1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Questions, questions and MORE Questions!

At anchor...
Hello all - sorry to have been out of touch, decided to move a bit further south and have had very little access to the internet. Tonight, I'm just north of St. Augustine, Florida - a favourite stop, very historic and pretty city. If you've ever been, and I know some of you have, you know what I mean.
For the run from Beaufort, SC to St. Simons, GA, I was joined by Daren Magnus, a LiveBlogger from the Chesapeake. It was great to have company aboard and gave me the perfect excuse to do a major cleanup - the boat hasn't looked this good in ages! And Aduana (the WonderPuppy!®) thought so too - someone else for her to leap on and wake up in the mornings! Such an impish thing to do in the mornings....but a nice way to wake up!
Daren and I considered going offshore, but the weather wasn't co-operating - as if that's anything new, so we tootled down the ICW. Not, however, before introducing him to the $10 steak special at the restaurant just down the street from Lady's Island Marina. For $10, you get about half a cow plus all the fixins. Add a couple of beers to that and you've got a great meal! We were joined by my friend Barry, an Australian who is just finishing up his Catalina 50 and then heading south.
typical Isle of Hope homes...
Our first day out, we stopped at Isle of Hope, a lovely small town on the ICW. A couple of years ago, I was there with a friend (hello there!) on Christmas Day. We went out to find a church service - one would think that at Isle of Hope, that would be easy, especially given how many churches there are in town. However - each and every one had had its services on Christmas Eve. I can't tell you how disappointed both of us were - it was ironic that we couldn't find hope on the Isle of Hope.
Moving on, we next stopped at - oh wait! - I can't reveal the name of this place as it's one of my 'secret' private docks on the ICW. I have a couple of docks where the owners don't mind you tying up for an overnight - if I were to reveal them, they'd be deluged with boaters looking for a free tie-up, inconveniencing the owner.
While we were there, Daren's cousin and her family came by for a visit, bringing PIZZA! We had a great visit, and plan to do it again on the return trip, perhaps take the daughters sailing.
Oh, almost forgot - Daren managed to move from the ranks of those who might go aground to 'those who HAVE gone aground, at marker G39, south of Thunderbolt. Now I'm going to take some of the blame for this one - I knew the markers he was heading towards are frequently moved and could have warned him - but I was napping in the cockpit and not really paying a lot of attention. Ok, I wasn't paying any attention at all!
Fortunately, it only took a few seconds to get free and underway again, so Daren's reputation as a helmsman isn't too badly damaged here. We'll be getting together again in the new year to give him another chance, perhaps in Biscayne Bay or even over to the Bahamas. I'd have posted his picture (sort of like a 'wanted' in the post office!), but my internet connection here isn't strong enough to download the photos, so Daren will remain anonymous for the moment.
By the way, LiveBloggers, I'm always happy to have guests aboard, so if you've got some time free and would like to come sailing - or motoring - down the ICW, get in touch using the contact form at the bottom right of this page.
Ok, that's it for today - time to get ready for tonight's Christmas Party with the St. Augustine Cruisers group. I think some of them are LiveBloggers too, so it'll be great to meet you at last!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunsets on Gypsy Wind...

Most of North America right now is cold - miserable, nasty, sleety, snowy cold. Even here in Beaufort SC it's chilly and rainy, unlike the past week's weather. But here on Gypsy Wind, we've decided to flee to a warmer, more enjoyable place for the afternoon - and we'll take you there in this video of sunsets seen from the deck of Gypsy Wind....so enjoy, and dream of your own tropical sunsets to come.
Some of you will remember being there for some of these photos - I hope they bring back memories that are as good for you as they are for me of the sunsets we've shared.
If enough of you are interested, I can recreate this video as a screensaver to use on your computer - leave a message here with your OS and a comment on the video, and I'll set it up.
p.s. sometime during the past few days, we blew right through 50,000 all time hits on this blog. Thank you everyone, the best is yet to come.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oysters BITE! Who knew?

