Au Revoir Savannah

July 19, 2017  Au Revoir to Savannah

Barring any further delays and if the weather cooperates, we are departing from Savannah tomorrow morning.  Rowland has rejoined us on board.   Our current plan is to sail directly to the New York area rather than the Chesapeake, an estimated distance of 700 miles.  We believe we can arrive in 3-4 days if all goes well.

While our time in the Savannah area has been longer than expected, it provided the opportunity for us to really get a feel for the people, culture and the land and I will look back with great memories of our experience.  These are some of the things that I will forever associate with Savannah:

  • Savannah’s famous ‘squares’, surrounded by the enormous Live Oaks with hanging Spanish Moss, are truly beautiful and do not disappoint when you finally see them in person.
  • I loved the expansive salt marshes. They reminded me of the vast prairies of the Midwest – acres and acres of waving grass.  Too vast to be able to get a good photo.  Long, long wooden walkways through the marsh are everywhere and provide the access to peoples’ boats.
  • I now know how someone of the Baptist faith must feel coming to the upper Midwest and discovering a Lutheran church on every corner.  There is an abundance of Baptist churches in Savannah
  • Southern hospitality is alive and well. Everywhere we went (and I mean EVERYWHERE) we were unfailingly greeted with a genuine, warm smile and a polite, friendly greeting made more charming with that wonderful Southern accent.   I have never been called ma’am, sweetie, honey, dear, or baby by so many strangers in my whole life (well maybe at a truckers convention long ago), not to mention ‘how y’all doin?’
  • Children and teenagers are so polite. ‘Yes, ma’am’;’ Thank you ma’am’; ‘Can I help you ma’am?’ were the norm, not the exception, and were offered without prompting by their parents.
  • We had great fun getting to know the staff here at TMI. Wonderful storytellers full of humor and Southern colloquialisms.  Not only could they fix things, they were very entertaining.
  • An abundance of Georgia peaches ripened on the tree. What more can a peach lover ask for?

As we head north towards New York, I can’t help but think of the difference in the two regions. We’ve never explored Long Island Sound and the Hamptons so we are looking forward to that.  Perhaps sailing by the Statue of Liberty.  But first we must arrive there, so au revoir Savannah.  Here we come New York.  Wish us luck everyone.


One of the beautiful squares in historic Savannah


Gorgeous live oaks are everywhere


A long way thru the salt marsh to get to your boat

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Baptist churches on every corner

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Local Wendy’s. Besides the dirty cover what do you notice . Three sweet tea dispensers to 1 unsweetened.

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Well here are signs we don’t see in Minnesota- right in front of the Tybee City Hall

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Talmadge Bridge over Savannah River along River Walk in downtown old Savannah

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Eating dinner along the River Walk and along comes this  big ole freighter right by us.


I may leave Georgia but I’m taking a peach pie for the road…er the sea.

An unexpectedly great adventure

June 17, 2017   An unexpectedly great adventure

Its a rainy day in Savannah.  Actually, it is a ‘big boomer, lightening flashing with incredible intensity’ day in Savannah.  A good day to go to the local Starbucks and do some blogging.  This is the third day of thunderstorms and they come with lots of lightening.  We would worry about getting an electrical hit on our mast if it wasn’t for the fact that the sailing yacht Asahi is still on jacks and its mast is waaaaay higher than ours.

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Rainy day in Savannah- replenishing the humidity bucket

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Your mast is higher than ours

Work on our projects is nearing completion and we are hopeful we will push off from the dock sometime this week.  Originally, we were going to meander up the East Coast exploring along the way but after experiencing the heat and humidity of the South we have decided to take the advice of our Thunderbolt project manager, Lars, and head north further and faster, to where it is cooler. We will do the meandering when we return South.   It is approximately 450 miles to the Chesapeake, which may be our first stop.

One benefit of our delayed departure is that Rowland, our earlier captain, finished his other commission and is going to rejoin us for this sail.  Can’t wait to see him again.  I’ve already dug out the tea pot and will have a ‘proper cup of tea’ awaiting his arrival.

It’s been almost 5 weeks since we arrived in Thunderbolt.  It might be surprising to those of you who know me well, and talked to me as I prepared to embark on this grand adventure, that I didn’t use this time to ‘high tail’ it back home.  To be honest its surprising to me as well.  In the weeks leading up to departure, I was a high-strung, anxious basket case to say the least.  While Doug could not wait to depart, I was relieved with every delay in our departure.  I was overwhelmed with all the preparation for moving into a new home; the thoughts of leaving the family, friends and the life I knew and loved; and the great unknown.  After all, what’s the worst that could happen besides falling off the boat and drowning; getting thrown off the boat and drowning; sinking in a storm…and drowning or, if not drowning, getting eaten by a shark.  But hey, I signed up for this, so it was time ‘man up’ and hit the road.

