Summer Cruise 2001
By Bob Reib
Each year as summer approaches I am tempted to stay in Florida for the summer. After all, after sitting still in one place in the Bahamas all winter, we might enjoy sitting in one place for the summer instead of traveling nearly 5,000 miles. Then I think back to the hot summer days on the Chesapeake Bay in July or watching the Weather Channel as a hurricane slams ashore in Florida. With these thoughts fresh in my mind, it is not too difficult to start making plans for a trip north for the summer. There are so many great places to go that finalizing the plan is truly difficult. I have found that just changing our plans each year makes the summers more enjoyable. One summer we spend on the Erie Canal. The next summer we do the Trent-Severn. Perhaps the following summer we do visit the Rideau and Richelieu Canals. In any event, we learned early on in our cruising experience, that the thing to do each summer is travel north and enjoy the cooler climates and fresh water of North American Canals rather than endure the stifling heat or possible hurricanes that southern climates have to offer.
So this year, I will tell you about a great cruise that I call the “Loop”. We have made the trip twice and hope to make it many more times in the future. The cruiser needs to proceed north to the Hudson River and Troy, NY. At this point you are at the entrance to the New York Canal System. Most people think of this as the Erie Canal, but the New York Canal System actually consists of the Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca, and Oswego Canals.
The Rideau Canal runs from Kingston on Lake Ontario to Ottawa on the Ottawa River, a distance of 126 miles. The controlled depth is 5 feet and overhead clearance is restricted to 22 feet with 45 locks. The Richelieu Canal runs from Sorel on the St. Lawrence River to the US Border on Lake Champlain, a distance of 68 miles. The controlled depth is 5 ½ feet and overhead clearance is 22 ½ feet with 10 locks. Between the two canals lies the Ottawa River and St. Lawrence River. The Ottawa River has a controlled depth of 9 feet and height restriction of 38 feet with two locks. The St. Lawrence River has virtually no depth or height restrictions for pleasure craft (because large ocean going ships use it) and two locks.
Most cruisers will want to make a summer trip of their visit to the Rideau and Richelieu Canals. The best way to see these exciting cruising areas is by making a “Loop” starting at Troy, NY. Troy, NY is the north end of the tidal Hudson River. From the lock at Troy, head west 160 miles on the Erie Canal to the junction of the Oswego and Erie Canals. At the Oswego Canal, go north 24 miles to Oswego, on Lake Ontario.
Across Lake Ontario 50 miles, enter the Rideau Canal at Kingston, Ontario. A 126-mile journey takes you north to Ottawa, the capitol of Canada. After a pleasant visit in Ottawa, head east via the Ottawa River and travel 97 miles to the outskirts of Montreal on the St. Lawrence River. After a few days in the Montreal area, head east 67 miles down the St. Lawrence River to Sorel, Quebec.
At Sorel, head south 68 miles via the Richelieu River and Canal for Lake Champlain. At Lake Champlain, you can spend considerable time exploring this exciting fresh water paradise. After 107 miles, you reach Whitehall, NY, the beginning of the Champlain Canal. Going south an additional 60 miles, you arrive at Troy, NY, where the Loop began. After two to three months and over 690 miles, you return to the tidal Hudson River and begin your journey south for the winter, or return to your homeport. The Loop has 99 locks, takes you on 7 rivers, crosses 4 large lakes, and takes you through countryside rich in history.
All vessels making the journey on the Loop should do so in a clockwise direction as outlined above. Doing so insures your time schedule coincides best with Canadian Holidays and has you fighting opposing river currents the least amount of time. If you try this journey in a counterclockwise direction, the river currents will be against you more than with you. Also, if you go counterclockwise, in the worst stretch on the St. Lawrence River, where currents may reach 2 to 3 knots, the currents will be against you. If at all possible, the Loop should be made in the clockwise direction as outlined above.
One side trip on the Loop includes a visit to Quebec City in Quebec Providence, Canada. To accomplish this, the cruiser goes down the St. Lawrence River from Sorel to Quebec. This adds a little over 200 miles to the trip and no locks. In addition to visiting the interesting city of Quebec, the cruiser can take another side trip to Saguenay River and watch the whales. The distance from Quebec to the Saguenay River is about 130 miles.
Before You Go
As to a time schedule, you can make the Loop as fast as you want, but should complete the Loop between June 10th and Labor Day. It is generally too cold on the Erie Canal to arrive there before June 10th. The weather starts to cool down as cold fronts start to become a problem after Labor Day. Because of this, crossing the ocean between New York Harbor and Manasquan, NJ becomes more and more difficult after September 10th. While these dates are not etched in concrete, hard experience has shown them to be very reliable dates to plan around. Those cruisers that exceed these dates on either end generally pay a price.
