Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Myrtle Beach

06/27/2011: Up at the crack of Dawn....whether she likes it or not, the vessel is getting underway at 0730 after a breakfast sandwich for me and my two amigos, Chore and Isa at the Boardwalk Cafe. Together, we call ourselves Los Tres Mosqueteros.

Whereas we had beautiful calm weather yesterday for the down the inside of the Outer Bank, today the wind is one the nose at 15-20. Thus, our route will be inside today all the way to Myrtle Beach. With a 22 foot air draft, ww will be able to negotiated the bascule bridges without difficulty, save for the Marine corrps bridge at Onslow Beach in the Camp Lejeune training area. On of the signs along the waterway in this section speaks for itself.

The sign reads: STOP DO NOT PROCEED Live Firing In Progress When Flashing Tune to AM 530

Only a couple of times I have transited have I been delayed by live fire excercises. But on this trip, once we went thru the Marine Corps bridge, we were greeted by Marines in battle dress splayed over inflatable boats initiating a river crossing. Very cool and we honked and waved in appreciation to their service. Sempre Fi!!

                    Running the waters of North and South Carolina, there are many interesting sights.
Red Neck Fenders

                             Ugliest House Award - Pink Lighthouse? Really?

Passing Wrightsville Beach and down the Cape Fear River past Southport, I determinded that I had enough fuel to reach Myrtle Beach, which was about 1630. Tied up ay Barefoot Landing Marina. This 900 foot floating dock, which used to be free with no services, is now chargin  two bucks a foot with power and water. What makes Barefoot Landing attractive is that it sits smack in the middle of a destination outlet mall with about every thing imaginable here. I mean, it's a Monday night and there must be 500 cars in the lot. Besides shopping, there is the Alabama floor show and dinner theater, a House of Blues and DICK's, a wonderfully wild and wacky restaurant. About 2145 tonight, we were treated to a fireworks display which,with the prevailing winds, brought the exploding shells nearly over head of the boat!
6/28/2011: Up at 0530 for another early departure. Today we are enroute for Beaufort, SC. But first, we will make a stop at Osprey Marina, about 15 miles south of Barefoot Landing Marina and 3 miles past the Socastee Swing Bridge.
My thought was, get an early start and pull into Osprey before the rest of the herd starts to move. Well made plan, but when I ot to Osprey, both side of the fuel pier were covered by overnighters. The only thing available was about 20 of dock on the end between the two boats. Well, I pride myself at being a surgeon with a bow thruster, so this is what I got!

Now, the great thing about Osprey Marina is that their fuel is about a 75 cents cheaper a gallon than on the north end of "The Grand Strand." Today's prices was $3.499 including a 10 cent per gallon Boat US discount. They also have a noce little general store and grill for munchies.
After tanking up, we continue our run to Beaufort with an ETA of about 1700. flyin thru the marshes, a run across The Battery in Charleston and then a late afternoon arrival under a close marine layer boundry with torrential rain and frequent lightning. Ahh, back in the summer south!
Because we were forced to remain inside, and my 6/29/2011 departure was at pre-dawn for today's run to St. Augustine, no photos wer taken.

More to follow...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beaufort to Myrtle Beach

So let's see... where did I leave off. Oh yes, Great Bridge Lock.

We locked thru at 0800, the only vessel southbound. All of the snowbirds are headed the other way... little do they know that we started out trip a little over a week ago in over coats.

The weather was beautiful as we came out of the North river into Albermarle Sound. I elected to head down Pamilco Sound as opposed to the ICW route which cuts thru a a shorter, inland route to Beaufort-Morehead City. However, running down the Pamlico means I will not have to go off and on the throttle everytime I meet a vessel headed in the opposite direction. It averages out to be about the same but with a wide open sound, it's autopilot and iPhone cribbage time!

Pulled into Beaufort, NC about 1600 hours and went straight to the dock. The needle on the fuel gauge ready 1/2 and I was satisfied that I had enough fuel onboard for the next day's run. Same routine as before - quick washdown, chamois, shower and off to dinner.