What I’ve discovered is that it is incredibly interesting…even sitting tied to the marina dock has been interesting.  I’m seeing a life that I’ve never experienced and while I do miss all the people and my life in Minneapolis, the new experiences keep me engaged and its fun.  I’m beginning to see how people, such as a high school friend, Judy, and others we have met, have fallen in love with the lifestyle (ok, the prescription drugs probably help as well).   That being said I’m not ready to give up on Doug’s and my agreement of ‘3 months on and 3 months off’ just yet but I think that may evolve.

Writing this blog has been fun as well.  It serves as both a journal for me, as well keeping us connected to friends and family.  Thanks for spending time reading this.  I hope you forgive the layout — I’m still learning how to manage adding photos.   And we love to hear from you.

More on Life in Thunderbolt Marine, Savannah, GA

 Two weeks ago, we were moved to a different area of the marina – a much less desirable area of the marina compared to our previous location, especially if you are living on the boat.   And yet, it brings new points of interest.

The move was done to get Minnehaha close enough to an area on the dock where an aerial lift could reach the top of the mast for work to be completed.  The area where we moved is in the heart of the work area of the marina.  All around us boats are on jacks as they are being sanded to be repainted or have scaffolding in place for other repairs.  No longer do we have the nice views of the salt marsh or the cool breezes from the river.   It is much noisier, dustier, warmer, and much less private, but it was necessary.   It also means that we must walk across the work yard.  It is really interesting to literally walk under boats, such as the 180’ Asahi, to get mail or get to our parked car.

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Current view from our boat

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Our new neighborhood

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So this is what Asahi looks like underneath

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Mike of TMI heading to the top of the mast to do repair

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Captain Horry, our next door neighbor. No sleeping in when workboat Captain Horry is next to you











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I still get to see beautiful dawns if I walk to the end of the dock– but its so worth it.

One advantage of the move has been that we have met more of our fellow boat owners or the captains who manage a boat.  In our previous location, with the large mega yachts, we would meet crew members of those boats but it’s not the same.   The group of owners/ captains is diverse and currently includes Americans, British, Italian and an Israeli.

Daily life on Minnehaha

When we tell someone that we are sailing and living on our boat, the reaction is usually the same.  “Wow, that must be so exciting – a dream come true.”   In many ways, it is, but generally it is also a life of routine and mundane chores.   If you think that the days of meetings and phone calls has gone away, think again.  We have spent quite a bit of time doing both while discussing repairs, etc. with the marina and the boat manufacturer.

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Another phone call for Capt. Doug

Minnehaha did not come equipped with a full crew, like the mega yachts here (primarily because Minnehaha’s owners did not come with the same assets and budget).   Cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry, and taking out the garbage are part of the daily routine  (we time the walk to the garbage bin with the tide – much easier to carry out garbage at high tide).  How long can those chores take?  Consider the fact that ‘cleaning’ frequently includes jobs like washing the hull to minimize the effects of saltwater and dust from the marina.  You don’t even want to see the algae that is growing on our fenders.  And we don’t want to see the barnacles that have grown on the hull during the time we have sat here.  This weekend we did a chore that I haven’t had to do for 30 years – defrost our refrigerator, freezer and ice maker.  I had forgotten how fast ice can build up on the cooling unit- especially in an environment as hot and humid as Savannah. It was a chore that had to be done -it was becoming increasingly difficult to get to the ice cream.   I finally found a use for the hair dryer that I had brought on board.  It significantly shortened the defrosting time.


Ramp outside out boat at low tide

ramp at high tide

Ramp outside out boat at high tide – much less steep


Sure glad I brought the hair dryer…for defrosting refrigerator

We fill our free time with exploring, reading (usually on the aft deck sunbed), going to movies or in the evening watching DVD’s or Netflix, when we have Wifi access.   This weekend we bought some fishing gear for when we head back to sea.  We were completely overwhelmed when we first shopped for fishing equipment.   Thanks to Nicki and Jon for some advice to get us started with the basics.  According to Jon all we really needed to do was ‘put a bright, shiny object with a hook on it in the water and we’d eventually catch a fish!”   Doug is optimistic enough he also bought a filet knife and cutting board.  Stay tuna!!