The depth restriction for the entire Loop is 5 feet. If your vessel requires more than 5 feet of water you cannot make this trip and you cannot explore either the Rideau or Richelieu Canals. While the height restriction on the Rideau and Richelieu Canals is 22 and 22 ½ feet, respectively, you must get down to 20 feet to go through the Erie and Oswego Canals. Further, if you want to complete the Loop, you must get your overhead clearance down to 15 ½ feet to pass through the Champlain Canal. Thus, vessels with a draft of 5 feet or less and those with a clearance requirement of 15 ½ feet or less can go around the entire Loop unimpeded.
Many trawlers, such as the one we use, have a mast that can be laid down almost at will. Thus, I only lay the mast down in those stretches where my height is too great (i.e. the Erie, Oswego and Champlain Canals), and put it up and leave it up from Oswego on Lake Ontario to Whitehall at the entrance to the Champlain Canal.
Starting and Ending the Loop
If you are thinking of making the Loop, be sure to get the two publications by Skipper Bob that cover the area of the Loop. They are the cruising guides Cruising The New York Canal System and Cruising the Rideau and Richelieu Canals. Each book is $10 plus $2 shipping and can be obtained by writing Skipper Bob at 802 7th Street, East Rochester, PA 15074, or calling 724-775-5892, or writing via E-Mail to SkipperBob@Worldnet.att.net. Skipper Bob accepts all major credit cards and usually ships these books within one day of ordering. Each of these books contains a detailed listing of what to expect along the canals as well as a list of costs, cruising guides and charts needed with sources.
Cruising the Rideau and Richelieu Canals gives you a great place to go for the summer. Not only do you avoid the heat and possible hurricanes of the summer, but also you get to see interesting places like Ottawa and Montreal. In addition you travel on 5 of North Americas canals and Lake Champlain.
So you want to cruise the Chesapeake Bay?
Sandy & Bob Erskine
The Bay is a place like no other we have visited. It has cool, clear, fall days, hot and humid summer nights, quiet streams nestled between high bluffs and violent storms which send it into frantic, high waves which will cause the bile to enter the mouth of the most seasoned voyager.
Begin your voyage of the Chesapeake in your favorite chair by reading the book Beautiful Swimmers, the true story of the crabbing industry on the bay. Mitchner’s Chesapeake is another good background reference for the flavor and sort of history of the Bay – but when he gets to the sermon on the Nixon era, you can stop reading. The Region 4 BBA charts are required, as is the Guide to Cruising the Chesapeake Bay published by “Chesapeake Bay” magazine. A good tide and current program for the computer is also helpful. Unlike most places, high tide and slack water are out of phase. Because the Bay is really the extension of the Susquehanna and Potomac Rivers, high water at the mouth of the Bay will be close to the time of maximum flood current. The flood current in the lower Bay is usually one to two knots and the ebb is two to three. Most slow vessels time the north bound trip to begin at slack flood current which occurs midway on a rising tide. Reeds Nautical Almanac and the most current table books will have a copy of the current chart of the Bay. Understand it and use it and you will ride a tailwind in your travels. Ignore the current chart and become the Alice in Wonderland character, running just as hard as you can to stay even.
A couple of warnings are advisable. When the summer days are hot and hazy, be at anchor or tied up by 3:00 PM. The Chesapeake Bay thunderstorms are violent! Sixty knot winds are not all that unusual. The storm will usually begin with little warning in the late afternoon up one of the many rivers. The meeting of the “on shore” and “off shore” breezes will raise a thunderhead well inland and then the storm will form. Usually it will follow the path of the river into the Bay and sometimes it will run up or down the Bay and back in the next river. You will sometimes see dark gray or black on the horizon and sometimes you will see only the “smoke” caused by the wind whipping the water. Often, the temperature will drop ten or fifteen degrees in the few seconds before one of these storms hit. Many a sail maker has profited from the delay of the sailor in dousing the sails.
A good bug repellent is another requirement. Skin So Soft mixed with rubbing alcohol and sprayed from one of those purse sized hair spray bottles works great for the “no see-ems”. Off is good for the ‘skeeters.
At mile twelve, just south of the only lock on the main ICW, is Atlantic Yacht Basin. This marina specializes in storing boats (dead ship) in the fresh water below the lock. Very few of the slips have power and water, but it is a good place to leave a boat for several weeks or months. In fact, many cruisers begin and end their yearly migration here. If you intend on leaving the boat in this area, consider Atlantic Yacht in Great Bridge. This location stores boats in fresh water at a much lower price than Norfolk facilities and has stores within a few blocks for easy provisioning.
The southern Bay begins with the busy port of Norfolk. The ICW “Mile 0” is here. After the days in the marshes of North Carolina a night or two at Waterside Marina on the Norfolk side or Tidewater Marina on the Portsmouth side is nearly a must. Shops, restaurants and supplies are all in easy reach from either marina.
