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The Downhill Run to Savannah

Location: New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Log: 2391 

I bought this boat in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin last fall giving little thought to the task of getting her to what will be our home port near Savannah, Georgia. My plan was to bring her down Lake Michigan to Chicago, down the river system and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to Mobile for some work, and then around the Florida Keys and up the east coast to Savannah. I had no idea how many things were wrong with the boat and how many basic systems would fail along the way. I still shudder to think of the snowy night in October when I arrived in Sturgeon Bay, got on the boat and turned on the heat, only to have all the circuit breakers trip from the overload. The trip has been far more of a challenge than I ever imagined.

Now, after travelling some 2,400 nautical miles in 363 hours of engine time, I am squarely in sight of the finish line.As the crow flies, I have only 182 nautical miles left to go. I should be at Isle of Hope Marina outside Savannah by Friday night.

Looking back on the trip, it is obvious how much I am indebted to those who have helped out along the way. All of them have been mentioned in this journal and I cannot thank them enough for getting the Steel Magnolia and me to this point. 2007%20pHOTOS%20003.JPGThe final long leg from Ft. Myers, Florida has been made easy with the fine work of Captain John Fortenberry and his wife Judy, old acquaintances who have become good friends over the last week. I knew I needed help with handling the boat, but little did I realize how many minor repairs would be needed and how much help John and Judy could provide. Steel Magnolia will arrive home this week with all of her essential systems functioning properly, with her stainless steel gleaming and rust-free, and with her captain well-fed and cared-for. I cannot thank them enough.

Today, we left at dawn and travelled some 75 statute waterway miles to New Smyrna Beach, arriving mid-afternoon, where John and Judy called a good friend to drive them to West Marine for more parts and supplies.

Tomorrow, we will have another short day to St. Augustine where John and Judy will rent a car Wednesday morning to return to Mobile. From there, I will have three fairly short days to Isle of Hope. As always, John will complete numerous small repairs along the way tomorrow and I will steam into Isle of Hope in ship shape and bristol condition. I have been hoping that my daughter’s boyfriend Bryant could join me for the last day or two of the trip but his plans with my daughter Suzanne for the Memorial Day weekend might interfere. At any rate, it should be an easy three days to the finish line. Most importantly, barring some unforeseen calamity, I should meet my insurance company’s requirement that I be north of Cumberland Island, the state line, prior to the beginning of hurricane season on June 1.

I’ll let you know when I arrive. 

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