GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Heater Success, Bad Anchoring Law, Golden Ray Salvage


Feb. 20/2020: I mentioned earlier this problem I’ve been having with the Refleks drip-pot diesel heater on Lunacy. Having left the boat here in Brunswick, Georgia, last fall with the heater still non-operational I returned back in December for a few days to have another crack at fixing it. You’ll recall I replaced the regulator, but then could not get consistent fuel flow and thought a new filter might be called for. In December I replaced the filter, which looked perfectly clean once extracted, but still found no joy. Fuel would only flow to the regulator if I pumped the priming bulb in the fuel line every few minutes.

Now I am back again aboard the boat for a few days and have at last cracked the nut. See photo up top showing heater chimney triumphantly pumping carbon into the atmosphere.

Step 1 in my final assault on this problem was to break open the fuel line at every junction point between the tank and the regulator and blow air through each section to ensure there were no obstructions anywhere. I used the dinghy’s foot-pump for this and it worked very well. Afterwards I changed the inline Racor filter (again)

Step 2 was to install a small shut-off valve in the line between the regulator and the priming bulb. With the line disconnected at the regulator’s end of the valve this allowed me to pump the priming bulb with the line open so I could easily verify fuel was flowing steadily. Once good flow was established I closed the valve, reconnected the line, then reopened it. I forgot to photograph the moment when I finally got fuel flowing freely (I caught it in a small jug). This is the valve in place after I reconnected everything and stuffed it and the priming bulb (not visible) back inside their cupboard under the heater

The denoument. Fire in the hole, with fuel flowing properly to keep it going

 Some things I’ve learned through all of this:

One:  The white gunk that messed up the regulator in the first place was not the result of saltwater contamination, as I first theorized. Evidently it was just the diesel fuel degrading into a waxy paraffin-like semi-solid after sitting in the regulator for a really long time–in this case almost two years. Conclusion: the regulator should be drained if the heater won’t be used for a while. But I’ve never experienced anything like this before, and I have to wonder: why the heck did the fuel in the line and the filter not degrade in the same way??? Thank god they didn’t. That would have been an awful mess.

Two:  I did not need to install a shut-off valve at the tank, as I thought I might. To make sure no fuel flowed through the line while changing the filter and otherwise messing with things all I had to do was disconnect the line at the tank’s feed connection (on the top, not the bottom of the tank). Insert one big dope-slap here.

Three:  Once I verified all sections of the fuel line were clear it took a hell of a lot of pumping on the priming bulb to get fuel all the way through the line again.

Many thanks to Jean-François Eeman at Boréal for his helpful tips and suggestions.

MEANWHILE, the biggest news since my last visit here in December is that Georgia has implemented some really stupid anti-anchoring regulations. Effective January 1 of this year no one in this state is allowed to anchor anywhere within 1,000 feet (more than the length of three football fields!) of any structure on shore, including just pilings. The one exception is marina structures: you have to anchor at least 300 feet away from them.

If you want to follow all the outrage online check out the Save Georgia’s Anchorages page on Facebook. They now estimate that 61 percent of Georgia’s anchorages are verboten and are supporting a new law to hopefully negate this stupidity. Obviously the percentage of verboten anchoring space will only grow as more structures are created on shore.

Needless to say I’ve been asking boat people around here what they think about all this. The guys at the local West Marine (where I bought my little valve) hadn’t heard anything about it. The local guy on the trawler next to me in the marina, who had just returned from a mini-cruise down to Florida and back, figured at least for the time being he could just ignore it. The marina guys here also think it’s pretty stupid. They don’t see that it will drive cruisers into marinas. They expect it will only drive cruisers away from Georgia.

Me… I’m not sure what to do now. I was hoping to go for a serious Georgia creek-crawling cruise next time I come back here (in a nice toasty warm boat), but now I’m not so sure.

How the hell do you even comply with this law? I ain’t got no 1,000-foot tape measure on my boat. I don’t expect any law enforcement types will have one either.

Marina swan. Someone apparently was feeding this beast, and now it keeps coming back looking for more. They may look nice, but these are not friendly birds. They’re even nastier than geese, like super-nasty geese on steroids

Someone else’s maintenance chore. Crew up a rig two docks down

The other big local news is still M/V Golden Ray, that 656-foot car carrier that capsized in St. Simons Sound just outside of Brunswick last September. The local paper evidently has three reporters writing a steady stream of stories about the clean-up effort.

As of today the “Unified Command” in charge of the work began driving piles all around the turtled ship. A total of 80 piles will support a screen that will contain debris from the salvage operation. Once the screen is up an immense barge crane called the VB 10,000 will appear. This thing is 240 feet high, 314 feet wide, capable of lifting 6,800 tons, the largest of its kind ever built in the United States. It will saw the ship into eight pieces with a long sharp chain slung under the hulk and lift the pieces out one by one. The chain-sawing procedure, apparently, will be super noisy.

Golden Ray on her side when I passed by her in early November

The goal is to have the ship out of here before hurricanes start blowing again in the late summer.

There’s also an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by some folks trying to block the salvage effort, for whatever reason, but so far they have failed to get an injunction and work is going ahead as planned.

