Follow Joe and Leah aboard SENECA

Short trip south – part 2

Shawn, Marley and I crashed hard and woke up on the city dock in downtown Savannah. We knew we were gonna hang out for at least the day and recover. I kept telling him, ” tonight I just want to be dry and drunk”. It was still freezing cold especially for Savannah. Everything on the boat was wet. We hung things out everywhere then walked around the city a bit and enjoyed being of terra firma. Found a bartender I know who fed me bloody Mary’s although in truth we were still too out of it to fully enjoy he night in the big city. I took a look at the sails, the weather, the calendar and my bank account and came to the realization that this was as far south as we were going to make it. Shawn who is up for anything obviously was bummed as I was for not making it to Fl, but was fine with helping me get her back up to SC. We spent another day in Savannah, making friends with Arthur, a great old salty cruiser who was on the dock with us and even found a local hash group to run with that day. The next day we started out trip north on the ICW. It was cold and wet most of the trip.


We made the best of it. Found a bar to watch the superbowl through the windows. Watched. Few movies inside Seneca with surround sound and jiffy pop! We ended up bringing her up to Osprey Marina where I had been once before. I had hopes of getting her back up to the Chesapeake, but I would have to head back to VA and work for a bit before that happens. Turns out Seneca would sit in that great marina for the next twelve months until I could come down and try to go south again.





August 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Short trip south – part 1

1-31-11 Myrtle Beach SC
My mom drove us to the boat to see us off. Shawn untied the lines, MarleyDog tried to eat the lines and I backed out of the slip. for the first time in almost two years I was cruising again. We left Hague Marina about 10:30 on an overcast afternoon and motored down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). We had a really good run that day and made it all the way to the nice town and great anchorage of Georgetown, SC. We anchored just before dark and took the dinghy, DRIFTWOOD, off the deck and put it together. We strapped on the new outboard engine that is made from a weedwhacker engine, secured Marley into her life jacket and headed for shore. We were just going to walk Marley and grab a beer to warm up, but we found a restaurant that said we could bring Marley in so we sat at the bar and had a nice dinner. Marley laid under the barstool and slept. Great first day.

2-1-11 Georgetown SC
The next morning I fired up the engine and it died a couple seconds later.after a few more attempts we started to dig in and diagnose the problem. I figured it was the fuel filter because after removing the carb there was dirty fuel in the bowl. then it would start fine then die. After taking the the carb apart five times, going to shore to buy a new in line fuel filter, and finally adjusting the richness on the carb, we got it running well. By that time it was not worth leaving so we dug into a few more projects and Shawn cooked a great dinner of chicken and rice and we had a nice night on the boat.

2-2-11 Georgetown, SC
We woke up to the wind blowing pretty hard out of the southwest. Knowing it was supposed to clock around to the north that afternoon I debated staying there and jumping out into the ocean from Georgetown, but then decided to keep on motoring down to Charleston and getting my confidence back in the engine on the waterway. We fueled up and kept motoring south. Thus stretch is one of my favorite parts of the ICW. Shawn had never seen it and he was impressed by how pretty it is. We made a good run and anchored right off the ICW in Price Creek. Very nice anchorage and another nice dinner prepared again by Shawn. I am glad we stayed inside because the wind was still blowing south when we went to sleep. That night we set up my IPad and plugged it into the new stereo aux and watched a movie in the cabin with awesome surround sound. SENECA is getting more and more comfortable.