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Favorite place to read- on the aft deck sunbed


Netflix night in the salon


Salt water fishing gear- where do you start? HELP

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Thanks for the advice Nicki and Jon. Now comes the test of the fisherman

Doug and Deb Go Exploring

July 12, 2017   –Non-sailing Adventures Away from the Marina

It was always understood that our grand adventure would include time to explore the places we visited, absorbing the culture and seeing the sights. Our prolonged stay in the Savannah area has provided ample time to do just that.

Savannah, GA.

Savannah is 10 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean; has huge areas of salt marshes where the tides rise and fall 8-10 feet twice a day; the trees are indeed covered with Spanish moss and its reputation for being very hot and steamy in the summer is well-earned.  It has a huge shipping port and very large cargo ships are seen navigating the river.   It has a long rich history, predating the Revolutionary War.

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Endless salt marshes



Beautiful trees covered with Spanish moss

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Cargo ship leaving Savannah that rivals the buildings in size


Some highlights of our time in Savannah:

  • Bonaventure Cemetery – we rode our bikes to the cemetery that was made famous in the bestselling book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It is not a neatly groomed cemetery and it has some grave markers that are close to 300 years old.  It also has LOTS of mosquitos – our visit was cut short to minimize our blood loss.
  • Horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown – this adventure was enhanced half way thru the circuit with a huge downpour of rain; nevertheless, a good overview of the key sights;
  • 1st African Baptist Church – the first black Baptist congregation in North America was first organized in 1773. The church was built by slaves and was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. It still has a very active congregation.
  • The OwensThomas House tour – this house was constructed in 1816 and was a prominent house in its day;
  • Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum –the phrase ‘beautiful models of old sailing ships’ was all that Doug had to hear to make a beeline to the museum.
  • Wet Willies Daiquiri Bar – ‘peach daiquiri’ was all Deb had to hear to make a beeline to this location where I was reminded that it literally hurts the brain when a person slurps their cold daiquiri too fast.

Bike Ride through Bonaventure Cemetery


Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA


Bonaventure Cemetery

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Anyone ready for a carriage tour in the rain?

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1st African Baptist Church, Savannah, GA

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Holes in floor for runaway slaves to breathe that were hiding in 1st African Baptist Church as part of Underground Railway


What does this have to do with 1st African Baptist Church? Couldn’t help but notice this old 512K Mac in their storage room : )


Owens -Thomas House

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Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, Savannah, GA


Love those peach daiquiris









  • Tybee Island – a truly unique area of Savannah. Tybee has an area of 3.2 sq. miles and is one of the barrier islands that help protect Savannah from hurricanes.  Its atmosphere reminds me of Key West – easy going; funky; anything goes… very laid back.  Our first visit was on July 4th and the island was packed.  We enjoyed a daiquiri from the Tybee location  of Wee Willies (disappointingly, NOT peach) and a couple slices of pizza while we sat on the beach and watched the fireworks.   Our second visit to the island landed us at Huc-a-Poos bar and joint.  For those of you familiar with Tom’s Burned Down bar, on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, you would feel right at home at Huc-a-Poos.   For those of you not familiar with Tom’s Burned Down – the name says it all.  Come to think of it, so does Huc-a-Poos.
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Shops on Tybee Island

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Tybee Island is very different than old Savannah

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Tybee Island 4th of July

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What?!?! No peach daiquiri?

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July 4th on Tybee Island beach


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Huc a  Poos– 20 bucks gets you 2 drinks and a large pizza.  Overhead cost is low…. patronage high.









July 1-3 – Asheville, North Carolina

Escape from the heat– head north 2 ½ hours to Asheville, NC and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  What a lovely area.  For 2 of our 3 nights we stayed in a charming, 1 room cabin located in the woods, 8 miles outside of Asheville.   Our last night was spent in a cabin just outside Asheville that was described as ‘beautifully aged’ – or more accurately, a cabin built in the 1930’s that had not been updated since then.  The warning that we received, when we checked in, regarding the stink bug infestation tells the story.

On the opposite side of the spectrum from the ‘beautifully aged’ cabin was the Biltmore, house which was completed in 1895 and is still owned by the Vanderbilt family.   For those of you that have not visited the Biltmore, it is a ‘must add’ to your ‘bucket list’.   In my humble opinion, it is truly an American treasure and must be seen to be believed.  It was a treat for us to get to see a mother bear with 5 (yes, FIVE) cubs right beside the edge of the road as we drove through the property.