I'm now in Beaufort, SC, at a lovely spot called Lady's Island Marina. Why lovely? First, it's very inexpensive. They have a free laundry. They have a workshop, with tools, if you have projects that need doing. The local boaters are great folks. Steve and Gloria, who run the place, are equally great folks! And it's right across from some absolutely huge oyster beds that are easily accessible at low tide. And I love oysters.
I've always wanted to try getting my own oysters. I mean, hey, how hard can it be to catch a bunch of brainless bivalves? Really? Fishing now, that's challenging. You can't see them, you have no idea of what bait they'll bite on, and you might not get the fish you want, or get none at all.  Just ask any fisherman. Then you have to clean them and that's always messy. Scales and fishy goop everywhere. And the gear, have you priced fishing gear lately? YOW! For that kind of money, I could be eating filet.
Oystering, on the other hand, is much simpler, right? (you see what's coming, don't you?)
I mean, these things are brainless, they don't move, you just pop them open when you catch them. How hard can this be? And the gear to catch them....a pair of rubber boots (which I had to borrow), some gloves (which I forgot to bring with me), a small garden rake (had that!), and a bucket (had that too!).
Then when you get them back, you need a shucking knife to open them - or a small screwdriver (I didn't have a shucking knife until I bought one today).
So off Aduana and I went, rowing 50 yards across to the mudflats at low tide to hunt the mighty Beaufort Oyster. Aduana, usually the first one out of the dinghy, didn't move. That should have clued me in that something was up.
I stepped out of the dinghy into the mud - perhaps I should say, DOWN into the mud. This mud is deep - it's actually called 'plough' mud - pronounced 'pluff'. Don't ask me why, it's a Southern thing. Nobody but Southerners understand this stuff.
So, hanging on to the dinghy, I put my second booted foot into the mud - and began to worry that I might not ever move those feet again! This stuff is seriously gooey. I had visions of becoming a statue here if someone didn't rescue me - and with 8 feet of tide, that would need to happen soon!
I then reached over to grab a bunch of oysters, seeing visions of beautifully tasty bivalves  on my plate - and discovered that most of the bunch were opened shells with nothing in them. Oysters, you see, grow up in clumps, and as they grow, they abandon the shells they grow out of, so many of the oysters you see have moved on to a new habitation. You're left with a bunch of shells filled with plough mud. Yuck. The original urban decay.
I reached for another bunch of oysters and YOW! The damn thing bit me! And it hurt - lots. And it bled even more.
Ok, the nasty brute didn't actually bite me. Oysters are very sharp with lots of jagged edges and it's very easy to get cut. That's why you use gloves to get at them. I of course had left mine back on Gypsy Wind. Painful lesson...especially after I'd done it a few more times.
So - filled two buckets with oysters - rowed back to the boat, read a variety of recipes on how to eat them, other than raw.  I wasn't quite ready to be that brave. I've heard the stories about shellfish poisoning too. Decided to steam these beauties in water with a good quantity of Old Bay spice - would have used wine but was nearly out of wine. Couldn't use beer, because I was totally out of beer. Poor planning? No. Old Bay is an eminently acceptable substitute - some would say the only thing to use in fact.
But wait! What's this? You have to clean oysters before cooking? What do these things think they are, fish? Found a scrub brush and away we go, scrubbing mud and algae off the oysters. Talk about your nasty, dirty job. I can see why oysters are not cheap when you buy them in a restaurant. This has been nothing but work.
So, once they're presentable, pop them into the colander inside the pot, turn up the heat...wait, while drinking wine. This was the best part - well, almost. Here comes the best part....
Tumble them onto a plate, let them cool just a bit, get out the screwdriver, open them up and
MMMMMMMMMMMM! Tasty? Oh yeah! Ohhhh yeaaaaaaa!
You can see from the photo at the left just what was left - after four batches. And I've still got a half bucket of these tasty beauties left. Tomorrow night, I'm going to try roasting them....

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Just WHO is in charge of the weather here?

I know I'll get no sympathy from my Canadian friends over this, but just who is in charge of the weather we've been having on the ICW?
Every year, I swear I'll head south early enough to avoid the cold. This year, I'm further south than I've ever been at US Thanksgiving, I'm in South Carolina, and it's going down to 27° tonight. Last week, we actually had a colder night than that, and the week before, it was into the lower 30s. In ten years, I've not ever seen it get this cold, this early. I figure there's a cold front wandering around 'up there' in the sky, heading south from Canada, and looking down saying "Where's Wally?"
This is NOT fair...and to anyone smiling impishly at this, keep in mind, in just another week or ten days, I'll be in Florida, wearing t-shirts and shorts...that is, provided this cold doesn't follow me there!
Orion's Blog - Victoria BC - (link)

Recently, I've been hearing from a LOT of people with questions about their cruising plans or even current issues. That's a good thing, and I'm happy to answer any and all questions - that's what that little box, down there on the right hand side of the page, is for. See how it says 'Contact'? "Get in Touch"....
If you've got questions, I may have an answer for you, or can suggest a place for you to look if I don't know. And although I know this is really hard to believe, but I don't 'know it all' - and there's an ex-girlfriend here who need to stop laughing at this point, thank you. Some people....but I digress.
I just received my schedule for the Toronto Boat Show, at which I'll again be speaking. I'll post that in the near future, and I hope to see all of my Canadian friends there, even the Dock Six folks from Port Dover.
Also, be watching SAIL Magazine for a regular series of 'Cruising the ICW' tips which I've written and which will be starting in February. This series of short tips will address various cruising issues for first time cruisers. Although the putative topic concerns the ICW, most of you will find useful information wherever you plan to cruise.
Some recent ICW warnings have been posted by Mark Doyle (On the Water Chartguides) to Southbound Escapees Association facebook page. Check them out if you're heading south and want to avoid a grounding. Other sources for information would include Waterway Guides and the Salty Southeast Cruisers Net.
Lastly - I've edited the webinar we did on the ICW - ICW Tune Ups and Tips - with Mark Doyle and Claiborne Young. Here it is, below....
Ah, the sun is coming out again.....time to go play ball with the pup. Enjoy folks, and a Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cruising reality....

Provisioning, fuel, laundry - all part of cruising, just as they're a part of everyday life. When cruising however, it's simply getting to the store that can be a problem. That's when places like Seapath Marina really rock. They make a courtesy car available for you to do your chores. The first time I was here, they had a monstrous Pontiac Bonneville in the most horrific shade of plum purple I've ever seen. Reminded me of the car I took driver training in at 16, but I digress...
Sunny today, some wind out of the south, so a good day to get these things done....later everyone. In the meantime, here's a sunset for you to enjoy...

Friday, November 15, 2013


....but WAIT! There's more! YES, MUCH MORE....here's a link to another 700 free YES I SAID FREE!!! marine manuals that you might find useful - 700 FREE MANUALS!
These manuals include a wide variety of marine related equipment, from engines to autopilots, Force 10 stoves and radars.....Lots of Yanmar manuals, and Westerbeke as well as Perkins and Universal - and most important of all - Jabsco toilet manuals. If you have a Jabsco 20120 head, you'll be thanking me!
Have fun kiddies!
Oh - more free stuff! In Swansboro, at Bogue's Inlet, there is a new 'free' dock. It's the restaurant just past Caspar's Marina, with room for two boats. As in Southport, as long as you're having a meal or drinks, you're welcome to tie up. Water and power (15 amp) included. In January, they are adding another 10 slips, so next spring, this will be almost a mandatory stop.
Swansboro is a pretty town, worth taking a look around. They've already got Christmas decorations up in the streets and it's quite attractive.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Looking For a Boat Manual?

