Friday, May 31, 2013

The Home Stretch

Erie Canal Westbound

Coming back across the Erie Canal we wanted to stop at different towns than
we did when eastbound last fall. We enjoyed the towns last fall and a few fit
well in our daily progression this time but we experienced new places too.
We enjoyed our days on the Erie Canal this spring again and recommend the
canal to boaters and also to cyclists as there is a wonderful bikepath along most
of the canal. We plan to do the canal by bike in the future as there are lots of
camping areas, especially at the locks, and B&Bs in the towns along the canal.

Monday, May 13

We left Waterford at 7:15 AM with five other boats, crowding into the first
five locks together as the locks are closely spaced in this flight of  locks. After
these locks two of the powerboats moved far ahead and it was just three other
boats for the other four locks we went through today. Upbound locks are more
difficult because of the greater turbulence of filling the locks with water versus
emptying the locks of water. After our first lock of the day we were back in
our "lock groove"  and comfortable with the process again. We stopped at
Amsterdam Riverlink Park which was free because they hadn't opened for the
season yet. We walked into town, which was very dead with many empty

9 locks
37 miles

Tuesday, May 14

There was frost on the deck this morning with temperature 34 at departure
time. We turned the boat so the sun shown on the deck to melt the frost so
Carol would not slip while going through the first lock of the day at 7:15.
Fortunately we were able to have electricity at the overnight dock and had
our little electric space heater going overnight, a big help.
We went through eight locks today, getting our workout for the day keeping
the boat off the lock walls on these up locks.
We stopped at Herkimer Town Wall, free, and were impressed by all Herkimer
has to offer. This is probably the easiest provisioning stop of our trip, outside
of Vero Beach. Walmart is about .7 miles away and there are other stores and
auto parts places even closer. Ice Cream is close by and lots of restaurants, too.

8 locks
49 miles

Wednesday, May15

We woke to 37 degrees ( 46 in the cabin ) and decided to stop at Utica for a visit
to Saranac Brewing but they weren't open for tours and were out of my favorite
beer. We headed on to Rome Bellamy Harbor wall for overnight and tied up to
the rough part of the wall as the floating docks were already taken. We headed
up to town, a short walk away for dinner with Jim from "Mystique", a single-
hander we met on the Hudson River. A delightful guy, Jim has a paralyzed arm
from a motorcycle racing accident thirty years ago, but it barely slows him down.
We refer to him as "the single-handed  single- hander" and he handles his 34 foot
sailboat by himself as he cruises to the Bahamas, Caribbean, and elsewhere. He
is very competitive and enjoys sailboat racing on others' boats back in his home
port of Buffalo.

2 locks
29 miles

Thursday, May 16

Originally intending to spend this day at the dock due to a forecast of high
winds for crossing Oneida Lake, we awoke to a calm morning and decided to
take off for Sylvan Beach and reassess at that point. The wind was still calm
at that point so we headed out across Oneida Lake, figuring that with the wind
on our nose, as we went across the fetch would decrease as we progressed and
we'd be OK. The wind came up halfway across, blowing 20-25 K and gusts to
35K but we were fine.
We saw lots of mallards, geese, swans and herons today and got to Baldwinsville
where we tied up below the lock so the wind would be blocked. Baldwinsville
is a nice, clean town that seems more vibrant than most of the towns in Upper
NY and we enjoyed the classic car show happening that evening.

3 locks
58 miles

Friday, May 17

We had a nice day with calm winds and things went smoothly even with a long
day. We were the only boat to go through some of the locks today and saw an
eagle and several minks.
The Medina Town wall has beautiful facilities and the dockmaster Mike is very
friendly.  We were the first cruisers of the season here and enjoyed the free dock
with free electric and water. We also availed ourselves of the free laundry, using
their brand new washer and dryer. The town seemed alive here as we walked
downtown and around the block, with several restaurants nearby.

5 locks
54 miles

Saturday, May 18

It was quiet and calm overnight and we left early to allow a long day. We were
back in the part of the canal with lift bridges again and stopped at Spencerport
for an hour to go to the nearby grocery store. After going through the lift bridge
we pumped out at the free facility on the west side of the bridge with easy access.
We continued on to Holley, a very nice free dock with free electric and water.
A short walk away there is a beautiful waterfall.

5 lift bridges
4 locks
58 miles

Sunday, May 19

The day started with the first warm morning since leaving the Bahamas as we
left to meet Doug and Pat Reichenbach in Middleport where Carol would get
off the boat to return to Madison and Doug would join me for the remainder
of the trip. This was our first day in shorts and short sleeves and it was a
welcome change.
Carol's niece was getting married in southern Indiana Memorial Day weekend
and Carol volunteered to make 150 individual - size pies for the reception. She
needed to head home to prepare and attend. I originally thought I would not
be able to make it  back in time to attend but was aiming to make it if at all
possible. We had been pushing hard to make it back in time.
Doug joined me after lunch at the Towpath CafĂ© and we went through the last
two locks at Lockport, a double lock that gave Doug a taste of the canal. He
also got to go through 3 lift bridges and since the day was so nice and we were
making good time we continued all the way to North Tonawanda.
Doug and Pat meeting us at Middleport.