The Blue Ridge mountains are beautiful and we were excited to get out and do some hiking.   One of our hikes took us to Douglas Falls where Doug was appropriately baptized by his namesake.   Simon and Garfunkel was a perfect soundtrack for our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway bracketed by the song Peaches, by the group Presidents of the USA, in honor of our time in Georgia and my love of peaches.  (Any guesses what my favorite fruit is??)

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Blue Ridge Mountains

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Our charming 1 room cabin near Weaverville, SC

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The ‘beautifully aged’ but not updated cabin

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Biltmore Estate

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Library at the Biltmore

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One busy mother

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Douglas under Douglas Falls

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Douglas Falls










July 8-10 – Charleston, South Carolina

Originally, we had planned to make Charleston a stop as we sailed north along the East Coast.  Then we looked at a map and realized Charleston was a mere 2 hour drive from Savannah and was a perfect get away from the marina so this past weekend we headed to Charleston… and we loved it.   The old city has so much charm with its beautifully preserved homes (many from the early 1700’s), its many cobblestone streets, the Battery and waterfront parks.

Our itinerary for the weekend included:

  • A tour of Fort Sumter which you may recall was where the first shots were fired to start the Civil War. We were in the first tour group of the day and I was a participant in the ceremony to raise the flag which was quite moving.
  • A horse carriage tour – without the rain of the Savannah tour.
  • A visit to The Unitarian Church cemetery in search of the unmarked grave of Annabelle Lee- the lost love of Edgar Allan Poe. The gravesite remains a mystery to us but the cemetery was very interesting and, in the Unitarian tradition, is quite overgrown.
  • A stop at the City Market (where, at one time, slaves were bought and sold). City Market is now a market of goods, not people, and we purchased a Sweet Grass basket.  West African Gullah slaves brought the craft of making baskets, from sweetgrass, to this area.  It is a tradition that has been passed down from mother to daughter (and occasionally son) for generations.   Descendants continue to make these baskets to sell.
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is about 10 miles outside of Charleston. After 300 years, it is still owned by descendants of the original owner, Thomas Drayton, and is open for tour.  The current house is the third house on the site and was built to replace the second house that was burned by Union troops at the end of the Civil War.  One interesting note, for anyone who has read Sue Monk’s book The Invention of Wings,  the two sisters, who are the main characters in the book, were aunts of the man who built the current house, Rev. John Grimke- Drayton.
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Example of Charleston homes

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Charleston homes along the Battery

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So much history in Charleston- everywhere.

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Waterfront park- love how the kids are allowed to play in the fountain.

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Fort Sumter… or whats left after the Civil War

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Fort Sumter

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Raising the flag ceremony in the morning. Deb in striped dress and hat.

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Unitarian Church cemetery – resting place of Annabelle Lee.

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The sweet grass basket we purchased

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Magnolia Plantation house

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Small lake and bridge at Magnolia plantation

Life in the Thunderbolt Marina

Thursday, July 6, 2017    Life in Thunderbolt Marina (TMI), Savannah, Georgia

It has been three weeks since we took up residence in our new ‘neighborhood’.   Like any neighborhood, there is a routine for daily living.  Around 7 am the first of the TMI employees begin to arrive.  TMI is a huge yard so many of the employees buzz around on golf carts to get to all the various boats they are working on.  The project managers assigned to each boat will show up sometime early morning to check progress (no lounging in pajamas for us) and, depending on the day, the various technicians will be on board making repairs.   We have quite a long list of issues that need attention and are slowly being resolved. We are in regular contact with Hudson Yacht representatives to agree on next steps but we still no definitive date of departure.

As might be expected, the weather here is very hot and humid.  The humidity is fed by frequent large thunderstorms which drop more moisture into the air.   There have been days when it’s been a challenge to venture out of the air conditioning.  Those are good days for reading, watching Netflix, going to a movie (we both liked Baby Driver) or visiting the local Starbucks.

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Thunderstorms on the way

It’s always interesting to see new boats that arrive and those that leave.  Last week a 1938 wooden sailing ketch that had been beautifully restored, named Trade Wind, showed up to have its mast installed.  It is on its way to a wooden boat show in Maryland.