Every yachtie who has plied to east coast waters knows about Beaufort Docks. They are the only ones I know of who pass out wooden tokens for each person onboard the vessel. he tokens are traded in at the Boathouse bar for a schooner of beer. Of course, Beaufort isn't the end of the world... but you can see it from there.

One will find a variety of very good surf and turf restaurants and yes, a bar with a Jimmy Buffett wanna-be doing his best Margaritaville (he, wasn't he in Put-in-Bay?). My restaurant of choise is Rib Eyes. Mike, the owner, hand cuts steaks to the customer's specification. I like a 3 inch, 16 ounce rib eye, than you very much.  A nice salad bar and baked potato with Texas toast finishes out the faire. I you are early enough, you can step next door to the General Store for a hand dipped ice cream cone. Both of these are right across the street from the marina. Breakfast can be found at the Boardwalk Cafe at 0700. It is on the east side of the parking lot.

So, after a full tucker, as they say in Australia, it's back onboard and hit the sack. We have a long run to Myrtle Beach in the morning.

More to Follow...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Onward and Southward!!

We took at lay day in NYC to facilitate the departure of the Owner, his son and wife for a flight back to Mexico for business meetings. That leaves me with the Owner's wife, his brother-in-law and his wife and the Mexican captain and chef, a comfortable six total. I moved out of the utility room and into the port berth which is about 20 centimeters wider than the Pullman in the utility room. But, hey... it's got TV!!

Friday 24 June, we slip out of The City under a steady east breeze... one of those windy foggy mornings where the moisture content sticks to everything you wear. We rounded Sandy Hook Light and the visibility dropped to a quarter mile. Too much fun running down the coast negotiating puke boats (head boats) and local fisherman out in their 24 foot center consoles. But what is really fun is discerning whether that blip on the Furuno is a boat underway.... or a pelican!

Finally broke out of the fog just south of Manasquan Inlet and had clear skies for the remainder of the day. There was an uncomfortable wind chop on top of a three foot sea and the boat showed it. It's one of those days where you want to retard the throttles a bit and chew a couple Tumms (gee, I am sure glad I had the extra order of sausages this morning.)

Everyone on boat was happy when the red and white Coast Guard water tank come into view at  Cape May, NJ. Cape May is the home of the Coast Guard's Recruit Training (boot camp). It is also home to one of my favorite marinas in the NE; South Jersey Marina.

Cape May is a popular summer beach destination. What makes Cape May stand out are the huge Victorian mansions, many of which have been converted to bed and breakfast(s). I particularly like the gingerbread homes on stilts across from the marina; including the local USCG Auxilary.

A thorough wash down and then shower and I am off to my favorite watering hole (OK, for me it's iced tea), The C-View Inn. The C-View is just three blocks south of the marina, with it's beautiful cherry wood bar dating back to the late 1800s. In the '20s the Inn served as a brothel. Speaking of chicks, it now serves the meatiest chicken wings I have ever had. And I have been stopping here for 23 years running boats north and south. I can only suspect that their chickens are on steroids!!
Early to bed means early to rise. Dock Mike's, the restaurant in the SJM building is now under new name and owner. You can get a breakfast sandwich at 0600 and full breakfast menu at 0630.

So, on Saturday 25 June, we pulled our lines aboard and with excellent, calm weather, we make the 190 mile dash to Norfolk, Va. Now, you really need to pick your weather when running the outside route along the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula... not much in the way of all weather ports along this stretch. Ocean City Md. is fair in marginal weather and I have bumped a sailboat keel trying to get in one dark and stormy night. The only other place you might seek refuge is Chincoteague Inlet... if you know where the shoaling is int he channel to town.

We passed by Hampton Roads about 1600 and I did the low and slow past Norfok Naval Base to give my guests a view of the fleet. Aircraft carriers, a plethera of Arleigh Burke class destroyers, hunter killer submarines... pretty impressive for the guests. But what got my attention was this freaky looking destroyer.
British flagged, I wikipedia the ship number and up pops the HMS Dauntless. She is the second in class of a new generation stealth destroyer (the Swedes have 'em to). Price tag? One BILLION pounds... per copy!! Hell, I didn't even know the taxpayers of England had one billion dollars.