Sail Magazine, in conjunction with its parent company AIM Media and Vessel Vanguar, has made more than 16,000 operating manuals available - for FREE! You can read the entire press release here at Passagemaker, and the link from SAIL is here: Link to Free Manuals.
I'd have written more, but the weather has cleared up, the sun is shining, and it's time to move on to my next ICW destination. Later, gators!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Prone to Seasickness?

Ever been seasick? I've never been, but I had a crewmember once who was, and it was awful. I recall thinking it would be a kindness to shoot the poor guy. I suspect he would have agreed.
So in today's emails, I receive not one, but TWO emails about preventing seasickness. Both are new to me, and both are quite fascinating.
The first is a pair of specially built glasses - the explanation for them is here on this page - and there is more information here on this page, although the translation from the French isn't very good. If you speak the language, you might prefer to read it in French.
Nonetheless, a fascinating idea, and if it works, a huge blessing for those who suffer at sea.

The second solution is outlined in Spinsheet, the Chesapeake Bay's sailing magazine. Essentially, it involves putting an earplug into your non-dominant ear. Apparently, this stops the conflict between your visual and auditory senses and your sense of balance that causes seasickness. The article is here.
The writer has asked that people try this method and report back to him at Randy Williamson. He will report back in a future article on his findings.

In other news, we've worked the kinks out of the technical problems with the webinar. The ICW TuneUps and Tips webinar will be held on Monday evening at 7 pm eastern. You can link to the webinar at ICW TuneUps - and some very good news, ICW expert Claiborne Young, of the Salty Southeast Cruisers Network will be joining us, so expect a great webinar, and lots and lots of good information. Bring your questions, we'll see you on Monday.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ICW "Tune Up" Webinar tonight at 7!

If you haven't yet heard, tonight, November 5 at 7 pm, Mark Doyle and I are hosting an online seminar on Cruising the ICW. We hope to answer any questions that those doing their first cruise might have and help with any problems or concerns. And for those not yet underway, we'll be more than happy to answer your questions. Tonight, at 7 - here's the link to signup: Google ICW TuneUp
Please join us, we're looking forward to hearing from you!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Seats are Filling Up!

Exciting news - the seats for tomorrow night's ICW Google Hangout webinar are filling up - we've got participants from as far away as Oz and the Dominican Republic.
Mark Doyle and I will be answering your questions on the ICW and YOUR own trip south this year, or to come, so if you have questions, sign up here at ICW Hangout, and join us Tuesday, November 5, at 7 pm eastern, for a fun, information filled seminar.
You can post questions during the seminar on the Hangouts page, or you can use the contact page here on LiveBloggin' to send them to Mark and I. We'll focus first on the newbies' questions, then move on to general ICW questions.
And folks, if you could do me a favour, since I'm running low on time - please share this event on your Facebook pages, and also on various websites and forums you belong to so that as many as possible will hear of it - thanks!
Meanwhile, here are some places to look forward to...
Wild horses on Radio Island, Beaufort NC

Yep, you read it right....

In case you missed it the first time....

Isle of Hope.....very pretty small town in SC

Sunday, November 3, 2013

ICW Hangout Tuesday Night.....

Ahoy All! I'm here in Oriental, just met a bunch of folks coming down the ICW, and some of them are struggling - badly. So I'm going to do a Google Hangout on Tuesday evening at 7 pm, eastern time, to provide some help and advice.
This will be a Q & A format with the goal of giving new cruisers the opportunity to ask questions about what is causing them any concerns on this trip, and to provide answers and, where necessary, reassurance and handholding, or even referrals to the appropriate experts or businesses that can assist.
The link to this hangout is ICW Google Hangout, and I'll be forwarding more details as we develop the program.
Please help me out here by sharing, reposting and publicizing this news to fellow cruisers - and also make mention of it on the various sailing forums you belong to - Cruisers Forum, Sailnet, Salty Southeast Cruisers, Active Captain, Waterway Guides - and so on. That way, we'll maximize the number of people who can participate and need some help and guidance.
More later - and see you Tuesday at 7!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Shoaling Inlets Report - Lockwood's Folly, Shallote's Inlet

The following information is from Chuck and Susan on m/v Beach House - they are the publishers of The Great Book of Anchorages, which can be purchased through their website, www.tgboa.com
As everyone knows, Beach House and crew always transit any ICW problem areas exactly at low tide. That way we don't have to hurt our brain figuring out depths at mean low water. Today was no exception as we traveled through Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte Inlet. Here is a report on what we found for depths as we travel south on the ICW.

Lockwoods Folly
We found plenty of depth favoring the red side until we arrived at the inlet from the north. At green "33" depths were about 18 feet. At red "36" we favored the red side and found 14 feet. As we passed "36" the depths came up to 11 to 12 feet. Still favoring the red side, as we approached green "39" the depths were 10 feet. Passing green "39" at mid channel we found 20 feet. At red "40" we found 17 feet at mid channel. Passing red "42" mid channel we had 14 feet. As we approached the floaters we favored red marker "46A," stood off about 20 feet and found 10 feet. From red "46A" to red "48" we found 6.2 feet very briefly, then depths returned to 7 feet, then 8 feet as we passed green "47A." As we passed red "48" the depths dropped off to 9 feet until just before we reached the first pier passed the inlet where we encountered only 6.9 feet mid channel. Once past the first pier the depths dropped to 12 feet and all was good.