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Restored 1938 wooden ketch Trade Winds

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1938 Wooden Tradewinds

Most of the boats in the yard are sitting empty awaiting work to be completed but there are a few of us that are living on our ‘houseboats’.  There are two types of residents. The crew members of the larger yachts and owners living on the smaller boats (e.g. Deb and Doug).   The owners tend to connect with each other, exchange information and gossip (what neighborhood would exist without gossip) and, occasionally, in the evening gather for a cocktail.   Some of these residents have been living on their boats for at least 4 months waiting, for various reasons, to have repairs completed.   We have rented a car (a very bright yellow car that can be quickly found in ANY parking lot- a major plus for an owner of a gray Camry that can never find her car) so we can readily leave the marina to do other things / see other sights.

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Cant miss this beauty anywhere

The crew members are usually very friendly and the majority are from other countries.  New Zealand, South Africa and Britain are well represented on various crews.   The Kiwis (New Zealanders) are particularly happy these days after their country’s boat decisively won the America’s Cup last month in Bermuda.   One of the Kiwis, who we met yesterday, is a crew member on a large sailing yacht that arrived in the marina earlier this week, from Bermuda, for repairs.    Asahi is the name of the yacht.  It is 180 feet long and gorgeous.  In general, crew members are very discreet in terms of sharing any information about their boat owners but for those of us whose ‘inquiring minds want to know’, Google is always a wealth of information.   In the case of Asahi we determined that the owner was the individual whose racing boat took second in the America’s Cup… yes, Larry Ellison of Oracle.   Made me wonder who the Kiwi crew member cheered for during the series.   Last night we watched as that very large boat was lifted out of the water to have repairs made to the keel.  It was quite a process to behold.  It was done in the evening to take advantage of the high tide so it had to be timed very carefully before the tide began to drop again.  All very interesting for us Midwesterners that are unfamiliar with tides… or very big yachts for that matter.

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Larry Ellison’s Asahi moved to land for rudder repair

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180 ft Asahi out of the water for repairs



Life in Thunderbolt Marina, Savannah, GA

Saturday, June 24, 2017    Thunderbolt Marina, Savannah, Georgia

We have moved into our new temporary ‘neighborhood’.  A week ago, we took up residence in a marina in Thunderbolt, Georgia, a suburb of Savannah that is 10 miles up the Wilmington River from the ocean.  Our ‘neighborhood’ is a diverse mix of ‘homes’ ranging in size from our very nice, but comparatively modest catamaran to the “McMansions” (Te Manu, a boat that you and 11 of your friends can charter for $188,000 per WEEK) and finally the ‘Mega mansions’ (think 5 stories with a glass elevator and rumored $1B art collection on board.  Google Aviva to get more info).   This is the ‘slow time’ in this marina– most of the mega yachts left here a month ago to head to their summer residence in the NE- ala Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Newport- you get the idea.  Many will return during September to December to be readied for their winter escape in the Caribbean.  We definitely are not in Minnesota anymore.

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Thunderbolt Marina bays


Little, Big, Biggest


Aviva the mega yacht

Life in the marina is interesting – at least to me.   Our docking space is relatively nice- facing a row of tall pine trees across the road.  The marina has large, floating, cement docks that rise and fall twice a day with the 8 – 10 foot tides.   Our view changes from looking at a wooden wall covered with barnacles to looking at the landscape across the road.  We have a resident egret that regularly walks along the dock and eats small crabs, etc. that are exposed during low tide.  Mornings still bring beautiful sunrises and there is a small ‘herd’ of feral cats that hang around the marina.  We haven’t seen a mouse yet.

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Floating dock that rides up poles


Low tide view from boat

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High tide view from boat

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Hunting for crabs


First light from boat


Dawn rising

Dan Sammis, the HH rep from Jupiter, Fla. drove to Savannah last Sunday to help coordinate the work that must be done on the boat while we are here and has been a tremendous advocate and resource for us.  Dan was here until Wednesday which gave us the time to get to know him a bit better and learn about his very interesting background (which includes, among other things, crewing on treasure hunting boats).  The staff at Thunderbolt Marine have been great – very professional and personable.

Savannah, like Minneapolis this time of year, has lots, LOTS, of bugs though here they are mostly small gnats which don’t bite but do annoy.  Make no mistake, there are also mosquitoes as well so we are adding a screened enclosure to the aft/rear deck so we don’t have to cower inside the salon continuously.

Generally daily living goes on rather routinely with cleaning, laundry and errands.  However, there was one exciting, but unfortunate development this week in the neighborhood.   A catamaran that was on its way to Thunderbolt lost its mast, boom and new sails to the ocean, 13 miles offshore, due to a structural failure in their hull.  The captain/ owner was very lucky in one respect.  When the boom came down it stopped just short of falling right on him.  He sustained some bruises and other slight injuries but was otherwise unhurt.  He and his crew put out a May Day and were towed into the slip next to us.  Needless to say,  they were a bit shook up but in general took it all quite well.  They were super nice and we wish the captain good fortune getting repairs made quickly so he and his family can move forward with their plans for cruising.

