Summer 2004

We, Sue, the boys, Robb, Mickey and I departed the weekend of the 4th of July. We didn't have a destination, in mind so we just headed south to see where we might end up. The first night out I dropped our brand new 45 lb CQR on 100 feet of chain followed by 100 feet of 9/16 rode using our brand new windlass in a creek on the way south. Had a delightfully pleasant evening and watched a fantastic sunset. Then next morning we ate and attempted to weigh anchor.

The new windlass lasted about 20 seconds. Then the chain got to whipping and jammed. I was able to pry the chain loose, but from then on the windlass didn't do anything except make noise. Didn't go up, didn't go down, the motor turned but that motion never got outside of the case. I had to retrieve the anchor by hand. We were close to Amelia Island Yacht Basin, so we pulled in to see what we might be able to do. We came in at dead low tide. The channel felt as if it was about 10 feet wide. There were vast mud flats on each side of the channel. They said we'd be OK with 4.5 draft, but I know we cut a new groove in the channel that day. I called Offshore Marine to see what I should do. They said to call the manufacturer. I called them and they said they had a repair facility in Tampa and another in Miami. I tossed around some options and decided that I'd just order a new one and send the broken one off. Offshore said they could have one to us overnight. I've reasoned that a spare isn't a bad thing to have. Maybe that's called rationalization. It would have taken a day to get it to Tampa, a day to get it fixed and a day to get back, and with only 3 weeks vacation I didn't want to spend it driving. We climbed into the marina's loaner car and dropped the windlass off at the local pack and ship store.

About 10 the next day the new windlass showed up. It took me a couple of hours to get in in. Nothing like working at arms length through a hole 6" square, or is it that big? We left about noon. We passed under the bridge at Amelia Island and I noticed the tach making funny motions. It was on then off and then on and off. Then the alternator quit charging altogether. We pulled over and anchored in the next creek and I stuck my head inside of the engine compartment. Ugh, the wires to the alternator have rotted off. The connector was shot and one of the terminals inside of the alternator is rusted away. It looks like it has gotten corrosion on it from somewhere. Possibly from a leaky (fresh) water hose going to the heat exchanger. Fortunately I've got a spare, unfortunately about 6 weeks ago I broke my elbow and my arm isn't quite up to snuff yet. Putting that alternator in is a job for 3 good arms, not one.

We limped back to Amelia Island Yacht Basin and grabbed a slip for the night. The mechanics had gone home for the day so we had to wait overnight to obtain some help. At first light, we borrowed the marina's car and went up to the Napa parts house to get a new connector. Fortunately this is a common part, unfortunately they didn't have it, but sent us elsewhere to get it. About noon a mechanic came down and replaced the alternator with our spare. I don't know why, but we elected to stay one more night. I wouldn't be surprised it was due to the A/C at the dock.

We left the marina the next morning and proceeded down the ICW to Fort George River. We really like the anchorage there. It's a short dingy ride to the beach and a pretty place to spend the night. We liked it so well, we stayed two. The first afternoon a stinkpot decided to share the anchorage with us. It was a 32 SeaRay. One of its friends rafted up. I wasn't very happy that they decided to anchor so close and was real unhappy to find out that they didn't have nearly as much rode out as I did when the current switched direction. We were almost rafted up with them! They didn't seem to be concerned that a 12 ton boat could be crushing them about any time since they had consumed a vast quantity of Anheuser Busch's products. I decided the best thing to do was move, since they didn't seem to be much interested in doing so. It gets a bit shallow up the river and the Admiral is always concerned about us anchoring in shallow water. I went as far as she would let me go and dropped the anchor again. I let out a bunch of scope and found we really hadn't gone far enough yet, so up the anchor and try again. This time I went further up and tuned the Admiral out. Great.

We drifted back north, stopping (anchoring) at Fernandina for the night and went back to St Simons. I wasn't very happy with the output of the spare alternator. It wasn't putting out but about 13.2 volts. I took the shot one into the shop and had him replace the bad connector. He checked the rest of it over and it looked good. This is a 63 amp alternator but must have been modified some time in the past 'cause he said it was putting out over 70 amps. That's nice to know. My arm was feeling a bit better so I decided to try to replace it without help this time. I was successful. Time to toss off the lines once again.

We put out for points north this time, after replenishing the larder. We didn't cruise for more than 4-6 hours a day, preferring to spend our days laying around the boat or dinking up the creeks of the Georgia coast for the next few days.

As we crossed St Cathrine's sound, a big storm popped up. Before I could fetch the dink, it broke loose. Guess I shouldn't have left the motor on it. Now this is technically a borrowed dink and a new engine. I wasn't about to let it go. We were in a raging storm by the time I caught up with it but I couldn't get a line attached to it under these conditions so I just kept circling it. We were being swept out to sea and the Admiral was quite worried. Robby even came up from down below to express his displeasure at being tossed around like a cork. He didn't last long when a sea spray caught him and he disappeared below. It was quite a ride, but a 41' boat is capable of handling a lot worse conditions than that.

Eventually it calmed down a bit and I was able to get a line on the dink again. It was full of water by that time, so it was a slow go to get into protected waters so I could bail it out. This time, I put it on the davits.

After a couple of more days of peace and quiet we decided to put into the Isle of Hope marina, south of Savannah. One of our dock mates from back home had said they liked it so we wanted to give it a try. They have recently remodeled/rebuild and have a nice marina. They have free wifi access but my computer doesn't have a wifi card. That will be remedied soon.

We borrowed a couple of free bikes and took a tour of the area. It is a pleasant place to spend a day. We rented a car for the day and picked up some necessary marine parts from West and restocked our dwindling food (and spirits) supply.

We then wandered up to South Carolina and spend a couple of days enjoying the solitude of the deep water creeks. It was an uneventful trip back slowly down the Georgia ICW to home. Nothing but leisure and nice weather, well, a few rainy hours, all the way. We're looking forward to spending lots more time on board after we retire, next summer or fall.