28 November 2011

Summer of 2011... in pictures

Knot Yet is safely put away in storage as winter threatens to dump down on us any day now.  The days are so short.  There is lots of time to stare at the count-down timer.

Then it hit me.  There is still plenty to do going forward, but I haven't posted any pictures from this summer's trip to the North Channel.

So, like I posted earlier we had guests onboard for the first week.

Some relaxed...
Julie enjoying a book.

Some relaxed maybe too much...
Somebody lost a bet or bet him he couldn't...
but why do I always have to take the pictures?!?! 

We stopped at the mandatory stops...
It's like this all day long for a reason.

Apparently there is more than one way to get there...
It's not just a boater's paradise.

We enjoyed some quality family time...
Learning to blow the sun down with a conch shell.

At least she looks good doing it.
Painting on the rocks with Honey.

We enjoyed the beauty of it all...
Making our way into "Rat Covered Portage".
Not a bad view while you're fishing.
Because I couldn't get the loon picture that I wanted.

The real reason for going...
Look at the size of that fish!

19 October 2011

Haul Out :-(

We left a couple weekends open for taking Knot Yet across to Penetanguishene for haul-out.

Yes, Penetanguishene.  Our home port, Wiarton, cannot handle us over the winter.  We do not fit in their indoor storage.

Normally, we try and push our season on to get the end of October in.  But, seeing as we now have to make a trip across Georgian Bay before haul-out, we decided to cut our season a little bit shorter.

Our first choice weekend blew a gale.  Winds blew 40 knots, gusting close to 50 knots.  Waves on Northern Lake Huron grew to 15 feet.  Not quite as big on Georgian Bay, but still no place that I want to be.

Our second choice weekend was Thanksgiving weekend.  Apologies to our family, but we needed to take care of our boat.

Wow!  Did we ever luck out.  Shorts weather and calm winds.  It's hard to appreciate that we need to get this done when the weather is like this.

Saturday is so nice.  I keep telling myself we should get going.  I keep checking on Sunday's Marine Forecast.  But, good things come to those who procrastinate, so we wait another day.

Instead of making our way across the bay, we loaded up for a fall colours tour around Colpoy's Bay for the afternoon.  Fabulous!!!

Griffith Island Lighthouse
Saturday night we have boating friends over for dinner, tell lots of stories and stay up way too late.  I sure hope the weather is nice on Sunday.

It is a charmed life we live, because Sunday is every bit as nice as Saturday was.  Our 9am planned departure crept a little to become a 10am departure, but that could happen to anyone.  ;-)  Regrettably, it is time to leave.  We say our good-byes and cast our lines for the season.

Wiarton Marina.  We have never seen this many boats in the water after us!
The trip across the Georgian Bay and around to Penetang is 62nm.  In conditions like this, it feels like we should do it way more often.  It's hard to remember that it is the middle of October.  We don't see a single boat between Griffith Island and Christian Island.

Christian Island Lighthouse
I have to put a plug in for Bay Moorings marina (http://www.baymoorings.com/).  This was our first time actually meeting the staff and seeing the facilities.  I must say, I have a hard time recalling ever being treated better at a marina.  First impression is I like this place.

The problem with storing your boat almost a 3 hour drive from home... how do you get home?  Easy, phone a friend with a plane.  Thanks Gerry!!!

Kerri getting ready to board our flight home
BTW, the following weekend blew over 40 knots again.

19 September 2011

Knot Yet to the rescue.

We got to pull a fellow boater off the rocks today.

Next Tuesday is Macara's birthday, so we suggested that she bring a girlfriend up to the boat for the weekend.  Barely 15 minutes out of town the poor girl gets car sick.  Uh oh, is she going to be okay on a boat.  Turns out she was fantastic!

Saturday we take the girls for a cruise.  We put Knot Yet up on step and ran her out to White Cloud Island, she needed a good run.  Then we put her in sightseeing mode.  We drifted back in along the north shoreline, doing crafts, watching movies, having snacks... down stairs.  Dad had a great ride up on the flybridge :-)

The girls had planned that we would spend the night on the hook.  A south-east wind and a girl that gets car sick.  I don't think so.  Back to the dock.

Sunday morning starts with "let's go for another boat ride."  So, we take them for a short trip to go swimming, do lunch, paint some nails.  All good stuff.  I changed the oil in the genny.

We were almost back to the marina, when we overhear a radio call to the marina requesting help.  A sail boat had been blown up on the rocks and was taking a beating in the surf.  The marina doesn't really have a rescue boat and there weren't a whole lot of power boats on the water.  Lots of sailboats, yes???

We interrupt their call and offer our assistance.  Come on girls, let's go!

We arrive at their location, and yes, they needed help.

A swing keel sailboat, so they had managed to get themselves blown right up on shore.  No place that I wanted to be.  So, I found myself a place in about 9' to 11' of water and proclaimed that I was not coming any closer.  Kerri grabbed one of our spare anchor ropes and a large ball fender and floats it out off the bow.  The rest was pretty much up to them.  I did my best to hold our position backing into a breaking surf while the one poor guy makes his way out over the slippery rocks and through the surf.  The life jacket was a good idea, because he took a beating.  After about 15 minutes he has the line back to their boat.

I start to back away and they aren't moving an inch.  With both guys naturally clinging to the high side, they were driving their keel down and into the rocks.  I couldn't get them on the radio and they couldn't hear us over the wind and the surf.  What we were trying to tell them was to get on the leeward side of the boat.  They thought we were motioning for them to get off the boat.  So, the one guy obliges!  Jeez, now we got one guy in the water, but the boat has broken free.

So, now we are sitting there asking ourselves, "what just happened?"  Were these guys together or was he a cottager that came out to help.  The guy makes his way to shore and starts walking to the nearest cottage.  Nope.  Our rescued boat tosses us our line back and circles back to pick up his buddy.  OH NO!  This doesn't look good at all!  You see this tiny little dock was only 200m or so from where we had rescued him.  Largely the same conditions.  It took 3 or 4 tries, but the guy finally gets on board.  It was pretty much a horror show to watch.  The boat was bouncing wildly!  Bouncing off the dock, probably off more rocks.  Luckily nobody got hurt.