At this point, we aren’t certain but we are estimating we will be in Savannah until after July 4th which will be a first time celebrating in one of the original 13 colonies.  I have long wanted to visit Savannah so our plans including seeing the sights and the surrounding area while we are here.

One last note to my friends and family experiencing the cooler, brisk air in Minnesota this week– ENJOY IT; be thankful for it!!   Blessed air conditioning.   This upper Midwest gal has not adapted to the southern heat and humidity!  Thank goodness we have shore power and unlimited air conditioning.  I reiterate:  air conditioning is the single best invention of mankind!!!


De-masted catamaran 


Mundane life goes on with lots of quarters

Offshore sail from Allans to Savannah

Thursday, June 15- 17, 2017   Allan’s -Pensacola Cay heading to Savannah, Georgia

Day 1: June 15

Today we set out for my first offshore, overnight sail, back to Savannah, Georgia but first we had to attend to some chores to ready for the trip.  Minnehaha came with two sets of rudders which are changed out depending on the water depth in which we will be sailing.   The Bahamas have shallow waters so we had the shoal rudders on the boat.  Doug and Rowland took on the 3 hour chore of changing to the deep water rudders – no easy task since the rudders are heavy and have to be hoisted with winches to and from the storage locker at the front of the boat to be positioned under the rear of the boat.

My chore was to stay out of the way, something I am quite adept at doing.  I elected to head for the beach.  Allans Cay is a beautiful, quiet location with wonderful sand beaches.  It was perhaps our prettiest anchor site.   I spent a couple hours walking the beach and snorkeling.  Very relaxing.  I could do this ‘chore’ all day long.


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Minnehaha from Allan beach

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Sunrise on Allan Pensacola Cay

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Deb snorkeling on Allan Cay

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Walking Allan beach

Beach on Allans Cay

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Doug readies dingy for return

A little after 1 pm we raised anchor and set sail and kept our fingers crossed that the autopilots would not fail.  We had to contend with rationing our fresh water since water maker was still out, but we were not in crisis mode.  I pointed out that if we used all the potable water we could melt ice in the ice maker.  Yes, we are really roughing it.   In fact, that evening Doug and I watched our first movie, the apropos Finding Dory  (a great movie I might add, though not quite up to Finding Nemo).

Sailing was a dream.  We zipped along and it was so peaceful.   I sat in my bean bag chair at the front of the boat and almost forgot I was on the ocean until I looked up at one point.    We set up 4 hour watches for each of us.  Mine was 4 to 8 – a.m. and p.m.   Watches are tedious, in my opinion, but necessary to watch for not only other boats, but floating debris, approaching squalls and changes in the wind.


Ocean sailing to savannah

Ocean sailing to Savannah

Rowland rests up for watch

Rowland rests up for watch

Day 2: June 16

I woke at 3:15 am and went up to relieve Doug for my 4 am watch.  I was a bit apprehensive since this was my first watch at night alone.   We had switched to motor sail earlier that night, to keep up our speed.   It was lovely sitting on the front deck watching the dark ocean zip by as well as the stars and the moon.  It was so peaceful- thankfully.  I did not see another light or boat and I got to enjoy a glorious first light and sunrise.

I saw dolphins, I saw dolphins.  Every day, I ask, “will I see dolphins again”?  Today there were dolphins swimming behind the boat, a good day.

Around mid-morning we got hit with a couple of rain squalls, which were welcome indeed.   I washed my hair in the fresh rain water and we used buckets to collect several gallons of rain water to add to our fresh water tanks- another day of lifesaving water 😊.   Shout out to Mary Grace and Frank Stich for the large ice bucket they had given to us as a gift while we were in Florida – we used that to collect water as well.   It was very fun, actually, for all of us to ‘play’ in the rain…and what a welcome relief from the humid, salt water, sticky feeling.  Major plus, the rains wash all the salt water off the boat.

Evening brought with it another glorious sunset.  I have not become immune to the beauty of sunrises and sunsets – I hope I don’t.   If you are reading this blog, expect to see more than a few sunset, sunrise pix.