Shallotte Inlet
This was the surprise. Coming north a few months ago we had no problems. As we approached the inlet from the north we favored the ocean side from green "71" to "75". At red "76" we passed about 30 feet off the marker and found 13.5 feet. At green "77" mid channel depth was 18 feet. At red "78" mid channel reading was 17 feet. At red "80" about 15 feet off marker it was 17.5 feet. At red "80A" we were 10 feet from the marker with 8.9 feet of depth. Just past "80A" depths dropped to 12 feet. At mid channel between red "80" and green "81" the depths suddenly came up to 5.3 feet. Reaching green "81" about 50 feet from the marker we found depths of 9.8. At red "82" about 30 feet off the marker, depths were 10.9 feet. After passing red "82" by about 50 feet, depths dropped to 15 feet. From that point on it was smooth sailing, or motoring, depending on your perspective. All depths were at low tide for the day. We hope this will be of value to those that follow in our wake. We'll keep everyone posted of any issues as we move south.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Are you in the Erie Canal still? Update, with phone number.

Ahoy all - if you are in the Erie Canal, and are planning on using the Castleton Boat Club to step your mast, they would appreciate you getting in touch with them. They plan on leaving the docks in until the Canal reopens for stepping and fuel needs.
Also, if you know of anyone in the Canal, please pass this message on to them. The Castleton Boat Club is there for you, so let's try to help them out! Their number is 518-732-7077.
My thanks to Robert Currie for pointing out to me that the number was whited out in the original post. Hopefully, those who missed it will either see this update, or pick it up from a Google search.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Some Funny Things Happened to Me on the Way to the Boat Show...

You don't want to hear what I had to say at this moment!
Hi everyone - back at last, have you missed me? It's been a busy couple of weeks, with the Annapolis Boat Show and SAIL's Secrets to the ICW seminar, and the Hampton Snowbirds Rendezvous. Great successes both of them, I was proud to be a part of these events, and kudos to the organizers, who were fabulous. More on this in a later post....

So, a few funny things happened to me on my way to the boat show. I set my iPhone, which has awakened me many times in the past to many wonderful early mornings (!), at 6 pm. I knew the oyster boat beside me would fire up at quarter to, so it was like a snooze alarm when I heard the boat move off. However - at 7:41, my eyes snapped open. The iPhone hadn't sounded. I had 19 minutes to get ready for my ride to the airport to pick up my car rental. I hate being rushed in the mornings - far more enjoyable to take your time awakening, I'm sure you agree, right? Then, rush to the office!
Cindy, Doc's wife, takes me to the airport where I have a rental booked and paid for via Hotwire. Great rate - $11.95 a day. However, the clerk informs me, I need a return ticket to get a car from them. Huh?
No return ticket? No problem Sir, you can rent a car from our sister company, Enterprise, for just $44.95 a day. All you need is a Virginia driver's license.
Auggghhhh - now what? Who on earth flies into an airport from the same state they are in? No wonder Enterprise wasn't busy.
There was only one solution here, after it became clear that no amount of cajoling was going to change things. I marched over to the United Airlines booth - it was the nearest - and purchased a refundable ticket. The look on the guy's face when I told him I wanted a ticket to anywhere, didn't matter, as long as it was refundable, was priceless. After getting his manager's approval to do this, he sold me the ticket and I marched it over to National. The manager there told me no one had ever done what I'd just done, bought a ticket to get their rental. She was impressed, I was frustrated, as it cost me $35 for the privilege. My $11.95 Hotwire rental was getting expensive.
Back to United, refund the ticket, get my car, Cindy and I head to Walmart so I can help her choose a piece of equipment for their boat. While there, her husband phones - apparently, my dinghy has sunk from the rain and the waves.
This is not good. I have an expensive and nearly new outboard on it. I head back to the boat, hoping against hope - and nope, the dinghy is sunk, the engine is underwater. Rob, another boater and I drag the dinghy up, I tear the motor apart, dry it, spray it with WD-40 and hey! It fires up. Whew! Dodged that bullet.
So I'm about to leave when Rob tells me the dockmaster wants me to move my boat to another slip. Like, I have time for this? But, being the nice guy I am, I move the boat. You have to realize, there were 15 - 20 knot winds that day, and the bay was about three or four feet higher due to tide and rainfall. Moving to a new slip was a pain to say the least.
Then I go to get off the boat at the bow, which is now a good six or so feet off the dock. I reach for the post...and the boat starts to slide backwards away from it. I'm hanging on, the gap is getting wider....do I push back and hope to grab the forestay? No, if I miss, I'll fall and get hurt. Do I leap for the piling and hang on like a demented squirrel, ten feet from the dock, and slowly slide down the piling, getting splinters in very private places before sliding down onto razor sharp barnacles? Or, do I wait until the boat is far enough back from the pole and gracefully (and safely) fall into the water?
Decision made, and about two feet from the water, I remember that in addition to my computer in its waterproof case around my neck, my iPhone is in my pocket.
Fortunately for the tender minds of anyone within about a quarter mile, the inrush of chilly salt water stifled the comments I was making. Let's just say they weren't anything my mom would have approved of - or your mom either!
So, I swim to shore, have another shower while my clothes tumble in the dryer, and head on out to Annapolis. There, my good friends Dr. Dave and his lovely wife Suzie, greet me at the door with a handshake, a hug, and an ice cold drink.
Life is good again. Tomorrow, the boat show.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Annapolis Sailboat Show....