Remember my little birthday girl and her car sick friend?  Well the girl friend is fantastic!  Actually helping out and being a sweetheart.  Macara isn't enjoying this at all!  Too rough, too much drama.  She is worried to death the other folks aren't going to be okay.  She is pretty certain we are in pretty big trouble ourselves.  I am grateful she had her friend along to talk to her, because that would have been just one more distraction for Kerri and I.

Knot Yet is a fine vessel!  I don't think that I could have done this in the Sea Ray.

11 September 2011

Where did summer go?

My last post ended and we were only half way through our North Channel vacation.  Ooops!  Sorry about that.

In previous posts, I have mentioned that we prefer to find anchorages that are a little more out of the way.  A little more private. 


And that was our mistake, I thought more about where we wanted to be than what others might do. 

Macara is 6 years old.  What 6 year old does not like a beach?  Beaches in the North Channel are at a premium, but we found a nice one and we backed right in on it.  Bow anchor in about 12 feet, stern anchor just off the beach... less than 3 feet of water.  Thursday, we have the place to ourselves!

Friday morning I get a text message from my mom.  "We spent last night in Little Current and are almost at the Benjamins, where are you?"  Happily, I give her our location and invite them to join us.  Along side beaches, grandparents rank pretty high on a little girl's list.

And then it happened.

We are wading away on our secluded beach in the Benjamin's...  life can't get any better.  It's just after noon and I have my first rum of the day in hand. 

Hold on.  That Sea Doo is coming right into our bay.  Is it the police?  No, it can't be.  He has board shorts on.  So, we chat.  Small talk.  All the time, the wind is blowing him further in to our beach.  I offer to hold on to him so he doesn't get blown ashore.  He say "no thanks, that is where I am heading".  What???  And then, I look out of the bay and two more boats are coming.  Oh no!!!  What is going on here?

To make a long story short, they were the advance team and they were going to camp on this beach no matter who was there before them.  By Saturday morning, the beach was littered with a full flotilla of boats.  The highlight being a large fabricated pontoon boat that hit the beach and landed right on top of our stern anchor.  Right or wrong, it was more than I could handle, so we picked up and found ourselves a new little piece of paradise.

Moral of the story:  When spending the long weekend in the Benjamin Islands treat your anchorage like a chess game.  Not only must you consider your move, but you must consider your apponents next move too.  Fortunately for us, this was not checkmate and we moved our fun to a new location.

Sadly, the end of week one meant the departure of our boat guests.  Extremely fine boat guests (our usual cruising friends that only had 1 week this year), they actually helped us with our break in period aboard our new boat.  You see, with three staterooms and two heads, we weren't in the habit of using all of the boats space to it's full potential.  They were able to report that our forward hatch has a leak and the day head just ain't right.  Add that to the list.

After another great night in Killarney (it was finally my turn to see Andy Lowe shut down the carousel) was followed by, "Daddy, Daddy can we stay another day?  I want to play in the pool.  There are kids here!!!"  Well that was hard to argue with.  Even with Grandma and Grandpa waiting for us in McGregor Bay, they would just have to wait.

Every year we see more and more boats in McGregor Bay, but once again we were able to tie up to our favourite tree.  A little fishing, lots of swimming, a few dinghy rides and even a campfire on the shore make McGregor Bay a lot of fun.  The highlight definitely being Macara catching her first fish.  A medium to smallish pike that had her screaming so the whole world could hear.  Without a net, her pike was on it's way to a stringer when he slipped from Grandpa's grasp.  Oh the disappointment, oh the tears!  And most of that was on Papa's face.

One final appearance at Killarney Mountain Lodge before an early departure across Georgian Bay.  Up bright and early and the forecast looks fantastic.  The plan:  Let's throw the hammers down and get most of the big water out of the equation and then we will back off a little and save some fuel.  After about an hour of easy cruising I decide to pull her off plane.  No sooner had I done that, and Kerri is kicking me out of the captain's seat.  "Go make me breakfast, I have got the wheel for a while", she says.  Well then, "come on Macara let's go make some breakfast."  The best part was, we opened all the blinds, threw on a movie and sat down stairs and watched the Bruce Penisula glide by.

Pictures soon to follow... I promise ;-)

01 August 2011

North Channel

Our annual pilgrimage is in full swing!

All is good.

It's 80nm from Wiarton to Killarney.  In the past it has been a 3 to 4 hour trip, depending on the weather. We have sucked in close to the Bruce Peninsula for protection, we have made the straight run, every time is different.  It is big water.

We slept in!  How could that be?  My BlackBerry has the most annoying alarm, kind of fitting for me, a sonar ping.  It always gets me up.  Even better, it is like finger nails down a chalk board for Kerri.  Two pings and she is beating on me to shut that d*mn thing off!

The plan... to arrive in Killarney around noon.  The forecast... up to 15knots out of the North-West, not the best.  And we slept in.  Having already covered some 2000nm this year the plan was to keep the fuel consumption under control.  But, the MAFOR was not in our favour and Macara is still pretty nervous after our trip from Kincardine to Wiarton.  So, we put Knot Yet up on plane for a couple hours to get some miles behind us before the winds pick up.  Sometimes, plans work.  By Lonely Island we had all the protection we would need.  So, we pull off the throttles and glide into Killarney on about as little full as our old 30 footer would.

Never wanting to mess with success, we like to start our North Channel voyage the same way.  After a long trip, our routine fits perfectly.  Head directly to Herbert's fish bus and split a fish meal.  Their portions are huge, so we have it fine tuned down to 1 meal and 4 extra pieces of fish for the 3 of us.  A perfect lunch.  Then it is off to the pool so Macara can have a swim.  After that, we get dressed up (boat style) and head out for a nice meal at Killarney Mountain Lodge.  Every year the same thing, Prime Rib dinner and a bottle of red wine.  Finally, some live entertainment with Andy Lowe.  He is a one man entertainer who plays a mix of some of his own songs and requests.  He has been playing in the Carousel every year  for the last 12 and we have never missed a year. Macara calls him 'My Andy'.

