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Apr. 4, 2020
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Vinnie Mendes On the Water

Seasons bring change on the lake and beyond

One of the best things about North Georgia is the change of seasons. It’s a euphoric sensation when winter passes and spring finally arrives. 
 
Lake Lanier, populated for months only by bass fishermen and hardcore sailors, suddenly comes alive with every jet ski, pontoon boat, cabin cruiser and yes, even the occasional houseboat afloat. 
Up in the mountains when the weather gets warm enough to put the top down, the roads teem with sports cars, RVs, motorcycles and bicycles.  
 
I’m amazed at the number of bicyclists I see pedaling up the inclines. All I can think of is that what goes up must come down. It must be a white-knuckle experience to be doing 35 miles per hour downhill around some of those curves, with nothing between you and the road but two skinny tires and a thin layer of nylon shorts and shirt. They’re a lot braver than I am.
 
When my motorcycle riding buddies come in from out of town, we take them up the “Tail of the Dragon” on Hwy. 129 just south of the NC/TN border. It has 318 turns in 11 miles and is a motorcyclist’s dream … or nightmare, depending on your perspective. The speed limit is 15 to 20 mph most of the way and us old guys ride our BMWs or Harleys along at a sedate 25 mph thinking we’re badass, and all of a sudden, WHAW-WHAW-WHAW-WHAW, four rice burning crotch rockets (light, high powered Japanese motorcycles) streak past us at 60 plus mph. They may be out to prove something, but we call them “Organ Donors.”
 
Our British Car Club gathers for occasional rallies in the mountains. I especially like the old antiques because remembering them when they were new, I also understand how they work, as opposed to the new cars where I can’t do much more than check the oil. 
 
You’ll see a line of 20 to 30 vintage cars traveling the same route looking for clues on where to turn next. It’s a lot of fun solving the puzzles such as “What did St John say to the Romans?” and a few miles later you’ll pass a church with the sign out front telling you what he said. There’s always a good story or two coming out of outings like this.
 
One memorable time we had a competitor, Howie, driving an MGB. His copilot/navigator, Cody, had a new Alfa-Romeo. He was very proud of it and let everybody know. I guess he didn’t realize that anyone can plop down a credit card and buy an Alfi, but it takes talent to keep a 65-year-old car on the road. At any rate we were competing in a rally where everyone had a list of clues which they had to follow to arrive at a secret destination. The cars took off at two-minute intervals so it wouldn’t just be “follow the leader.” About halfway through we came upon skid marks in the middle of the road and about 100 yards later, a couple of MGs pulled off to the side. 
 
There in the middle of someone’s lawn was Howie’s MGB. Following the skid marks, we traced his path, back over someone’s patio where he and taken off one of the supports for their upper deck! 
Luckily no one was hurt but the driver’s door was damaged, and the car kept stalling out when he tried to start it. Within a few minutes several more MGs had joined the party and it was determined that he had crimped the exhaust pipe. 
 
As there was no cell service in the area, we were standing around discussing options to get the car towed back home, when Cody asked, “anyone got a cigarette?” Someone produced a pack of Winstons and a Bic and Cody put one in his mouth backwards and proceeded to light the filter! I asked him if he knew something I didn’t know or was he doing it backwards. He said” No Man, leave me alone, I really need this.” So, we all stood around as he smoked his way thru the filter as if that was the way to do it. About this time, a couple of locals showed up in a pickup truck and we explained the situation. They said, “No problem,” went back to the truck and produced a Sawzall (a high-powered saber saw on steroids). Within a few minutes they had cut off about six feet of the exhaust pipe and muffler and the car started and ran fine! 
 
Never underestimate a couple of rednecks with a Sawzall! After Howie left a note with explaining what had happened and his contact info we all took off noisily down the road with Cody holding the muffler on his lap with the tailpipe sticking straight up in the air muttering “If it was an Alfi it never would have happened.”
 
