July 19, 2015

We’ve been in Savannah for about six weeks now, working with the folks at Thunderbolt Marine to lay out the work we will be having done to fix issues we found during the last five months and upgrade some of Just One Dance’s systems. The items we are having done include:

  • installing new chartplotter and radar to replace the ones damaged by the near lightning hit at Jekyll Island last year
  • building and installing an arch and then mounting solar panels to provide power when we’re anchored out
  • installing a watermaker to convert seawater to potable fresh water
  • inspecting and fixing any issues with our running and standing rigging
  • inspecting and servicing our saildrives including replacing the boots and seals
  • inspecting through-hulls and fixing or replacing them as needed
  • fixing the leaky A/C valves

Since JOD will be out of the water for a while (and our A/C is not working), Cindy and I rented a small 2 bedroom house in Savannah for a month through AirBnB. It’s an older house in a quiet neighborhood located about 5 miles from Thunderbolt Marine, so we can quickly make it over to the boat when needed. The house has been remodeled so its fairly comfortable and has a fenced-in back yard that Missy can enjoy running around in, but after 5 months of living on JOD it feels weird to be landlubbers again.

Rental House 1

Our Rental House in Savannah

Our daughter Stephanie drove our van over from Huntsville the day we moved into the rental house so we would have a set of wheels while we were off the boat. She enjoyed Savannah and nearby Tybee Island so much that she came back the following week and brought our grandkids Abby and Hunter for a long weekend visit. The kids were happy to be with us and Missy again and they were excited to see our boat and loved the dinghy ride we took them on around the marina.

Missy On The Couch

Missy on the Couch at the Rental House

We spent a fun Sunday afternoon with them on the beach at Tybee Island but ended up getting stuck in traffic for an hour and a half due to a bad wreck on the only road onto and off of the island. We finally got to a spot where we could turn the van around and headed back to Tybee, stopping at Arby’s for dinner before heading back out to the beach. Abby and Hunter loved getting more play time in the sand and surf and the adults enjoyed the watching the sun set in the cool of the evening. Once the wreck was cleared and the backed up traffic had started to thin out (smartphones do have their uses), we headed back to the house, arriving after dark with two very tired little kids in tow.

This kind of traffic snafu is pretty common at Tybee. Just a couple of weeks ago we saw a local news report showing another long line of traffic trapped on Tybee due to another wreck. Even without any accidents closing down the road, the hundreds of day visitors that leave the island each evening pretty much guarantee that traffic will be bumper-to-bumper and patience will be in short supply.

I had to make a quick trip back to Huntsville the following week to deal with an issue at our house – a leaky A/C condensation pan was soaking the sheetrock in our utility room. Stephanie, who is staying in our house, got the leak stopped before I drove up there and I got to spend a very pleasant afternoon up in the hot stuffy attic bagging up soggy insulation. Given the minor extent of the damage I decided that it wasn’t worth filing an insurance claim, at least not until I see what replacing the damaged sheetrock will cost. It was just a three day trip so I didn’t get a chance to visit with friends in Huntsville, though I did get to have dinner with Cindy’s folks (at Outback Steakhouse) and with Stephanie (at I Love Sushi).

The actual haulout of the boat didn’t occur nearly as soon as we had expected. We had figured the boat would be hauled out of the water within the first week after we arrived. We did get our mast and standing rigging taken down a couple of weeks after our arrival so that it could be thoroughly inspected. However, a combination of scheduling conflicts, personnel availability and plain old footdragging meant it was three weeks before the boat actually got pulled out. Why life persists in not going according to our plans continues to baffle me.

The Travel Lift

Thunderbolt Marine’s Travel Lift

Finally though, on the morning of July second we met Kevin, our project manager, at the boat, fired up our engines and cast off our lines. Our destination was not far off; in fact it was just across the boatyard basin.

The travel lift, which is used to lift large boats out of the water and set them “on the hard”, straddles a somewhat narrow slip on the far side of the marina and it was into this that we had to maneuver JOD. Once a boat is in the slip, the travel lift operator lowers two large slings which pass underneath boat’s keel as the lift moves forward straddling the boat. When the slings are properly positioned, the operator raises them, lifting the boat up out of the water and raising it high enough to clear the upper edge of the slip. The lift operator then drives the boat over to its assigned space in the boatyard where it is set on the ground.

Haulout Slip

The Haulout Slip

Our boat move was timed to take advantage of slack tide, the point when the tide shifts from going out to coming in (or vice versa) and the current is therefore minimal. Still, we had a pretty brisk breeze blowing over our port beam pushing us sideways. As we approached the slip entrance, Cindy at the helm and Kevin and I on either bow ready to fend off if JOD got too close to either side of the slip, the wind picked up and we started going cockeyed. After a moment’s panic, Cindy put us in reverse and backed up so we could try the approach again. This is something we have learned over time and reiterated to ourselves again after this – if the approach to the dock starts getting wonky, just veer off, regroup and try again. There are no prizes for succeeding on the first try. On the second try, we sailed right in and were soon set safely in the travel lift slings.

JOD in Travel Lift

Just One Dance Being Moved in the Travel Lift

With the slings securely in place, the operator slowly raised JOD high enough to bring the deck even with the ground so that Kevin, Cindy and I could jump off. The lift then slowly maneuvered JOD over to our assigned spot. Large wooden blocks were set underneath our two flat bottomed fin keels and the boat was gently lowered onto these. Jack stands were then placed at strategic points along the hull to help provided stability. The travel lift slings were then lowered, detached and JOD was officially on the hard.

JOD On The Blocks

Just One Dance on The Hard

Seeing JOD out of the water sitting on blocks and jack stands was a weird feeling. We could see parts of her that are not usually visible. Two months of not having the bottom cleaned had left her with a pretty grungy looking bottom. The saildrives were both heavily encrusted with barnacles. We normally have the bottom cleaned every 3-4 weeks to prevent this kind of growth but hadn’t had it done since leaving Ft Lauderale at the end of May since we were waiting to haul out anyway. A power washing blasted away the green algae and most of the barnacles. The rest will be removed prior to the bottom being painted.

Saildrive Barnacles

One of Our Barnacled Saildrives

Now the real fun begins. Stay tuned…