“The Breaking Of A Wave Cannot Explain The Whole Sea” –Vladimir Nobokov
Looking back over the last 2 years, I really feel for old Vladimir’s sentiment. Two years of planning and hard work have last week been realized when Southern Wind took to the air again. She was lifted off the hard ground on the travel lift a few days ago and gently lowered back into the welcoming embrace of the ocean, her hull all repaired and sound, her bottom paint and hull shining fresh, her clean propellers eager to bite into the water and once again push her out of the safety of the harbor, into the deep blue and over the horizon to far shores under different stars. A ship up on blocks in a marine yard always looks out of place somehow; stranded in a world alien to her needs and abilities like a fish dying on a dock, unable to understand why its swimming motions aren’t propelling it to safety, or like a water turtle turned on its back by some cruel tormentor and struggling futilely in the hot. I especially hate to see ships whose owners get them up into the marine yard and then neglect them or give up on them, letting them molder until they have to be sold for scrap. Ships aren’t made to die slowly on land, their repairs forgotten or given up; their purpose is not to rot away at their moorings. Taking them to sea is a risk—every single time, but every time I see a beautiful ship tied like a forgotten pet, unused year after year, or a once-proud vessel that has seen wonders none of us will ever know shoved into a far corner of a marine yard with long grass growing under its keel, I remember an old quote that I often think of when I am faced with a risk (as most decisions of consequence in our lives always involve): “A ship in port is safe…but that’s not what ships are built for.”
At last, Southern Wind is returning where she belongs, and true to her namesake she will carry us south to new places and new people who do not yet know that soon a white sail and red hull will appear over the horizon and bring a team of people who have demonstrated time and again during this long process their commitment and courage to doing whatever it takes to bring aid and help wherever it is needed.
Man, what a week…you know, I’ve always admired ants…when a group of them swarm together, they can make short work of tasks far greater than their individual size would suggest. With Southern Wind up on dry land, she looks like the project of some giant ant colony, with people crawling all over grinding, sanding, epoxying, building, wiring, and finally checking off all the thousand projects we have had aboard since we started this rebuild.
Once again, our work is flying ahead because of all the support we have received out here from the community–the Rotary club here is providing funds for the extra fuel we will burn in a powered run to Haiti with a full load, and even up in St. Augustine everyone in the boatyard and the folks in the marine industry here have given us materials and hours of their time and experience to help us solve the various challenges we faced in our dry dock repairs.
For example, Rick, Tom and Cheryl at Polaris Marine continue to host Ryan in their workshop almost daily to let him crimp wires and help him decipher the complex wiring solutions necessary on Southern Wind, Sinclair from the Sailor’s Exchange is looking for red hull paint for us, and Bobby and Steve in the yard helped us get our old diesel generator out–after we removed all the bolt-ons (everything we could take off the generator in place), the core and block still weighed around 2,000 pounds–kind of hard to get out of a small space in the engine room!
After much discussion (thanks Don Capo and everyone who pondered this problem with us), we decided to bite the bullett and cut a hole in the hull, unbolt the generator from its mounting and lift it out with the yard’s crane. So we cut a hole (that now we have to patch, of course) and the next day, in a cold heavy rain, Bobby and Steve hauled the generator out the hole…it sounds so easy when I say it like that, but I guess all in all it was pretty easy (because we had their expert help and a crane). We literally pulled it out; there was not QUITE enough clearance in the hole we cut and the generator slid out of the hole tightly strapped to the crane above. I’ve been waiting 8 months for this moment–and now we can install the much more efficient and lighter generator Polaris Marine are donating and close up the hole. Continue reading Week #2 in St. Augustine
We have just finished our first week working on the boat hauled out of the water at St. Augustine Marine Center. We came back at noon today, as the rain started coming on and you can’t sand boat hulls in pouring rain. I know I said I
had about 28 heart attacks during the move from Palm Coast up to St. Augustine, but they didn’t really settle down until the boat was safely lowered onto blocks and supports and the travelift and straps taken away.
We have a lot to do in a short time, but it looks like we will accomplish it. We have two or three repairs to the hull, prepping the bottom and putting anti-fouling paint on, painting the hull above the waterline, removing our old generator and putting in the new one Polaris Marine are giving us, cleaning and serviceing our propellers and shafts, getting our bowthruster operational, installing a through-hull transducer for our Raymarine sonar…ok, I had ANOTHER cardiac event just thinking about that list.
Thanks to KickStarter, we have raised $3000 through 20 different people’s donations within 30 days. Thank you to our community, who showed your support by spreading the word and helping us meet our fundraising goal!
You can see our the Floating Doctors’ Kickstarter page HERE: Kickstart Floating Doctors
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it enables people with a project or a cause to post a fundraising goal to meet in a certain amount of time. People can “pledge” different amounts, for which they will receive something in return. The project is only funded if the fundraising goal is met. If it isn’t, the pledges are dropped and the supporters money is not accepted.
Clean the World, a non-profit organization who collects, recycles and distributes soap and shampoo products discarded by hotels, donated 800 lbs of soap to the Floating Doctors to take with them on their medical relief voyage. These bars of soap will be great to distrubute for hand-washing education and prevention in the medical clinics.
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