The really good thing about spring is that it prepares you for the coming of summer when the lake literally turns into a carnival. There are sailboat races every weekend and some evenings during the week, fishing tournaments, poker runs such as the “Pirates of Lanier,” not to mention all the boats that are just normal people out to have a good time on the water. Then we have the dozens of state parks around the lake where for a modest fee families can come and enjoy the out of doors. After dark there are fireworks displays both commercial and private, celebrating holidays, birthdays or graduations.

You never know what will come next and there’s always another story to tell!
 
 
 
 
 
Mendes has been sailing all his life and on Lake Lanier for the past 25 years. His family owns a marina/bar/restaurant so he has plenty of real life experiences to draw from. His favorite line: “You can’t make this stuff up.”





March 2020 column

 

Good news, bad news on the boat

Years ago, there was a great radio/TV show with two guys constantly getting in and out of trouble. I was recently reminded of one of their episodes where they buy a fishing boat. Next day one calls up the other and says: 
 
“I got some good news and some bad news.”
“OK give me the good news.”
“The tide has come up.” 
“OK now give me the bad news.”
“The boat hasn’t.”
 
I kept thinking of this as I was manually pumping out my sailboat. There had been a bunch of rain for the last couple of weeks, and knowing I had a leaky forward hatch, I should have checked on her before this. But the holidays and family got in the way and when I finally stepped on board, she seemed a bit sluggish. I immediately checked the bilge and found the water almost up to the floorboards! I figured the switch for the automatic bilge pump must have gotten stuck, so I flipped it over to manual. Nothing happened, so I got to work with the hand pump. When the water was down to a reasonable level, I went to check the bilge pump fuse. The fuse block was covered with green corrosion. When I touched it, the whole thing crumbled apart in my hand! 
 
Knowing what the problem was, I hotwired the bilge pump directly to the battery and it came on immediately finishing the job of pumping out the boat.
 
A little bit of background here: the boat is a 32-foot Bruce Roberts “Spray” which I converted from a ketch to a schooner. She has twin roller furling jibs, with lazy jacks on the Marconi main and gaff rigged foresail and is a delight to sail. I bought the boat from a fellow down in Florida, who was a really nice guy, but a total nutcase when it came to boats. This one was built in 1968, and at some point, the cabin was gutted, and the interior rebuilt by someone who had flunked wood shop in high school. Then someone who had taken too many drugs back in the 1960s got loose with a paint brush and a bunch of fuchsia and chartreuse paint among others. This didn’t bother me because I was more interested in her sailing capabilities, just planning to use her as a day sailer here on the lake. 
 
Another strange thing: There were at least two 110-volt outlets in every cabin including the head! The wiring all looked new and very professional, so I hadn’t given it any thought. Now I realize that it must have been installed by an electrician used to wiring houses or computers or anything besides boats! He had put the fuse block in a confined space six inches above the two 12-volt batteries! (When batteries are charged, they produce some sulfur dioxide, which in a damp environment becomes sulfuric acid. This reacts with the copper in the fuse block to produce copper sulfate which is a crumbly green powder). 
 
I should have been suspicious when I bought this great sailing boat for such a low price, but now I know enough to dig a bit deeper and to thoroughly checkout every detail before I have my own “Good News and Bad News.”  

February 2020 column

Remembering my friends' trip to Jamaica

Wintertime on the Jersey Shore is really desolate, especially at my brother Haik’s marina. After all the  boats have been hauled out, their masts unstepped and the engines winterized, there is not much else to do. The wind howls down the beach and the waves crash against the seawall and its no longer a warm inviting place to be.
 
One winter my brother and his girlfriend booked a two-week vacation in Jamaica. He should have been suspicious because the airfare was so cheap. Then he realized that the plane was scheduled to take off from Kennedy airport at 6. In the morning! Since he had to arrive two hours early, and it was two hours away, this meant leaving home at 2 a.m. 
 
