The Cruise of the Salty Turtle    

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The Turtle Gets a Facelift

July, 2008 - October, 2009

Salty Turtle hauled out

Peeling the bottom

Nancy cleaning the props

What started out as routine maintenance has turned into a major project.  Our original plan was to patch peeling exterior paint and recaulk where needed.  Then after more thorough evaluation, we made the decision to do it right, and totally repaint the outside of the boat.  Quite a commitment, but we really like the Salty Turtle and plan to keep it as our home for the foreseeable future. 

We found two brothers, Bruce and Willard Mallard, who are highly recommended Awlgrip painters.  They both worked for Hatteras for 20+ years, and now have their own company in North Carolina. They said we could keep the costs down if we helped with the preparation (removing hardware, removing the teak aft deck, and scraping paint), so we went to work.  Since we were going to have the boat torn up, we decided to alter the flybridge seats in order to be able to see over the windshield plus cut off a seat to make room for a chest freezer.

We moved into a furnished condo in Oriental, NC in late July and hauled the boat out of the water at Bock Marine near Beaufort.  For the first month, we made daily commutes to the boat which took one hour each way, half of which was spent on the car ferry. The heat and humidity were incredible (mid 90’s!), so we limited our work schedule to mornings.  Hopefully we will be in better physical shape by the end of this project, if it doesn’t kill us first!!!  

Steve cutting aft deck

Caulking screw holes

Going thru the engines

Mossy cutting out the seats

With the seat removed

Seats raised 6"

Removing the teak aft deck was a tremendous chore.  The rubber adhesive was so tough, Steve had to score the wood with a circular saw and then remove the teak in two inch squares with a crowbar and chisel.  The teak was quite worn with age, so we opted to remove it and replace it with nonskid, which will require much less maintenance. 

After finishing the aft deck removal, Steve moved into the engine room.  Although the engines were still running well, he decided to do a lot of preventive maintenance to hopefully preclude some future breakdowns.  The refit project includes new injectors, new heat exchangers and oil coolers, modify the fuel filter system, new recirculating water pumps, new raw water pump impellers, new hydraulic hoses, new water hoses, rebuild the starters and alternators, adjust valves, change all filters and oil and clean and/or replace numerous other small items.  After the engine work, he is installing a new water system with a central filtration system plus a watermaker.

Faring-in the new seats

Nancy stripping rubrail

Nancy on patched aft deck

I naively assumed that the paint on the rubrails and cap rail would come off fairly easily, since it was peeling in big chunks in places.  Wrong!  The areas which decided to stick, planned to stay that way.  The painters insist that I use a heat gun and scraper, versus chemical strippers, because they have had negative reactions between strippers and the Awlgrip paint.  So little by little, I’m am making progress.

Once the paint stripping and engine work is done, most of what we can do is done until it is time to reinstall the hardware, antennas, etc.  So we are making new flybridge cushions, handrail covers and various other covers plus replacing the portlight gaskets.  We hope to get most of the interior revarnished also.

It’s a lot of work, but we are excited about the prospect of a “New” boat. We’re trying to put a time limit on this, so we’ll see where we stand by the end of the year.  We hope to have the boat back in the water in December, but may keep the condo until we get the interior varnish done.  We are determined to plow through this and get as much done as possible, so we can start goofing off again by next Spring at the latest.  We still have our sights on Mexico and Belize.  Sounds like another great adventure! 



LOTS of Alligators!

St. Johns River

April 23 - May 7, 2008

Cypress Trees

Fisherman with traps

Cypress Reflections

Watching for Gators

Ship on the St. Johns

Sunrise at anchor

Live oak at Hontoon State Park

Fisherman on the river

Hiking at Deleon Springs

We decided to take a two week detour cruising the St. Johns River and what a great experience this was!  In north Florida, at Jacksonville, the Salty Turtle turned west and then south again to follow the St. Johns River.  The river runs 163 miles from the Intracoastal Waterway to Sanford at Lake Monroe (the furthest south you can go in a boat with our draft). The northern section of the river is interesting with lots of large ships and tows plus going through downtown Jacksonville, but the really pretty part starts south of Palatka at about mile 80.  There the river narrows and the muddy banks are lined with cypress trees, Spanish moss, sprawling live oaks, and tall palm trees. 

Airplant in bloom

Gator Sunning

Watching us

Gator reflections

Anhinga drying his wings

The Enforcer


Great white heron

Heron Flying

We moved quickly south to Sanford (3 days), but took note of potential anchorages for our return trip later.  While in Sanford, we docked at the marina and rented a car to visit two State Parks where we stretched our legs and did some hiking.  Deleon Springs and Wikiva Springs both had nice walking trails through the Palmettos and beneath the live oak canopies.  

Not everyday is paradise on a boat.  First, north of Palatka, I briefly took over the helm and ran over a crab trap line.  It was tightly wound around the prop shaft and was fun to cut off in the muddy water where you couldn’t see 3 inches in front of your face.  Then, while at the Sanford marina, we were invaded by hundreds of mosquito-like (but luckily non-biting) bugs, which covered the outside of the boat every night and pooped green specks which left stains on the fiberglass.  Nice.  During this same time period, Steve played boat mechanic on two occasions.  Once was to replace the port engine fuel pump, and another day to replace an oil line for the starboard engine.  Oh yeh, the key stock fell off the drive shaft coupling, too.  Nothing on a boat is a “simple fix” as the fuel pump replacement required cutting off the end of an already small wrench to squeeze into the tight space at a difficult angle.  It was an hour bicycle ride to find a place that sold wrenches.  Oh, and did I mention Steve was sick with a bad cold during these gyrations?  Luckily it all worked out, and both Steve and the boat are running fine again.  I’m grateful to have an onboard mechanic! 

Barred Owl watching us

Sandhill Crane

Great Blue Heron

Osprey watching us

Osprey with a fish

Osprey with baby

I'm outta here!

Little Blue Heron

Turtle Clapping

After a few days exploring on land, we were ready to launch the dinghy.  Steve had been itching to try his new Nikon camera and telephoto lens.  For the next week we took the Salty Turtle on a leisurely trip north again, anchoring in several scenic creeks beside the river. It was great as we always had the anchorages completely to ourselves.  We spent most of our days in the dinghy and were rewarded by hundreds of wildlife sightings. The birds and gators of the St. Johns River were fantastic photography subjects, but you had to be quick.  Most were not keen on posing long.  We made it a game to find the biggest gator and turtle.  The nesting birds were fun, too.  Occasionally, we were lucky enough to find one with hatchlings.  One huge live oak tree had over eight large nests.  It wasn’t just the number of nests that surprised us, but the fact that here were blue herons, osprey, and anhingas all sharing the same tree.  Cool! 



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