Sunday, July 15, 2012


July 15, 2012  Dateline: Cape May, NJ USA
At 3:40 PM today, I sailed into Canyon Club and my America’s Great Loop cruise came to an end.  I had traveled today with MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II 115 miles from Annapolis, MD to Cape May, NJ. The trip was uneventful as both the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays were flat.  On the Chesapeake I saw this tow.  It’s a lot different from the ones I encountered on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. 

As I passed through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, Rich got this picture of MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II bearing down on me.  Rich also saw this fixer-upper along one of the banks of the Canal.  When I turned to travel down the Delaware Bay, I was able to ride the outgoing tide and it increased my speed by 3 knots.
Some people have asked me to post statistics about the trip, so here I go
·         Traveled approximately 5,900 miles
·         The total calendar days, from start to finish was 400
·         Excluding Rich & Carol’s trips back to New Jersey, the trip took me 9 ½ months of actual travel time
·         My twin Caterpillar C-12 engines ran for 543 hours each
·         My Caterpillars burned 10,184 gallons of diesel
·         Traveled through 3 different countries and the waters of 16 states
·         Traversed more than 10 named canals
·         Negotiated 103 locks with vertical elevation changes ranging from 3 to 97 feet, including two hydraulic lift locks and one marine railroad
·         Anchored out twice
·         Docked at 115 different locations excluding anchorages
·         My longest day was 153 miles and my shortest was 1
·         My blog has been viewed approximately 16,000 times with followers in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom besides the US---thank you all and I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it
·         Carol collected 48 of 49 nature cards handed out by lock tenders on the Trent-Severn Waterway. She’s missing the “Black Tern” to complete the set
·         Most importantly, Rich and Carol met 90 other boats, their owners and made untold great friends
Each day was an adventure, something new and different.  I got to see how the United States changed over the years.  The Erie Canal was once the waterway to the west and cities along it grew and amassed significant wealth.  Today those towns suffer as their industrial base has moved away.  The Erie Canal today is a recreational canal bringing tourists to those same cities.  Cities along the Mississippi and other major rivers also suffer from the change in the nation.  Once prosperous cities watched their industrial base move away, just as those on the Erie did.  Some of these cities are fighting back, others just seem to suffer.  Rich and Carol saw the largest post office in the nation, in Chicago, today it is largely empty as the major mail order houses that it served in the first half of the 20th Century have left Chicago or are now out of business.  Other cities in Northern Michigan that were based on tourism still to this day continue to benefit from it.
Seeing some of the cities suffer caused Carol to decide she needed to do something about it and help in her own way. She bought at least 5 pairs of shoes, 2 shorts, 4 capris, multiple tops and sweaters, 3 dresses and of course, gifts for those at home. My storage cabinets are still full of her purchases.  When she entered the world’s largest shoe store, more than 40,000 pairs, in Bobcaygeon Ontario, she got confused and walked out with nothing.
The Western rivers continue to move large quantities of bulk materials, tows push up to 31 barges at one time.  These tows can be up to a quarter mile long, passing one is a time consuming experience.
I wonder what Rich and Carol’s plans are for my next adventure