Our friend Tony and his girlfriend Susan decided to host a going away party. Susan would drive them all up to the airport at the end of the festivities. This made sense because Tony drank a bit too much. Susan was not a heavy drinker and tried everything to get Tony to slow down. She hid the liquor – he just bought more. She diluted it with water – he just drank more. Finally, she gave him the ultimatum: “It’s the booze or me!” Tony unwisely chose the booze. Unfortunately, he announced his choice on the night of the going away party. While everyone was having a good time and wishing Haik and his girlfriend Bon  Voyage, Susan was loading her belongings into a shopping cart and wheeling them out to her car. 
 
I’m not night owl so I left the party at about 11 p.m. The rest of this story is hearsay. When it came time to depart for the airport, Tony was passed out, so Haik loaded him into the back seat of his (Tony’s) VW Rabbit, covering him with a blanket. He and his girlfriend headed north, figuring Tony could sleep it off in the airport parking lot and then drive home. 
 
Things were going well until the headlights on the car started to go dim and the temperature gauge climbed into the red zone. Finally, the engine shut down right on the entrance ramp for the Verrazano Narrows bridge. The fan belt had broken. Just when Haik figured things couldn’t get any worse, it began to snow. When a police car stopped for them, Haik explained the problem and asked if the cop could call them a tow truck and a cab. The officer said that they couldn’t leave the car on the highway unattended. Haik replied, “It’s not unattended” and pulled back the blanket where Tony was snoring away! 
 
The travelers finally got to the airport just in time to see their plane lift off from the runway and head south without them. Since you cannot buy a one-way ticket to Jamaica, they had to buy two round trip tickets, hoping to be able to cash in the return flight when he got back. They finally got on another flight and made their way to sunny Jamaica.
 
Meanwhile back in the frozen north, where we left Tony, passed out under a blanket in the back seat of the abandoned car, a tow truck eventually came along and towed the car with Tony still in it, to the police impound yard. Tony woke up many hours later with a world class hangover. He was freezing cold and surrounded by an aura of whiteness. He was wondering if he was dead and finally realized that he was in his own car and it was covered with snow. Beyond that he had no idea where he was. He got out of the car and immediately two junk yard dogs showed up barking and snarling. He was able to climb up on top of a car and wrapping himself in his blanket began yelling for help. Eventually someone came along and rescued him. 
 
This was before cell phones and Uber but luckily there was a pay phone at the corner. He began to call everyone he knew to come get him, but the only one who answered the phone was Susan, his now ex-girlfriend who had moved out the night before. She must have been a really nice person because she took pity on him and drove all the way up to Staten Island to get him. I can imagine the atmosphere in the car on the way home. It was probably chillier inside than outside!
 
Once Haik and friend arrived in Jamaica things got better. Their hotel was palatial, brand new and right on the beach. A steel band was playing in the lobby/lounge area where there was a large rock sculpture which was obviously supposed to be a waterfall. Haik asked the manager why it wasn’t working and was told there had been a disagreement between the plumber and the electrician, and they had both walked off the job just before the hotel opened. Haik asked if he could have a look at it.
Now you don’t own a successful marina without knowing something about water pumps and electricity. 
 
Within the hour he had not only gotten the waterfall flowing but the decorative lights worked too. The manager proclaimed him a hero, upgraded his room to a suite and gave him carte blanche at the bar for the rest of his stay!
 
While they were there, they got friendly with the steel band members who adopted them and included them in all the after-hours parties. These guys were all locals, so they got to see a part of the island life most tourists miss. The most bizarre one that comes to mind is the night they decided to go out cow-tipping. They never found any cows, but they found where the cows had been. Haik stepped in it up to his ankles. (Note: Never, Ever go cow-tipping while wearing flip flops!) At the end of the two weeks they had made a bunch of new friends and were ready to come home.
 


January 2020 column

Recalling a trip to shuttle launch

My brother Haik toured the Kennedy Space Center in the early 1980s and signed up for a pass to view a shuttle launch. About six months later the mail arrived with a pass allowing him one vehicle and as many people who could fit into it out on the Cape to view the launch of the Space Shuttle Colombia. This was back when we had a shuttle launch every few months and it was always a big deal but this one was really special because Sally Ride, our first female astronaut was one of the crew!
 
