by David Howell


Sail the Ghost Ship down to Tampa to take part in some good ol’ fas...
Ghost Ship Maiden East Coast Voyage
Part 1: Cast-Off Castaways
Long before the butt crack of dawn the alarm in my phone went off and I strained to see the time, 4:45am. Didn't I just fall asleep binging the Last of Us? Damn, okay, let it begin...
A half hour and two 12 oz cups of Special Dark Dark Dark Illy Coffee later, the phone started lighting up with texts from the crew with had signed on for Ghost Ship's Maiden East Coast Voyage from Kitty Hawk to the 30th anniversary edition Tampa Pro Skate Contest in Tampa. Skateboards, surfboards, and fishing rods and tackle were accumulating inside the ship, as Dr. Chung @moonchung74, Ed Tupper @breakfast1, Ezra Snyder @ezrasnyd3r, and me @andyhowell43 began piling on way more than enough fishing tackle for any ancillary activities that might take place during the trip. 
The mission: Sail the Ghost Ship down to Tampa to take part in some good ol' fashioned skateboard contest festivities, putting on photography exhibit and catching as many species of fish as possible along the way. (Note: Keep in mind that the entire trip was just an idea a week or so before)
With a planned departure time of 5:30am we were already running a little late raising sails, but according to Apple, we still had plenty of time to make it to our first port of call, Atlanta, on the way down to the contest. An exhibition of Ed's photography had materialized following a few text flurries and facetimes with GS Crew Dr. Dax @drdax and BASS @cbassmofam at our first stop, Atlanta Worldwide Gallery @atlworldwidegallery, for a quick evening pop up and @breakfast1 photo installation. ETA to Atlanta was around 4pm. Or so we thought. 

To set context for the events that followed, let me rewind a sec to 24 hours earlier when Ed @breakfast1 and I @andyhowell43 drove up to Chesapeake to pick up what we were assured by the truck rental company would be a 2500 series RAM Diesel pickup truck. Um yeah, well, just file that away a minute.

We finally shoved off in the dark around 6-ish am on our way south toward the coastal plains of Tampa Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, Ghost Ship and crew on a 168 hour skate and fish tour, with the total proposed round trip clocking in at 1,674 miles. Ezra @ezrasnyd3r was shuffling around in the back trying to create a nest to sleep, Tup was in an out of consciousness, and the first of many existential skateboarding conversations ensued.

Smooth sailing, or so we thought. 

Just about 90 miles into the journey near Tarboro NC, we started noticing very poor fuel consumption and realized that the distance to nearest gas station and estimated distance on our remaining fuel were racing neck and neck. We coasted in on fumes, relieved to be able to fill up with diesel and stay on track for arrival in ATL by 4 or 5pm. 

The crew took a much needed bathroom break and scored the first of many sub par snack attacks to follow, while I found the green diesel pump and filled ‘er up. Assuming another couple hundred miles of unimpeded progress, we sputtered out of the gas station and onto 64 heading inland. As we pulled onto the freeway it was obvious that any theories we may have had of dissipating fumes in the tank were baseless, and we clanked and clonked along to the nearest exit, less than a mile up road. Since we had made it clear repeatedly to the associate at the rental spot how important having a diesel truck was to the fuel economy of our trip, we were blindsided to finally learn that the vehicle she rented to us consumed unleaded fuel. 

We were stopped dead in our tracks on an overpass, and we were sinking fast.

I have to admit, with such a huge setback like this would normally push me to the brink, triggering some sort of cosmic warning about the viability of our plan and potential perils of the journey ahead, but this ship had already sailed. We were locked and loaded with canons on both sides of the ship ready to fire, and our mission was clear - to pop up the Ghost Ship and Ed’s photo show in ATL that night. I immediately notified the truck rental peeps about the mistake they had made in giving us the wrong kind of truck after our repeated insistence and confirmation of diesel. 

Well, by this point the truck wouldn’t even start. As the associate searched for the nearest 2500 sized diesel truck in her fleet, Dr Chung @moonchung74 started doing estimations. Time to tow the truck and trailer, time to fix the problem, proximity of potential replacement trucks, and an hour or so of “what if?” time in case of whatever. 

The truck was, well, DEAD. Dr Chung’s @moonchung74 optimistic assessment: We could still make ATL by 7 or 8pm.