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The Return To OLOH

Clocking through New Year’s Eve from 2020 was just strange, and we suspect that was a pretty universal feeling.  Everybody was undoubtedly glad to put the year in their wake, but we all knew we would wake up on January first facing the same unease and reality, albeit with the promise that things were poised to get better in the coming year.  It can be difficult to shift your life with all of that and a general heaviness as your backdrop.  But, we were committed to and still comfortable with our plan and knew the change would do us good.  Water, sunshine, and warmth.  For us, it’s potent medicine.

All boaters know that when you make up your float plan, everything is weather dependent.  We’ve all experienced putting great effort into lining up departure and arrival dates and making marina reservations only to have to blow everything up when the wind is blowing just a bit too much.  Of course, this can happen on land as well.  The only thing that could have really screwed up our departure was snow.  But what were the chances of that happening exactly when we’ve planned to leave?

Snowy launchpad.  Mother Nature waited until the day and night before we were scheduled to leave and gave us half a foot of her fluffy finest.

Fortunately, our awesome plow-guy-friend was able to swing by at 6:00 on the morning of our departure to free us from our snow-covered hills and avoid a landslide down our steep drive.  And after an intense couple of days of packing and prepping, our rental SUV was filled to the headliner and we were ready for our 1,360-mile drive back to OLOH, nine months and one week after we retreated to land as the pandemic was unfolding.

Not a square (inch) to spare. The Admiral celebrates a perfect pack.
How long did you say this drive is gonna be?
On the road again!

We had contemplated driving straight through, which takes a bit more than nineteen hours, but we didn’t want to show up at the boat completely exhausted and in need of recovery time.  So we decided to drive thirteen-plus hours from upstate New York to just outside of Savannah on our first day, giving us an easy second day and an early-afternoon arrival at OLOH.  Having not stayed in a hotel since the pandemic began, we were pleased with the way things operated at the place we chose to stay.  Our phones served as virtual keys and we never even had to go to the front desk.  The room was “sealed off” and appeared to have been very well cleaned (although, of course, we wiped it down ourselves).  It proved to be a good move and it was great to get some rest.

Jeez… are we there yet?

Whether because of the pandemic, the time we chose to travel, or just sheer luck, we didn’t tap the brakes for traffic even once on our drive down.  It was healing to watch the temperatures rise as we continued to lower our latitude and we finally saw 70 degrees after crossing the Florida line.  When we finally turned off the highway and headed west towards Lake Okeechobee near where OLOH was hiding out, anxiety turned into calm and eager anticipation.  When we pulled into the yard right around 2:30, there she was, shiny, floating, and waiting.  It was a very good feeling.

Florida welcomes us.  And we thank Florida.
And… We. Are. Here!
The Captain, back in his happy place
Our dear friends and part-time Buc-ee’s Beavers, Kevin (Spike/Sparky/Gator pick one) & Jill (Jilly Mac) from Chasing 80. They were kind enough to provide the hour-long ride back from our rental car drop-off. Even better, they were so thoughtful to bring us exceptional homemade gumbo with tofu andouille so we wouldn’t have to worry about dinner. WOW! It was SO good! Boaters know what boaters need. Thank you, guys!

Most boaters get it.  Boats aren’t just play-toys that float any more than homes are just places to sleep.  They are our sanctuary and our peace and have the ability to deliver dreams and take us on untold adventures.  Even when they are sitting still they transport us.  So if we tend to anthropomorphize or have strong feelings for our boats, please understand.  For us, getting back to OLOH was indeed like coming home.

Floating on her own bottom once again, as it is meant to be.

Of course, just showing up and settling in is not the way it works… Time to go through all the systems on the boat, speak with the techs who did work on her, and spend a few days getting organized before we get underway.  Among the work we had done, for those interested… aside from usual maintenance (oil & filter changes, zincs, detailing, etc), it was time to replace the cutless bearings (simply put, part of what holds the shafts in place).  During this process, it was determined that we needed to replace one of our shafts and repair the other (the propellers are attached to the shafts and the shafts are attached to the transmissions inside the boat).  The propellers were tuned as well and once OLOH had been back in the water for more than twenty-four hours, the alignment of the shafts was checked and adjusted as needed.  Even though we never had a notable vibration, OLOH should be running as smooth as ever.  A big thanks to John and his crew at the exceptional River Forest Yachting Center, including tech José who did a great job walking us through everything that was done and the proactive steps that were taken when something needed attention.  The confidence we felt in this spectacular facility when we left OLOH here nine months prior bore out, and as we all know, that doesn’t always happen.

Jasper and José work on the shaft alignment.
The Admiral and one of River Forest’s excellent techs bring one of our spare props aboard.
Business is good. This impressive facility has three enormous hurricane-rated storage sheds, some with climate control, and a fourth was being built when we arrived back at OLOH.

Always easier to love places that love our dogs.

So now it’s time to cruise.  A few days of travel to shake OLOH down before our final push to the Keys.  We are so ready.

An OLOH-Rita to celebrate our arrival. Cocktails DO taste better on a boat.

Check out the “Return To OLOH” episode of OLOH-TV by clicking here.

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And that concludes your OLOH instructions. M/Y OLOH back to 1-6

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I am sooooo happy to once again live vicariously through you all! I know this season is different with no in person visits but the beautiful events you share are enough, for now. I have never seen AJ smile as big as when you arrived on OLOH! I know that Jasper adapts to any situation. Thank you for the post!

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