As an aside, we would not take the Dismal Swamp route in a sailboat. The objection is draft and speed. Northbound, a long day’s travel at six knots is required to clear the Elizabeth City Bridge before it goes on restriction and then meet the two locks’ schedules. It is possible to spend the night at the welcome center on the canal, but this is the only spot to tie up along the way. Sometimes, you can “unofficially” anchor or tie up to or around the locks, but you are dependent on the “mood” of the lockmaster.
The lower Bay is mostly flat with marshes. Much more solid than the marshes of Georgia and South Carolina and more wooded than the waters of North Carolina. It gradually turns into higher banks as you move north and finally into narrow rivers and creeks that are bounded by steep banks. The saying is that Dixie begins south of the James – leaving one to suppose that Yankee country begins to its north. That is really not the case as both Virginia and Maryland have their roots deep in Dixie.
Across the James River (Hampton Roads) from Norfolk is Hampton Creek and the Municipal Marina. Or just anchor in the creek off of the Radison Hotel and dinghy into the public dock. The Air and Space Museum here is worth a few hours and several good restaurants are nearby. We would choose Hampton over Waterside as it is less busy, and it is about the right distance from Great Bridge if the boat is left there.
The next stop north bound, if you are not in a hurry, is York River Yacht Haven. Rent a car and tour Williamsburg or opt for Mobjack Bay to go remote and get a sense of the lower Bay. Both of these choices are more than ten miles off the rhumb line and are seldom frequented by other than locals. This makes for great cruising as you will not be disturbed by the hordes traveling to and from.
Mobjack is wide and low and receives (clockwise) the Severn, Ware, North and East Rivers. Crab pots abound, as this is the realm of the waterman. Many will speak a form of old English that is hard for the modern ear to decipher – don’t be surprised if you just can’t quite get what they are saying. Mostly, the watermen are subsistence fishermen – fish in the spring and fall, crabs in the summer and clams and oysters in the late fall and winter.
Contrasting with the waterman, are the homes along the banks of the Mobjack and its rivers are plantation houses dating to the late 1800’s. Many a northern tycoon (rail, manufacturing and theater) kept a family in these houses in the summer and a mistress in them in the winter.
The largest plantation houses are most visible on the North River and a few waterman’s houses are visible on the lower ground and the marsh of the Severn. Our favorite is the East River as it provides good protection, deep water and scenic views. There is even an old mill that was powered by letting the tide fill a pond and then storing the water to run by the wheel at low tide.
Continuing north, Wolf Trap light marks the eastern end of the Middle Peninsula. General Wolf, the last British governor of Williamsburg, fled the town in an uprising and was trapped here by the rebels. (Aren’t the names creative and original?) You will pass the light house on the way to the Piankatank and Rappahannock Rivers – lots of Indian names here too. On a small sailboat, we would sail to Fishing Bay or Jackson Creek (Rappahannock Yacht Club) on the Piankatank, the first day out of the York River. At the juncture of the two rivers, is Sting Ray Point (John Smith was poisoned here by a sting ray) another choice anchorage awaits. Fishing Bay is a wonderful anchorage and the upper reaches of the Piankatank are rural and a bit hilly – we are moving out of the low country. On the Rappahannock is the developing yachting center of Deltaville with down home, Taylor Seafood Restaurant or, further up the river at Carter’s Creek (ever here of “King” Carter?), the four star, Tides Inn complex. Then a bit further up the Rappahannock is the Corrotoman River with ample opportunity for anchoring. On the southern shore is Urbanna and its fall, oyster festival. It is also the southern terminal of the liquor run for the guests at the Tides Inn. The Inn is situated in a “dry” county, but runs a yacht (the 126’ Miss Ann) over to Urbanna and it’s liquor store for the convenience of its guests. In this area, Deltaville is the likely place to store a boat for a few weeks.
With the exception of Cape Charles, to this point, the creeks on the eastern shore do not have sufficient draft to cruise. It is possible to visit the city of Cape Charles and stay in the marina there, but most cruisers wait until either Nassawadox Creek or Occohannock Creek before turning east. Both of these are navigable with decent anchorages and have yet to be developed. North of these on the Eastern Shore, and east and slightly north of the mouth of the Rappahannock is Onancock Creek and the little town of Onancock. It is suitable for anchoring, it now has a marina (small) and a couple of good restaurants in the village. This sleepy little village has been discovered as the population pressure for waterfront property moves down the Bay, but it still retains much of its waterman flavor. A popular sail out of Deltaville is to cruise to Onancock and back for the weekend.