3 lift bridges
2 locks
58 miles

Monday, May 20

After stepping the mast at Wardell's we left at noon to sail nonstop to Geneva.
The forecast was for beautiful calm weather for a day and a half followed by
very bad weather for three days after that. We had a very calm crossing
motoring and motorsailing the whole way. After 8:00 PM we shared two hour
watches and Doug got to do his first all night cruise. The moon was beautiful
as it lit the sky most of the night and Doug did a great job. It was nice to have
him along.
The sky started to light up at 5:30 AM and we continued on, reaching our home
port of Geneva, Ohio at 7:30 AM Tuesday.

Geneva, Ohio, our home port

150 miles
19 1/2 hours

Chris and Raina, the newlyweds.

We had a wonderful trip of a lifetime and we actually survived being together
24/7, even enjoying it. Carol was a real trooper and we make a good team
sailing, docking, anchoring, and navigating our boat.
We saw so many beautiful sites and met an enormous amount of great people
we enjoyed spending time with.
We both agree the most impacting part of the trip was how alive it made us feel.
There is a constant need to be vigilant and alert, whether it be navigating through
shallow waterways, timing the lift bridges, locking through the canals, docking
in new places all the time under varying conditions, anchoring and all the
decisions that accompany that, or the ocean crossings.
It was great to leave right after a wedding because we got see so many friends
and family before taking off. It was also great to come home to a wedding and
Thanks to all for following us with your thoughts and prayers.

4500 miles + sailing around the Abacos for three months
667 gallons diesel fuel
9 wonderful months

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Westbound on the Erie Canal

Sunday, May 12

After a full week of waiting in Cape May we left Thursday morning with
decent weather for going around New Jersey up to the Hudson River and
New York City. As far as ocean time goes it wasn't bad, 7' swells on the
beam most of the day and we made good time motorsailing and motoring.
We got to the Hudson earlier than expected, facing a strong adverse current
so at 2 AM we anchored at Sandy Hook for 4 hours, got some sleep and
continued all the way up to Poughkeepsie, for a total of 220 miles in 34
hours. We kept moving up the Hudson because we were riding the current
perfectly, at 8.5 - 9 mph all day. It was sunny and warm for a change and
we were doing OK considering how little sleep we got.
Going by the Freedom Tower we saw them setting the radio tower at the
top. The Statue of Liberty is sill awesome for us as we go by and we also
went by West Point that day. Lots of exciting sites.
Mariners on the Hudson is a restaurant at Highland Landing with a dock
we tied up to for free because we ate at the restaurant. It was a welcome
meal after the long trip.
Saturday we had another good ride up the River , catching the current
right and made it to Hop - O - Nose Marina in Catskill Creek. Sean, the
marina owner handles the marina, stepping masts in between his time
being the chef at the restaurant. He unstepped our mast using an old simple
boom, doing a great job and we were impressed how calm and unflappable
he was balancing all his duties. He was inundated with sailboats arriving
to have their masts taken down because the other marina that does it there
did not have their equipment functioning yet and there was a big group
of boats coming all at the same time due to getting held up at Cape May.
Sunday morning we left after getting our mast down and made it up here
to Watertown, the beginning of the Erie Canal.
We went to McGreiveys here to celebrate Mothers Day and had a great

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Cape May,NJ

Saturday, May 4

Delaware City, at the top of Delaware Bay is a quaint friendly blue- collar
town. We enjoyed visiting here to stage our trip down the Delaware Bay. The
town is very welcoming and unpretentious and Delaware has no sales tax, a
nice bonus. We left the next morning at 5:45, first light, to take advantage of
the strong current that runs in the bay. Unlike our trip in the fall we encountered
lots of freighters and large barges but we stayed out of their way and had no
problems with them. With the current, going down the bay we spent most of
the day doing 9 - 11 1/2 mph.

Since getting to Utsch's at Cape May we have had high winds and seas so we
are waiting for a weather window to head all the way up to New York City.
There used to be a few inlets to tuck into along the NJ shore but they are iffy
since Sandy decimated the coast last fall. We recently reconnected with
"Rubaiyat", a boat from Detroit, MI we had met last fall in the Erie Canal.
We may both be heading out into the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow, with a little
apprehension because conditions aren't going to be great. It should be roughly
 24 hours to New York. Another boat, "Epiffany" will be joining us as they
travel back to Connecticut.