Pulled into Tidewater Marina... actually on the Portsmith side of the Elisabeth River. Across the river at Waterside, there is a Cajun Festival. Once we got the boat secured, I sent the guests and crew to the ferry, which runs from Portsmith to Waterside every half hour and I enjoyed a quiet evening on the boat. Early to bed...

... because 0500 came up fast.

Norfolk just happens to be Mile 1 of the Atlantic Intra-Coastal Waterway, or ICW for short (we are going to MM 1080). Monday thru Friday, there are a series of bridges that are restricted for rush hour traffic, so if you want to get thru them in the morning, you have to leave at 0530. Weekends and holidays are exempt, however it is still 2-3 hours to Great Bridge Lock. So it was this in mind when we pulled away at dawn. The plan was working quite well until we got to Gilmerton Bridge at 0600 to see the adjacent Norfolk Southern Bridge #7 starting down across our path. The tracks were empty as we sat there... engines off... me, distracted by a cribbage game on my iPhone... and the minutes... no tens of minutes ticked by. Then low and behold... there's a train approaching the bridge... oh so slowly... and it STOPS... just before the bridge. What was loaded on this short train was something that looked like a sci fi power generator, with about 6 guys in too clean viz-vests clambering on it. A quick toot and friendly wave, just to make sure they know that we're w a i  t i n g. After ten more minutes, the train starts to creep across the bridge and we are anticipating a lift to be one our way. Anticipation turned to disbelief when the railroad bridge sat there... empty. Another half hour and with a distant wail of another choo-choo, sure enough... another s l o w moving train. At least this one didn't stop on the bridge. The final score... we got thru at 0725!

Only one more, "Steel Bridge," lies between us and Great Bridge Lock. Hour and half hour like clockwork... we finally got into the lock at 0800. And away we go for Beaufort, NC!!

More to Follow...

Friday, June 24, 2011

NY City!!!

At 0800 21 June, we departed Little Falls, NY and proceeded on the third day of our transit of the New York State Barge Canal system. The scenery it magnificent with just about every shade of green present by the over abundance of deciduous trees, maples, ash and willows. I have traveled this route in October and it is a Fourth of July of color. Regardless if it's spring, summer or fall, the Erie Canal is one of my favorite trips... this being trip number 29.

We finally locked thru the Erie Canal and Federal Lock at Troy, NY at days end. I had some difficulty trying to call Troy Town Dock Marina, as every phone number I could find with directory assistance, the cruising guides and online, listed a phone number that has not been valid for over six years! I called the City's Parks and Recreation Department ("you're looking for what?"), the City's Public Works Department (you're looking for what?") and after TEN phone calls, I called the Mayor's office and finally got the correct phone number. Lesson learned? Forget the escalator, go right to the top!! BTW, it's not called the Troy Town Dock Marina. It's just Troy Dock. Joe, who holds the concession, is a helpful individual. And for 500 gallons or more, $4.11 per gallon. The electrical connection is high up on the top of the bulkhead.

There are several restaurants to choose from at Troy Dock. A boutique brewer is within stumbling distance of the boat (I don't drink!), but my favorite is the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que just south of the bridge at the end of the dock. I can assure you, you will not go away hungry. Save room for the fresh berry cobbler or peanut butter pie!

22 June finds me up and on deck at 0600 and thinking how breakfast would feel. In my past experience in Troy, I know that you could wander empty streets look for sustenance, so here is the local remedy for the growlies. Walk up to the first street, turn right and then make an oblique crossing at the bridge. This will put you on 4th Street headed south.  About 4 blocks is a Dunkin Donut on the west side of the street. Pass right on by. Continue about another 4 blocks and turn left at Maneroy's (green awning) and three doors down is a non-descript little hole in the wall called "Famous Lunch." Basically a local lunch counter, as I walked in, there are four a five blue collar workers and a police sergeant contemplating a third cup o' joe. Of course, walking in, all eyes are reviewing the tanned delivery captain as I saunter to the middle of the counter.