Another alternative is to head to the eastern entrance to Tangier Island. Unfortunately, this island has been discovered and the locals now work the crowd with momentos of the island. But a visit to the island is mandatory as is a meal at Hilda Crockett’s. This is a family style restaurant and a reservation is required. We ate here one night in the very late fall as the only guests. Never-the-less, we were served family style plates for twelve heaped with fried fish, ham, crab cakes, fried oysters, beans, potatoes, yams, pies, breads and Lord knows what else. It was “almost” embarrassing. There is a small marina just inside the entrance on the west side of the cut through the island. Otherwise, just pull up to a dock and ask if you can tie up overnight. There will be a minor charge. This island is where the “Beautiful Swimmers” come to life. On both sides of the cut through the island are the crab shedding shacks. The crabs which are about to molt are placed in trays in these shacks and are watched until the shed their shell. These “soft shells” are then quickly removed before they are eaten by their unshed brethren and placed on ice for the markets of the area. By taking the dinghy from shack to shack, you can usually buy a dozen of these delights to fry up for the evening meal.
Smith Island, just to the north of Tangiers is now being served by tour boats, so it too is changing in character. In days gone by, we visited as the only yacht in town and were a curiosity to the island’s children. Now there are many boats and the protocol is like Tangiers. Just find a place, tie up and ask to stay – offering to pay. This island is best entered only from the western side as the eastern channel is complex to navigate and shallow in places. Again, working the water is the only business in town, so the boats roar alive at less than dawn, and the shedding shacks abound.
Any trip through this area will include you as a bombing target (or so it seems) for the Navy warriors from PAX. They are really sighting on the wreck of the San Marcos (and other targets) just south west of Tangier Island. Usually the San Marcos will appear as a shadow on the horizon and gradually turn into a shape, which has you checking the chart and the GPS to confirm that you are not passing an anchored ship. But the jet will usually scream in about that time and be pulling up over the wreck just about the time his noise slams into to you from miles behind.
Now to continue up the east side or to return to the west is a difficult choice. Most folks will go back to the western side to avoid the east exit from Smith Island. But let’s just jump over to Crisfield on the eastern shore. This is the Blue Crab capitol of the Bay. Most of the crabs from Smith and Tangiers are processed here and a very good marina makes this a stop worth making. Plan on a meal at one of the local crab places and a stroll about the town.
Back on the western shore are some of the finest anchorages on the lower Bay. Fleets Bay includes Antipoison Creek (where John Smith “took” the remedy for the Stingray Point poison), Dymer Creek, Indian Creek, Dividing Creek, Mill Creek, the Great Wicomico river and Cockrill Creek.
Antipoison and Dymer are both seldom visited by cruisers, but they are well protected and offer the charms of the local waterman as well as a few farms extending to the shore. Indian Creek is more developed with a small marina at its head and a good seafood restaurant with a dock and an adjacent cove for anchorage. Mill Creek is entered from the Great Wicomico channel and is walled in by high banks. At one time there was a camp operating at the upper fork. Reveille was played at 7:00 every morning for the campers and the cruisers. Sandy Hook, just inside the Great Wicomico is a great anchorage with a sand beach on the point. Further up the river is another anchorage for the stout of heart. Horn Harbor is on the northern shore just before the bridge. It is entered on a compass course with a strong hope that there really is a channel through that shore line. Once inside is it like a walled fortress with deep water and protection on all sides. Cockrill Creek is the home of the menhaden fishing fleet. There is a good anchorage just east of Reedville and up the creek south of the seafood restaurant. The restaurant serves great crab sandwiches but closes early.
The Potomac river meets the Bay at Smith (that name again) Point. This area is known as the kettle bottom and is some of the roughest water on the Bay. When the current flows down the river and the Bay and meets the wind flowing from the south, all hell can break loose. We had the flag staff snatched from the stern of a 34’ sailboat by the chop in this area. Unless one is intending to travel all of the way to DC, exploration of this river is best kept to the lower twenty five miles. On the southern shore, the Coan, Glebe and Yeocomico Rivers offer well hidden gunkholes and on the north shore Smith Creek is the location of the Point Lookout Marina. The marina is notable only for the restaurant, Spinnaker’s, which is worth the stop. Just a bit further up, the St Mary’s river is worth a visit all the way up to the historic, St Mary’s City with a wonderful anchorage. Still further up is Breton Bay, St Clements bay and the historic ruins at St Clements Island. If you care to venture further, the other Wicomico River and Port Tobacco River are for the adventurest.
A mandatory stop on any cruise of the Bay is Solomons Island of the Patuxent River. Here, marine facilities abound. Our favorite is Calvert Marina (we just love the warm hospitality Matt Gambrill offers the Cruisers and you will find them here in all seasons) but other marinas are more convenient to the restaurants, shopping and the Holiday Inn. If you choose to anchor out, Mill Creek is adjacent. Once under the bridge and past the Patuxent Naval Air Station, the country side returns to rural and you can continue up river for many miles but not much exists above St Leonard Creek. At the headwaters of this deep and sheltered creek is an eclectic restaurant that rises and falls in quality with the mood of the owner. When we visited, it was decorated in a south sea motif that was totally out of place in the rural countryside.