Saturday, July 14, 2012


July 13, 2012  Dateline: Annapolis, MD USA
At 7:45 AM, MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II untied herself from me and headed off for some fuel, a half hour later I got underway.  The night at anchor was a pleasant one.  There was no wind and I floated on the hook.
The 87 mile trip to Annapolis was a real enjoyable one for me.  The bay was flat and I was able to run at 18 knots, it was great not having to worry about a narrow channels and shallow water.  The Navy has a target range in the Chesapeake for the aircraft flying out of Patuxent Naval Air Station and my route was going through the middle of it.  Rich decided that I should go around it, just in case a Navy fighter was going to do its thing, I saw not jets.
I passed a motor trawler on the way and Rich called them.  The name of the boat is JIMKAT owned by Jim and Kathy of Vermont.  They told Rich that they were on the Loop but were on the 6-7 year plan.  As I was traveling a lot faster Rich bid them smooth seas and suggested that they contact us when they get to Cape May.
I took on some fuel at the Yacht Basin Company in Annapolis, but little did I realize that in the Annapolis mooring field was GREAT ESCAPE.  She had come from South River with Don, Teresa and their two labs.  Rich and Carol first met Don and Teresa in Frankfort, MI during August last year.  They met again when after a long day Rich wanted to tie up at Fairhope, AL----the dock hands were busy and Don and Teresa said that they would tie me up to the dock.  Rich remembers that was one of the greatest moments of the Loop.  Rich and Carol were tired after the 132 mile trip down the Mobile River and to hear the offer of help was a God sent.
Don and Teresa brought a bottle of champagne to celebrate my completion of the Loop.  As GREAT ESCAPE was in the mooring field Don and Teresa came over by dinghy which they tied up behind me.  Don said “If a boat comes in next to me, they would not be able to get the dinghy out.”  Later,  when we returned from dinner a large Sea Ray had pulled in the slip and Don could not get the dinghy out, at least the way he came in.  The captain of the DONNA MARIE a 100+ foot Hargrave motor yacht tied up behind me offered to move her just enough so the dinghy could go under the dock and get out.  It worked!!  So Don and Teresa were on their way.
John, Kelly and John’s mother of MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II joined us for dinner.   The food at dinner was great, but the company was even better.  Here is a picture of us all.
Tomorrow I will spend the day in Annapolis and head home on Sunday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I LIED!!!!!

July 12, 2012  Dateline: St. Mary’s City. MD USA
Last evening the sunset at the Tides was picture perfect.  Carol got this picture as it was going down, see what you think.

The other day, I said that it was a day of lasts and that I would not be going to any place new. Well today I went to a place that was new to me and Rich and Carol as well..  This morning I left the Tides Inn at 9 AM on my way to St Mary’s City to anchor out for the night.  The trip was smooth as the bay was relatively calm and I made the 62 miles in a little over 5 hours.  I got there first and set my anchor. MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II came next to me, dropped her anchor and we rafted together.  I had never been to St Mary’s before; it is really a nice place.  Rich and Carol put my dinghy down and they went ashore.  Here is a picture of me and MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II rafted together.
The town of St Mary’s was founded in the mid 1600’s and was the original capital of the Maryland Colony.  It flourished for approximately 60 years and then it passed into oblivion.  The centuries past and the wooden buildings rotted away and the many artifacts were buried under layers of dirt.  Today the town consists of the St Mary’s College and an architectural dig of the old city.  As the old city was uncovered, some of the buildings were rebuilt on the old foundations.  The old city is now an exhibition area and includes a replica of the DOVE, one of the ships that brought some of the original settlers to Maryland from England.
Today, St Mary’s is a college town.  The school is a four year liberal arts school.  Rich and Carol had dinner at the school cafeteria; the meal was $12 for all you could eat.  The food was surprisingly good.
Tomorrow I am off to Annapolis and I will see Don and Teresa of GREAT ESCAPE.  I met them almost a year ago in Frankfort. MI.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


July 11, 2012  Dateline: Irvington, VA USA
Yesterday morning started off stormy and rainy.  The dockmaster at the York River Yacht Haven had told Rich that since he paid for two nights I could stay another night free.  However, the skies cleared over Yorktown by mid-morning and Rich and John, of MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II, decided to leave, so we were on our way.  I told Rich to look at the SIRIUS weather display as there were storms all around and Carol asked if we all should go back. Rich told us both that I could go around the storms.  Well it turns out that I did get rained on and the Chesapeake Bay was rough---but not real bad.  The 42 mile run took me about 31\2 hours -not too bad.  MID LIFE CRY-SEAS II followed in my wake for most of the distance and enjoyed the somewhat “smoother” water that I created in my wake.

Rich and Carol really like the TIDES INN located in Irvington, VA.  Me, I was not so crazy about it.  The last time I visited here the docks were old and tired, besides that they were fixed, making getting on and off me for Carol more difficult.  Did I mention that Rich and Carol have adopted a Looper approach to traveling---that being, call for a slip at the last minute.  Well, Carol called while I was under way and she did get me a slip.  It turns out that the marina has been completely redone; the docks are floating and even the pump-out works.  I also got the last large slip.  Lucky for you, Carol!!!!!
In my posting about the Bahamas I commented on the size of boats and the impact of relative size.  Well, let me tell you, I am docked next to PATTI LOU who is about 125 feet long.  I am not the big girl any more I am just another average boat.  If she leaves me before me,  I will look big again.

