Cruising

Wow! It has been a long time.

It has been a long time since I’ve let my fingers walk on the keyboard. So long that I had to look up my last post to figure out where I left off.

Four Months!

July. It has been a long time.

Let’s get started. Here’s what I’m going to do. Give a brief review of our travels in the last 4 months then go back and expand on what I thought were significant.

Last time we were in Canada celebrating Canada Day with new friends. We still are in contact with them through Facebook.

While traveling the Trent-Severn waterway we had a situation with a recurring problem that required the boat to be lifted out of the water. With out a place to stay we rented a vehicle and drove to our home port of Grand Haven, Michigan. Friends and family were gracious enough to put up with us for almost 3 weeks.20160729_134614

 

Thanks again to everyone that helped out.

With the boat back in the water and August slipping away we pushed through the Georgian Bay in 2 days and back into the North Channel of Lake Huron. At the top of Georgian Bay is Killarney, Ontario. We were now in familiar waters, having travelled here in 2013. My thoughts were to push to Mackinac and down the coast of Michigan to Grand Haven. Silly Me

Lake Michigan is not a lake to mess with. We ended up in St. Ignace, MI waiting for weather and waves to become better. Waves again forced us into Beaver Island. Then with our sights set for Frankfort, we were forced into Charlevoix. Let me tell you this. If you are forced into a harbor Charlevoix is a great place to pushed into.

With an open window we moved from Charlevoix to Frankfort and from Frankfort to Manistee. Where again we had to wait for a weather window to move again. Then to Pentwater, Muskegon and finally on September 4 we reentered Grand Haven harbor and completed our Great Loop.

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We stayed at the municipal marina for 2 weeks, met with friends and family, went to Dr, appointments, and caught up with what needed to be caught up with. We were so busy that by the time we left we were ready to get back to the easy pace of cruising.

A salmon festival had us leaving Grand Haven in not the best of conditions. We traveled the Lake Michigan coast in 17 – 20 feet of water. Very close to shore. But any farther out and we were being banged around by 4-6′ waves. We made South Haven and stayed til better conditions arrived. Then New Buffalo MI and Hammond IN.

We arrived in Hammond on Cynthia’s birthday and went to the Casino next door to the marina. If we signed up for Player’s Cards we would get a free buffet. Whoo Hooo, free food and a birthday dinner to boot.

Now off the big lake and into the rivers again for smooth cruising. Our cruise down the Illinois River was uneventful. The upper Illinois River is highly commercial and is not the prettiest of scenery but in improves the closer you get to the Mississippi River Valley.

The Mississippi River has a great current that makes for easy travel at speeds unthinkable in slow-moving vessels. We would travel around 14 to 15 mph at engine speeds that would usually have us at 8 or 9 mph. Then we make the turn up the Ohio and speeds drop from 15 down to 6 in a boat length. But this is only for a couple of days and we enjoyed our nights at anchor on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

From there we entered the Cumberland River just north a Paducah, KY on a Sunday. The Kentucky Lock and Dam was closed for repair and barge and tow traffic had been re-routed onto the Cumberland. Where when we first traveled the Cumberland we saw 1 barge this time we saw and passed more than 12 moving tows. The Cumberland is much more narrow than the Tennessee and the Ohio and water levels were much shallower than the last time we were on it, making the passing just a little more nerve-wracking. But a great day and we were able to enter the Barkley Lock without waiting.

Now up the Tennessee and on to the Tom Bigbee River. We are currently in Columbus MS and what was supposed to be a short stay has become weeks. I turned and put out my back and have been here recuperating until we both feel comfortable in my moving capabilities.

Life goes on.

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Cruising

Springing Forward, Adagio (slow & easy)

We left Little River with high hopes of temps in the mid to upper 70’s and clear skies.

Something must have happened. Although we have some good weather it seems we have to wait for it. After 5 months in a marina it’s hard to be patient. We want to get into the New York canal system by June. This seems possible, the NY canals are open now, and the Canadian canals open May 20th.

I keep telling myself “it’s not a race. Do not get in a hurry. When you get in a hurry, things happen that are not good.” The worst thing for a boater is to have is a schedule. A schedule can get you in trouble fast. Pushing to beat a storm front or a wind change can only cause undo stress and some very unpleasant cruising.

That is why we have found ourselves in Hampton, VA. Forecasts call for winds from the NE and waves (depending on which forecast we look at) anywhere from 2-3′ to close to 5′, with thunder storms and rain predicted. I don’t mind traveling in rain if it happens, but I shy away from thunder storms. The boat can handle a lot. It’s the crew that doesn’t like banging for hours into waves or dark ominous clouds.

So far we have been held up by wind and weather twice. Once in Morehead City, NC, just across the river from Beaufort (pronounced Bo-fort) NC, and now in Hampton VA. Both stays have given us the chance to explore new areas.