North of the Patuxent and on the western shore are the remains of an LNG terminal. The plan never actually panned out but a huge terminal is there testifying to the plan.
Further north, the Eastern Shore is accessible with the historic Choptank River and Cambridge. In this area, Oxford and the Trend Avon River are definitely worth a visit. This is another good place to leave a boat for a few weeks. You can even visit St Michaels from here. Usually the main anchorage is so crowded that we only visit it from this side. The secret entrance is to follow Broad Creek north to San Domingo Creek and as far into the creek as draft will permit. Take the Dinghy the rest of the way to the waterman’s dock and walk the last three blocks to town. You will probably have the entire creek to yourselves as opposed to a hundred neighbors if you enter the front door to St Michaels. Be certain to visit the museum and the Crab Claw Restaurant and for a wonderful meal visit a little restaurant (the name escapes me but is the number of the address – perhaps 208 Talbot). It is next door to the B&B located on the east side of the street near the edge of town.
Having visited St Michaels from the back side, we would exit the Eastern Bay though Knapps Narrows and head for Annapolis. We always wonder why we stop here, but we always do. Moorings are available, or you can dock you boat on “ego alley” and watch the passer-bys watch you.
Another huge yachting center is located at Kent Narrows on the Eastern Bay. As an alternate to the back door visit to St Michaels, you can head north from Knapps Narrows and enter the Eastern Bay and the Miles River for a frontal attack of St Mary’s. The main harbor is always busy and always full. Make a reservation early. The Miles and Wye Rivers are full of spots to anchor.
Travel north through Kent Narrows and enter the Chester River. This is also a rural area with the Russian Embassy’s retreat on the southern. It is a long way to Chestertown, and the river is not particularly scenic, but it is worth the trip if you are into historic houses. Most of the town was built in the 1700’s and the locals take pride in keeping it looking like it is that century.
Next is Baltimore and the Inner Harbor. Cruise in under the Francis Scott Key Bridge and by on of the most industrialized stretches on the Bay. Just about the time that you think that there is no hope of anything here, Ft McHenry appears and you make a turn into the beautiful, if highly commercialized, Inner Harbor. There are now several marinas in the basin with lots of restaurants, shops, an aquarium and plenty to do. Crabs, food, dancing girls. Just ask and you can find it in Baltimore.
The last river is the Sassafrass. There is a very nice anchorage for five feet or less in Turner Creek, a mile or so inside the entrance. There is a green mark way over to your right as you enter the creek. Honor the can on your port side (red-right-return) when entering. One of the guide books points out the mark with a sentence that make you decide to take this mark on your starboard. Their instructions seem to be missing a comma. Above Turner, the river is wide, but still relative well protected and anchorages can be found in almost all of the bends. The shore is rural with much recent development. Several good marinas can be found at Georgetown where a boat can be left. We rode out Hurricane Floyd here with 15” of rain in total comfort.
The last stop on the Bay would be the basin at Chesapeake City. Anchor out or take a slip in the protected basin and then view the old houses. If heading down the Delaware Bay, time your exit to catch the tidal current flowing to the ocean at Cape May. Spend a day at Cape May (Utsch’s Marina) to check out this historic location and then set sail for Norfolk and points south.
Of Dreams, Ditches and Bubbles
Richard Mojena and Cynthia Mello
It’s 4am and 9 degrees; the lines groan under 30 knots of stress; and it’s just the morning after Christmas. Still, the near-seven-foot lighted tree on the afterdeck gives comfort through the frosty aft windows; it IS cozy inside. But we get ahead of ourselves…
We LOVE that boat. What is it? She was moored in Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard. It was 1988 and we were land-bound and boat-less. Actually, we had never even owned a boat. Sure, we had sailed with friends for years, but we weren’t boaters, not by a long shot. Two years later we find ourselves tied to a palm tree on one end, gazing out in wonderment at the other… from the afterdeck of a 45-foot houseboat on the surface of Silver Glen Spring, on the St. Johns River. It’s early November, it’s a warm spell, and we have the place to ourselves. Three days in that comfortable box, the best-tasting food we had ever cooked, thundering through the tropical underbrush, diving the warm, crystal-clear waters, chasing down the odd cockroach, and several assorted, mutually-resolved crises later, all crystallized it for us: Ya know… this ain’t a bad way to live.
