I have always been a bulldog. While working on my BS at UGA, I had the honor of serving as one of the guys who brought the "Hairy Dawg" suit to life ('93-94). I graduated, moved on, but never lost my intense loyalty to the Georgia Bulldogs. The years that followed my life in Athens eventually brought me to Charleston, SC, where I purchased a mid-sized motor-yacht I named "The Nauti-Dawg." I lived on "The Nauti-Dawg" for 3.5 years. During my life aboard, I obtained a captain's license and made two trips to Jacksonville, Fl, for the Georgia vs Florida football game.
In 2009, I reluctantly sold "The Nauti-Dawg." During the boat's sea trial for purchase, I decided to purchase another boat on which to live. This purchase is, inevitably, what leads me to nominate myself to the hall of fame. As the ink dried on "The Nauti-Dawg's" Bill of sale, I identified and began the purchase of the next boat to be later named "Loggerhead" a 38 foot long sailboat built in 1979.
As soon as "Loggerhead" was safely docked in her new slip in Charleston, I began making plans to start taking Dawg fans to the Georgia vs Florida game under sail. The first "Loggerhead" trip to Jacksonville with myself and two others almost ended before we left the inland waters of South Carolina. During a brief maintenance project while the sailboat waited for the Lady's Island Swing Bridge in Beaufort SC to open, a bolt in the engine's fuel system broke rendering the engine inoperable. Some quick thinking and several phone calls led to me renting a car, driving back to Charleston to obtain that same bolt from a discarded engine that had just been removed from a boat that week. Drive back to Beaufort, fixed the engine, and had Loggerhead offshore literally 24 hours from the time the bolt originally broke. We sailed into Jacksonville about 40hours later, watched the dawgs win, and sailed out the following day. We had an uneventful sail up until the weather changed as we were less than 50 NM from Charleston's inlet. Big waves crashed over the railing, the boat could make little headway toward our destination. As night enveloped Loggerhead and crew, the waves and wind grew as I fought to get the boat into Charleston harbor some 10hours from when the weather changed and I took the helm to begin our approach to Charleston. I docked Loggerhead in her slip around 3am after an epic trip in. The next morning, as I cleaned the boat, I found fish that had been washed on deck by the breaking waves.
The following trip, 2012, we had a great sail down to Jacksonville. Beautiful weather, fun, laughter, and great stories all around. As we docked in Jacksonville, I had noticed a new low pressure system off the coast of Florida that appeared as if it would give us trouble a few days later. This became Hurricane Sandy. During the bulldawg victory, I kept my eyes on the horizon's weather as Sandy blew by. All but one of the crew flew out of Jacksonville to get back to work leaving me and one other to bring Loggerhead back to Charleston. The next 5 days can only be described as a challenge. Normally, a boat can sail up behind a retreating hurricane with relative safety. We went offshore one day and dispelled that belief rather quickly. Later that night as we docked in Savannah, we learned just how big the storm had become once it collided with the nor'easter.
The following year, Loggerhead put Hurricane Sandy behind her and took a crew of 5 (including me) to Jacksonville for another sail to the Georgia vs Florida game. Another beautiful sail down, beautiful weather, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, dolphins, catching fish, and unworldly sites at night. I was even interviewed by Carlos Diaz on HLN's Rivalry Express live on-board Loggerhead at the River City Brewing Company marina. The weather, as usual, changed that weekend, leaving me and one other to battle 30kt winds with 40kt gusts on the face for the following SIX days.
None of the trips I took either boat had easy return trips. But each year, I risk both my personal safety and the safety of my boat (on which I have lived for 8years) to go cheer on the dawgs and share these wonderful experiences with the passengers I take (and share with all via Facebook).
These stories and more from these trips are why I should be in the Fan Hall of Fame.