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May - September 2004
A Cruise With Some "Down Time"

I’m sure many of you are wondering what happened to the Russell’s and Victoria. In our previous journal we were talking about cruising to Panama and the South Pacific after hurricane season. Unfortunately, that plan will have to be put on hold.

We decided to return to Atlanta in August for various reasons. If we were going to sail long distances, we felt it was necessary from a safety and reliability aspect to install a new engine. Victoria has a BMW Marine engine which has been a good and dependable engine for us but parts are hard to come by and are very expensive. For example, we need an oil cooler which we haven’t been able to find and it costs approx. $700 before it can be fabricated. We wanted to have a broader support system for service and parts so we purchased a Yanmar 75 hp turbo which fulfills those needs. We also felt like this would increase the value and marketability of the boat.

We realized that for us to cruise for two to three years we needed to truly simplify our lives. This philosophical and emotional issue is one that people face when they decide to go cruising. What do you do with your house, cars, etc.? How much do you want to cut the cord? A lot depends on where you want to go, time limits and how attached you are to your possessions and toys. When we go we will either have to find a good long term renter or sell the house.

There was a point in St. Petersburg when we realized that we wanted to cruise for an extended amount of time. It made sense to go back to Atlanta to work, finish projects on the boat that we hadn’t completed, install the new engine and generally get our ducks in a row. We didn’t want to take off for the wild blue yonder and still own a house, some rental property, a car and a bunch of toys. We felt like we’d always be looking over our shoulder. Our tenants moved out in July and that dovetailed nicely into us being able to move back into our house. The boys started kindergarten the day after we got home and then we threw them a 5th birthday party the next weekend.

You don’t know what hot is until you spend a summer on a boat in St. Pete. Pierre and I basted ourselves in sunscreen and wore big straw hats on a daily basis while working on the deck, sanding, varnishing or doing general maintenance.

We discovered some canvas material down below and were able to construct an awning over the entire deck to help keep the boat cool.

With the heat also come the afternoon thunderstorms. Many times the lightening was so close I was sure that a mast nearby must have been hit. It’s a little unnerving to be sitting on a boat during a bad lightening storm. Once we made the decision to go back to Atlanta, we needed to decide what to do with Victoria. We considered leaving her in Florida, bringing her back to Port Royal, SC where we kept her before or trucking her to Lake Lanier (about an hour north of Atlanta).

Our decision to move her to Lake Lanier turned out to be the right one. Three days after we shipped the boat, Hurricane Charley hit Florida’s west coast. Then came hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

Preparing Victoria to be trucked turned out to be more work than we imagined. The trucker advised us that one of the requirements for shipping the boat was weight, but height was a prime importance. We were advised that 13 feet from the highest point on the boat to the bottom of the keel was our maximum allowance. This necessitated removing the mast, bow pulpit, bow sprit, boom gallows, stanchions, life lines and disassembling the staysail and headsail furling systems (manual in hand) and preparing the rigging for the mast removal. The whole process was much more involved than we anticipated but was well worth it in terms of our learning about the boat and how it is put together.

A lot of people use professional riggers to do the prep work but we wanted to learn about our boat and were fortunate to have good help and advice from our neighbors on the dock - Mike and Cecilia, John and Kelly and Tim and Holly.

A lot of things seem intimidating at first when you’ve never done it but now we know how things work.

The Lord Nelson 41 is a well thought out cruising boat.


The whole adventure required lots of planning and coordinating with the boat yard, trucker and the yard at Lake Lanier. 

We had a firm quote from one yard to remove our mast and load the boat on the trailer. When we arrived to have the mast pulled, our firm quote didn’t seem to mean a lot as the yard manager advised us that the job would be several hundred dollars more than what we were originally quoted. 

We didn’t feel that was right so we motored up Salt Creek and were fortunate to find another yard that removed our mast in 30 minutes for a fair price and allowed us to prepare the mast for shipping ourselves. Oh, the vicissitudes of boating.

Once the mast was lifted off the boat, Pierre discovered an 1883 silver dollar in the mast step. We’ll be sure to put it back when we re-step the mast so our good luck will continue.

We shipped the boat with Wyskochil Marine and it arrived at Aqualand on August 13th in excellent condition. It was quite a sight to see the boat on a semi. We knew Victoria was a pretty fast boat but averaging 75 knots from St. Petersburg to Atlanta was incredible. It was a little strange motoring to Sunrise Cove Marina without a mast on this 20 mile lake after being on the ocean for a year.

Now that we are back in Atlanta we have been quickly swallowed up by all the mundane aspects of living in the big city like house maintenance, school obligations, work and dealing with traffic. We actually made the transition from our tight marina community back into the Decatur community relatively easily. It was surprisingly evident that the boys loved being in their own digs, not that they complained or didn’t like the boat, but at this point in their lives if they had a choice between the boat and their house, they would definitely choose the latter. Although we didn’t get as much accomplished as we wanted, our time in St. Pete proved to be very valuable. We got a lot of boat chores done, learned an incredible amount about the boat and made some important decisions regarding our future.

The boys had a lot of fun in their preschool and got to spend some quality time with their grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins. It was difficult to get Patrick and Thomas from our boat to the end of the dock without them climbing on someone else’s boat to say hello or get a snack. They had a lot of fun with our neighbors Holly and Tim and John and Kelly. When you have the commonality of living on the water and having so many shared concerns and interests it’s easy to see how this community can flourish.

Once again we met some quality people. Cecilia and Mike have been cruising for seven years and arrived in St. Pete a few months ago after spending two years in Panama.

Cecilia showed me how to retrieve weather faxes off the single sideband and download them directly into our laptop computer. She also told me about the daily cruiser nets available on the SSB and how you can get advice from other cruisers regarding safety issues, cruising conditions and weather.

Mike was a genius with anything mechanical or technical and helped us tremendously in many ways.

A few days after we returned to Atlanta, we found out that our boat neighbor Dan Barrow died aboard his boat during his nap, the day after Charlie hit Florida’s west coast. He died of congestive heart failure. He had worked on his boat for over three years with a dream of someday sailing to the Bahamas with his wife Pam. Dan’s life revolved around his boat, fishing at all hours, and his wife. He had just bought new scuba gear with hopes of diving in the Bahamas someday. He was 56 years old and known by almost everyone on the docks. After hearing of his death, several people made a memorial at his favorite fishing spot. We heard people brought cigars, fishing lures, a rod and other things to remember him by. Dan had a unique outlook on life, a wonderful dry sense of humor and a generous spirit. 

In the coming months ahead, the primary things we want to accomplish are to finish putting new rigging on the boat, install the new engine (with some help from Tom Broome a Diesel Engine instructor for Windsong), re-caulk the decks, refine our reefing system, paint the mast and refinish the hull. We also want to take some meteorology classes and maybe get a Ham license. Home schooling is another topic we will have to research.

We are still just as enamored with the cruising life as ever, in fact, even more so than before we left. Our rough itinerary is to ship the boat back down to St. Pete around Feb. ’06. Right now we don’t have any firm cruising destinations but hope to fine tune things during our time here.

If you are interested in following other cruisers, here are two websites from friends of ours that are on long distant voyages now:


http://www.sailingwithdiabetes.com/ and kavenga.home.att.net