Two days later we’re mooching a cousin’s condo in one of those Long-Boat-Key marina and golfing complexes. And there she was again… that same hull. We practically ran to the marina office. What kind of boat is that? She’s a Krogen. A what!? A Kadey Krogen 42. We were stunned… Cynthia had palled around with Kim Krogen during Newport’s America’s Cup glory days. To be more accurate, Cynthia’s husband left to marry Kim, on his way to the third of four marriages… yet, Cynthia and Kim forged a deep bond… but we’re saving that story for our pulp-faction efforts. Cynthia knew that Kim’s father was a naval architect and boat builder, but really had no idea what we had here. Cynthia’s son Josh played with Kim’s visiting brother, Kurt, during those lazy, seaside summer days that kids enjoy best.
Do you believe our luck? We’re having lunch with Kim in Miami. Kim, can we go to the boat yard and, you know, get the tour, go inside one of these? Sure, I’ll set it up with Dad. Jim was gracious, patient with the Greenhorns. And we got one heck of a tour: First the office, then the yard, a wide-body in its final prep stages, and finally Jim’s own Manatee. We were hooked on the 42. Can we ever afford one of these?
In late 1992 we bought an Albin 34, cruised and lived on her for seven glorious summers, making our mistakes, learning the ropes. In 1999, after countless hours researching the Internet, talking to brokers, and corresponding invaluably with Grant Breining by email, we bit the bullet in March, 2000, culminating life-changing, pre-retirement transactions: Sold the house of 30 years, sold the Albin, bought THE DREAM BOAT, KK42 “Sasha”, from Jim and Kay Peterson in North Palm Beach (thanks to Dick Jurgensen on “Orion II” for the lead), packed every possible nook and orifice in the 16-year-old Saab for its last trip, including our “cabin boy”, an eighteen-month-old Chihuahua, Benito “Beni” Juarez.
The new boat and trip back to Rhode Island presented intimidating prospects. The move up from an Albin 34 to a KK42 is semi-quantum. This baby is big. This ain’t just a coastal cruise of several days over familiar waters. So much to do learning new systems, starting the changeover in safety, electrical, and navigation systems from a dock boat to a cruising boat. We had three weeks to get the boat ready with new radar, gps, nav software on the Dell, and other fixes and refits either confirmed or uncovered by our surveyor, Adrian Volney, out of Sarasota. And then there were the get-comfortable hours with practice maneuvers, equipment checks, poring over charts, books, and equipment manuals, among these Jim Peterson’s own extensive system notes, Grant and Astaar Breining’s Chuggin’ Along, Skipper Bob’s Anchorages Along the Intracoastal Waterway, the Northern Waterway Guide, John and Leslie Kettlewell’s The Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook, Jan and Bill Moeller’s The Intracoastal Waterway, and various Embassy guides and chartbooks.
And then… Beni died in a tragic, freak accident. What can we say. It enveloped our uncontained excitement with profound sadness and guilt. It felt like losing a child must feel. Not that it’s comparable, we do have grown children, but it’s hard to imagine a more intense, devastating experience. We buried him in a beautiful island park and marked the deep, sandy grave with a vibrantly-live gardenia shrub.
And so we moved on… and what a move it was! North Palm to Wickford in 25 cruising days over 34 total days and 1464 nautical miles. From the ship’s log:
Complex (navigation, boat handling at bridges & marinas, communications, planning), intense trip on one-month schedule. Typical cruising day: Up 4:30-6:00, underway within hour, motor 6-10 hours, into marina or anchorage before dark, plan next day’s leg (1-2 hours), maybe nap, eat, maybe repairs/maintenance, bed. FL to VA serpentine rivers and creeks, shallow, shoaled, strong currents & tides, with wide sounds subject to steep waves, thunderstorms… but also beautiful, remote, peaceful sections with playful dolphins and many seabirds. Chesapeake and Delaware Bays potential severe squalls. Offshore in NJ subject to high seas and lee shore, followed by intensity (and excitement) of passaging through NYC. LI sound to home easy. Cruising days broken up by layovers in attractive cities/towns, but not restful playing tourist and stuffing ourselves in fine restaurants: St Augustine, Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Annapolis, Atlantic City.
Main engine hours......1564
(includes gen)......2.1 g/hr
Along the way we sighted three KK42s that we could not hail on the radio, but did have long, informative, and delightful conversations with fellow Krogenites Bill Heidrich aboard “Traveller” and Bob Bean on “Alexander.”
Yes, we did ground the bow just north of Charleston, but backed off easily enough. Richard spaced it, thinking he was looking at a Course Up display that he had changed into a North Up. Don’t leave home without it: Nobeltec’s Navigation Suite (or other navigation software) interfaced to a differential GPS considerably reduces the likelihood of straying into shallows and other obstacles.
