Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ah yes, another test day. Stayed in Fernandina, FL yesterday to dry out gear from the storm; the location was perfect with a fine marina having floating docks and a hotel across the street. So, I planned an early start by 6:30 this morning to do a leisurely trip to near Savannah, GA, about 130 miles.
I take the Lowrance GPS off the boat each night so it will not become the victim of a midnight acquisition. In the morning I plug it in and go. Today, it didn't work. The “black screen of death” - power, but no screen. After half-an-hour of troubleshooting I dug out the hand-held Garmin I had purchased for a back-up, thinking it was probably a waste of money. I inserted the chip for U.S. coastal waterways and got underway. The small screen is no comparison to the Lowrance 7" GPS screen.
I called Lowrance support later in the morning from somewhere on the intercoastal, and after 20 minutes of “hold,” spoke to a tech support person who was not supportive - told me to “mail in the unit and it will take 2-3 weeks.” But, you don't understand . . . . . . . Anyway, I will not purchase Lowrance again.
My boat and Lowrance dealer, Hallberg Marine north of Minneapolis, came through on short notice and arranged the overnight shipping of a new unit which should allow me to get underway from the Isle of Hope Marina here in Savannah, Ga. by 10:00 AM Wednesday. Even Dana from Hallberg Marine hung up after 15 minutes of being on "hold" with Lowrance support. It is such a pleasure to deal with someone who doesn't take no for an answer and finds solutions. Dana got a replacement from his distributor. Thank you Dana from Hallberg Marine.
Some of the Hallberg (dealer) and Premier (manufacturer) folks have been following my trip. This trip should be an engineer’s dream - put the boat to more use in 3 months than anyone would normally do in 10 years and then look for any weaknesses in the product. I continue to get positive comments about the boat.
Clear weather today and I cruised among the waterways that make up the intercoastal going north. Many of these waterways connect to the nearby Atlantic and large shrimper and shipping boats can be encountered. The tidal flow now increases to near 8 feet daily until I get north of South Carolina. This causes significant currents in all the waterways and can expose shoaling areas affecting any boat but mainly the cruiser types that draft 3-5 feet. I draft 2 feet but still can go aground if not careful.
Today I crossed or traveled the Cumberland Sound, Cumberland River, Jekyll Sound, St. Simons Sound, Frederic River, Buttermilk Sound, Sapelo Sound, St. Catherine River/Sound and others. Towns are few, the riverbanks through GA began to show their white sands. If the weather holds tomorrow I may get close to Charleston, SC by afternoon despite a late start.
Saw a little of Savannah this afternoon and will definitely file this historical city for a road trip with Joanne, my wonderful wife! Olive Garden and two margaritas ended the day - not the same without Joanne but nonetheless enjoying seeing this great country from its waterways.
Tomorrow is particularly special as I will pass by Paris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot near Beaufort, S.C. The intracoastal actually passes through part of the training terrain and boats have been delayed due to U.S.M.C. training maneuvers. Heat, bugs, and mud - and then add a little adversity, could be the motto there. Many of the fine Marines I had the honor to lead as a platoon commander in Viet Nam were trained at Paris Island. Thank you drill instructors of Paris Island for setting the uncompromising standards that allowed many Marines to survive Southeast Asia while serving their country... many continue to serve today. Semper Fi.


  1. Indeed Joanne is your wonderful wife. We think you are pretty great, too. I love your description of the last few days-- I think South Carolina is really pretty. We should be testing your pontoon boat on Gore Creek, or the B & B site in Edwards (it looks like a lake). Take care! -Tina (and Vardo)

  2. Maybe you will get to do some R&D with the boat manufacturer - maybe some "required" extra trips to Havasu...

    Gotta love these companies that make gear you need to survive and then won't support you when it does not work.