One of the things I love about being able to spend time on the water is the vessels that come and go along the St. Johns River. Every vessel has a story, from the most modest john boat to the glitziest mega-yacht to the ocean-going freighters. And with just a little digging, you will often find some of those stories are fascinating.
This is the Research Vessel Atlantis II. She’s moored at a marine railway and shipyard directly across from the marina where I keep my boat. I’ve been looking at her for a few months, and today, I went over and shot some pictures of her.
So when I got home, I googled the Atlantis II, wanting to find how she came to be across the river from my marina. One of the marina gadflies had said she was for sale for $8.3 (m). She has logged literally millions of miles, and conducted research on such famous wrecks as Titanic. I still don’t know who owns her, or why she’s over at that yard, but the story of how she came to be here reads like a pulp novel. I found this recounting from the captain that was charged with repoing a 210 foot ship.
“Adrenalin pumping, I was first out of the tender. The Jacobs ladder was old and long. My hands were sweaty and I held on tight climbing the 10 wooden steps. I was on deck before a crew member appeared.
“Are you armed?” I shouted to him.
He appeared stunned and was shaking as he put his hands in the air and I searched him.”
The ship was barely seaworthy.
“Stepping into the engine room and machinery spaces was a peak into a long-neglected and rusty past. Most of the antiquated equipment was not operational. Nevertheless, we fired up the engines and moved Atlantis II to the old aircraft carrier dock at the Quonset Naval Air Station … Further perusal of the engine room left me with grave doubts about the sanity of driving her 800nm to Jacksonville. Overhead water leaks had corroded the high pressure hydraulic lines on the reduction gears. If one of those rusty pipes let go, a stream of hydraulic oil could spray on the hot engine exhaust, surely a recipe for a fire. The bilge pump situation was dicey, at best. The hull plate was known to be 50 percent in a wide area.”
It’s worth reading.
Makes me wish I had 8 million dollars to burn so I could buy her. And several million more to be able to operate her. What a sublime way to satisfy the wanderlust.
Of course, running a yacht like that becomes a lot like work. And the best way to make a small fortune running a yacht is to start with a large one. That’s definitely one for “somebody else’s boat”. But I’d love to go aboard with my camera and see what she’s like.
Meanwhile, I really thought the live well pump project would be finished today. It’s in, it’s wired, it runs, but the hoses are the wrong size. The hose I had to have to fit on the outflow of the pump was bigger than the nozzle on the “T” split that goes to the live well and the wash down. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do now. Rube Goldberg it, I guess. But this project has been snake bit from the get-go, and I’m tired of dicking with it.
And one thing more … I was leaving West Marine today, waiting to turn left onto San Pablo Road, when a white car with Escambia County plates pulled up beside me. The girl driving rolled down her window, leaned out, and asked “which way are the beaches?” We were both facing east, so I just pointed and said “Steady as you go”. She had the window rolled up before I could get snarkier. I wanted to say ‘Three miles and you’ll be sinking”, but didn’t get the chance. Oh Well. It was probably a rent-a-car. I hope she had a nice day at the beach.