Now the details get fuzzy.  Largely due to a Non Disclosure Agreement between us and anybody that we have ever cruised the North Channel with.  When we go looking for an anchorage, we want one to ourselves.  We don't do the popular, crowded anchorages.  The charm of these cruising waters is the seclusion.  So forgive me if I am not willing to post our favourite spots on the internet.

Our western anchorages will be known as "The Benjamin's" and our eastern anchorages will be referred to as "Rat Covered Portage".  Rest assured you will never find us anchored in these two popular anchorages, but we may not be that far away.  ;-)

It's a bit of long run down to our "Rat Covered Portage" and, if someone is already shoe horned into our little spot, we don't have a really good plan B.  We get lucky again!  So we proceed hunker down for a few days.  We like to stern into this particular little bay and throw out a beach anchor.  Then place two bow anchors to keep us in place, no matter the wind direction.  When the wind is howling from the west, we are not more than 50 yards from rolling 4 foot waves as we sit peacefully in our little cove.

The joys of a new boat (sarcasm)... after a beautiful dinner and glorious night with a few drinks under the stars, it was time to start the genny and go to bed.  No go!  What's up?  I read the manuals for a bit, nothing clearly jump out at me.  So, I decide to deal with it in the morning.  What's that noise?!?! is how I wake up.  The bilge pump is gurgling, pump not pumping out.  I jump to the control panel and check the voltage.  Only 9 volts!  It was 12.5 volts just 5 hours ago.  Oh no!  This is not good.  I carry an Eliminator battery with booster cables with me and attempt to start main engines and the genny... nothing.  It looks like I am pulling all four batteries and spending a long day in the dinghy running into town and getting them charged.  One more idea.  Hook the Eliminator directly to the genny start solenoid.  Next to impossible given the genny location.  There has to be an easier way.  Finally, I find it and genny jumps into action.  Crisis averted.  Good thing, because I was not looking forward to the alternative.

So, right now we are sitting in Little Current.  Cleaned up and pumped out, it is time to get ready to make our way to the Benjamin's.

More to come...


05 July 2011

Canada Day at home in Wiarton

After a week in Kincardine Marina and entertaining just about every night, we made our way for our home port.

The plan was be on the water around 4am and enjoy a nice leisurely cruise up and around the Bruce Peninsula.  Maybe even save a little fuel after our 2000nm delivery run.  Well, I forget to let Mother Nature in on our plans.

Fog and rain took some of the charm out of leaving before sunrise.  Hit the snooze button and try again for 6am.

Still not pretty, but it is time to get going.  Leaving the girls in bed, I set the throttles for a 10knot cruise and make a course for Tobermory.

So far, so good.  The wind is 8-10knots out of the west.  A beam to sea.  If it stays like this, life would be great.  But, the forecast is not promising.  They are calling for 15-20knots out of the North-West and that would be a lot less enjoyable.  At about 7:30am, the seas are starting to show signs of picking up, so I slide down the ladder to talk to the girls.  I tell them that I would like to pick it up and make Tobermory before things get nasty.  I get the go ahead.

It didn't take long and we were seeing the forecast coming true.  Not ideal, but the boat can handle it.

Oh no!  Here come the girls and they are not happy.  Macara is quite upset.  It took me about 10 minutes to convince her that we were safe and that it was just a little bumpy.  She was histarical, but comes around once she could see what was actually going on above decks.  Just the same, she wasn't having fun and for a brief moment I considered bailing out and pulling in at Stokes Bay.  But, that was an 8nm run on its own and it wasn't that much further to Tobermory.  We press on.

Finally, Tobermory.  To my surprise and much relief, the seas lay right flat.  The morning's plan was to lay off the throttles and save a little fuel, but the trip thus far has wiped the smiles off the crew.  I decide to get us off the water as soon as possible.  Hoping a little terra firma will improve the mood.

We now have a new ETA.  We were talking between 4-6pm.  Get ready folks here we come and we will be there by 1pm.

Normally, we are in the water around the 1st of May, this is the last weekend of June.  Enough suspense, it is time to unveil the new boat.  Our marina friends are all gathered at our slip.  Balloons and air horns to boot!  Got to love 'em!!!  A nice reception, and much appreciated.

Canada Day!  Our first full weekend in Wiarton is a long weekend.  Sweet!!!

We will call it Friday morning, but we are off the dock by about noon.  The weather is gorgeous and we spend the rest of the weekend on the hook.  A little further than prime fireworks distance, but we have a great view of the fireworks and our favourite anchorage for the night.  Get comfy and enjoy!!!

21 June 2011

Getting home: By the numbers

Starting from Stuart, FL...

Day 1:   183nm   St. Augustine, FL
Day 2:   143nm   Hilton Head, SC
Day 3:   123nm   Charleston, SC
Day 4:   231nm   Oriental, NC
Day 5:   156nm   Norfolk, VA
Day 6:   192nm   Atlantic City, NJ
Day 7:   191nm   Catskill, NY
Day 8:     94nm   Fort Plain, NY (Lock 15, Erie Canal)
Day 9:     94nm   Clay, NY (Lock 23, Erie Canal)
Day 10: 148nm   Port Weller, ON
Day 11:   90nm   Erie, PA
Day 12: 186nm   St. Clair Shores, MI
Day 13:   43nm   Sarnia, ON
Day 14:   82nm   Kincardine, ON

Total: 1956nm

Eight different states and a province.

19 June 2011

Day14: Homeward bound

Day14 is the final leg of this delivery.

Our first voyage together as a family.

