primary importance as on a previous trip we had tried to maneuver with a prop that was so full of growth we were moving out of control. That was before we realized the amount of growth that can accumulate on a boat sitting at the dock. We had tried to get our “dive-guy” to make a visit, but in all the preparations to get away we had not called him in enough time to get it done. But…Viola! The report came back with very few barnacles and little to no cleaning needed! Job 1….check!
Next, I begin to reorganize and Mike started on the fuel pump. We had last left her after the Bahamas we had removed and folded the sails, stored the life raft, removed the solar panels, and stowed the Bimini canvas. So the salon , forward and aft cabins along with the galley were quite full of equipment, in addition to being quite near 100 degrees upon my arrival. The goal that evening was to make enough room for 24 hours of living and resting to make the trip. That process went well (however very warm) and I was able to secure some items on deck and along the starboard and port walkways to make room. We sent Kelsey off for some provisions and cold beverages, enough to help us get through a night while we continued the work. Later in the evening as the sun was actually setting the light available to Mike in the port lazarette, where the fuel pump resides, was getting dark. Like a surgical assistant, I provided light, towels, and precise tools for completing the job. It was hot down there and any hint of a breeze had disappeared with the sun. With the new pump in correct position and all the lines connected…Jobs 2 and 3 were done.
It was dark when we started the engine and found it wouldn’t keep idling. Air. Of course, there was air in the lines..a quick bleeding from the engine side and it was back running like it should. It was after 9 PM and Mike connected the instruments as I made a check of fuel and navigation lights. I found no stern lights and the deck floodlight flashed and wouldn’t come back on. Now, there is a moment in time when you realize that your said plan needs revising or scraping, this was that time. So at roughly 9:30 PM after we had sweat to the bone trying to get the boat in order to leave…we had to scrub Plan A.
Moving on to Plan B
The air hung like the moss from the stately oaks and cypress down the street, it was heavy and still. We were in no position to combat that all night without a bit of air conditioning and so we quickly connected to Hotels.com for a cool and refreshing nights sleep. We knew we had another 24 hours or so before another attempt at leaving Brunswick for Lost Loon’s summer home. If the weather changes…well, there is no Plan C, we would exhaust our window and have to leave the boat at Dock 15, slip 23.
We broke one of the first rules of sailing and that is leave enough time for weather window. We would have to suffer the financial consequences with the insurance company, but knowing safety is first and foremost, that would have to be.
Saturday morning arrived bright and as hot and humid as we left it Friday night. Plan B was hatched before retiring: leave Kelsey in the comforts of the hotel (no use everyone of us baking in the summer sun), shop for replacement lights, attend to a few other small jobs and hopefully spend some time relaxing near a refreshing body of water. By noon we had retrieved Kelsey, stopped for more provisions and lunch and soon found ourselves sitting by a local Jekyll Island resort pool. No harm we borrowed a swim as an escape from the very hot near 100 degree day again, might have shared a cocktail, and checked the weather radar at frequent intervals (like a football coach getting ready for game night we reviewed the game plan, confirming with each other that we were ready to go.)
We had dinner at a very nice Brunswick establishment The Southern Table, where they touted the true southern atmosphere. The waiters and servers wore bowlers and black suits. The crab cake, salads, and blue crab mac and cheese dinner were original and delicious. And the sweet tea was wonderful and obviously brewed to perfection. We sat in conversation about the days events and continued to monitor the radar. The offshore prediction center had increased the possibility of storms from scattered to about 20%. We returned to Lost Loon about 10 PM. We arranged the car that we would have to retrieve the following day via UBER and set to rest an hour or so. We found ourselves lying in the cockpit and across the deck for a whiff of cool air. We watched lightening move from the northwest to the east just north of us. At one point we decided that we would take respite in the community room, where there was AC. In anticipation we couldn’t sleep, but even for the 30 minutes we were still and cool. By 11: 30 PM we were ready to move. We had seen storms pop up on radar and dissipate quickly as they approached the coast.
We eventually were able to confirm that there was nothing approaching on radar that was ominous and decided that since it would be about 1 ½ hours to reach the coastal waters, we had time to watch for “ominous” and turn back. We cast off the lines, had the fenders stowed and were motoring out under the stars and light of a near full moon in leave of Brunswick at 12:15AM.
Up next…..the approach to St Mary’s….the first storm.