There was great excitement around the marina as people jockeyed for an invitation to be in the vehicle. When it finally came time to go all the enthusiastic “wanna-bes” had dropped out and it was just my brother, one friend and myself. This was when People Express was still flying high, so we boarded the plane, found some seats fairly close together and paid for our tickets. (It was very casual back before 9/11 and the TSA didn’t exist). I had brought a case of beer on board and was tossing cans to my brother and buddy when someone asked if he could buy a can. I told him I didn’t have a liquor license, but I would be happy to give him one. We were stuck on the tarmac for quite a while, so I passed out several more brews and became the most popular guy on the plane. Once the stewardess (yes, they liked to be called that back then) finally came down the aisle with the drink cart everyone was buying us drinks and the party had begun in earnest!
 
We landed in Melbourne and rented a Hertz car to tour around the area for a while and try to find some local night life. The Space Coast is dead compared to the Jersey Shore in the summertime. The hottest spot around was the Holiday Inn, where the sign out in front proclaimed “RIDE, SALLY, RIDE.” 

Finally, we drove out on the Cape, found a parking place among the thousands of other cars and took a nap until launch time. About 5:30 a.m. the preliminary count down began. I couldn’t believe how well organized the whole place was. Every parking space had a good view of the launch pad, several miles away across the water. There were restroom facilities, first aid stations, information booths, and a loudspeaker system giving a blow by blow of the countdown preparations. When the final 10-second countdown finished the Colombia slowly rose from her launch pad with a great roar and billows of flame and smoke! The three of us were jumping up and down on the roof of the rental car cheering!

Try to imagine the excitement. We watched the trail of smoke as she disappeared over the horizon. The ground was still shaking when an announcement came that she was 120 miles downrange and 40 miles high! Lost in our revelry we heard a loud thump and the roof of the rental car was six inches closer to the floor than it had been! Once the excitement was over and we had calmed down the three of us laid down on our backs on the seats and pushed up with our feet until the roof was more or less back to where it belonged, with just a wrinkle that ran all around the edge. I was sweating it, hoping that the credit card I used to rent it had the supplemental insurance that would cover the deductible. But when we turned the car in the attendant simply wrote down the mileage, checked the gas gauge and sent us on our way!
 
I keep that trip in my memory along with witnessing the birth of my sons, watching the America’s Cup races and a few other things as the greatest experiences of my life. 
 
A sad epilogue is that when we tried to buy some Colombia T shirts to bring back for the gang at the marina, they were all sold out. However, they still had some Challenger shirts, left over from a previous launch, which we purchased. It hurts to think that the only two Space Shuttles I have had anything to do with ultimately crashed.


December 2019 column

Two distinct species: Housboatians and Blowboatians

One interpretation of the Bible states “And God saw everything that He had made but something was missing. What He desired was to show that He had a sense of humor. So He created Houseboaters and Sailors and He saw that it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” An alternative: about 60,000 years ago two sub species branched off from the human race, Homo Sapiens Houseboatian and Homo Sapiens Blowboatian. 
 
So today these two species co-exist more or less in harmony wherever there is water. The major difference is that Houseboaters never leave the dock unless they have an auxiliary generator running to power the  TV, refrigerator/freezer, washer/drier and of course the Waring Blendor. Sailors on the other hand will be out on the water whenever there is a puff of air from any direction. They don’t require anything but a set of sails and optimally a cooler full of beer and ice. A stand-up head is a plus but not absolutely necessary. Houseboaters are usually in a hurry and thus create a lot of wake moving from point “A” to point “B.”
 
Sailors poke along and eventually arrive at their destination sooner or later. I was discussing this with a Houseboater friend when he boldly announced that “You’re either a wake maker or a wake taker.” I told him I’d keep that in mind next time I topped off the fuel tank of my sailboat, probably next September or October. (Last I checked, marine fuel was approaching $5 per gallon and some of those big houseboats burn 30 gallons an hour.) 
 