With only approximately 80nm to cover today, life is a lot more relaxed.  The 6am alarm has been changed to 8am.  For the past 13 days, we have been on the water before 7am.  Not today.  Today it was shortly before 10am when we made our way off the dock.

Getting off the dock... that is a bit of a story in itself and it attracted quite a crowd.  You see, when I pulled into Sarnia the boat behind me was a 50' Viking (it's a small world.  I looked at this boat over the winter).  Well, he was importing his new boat today as well.  His 50' Viking turned into a 61' Viking!  A beautiful boat, but it left me a fair bit less room to manoeuvre.  As we cast our lines one kind gentleman offered his assistance.  By the time I wiggled my way out of there, a crowd of 10 had gathered.  A small round of applause followed.  Yes, it was a little tighter that I would have liked.

Most of the trip home was like a mill pond.  So, we set the auto pilot and played Pop n Go at the helm.  Macara drove for a while.  And then the girls got hungry and went down stairs to make lunch, which turned into watching a movie.  It's all good!  A great first day out on the water!!!

We will sit in Kincardine for the week.  Load her up with our stored boating stuff.  Then, next weekend we will take her up and around to Wiarton, our home port.

I apologize for resorting to Google Maps, but I don't have good marine maps on my laptop for Canada.
Day14:  Sarnia to Kincardine

18 June 2011

Day13: Let's make this boat ours

Today is the first day that I am to operate this boat on my own.

Chris casts my lines for me and I put out to L. St. Clair.  Today's destination: Sarnia, ON.  Back home to Canada for real.

Today I will import the boat into Canada properly.  Today my girls are flying down to join me.  Today, for the first time, the boat feels like ours.

I put out of the marina, set the auto pilot on a slow idle and run around the boat gathering in lines and fenders. Soon, I am ready.  I put the boat up on plane and start making my way to Sarnia.


The smile is short lived, cause within minutes I am enveloped in a thick fog.  No problem. I have got radar!!!  Reduce the speed a little and press on.  As soon as I enter the St Clair river the fog clears.

Does nobody work around here?!?!  The river is littered with fisherman.  That and there are more freighters here than we saw in New York harbour.  I don't mind, I am on my new boat.


It is never an enjoyable experience dealing with the government.  And truthfully, I don't have clue what the process is.  But, today is my lucky day, every official that I talk to is in a good mood and actually seems to be reviling in my purchase.
The brokers have my paper work complete and ready to go.  In and out.  Except for some pleasant small talk.
I walk over to the customs building with this strange paper work in hand.  She takes a quick glance at it. It all seems to be in order.  Stamp... stamp.  "That's all sir".
Wow, that was easy.  Apparently, they don't put up much of a fuss when you give them money.

Quick fast back to the boat.  My girls are coming.  I have to get some of this trip washed off before they get here.  I want Knot Yet looking her best when they arrive.

Many thanks to my buddy Howie for flying Kerri and Macara down to meet me.  It is going to be great to have the whole family together for this final leg back to Kincardine.

Today's route:

17 June 2011

Day12: Lake Erie

L. Erie weather changes quickly.  And, today, it is true to form.

The morning starts off favourable, but Environment Canada is forecasting the winds to switch to a head wind.  And they were right.  Annoying enough that we had to change course.  Rather than following the major shipping channels, we made our way north to Point Pelee.  We kept the waves a little more on our beam, rather than on our nose.  She is fine ship!

If we keep pushing, we can make the Detroit river and put this slop behind us.

Jefferson Beach Marina (St. Clair Shores, MI) is our goal.  Once we get there, the end is near.  Captain Chris is ready to go home.  We have a driver lined up.  And his flight booked for Ft. Lauderdale out of Detroit.

Yesterday, I mentioned, the synchronizer was acting funny.  Rather than synchronizing, it was actually forcing the engines out of sync.

Between Chris and I, we have several contacts in our phones.  We start to calling.  We phoned the manufacturer.  We had a tech lined up to meet us at Jefferson Beach.  Chris spent a fair bit of time in the engine room getting part numbers.   ZF was doing their best to diagnose the issue while we were under way. The controls are not the originals, so we called the place that installed them.  It turns out, that while Chris was showing me how things used to work.  The button that we thought was now disabled was the issue.  With one flick of a button, we were back in business.  That phone call probably saved me a $1000.

There are so many systems on this boat.  I am still learning.  It's good to have a network of people that I can call.

Today's route:

Day11: The Welland Canal

To get to the Welland Canal we traversed 8 locks, refuelled in Oswego, NY and essentially raced the entire length of L. Ontario.

We made great time and beat a commercial freighter by an hour.  We made our window!

To travel the Welland Canal you must have 3 people aboard.  So, I hired an ex-Canal employee to co-ordinate our passage.  At the bottom of Lock 1 there is a private vessel wall.  On shore there is two phone booths.  One to call CANPASS to allow vessels entering the country to clear customs.  The other phone booth has a credit card machine to pay for your vessels passage and a phone to call the Lockmaster.

Yes, we had a window and should have been allowed through.  BUT, cutbacks mean the canal is understaffed.  The current crew was under compliment and was not able to take any private vessels.

We would have to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  We weren't going to make it through tonight.

What a bummer!  The closer we get to home, the more we want it.  Almost all the stars had aligned to get our day back.  So close, and yet so far.  Get some sleep.  We aren't going anywhere tonight.

When we wake up there is a tall mast sailboat on the wall behind us.  Apparently, he will be locking through with us.  Unfortunately, he needs a customs inspection.  It will be 9am before we are underway. That is the latest we have cast lines yet.

It's about 4:30pm when we clear the canal.  There is plenty of daylight left and we have fuel.  We also want to put these locks well behind us.

The third boat that we locked through with has been making the same speed as us since the Hudson river.  They were heading for Dunkirk, NY.  What the heck, so are we!

When we got to Dunkirk, we found out that the only place that sells diesel is closed.  It is only 6pm!

