It all started in the summer of 1999. We had a Grand Banks 46 (our second one), and we were having trouble finding a slip when we decided to downsize and get a smaller boat. That was a time long ago, when Grand Banks trawler yachts were a few feet longer than the number indicated; not like today, where the number of feet are shorter than the number indicated. Hal Jones was buying Complete Yachts of Vero Beach. Complete Yachts had a few Grand Banks on order. Some were more finished than others. Hull number 1441 was available and could still have a few customer changes made before completion. So we put a deposit on a new Grand Banks 42 that summer. It was completed and shipped by September 1999. It has a 2000 manufacturer's date because it was completed after June of that year. She was delivered in late October. We found out the hard way when the dealer tells you it will take a short time to commission a boat, that his "short time" is different than yours. They only finished in April of the next year because I told them I was leaving, whether it was done or not. We were very happy to be gone from the dealership that spring and heading north at last. The trip to Baltimore, Maryland took us 9 days with very few stops along the way. In Baltimore we had a cabinetmaker who had worked for us for 25 years make a few changes to the interior. Baltimore was also close to our home and we could put some personal things aboard. In that summer we started north again, stopping at Philadelphia, Cape May, Coney Island and finally laying over at Ellis Island across from Manhattan. The skyline was beautiful at night. We have pictures of Dragonfly with the Twin Towers in the background. The fall was spent on the Chesapeake Bay. We attended our first Grand Banks rendezvous at the Tides Lodge in Irvington, Virginia. Our southern progress was slow because I had never slowed down to see the sights along the Intracoastal Waterway in the past, but now we were going to. By Thanksgiving we were in Beaufort, South Carolina, and enjoyed a great meal in an old bed and breakfast. We were surprised, when we returned to our boat and found that the town had put out a great spread of food and drink for their boating visitors and it was free! Charleston, South Carolina, was our next long stop and I only left reluctantly because one morning there was ice on the deck. I thought we were far enough south to miss the ice when we made Brunswick, Georgia. We stayed there long enough to see St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island. But, by January, it was getting colder so we left for Jacksonville, Florida. We explored St. John's River and could have visited more places, but the marina took forever to install our Flow Scans. We think the man who installed our Flow Scans was a relative of the man who was assigned to commission our boat at the dealership. In the spring we were in St. Augustine and Grand Banks was replacing our holding plates in the freezer. We wanted ice cream to freeze solid and it did not. They changed out the -10F with -30F plates, and now the ice cream freezes solidly. Late spring found us in Daytona Beach for bike week and we stayed almost 6 months before heading south again. The Bahamas were looking good and we wanted to take our dog with us. Having a dog on board, even if it is only for short periods, changes life as you know it. I could fill this and many more pages with stories about our dog Charlie (a blond Cockapoo). I will only share one with you. We were at a marina just north of the Pogo-Alligator canal in North Carolina. After dinner we went for an ice cream at the local Sunoco station. When we returned, the dog was laying on the floor with his belly extended and looking a little green. Next to him was an almost empty large bag of M&M's. He had consumed almost the whole bag. Well, we did not wish see them again, so we walked and walked him, and nothing happened. Nothing until we settled down to sleep. All the bed linens were gathered up and thrown out. My wife got a chance to redecorate the aft stateroom again. Charlie recovered fully. Eventually we did make it to the Bahamas with the dog and our son. We had a wonderful time in the crystal clear water. What I remember most about the Bahamas was the rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. It was 4:00 AM and the blast lit up the sky, even in the Bahamas. When we returned to the United States we stayed in the Ft. Lauderdale and north areas. As the next summer approached, we headed to the west coast of Florida via the canal. There was not much rain that spring and the water level was low. The locks only opened a couple times each day. When we locked through to Lake Okeechobee there was a violent thunderstorm going on across the lake. I would have turned back but they closed the locks with a bang and would not open them for hours. At night you could see the little beady eyes looking back at you if you shined your light around the boat. Don't fall overboard! We ended in Ft. Myers, Florida for a short time but had to move up to St. Petersburg, Florida, because the airport was closer. St. Petersburg was a good place to stay for a while since we could get almost anything we needed on the boat done. We traveled to Cedar Key, down to Clearwater and the Tampa Bay. We pushed on the next spring with an overnight trip to Apalachicola, Florida, on the panhandle. We left St. Petersburg one morning and pulled into Apalachicola the following morning. Thanks to the autopilot and the computer, we only had to stand watch. On the way to Mobile, Alabama, we stopped at Panama City, and to our surprise we had passed through a time zone. In Mobile we stayed in a covered slip and had the bright work done, the bottom painted and the Zodiac re-glued. We had to send it back to the Zodiac factory. This was the first of three times it was re-glued. The fourth time it came apart it sank and the insurance replaced it with an aluminum dinghy. There was not much to do in Mobile but we did learn about "mud bugs" and fried pickles. We moved along the Mississippi Sound and spent some time at Biloxi. They had "off shore gambling" at the time and plays as well. Not Las Vegas quality but entertaining. We finally ended up outside of New Orleans in a town called Slidell, Louisiana. It was off Lake Pontchatrain in a nice hurricane hole. The food was great. It took us 20 minutes to drive from Dragonfly to the French Quarter. We locked into the Mississippi River and found there was more traffic there than in New York, plus you had to fight the current. West of the Mississippi River there are almost no facilities for pleasure crafts. Most of the commercial traffic treated us well and you could always tie up along a workboat, if you did not mind getting dirty. Right before Katrina came through I received a call from the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina to offer us a slip. I had put a deposit and an application in two years before and my name just came up. Even though we are called a 42, Dragonfly is 51' LOA. Those slips are hard to come by; that was why we downsized. We were gone three months before Katrina wiped out our old marina. 530 out of 555 boats were destroyed. We spent just under two years in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was a boater's paradise for repairs and maintenance, and reminded me of Annapolis, Maryland. We had all new canvas made, teak chairs made, bright work refinished, bottom redone, etc. The boat made a few overnight trips to Key West, Florida. Two summers ago we made the Key West, Miami, and Bahamas trip, but the weather held us up and made the trip much longer than planned.
Dragonfly, our faithful Grand Banks trawler, has moved down the coast to Ft. Myers and then over to Daytona Beach. We put her up for sale there but can deliver her almost anywhere the new owner wants. Not that boating is not fun, but we have traveled over 10,000 miles in ten years with Dragonfly and are looking for something new to do for the next ten years.
WE HAVE HAD SO MUCH POSITIVE FEED BACK
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INTO A BOOK. BOATING - A LIFE'S JOURNEY
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History of Dragonfly, our Grand Banks Trawler
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