May - September 2004
A Cruise With Some "Down Time"
Iím sure many of you are
wondering what happened to the Russellís 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
havenít 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
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
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 hadnít completed, install the new engine
and generally get our ducks in a row. We didnít 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 weíd 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 donít know what hot is until you spend a summer on a boat in
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
|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. Itís 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 Floridaís
west coast. Then came hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.
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
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 youíve never done it but now we
know how things work.
The Lord Nelson 41
is a well thought out cruising boat.
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
didnít seem to mean a lot as the yard manager advised us that
the job would be several hundred dollars more than what we were
We didnít 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. Weíll 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 didnít 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 didnít 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 elseís 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
itís 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 Floridaís 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. Danís 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. í06. Right
now we donít 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:
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