I love my Garmin GPS!  A quick pan down the coast. Zoom... zoom... zoom.  Erie, PA.  What's it got?  A quick search of the local services and we find a fuel dock.  The GPS has it's phone number stored.  A quick phone call proves they are willing to stay open late for a purchase of our size.

Throttles down!  We are on our way.

Erie, PA is a nice town.  I would make this my destination of choice over Dunkirk, NY any day.

What a shame to have to come off the water.  L. Erie is flat as can be.  Very enjoyable.

Finally, in the US, they have these video phones for clearing customs.  A great idea in principle, in practice these things are frustrating to say the least.

Something strange happened with the auto synchronizer while coming into Erie.  More on that story later.

Day9 and 10: More Erie Canal

More of the same.

Up until now we have been following the Mohawk river.  As we reach it's head waters we start using man-made canals.  Long straight runs.  Slow speed limits.  But, we are making progress.

On Day9 we make L. Oneida.  And the height of land in this area of Upstate New York.  Which means our first down locks.  It's time to make our decent down to L. Ontario.

As Day9 draws to an end we start making plans for where we want to stop for the night.  We like to get fuelled up at the end of the day, so that it doesn't interrupt our daylight travelling hours.  Guess what?  Nobody in this neck of the woods sells diesel.  Damn!

A nice place just the same.  They even gave us a lift in to town for groceries and to pick up some take-out.  Genuinely nice people.  http://www.piratescovemarina.com/

Day10 starts off a little breezy as we make our way toward L. Ontario.  The Oswego river is my least favourite portion of the canal. Way too many cottages laying claim to 'No Wake' zones so that they can leave their 16' runabout on a dock.  It goes on for ever!  And the locals get irate over the tiniest ripple.  The boat in front of us had the Sheriff called on him.  We just had a phone call placed to the next Lockmaster.  No harm, no foul.  Just not a very welcoming place.

Fuel up at Oswego and race to the Welland Canal.  If we hurry, there is a window of opportunity that we may get locked through tonight!  That would be awesome!!!  That would buy us a travel day back.

L.  Ontario, starts of quite rough.  Not encouraging at all, but within an hour or so, it lays right down and we flying right along.

We arrive at the entrance to the Welland Canal by 5:30pm.  Perfect!!!  We made it on time.

Some neat links and maps:

Erie Canal Day 1 progress - We stayed at Lock 15 in Fort Plain, NY
Erie Canal Day 2 progress - We stayed below Lock 23 at Pirates Cove Marina in Clay, NY
Erie Canal Day 3 progress - Fuelled up and on L. Ontario by lunch time.


16 June 2011

Day8: The Erie Canal

Sorry about the lack of updates.  New Yorkers don't believe in wifi.  And I haven't figured out how to post from my cell phone yet.  We will see who takes longer to embrace technology.

For those moving north up the Atlantic coast with the Great Lakes in mind, there is a tempting short cut that saves the long voyage up around the Nova Scotia and in the St. Lawrence.  At New York, take the Hudson River up past Troy, NY and then head west under L. Ontario.

The kicker???  Low fixed bridge heights.  For our route we were staring at 20' bridges. 

Ocean Yachts specs state my hardtop is 15' 6" above the water line.  The radar and satellite antenna put me at about 17' or so.  The VHF antennae are not a problem, they fold forward.  The outriggers???  How low do they go?  And the water levels?  Are they down to normal or are they still high?

Those strange looking poles that stick out the back of the boat are for salt water fishing.  Truthfully, I will likely get very little use out of them.  But, right now, they are 39' of concern.  And that concern, very quickly became a surprise.  I had read and studied the various bridge heights on the Erie Canal system.  What I had failed to acknowledge was the Hudson River had it's own low bridges.  And, so the fun began, drifting around in the middle of the Hudson River, dropping VHF antennae and feverishly lowering the outriggers.  Then, inching ever so slowly, we crawled towards our first test.

I believe that first bridge had a 24' clearance.  Even at their fully lowered position, it is obvious that the outriggers sit higher than anything on top of the flybridge.  But, how much higher?  Are we going to be able to reach L. Ontario without getting the tools out?

Plenty of room!!!

Neither Captain Chris nor myself had ever travelled the Erie Canal system.  I have done a few locks on the Trent - Severn and Chris has been through the Panama Canal.  How much different could it be?

So, we winged it.  My plan was to pick up a Canal guide at the first lock.  Well, the first lock isn't part of the Erie Canal, it is on the Hudson River.  What do we do?  Fake it.  No harm, no foul.

Fifteen locks later we call it a day.  A place called Fort Plain, NY.

Life is slow moving on the Canal.  Locks drain faster than they fill.  So, typically we found the locks full for the higher elevation.  Which meant at every lock, we waited for the lockmaster to drain the lock before we could enter.

94nm travelled today, but a third of them where cruising up the Hudson.  We are doing the best we can, but it is less than half the distance we would cover on an easy day on the Atlantic.

Home seems further away today.

Today's route:

11 June 2011

Day7: Our final day on the ocean

Our final day on the ocean.  Or, so we thought.  We woke up to dense fog everywhere.

Spark up the radar.  Turn on the running lights.

6 knots.  This stinks!  9 knots.  Well at least we can steer this.  And only 4-5 gallons per hour.  Almost trawler like.

It was 3 hours before the fog finally cleared.  Pick it up!  But, along came the wind and the waves.  We took a pretty good beating.  With only 19nm of New Jersey left we had to make a decision.  Do we give up for the day?  No way, let's press on.

A tiny angle change and getting off the Jersey coast and life improved a lot.  Long Island... New York City... the Hudson River.  Good bye Atlantic Ocean.

The Hudson River is a pleasant surprise.  A lot more scenic than I had imagined.  West Point Academy is an impressive sight from the water.

Our slow start left us a little short of the Erie Canal, but we are close and we will make the best use of our time for the next couple days.  There is a lots of water still in the canals, so levels are high.  I hope we have the bridge clearance.  The outriggers don't go as low as I had imagined.  It is going to be close.  Or the tools are coming out.