Moon over ocean 3 am

Moon over ocean 3 am

5:45 am first light over ocean day 2

5:45 am first light over ocean day 2

Sunrise over ocean day 2

Sunrise over ocean day 2

Ocean squall

Ocean Squall

Washing hair during ocean squall

Washing hair during ocean squall

Collecting precious rain water

Collecting precious rain water

Doug and Rowland enjoy the sail

Doug and Rowland enjoy the sail

Sunset reflected on the sails

Sunset reflected on the sails

Sunset over ocean day 2

Sunset over ocean day 2


Day 3:  June 17:

It was harder to face the 4 am watch this morning.   Last night we sailed through the night with only sails, so watching for wind shifts was an added concern.  It was also darker out and more ‘traffic’ on the radar screen to be watched – sign that we were getting closer to our destination.   I also felt a bit seasick.  At one point, I woke Rowland to check out a light in the distance – did not want to run into a fishing boat.   Not a relaxing watch- spent the time with eyes on the radar and navigation screen and walks around the deck.

No beautiful sunrise – day break brought clouds but no squalls.  The rain is welcome but the potential high winds are not.

Around 10:30 am, about 25 miles offshore, we picked up WiFi, our first connection to civilization.  Soon we all assumed the familiar pose of heads bent over cell phones rather than on the horizon.

We headed to Thunderbolt Marina in Savannah.  Dan Sammis, the HH rep located in Jupiter, Florida, has been a huge help to us as we’ve dealt with various system issues.  He made arrangements for us to dock at Thunderbolt where we can get needed repairs.  Huge THANK YOU to Dan – he has really put an effort into making arrangements and contacts for us.  He is coming to Savannah on Monday – a big hug will welcome him.

We are expecting to be here at least 10 days for fixes /repairs but we are learning that getting things done promptly in the marine industry is not always feasible.  Neither of us have been to Savannah before and I am looking forward to some sightseeing and exploring.   We have already received some recommendations from friends about places to see – thank you – and would welcome more.   It’s a possibility we will be here over July 4th and would be interesting to see how this historic, old town celebrates


Man o War to Allans Pensacola Cay

Wednesday, June 14, 2017  Man ‘o War to Allans-Pensacola Cay

Destination Allans-Pensacola Cay.  Apparently, these used to be two islands that were joined by a hurricane at some point and they are our last stop in the Bahamas before heading back to U.S.    This was a 25- mile sail and started out great with winds around 10 knots and the boat exceeding the winds at 11 knots occasionally.  We were a happy crew until it happened.   THE AUTOPILOT WENT OUT!!  In fact, both autopilots went out.  When we ordered the boat, we specifically asked for a redundant system so we would not have to worry about losing autopilot.   It is definitely  NOT GOOD when autopilot quits working– it means long, tedious hours spent manually at the helm – not a happy prospect when you are looking at sailing 350 miles /48 hours to the U.S. the next day.   We spent 4 hours taking turns at the helm today, while Rowland tried to valiantly to troubleshoot the issue.  Before he was done, he had been under every bed and in every other mechanical and bilge locker of the boat, looking at all the myriad electronic possibilities, all the while we were underway.   Fortunately, for us, Chris Baillet, the HH skipper who helped commission the boat had ‘friended’ me that day on Facebook.  Voila, we at least could contact Chris, who is in Portugal, via messenger (God bless messenger) and get his input.  We contacted Cay electronics, the original installer, at Chris’ suggestion, and got some pointers there.  At the end, Rowland did indeed get the system operational though he wasn’t sure exactly what he did, other than he tapped some component lightly with a hammer and it worked.  As Chris says, ‘when all else fails, get a bigger hammer’.  Another issue to have checked out while in Savannah.   Hooray for Rowland, we all slept better.

Man ‘o War, Abacos, Bahamas

Tuesday, June 13, 2017   Marsh Harbor to Man o War, Abacos, Bahamas

Today was exciting.  After refueling and filling the water tanks it was time to practice docking – just Doug and Deb.  Doug was at the helm station; Deb handled the docking lines.  To say I was apprehensive is an understatement.  It felt a bit like landing an airplane (ok, I exaggerate).   Again, we relied on using our headsets to communicate.  While Doug maneuvered close to the dock using engines and bow thrusters I stood at the ready to toss the spring line over a dock pole, then scamper to the rear deck and winch it tight.  Whew!!  We did 5 or 6 dockings and I’m pleased to say, even with a few ‘oops’, that the dock and boat both remained in their original condition as well as the relationship.

Lesson learned:  how to tie a clove knot.  Only dozens of more knots to go – no easy feat for the mechanically challenged.