One thing these two species have in common is they both know how to party. Some of the best parties I’ve attended were with either Sailors or Houseboaters. A memorable one occurred several years ago at the Christmas Parade of Boats, then sponsored by University Yacht Club. Now I’ve seen boat parades in LA, New York and Miami, and although the big cities have more boats in attendance, we make up for it in quality and pizzazz! Gone are the days when you just outlined your boat with Christmas tree lights. Some of these light shows are worthy of the Las Vegas Strip! (Some people have too much time on their hands!) 
 
That year we were invited to attend the boat parade on a luxurious houseboat, followed by dinner on board. About noon the owner called me in a panic because he had burned out the impeller on his generator. I spent the afternoon running all over Hall and Gwinnett counties trying to find a new one with no luck. Then I tried to rent a portable generator with the same result. It was decided that we’d just take a boat ride as observers then come back to the dock, plug in the shore power and continue the party. 
 
Now there was a woman at the party who probably thought she was going to a reception in Buckhead. She wore a suede pantsuit, four-inch stiletto heels and an attitude. She spent a little time on deck, announced she was cold and went into the cabin to sulk. After a great dinner and a few glasses of wine her attitude began to thaw but was still on the frosty side. Then my buddy A.J. announced that he was going to make “Mud Slides.” This is a slushy chocolatey alcoholic beverage that goes down like a milk shake and is so addictive that it should have a warning label! As A.J. was shoveling ice cubes into the plastic blender container, I warned him that he should crush them up first. He assured me that it would be fine and produced the first batch.
 
By this time people were lined up to get one, so he had to repeat the process several times. In the middle of mixing the third batch, the plastic container exploded spewing frozen chocolate sludge over everything within range. Who happened to be first in line waiting for her Mud Slide? You guessed it! The woman in the suede pantsuit! 
 
You’ve heard about “swearing like a sailor?” Sailors didn’t stand a chance against a woman in a suede pantsuit splattered from the frosted tips of her hair to the toes of her stilettos. I almost felt sorry for her until she started in on her date making his life miserable, as if it was his fault. I was so glad it wasn’t my fault for once!
 

November 2019 column

 

Special meaning of 'Greetings from Home'

Growing up on the Jersey shore was a fun experience. My three brothers and I had a river to swim in and sail on and endless acres of coastal woods to play in. The hills were honeycombed with old bunkers and tunnels, some of them dating back to the Spanish American War and we spent endless hours playing imaginary games in them. They were basically concrete gun emplacements connected by tunnels, some of them hundreds of yards long. They once held the “Guns as big as stairs with shells as big as trees” that they sing about.

They were the same guns that are mounted on our Navy’s battleships, each one capable of hurling a projectile the weight of a Volkswagen up to 24 miles. Our battleships each had nine of them. (After World War II the big coastal guns were all sold for scrap to the Gillette Razor Company because of their superb steel. The battleships all went into moth balls to be called back when they were needed for Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War.)
 
This country had the strongest coastal defense in the world, which is one of the reasons we were never attacked form the sea. Nowadays you don’t have to invade a county’s shores or bomb their cities to defeat them. All you have to do is cut off supply of a raw material they need to keep their economy running, such as tungsten, beryllium, rubber or oil. If you want to find out why we are involved in any part of the world, check out their natural resources.  
 
It was a different world in the middle of the Cold War. When I joined the Navy right out of high school, I got to see parts of the world I never even dreamed of. The downside was I had to take orders from someone who was dumber than I was but had been in the Navy six months longer. I got out after four years and went to college, thinking I’d come back as an officer and make it a career. By the time I graduated, Vietnam had heated up and I opted to try my luck as a civilian. 
 
Meanwhile my next younger brother, Paul, went to college first and later enlisted in Army ROTC. When he graduated, he became a second lieutenant and was shipped off to the fighting. He later retired as a full colonel after 28 years, making more money in his retirement than I ever made working! He also had a bunch of really good stories to tell. 
 