Erie canal:  http://www.canals.ny.gov/

Today's route:

Day6: Atlantic City

The morning started early like all the others.  Except this time our route took us out past battleship alley.  Bummer... not one submarine to be seen.

Now that the boat is running strong, our only worries are weather related.  They are calling for possible thundershowers starting as early as 2pm.  Likely by 8pm.  Today we are in a bit of a rush.  So, we pushed the boat a little and it loved it.

Best fuel prices we have seen.  $3.78 per gallon.

The marina as of a couple weeks ago was owned by Donald Trump.  No free wifi?!?!?!  There is no way I am paying for wifi after already spending more than enough.  The blog will have to wait for tomorrow.

Interesting story from the water today:
What now??? The aft bilge pump is running steady.  What is leaking now?!?!?!  Nothing ;-)  The rough seas slammed the float switch so hard that it pulled it's screw out of it's mount.  The switch was twisted up in corner.  One quick screw and we are back in business.

Interesting stories from Atlantic City:
We had a great sushi/sashimi meal over looking the boardwalk and beach and then off to one of Donald's many casinos.  I doubled my money playing Blackjack.  The bummer of it all is they had $1 tables and I only sat down with $20.

The route from Norfolk to Atlantic City:

09 June 2011

Day5: Norfolk,VA

The Gremlins have been sorted out.  And they have been kicked off the boat.  We haven't fixed what they broke, but they are gone.  No more problems.

The problem was not the trim tab solenoids, which we so quickly replaced.  The problem was the starboard trim tab switch.  Last night's trick of moving the port side solenoid over to starboard side worked like a dream.  It was pure ecstasy this morning to feel the boat rise out of the hole at a balanced trim.

There were times we ran like a 48' sport boat.  Twisting a turning with the river, what a blast.  A lot of the trip so far has been set the Auto pilot and watch for hazards.  Today, I got to drive the boat.

I am thinking about quitting eating crab.  There are way too many crab pots in the Carolinas!!!  One almost wrapped around my drives!!!  As it was, I had to zig zag through the Carolina sounds, dodging very tiny crab pot markers.  Eventually, in 2-3' chop I ran over one that I could not see.  My heart sank.  Fortunately, I didn't wrap it around my running gear.  It was a sickening feeling.  I may have cursed.  There was an f-bomb dropped in our general facinity.  We didn't need that.  Luck was on our side.

Luck.  Dolphins saw us out this morning. 8 or 10.  Always a nice sight.

It was a happy boat today.  No more guessing what we are up against.  A lot more music.  A lot more relaxed.

Stretching it yesterday to Oriental, NC ensured we made it to Norfolk, VA.  Today, we were delayed by a barge carrying hazardous waste, trains parked on our bridge, a fire that needed emergency vehicles to keep our bridge closed and the ultimate, a sail boat that entered our only lock and got flipped around backwards.  What a wafi!

Tomorrow, Atlantic City, NJ.  By Saturday, salt water will be behind us.  We will be up the Hudson River.

Tomorrow's forecast:

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 75. Southwest wind around 8 mph. 

Friday: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Friday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly between 8pm and 2am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. Southeast wind at 6 mph becoming southwest. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. 

Today's route:

08 June 2011

Day4: We made Oriental.

Yes, we made Oriental, NC.  No, the trim tabs are not fixed.

It would appear our problem was not solenoid valves.  Shortly after heat shrinking the connections, I thought to myself, it would have been a good idea to put a voltmeter on that.  But, we didn't.

This morning we were on the ocean at 6:40am.  Still listing!!!  This is getting frustrating.

We had 224nm to cover today to make up for our lost time.  Full port-side tabs needed to stabilize the boat while on plane.  To maintain course the autopilot applies 3 to 5 degrees of starboard rudder, just to maintain course.  Something is still not right.

Ten hours on the ocean gives a guy a chance to think.  One side works and the other doesn't???  What if I take the good solenoid valve from the good side and move it to the bad side.  That should work!  And it did.  What it also exposed... Capt. Chris noticed a sloppy switch.  Broken!!!  I will have to replace it in the next 200-400nm  ;-)

A really good sesame seed tuna tonight.  Unlikely looking place.  Fantastic dinner!!!

Yesterday, they forecasted 10-15kts and 2ft seas.  Actually, it was 20-25kts and 3-4ft seas.  Interesting enough when you are 'forced' to run full trim tabs down in a following sea.

Interestingly, 3 Sportfish left Charleston, SC this morning at exactly the same time with the same destination in mind.  We ran the same course all day.

Tomorrow's weather:  It's going to be a hot one!!!

Overnight: Mostly clear, with a low around 76. Southwest wind between 11 and 13 mph. 

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 96. Heat index values as high as 102. Southwest wind between 10 and 13 mph. 

Today's route:

Tomorrow we run the inside up to Norfolk, VA.


07 June 2011

Day3: It's official, we have lost a day.

We finally made Charleston, SC.  And then we didn't leave.

We have two issues.  Uneven fuel burn and a bad trim tab.  The trim tab is trivial next to fuel issue.  But, is the trim tab creating the uneven fuel burn?  My saddle tanks gravity feed to a centre tank. How much could our listing lead to 150 gallon differential in fuel feed.

Yesterday, in Hilton Head, we suspected a check valve sticking.  We even brought in a mechanic to look at it.  Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.

Today, we listed and the differential fuel burn was still there.  So, we isolated a tank and watched.  The lower tank fed fine.  It would appear if we fix the trim tabs, then we are good to go.


What else is going on?  A big sport fishing tournament in Beaufort, NC.  Our planned destination.  So, we will have to push a little further to Oriental, NC.  A long haul, but it will buy us back some time.

Day0: Stuart, FL
Day1: St. Augustine, FL
Day2: Hilton Head, SC
Day3: Charleston, SC
Day4: Oriental, NC ???

Tomorrows weather:

Tonight...S winds 10 to 15 kt...becoming SW 10 kt. Seas 2 ft.