Steve, the owner, has a degree in engineering but gave up industrial life to carve out his little piece of heaven. He's says he walks in about 0500, so that is welcome news for the early riser on the dock. After  quiet observation, I was welcomed into the conversations of the morning and the locals found my occupation interesting. What I found interesting was the history of "Famous Lunch." Opened in 1932, it was called Quick Lunch. However, in '58 a Marine Corporal with the US Embassy Guard in Moscow had to have his Troy hot dogs. Several dozen were flown on KLM in what the news of the day called "Operation Hot dog." Quick Lunch became world famous, and the name was changed to Famous Lunch. To this day, Steve sends hot dogs out via FedEx across the country and around the world.

After returning to the boat, we were underway for the approximately 140 mile run down the Hudson River River Valley to New York City. Deep and wide, the Hudson is a boaters delight. Old lighthouses pop up from time to time; some of which are now bed and breakfast operations.

Further down on the river is West Point up high on the right. Finally, passing Poughkeepsie, Sing-Sing Prison, and Yonkers, we see the Harlem River on the port side and the start of Manhattan Island. After a quick harbor tour of the Intrepid Museum, Brooklyn Bridge and Lady Liberty, we moored the boat at Liberty Landing Marina at 1700 on the New Jersey side across from The Battery/Wall Street. Look for the large Colgate clock; that's the entrance.

Liberty Landing, in my opinion, is the best protected marina in the NYC area. Lincoln Harbor, Newport and Chelsea are all ROCKED by the numerous NY Waterways ferry wakes, rolling continuously on the lower Hudson until around 2200 hours. In fact, I had a Marquip ladder destroyed at Lincoln Harbor years ago because of this very reason. It took a letter from a lawyer with threat of lawsuit for NY Waterways to cough up the do-ray-me to replace said ladder. I am sure that reimbursement would be less than successfull today.

23 June is a lay-day as serveral of my passengers are flying back to Mexico tomorrow morning. This allows myself and the Mexican crew to do some much needed housecleaning, including changing the impeller on the oil changer. A dank and foggy morning, I cannot wait to get back underway tomorrow.

               More to follow...        