The TIDES INN opened in mid-July 1947 and soon established itself a premier small hotel in the Mid-Atlantic.  The facility caters to those individuals and families who want to get away from it all with boating, swimming, golf, cycling and other activities including croquet, lawn chess and outstanding restaurants.  Because the TIDES was located in a “dry” county in Virginia, it provided a yacht that would take guests across the Rappahannock River to Urbanna, Virginia so they could buy alcohol and  bring it back with them.  The resort has shrunk somewhat in size over the years but it retains its charm and elegance.  One of the restaurants still requires gentlemen to wear jackets to dinner.
Did I mention that Rich and Carol must really like the TIDES as I have been here at least 4 times before; with the new docks I now really like it as well.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


July 8, 2012  Dateline: Gloucester Point, VA USA
My trip today would take me from Coinjock, VA to Gloucester Point, VA.  While the trip is 50 miles from Coinjock to Norfolk and then an additional 30 miles to Gloucester Point across the York River from Yorktown, the first 50 miles would take me 7 hours.  There were several bridges that had to be opened and a small lock traversed.  The bridges are timed on the ICW so that they only open on the hour or in some cases on the half hour, but the timing of them requires boaters to wait for at least one of them to open.  The early part of the trip is across a wide bay, not only is it wide but it is very shallow.  With the wind blowing on my port side Rich was always making adjustments to keep me in the narrow channel. Then when I cleared one of the bridges a tow was waiting on the other side to pass through.  It was a surprise to me to see this tow starting to move toward me. This was only the third tow I have encountered on the east coast.

Great Bridge Lock

Gilmerton Bridge

The day of the lasts included the following: a) the last new water that I had to travel over; b) the last bridge, Gilmerton, VA,  that had to be opened for us and finally the last lock, Great Bridge, VA, we went through.  The Gilmerton Bridge is in the process of being replaced so the picture looks like two bridges.

Mile Zero Point

Navy Boats

At Gloucester Point we meet up with my friend Mid-Life Cry Seas II and her owners John and Kelly.  I will be traveling with them for the next week.  A very serious thunder storm passed through Gloucester Point, VA.  The lighting strikes were close and the thunder shook me a few times, but it passed through with no incidents.

When I got to Mile -0- on the ICW Carol completed the Loop and now all three of us have done it.  Norfolk harbor is an amazing place with all of the Navy vessels that are there being worked on or being stored.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


July 7, 2012  Dateline:  Coinjock, VA USA
Rich and Carol got back to me yesterday morning.  My props were mounted and the master head installed so we were ready to go.  We left the dock around 11:45  AM for the 80+ mile journey to Belhaven, NC.  Rather than take the Intracoastal Waterway (the ICW) Rich decided that I should swing down the Neuse River and then up the Pamlico Sound to Belhaven.  The trip was uneventful and I covered the distance in about 5 hours.
Dowry Creek Marina, where I stayed last night, was a rather interesting place.  There were few other boats there and I spent the night on the fuel dock, there were no other transient boats.  The dock hands are live aboards and help out the owner of the marina when transits come in.
By 7:30 this morning I was on my way for the 80 mile run to Coinjock, VA.  The trip took me along the Pungo River, the Pungo Alligator Canal and finally the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal.  The dock master at Dowry told Rich that he might see some bears along the canals.  As usual, neither he nor Carol saw any wildlife.  Rich did see an eagle fly overhead.  The Alligator Canal was straight and deep enough for me to move along at 18 knots.  The scenery was not very interesting.  The water in this area is not the aqua color that it is in Florida and the Caribbean, it is stained brown with tannic acid.  When I got out into the Albemarle Sound, I saw the dreaded crab pots.  They were surprisingly well marked and were easy to avoid.  I finally entered the Albemarle-Chesapeake Canal and there was a tow in front of me who was pushing two barges.  A sportfish and a large motor yacht passed me and then called to the tow and asked permission to pass.  Since I was close to my final destination for the day, I stayed behind the tow.  At one point my depth gauge said I was in 4.5 feet of water, there is no way that tow pushed the barges through 4.5 ft. of water.  Rich slowed me down any way.  I arrived at the Coinjock Marina and Restaurant at about 2:30 in the afternoon.  I was tied up outside the restaurant where they will have a band this evening.  Given how hot it is I will likely feel sorry for the band playing outside.
“Tis a sad day” came because the Coinjock Marina is the last marina that I will stay at on the Great Loop trip that I had not stayed at before.  Tomorrow evening I will be in the Chesapeake and staying at York River Marina which  I had visited on an earlier trip.   In over a year I have not stayed at a marina that either Rich or I previously knew.  Starting tomorrow afternoon I will be back in waters that I’m familiar with.  There will be nothing new till I leave Canyon Club for yet another adventure.