Wed...SW winds 5 to 10 kt...becoming S 10 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Seas 2 ft.

Wed Night...S winds 5 to 10 kt. Seas 2 ft. 

Today's route:

06 June 2011

Day2 sets a new course

Day2 had us set course for Charleston, SC.  Not our longest run, but definitely our furthest offshore.

Well guess what happened.  It didn't go well.

About 2hrs into the run... did you hear that?!?!  That sounded like a high level bilge alarm.  Where is that water coming from.  The rear bilge has water in it, but why is the bilge pump not pumping it out?!?!  It mustn't be working.  That's not good.  We got to change course.  We are some 45 nm offshore.

Also, why is the port side saddle tank showing it is down to 3/4 full already.  That is not right!  That's 2x as much fuel as should be missing.

Neat little fact about the 48' Ocean.  Two saddle tanks (270 gallons each) gravity feed forward into a centre tank (145 gallons) where the engines draw their fuel.  Well, in order to save money, Ocean only put gauges on one saddle tank and the centre tank.  So, the whole time the saddle tanks are feeding forward the centre tank indicates full.  In fact, as of yet,  I have never seen the full low enough to see the centre tank off full.  Does that gauge work?  Who knows???

What we did know was this... the emergency bilge alarm was going off.  We need to get off the ocean.  What we didn't know was where all that fuel was going.

New course... Hilton Head, SC.

Not long after changing course there are no more bilge alarms.  Hey, did you see that?  It appears the normal bilge is working on this new angle.  But, why are we at 1/2 full on the saddle tanks?  We should only have burned half that.  Something is still not right.  Keep making way for Hilton Head.

By the time we reach Hilton Head the boat is really starting to list, even becoming difficult to handle in the surf.  What is going on?

First, let's fuel up.  Let's find out what those gauges are telling us.  220 gallons from the port side, only 70 gallons from starboard.  That's the right amount, just not the right ratio.  Why so much out of the port side?  A quick look at the Ocean Owner's Manual show check valves coming from each saddle tank before feeding the centre tank.  Could one be stuck?  Well it wasn't stuck by the time we opened it for inspection.  But, that has to be it!  We will know more tomorrow.  60nm north to by Charleston should let us know if we are still only delivering fuel from one saddle tank.

Tomorrow's weather:

Overnight: ESE wind 9 to 12 kt. Mostly clear. Seas around 2 ft.

Tuesday: E wind 9 to 13 kt becoming SE in the afternoon. Mostly sunny. Seas around 2 ft.

Tuesday Night: SSE wind 9 to 12 kt decreasing to 6 to 9 kt after midnight. Mostly clear. Seas around 2 ft.

Today's route:

View from our slip:

Putting the south behind us:

05 June 2011

Day1 and we are already a day late!!!

My intentions were good, my delivery was a little poor.

We tried to close the deal on Knot Yet on a Friday the 13th.  Guess what, it didn't happen.  Just the same, I had promised a bunch of friends a good time at Sailfish Marina in West Palm Beach.  The deal didn't close until Monday.  No boat = no good time.

Fast forward to Day1 of delivery.  We had it all worked out with the boat yard.  Work was to be completed by Friday.  No exceptions.  We were leaving on Saturday.  I had invited the same faithful group to join me on our first leg north.  Stuart to St. Augustine!  They had rooms booked.  Cars rented.  Oops!!! Sorry gang.  The boat won't be finished until noon-ish Saturday.  We won't be heading to St. Augustine until Sunday.

With family and friends offered a token boat ride on Saturday, it was up bright and early and we were heading north Sunday morning.  What started out as very soft 2ft swells turned into nothing at all.  A very uneventful first day.  Just the way we like it.

The weather forecast looks good.  The sooner we get off the Atlantic, the better chance I have of making it back to work on time.

Monday: Variable winds less than 5 kt becoming E 6 to 11 kt in the afternoon. Mostly sunny. Seas 1 to 2 ft.

Monday Night: E wind 6 to 11 kt becoming SE after midnight. Partly cloudy. Seas around 2 ft.

Day 1:


03 June 2011

Tomorrow we are heading north!

We have a busy day ahead of us today as we try and complete all the yard work.  I hope it all gets done.  It's going to be a busy boat.  There isn't a single job that I would call 100% finished.  A lot of wrap up to get done.

If today goes well, tomorrow morning I am coming home.

First leg... Stuart, FL to St. Augustine, FL.

We have a boat load.  We have spent so much time in Florida lately that we have started to blend in with Kim and James's friends.  So, it is only fitting that we load the boat for it's first journey north.  All toll, there will be 8 of us on board.  Kim and her friends will grab a room up in St. Aug as the captain and I will have an early morning as well make our way up to Charleston, SC.

I will try and make daily entries during the delivery to track the boat's progress.

Planned destinations on the Atlantic coast:

Stuart, FL (start)
St. Augustine, FL
Charleston, SC
Morehead, NC
Norfolk, VA
Atlantic City, NJ

Weather Synopsis:


Tomorrows Forecast:

Saturday: ENE wind 9 to 12 kt. Mostly sunny. Seas around 3 ft.

26 May 2011

Knot Yet in pictures

Knot Yet is ours!

Friday the 13th... I believe, I believe.
As hard as we tried, things did not come together for our scheduled closing date.  Things would have to wait until Monday.

It's official!!!  

Let's go home.

We took possession in Fort Lauderdale and ran her up the coast to Stuart for some repairs prior to our 2000 mile journey home.  Nothing serious, but some engine maintenance is required before we head north.  While in the yard, let's take advantage of a strong exchange rate and get some cosmetic repairs done as well.  I wish we had more time, but our all too short Canadian summer is coming quickly.

If all goes well, we will be running the coast north on June 4th.  Our goal is to arrive in Kincardine, Ontario by Father's Day.

15 May 2011


Tomorrow is the big day!!!

Tomorrow we take possession of our 48' Ocean Super Sport.