Monday, June 20, 2011

Update on my Toledo to Fort Lauderdale Trip

Well, it’s been a few day since I have had a decent internet connection, so I will recap details of the trip up until this time.
I am delivering a 2003 Viking 65 foot sport yacht from Toledo, Ohio via Lake Erie, the Welland Canal into Lake Ontario, the Erie Barge Canal, down the Hudson river Valley to New York City and then coastwise to Miami, Florida.
The compliment onboard consists of the Mexican owner, family, friends and his personal captain and chef. Half of the 8 passengers and crew speak little or no English. Fortunately for me, Spanish is my second language so operationally, we’re a-okay. Including myself, there are 9 souls onboard, and surprisingly, there are berths for everyone!
After a couple of days in Toledo Beach Marina (actually on the Michigan side of the border), we departed at 1600  June 12th  for the hour and a half run to Put-in-Bay, a popular yachting destination in the Bass Islands just north of Sandusky, Ohio. 
Put-in-Bay is a quaint little island community with late 18th century homes along the waterfront which most have been converted to upscale restaurants or winery tasting rooms. The village center, around the beautiful community park, is a collection of your Key West style bars, fudgery, and t-shirt shops.  And yes, there is the Jimmy Buffett wannabe solo guitar player set up in the corner of the bar keeping the village idiots entertained. An interesting note: In the winter, when Lake Erie freezes over solid, the only way to get mail and supplies to the island’s full time winter residents (about 200), is by airplane or air boats skittering across the ice.
June 13th we departed for Erie, Pa. and Presque Isle; a very well protected and, except for the entrance channel, a land locked harbor in central Lake Erie. The city owned Wolverine Marina sits behind a big Hilton Hotel, which interestingly has a skywalk 65 feet above the channel entrance connecting the two hotel buildings. The marina is right at the base of the main street in town and close by an excellent maritime museum including old square riggers that plied the lakes an eon ago. One more word about the Wolverine Marina; they only clean the showers and head for marina guests once a week. So don’t expect spic and span.
June 14th, we depart for Buffalo, New York tying up at the Erie Basin Marina. A nice park like setting in the inner harbor, EBM has floating docks for vessel taking 30 amp power and bulkhead mooring for larger vessels requiring 50 amp service.  
However, it is quite a walk to the two restaurants, the upscale Templeton and a snack bar called The Hatch; both of which have mediocre food. I recommend walking past the Veteran’s Park, where there are WWII vessels including a light cruiser, destroyer and submarine, to the electric tram to explore Buffalo’s best. Also nearby are the HSBC center and the Buffalo Bison AAA baseball stadium. As a side note: The City of Buffalo has installed a new floating dock closer to the HSCB Center and the Veteran’s Park which charges only $30 per night, regardless of length of vessel. When entering the inner harbor, turn right and the dock is just past the USS Little Rock museum ship.
Mexican nationals are not permitted in Canada, no matter how wealthy they are without a visa in their passport. The Canadian consulate however is conveniently located in the HSBC center. The visa office is only open from 0730-1000 each day, so it was a two day process to get all eight thru. Included in the line-up at the embassy were Pakis, Bangladesh and Chinese immigrants seeking entry to Canada.
With a rented Chevy Suburban, we also took a drive to view Niagara Falls. If you ever do this, make sure you take the free trolley thru the park. Nice narrative and it will save the soles of your shoes a centimeter of rubber. On a personal note: It was stunningly beautiful, but it is much bigger in the movies. Can you spot the Maid in the Mist?
American Falls
Horseshoe Falls
With the Chevy returned to Hertz,  we departed Buffalo on June 18th  for our transitof the Welland Canal; a part of the St.  Lawrence Seaway system. A series of 8 locks,which connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario,  will lower us 326 feet, along with other yachts and the huge Great Lakers, ships that carry coal, grain, steel etcetera.  
In the past, I have transited this system in as little as 8 hours and as long as 20 hours as commercial vessels take precedence over “recreational vehicles."
So, the process goes like this. We pull into Port Colburn at 0800 and tie up at Sugarloaf Marina (outstanding, friendly staff). Because we have entered a foreign port, everyone but the captain must remain onboard.  I hop off the boat, with passports and vessel registration in hand and find a phone at the marina office which connects me Canadian customs for our clearance inbound. Next, we reposition the vessel to the “city dock” which is just before the first lift bridge.
