In our last post, Cindy told you about our (rather sudden) closing on our Lagoon 380 sailing catamaran. This was really more sudden than we had planned upon. After all, we had just started looking and really hadn’t thought we’d find the perfect boat so quickly. But hey, I wasn’t expecting to meet the perfect woman when I did either…when it’s right, you just have to move on it! Now that we have our boat, the next step was to figure out what to do with her.
For the time being we’ve decided to keep our boat docked at the Jekyll Harbor Marina on the barrier island of Jekyll Island, GA, which is where she was living when we bought her. We’ll take some time to get moved in, get to know her and her numerous systems, and get her outfitted for longer term travel. On that last note, we’ve also decided to follow Pete, our boat broker’s advice and not rush to start installing watermakers, wind generators, solar panels, single sideband radios and the other various items we have read about and thought a boat outfitted for long term live-aboard should have. Instead, we’ll wait to see what we really need and what would just be a “nice to have”. Boats by their nature are expensive creatures and it’s the wise sailor that buys only what they truly need.
After the closing in mid-June, we decided to cancel the trip to Seaside, FL that we had planned for the 4th of July weekend and instead go down and stay on our new boat. Our plan was to not try and take her out that weekend, given that the shifting channel into Jekyll Harbor combined with an 8 ft tidal range can make taking a boat into and out of the harbor kind of tricky. We want to take our first trip out with one of the local sailors who is familiar with the area and who can tell us where the shoals are (and let’s face it, it’s been a couple of years since we’ve handled a large sailboat last). Also, the 4th of July is one of those times of the year that everybody and their brother takes their boat out, liberal amounts of alcohol are consumed and people seem to vie to win Darwin awards. No instead, this trip was intended just to finish getting our personal gear moved onto the boat and to spend some more time getting to know our new neighbors at the marina.
The Jekyll Harbor Marina sits on the west shore of Jekyll Island, tucked in among live oaks that are veritably dripping with Spanish moss. It’s protected from the potential ravages of the weather by the body of the island, though one of the reasons for choosing to keep the boat at Jekyll Island is that this area has never been directly hit by hurricanes. The marina is a tight knit little community with several folks who live aboard their boats full time (something that we’re already getting a hankering to do). It has a full-time staff of very friendly and helpful folks and provides us with power, water, ice and (most important of all) Wi-Fi internet. SeaJay’s, a charming little bar and restaurant with a wrap-around porch, sits at the center of the marina property and provides live music most nights of the week. The harbor’s floating dock accommodates the relatively large tidal swings experienced at these east coast latitudes, though it leaves you with a gangway leading to the dock that is level with the shore at high tide but challenges you with a 45-degree climb at low tide.
For the 4th of July weekend, the marina hosted a cook out, which gave us a good opportunity to meet more of our new neighbors. We brought a dish to share (Giada DeLauretis’ Tri-Color Orzo Pasta Salad…a big favorite of ours) and burgers to grill for our main dish. Later on that evening, we went to the beach on the ocean side of the island to watch the community fireworks display and dip our toes into the waters of the Atlantic. On Saturday night, Frank and Lynn, a very nice couple who are living aboard the 1950’s-era boat that they are restoring, invited us to learn how to eat the blue crab that they had caught in their own dockside crab trap.
In betwixt, we started exploring Jekyll Island proper. Jekyll was at one time part of the Georgia state park system but it’s now governed separately by the Jekyll Island Authority. By law at least 65% of the island must be kept in its natural state, so it’s fairly pristine and bike-friendly with relatively little development or car traffic and lots of unspoiled areas to get to know. It does feature the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, a stately manse built in the late 1800’s as a private getaway for folks like the Rockefellers, the Morgans and the Vanderbilts (Jekyll Island trivia…the Federal Reserve system was born out of a secret meeting of politicians and financiers at the Jekyll Island Club in 1910!). Nowadays it’s a hotel and fine dining establishment where the suites can run you $450 per night. We’re both looking forward to exploring this little island further over the coming months.
It was a great trip even though our boat never left the dock. The boat is really comfortable and I had no trouble sleeping in our cabin at night. I got to break in my new galley and to start getting used to cooking in much smaller confines than I am used to having at home. Our daughter and her boyfriend came down to join us and we shared a truly wonderful time together. It was a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors and to start getting integrated into the community. We’re looking forward to many more trips to our new boat, though given our travel and personal schedules, we won’t get another chance to get down to the boat until early August.