The security of the home slip in Wickford felt good, not to mention the relief of getting back without sinking or otherwise damaging our new year-round home, now renamed “Sinterra” thanks to Josh’s take on “Without-land.” Our first summer aboard disappeared fast, with refits, redecorations, three-steps-forward-two-steps-back activities, some local cruising, and showing off the boat to family, friends, and interested strays. Among the latter are new Krogenites Jack and Evie Collard, who as of this writing are bringing their just-purchased KK42 from Fort Myers to Georgia, laying over until the Spring Migration back North. And… we have new “cabin boy” Eduardo “Eddie” Juarez.
And then came Winter… Non-boating acquaintances ask: Just what do you do all day on a boat? The response goes something like: Just what do you do at home all day? Actually, there are some differences. We don’t cover homes in plastic, unless we’re chasing down termites. On boats, we have to keep water taps open when temperatures fall below freezing, unless we relish thawing the dock’s water feed hose with boiling water or dangerous heating appliances. Houses don’t have brown juice flowing out of their pores from condensation in strange places. Keep the inner spaces heated!
And, oh yes, we do have to count our amps. We slept six over Thanksgiving and fried both ends of the two 30A power cables feeding into the 50A Y-adapter. These can be serious sources of fires, especially at the boat inlets. The aft circuit lives on the amp-edge, falling off a cliff if a 750W space heater competes with simultaneous demands from the Sub-Zeros, hot water heater, inverter, genset charger, and microwave or toaster oven. The circuit breakers protect the boat’s internal circuits, but not the outside hookups. And while the reverse-cycle air worked great until the harbor’s water temperature plunged below 45, the manipulation of appliances required the dexterity of Houdini.
So, here’s how we stand mano a mano with what looks like a serious Winter ahead. The first line of defense is the shrink wrap that covers the entire boat. It’s like we live in a fancy tent, but it’s bright and not claustrophobic (Richard is a bit phobic here and has no problem, so far). The plastic is translucent, has strategically placed clear zippered windows, and promotes a greenhouse effect at 55-70 degrees inside the afterdeck, on sunny days with ambient temperatures of 10-30 degrees. The two sleeping cabins are easily heated to 65-70 degrees by small electric space heaters at their low 750W settings. The forward circuit has low amperage demands, meaning that it’s OK to run these heaters simultaneously, or one or the other when the washer/dryer is operating.
Two heaters live in the main cabin (heating the pilot house by default), although just one is required at any one time: an electric space heater, with its own #12 outside extension cord running to a separate 30A dock box with a 30/15A adapter; a catalytic propane space heater, fed from a 20lb tank on the dock. We scoured the RV Internet discussion sites and came up with the catalytic heater of choice: Olympian. These heaters can be placed on floors or mounted to bulkheads, don’t require venting, are silent, cool to the touch, mostly give off radiant heat, and operate at low temperatures that generate heat by the catalytic reaction of propane flowing over platinum. This flameless process does not create carbon monoxide directly, although it can if oxygen is depleted in the space. We crack the galley port, a saloon window, and a pilot house door to supply the necessary oxygen… and have propane and carbon monoxide sniffers on board. The 8000Btu model Wave 8 cost under $300 at campingworld.com. The main cabin’s electric space heater is a LifeTime 5200Btu ceramic, bought at West Marine for about $80. This heater bypasses the boat’s AC system by directly connecting to the dock, thereby giving up circuit-breaker protection on the boat, although the thick 100’ extension cord “runs cool” and the heater itself has overheat safety protection. As an additional precaution, no heaters are run while we’re away. Over eight-hour or so periods the temperature drop has not exceeded 15 degrees. After one month of this setup, the power line connections look good, the circuit breakers are behaving perfectly, and we’re toasty enough.
And the engine room? We can’t read the handy thermometer tethered by a line through the starboard scupper because it’s solid ice out there, so let’s figure something a bit north of 32 degrees kissing the cored hull. The Holy Place reads 45 degrees, somewhat kept aloft by heat from the chargers, batteries, and hot water heater. Supplementary heat in that space might be needed sometime this winter? For added propane-explosion safety, an ignition protected heater such as those put out by BoatSafe would be best.
We also considered dropping a 25 gal water tank into the engine room for the winter and attaching the air conditioning inlet and outlet hoses to this tank. We know a trawler owner who was happy with this arrangement, although it does require heating the engine room to 55 or so. For him it worked nicely because already-installed engine block heaters kept the engine room at the required temperature.
A somewhat more elaborate alternative it to install propane or diesel cabin heaters such as those put out by Force10 or Dickinson. The larger units run $600-700, and do require the usual venting accessories, fuel lines, and pump.
The ideal solution for a northern boat would be a diesel central heating system such as those put out by Webasto or Espar. (See the article in the May/June 2000 issue of Passagemaker and the letter by Bob Bean and Cynthia Hammer in the July/Aug issue.) An installer for Espar came by to scope the boat. After two hours of crawling around and brainstorming the duct layout, he concluded it was difficult but do-able (we’ve seen one on another KK42), but it would set us back about $4700 with a do-it-yourself installation or $7700 installed. With just two winters left aboard before retirement and images of more congenial climes in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean dancing in our heads, we respectfully declined.