Here, I again get off the vessel and find the canal system kiosk to pay the $200 transit fee by credit card. Next to the kiosk, there is a phone which connects me with the canal control. They inform me that there is a sailboat at the dock transiting with us and to start our transit at 1100. So, with a couple hours to kill, I invite my guests to disembark the boat for a morning walk. Right across the street from the dock is The Craperie which makes the most fantastic fresh fruit crepes… I had the apple-brown sugar and a fresh raspberry crepe. My mouth is still watering!
1100 sneaked up on us and with the last stragglers running to the boat we depart with the sailboat "Jade" on time for our transit. The lock chambers use 22 million gallons of fresh water , so with all eight locks, we used something in the neighborhood of 160 million gallons of water to transit the Welland. I mean, these locks are HUGE!
By the way, except for a slight delay at Lock 3 for an inbound Great Laker, we made the transit is six and a half hours; a new record for me!!
After leaving the Welland Canal and entering Lake Ontario, we headed the vessel to the Youngstown, New York on the lower end of the Niagara River. The village of Youngstown has a hundred foot municipal dock adjacent to the Youngstown Yacht Club. About 6 miles from the entrance to the river, we could see about 30 sailboats racing in very light breezes offshore and I knew we had to hustle in to get a spot. Luck would have it that here was just enough room for us to slide her in.
Not snow - Cottonwoods in bloom
Now, the process of clearing with US Customs (remember, we are coming from Canada, albeit for only 6.5 hours) is a bit different than in Florida. On the Great Lakes, one is required to enter at a designated port where a US Customs video-phone is located. So, once again I hope off the boat with passports and registration in hand for the second time today. Pick up the receiver and push the call button and I am connected with CBP. The first thing he asks me is if I have a “BR” number. Yes, this is the same “BR” number that is associated with the Local Boater Option system we use when returning from the Bahamas to Florida.
Next came the subject of the owner of the vessel and his guests and crew. Once it was revealed that they were Mexicans (with multiple entry visas and valid I-94s), the agent required each individual face him on the video phone, no doubt to record their faces along with their passport info. This whole process took about 45 minutes, much to the dismay of the multiple sail boaters arriving after us. But, as painful as it was for the CBP agent (good!), the entry was completed and we all settled down for the night.
Now, I might note here that after Buffalo, we do our prestart checks the night before, set our alarm clocks for 0600 and we are off the dock by 0645. The sun doesn’t go down until around 2030, so a good deal of daylight is available for running, and getting off the boat at the end of 12 hours. So, it is again early on the morning of June 19th when we slide out of Youngstown before those wounded the night before are even stirring. But, a head chop of three foot and 21 knots of boat speed soon brought even the worst case of hangover out of their forward staterooms to once again crash on the saloon couch.
At 1200, we arrived at Oswego, New York where the New York State Barge Canal starts. A brief tie-up on the wall affords use the take down a portion of the upper navigation lights to be able to get under the 20 foot fixed bridges along this route; of which we only had about 5 inches to spare! Locks 6 thru 1 (there is no Lock 4) are a series of locks raising us up the Oswego River to a level where we enter Three Rivers, the confluence of the Oswego, Seneca and the Onieda. We finished the day at 1730 and  tied up on the village dock at Phoenix, New York. Now, this is one of those little bergs where time has passed them by.
Barely a crossroads, most of the industrial era buildings are shuttered. However, the crew and I did manage to find a non-descript pizza parlor and ordered a meatza-pizza. What we got was one of the BEST pizzas I have ever had! If you do the Erie Canal and you stop in Phoenix, I highly recommend “Cams NY Style Pizza.”
0630 this morning found us underway once more. The route took us to the Three Rivers fork which to the right takes you to Buffalo (15.5' clearance) and to the left the continuation to the Hudson River. Nearly the entire Erie Canal system is speed limited at 10 miles per hour, however along our route we cross Lake Onieda, a 20 mile open water dash to blow out the turbos.
We continue to lock up until we get to Lock 19 where we start to head "downhill." The trip gets more picturesque as we head east and we end the day in the sleepy little town of Little Falls... aptly names. on the west edge of town in what has been called "Rotary Park" in the old canal cruising guides is the town dock. A very well maintained facility, Chris, the dockmistress, runs a tight ship. A buck-a-foot for dockage and you get 30/50 amp service, fresh water, the cleanest showers and restrooms I have ever seen (I mean sparkling!) and keys to the dockhouse for free wifi. This is another one of my favorite stops along the canal system. One note: if you want internet on your boat, dock on the east end of the bulkhead next to the office. And, write the city manager asking them to install an outside antenna so everyone on the dock can get reception!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Great Lakes Update 1