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6 Responses
  1. Tadashi Arisaka

    Thanks for the mention Charlie. We’ve worked with Waterway Guide, AGLCA and others to establish a Anchoring Advocacy Fund and retained a lobbyist to fight for us in Atlanta. Our best hope to fix House Bill 201 is to get replacement House Bill 833 passed in 2020.

  2. Allan

    You forgot to mention HB 314 which is the bill that got passed in all the hubbub over HB 201. And the clean up over the car carrier is that they are not removing the thousands of cars before demolition, which dumps some unwanted fluids into the water. You glossed over that pretty well.

    HB 833 (to fix HB 201) is the end goal because if establishes rules that they can grow into. It sets precedent over set-backs and primary residence//live-aboard definitions here-to undecided nationwide.

    HB 314 makes Georgia a new Title Requirement state. Huge income generation that never got put before the people of Georgia.

    Oh, and Save Georgia Anchorages is a PRIVATE Facebook site where comments are deleted if you bring this up. Established by a former Representative and his buddies. Go figure.

    1. As one of the founders of Save Georgia’s Anchorages, let me clarify a few of Allan’s remarks. HB 314 is not concerned with anchoring, which is our only concern. Off topic comments are, as is usual in most FB groups, removed. We are no different.
      HB 833 makes some important changes – the most important being that it codifies setoff distances. The DNR will not be able to,, as they did on January 1, set whatever distance they feel like with no consideration of input from the many boaters’ groups that provided advice.
      Secondly, HB 833 sets all setoffs at 150 feet – a distance that protects anchorages and addresses the concerns of the DNR adequately.

  3. Hey all:

    Thanks for your comments here! I wrote this post in haste, on three different subjects, and Allan’s interesting but somewhat confusing comment has inspired me to dig a bit deeper on the anchoring and Golden Ray matters.

    A question for Allan: What does HB 314 have to do with any of this??? It creates a requirement that all vessels using Georgia waters must be titled, unless exempt from numbering requirements. What is your concern about this? It certainly does not seem relative to the new anchoring regulations.

    As for the lawsuit challenging the Golden Ray clean-up, the local papers I read while in Brunswick did not explain who the plaintiff was or why they have filed suit. I saw the name of the plaintiff, however, and suspected they were a contractor that had been turfed out of the salvage job. More research reveals this is indeed the case.

    The plaintiff DonJon-SMIT was on the salvage job and proposed to cut the Golden Ray into much smaller pieces while trying to remove the 4,200 cars aboard beforehand. The USCG opted in favor of moving more quickly, cutting out much bigger sections without trying to remove cars first, but instead building a fence around the site to contain any debris. DonJon’s suit alleges the adopted plan is environmentally unsound and seeks to stop it.

    I don’t know enough about the details, environmental and otherwise, to pass judgment on DonJon’s claim or on the USCG’s current salvage plan. I can appreciate, however, why the USCG might favor moving more quickly. Whatever clean-up method is employed there will likely be one unholy mess in the sound if a major hurricane strikes before the operation is complete. Asking a court to halt the clean-up obviously only slows things down and major hurricanes are only getting more common.


  4. Charlie, as co-founder of the Save Georgia’s Anchorages group, let me answer your question. HB314 has nothing to do with our concerns. Alan is off somewhere on a tangent and his concerns about that bill are not relevant to what we are doing.
    Be watching for more news on Georgia anchoring sometime next week. Things are happening.

  5. Ted Arisaka

    Good news. Today, Jun 23, 2020 – The Georgia Senate has just passed HB 833, and the Bill now awaits the governor’s signature. Here is what we posted on the Save Georgia’s Anchorages FB page:

    As all of you know, HB833 essentially reverses the onerous anti boating provisions that were passed into law this past January. That bill caused widespread anger amongst cruising boaters and resulted in the formation of this grassroots group to fight it.

    HB 833 removes the ability to require permits for all overnight anchoring, removes the requirement to keep records of pump outs, and perhaps most importantly, removes the requirement that boats not anchor within 1,000 feet of waterfront structures and within 300 feet of marinas.

    HB833 changes those set-back distances to 150-feet from waterfront structures, 300-feet from marinas, and 500-feet from commercial shellfish beds for short-term anchoring, which is defined as anchoring in the same place for up to 14 cumulative nights per calendar year. Long term anchoring (over 14 days in the same place) will require a permit.

    This was a major undertaking and it could NOT have happened without the support you gave the Save Georgia’s Anchorages team who put in countless hours looking out for your interests.

    What is especially important to remember is that SGA worked alongside and as an equal partner with other, more established groups – the AGLCA, NMMA, Waterway Guide, Boat US and also Scott Draper, our lobbyist.

    And let’s not forget the contributions of Cruisers Net, the MTOA and SSCA in this effort. It was a helluva team and they got it done.

    In particular however, the efforts of SGA members and co-founders James H. Newsome, Jack White, Ted Arisaka and Bob Keller were instrumental in getting ‘er done. Someday, perhaps when I’ve had one beer too many, I’ll tell some of the backroom stories about how hard these guys worked and the late hours they put in to protect our rights to anchor in GA.

    But – and I mean this sincerely – when all is said and done, all of our work at the pointy end is worthless without the support of you, the boating public. We did the talking, but the State of Georgia was hearing you, listening to you speak through our words.

    Thank you from all of us at SGA for your support.

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