Ahoy LiveBloggers - here at the Annapolis Sailboat Show - a good show, if a bit wet. No time for a proper post now, but stay tuned for the 'Some Funny Things Happened to Me on the Way to the Boat Show'....to say that Thursday tested the limits of the saying 'a bad day sailing is better than a good day at work' would not be inaccurate!
If you're in Annapolis today, I'm at the SAIL Magazine booth from 1 - 4 this afternoon....later everyone!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Heading South - The Fleet Reports In....

from Roland - We departed Jamestown, RI last Friday, today in Annapolis at the boat show, Great Bridge by Sunday night we hope. Destination Fort Lauderdale by Nov 1 when my son needs the boat for a temp home. I've made this run a few times each way, so ready to answer questions and give (bad? ;) advice... Oh, in a stinkpot Grand Banks 32...

from good friends Wendy and Mike, who went out the St. Lawrence - Hi Wendy and Mike here on board s/v Ohana. We're currently taking time to get little projects completed on board before new ones crop up. We departed Port Credit, Ontario May l5th and took our time heading to the St. Lawrence seaway due to weddings and family committments. Also to continue working on the boat and have a windlass installed.
We've had major time delays due to mechanical issues and weather. Most recently we spent 8 days in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia having our starter rebuilt and a new alternator installed. 
After a 3 day 2 night non-stop sail with our engine running l80' we ended up in Rockland, Maine. Our attempts to depart kept bringing us back to the dock due to a run away engine. Our injectors have now been sent away and not due back until Oct. 9th. 
Taking the St. Lawrence Seaway route has been an amazing trip as we sailed to New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia and now we are safely in the States. The journey has been an enormous learning experience. The scenery and beautiful has been breathtaking. We've met wonderful people and have always had help at our fingertips just at the time we need it most. 
Currently we have sailed almost l900 nautical miles with many more to go. Our goal was to get to the Annaplolis Boat Show, that is no longer realistic. 
I have to head home to the Toronto area on the 6th and will return in two weeks to we can continue to head south to Florida, Cuba and Bahamas for the winter.
No we are not part of this years fleet heading south. Well maybe we are just really far behind everyone and we have great determination to catch up.
My blog is windinmydreams.net, which I have regretfully not be actively keeping up to date. Please don't hesitate to check it out though.
All the best and I can't wait to meet fellow cruisers in the hot spots.
Wendy and Mike
SV Ohana 37' Gulfstar 

from Paul Ouellette - Not this coming winter...but look for us there in a few years !! ;)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Annapolis Boat Show, upcoming speaking engagements

A friend impishly pointed out to me that I haven't made a recent 'announcement' about my upcoming presentations at Annapolis. So....let's get that out of the way!

I'll be the co-host along with SAIL editor Meredith Laitos, and one of the featured speakers, at SAIL Magazine's all day ICW seminar, on October 13, 2013, 1000-1700 (Boat Show runs Oct 10-13)
WHERE: Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 2nd Street, Annapolis, MD 21403
COST: $65 (includes four seminars, expert Q&A, lunch and cocktail hour)
The guest list includes my good friends Mark and Diana Doyle, who are the authors of On the Water Chartguides, an excellent - no, make that indispensable - resource for anchoring for those heading south. Jeff Grossman and Jean Levine discuss 'couples' cruising - since I'm single, I guess I'll sit that one out (and I can hear someone, no names here, saying 'no Wally, you NEED that lecture!) - Bruce Schwab discusses electrical management, an important issue when your cold beer depends on how you handle your 12v batteries.
Dave Skolnick - president of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and Mark Ahart, news editor at Waterway Guide, will sit on the discussion table with us to answer your questions about the ICW and, I suspect, cruising in general.
Best of all, at the end of the day, we'll all get together for some Painkillers and you can get your own cruising questions answered. More details right here...SAIL ICW Seminar

At the Sailboat Show itself, I'll be at SAIL Magazine's booth from 1 - 4 on Saturday to answer questions about the seminar, and cruising the ICW. Would love to see you there!

My next engagement will be at the Hampton Snowbird Rendevous, where I'll discuss both the ICW and also sailing in Cuba. The dates are October 18 - 20, and more information is available at Hampton Snowbird Rendezvous and their Facebook Page

Finally, the Southbound Cruisers Rendezvous is on once again after a hiatus of several years - to be held in New Bern from October 29 - 31st. Details are available on their Facebook Page, and they promise some excellent workshops and talks - I plan to take in the Diesel Doctor's workshop for sure.

So, a busy time ahead, and I still have to get up the Chesapeake Bay with Tropical Storm Karen coming straight at us.....do I know how to have fun or what? If you're at the show or any of these events, please introduce yourself, I'd love to meet all of you!

Let me leave you with my most recent SAIL Magazine article on the ICW...ICW by the Numbers, Five Tips on how to do the ICW.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Are you part of this year's fleet heading south?

 and especially the fleet that's coming south from the Erie Canal. Let's hear from you folks. I'd like to show readers who are not on the trip just what it's really like - the fun, the challenges, the places, and you, the people.
Who are you, what are you doing, where are you planning on going when you get south, what challenges have you overcome to get this far. Do you have a blog we can all follow?

Chime in there folks - you can email me at CALLING ALL SNOWBIRDS!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tropical Storm Karen on Sandy's Path; Erie Canal Update

Tropical storm Karen, currently in the Gulf of Mexico, is on a similar path to that followed by Hurricane Sandy, which devastated large portions of the US east coast last year. You can follow its progress at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
As you can see from the graphic above, it's headed straight for the Chesapeake Bay, and will arrive there just prior to the US Sailboat show. This one bears watching by southbound boaters since it's headed for where we are and, if this graphic is correct, will have some affect on almost the entire ICW.

