Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I don't like being cold. Never have. Never will.

Included in this boat experience was the thought that we would leave frigid temperatures behind once and for all. Sure, there might be a time when we would see maybe, perhaps, some morning lows in the 40's, but that would be the extreme. Our last trip showed me how wrong I was.

A few weeks ago, we had another guest sailor onboard Maya. (Tom begged off on this one as it was going to be even colder than our last trip. Smart man.) So this time, my dad joined me. Dad is really great about trying new things. He is in his 70's now, but still as spry and inquisitive as always. It was going to be cold and uncomfortable, but he didn't care. He just wanted to go.

The trip started out in Jacksonville Florida where we were having some work done on Maya. We had new bottom paint applied and addressed several nagging mechanical issues that had popped up over the past few months. It is expensive to haul the boat out of the water so you don't want to do it very often. When you do, you will want to take care of all the maintenance items that require a dry hull all at once. Its best to save up these jobs and do them all at the same time.

The paint they put on the bottom is especially made for boats. That just means that its about 10 times more expensive than regular paint. Anyway, you cannot apply this paint in temperatures below 40 degrees. It won't dry correctly if you do. Because of the coldness in Florida that week, we just had to sit around and wait out the weather. This 5 day job was turning into a 10 day job.

It was neat watching them haul Maya out of the water. Essentially, you maneuver the boat beneath this very large lifting apparatus that has giant canvas straps connected to it. Once everything is in place, they simply lift the boat right out of the water. They then move it to jackstands and blocks where they gently set it down. 44 thousand pounds is a lot to lift and carry, but somehow they made it work.

Eventually the temperatures moderated enough for them to get the paint on and us out. As a business owner, I would think the last thing you would want is to have your customers milling about, pestering your workers all day long. We spent a lot of time asking questions. Unfortunately for them, the questions usually started with the word "When?" The days were tedious. It was like watching paint dry.

Soon enough however, the job was complete and we were on our way. The plan was to take our time and head over to Palm Coast where we had arranged for a slip. We were going to anchor out and enjoy a peaceful and serene two day cruise. When we awoke to temperatures in the teens, we decided to make a one day run for it.

I felt a little bad for Dad as I think he was truly looking forward to spending some time on the boat. It was just too cold though. We spent a marathon day inside the salon helm, taking turns driving and watching the dolphins swim by. By 5 o'clock when we finally reached our destination, we were both ready to be done. Cramming that two day trip into one was a lot of work. I think Dad enjoyed the adventure, nonetheless. On the way home he asked, "when can I go again?" Of course he has a standing invitation to come along anytime he wants.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

We finally made it to the sunshine state. Last week we made the trip from Hilton Head to Jacksonville, Florida where we had Maya pulled from the water for painting. This cruise was a little different because Kim wasn't aboard. She (being the smarter one) had looked at the weather forecasts and had seen that cold temperatures were predicted.

In her place was my old friend Tom. Tom and I used to fly together when I was at Delta Air Lines and have been friends for many years. Since he was a former Navy guy, I figured he would have no problem behind Maya's helm. On top of that, Tom has owned boats in the past and generally knows a lot about everything.

As smart as he is, I don't think he checked the temperature forecasts either because if he had, we never would have left the dock in Hilton Head. It was cold!

Maya has a great heating system which consists primarily of two giant iron diesel engines that when run all day long, produce copious amounts of heat. Just leave the engine room door open and you essentially have two big pot belly stoves throwing out all kinds of warmth. We also have a heat pump system that is designed to take the chill off for short periods of time, but you have to have the generator running for it to work.

The first evening out at anchor wasn't too bad. We were out in the middle of the Georgia marshes, miles from anyone. Sometimes being isolated is good. You get to enjoy the gifts nature has to offer all by yourself. Sometimes isolated is bad. At some point you find yourself asking, "are we the only ones dumb enough to be out here?" This time, isolated was bad.

As the evening wore on, the temperature slowly dropped. The twin diesels were cooling off and the free heat we were getting was waning. The forecasts called (yes, we finally came to the party and checked it out) for lows around 30. This was way too cold to be out boating.

Fortunately for me, Tom is also an expert bartender. I am not sure if his is a hobby or a passion, but he can make some mean drinks. The gallon of dark rum that we had onboard went to good use those nights out on the ICW. I am not sure if it made us any warmer or just numbed us from the cold, but it seemed to make things better.

After three days on our near polar expedition, we arrived in Jacksonville. We pulled up to the city docks where they have free overnight parking and a wealth of restaurants and shoppes to enjoy. We headed straight for the nearest pub where they had warm temperatures and cold beer inside.

I asked Tom what it was like on Navy ships when they had cold snaps like this. He said, "I don't know.... I was never on a ship while I was in the Navy. I was stationed in Hawaii the whole time and flew from the Navy air base there." "Never on a ship, really?" I asked. "How did you get so good at driving boats?"

"Trial and error, I guess" he said. "Hey" he said. "Did I ever show you a picture of my last boat?"

"No, I don't think you ever have" I said.

"Here, have a look" he said with a grin.