Jan and Lynne from "Rubaiyat". Carol
had to wear her OSU shirt to counter Jan's.
They went all the way down to the Jimentos
and Ragged Islands this winter.


Cape May....Waiting for a weather window

Friday, May 3

Traveling the ICW requires crossing many sounds and bays which, being larger
bodies of water, they can have tougher weather conditions. People have shared
stories of very tough crossings and that seems to be the common theme. On our
trip thus far we've been very fortunate to not have any truly scary days crossing
any of these areas. We've watched the weather forecasts and stayed put sometimes
to avoid nasty weather. Currituck Sound north of Coinjock, however gave us a
bit of consternation, with high winds and constant salt spray obscuring our vision
as we maneuvered across trying to stay within the very narrow shallow channel.
The winds were above 34 mph so they closed the Alligator River Swing Bridge.
Fortunately we were past it and didn't face any opening bridges until we were
within the protected waters of a canal.
Great Bridge, VA has a very nice free dock before the lock and bridge, with
shopping and many restaurants close by. It adjoins a historical park that was
interesting to walk through and we stocked up on a few groceries. There is a
24 hour limit of stay at the dock but some of the boats had been there for a week
or two.

We decided to stay at Hampton Public Pier coming north and enjoyed the town.
It is a small town with lots of historical buildings with many pubs and restaurants
within walking distance. Wendell, Jeannie, Nathan  and Klara came to visit us
there and brightened an otherwise cold rainy day. From there we went to Deltaville
and stayed an extra day to wait out heavy winds and it was close enough that
Wendell, Jeannie and Klara came for another visit.

Wendell, Jeannie and Klara
Practicing my Grandpa skills.
While at Deltaville we were close enough to a West Marine that we checked out
their chartplotters and finally purchased a dedicated chartplotter/sonar that would
have been very helpful had we had it for the whole trip. Oh well, better late than
never. The thing Carol likes best about it is her iPhone is now freed up for her use
during the day. We really like the chartplotter.
Installing the new Garmin 740s chartplotter.
It's so much nicer than using Carol's iPhone.
After anchoring at Solomons Island and enjoying the Tiki Bar we continued on to
Annapolis where we were looking forward to reconnecting with friends we met at
The Jib Room in Marsh Harbour. Pete and Sharon ("Kankita") have a townhouse
on Back Creek and invited us to use their guest dock, We enjoyed our time with
them and stayed for three days waiting for decent weather to continue. We got to
visit the new clubhouse of Eastport Yacht Club, home of many great people we
got to know at the Jib Room in Marsh Harbour.
The great tiki bar at Solomons with
statues and lots of tropical plants.
Pete and Sharon from "Kankita".

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nearing the end of the ICW

Saturday, April 20

When you travel north too early in the year you have to face some
colder weather. Perhaps that is why we haven't had to fight for a
dock space or an anchoring spot so far as we have progressed on
our return trip. Anchoring in Georgia and South Carolina we had
the places to ourselves, which was special in its own way. It's great
to meet people but it's also nice to be immersed in the wilderness
experience sometimes.

Guess what? We got to experience another grounding, this time in
South Carolina. It was a period of extra low tides, making for very
shallow passageways. Boat US is not going to be happy with us but
the tow boat operator was extremely busy that day running from one
grounded boat to the next, fielding calls the whole time. He gets paid
handsomely for his time though. He stays busy policing a short stretch
of the Waterway. The lack of dredging has been good for his business.
This time while we waited for higher tides to refloat us we laid way over
on our side precariously due to him trying to pull us to the side initially.
Most everything on the boat shifted to the low side while we leaned
over for a couple of hours waiting. At least we provided entertainment
to all the passing boats as they stopped to gawk and take pictures of
our exposed bottom (we had no decency).

Our next stop was Southport, a charming town that was the
site of a movie made last summer and has an interesting free museum we
enjoyed. We stayed at Indigo Plantation Marina and had a nice two mile
bile ride into town. We found out we could have stayed at the Provisioning
Company dock overnight with the purchase of dinner but we had been
warned ahead of time by a local that it being the first nice Saturday of the
year the dock spaces (2) would be already taken. We ate at the restaurant
anyways. It was good and reasonably priced too. The boaters were out in
force with the nice weather that day and the next at Wrightsville Beach,
where we stayed at the Dockside Restaurant dock, which wasn't free with
the purchase of a meal but was handy.

Heading out the next day we traveled through a thirty mile stretch with
bridges with restricted opening schedules that kept us bunched up with
five other boats, The last bridge of the group was experiencing mechanical
difficulties and we were forced to anchor for two hours waiting for the
repair crew to get it working. Thankfully they were successful and we
were able to continue on. That was the first time that has happened to us
on this trip and we've gone through lots of opening bridges.