Erie Canal - the Erie Canal today opened to allow boats trapped by the closure to get past E13. The other good news I have for you comes from the Erie Canal folks - the Federal Lock at Troy is open and there are no issues regarding the federal shutdown. You're wide open to the south.
That being said - pay attention to Karen as she approaches, as large segments of the Hudson River were badly damaged by Sandy last year. Karen's arrival will coincide with your presence on the Hudson.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Erie Canal Update, ICW conditions in NC

Please share the following information with others either in the Erie Canal or headed that way, thanks. Also, an update on the Carolina Beach inlet....

chartlet courtesy of On the Water Chartguides
Mariners are advised that the water level between Lock E-12 and Lock E-14 on the Erie Canal will be raised beginning at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, October 2.  This portion of the Erie Canal is projected to temporarily re-open for navigation - with a depth restriction of 7 feet - at or before noon on Thursday, October 3 
This section of the Canal will remain open - with a depth restriction of 7 feet - until 8:00 pm on Sunday, October 6.  During this limited re-opening, Locks E-11, E-12, and E-13 will operate from 7 am to 8 pm daily.  Mariners may notice changing water levels on other portions of the Erie Canal between Lock E-6 and E-20 in advance of, and during, this temporary re-opening.  This may include temporarily reduced water levels downstream of Lock E-12, and temporarily elevated water levels upstream of Lock E-14.    
A "No Wake" zone will be in effect from October 3 to October 6 between Lock E-12 and Lock E-14 during the temporary re-opening.   
The Erie Canal will close again on Monday, October 7 in order to complete permanent repairs at Lock E-13.  Other temporary closures are possible between Lock E-8 and Lock E-15 at that time due to water management changes necessary to complete these repairs.  These repairs may take up to three weeks, after which this portion of the Erie Canal will re-open at full depth.  
For more information, please call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit www.canals.ny.gov 

Carolina Beach Inlet - the chartlet above shows the annotated depths from a survey taken by Mark and Diana Doyle of On the Water Chartguides and indicates no issues at what is often a problem inlet. My own experience coming through there in early August was positive, with good depths (minimum 8' MLLW) all the way through. Bear in mind, the Corps of Engineers frequently moves markers in this area to correspond to the best depths. If you have concerns while heading south, a good plan is to call the local TowBoat US for an update on depths in the area.
Thanks Mark and Diana!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Free Sailboat, in Good Condition

This is a nice looking boat as you can see from the picture. It's a 20' Marieholm sailboat! The owner states that the boat is in very good condition and handles well - especially in rough weather. You must pick it up in Glen Cove, NY, and can contact the owner at vcdwb-4050422633@sale.craigslist.org

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bahama Blues - an island video

This video was sent to me by my good friends Chuck Baier and Susan Landry, who are the creators of The Great Book of Anchorages, which I've mentioned before. They just spent a considerable amount of time in the Bahamas, and have created this beautiful video of their favourite island beaches....so put on your flip flops, grab a cold one, sit back, and start wishing you were there....better yet, start planning on going, and I'll see you there this winter!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Temporary Opening of Erie Canal Weekend after Next

LiveBlogger Al McGillivray (Airtime) advises us of the following:

Erie Canal Update - 

Mariners are advised that repairs to the movable dam at Lock E-13 continue, and that the Erie Canal between Lock E-12 and E-14 remains closed to navigation.
This portion of the Erie Canal will re-open for a limited period of time at reduced depth to allow impacted traffic to clear this area. 
This limited re-opening is expected to commence at 7:00 AM on Friday, October 4, 2013, and last through 8:00 PM on Sunday, October 6, 2013, taking advantage of a limited window in the repair schedule. Mariners are advised that the navigation pool will be greatly reduced during this period, with depth over the sill at the lower end of Lock E-14 limited to 7 feet and depth in the channel between Lock E-13 and Lock E-14 limited to 8 feet, generally.
Locks E-13 and E-12 will operate from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily during this period.
This section of the Erie Canal will close again for final repairs on Sunday, October 6, 2013, with final repairs to open the Canal projected to take as long as several weeks. Mariners needing to transit this area during the month of October are urged to take full advantage of this limited re-opening. 
Additional updates will be provided in subsequent Notices.
For updates and information, please call 1-800-4CANAL4 or visit www.canals.ny.gov

If you or anyone you know is affected by this situation, please be sure to pass this information on to them.

Stunning Killer Whale video

I've had dolphins surf in my boat's bow waves, but what you're going to see here is simply amazing - a pod of killer whales surfing behind a power boat. Hang in to the end, there's some really great footage there.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another FREE Sailboat and Erie Canal Update

Free Columbia 22 sailboat (East Norwalk, CT)

© craigslist - Map data © OpenStreetMap
First Street
This is a seaworthy boat, with a fairly new main sail. The boat needs a good cleaning, but is sound. The main is in excellent shape and I have a jib and a Genoa. I just don't have time to sail it or to take care of it. It's on a mooring behind the East Norwalk Boating and Yacht Club. There is a 9-horse outboard available, in very good condition, for $400.

Erie Canal Update

Most of you have by now read Al McGillivray's update on the Erie Canal situation, posted here:
Erie Canal Update
As of this point, the most recent NY State Canals update states that the canal will be closed for from two to three weeks, and is dated September 18. You can monitor the status at  
"For updates and information monitor 1-800-4CANAL4 and www.canals.ny.gov."

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. I know my friend Doc Hogan is - he's out today doing a shakedown cruise on Simoon, the boat he and his wife are taking south, leaving in a couple of weeks from Urbanna, VA.
For those heading south, check out the link at the top of the page for Southbound Escapees - Mark Doyle (On the Water Chartguides) has been posting some excellent charts with depth annotations on problem areas of the ICW. In my opinion, Mark has the best data available out there now for cruisers heading south. I now recommend his material at all my seminars. Check him out, at On the Water Chartguides

Friday, September 20, 2013

Erie Canal Update, from Al McGillivray

Heading towards Buffalo
Special thanks to LiveBlogger Al McGillivray, who is making his way to the Erie Canal and thence south to paradise. As readers know, the Canal is shut for from two to three weeks for repairs at lock E-13. Al has provided us with an update of the situation, and how to deal with it in a 'cruiserly' fashion! 