Tomorrow, Knot Yet takes her first voyage.  North to Stuart Yachts for a few repairs.  Soon she will be making her way home.


04 May 2011

Knot Yet -Has been Found!

OH  YAHHH!!   After what seems like an eternity we have a sign agreement on a 2000 48' Ocean Super Sport!

Now for the banking, etc. to be done.  Then we will take possession and move her from Ft. Lauderdale to Stuart for some repairs.  After the repairs she will be heading North to come home!! Hopefully she will be here by Father's Day!


28 April 2011

The ball is in their court

We have now had a couple days with the survey results.  I have had time to make a few calls.

Sure I paid for a survey, but what does it all mean?

I have attempted to sort out what is normal wear and tear on a 11 year old boat and what is broken or abnormal wear.  I have tried to sort out neglect vs. sh*t happens.

After all that, I have attempted to put a dollar value on stuff that just ain't right.  I will benefit from the corrective maintenance.  They should have done it earlier.  I have negotiated 50 cents on the dollar for everything that I feel is above and beyond normal wear.

So, it is now up to them.  We have signed back a Conditional Acceptance letter.  We adjust our offer by a few thousand dollars.  They have to decide if our offer is fair or not.

Our latest deadline is 5PM Friday.

She is a good boat.  We are just trying to put a fair value on her.


24 April 2011

Our first bad news

The oil samples came back from the lab on Friday.

The motor and transmissions came back with clean bill of health.  The generator... not so much.

Potassium, sodium, and wear metals of the cylinder, pistons and bearings all very high.

Lab suggests that either this genny is in need of a major overhaul or just a bad sample.  Recommends that the oil and filter be changed, the genny be run for 25hrs and then resampled.

So, what does this all mean?  Well, now we have to come back with a conditional offer.  The genny has had its raw water pump, jacket cooling pump and heat exchanger replaced.  There may have been a problem that has been fixed and there are lingering contaminants.  The new parts may have been defective or improperly installed.

Irregardless, our offer is based on a healthy genny with the normal wear of a 1600hr engine, not an engine on it's dying legs.  On the bright side, the genny ran well through out the sea trial.  So, it is in good shape for now.

So, now we wait for the maintenance and oil samples


22 April 2011

Survey and Sea Trial

The day of reckoning.

I have bought boats in the past and have possibly taken too many things at face value.  Not this time.  I assembled a survey team of my own choosing.  They were working for me!

I called the Caterpillar Dealer in West Palm Beach (Pantropic) and they recommended Tim Caruso.

Caterpillar engine surveyor - Tim Caruso  timcat10@att.blackberry.net

After several conversations with Tim, he recommended I contact Ed Rowe.  Ed has plenty of experience surveying cored boats.  Ocean Yachts manufacture a solid fibreglass bottom, but use a divinycell foam core on the sides and decks to reduce weight.

Marine Surveyor - Ed Rowe  eroweassoc@comcast.net

Thanks to both Tim and Ed!  I feel that I am making a very educated purchase.

The results.

Ocean Club is a recommended buy.

The engines.
The Caterpillar 3196s (660hp) ran right to spec.  They have a few small maintenance issues, gaskets and filters.  I will get those cleared up before we leave Florida.

The boat.
The hull is rock solid.  Only one high moisture reading on the whole boat.  The hardtop, the furthest place from the water?!?!?  The bottom was clean, the props were clean.  Let me loose with my buffer and she will look like she just came off the show room floor.
The windows need to be removed and rebedded.  We knew that going in.  This will be our high dollar fix.

The sea trial.
The weather was exactly what I was hoping for.  Any boat will perform well in calm conditions.  Not today, we had solid 3 footers coming in from the south-east.  The captain got splashed on the flybridge while going out the inlet.  He was not amused!!!!  But, I was.  I got to see this boat perform on a marginal day.  At wide open throttle we achieved our 2300rpm, and 30knots!  Ye haw!!!  All temperatures and pressures within Caterpillar specifications.

Now it is time to itemize the survey recommendations, get a quote, make a counter-offer and close this deal!

19 April 2011

First look

Monday was our first look at Ocean Club (2000 48' Ocean Super Sport) since signing the contract.

She is a nice boat in need of a little bit of a face lift.  We are a little disappointed with her presentation.  You would think that a person trying to get full value out of their boat would put a little shine on her.  She needs a wash and a wax.  She has a couple broken mirrors.  She has more than a few scratches in her wood work.  A damaged door latch.  A stain in the carpet.  None of this is major, I just would have expected all of this to have been cleaned up before the buyers arrive.  It makes me wonder, what else will we find.

Oh well, the survey is on Wednesday.  That is when we find out what kind of boat she really is.

And the weather is nice!

10 April 2011

We have a name, but still no boat.

Aug 1st 2012 is our departure date.

Internally we set a timetable that our new boat would be on the Great Lakes for one full cruising season before we leave.  

We started shopping in June of 2009 with a trip to New Bedford, Mass. and Freeport, Maine to look at 2004 40' Mainships.

March 2010 we charter a 1997 39' Mainship in the Virgin Islands and decide that out on the ocean, that was not the boat for us.

So in late March I fly back down to Florida to start shopping for a new boat.  I find a beat up old 48' Ocean in at a Liquidator.  I call Kerri back home to get on the internet and find me a nicer one.  The search for our cruising sportfish begins.

Well... after offers on:
1.  2001 48' Ocean - miles apart
2.  2001 52' Ocean - very close on Christmas eve
3.  2001 52' Ocean - repoed during our getting approval for financing
4.  2003 52' Ocean - bank agent comes to us and then senior lending officer decides it is worth way more
5.  2003 52' Ocean - got close, too much money to turn this fishing boat into cruising boat
6.  2001 52' Ocean - dock talk convinced owner he shouldn't settle, so he raises his counter $25k?
7.  2000 48' Ocean - we have a contract

Fingers are crossed, hoping the survey goes well on April 20th (my birthday).