Meanwhile, if you get up to Narragansett Bay, stop by for a chat or cruise. Wickford is a full-amenity, small colonial town that’s high on the list of many cruisers. And it’s just across the bay from Newport. Give us a holler at HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org or HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard & Cynthia “Sinterra” KK42 #91
Going the Wrong Way
Nuel and Marge Quisenberry
Having just purchased a 1982 Krogen 42 MAGIC DRAGON, Hull No. 28, to be renamed “DASH,” Nuel and brother-in-law Mason Ware loaded up the Explorer the day after Thanksgiving in Newport News, Virginia, and made the 16 hour drive to North Palm Beach, Florida, to take possession and ferry DASH to Charleston, South Carolina. We arrived at 3:00 a.m. and quietly went aboard for some rest (quietly, because DASH was berthed behind a private home).
After two days of learning, cleaning, stowing, checking, and fixing, we cast off on November 27, at 0630, at Mile Marker 1013, headed north. DASH is one of five K42 with twin 120 Lehmans, which make maneuvering very easy.
Passing Vero Beach that afternoon, Nuel looked longingly at several Krogens moored there for the rendezvous, but decided to push on due to time constraints. That night at 17:55, we anchored behind the Green Dragon in Indian Harbor. 98 miles -11 hours, 25 min.
Tuesday November 28, were under way at 0630. 0930, passed SEAYA headed south in the Upper Indian River Basin above Titusville. After transiting the Haulover Canal, we passed SABO, GOOSE CHASE, and FRIENDSHIP headed south. We talked briefly to SABO on VHF, and were informed that we were going the wrong way—gee, that must be why we don’t see too many boats going the same way we are!
At 1645, we docked at Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach. 10 hours, 45 minutes – 85 mile run. Nuel gave daughter Hillary, son-in-law Ben and family a tour of DASH, and then we want ashore for dinner. Halifax Harbor Marina is an excellent facility!
Wednesday, November 29, underway at 0635. Anchored at 1800 on Ft. George River above Jacksonville with 11 other boats who no doubt were going the right way. 11 hours 25 minutes – 95 mile run. During the night, we heard on the VHF that the Coast Guard was conducting a search and rescue operation for a crewman overboard and the boat he was on. It evolved that two sailors were asleep aboard a 30’ sailboat in the anchorage at Fernandina Beach when they were run down by a tug. One crewman was rescued, but not the other, and the boat was nowhere to be seen.
Thursday November 30, underway at 0640. As we passed Fernandina Beach there were plenty of Coast Guard, police, and fire department boats and personnel. After we passed Fernandina, we heard the channel had been closed. Bumped over something in the channel at MM 729, between Markers 49 and 48. There was a dredge working in the vicinity, and we think we might have run over the submerged discharge pipe or a disturbed log.
0930, passed King’s Bay Sub Base—we’re now in Georgia. 1702, anchored in New Tea Kettle Creek, MM 645, just off ICW, all by ourselves. Good anchorage. 10 hours, 22 minutes – 90 miles run.
Friday, December 1, underway at 0635. 1400 crossed the Savanna River into South Carolina. 1700, docked at Skull Creek Marina MM 555. 10 hours, 22 minutes – 90 mile run.
Saturday, December 2, underway at 0645. 1645, docked at City Marina, Charleston, MM 469. 10 hours – 86 miles run. Tried to obtain chart showing Wando River, where we are to haul and leave DASH. No one had the chart!
Sunday, September 3, underway at 0800. Gingerly, we made our way around the Battery and up the Cooper River and off our charts. We kept following markers, not sure whether we were on Wando River or not in the misty, cold, dreary day. Finally, at 1045, we arrived at Halsey Cannon Boatyard - out in the Boonies! We docked and plugged in an electric heater we had acquired and it saved the night because there was frost in the morning and snow in the area.
Monday, September 4 at 0900, DASH was hauled and put to bed on the hard for the winter. We note K42 DREAMS 2 is also here on the hard. The plan is to return this spring, paint bottom, and continue delivery to Hampton Creek, Virginia, where we will move aboard. Maybe this spring we will be going “the right way.”
A note on engine maintenance: we checked oil in the governors in Florida before departing and found nothing but diesel fuel. We drained and refilled with engine oil. Per manufacturer’s recommendation, we drained and refilled governors again after 50 hours running time. Mason, who is a diesel injection expert, said this was very important, since diesel fuel gradually leaks into the governor and dilutes the oil. Fuel is not a good lubricant.
Nuel and Marge Quisenberry
10 Woodland Drive
Newport News, VA 23606