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.