 Beaufort is known for being a regular stop for the pirate Black Beard and his ship “Queen Anne’s Revenge”. The Revenge has been found just off the coast and is being excavated. The Beaufort Maritime Museum has a large display of artifacts, no photographs allowed, brought to the surface from Black Beard’s flagship. We were able to spend a day in Beaufort just looking around, we toured the museum , the waterfront, and the burial grounds. 019

We met other boaters waiting for the wind and a quick camaraderie was formed with drinks and snacks enjoyed on the “Libido Deck” of Bright Angel. It’s funny how close friendships can be formed in such a short time. We all had dinner together and introduced our new friends to other Loopers like Bob and his dog Duncan from El Nido and Mike and Marian on Midas Touch.

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Mike & Marian of Midas Touch. Midas the Golden Retriever stayed on board

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Trish & Rob also from Maine and on the right Bob of El Nido

 

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Crew of “Grace” traveling to Maine and my nose

 

 

Plenty of information was shared and a good time was had by all. Some of our new friends left Morehead City, what we thought was a day or two too early and from reports suffered a difficult crossing of the Neuse River. We waited another 2 days then headed for the Neuse.

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Nuese River

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Entering the Pamlico River, Smoo00th

 

We were glad we held up for the additional days. Our crossing was one of the best and we made a long day of it and pushed across the Pamlico River and up the Pungo to spend the night at a marina in Dowrey Creek NC. We pushed on again in the morning on the Alligator River and across the  Albemarle Sound. We again were blessed with light winds and seas of less than two feet on Albermarle Sound. Which made our ability to scan for crab pots more easy. We arrived in Elizabeth City NC after 10 hours of travel. In Elizabeth City we took a couple of days to rest and ready for the trip up the Pasquatank Riverand  back into Dismal Swamp Canal to the Elizabeth River, past Norfolk VA and on across Hampton Roads  to Hampton Public Piers.

In Hampton, Cynthia was able to see a chiropractor that helped her before, and  after a couple of visits Cynthia is feeling much better. We’ve cleaned the boat, accomplished a couple of small repairs. Now I’m catching up with the blog. It’s still raining and the winds out of the NE make the Bay choppy to say the least. But Hampton is a good place to be weathered in. Plenty to do, and lots to see.

Until next time, waiting for the winds to switch here in Hampton.

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Cruising

Cruising; Tennessee River and Joe Wheeler State Park and the Looper Rendezvous.

I know, I know, it’s been a long time since our last update. But I have a good excuse – more than one really; we have been busy moving through the rivers, they are great, just to let you know, we arrived and attended the AGLCA’s rendezvous at Joe Wheeler State Park, and we have met and talked with many new friends.

Now we are in the middle of a side trip farther up the Tennessee River heading toward Chattanooga, Tennessee. & WiFi has been sporadic. We expect more of the same on the Tenn-Tom. THAT’S IT! The inter-web is at fault.

A small tow

A small tow

Quite an high bluff

Quite a high bluff

Lots of rock formations

Lots of rock formations

Current before Pickwick Lock and Dam

Current before Pickwick Lock and Dam

Since our last entry we have traveled through the Kentucky Lakes area and entered the Tennessee River. Our trip up the Tennessee river has been beautiful and full of great sites and adventures. It seems that the powers that be are releasing water and lowering the levels of the reservoirs. Dams are letting water spill to lower the lake levels. These have not seemed to affect where we are able to go but some of the channels into the marinas are becoming shallow. Being our first time in the area we are not familiar but the locals have voiced their opinions and give advise on how to be careful and where to watch for shallow water. We have also noticed some strong currents as we get closer to the next lock and dam. Some of the dams have spectacular views of water being released down river. We are traveling up river and against the current. The push against the current has slowed us down as much as 4 mph. Some of the other Looper boats, single engine trawlers, have really felt the push against them. I spoke with one Looper with a trawler that had a top speed of 8 mph, they were slowed to less than 4mph.

So far on the Tennessee we have encountered four locks, and because we are traveling up the river we are lifted to the next level. It seems that going up is a rougher ride than going down. Water is pumped into the lock chamber and some of the Lock masters really pump the water in and it makes the boat want to move around. While on the Illinois River the lock masters did not want us cleating the lines to the boat. Here on the Tennessee it is different. Some want the boat cleated, some don’t. We’ve had some big lifts also, as high as 90 feet. Cynthia and I are getting the hang of the ride but it still is a different challenge at each lock.