2-3-11 Price Creek mile 448 ICW
We got up early to a north wind. Our anchorage was a good two hours south of Charleston harbor. We broke the dinghy down and secured it on deck. We motored down to Isle of Palms marina to fuel up and into Charleston harbor. As we went through the harbor I raised the mainsail with a single reef and rolled out 75% of the jib. We were sailing again! We rode the outgoing tide past Ft Sumpter and out into the big blue at 9 knots! Once in deep water we eased up the sails and turned south. The winds were NNE about 15. The heading to St Augustine put us on a nice and fast point of sail. I even shook out the reefs in the sails. Shawn took the first watch and I calmed Marley down and we actually laid down in the cockpit and took a short nap. The winds started building a bit and I rolled in some of the jib because the gusts were pulling us up into them. As the afternoon went on the winds built more and got pretty gusty so I went to reef the main an went ahead and put the double reef in. We were still flying at over seven knots but much more comfortably. How many times must I learn that lesson, reef early – it will not slow you down. The following seas were a bit lumpy and Shawn started to feel nauseous. I had the helm when Shawn started chumming for fish. He would feel fine for a bit after and would even take the helm. I looked down and little Marley was on the floor of the cockpit looking up to me with a strange look. Then I realized she would get sick and she did right in the cockpit, which is fine and where I want her to go, but hat made Shawn dive for the rail. I felt like I was living through the seen in Stan By Me. Eventually Shawn went below to try and sleep and he was getting really seasick.
Then the clouds started rolling in and it got cold as the winds picked up even more and the waves built. We were still on a great heading and moving well when I accidentally jibed when a big wave pushed the stern. On jibing back, I guess it snapped too hard and I looked up to see the mainsail separated from the mast. The plastic slides sewn to the sail that slide up the mast must have snapped. Fortunately this happened before dark. I called Shawn up and he jumped to duty. I had Shawn take the helm and I went forward to drop the mainsail. At this point it was blowing over 30 knots with bigger gusts and seas about 8-10 feet. I was able to muscle the sail down and get it tied off and Shawn toughed it out and held the helm. I then jibed the jib over and sent Shawn below so I could figure out what to do. Sailing on just the jib I had to choose between continuing on to FL with two crew members out of commission and 20+ hours to go or turn towards the nearest land which happened to be Savannah and that was still 48 nmiles away or what I figured would be at least ten hours. I turned toward Savannah and hunkered down for a long cold night. The autopilot was not able to keep up with the following seas and I also realized I had not recalibrated the compass and it was tracking all over. Shawn would continue to get up and check on me throughout the night but I knew he was unable to take the helm. He was able to keep Marley inside and keep her dry ( which was a very important job) because on the new course we were taking spray into the cockpit and it started raining. The trip in was pretty cold and rough, but at least we could hold the heading and speed stayed up near 5 knots. When I got within ten miles of the Savannah river I came on a huge frieghter all lit up (thankfully) and right on my heading. I had to turn up into the wind and beat us up at 1.7 knots until I got around it and got back on course. Then I had to dodge another huge ship on it’s way out of the channel. I had never been into this harbor, but I figured it would be well lit being such a busy port. I approached the harbor at about 2am and got Shawn out to help me figure out the lights and channel markers. I know he was still a bit out of it but he toughed it out in the pouring rain as we entered the harbor still getting pushed around by some big waves. In the channel I rolled the jib in and motored from light to light following the chart plotter the best I could on this very windy channel. The tide was against us as well and at full throttle we were only doing 2 knots. Once we got into the river the waves finally died down and after dodging a couple more ships we were motoring up the calm river. Barely able to keep our eyes open and giving a huge sigh of relief we decided to head up to Savannah and tie up to a dock instead of trying to anchor. We finally pulled up the first dock we saw at 5:30 am and tied up. We were safe! I took Marley for a quick walk and then we all crashed hard.
To be continued

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ready to go!

SENECA will be starting south tomorrow. My good friend Shawn, who has helped me on every phase of this refit, will be joining me for a couple weeks as we migrate down to Florida. Also on board is my puppy Marley. She was getting used to the boat the other day sporting her cool life jacket and even took a spin in the new dinghy.
Over the past couple of weeks I have done a ton of work:
Installing two solar panels attaching them to the bimini framework
Wiring up the panels through a mppt charge controller
Frying the first mppt charger by mixing up positive and negative
Installing all new batteries one starter and two deep cell house batts
Picked up the restitched sails form NorthSails in Charleston
Put the sails back on
Hoisted myself up the stuck halyard with a couple of Rusick ascending knots and
Smacking the masthead with a hammer to free up the jammed halyards (really cool)
Some new shelves inside
Installed netting around the lifelines to keep the dog in
My mom sewed new privacy screens for the cockpit
Looked over and repaired all my ground tackle
Got a new outboard made by a guy in Fl from a weedwacker/chainsaw engine
Rebuilt the head (nasty). Thanks for the help Shawn
Among other things

You should be able to follow my progress via GPS SPOT by following this link

Check with you soon

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Preparing to go south

Now that I am in the water I am putting all the prices together to get back out sailing. This week I mounted my new solar panels. This is very exciting to me because for five years the only way I could charge my batteries was by running the engine and relying on the alternator. The panels will allow me to run a few more things, but mostly I will not have to worry about draining the batts when I am sitting at anchor or sailing with the autopilot. I got them at a great price from a friend in Charlottesville who had extras after setting up panels on his house. They got mounted to the bimini frame above and behind the helm. The Bimini had shredded long ago. They should work out really well there. Had to buy a whole new set of batteries because mine were at the end of their lives and run the panels through a charge controller.
I got netting to go around the boat to help keep Marley, my new super cute boat dog on board. The netting came from a company that makes soccer nets and is nice and heavy duty and they custom cut it to whatever size you want. I got it in black for better uv protection and it looks great too.
Put up some new shelving inside the boat and had my niece Savannah help out priming inside one day.
I should be ready to head out early next week. Shawn , who has been on the boat every day helping me, will join me for the first couple of weeks as we make our may to southern Florida. I only plan on being out a month or so this year. I was always planning on being back mid-march and I ended up taking on a lot more projects than I thought. This being the first time I had my boat on land for four years I could not help attacking all of the things I dreamed of fixing, but could not get to while I was living aboard at anchor. I am really happy with all the work i shave done this winter. I know the boat even better now and I was not sure that was possible. I am really comfortable with all of the systems and the engine after all this work.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


