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One Last Voyage Aboard The Suladan

    I’ve been pining away the last few weeks over the sale of Suladan, so when Paul Hood, the new owner, asked me to join him moving the boat from Savannah to Ft. Lauderdale where it will be put on a ship to the west coast in June, I happily obliged. For one thing, I wanted to experience travelling on the boat with none of the expenses or responsibilities that come with ownership. Also, I considered this an ego trip since everyone considered me the expert on the boat and the area. 

    We departed Savannah on Monday, March 24 for the 400 nautical mile journey. The weather was flawless enabling us to cover about 100 miles each day offshore. We anchored out the first night off Cumberland Island at the St. Mary’s inlet and tied up at marinas the next three nights in Daytona Beach, Ft. Pierce, and finally ended our trip in Ft. Lauderdale Thursday afternoon. 

    Along for the trip were Paul’s friends Jason Liguori and Larry and Cindy Recht. Larry and Cindy proved to be excellent chefs while Jason has quickly become a fanatic about cleaning and taking care of the boat. It is already cleaner and more shipshape than I ever kept it and the food kept up the noble tradition of eating and drinking well on board the Suladan. 

    On our first night out, we quickly discovered the hazards of having both the new and the old captain on board at once (too many cooks…). I went to bed before everyone else and awoke just after midnight to discover that my cabin was hot and stuffy and the air conditioner was not working. I got up to check and discovered that the starboard generator had somehow quit running. Since it was hot from running, I decided to troubleshoot in the morning and simply started up the port generator and went back to bed. At 3:30 a.m. I was awakened again and this time the port generator had stopped. I got it restarted and began troubleshooting the starboard generator in case the port one stopped again. I took the cover off and checked everything thoroughly. It was full of oil, had plenty of coolant, etc. so I put it back together, left the port one running, and went back to bed. 

    As you’ve probably figured out by now, everyone else had decided the weather was nice and they would open windows and sleep without the noise of the generator, hence my first awakening. After I got up at midnight to start up the second generator, Paul woke up shortly thereafter and turned it off, baffled at how it had started on its own. When I restarted it at 3:30, he heard it again and figured out what was happening so he let it run the rest of the night. 

    Our trip was otherwise uneventful. We ate Mexican off Cumberland Island, dined out at the marina in Daytona Beach, ate Italian in Ft. Pierce, and topped off the trip with delicious Thai cooking in Ft. Lauderdale. We consumed vast quantities of good wine. It was a great transitional trip for me, getting one last journey on a great boat, in the company of great new friends. 

    When we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Paul offered to let me dock the boat one last time. I noticed how small the slip appeared to be and joked that I had one last opportunity to damage the boat. I managed to get it in the slip which turned out to be about 2 inches wider than the boat and, sure enough, the boat did get a little damage. The slip was so tight that our teak rail was rubbing up against a wooden board with rusty bolts holding it to the concrete piling. There was no room on either side for fenders. We quickly determined that the boat would be seriously damaged if left there so first thing Friday morning, we moved it to a different marina. 

    After the repositioning, Jason began directing a wholesale cleaning of the boat, so I quickly said my goodbyes and headed out to visit some friends nearby and…look at boats for sale. The Suladan has been a great adventure for me over the last six years, but it’s time to move on to other things. It’s been a magnificent journey. I can only say that I wish her new owner well, and I know already that my ship is in good hands. I’m thankful to have been given this one last journey and thankful to have four new friends from the west coast. I hope I’ll see you guys again soon. Good luck!

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