Tied to the lock wall waiting for the tow

Tied to the lock wall waiting for the tow

Impressive outflow of water from the lock

Impressive outflow of water from the lock

Tow boat and barges coming out of the lock

Tow boat and barges coming out of the lock

Working boats always have the priority over pleasure craft. That means if a tow is at the lock or near we will wait until the working boat has locked through. We are always at the discretion of the lock master. We have waited as long as over 3 hours to enter and pass through the lock. One time we were advised that a tow was locking through and it couldn’t fit all the barges in at the same time so they moved half through and pushed them out. Then the tow boat was lifted back up and hooked up the other barges and back down to reconnect with the other barges and then proceed down river. That wasn’t so bad but then the lock master filled the chamber without letting us in so that bass fishermen could lock down and be at the weigh- in, in time. It seems to me that fishermen and I just don’t get along. We were just trying to get to our daily destination marina before dark.

We arrived a couple of days ahead of schedule at Joe Wheeler State Park for the AGLCA rendezvous and settled in for the week. The day after we arrived Loopers were coming into the marina most of the day. About sunset the last of the days arrivals tied into the slips and people were chatting and milling about. Cynthia and I went below for dinner. While eating we heard sirens and a commotion on the dock. It seems that a late arrival had collapsed and nearby boaters helped him out. The whole story was the man had collapsed and had a heart attack. It just happened that the boats tied to the dock behind him were occupied by a former Fire Chief, a retired Doctor, and a retired Dentist. The Dentist had an AED Machine on board his boat in case he had a problem. (The AED machine are the paddles and charger you’ve seen on TV where the place the paddles on the person and yell CLEAR.) Well these three people saved this mans life. He did not have a pulse when they found him and they started CPR, and with the AED machine they were able to get his heart started again, all before the paramedics arrived. That’s how the Rendezvous Week started.

The rendezvous consisted of meet and greets, with vendors, Loopers, marina people. Dinners, entertainment, and everyday seminars on aspects of the Loop. Cynthia and I split up to get the most of all the seminars. Toots did not like being left on the boat by herself and has developed some very bad habits.

The seminars gave insight into what to expect while traveling the Loop, tips on what to have on board while traveling for convenience and for safety. The event with the gentleman on the dock really made the safety aspect hit home. Many of the seminars were given by Gold Loopers, (people who have completed the loop). They told of good places to anchor, available marinas, and lots of places of interest that would be worth stopping to see.

Different size boats on the loop

Different size boats on the loop

Toots doing a contentment wiggle

Toots doing a contentment wiggle

Other Looper boats

Other Looper boats

That's our dock. We are on right side between the blue boats

That’s our dock. We are on right side between the blue boats

Grand Haven people might remember this boat in town

Grand Haven people might remember this boat in town

Our friends Silvi and Simon's boat from Montreal

Our friends Silvi and Simon’s boat from Montreal

We learned a lot and enjoyed ourselves. We met many nice people and passed out a lot of those boat cards we had printed. I have started tying knots again and made a monkeys fist for everyone on our dock. I tied over thirty knots and handed them out.

We left Joe Wheeler after a week and began a side tip farther up the Tennessee toward Chattanooga. We are now a couple of days away and expect to be able to spend the weekend enjoying ourselves in downtown Chattanooga.
Until next time, smooth sailing and we will keep you updated.

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Cruising, Personnal views

Guest posting

I may be the Captain, but she IS the Admiral. Here is a post from Dearest, my wife Cynthia. Cynthia has been paid for her writings and after much begging and persuading she has agreed to contribute, on a when ever she feels like it basis.

 

I have never in my life written a diary or a journal with the thinking that there really wasn’t that much spectacular happening to document. But life, people and circumstances change. So the reason for this attempt is that we begin the Great Loop tomorrow. My husband, Byron, and I have had our 46-foot Jefferson Sundeck Trawler for approximately four years. We spent last summer cruising the North Channel and sharing with our family and close friends via the internet. The positive response to photos and our adventures was surprising and inspiring, so I will attempt to document our 2014-2015 trip.

There has been so much planning and preparation for this adventure. After a living estate sale, selling our house, putting property up for sale and our slip at the marina, we will begin our adventure tomorrow. We’ve lived on the boat for about a month this summer, doing many projects in preparation for leaving. Some include repairing a shower floor, replacing all lights with energy-efficient LED lighting, ordering a pair of big bumpers to use in locks, new lines, and enclosing the fly bridge along with annual maintenance and lesser updates. It feels like home.

Our friends and family have been most remarkable and supportive of this adventure and that makes all the difference in the world. Our son’s, Jacob and Ben, are helping with mail, vehicles and the miscellaneous. That helps so much. We have seen almost all of our friends over the past few weeks and truly enjoyed Bummer’s 38th Annual Corn Roast yesterday which turned into a Bon Voyage party for us. It was the most touching, humbling and overwhelming experience I’ve ever had, barring my wedding and the birth of my two boys. The party was complete with a video collage of some of our precious adventures, cards and a wonderfully decorated cake from Goobers Bakery in Muskegon … and lots and lots of corn. A few last-minute folks plan to stop by today before we officially shove off tomorrow, Monday August 18th.