For the last few weeks Shawn and I have worked on the boat nearly every day. It has been pretty cold down here so some days are less productive than others. With Shawn’s help we have been plugging away at my project list. Replacing the old thru hull was the big project and them we turned attention to the engine. After a pretty extensive rebuild the atomic four is now purring like a kitten. We put black bottom paint over the blue and brought it up to the top of the old bootstripe to account for the weight I have put on the boat over the last few years. We also scrubbed the topsides with muriatic acid to get rid of the stubborn stains then painted the rub rail and top stripe black as well. She really looks sharp with the new color scheme.
This past Monday it was time to launch!
The travel lift in this boatyard is really something that should be in the Smithsonian. I am quite certain it helped launch some of the Confederate ships. It worked enough to get me in though. After she was floating, the engine fired up fine and Shawn and I motored around to my new slip. My Mom, my sister Alison, her husband Brad, Savannah, Seinna and big Foster were all there to help celebrate the launch. They even brought champagne to legitimize the event. After asking Neptune to watch over the boat and crew we all raised a glass to SENECA.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Working on SENECA

Ahhhhhh, to be back messing about on boats. While I had
SENECA out of the water I needed to replace one of the thru hulls.
I had one old style valve thru hull that I never felt comfortable
with. It was the out for my head and before I went off shore and
opened it I am sure that thing had not been touched in decades. I
though it would be a pretty big job to replace it. When I put a
pipe wrench on it one of the side covers actually fell off in my
hands. This would have been disastrous if it happened when I was at
sea. There was no way it was going to be unscrewed so I happily cut
through it with a sawsall and a few hammer swings got it out. Shawn
and I installed the new hunk of bronze in the other day and I could
not be happier knowing that is down there. I thought the hose that
makes up my stuffing box was going to have to be replaced, which
would require removing the entire propeller shaft, but in further
inspection there was just a tiny bit of flaking of that thick hose.
I gave it two very thick layers of rescue tape and I am very
comfortable with that as well. Those were the big ‘make sure the
boat floats’ projects and they went a lot more smoothly than I
anticipated. Most of my energies have been devoted to the engine.
The old Atomic 4 was running pretty decent when I last ran it, but
I knew it deserved some attention. After all it has been extremely
reliable for me in all of my journeys. First I had to curve up the
batteries to see if they still had life in them. Ten I did an
muriatic acid flush of the cooling system to get the loose rust and
crap out. Compression seems good so I simply changed out the plugs
and Shawn and I converted the distributor to an electronic ignition
so I will not need to mess with points again. new distributor cap,
button and coil. I took the water pump totally off and changed the
gaskets and impeller. I took the exhaust off and changed the gasket
and flushed out the muffler. I had to take apart and rebuild, and
then replace the electric fuel pump. I tore down the carb and
rebuilt that with new gaskets. The same with the fuel filter. Oil
change. I figured there was a lot of sediment in the fuel tank so I
went ahead and removed it and flushed it out. When I did that the
fuel line broke off in my hands. Another possible disaster avoided.
The entire fuel line got replaced. And I got into the lower end of
the engine and tightened the reversing gear, or transmission. Two
weeks ago I had only touched half of that stuff on the engine. Now
I am comfortable messing around with any of it. I cranked the
engine and it did turn over however briefly. I have not had a day
for Shawn and I to fire it up and fine tune it. So as you can see
SENECa is getting some much deserved attention.

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back on SENECA

I am back in South Carolina and I am working on SENECA. She
has been up on the hard for nearly 15 months now and this is the
first time I have been in a year. I have been up in Virginia
working. While she is dry I have a couple pressing projects and
then a long list of ‘If I Have Time And Money, projects. The first
thing was to mess around with the stuffing box and there is an old
style gate thru-hull that makes me uncomfortable. I will also give
my atomic 4 some much needed attention. Then a good purging of crap
that I have been holding onto for the past four years! My good
friend Shawn lives down here and has been itching to help me work
on her. I will post more pics and updates in the next couple weeks.
My plan is to go back in the water mid Jan and then head south.
Shawn will join me for a couple weeks and I will either head to the
Florida Keys or Bahamas for a month or two. I also have a new boat
dog! Marley is my new white boxer puppy.

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MadHatter trip south

We made it to Tortolla in 5 1/2 days. It was a great sail.
this link should take you to a map showing our course.

November 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Got into Bermuda yesterday morning. The 643 nm trip was expected to take 5 1/2 days, but 30 + knot winds the entire time got us here in two hours shy of four days! We were flying.
We will leave for the Virgin Islands in a day or two
Just follow this link to see my location updates:
If the link doesn’t work, try copying and pasting it to your browser’s address bar.

November 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back on the water

I will add more about the dinghy soon.
Until then I am now in Mystic Connecticut and I am crewing aboard the s/v MADHATTER, a 40′ Catalina. We will be delivering the boat to the Virgin Islands via a stop in Bermuda. You will be able to track my trip with this new SPOT gps I have. Click on this link and follow our boat
We will be leaving in the next couple of days and planning on six days to Bermuda and then another six to the Virgins.

November 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments