I grew up in a small town in north Florida named Keystone Heights. Our house was situated on Lake Geneva, a large fresh water lake. Throughout my early years my family owned small boats which we used for fi shing and water skiing. From my very early years I was fascinated by living on the water and I loved boats and airplanes. One of our neighbors owned a small private twin engine airplane. My first airplane ride was in their small airplane and after that I knew that I was destined to someday fly myself. My sights were set on living close to the water and flying airplanes. After high school I made the decision to attend Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. There I enrolled in a class that would lead me to receiving my private pilot’s license. This was the first step in beginning my adventure in aviation. Shortly after obtaining my private pilot's license I worked toward completing the requirements to obtain a commercial pilot’s license, and a multi-engine and instrument rating. Now that I could fly twin engine airplanes and was allowed to fly by instruments the next step was to build flying experience and flight hours. The best way to obtain the necessary flight hours and experience was to start teaching others to fly airplanes. This required me to obtain a flight instructor rating from the FAA. After completing the required testing I received my certified flight instructor’s ratings from the FAA and I was qualified to teach people to fly in single engine and multi-engine airplanes as well as teaching pilots to fly by instruments. After teaching flying for a couple of years and obtaining more flight hours and experience I was able to graduate into flying larger airplanes and small jet aircraft. This led to eventually being hired by Eastern Airlines in June of 1985. Soon I had accumulated 5, 500 hours of total flying time. 1000 of those hours were in jet airplanes and 1000 in turbo-props and finally I was an airline pilot... and well on my way to buying a boat.
How did you find out about Green Turtle Cay?
In the early eighties while I was teaching people how to fly in Birmingham, Alabama, one of my students that I had taught to fly took a trip from Alabama to Florida and then to the Bahamas as a way for him to build flying time and gain flying experience. When he returned from his flying vacation he told me about a great place that he had visited in the northern Abaco, B ahamas. He joyfully explained that it was a small island name Green Turtle Cay about a mile wide and four miles long an d only accessible by water taxi or boat. Being slightly adventurous myself I decided to grab a couple of frien ds and leave the cold Alabama winter and fly south to the Bahamas. I notified my flight students that I would be gone for a week or so and packed a bag, gassed up the airplane and headed for this place called Green Turtle Cay in the Abaco, Bahamas. It was the beginning of spring, April of 1980. We d eparted Birmingham International Airport in a single engine Cessna 182RG and flew the 4 & ½ hours nonstop to Treasure Cay International airport in the Bahamas. After my first visit I fell in love with Green Turtle Cay. I would return the next month and then again and again to vacation. My trips became more frequent and after joining Eastern Airlines in 1985 I began looking for a boat that I could take to the Bahamas and use as a place to live.
How did you buy Stranded Naked?
I was looking to buy a sailboat and it was going to cost me much more money than I had saved up for a boat. One day a good friend of mine came to me and said: Bobb I think I have a boat that will be a good live aboard and is what you are looking for to take to the Bahamas. He described a houseboat to me and explained that this houseboat had a built in cistern with about 1000 gallons of fresh water storage, propane lights and cooking and an engine. He described it as very roomy and that it could sleep 4 people. After seeing the houseboat and understanding that I might actually be able to afford it I purchased it the boat. I began its renovation by adding the upstairs bedroom and a 12 volt electrical system. After six months of renovations, redoing the bottom and giving it a complete paint job, it was ready to begin its voyage from River Bend Marina in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Green Turtle Cay in the Abaco, Bahamas.
Where did the name Stranded Naked come from?
Part of the name came from my mother and part from me. In 1987 my mother gave me a T-shirt and the artwork design on the front of the shirt was a Palm Tree with a man sitting on the ground, leaning against a palm tree on a deserted island; Just him and this tree, and above the tree were the words STRANDED. Seeing this design I thought to myself that someday I wanted to own a boat and that when that day came I would need a name for my boat the word STRANDED stuck in my mind. As I daydreamed I thought if I were ever to be stranded on some island like this guy nothing could be better than to be stranded with no cares in the world and be naked. Them it came to me that this would be the name of my future boat. So even though I had no boat I had the name for it, Stranded Naked. This name ended up being a perfect name for my houseboat, an adventure and a lifestyle. I trademarked the name and logo and a couple of years later I was introduced to the perfect boat that I named Stranded Naked and so the story of Stranded Naked, the vessel, began.
The Departure delay and the Crossing
We had set a date of October 4, 1988 to begin our cruise to the Bahamas. I enlisted a new friend that had been introduced to me as someone that could drive this houseboat. His name was George Cross. He had actually driven this boat once before and he knew everything about boats. To top it off George was a diesel mechanic and knew a lot about outboard motors. Stranded Naked was powered by a 90 H.P. Mercury inline six cylinder and I knew nothing about outboard motors. George was a Jimmy Buffett look alike with long blond curly hair and the girls loved him. A perfect combination of his knowledge of the ocean, girls, girls, girls, boats, and parties made him the perfect choice for Captain. Two other roommates of mine; Tommy Grubbs and Andy (MoonDick) Burke, both Eastern Airlines pilots, were to join George and I once we reached Jack Tar Village in West End Bahamas. Weather permitting the four of us would continue the journey from West End to Green Turtle Cay. But first we needed to make it to West End and successfully cross the infamous Gulfstream with this top heavy non ocean going vessel. That is where Tommy and MoonDick being pilots really came in handy. Since they were both pilots their job was to fly my single engine Cessna 172 back and forth over us and monitor our progress as we slowly crossed the unforgiving and unpredictable Gulfstream from Fort Lauderdale to West End. As luck would have it the weather forecast was not cooperating for our October 4, 1988 departure so we conceded to the weather and immediately obtained tickets to the upcoming Fort Lauderdale Jimmy Buffett concert. The delay turned out to be a good thing as we were able to see Jimmy perform and the concert was a perfect way to set the mood for our long voyage ahead. After partying at the Buffett show I was once again low on cash for the trip so I sold my old 1977 convertible white Cadillac for $2200.00 to some poor sucker. That gave me plenty of spending money for the provisioning of Stranded Naked. Provisioning consisted mostly of beer, bread, rum, mixers, frozen meats, snacks foods and canned goods, ice, more beer and mixers.
Click here for only video of our departure in 1988
Successful crossing and land in sight (West End) Bahamas
Once we had land in sight it was time for George to inhale a few beers. Then out of nowhere about two miles off the coast here comes a go-fast Blue Thunder DEA customs boat. The boss man driving the boat pulls right up next to the starboard side of Stranded and starts demanding answers to his long line of questions. He wanted to know where we were coming from. George responded that we had come from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The DEA guy seemed shocked and said “you are trying to tell me you brought this boat from Fort Lauderdale?” George replied (after a half dozen beers) ”YES!, Fort Lauderdale and I would much rather be here on Stranded Naked than in your gas guzzling loud ass piece of shit boat.” Naturally this set the tone for confrontation and things went way downhill after this exchange of words. George never backed down and instructed the DEA boss man to watch his large wake that his vessel was making. George let him know that he would be held responsible for any damage that his wake might cause. Not happy with George’s answers and attitude the DEA boat loaded with officers sped back to Jack Tar Village to continue their ‘Zero Tolerance” patrol for drugs.
Tommy and MoonDick had completed their duties of monitoring our progress and had landed the Cessna 172 at the West End airport. They were ready and waiting for our arrival at the Jack Tar Village dock sipping a cold beer. Things were looking up.
Arrival at Jack Tar Village
We tied Stranded Naked up to the dock and I headed for the customs office to begin the process of clearing my new houseboat into the Bahamas. There I was surprised to see a customs officer that I had known for several years who had once worked in Green Turtle Cay. He asked me what in the world was I doing at Jack Tar Village. I told him about my new houseboat and my long day at sea and that I needed to clear customs so I could go have a few cold beers and eat some good Bahamian food ashore. He accepted my paperwork and responded that his wife was waiting with his dinner ready and that I could come back in the morning and finish the paperwork. He said that I and my crew were welcome to the Bahamas and he considered us free to go ashore and enjoy ourselves in West End. This was a much more sincere welcome than we had received from President Ronald Reagan’s Blue Thunder “Zero Tolerance” DEA boat and a welcome change from the rat race of I-95 in Florida.
That night at the bar
The boat was safely tied up to the dock and finally in the Bahamas. We had made a successful crossing and the members of my crew had performed magnificently doing their jobs to perfection. George was worth his weight in beer and had successfully pissed off the crew from the USA DEA boat with his loud tongue lashing. After a few beers in an almost empty Jack Tar Village bar we decided to retire for the night and go back to Stranded Naked to get some well-deserved sleep. On my way out of the bar a young blond stopped me and inquired if I was the owner of the houseboat at the dock. Being my usual self, my eyes lightened up with the touch of this “stranger blond” and I responded yes, it is my boat. She continued with a couple of other questions until George appeared and requested that we continue heading back to our boat. He interjected into our conservation that I was looking into getting this “stranger blond” into a compromising position and that I did not totally understand her intentions. George simply explained that she was not interested in me. He continued to explain that she was on the DEA boat and her job was to jail me and not take me into the compromising position that I was dreaming of ….. so I invited her and her fellow DEA friends for breakfast the next morning. I explained that I would answer any and all of their questions at that time. We left and returned to Stranded Naked still confused how the USA DEA could think that a houseboat that does 3.6 knots and can be seen for miles could possibly be used to run drugs. The “stranger blond” did get my attention as usual and gave me one more thing to dream about. Thanks George, I thought that I was going to score…
The next morning at breakfast
We were all up early drinking our coffee when the DEA arrived to board Stranded Naked. We offered them fresh Columbian coffee and they began with a series of questions. They wanted to know where and to whom the vessel was registered and what I was going to do with it. Where was it headed? Where did I get it? I explained where I bought it and showed them the paperwork of the registration and explained that I was not going to use the boat for drugs, that I was an Eastern Airlines’ pilot and I was not in the drug business. We all became good friends and over the next few days all of our food and drinks were purchased by our new USA DEA friends. We really enjoyed their company while we remained at Jack Tar Village. Even George and the driver of the Blue Thunder became good drinking buddies sharing their beer. Later that morning I returned to the customs office and finished the paperwork clearing us into the Bahamas. As usual I was welcomed back to the Bahamas with open arms and a big smile. I gave my customs friends tours of the houseboat and began planning the next leg of our journey.
The journey to Green Turtle Cay
After three days at the dock it was time to start heading towards Green Turtle Cay. We said our goodbyes to all of our new friends and left at daybreak on the 25th of October. It was at least 12 hours to Great Sale Cay and that was if everything went perfect. As life would have it our journey was much longer than planned as the winds on the banks picked up to about 20 knots from the east and we had some intermittent engine problems and were forced to use a backup 25 H.P. engine to make it to Great Sale Cay. Our arrival into Great Sale Cay ended up being after dark and with the help of some other sailors from an anchored sailboat, under a bright moon with clear skies, Stranded Naked was anchored for its first time. Being always tied to a dock since being built she had never hung on the hook and history was again made. After she was safely settled in on the hook we ate a BBQ chicken dinner from our grill and of course we had a few cold beers and drinks and then we were off to bed. Early the next morning we set off for Carters Cay where we knew that there was a good mooring that we could tie up to and maybe fish a little. We had a smooth day under power and arrived at Carters in plenty of time to catch a few fish and do a little snorkeling. We cooked up some fresh fish and opened some canned goods. It was a great day and an even better night.
The next day we started out again early in the morning for Fox Town where we planned to take on more gas and ice to keep our beer cold. Not being real familiar with these shallow waters we found ourselves fighting an outgoing tide and unbeknownst to us the tide in this part of the Abacos is very strong. Actually the tide was going out just as fast as we were moving so unfortunately we were almost going back towards Carters Cay. A small local Bahamian lobster boat came over and suggested that we throw the anchor over and wait until the tide changes so that is exactly what we did. We anchored for lunch and had a few beers, bottom fished, caught a few grouper and trigger fish, and waited the two hours for the tide to change and start coming in. We pulled up the anchor and once again headed for Fox Town at record speed. We now had at least six knots over the bottom and soon we would have fresh cold ice on our less than cold beer.
Arriving Fox Town with this boxy looking houseboat attracted a large number of locals, curious about what we were doing. They had never seen a boat like this with a picket fence. The question from the locals was is it a house or a boat. I bought ice as quick as was possible and iced the beer down before I did anything else as my crew was threatening mutiny because of hot beer. Later, after we gave the locals tours of Stranded Naked, we filled up on some local food and gassed up our 55 gallon drums with the required fuel necessary to get to Green Turtle Cay. We decided since it was good weather we would anchor off the beach for the night. While maneuvering through the rocks and reef to find a suitable place to anchor we hit our prop on a rock and broke off one of its three blades. Being that this boat only draws 14 inches “yours truly” did not bring an extra prop in the spares kit. Captain George requested that we anchor and enjoy the sunset, happy hour, cold beer, and a fresh fish dinner. George promised that he would take a look at our damaged prop first thing in the morning. Now that our beer was finally freezing cold and nightfall was approaching we all agreed that it would be best to anchored for the night. We again ate some fine food and drank good cold beer until we forgot about the damaged prop. It was another great and relaxing night anchored with the bright moon and stars shining overhead.
The next morning after coffee and breakfast George fired up the generator and tilted the engine up so he could drill a hole through the broken blade and put a bolt through it along with a few nuts to counter balance the weight of the lost blade. I would have never thought of that as a solution to our problem as I am a pilot and I would have cut the two other good blades off a little so as to balance all of the prop blades. Of course my actions would have resulted in much less thrust being produced and we probably would not have even been able to move Stranded Naked at all. Here again Captain George came through with the fix that we needed to continue our journey to Green Turtle Cay.
Our final leg from Fox Town to Green Turtle Cay (home)
After our repair job on the prop we began heading southeast toward Green Turtle Cay. Our boat was now full of gas and we had plenty of ice to keep the beer cold. The weather was good and we were making good time across the bottom until we reached Fiddle Cay. At that point we developed a steering problem. We had broken a metal bracket that kept our engine centered. George assessed the situation and decided to use a small piece of wood block (2x4) to keep the motor centered and our steering working. After his quick repair we were back under power and only an hour or so from our unknown new home in Black Sound.
Arriving in Green Turtle Cay- Black Sound
With Green Turtle in our sights we were all beaming with smiles. Now our only problem left was finding a suitable place to dock Stranded Naked. As we approached New Plymouth we made a toast to our successful seven day journey. We turned into Black Sound as it is the most protected place to stay and we knew that there was a marina there. We noticed that the Other Shore Club had an open space at the inner finger dock so we slowly made our way to tie up. After securing ourselves and Stranded Naked to the dock we inquired with the dock master (Kevin McIntosh) about available space and he said where we were tied up was just fine. Little did I know at that time what the future had in store for Stranded Naked.
The boat has now been at the Other Shore Club for over 21 years. We have endured hurricanes, tornadoes and terrible winter storms. We have had hundreds of hours of good times onboard and made so many new friends. We have enjoyed years of dinner parties, drinking parties, and yes, sleeping parties. We have seen children born and grow into adults. We have endured the sorrow of loved ones passing and moving upward to heaven. Words could never express the enjoyment that Stranded Naked has brought to me over the years. It has been a love boat, a beached boat in hurricane Floyd; we have slept 20 people for Regatta Time in Abaco, cruised to Guana Cay, Marsh Harbor and Hope Town. She almost killed me in 1991 when the engine that I was working on backfired and the gas fumes exploded putting me in the hospital burn unit for two weeks. Relationships have come and gone, George ended up falling in love with Annabelle Roberts on the couch of Stranded Naked and they moved permanently to Green Turtle Cay later to get married and have a boy. We lost Tommy Grubbs to a boating accident in Miami in December of 1991. A few years back I gave up the single life and succumbed to marriage to a Brazilian gal that I consider the best girl in the world. MoonDick actually has a steady girlfriend which is remarkable. We are all growing older but not up. We had a big party in Green Turtle Cay for the celebration of our 20th year anniversary raising money for our local Fire Department. At that party the remaining original Stranded Naked crew reminisced about the good old days and thanked God that we have been fortunate enough to remain alive throughout all the craziness. As Jimmy Buffett sings, ‘years grow shorter not longer’ and the annual Fiddle Cay Cheeseburger Beach Party continues to attract more and more interesting tourists each year and many new friendships. Who knows what tomorrow might bring but it would be hard for me to imagine anything better than the past twenty years and the enjoyment that I have had with life on Stranded Naked.
How's the boat was built?
I was told that there were three of these boats built by Larry Vita (builder of Surfside 6 floating homes) and they were supposed to be shipped to St. Barth but the people that ordered the boats decided that they did not want them and forfeited the deposit. Please read the link below regarding some very interesting information about the builder of Stranded Naked.
The Bahamas are beautiful a place and the Abacos Bahamas have some of the best sailing in the world. That is why I chose to bring Stranded Naked to Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos. Being a big Jimmy Buffett fan from back in the early 70’s I needed to find the lifestyle that he portrayed in many of his songs. The lifestyle he sings about is the envy of us all. I found my dream, my island paradise, my one particular harbor and my boat. Stranded Naked is my lifestyle and I consider myself very, very fortunate. I have a beautiful, loving and understanding wife and two loving parents that took me to church and taught me the difference between right and wrong. I actually still have a flying job flying a Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft around the world enjoying endless sunrises and sunsets. From the freezing cold winters of Alaska to the warm beach of Fiddle Cay, Abaco Bahamas I am living and loving the life that God blessed me with.