People often ask what was the best part of the trip and I have already answered that the people.  The nicest marina that I stayed at was Atlantis on Paradise Island, but that is an unreal place.  The nicest marina is Canyon Club in Cape May.  The facilities are nice and the docks are great.  The best location was Northern Michigan, the cities and harbors there are beautiful.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


July 2, 2012  Dateline:  Jersey City, NJ USA
Since SALT ‘n SAND is still in Morehead City, NC, Rich will comment on recent events.
Honors come in all sorts of forms.  Last evening Carol and I had dinner with John and Mary of MARY FRANCES IV.  They are staying in New York Harbor so they can see the fireworks on July 4th.  Since Carol and I live close by we made arrangements to drive over and have dinner with them.  We first met John and Mary last October at Joe Wheeler State Park, in Alabama, and  traveled down the Tenn-Tom together to Mobile, Al.
Last evening, Carol and I learned something new about honoring people.  In the US Military there is a coin referred to by several names including unit coin, memorial coin, unit challenge and commander’s coin.  The coin represents affiliation, support or patronage to the organization minted on the coin.  John is a retired Brigadier General in the Michigan National Guard and has the ability to award them.  Last evening John awarded Rich one.
The coin not only is an honor to receive but carries with it a very heavy burden.  A holder of the coin may “challenge” any individual who is known to have a coin.  The challenge is made by withdrawing a challenge coin from one’s pocket and raising it in the air or by tapping it on a bar or table.  The individual being “challenged” is required to produce their coin within 60 seconds.  If the challenged individual fails to produce the coin, he/she is obligated to buy the drink or whatever else the two individuals agree on.  If a coin is dropped and it hits the floor, the owner is obligated to buy drinks for anyone who hears or sees the coin hit the floor (provided that they have their coin with them).  Coin challenges can occur at anytime.  Challengers frequently stalk their victims.  An innocent bystander may never hear the challenge—only the challengee’s despairing cry, “___Ah___!  I forgot mine.  Since John, gave Rich his challenge coin, John hopes that their paths do not cross again until he, John, gets home to get another coin (he only brought one with him on this trip), otherwise John will be buying, as Rich will stalk him.  On the other hand, if the challenge is answered by John producing his coin then the Rich must do the buying.
According to legend, challenge coins originated during World War I.  American volunteers from all parts of the country filled the newly formed flying squadrons.  Some were wealthy scions attending colleges such as Harvard and Yale who quit in mid-term to join the war effort.  In one squadron a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit.  One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore around his neck.  Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilot’s aircraft was severely damaged and he was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured.  In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck.  Taking advantage of a night time bombardment that very evening, he succeeded in escaping, but, of course, without any identification.  He donned civilian clothes and avoided being recaptured.   He was able to make it across no man’s land to a French outpost.  A number of saboteurs had tried the same tactic, and not recognizing the American’s accent the French thought him to be a saboteur.  The only identification he had with him was the small leather pouch and the medallion.  One of the Frenchmen recognized the symbol that was on the medallion and instead of shooting him the Frenchman gave the pilot a bottle of wine.  Back with the squadron it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times.  This was reinforced through the challenge described in the above paragraph.
People who have not done the Loop, ask “What is the best part of the Loop?”.  Without a doubt the best part of the Loop is the people you meet and travel with, John and Mary are among that group of people for us.
In two days, Carol and I will be heading back to SALT ‘N SAND for our next adventure.

John awarding Rich the Coin
The Coin