One of these involved him off in the jungle with a company of soldiers being pinned down, with the enemy fire drawing ever closer. Not only was his life at stake but he had the responsibility for the safety of all the men under him. Quickly calculating the odds for survival, he called into headquarters for artillery support. Unfortunately, all the Army artillery units were engaged, but the fellow said the Navy might have a unit in the area. Paul wasn’t very optimistic because he knew they were at least 15 miles in from the coast but a minute later the voice came back over the radio telling him he was being patched through to “Sledgehammer.”

Now all the Army artillery units had named like “Tackhammer,” “Clawhammer,” “Ball Peen,” etc. This made him wonder, “What is Sledgehammer?” Anyway, he radioed in the coordinates for the location and was told to take cover. Next thing he knew KABOOM! The entire side of the hill disappeared! It was like a B-52 strike! He radioed in “Mission accomplished,” then asked “What the F#*% was that?” The voice came back over the radio, “Son, that was the Battleship New Jersey.” He thought “Ah, greetings from home, and not a moment too soon.”

- In memory of Col. Paul Mendes, May 9, 1944-Aug. 22, 2019.
 


October 2019 column

God's country

Recently I was sitting on the lawn at Lake Lanier Sailing Club, listening to a live Jazz band and watching the sun sink into the trees on the opposite side of the lake. Sunsets here can be compared with those I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Every one is different and depending on the cloud cover you can get all kinds of colors ranging from reds to deep blue and purple. I think the best is when there are high clouds over Alabama and as the sun goes under the horizon, they are lighted pink and orange from below giving you an entirely different perspective. 
 
About this time the fellow next to me said “Man, this is God’s Country.” I thought about it for a bit and tended to agree with him. When I first moved down here in the early 1990s I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. (Although my son went to school at Berry College in Rome, so I had been sending my checks down here for quite a while.)
 
I thought I had it made when I lived up on the Jersey shore with all the action at the family’s marina, but there we had to haul every boat out of the water by October and put them all back in the water in the spring. When a job opportunity in Atlanta came up, I didn’t take it too seriously because we had some close friends who had moved here from Cape Cod. They had a beautiful 34-foot sailboat, and someone told them “There’s no sailing in Atlanta. There’s only one tiny little lake with no wind and it’s wall to wall power boats.” They sold their boat (taking a big hit on it) and got into “lawn maintenance” i.e. gardening.
 
My brother in law had lived here since the 1970s so he showed me around the lake on a weekday when there were about a dozen sailboats out with a fine breeze and not a power boat in sight. I accepted the job, moved my boat down and the rest is history.
 
Fast forward a few years when I owned a rental house in Buford. I got a phone call from the town hall telling me that I had a water leak on my side of the meter, and they had turned the water off. I asked the lady if she could recommend a plumber. She said she couldn’t, I would have to look in the yellow pages. Then I asked what kind of permits I would need to get it fixed. She said I didn’t need a permit.

”It’s on your property, you can fix it yourself!” I got out my shovel and dug up the pipe, then down to Home Depot to buy about $7 worth of parts, fixed the leak and turned the water back on. When I called the town hall to tell them everything was back to normal, I found that I got a one time “Free Pass” for the excess water on my bill that month since it was caused by a leak!
 
If that happened in New Jersey, I would have to have gone to town hall to get a plumbing permit, then arrange for a “licensed” plumber with his “licensed” assistant to get the leak fixed. Then back to town hall to arrange for the plumbing inspector to approve it. Once it’s approved, back to town hall to arrange for the water to be turned on. Every step of the way I need my envelope full of $20 bills to make sure the process is not held up by “paperwork.” Here, nobody has to get paid off! Just one more reason why I love it here!
 
To get back to the sunsets, my most memorable one occurred several years ago when I had about a dozen people out on a charter for a “Sunset Sail.” Just before sunset a wild thunderstorm came through so I dropped the sails, started the engine and sent everyone down below while I ducked into a cove to ride out the storm. It was all over in about 15 minutes, just in time for sunset. Everyone came back up on deck and not only was the sun setting in the West, but the full moon was rising in the East, each one with a perfect rainbow! It was an ethereal experience, almost like you would see in a Disney movie!
 