Doug and I headed into town to Maxwell’s, a relatively large supermarket, to get groceries. We walked about 2 miles to the store but decided to taxi back with the groceries, which turned out to be the highlight of that errand.  Our taxi driver was a woman in her 40’s with a blond wig, fingernails painted pink and filed to a fine point  (think weapon), large sunglasses and an even larger personality.  She knew everyone in town it seemed and stopped to talk to each of them. Not surprisingly she said she had been encouraged to run for mayor.   When we stopped at a pharmacy to get butterfly bandages, she took advantage of the stop to get a Bud Light, one of her two favorite items, the other being Snickers.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get her name but she sure made us laugh and smile.

In the afternoon, we motored the short distance from Marsh Harbor to Man ‘o War, our original destination the previous day.  It readily became apparent that we had made the right decision to head to Marsh Harbor for fuel and water.  We arrived at Man ‘o War at low tide and we couldn’t even get into the harbor it was so shallow (Minnehaha requires a minimum depth of 5 feet).  Doug and I took the dingy into town and we ended up grounding the dingy outboard engine.

We visited Albury’s Sail Shop, where descendants of the original settlers, sew bags, clothing, etc. out of sail cloth, etc.    One of the ladies said she was a 5th or 6th generation.  We walked thru the tiny village. It was known at one time for its boat building and there are still a lot of small boat builders at work.   It was so hot and humid, we retreated to the boat.

We have decided to spend one more day in the Bahamas and then head back to the U.S. for some much needed ‘fixes’.  Our water maker is still not working and we have several other issues that need to be addressed.  Rowland must leave us on June 20th for another assignment and we decided we would rather sail back across the Gulf stream with him.  We are unsure of our destination at this point- we originally thought of Charleston but Savannah and couple other locations are options.  Depends on where we can find a marina that has space to dock our catamaran ( 27’ wide across/ 55 ‘ long) and we can get the work completed.  Tomorrow we are going to sail north to Allan’s Key and leave from there.

Lessons I have learned so far during the trip:

  • Handling and coiling sail lines is hard work / good exercise on the upper arms hopefully leading to less flab and more buff.
  • There is absolutely no reason to have a hair dryer on the boat. Even if I could stand the heat of the dryer, it would be a totally futile effort.
  • Longer hair must be pulled back into a pony tail or clip or it will be impossible to keep it out of your face just as you are executing a crucial tack.
  • They don’t make clothes pins like they used to. You need to put at least 5 onto a washcloth just to be sure it won’t blow away.  Fortunately, I do have vast quantities of pins with me or we would be out of towels.
  • Air conditioning is the single best invention EVER!! I challenge anyone who disagrees with this statement to come Florida in the summer heat and humidity.
  • Slathered on sunscreen is essential. I fear I will end up looking like the neighbor woman in the movie, What About Mary, who had skin like tanned leather.
  • No amount of make-up or grooming will overcome the effects of a day of sailing in hot, humid weather or windy squalls so might as well give it up. Actually, quite freeing and not bad, if I avoid a mirror.
  • Autopilot RULES – it really sucks (can I say that in a blog) when it goes out and someone must be at the wheel continuously… like in the olden days.
    Dawn Marsh Harbor 61317

    sunrise Marsh Harbor

    Man o War harbor 61317

    Man O War harbor

    Conch shells in man o war 62317

    Conch Shells

    One orig families Albury man o wat 61317

    Albury’s Sail Shop

    Man o War PSA 61317

    Sign in Man O War

    Headphones to communicate dock 61317

    Roger, I read you

    Man o War town 61317

    Man O War

Minnehaha’s Running rigging and main sail


The boat’s running rigging and main sail.

It was requested that I show pictures of the boat’s running rigging   I am attaching photos of :

  • the pit with the electric winches, color coded lines and jammers;
  • the front of the boom attached to the mast and the sail and sail cradle;
  • the forward inside helm station;
  • one of two dagger boards- one on each side of the boat.

At this point, for more information and specifics, you would have to ask Doug but that would mean you would have to pull him away from his continuous tinkering and adjusting of the sails.  He is a ‘man possessed’ and loving every second.

Front of boom 61417

Boom attached to mast

Forward inside helm station.

Inside forward aft helm

Pit & running rigging 61217

Cockpit with electric winches

Boom and sail cradle

Main sail and sail cradle

Dagger board

Port dagger board

Pit & running rigging2 61217

Cockpit w electric winches