Black Rock Lock
Hello all, I called the New York State Canal phone line this morning and talked to Jeff in Navigation with respect to the Lock 13 shutdown. I am more positive about continuing through the canal system after our discussion. Jeff indicated that the Governor has set a high priority in completing the repairs ASAP as there is commercial traffic that must move. He says the crews are working diligently on completing the repairs in a safe and timely manner. While Jeff works for the Canal System, he is also a boater who spends most of his vacation time exploring various parts of the waterway. He offered some ideas for slowing down as well as getting off the beaten path and enjoying some areas of the system we may not have seen otherwise. Most boaters on a transit schedule make 30 to 40 miles per day stopping only once. A slower pace will allow us to stop at some of those neat spots that one makes mental notes about stopping the next time through but never manage to. One of these areas off the transit path is the Seneca Falls / Cayuga area - wine country. The Seneca Lake Wine Trail is one of the largest appellations in the eastern USA. The Trail boasts a diverse variety of wines from classic vinifera to hardy native grapes, premium hybrids and even mead. Over 30 wineries dot the shores of Lake Seneca.

At the southern end of Lake Seneca is Watkins Glen. From Wikipedia; Located on the southern tip of Seneca Lake, one of western New York's deep, glacial Finger Lakes, Watkins Glen is the site of scenic Watkins Glen State Park, but is probably best known for its role in auto racing, It is the home of a street course used in road racing, a famous racetrack, Watkins Glen International, and a historic race, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix. The racetrack was also the scene of the 1973 Summer Jam at Watkins Glen rock festival attended by an estimated 600,000 people. With all this to see, I'm beginning to feel rushed already. Wally may have to send in the troops to drag me out before the weather on the New Jersey coast turns too nasty.

(ed. note - I'm not too worried about Al - I know he wants to get to the Annapolis Boat Show and spend some more money...besides, the Canal Authority will throw him out come November!)

Blue Crabs on Video

My friend Joe Hunter from Annapolis got the clever idea of putting his GoPro in the water along with a chicken neck and got this amazing footage of a Blue Crab feeding. It almost looks staged, the crab just gets into the perfect position, looking right at the camera.
I'll have to remember to ask him if the star of this video ended up in the pot at the end of all this... If you'd like to see even more fascinating underwater video, check out the world famous Lobster Cam, which is here This cam shows a lobster trap, live, in Halifax Harbour.

For those of you coming in from the Soundings article, welcome, and be sure to check out the rest of the blog - we have some fascinating videos, some good information on transiting the ICW - and much more to come too - and some fun stuff. There's also some newer links to free boats, so if you don't have a boat, or know someone looking for a free boat - perhaps you'll find what you want here.
If you'd like to see more of this, you can sign up with Google, or via email - both links are on the right hand side of the page.
Enjoy your time here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Help wanted on the Erie Canal?

Hello LiveBloggers - I received an email today from a woman who would be interested in crewing on a boat heading down the Erie Canal and Hudson River, as part of a Masters thesis. Here is her message, which she asked me to pass on to readers:

Hi, my name is Autumn - a graduate student from the University of Pennsylvania. I am conducting research along the Hudson River/Erie Canal and was wondering if I could hitch a ride with someone who is going through the lock system next week (Any time September 21-30). Looking to hop on around Schenectady and be dropped off anywhere near new york city - i.e the charthouse in weehawken. I plan on fully documenting the route for ecological resources. --also I heard a portion of the canal is down? I am willing to hop on anywhere if you are pursuing an alternate route... I can document the lock system from land and the hudson by river course.

Both my methods and dates are flexible given the ad hoc agenda. I am particularly looking to “hitch a ride” with any vessels that are also taking this same route. I have sailing/marine experience and can help navigate and work as an extra set of hands of deck. I can also pay for gas,food,beer etc. This is primarily for research and will use this information at a university level that will extend into a larger pedagogy. I plan on working with a team of scientists and engineers in tandem to this research. please contact me at autumnv@design.upenn.edu

If you're able to help Autumn, or know of someone who can, please email her at the address shown, or contact me directly and I'll get your contact information to her.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Alternate route via the Champlain Canal and St. Lawrence River

LiveBlogger Al McGillivray reports that the Erie Canal is closed at Lock E13 for two to three weeks for repair. This means that no vessels will be able to reach the Hudson River during this period via the Canal.
The alternate route is the Champlain Canal. This involves heading to Sorel Québec, which is 39 miles east of Montreal, where they can unstep their masts. Mast should only be restepped once south of the federal lock at Albany. 
The Richelieu/Chambly route runs north and south between the northern end of Lake Champlain at Rouses Point, NY and the St. Lawrence River at Sorel, Canada. Sorel is located approximately 39 NM downstream from Montreal, 200 NM downstream from Tibbetts Point near Cape Vincent at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, or 240 NM from Oswego, NY.
From Sorel, Canada on the St. Lawrence River to the U.S. Border at the northern end of Lake Champlain, the overall distance is approximately 68 NM. This is made up of 10.06 NM of the Chambly Canal, 0.25 NM of the St. Ours Canal, and 57.69 NM of river section.
A further 60 miles brings boaters to the federal lock at Albany, NY. 
Controlling height on this route is 17 feet, in the Champlain Canal portion.
Canadian Hydrographic Service charts CHS #1350 and CHS #1351 cover the entire route from the northern end of Lake Champlain north to the St. Lawrence River. The Chambly/St. Ours Canal Lock Chamber Waypoint’s in .PDF file format are available as a  zipped file of 12 KB, at http://www.offshoreblue.com/cruising/richelieu.php
Further information on the Champlain Canal portion can be found here: http://www.nycanals.com/Champlain_Canal
There are several potential routes to bypass this problem area. Boaters in Lake Erie can transit the Welland Canal (you will need three people on board for this) into Lake Ontario, then proceed east to Sorel. Or, they can enter the Erie Canal, exit at Oswego and run down to Sorel from there, sailboats with masts down (not recommended). Alternatively, and depending on their current location, boaters can enter the canal and proceed at a suitable pace to bring them to Lock E13 in time for its reopening. From E13 to Waterford is approximately 46 miles, or two days for most vessels.
I hesitate to advise on what to do, but mariners heading south must understand that the weather isn’t getting any better, and the New Jersey coast can be challenging in bad weather. Delay at this time may place you into a pattern of bad weather. 
That being said, it is possible to do the Jersey coast in short hops from New York, the longest jump being 38 nm. The harbours are Manasquan, Barnegat, Atlantic City and Cape May. Even for slower sailboats, this distance can be covered in 8 - 10 hours, during daylight hours.
Bear in mind, if the weather deteriorates while you are outside, the first two harbours, Manasquan and Barnegat, may be impassable due to standing waves and rough conditions in these narrow inlets, and Atlantic City (Absecon Inlet) can be difficult to impassable. Check weather carefully before you head out.