Thinking back on that, I don’t agree that this is “God’s Country.” This is where God comes when He takes a vacation!


September 2019 column

Farewell to an old warhorse

People become attached to inanimate objects just like they become attached to pets. That’s how I felt about an aging Tartan 36 One Ton racing sailboat which I acquired about 35 years ago. I named her “Shadowfax” after Gandalf’s horse in “The Lord of the Rings.”
 
She was a beauty, built for Charlie Britton, the president of Tartan Yachts at the time. She was actually the prototype for the Tartan 34, 35 and 40. This was an era before they knew how strong fiberglass was, so she was extremely heavy by modern standards, having more weight in her lead keel than most boats her size.
 
Like most One Ton Class racers of her time, she required a large crew, usually about 12, to race her and a minimum of four even to get the sails down. If the enormous jib was not rolled up properly, it wouldn’t fit in the sail bag and therefore wouldn’t fit through the hatch to the sail locker. 
 
I sailed her all up and down the East Coast from Maine to the Chesapeake and for the last 25 years or so on Lake Lanier. Now that my kids are grown and moved away it’s hard to find enough people to crew her, consequently my wife and I did not go out on the lake as much as we’d like. I solved the problem by buying a 32-foot Bruce Roberts ketch with roller furling jibs and lazy jacks that I can easily single hand.
 
This created another problem of having two boats. Very few people can afford one boat. Almost no one can afford two. Regrettably, I put her up for sale (read “adoption”) and after two years of lowering the price every month she still sat there in her slip. I even tried to donate her to the Junior Sailing program at the sailing club, but they wouldn’t take her. The only offer I got was from some foreign sounding gentleman who “inadvertently” sent me a check for $2,000 over the price, telling me to pay the extra money to the boat hauler in cash. Now I may be crazy but I’m not stupid! I simply sent the check back and never heard from him again. 
 
Finally, at the end of the year, I reluctantly donated her to “Boat Angels” who would sell her on eBay and use the money to build orphanages in Africa. I kept track of the bidding and with six hours to go, the top bid was $205! I told a buddy who wanted the engine and he bought her for $405! 
 
I figured if anyone was going to cut her up it should be me, so we hauled her out of the water and plucked the engine out. He then sold her back to me for a dollar and sadly, I began the job of dismembering her, salvaging all the teak, hardware, sails rigging and anything else of use. 
 
Each afternoon I would take my trailer load of scrap up to the county landfill where they knew me by name. Finally, I got down to the lead keel. I estimated it weighed in the neighborhood of 5,000 pounds. It was bolted on with about a dozen one and a quarter inch bronze bolts, going thru eight inches of fiberglass in the keelson. I rented a gasoline powered circular saw like the highway department uses to cut up concrete roadways. 
 
After two days of cutting I final got it free. A friend had loaned me a two-axle trailer that could carry the load, but my little pickup truck was far too light to pull it. I then rented a box truck from a local agency, happily paying the extra $15 for the supplemental insurance. (I could envision a scenario where I made a right turn off the interstate and the keel kept on going straight!) 
 
Things went smoothly until I got up to the scrap yard in Gainesville. After the lady with the magnet, hammer and scraper certified that the keel was solid lead, they couldn’t get the tines of the forklift underneath without it sliding away. Finally, the forklift driver came at it from both sides getting enough of a grip to slide it back off the trailer. When the weight of the keel got past the rear axle, the front end of the trailer bounced up about three feet in the air taking the back of the box truck with it until the trailer hitch broke loose from the ball and the truck crashed back to earth. Luckily no one was hurt! I felt that this was one last defiant gesture from an old friend who is gone but not forgotten.
 
Epilogue:
The forklift driver took the keel over to a scale which printed out a slip of paper stating that it weighed 5,214 pounds. I took the paper to the cashier who gave me a check for $3,212. A few days later I took the receipts from the county landfill along with some pictures to the Hall County Tax Office where they took her off the tax rolls. Now I have a lot of pictures and fond memories of her and can enjoy sailing with my wife on Lake Lanier in the new boat.
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