18 Dec 2019

Its early Sunday morning and we are ready to push off the dock at the boatyard basin and start moving back southward. Being the weekend, there is no one there to help us leave the dock but with the wind cooperating and us having gotten more comfortable handling the boat over the years, we self-launch and head over to the nearby marina to refuel. Missy engages with the fuel dockmaster (she’s still our unofficial social director) while I load up the tanks with diesel and fill up our dinghy tank with gas.

Once we’re fueled up, we swing the boat south and start working our way back down the ICW. There is little traffic as Just One Dance glides down the waterway; most of our fellow cruisers headed south months ago and all but the most avid fishermen are holed up in their warm houses. The sky is cloudy and dreary and the air cold and I find myself admiring the fortitude of these guys in their open skiffs, bundled up and huddled over their poles without even an enclosure to protect them from the elements. We wave as we pass them motoring down to Kilkenney Marina. We’ve decided to stay there again since we can get shore power to fire up our HVAC and keep our boat nice toasty without having to run our generator all night long. Besides, we like this quiet little creek-side marina with its decidedly home-made dock.

Max, our small girl cat, slowly works her way out of the salon and into the cockpit with us. She’s still cautious with the noise of the boat engines and the motion of the boat, but she’s also curious and quite the explorer and its her nosiness that ends up winning out. Soon she’s moving around the cockpit and checking everything out, all the while talking to us and letting us know what she thinks about everything. Jack, our large male cat, on the other hand is tucked away in the folded-up mattress in the port aft cabin; he doesn’t come out until the engines are shut down.

Max finds her new favorite spot in the cockpit

We tie up at Kilkenny just minutes before the heavens open up, something that our weather apps had not predicted. No matter, we stay warm and dry inside. There’s a well-rated restaurant right next door to the marina but its Sunday night and they are not open, so I fix us a dinner of white chicken chili (perfect for a cold night) and we get to bed early.

The next morning, however, when I check the engines prior to our departure I find around a half gallon of water in each engine hold. I taste it and it’s not very salty but still has a slightly brackish taste. It rained heavily the previous night and I know both engine hatch gaskets have gaps in them so I’m thinking this may be rainwater that leaked in through the hatches. I remove the water and decide to keep an eye on this while we move the boat back down to Jekyll.

Missy staying warm in her bed in the cockpit

The day starts out much like the one before; Just One Dance plies through the meandering waterway like a horse that instinctively knows its way home. Its overcast and cold again and we encounter more rain early in the morning, but then the skies finally clear. With the sun out our enclosure warms up, which makes for a much nicer trip. Max ventures out into the cockpit and soon has jumped up in Cindy’s lap at the helm. Around mid-afternoon, we pull off of the channel at our usual anchoring spot in Buttermilk Sound, sink our 55-pound Rocna into the bottom and settle in for the night.

Max helping Cindy steer the boat

As the sun dips below the horizon, the temperature in our salon quickly drops with it. We fire up our generator and switch on the heat and soon our boat is warm and toasty. We’ll keep the generator running through the night to heat the boat and then shut it down once we get underway in the morning.

Buttermilk Sound sunset 

Or will we…

At around 12:30 in the morning, I wake up for no particular reason, listening for a couple of minutes to the steady thrumming of the generator. Then it stutters once, twice…and. then. it. dies.

Sh#t!! Here we go again! Whatever may have been fixed at the boatyard, the basic problem persists. I go out and disconnect the generator battery. Since we are just about four hours out from Jekyll Island, we will continue on to the marina at Jekyll Island and then get in touch with the boatyard to see how we can get the generator fixed and to further investigate the water leak issue.

We are hoping we can get these issues addressed within a few days and still make it to St Augustine, Florida in time to celebrate Christmas. But…