If you wish further advice or information, or have updates on the situation, use the contact form on this page at the bottom right hand corner.

Relax - we're still on course.

tugboat on the Erie Canal
Hello LiveBloggers - I imagine all you long time viewers here are wondering - is Wally going to change the blog to the 'Free Boats Blog'? The short answer to that is 'no', but let me explain a few things.
Ultimately, I'd like to make some money from this blog, so I can honour my vow to never ever again hold a snow shovel in my hands! (That means being out of Canada for the winter in case you're not getting it). As most of you know, I'm a writer for SAIL and Waterway Guides, as well as other publications. Writing for free is not how I want to spend my free time.
One way to monetize the blog is to bump the blog hits up, way up, thus making the site attractive to advertisers. That's the reason I'm always asking you to share LiveBloggin' with your friends, other sailors and boaters - the more who read, the more who join, the easier it is to sell advertising. First however, I have to get those numbers up there.
The recent Free Boats posts have been 'ginormous' in terms of hits. The first free boat post quintupled the number of hits from the highest ever day - from 300 to over 1500 hits in 24 hours. FYI - that many hits in 24 hours puts you in the top leagues for blogging. Clearly, the Free Boats feature is not going away soon, but it's not going to take over this blog, that I promise you. We'll still have features and stories on the ICW, which was and is the original purpose of this blog. So don't despair when you see the occasional Free Boat post - they aren't taking over.
I'm also looking at another new feature, one that will bring you and other LiveBloggers some much better prices on boating stuff. That's in the works and hopefully, will come to pass - more on that later.
So be watching for new features over the next few months, but don't worry about LiveBloggin' becoming a new creature - that's not in the cards.

Now for some boating news - LiveBlogger Al McGillivray reports that the Erie Canal is shut at E13, and will be closed from two to three weeks while a broken dam support is repaired. Or was that a damn broken support, I'm not quite sure on that.
He's currently in Lake Erie heading that way and is trying to determine what his plan will be. He's at Fairport Harbor, to the east of Cleveland, so he's got a couple of days before reaching the Canal.
One route would be to take the Canal to Oswego and then jump out to Lake Ontario and run down to the Champlain end of the canal. You could also do that via the Welland Canal. I'll be looking up information for Al and Susan, and also Debbie and Glen, who are in Lake Ontario and facing the same problem when they reach the canal. I'll post this information shortly after this post appears.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Here it is - FREE 23 foot sailboat

Free to a good home: 23 ft. fiberglass sailboat (long keel), Swedish design from the early '70s. The Karlskrona-Viggen is a smaller version of the 27 ft. Albin Vega. Designed by Per Brohall, she is a sturdy, capable pocket-cruiser. This is a project boat and she needs a handy person who is capable of handling an extensive refit. She is not storm damaged  and her exterior is structurally sound, but she has been sitting neglected for 3-4  years. Her sails and rigging are included (she has a wood mast). The boat is currently stored out of the water in a boatyard on the Hudson River. The mast is up and she is rigged.
For those of you not familiar with this design, this tough little boat is easily capable of cruising the Great Lakes, US east coast and on into the Bahamas. In fact, with her shoal keel, she'd be superb for the Bahamas.

Pictures of a sistership on the Hudson River may be seen at  http://hudsonriverexplorer.blogspot.com/2011/07/karlskrona-viggen-nr83-ii.html - more information can be found at http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=3221
Here is a blog with photos of what this boat can be made to look like - this guy has done a great job on his boat - 
http://grass-hopper.blogspot.com/2007/07/karlskrona-viggen-nr-36.html Check out the pictures and you can see just how little it would take to make this boat that pretty.

This boat does not have a trailer or outboard motor.  The boatyard can unstep the mast and put the boat on a trailer for you or launch the boat. There are several people nearby who handle sailboat transport for very reasonable prices.
Note - this is not quite accurate as it's a newer version of the boat. The keel on this plan is smaller than on the boat shown.

As you can see, this boat is in pretty fair shape. It could be sailed away from what I understand, with very little work. I found what I thought to be further information on her on Cruisers Forum, but couldn't verify they were the same boat so I've not posted that information here. The conclusion was that she would be an easy restoration.
Please email or call Mary, below, for more information or to schedule an appointment to see the boat.

Free:  KARLSKRONA-VIGGEN 23 sailboat
LOA: 23 ft., draft 3.5 ft., beam approx. 7.25 ft., displacement approx. 3,000 lbs.
email: svlevity@hotmail.com (Mary Broderick/Steve Perry)
phone: (914) 315-9320
Location: Verplanck, New York (on the Hudson River)