We are presently at Coinjock, NC, mile marker 50 of the ICW. This
place is famous for its prime rib dinner at the marina restaurant. It was
a 32 ounce prime rib that was wonderful. I think Carol was more thrilled
with the baked potato, which she loves but has not had for ages. Afterward
we enjoyed a really good local band at the restaurant at our marina over
on the opposite side of the canal. We are staying at the Midway Marina
but most boats stay at the Coinjock Marina.

We are staying at many different places from the ones we visited on the
way down, meeting new people and enjoying the new adventures.
We will be in the Chesapeake Bay this next week and are aiming to be
in Annapolis next weekend if the weather cooperates. We hope to visit
with some family while there and also some friends we've met.

Sitting on the high side so we don't slide off 
while the boat lays on its side in the mud.
We shared this prime rib and still had leftovers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Enjoying a Protracted Spring

April 10,2013

Spring is such a beautiful time of year. What if you could stretch it out
and make it last for two or three months? We hope to see azaleas in bloom
for several months as we head north. They were blooming two weeks ago
in Georgia, were gorgeous in Savannah and on up through South Carolina.
The native azaleas were beautiful along the Waccamaw River of South
Carolina today as we traveled what we consider one of the prettiest stretches
of the whole Intracoastal Waterway.
Today started with a misty sunrise at our anchorage in the wilderness marsh
area of Minim Creek in SC. Shortly after we raised the anchor and headed
down the river we were joined by lots of dolphins, which continue to thrill
us even though we see them most days. Along the river today we were
seldom out of sight of an osprey nest as they are ubiquitous here. Some
nests had small heads showing above the edge as their families grow. We
also had some eagle sightings today. The Waccamaw River winds through
cypress swamps, a change from the salt marsh grass of Georgia and
southern SC.

Osprey Marina, along the Waccamaw River.

We've gained a little more experience dealing with running aground the last
couple of weeks as we've had a few long days which cause us to go through
some shallow areas at low tide. Basically what is required is to wait for the
tide to rise and lift us off, which helps develop patience.

We were in Savannah for a week while Heather and Tim were visiting. We
had a great time catching up with them and sightseeing in Savannah, a great
city.We enjoyed good eating at Paula Deen's restaurant and her brother's
restaurant, too. The marina we stayed at was part of The Landings, a private
island of 4500 homes, lots of bike paths, beautiful homes and golf courses,
and all at a better price than the other marinas we've stayed at. We loved it
there. It feels just like Hilton Head only without the tourists.

Experiencing Savannah with Heather and Tim.
Three great cooks in one picture.

Coming north we've been anchoring more than when coming down as the
weather has been better. We have been trying to stay at different places
than last fall to get new experiences. Traveling north we stage things
differently some days due to restricted lift bridges and shallow stretches
of the ICW.

Cumberland Island is a special place we passed by in the fall but spent two
days enjoying as we crossed into Georgia from Florida. It is a 14 mile long
island originally owned almost entirely by one of the Carnegies but is now
a National Park. It contains the ruins of some mansions and some restored
buildings but mostly is a park with beautiful forests of live oaks and pine.
It also has many miles of ocean beach, mostly deserted and wild, with
beautiful dunes and feral horses and lots of birds.
Biking the dirt road on Cumberland Island
under the live oaks hanging with Spanish moss.
Ruins of a Carnegie mansion on the island.

Since the weather forecast is pretty favorable we'll be pushing on tomorrow
to Southport, NC.

Enjoying my new hammock while anchored
in Birthday Creek on my birthday.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Tuesday, March 26

Chuck and Maria Claypool are dear friends originally from Madison that
moved to Dallas 16 years ago. We have sailed together in Greece and the
British Virgin Islands and spent many years together on a church praise
team. However we have not seen each other in five years but were able to
spend two days together in St. Augustine. They drove over from St. Pete
where they now live and we spent the weekend together which was special.

 After five days in St. Augustine, a favorite place of ours, we moved on up
to Jacksonville Beach, staying again at Harbortown Marina. It was a nice
walk up to Fresh Market for a few groceries. We tied up here because of the
high wind advisory which fortunately never materialized.
For tonight we plan to anchor off Cumberland Island at the southern end of
Georgia so by this afternoon we should be out of Florida. The overnight
temps now are near freezing so we are not feeling too rushed to move very
far north for a few days. Heather and Tim will be meeting us in Savannah
next Wednesday so we will make it to there by early next week.
Cumberland Island is the special place we had hoped to visit on the way
down but bypassed because of nasty weather. We look forward to seeing
the wild horses and enjoying the many trails on the island, planning to
spend several days there. We'll be anchoring out at different places for
the next week, without internet but connected by phone and iPhone email.
Carol so enjoys having her phone back.

Chuck and Maria Claypool with us outside one of our
favorite places. That's Iggy in Maria's pack, a tiny Scotty.