We plan to head north to Frankfort and cross the lake when weather permits. Looks like good weather so we’ll see how far we get.

Many, many thanks to all those who have buoyed us through to get to this point, the wonderful dinners, parties and well wishes and to our family and friends … we love you. CLM

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Book Reviews, Personnal views

New Adventures

We can all lose ourselves in the adventures of a book or movie, but sometimes a person has to step out of the comfort zone that is everyday. We are getting ready for that kind of move. After almost twenty years at the same address my wife “Dearest” and I are moving from our regular address and onto our boat. The plan is to leave not only our home on land but our home port and travel the “Great Loop”. A trip that will include the American Great Lakes, major rivers, canals, the Intracoastal Waterway, and even some ocean travel.

When I look at the views for this “blog” I see that the most views have been when I have written about our cruising. For those of you that like that there should be plenty more cruising entries. I hope that they will have a book review every once in a while also. Part of the adventure is finding local authors and stories of the areas that we travel.

This brings me to today’s entry. Being kind of busy with getting the house ready and moving onto the boat I haven’t been reading as much as when there was 3 feet of snow on the ground. But I have finished a couple of books and they warrant some kind of mention.

“Winter of the World” by Ken Follett copyright 2012. The second in the Century trilogy, “Winter of the World” follows the three main families from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. Follett tells a great story that intertwines the characters and always keeps you interested. I will look forward to finishing the trilogy.

“Tropic of Night” by Michael Gruber copyright 2003. This the first in the series with Miami detective Jimmy Paz. I had already read the second book “Valley of Bones” and was suggested the third “Night of the Jaguar” by my sister. That’s why I thought I’d better find out how the series began. “Tropic of Night” really made me concentrate, Gruber takes the reader into a world westerners don’t find comfortable, different beliefs that include sorcerers different Gods and rituals thought to be disgusting by most Americans. Keep an open mind and enjoy the ride. It’s a thrill.

Now, I’ve got to get back to getting ready for a huge garage sale, lots of great stuff. If you’re in the area stop by and get a treasure for next to nothing.

Next up; “The Heart of Everything That Is” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. Brought to me by some friends that traveled in the Western United States, this is said to be the “Untold Story of Red Cloud, an American Legend”.

 

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Uncategorized

No rant just update

I’ve had my problems with publishing again. So a few days late with the last blog. Thought I had posted the book review but, nope. Think it’s up there now.

The Wife (Dearest) and I are on our boat cruising northern Lake Michigan. We are living the dream. At least my dream, anyway. The plan was to sell the house and everything else and move onto the boat and cruise the “Great Loop” .

For those that don’t know what the “Great Loop” is here’s a short explanation. The Intercoastal Water Way runs the East coast of the United States From Florida to Maine. In New York the Hudson River connects the Erie Canal or Lake Champlain. The Erie Canal connects the Great Lakes and then around to Chicago you can take the Illinois River to the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico. Most “Loopers” will cut over to the Tennesee River and down the Tennesse/Tomm Bigby (Tenn-Tom) down to Gulf Shores and Mobile Bay.

Well, the house hasn’t sold yet and we are still practicing our Looping skills. We both enjoy visiting the ports along Michigan’s West Coast. Mostly we find people very friendly and helpful. Always find the occational asshole. But with the good comes the bad also.

We are currently in Northport, MI on the Lelanau pennisula. It’s hard to find a more beautiful place. Northport is a small town that is trying to make it’s way by tourists. The town is clean, and friendly. The marina and park right behind and next door has been updated. The bath house is well done. There is suppose to be a free laundry for marina guests, we haven’t looked for it but will probably do so today,

Tonight is free music in the park, which is right next to the marina and tomorrow is the annual dog parade. This years event is “The Wizard of Dogz”. That should prove lively. With Toots our dog we have the “Wicked Witch”.  Really Toots isn’t that bad she just needs to be introduced and she has certain feelings toward certain people. That means she can be protective. She can bite and has. As pet owners it is our responsablity to keep her under control. Now that she is 13 she has slowed down a lot but still a good leash and pinch collar is always used when we walk. I don’t hesitate to tell other pet owners that she doesn’t play well with others. Again she needs her time to adjust to other animals.

Well that was a tangent. Again we are in Northport Michigan until Sunday the 4th unless the weather doesn’t permit us to leave. Our planned destination is Beaver Island, MI about 50 miles north of here. Thats about 5 hours by our boat. It can be a very enjoyable 5 hours or what seems like an eternity if the waves get big and bumpy.

Thanks 

Byron the Dirty Buzzard
 

 

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