Thursday, I hopped on Delta at Fort Lauderdale for a non-stop flight to Detroit. Arrived at DTW and as I walked off of the aircraft into the terminal, I could almost smell my tax dollars as I looked for baggage claim.

It's kind of funny... I was reading the in-flight magazine and there was an article on how 2 billion dollars was being spent to turn Detroit into a tourist destination... there is a new MGM Grand hotel and Casino... yeah, just what I think when I'm planning a family vacation...Detroit, Michigan. I can see the T-shirts already.
"I'm So Bad-assed, I Vacationed in Detroit!"

Rented a car for the 30-some-odd mile to the Toledo Beach Marina. Fairly nice facility... it's not the end of the world. But you can see it from there. The boat is in impeccable condition. The seller, Tom, has had a dozen boats and spares no expense on their upkeep. This will make my job easier. Mechanics where going thru the systems and changing the filters and oil in preparation of the trip.

I climbed down into the aft crew quarters... ARGHHH! Not enough room to swing a cat. So I thru my bag back up on deck and moved into a utility room that has a pullman berth. A little tight, but I have a hanging locker, an actual cloth covered mattress (plastic back aft) and, if I get bored, I can watch the laundry go round 'n round.

So, Friday morning, I hop into the rental and look for signs of civilization... and breakfast. Except for I-75, there is a myriad of back country roads. I found Grace's Kitchen in Point Place; your typical chat 'n chew, with the locals checking me up and down as I walked I the door. A gum snapping Shirley DeFazio look-a-like with a throwback hairstyle from the 1970s grabbing my order... and as I sat and contemplating just where the heck I was, I realized that I didn't know anything about Toledo, Ohio. This went over and over in my mind as I enhaled my omlette until it hit me... Corporal Klinger from M.A.S.H. was from Toledo. Not having an inner monologue, I let slip out that they probably have a Jamie Farr Park when someone who overheard me said, "why yes, it's just down the street." So, you just know I had to go see it. In the photo below, you will see a pedistal behind the sign. Upon it once stood a bronze head of Cpl Klinger. It has sense been stolen. The building behind the sign is the local soup kitchen. Tough neigborhood.

Klinger also talked about the Toledo Mud Hen baseball team and going to Packo's from a Grecian Dog. Right across the street from Mud Hen Statdium, I stepped into Packo's and ordered the M.O.A.D., the Mother Of All Dogs, and their delicious apple strudell. Unbelievable.

More to follow...


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Back from the Abacos

Hi sports fans... even though dejected by the Miami Heat's performance today...
I arrive back yesterday after a successful 7 day cruise and learn in the Abacos with Ken and Elisabeth onboard their newly purchase 2000 Fleming 55. The first five days, the weather was "sporty" with 18-20 knot winds out of the ENE for a 6' crossing of the Gulfstream. Our route from Port St. Lucie to a waypoint north of Memory Rock had the waves just off our port bow. I have to say, I was very pleased with the Fleming's sea keeping abilities; a sharp entry forward and more than adequately sized NAIAD stabilizer fins, proved an efficient and moderately comfortable 10 knot crossing.
At the end of ten hours, we dropped the hook at Big Sale Cay, south of Walker's Cay (still closed). Big Sale is an excellent anchorage in soft sand and protected from northerly thru southeasterly breezes. The bonefish were tearing it up in the anchorage!!
Next, we docked at Spanish Cay and enjoyed outstanding service, food and refreshing pool. Dockage is a bit pricey at $2.75 per foot but R/O water was only 25 cents per gallon. But the best thing about Spanish Cay is the presence of Customs Clearance. Friendly and accommodating, the agent even help me by filling out the triplicate forms inbound. Easy to spot; Don Davis, the owner of Spanish Cay, also is the builder of the Richmond Yachts line of mega-yachts. His personal 150 foot triple decker, Status Quo, is docked there.
With the protection of the outer islands and reef, the Abacos are a sailor's dream. We pulled into Green Turtle Cay for a look-see and continued our next destination, Treasure Cay, where we spend a couple of days. Dockage was reasonable and freshwater is a flat rate $11 a day... needless to say, the Fleming enjoyed a luxurious bath.
Day 5 had us pulling a long 8 hour run back to Big Sale Cay for our last night's anchorage. The long run allowed us to work on our knot lessons, rules of the road and a few "man overboard" drills, which both the husband and wife did a satisfactory job helming to get back and pick up the "victim" within 2 minutes.
The final day's 10 hours run back to Port St. Lucie was the exact opposite of what we experienced outbound. Zephyr breezes and a slight seaway made for a nice leisurely watch rotation. Kudos to Ken and Elisabeth for a job well done. And to Mr. Fleming... nice boat.
Thursday finds me winging my way to Detroit to pick up a very well maintained Princess 65 for a run to Put-in-Bay for the weekend and then delivery to Florida via the Welland and Erie Canal system. My 29th Great Lakes voyage, I always look forward to the beauty of the Erie Canal and Hudson River Valley.
Photos and report to follow. Fair winds and calm anchorages.
John Wampler
Master Mariner

Welcome to My Blogosphere

Well, even an old dog can learn new tricks. And thus I start my blog.

What you will find in the future are blogs about the various yachts I captain. Voyages that I have completed and the interesting places I have stopped at. I will share with you tips on preventative maintenance and navigational issues that come up from time to time. I will also share current fuel prices at my various stops.

I look forward to sharing a wealth of information. Feel free to visit my web site at  for your yacht delivery, owner orientation or sea trial needs.

Fair winds and calm anchorages,
John Wampler
Master Mariner