02 June 2011 | Cayman Islands
01 June 2011 | Cayman Islands
31 May 2011 | Cayman Islands
31 May 2011 | Grand Cayman Islands
30 May 2011 | Cayman Islands
16 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
16 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
16 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
14 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
13 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
11 May 2011 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
30 April 2011 | Colon, Panama
07 March 2011 | Kuna Yala, Panama
06 March 2011 | Kuna Yala, Panama
PLEASE read this first!
26 July 2013 | On board Diesel Duck
A speech from the throne: (just kidding) In June of 2010, while waiting out the hurricane season in Curacao, I started this blog. The first entry was our arrival in Curacao from the outer islands of Venezuela. I'll try to stay current with my entries, but Benno and I have since recaptured the adventures on Diesel Duck while we were on a journey around South America and up and down the Caribbean. So stay tuned and look also at older
blog entries. There are hundreds of PICTURES and many entries.
Click with your mouse " [Older] " on the bottom of the page!
If you wish to go to a particular entry, or go to the start or go to the end of the blog, use the [contents]
button on the right hand menu. It will display all entries.
PS: We have started a new blog about travel on land, please look at this new adventure under or just klick the link:
Marlene and Benno's Odysseys on Land and Water
So, this is it!
26 July 2013 | Leamington, Canada
This is the final entry in our blog.
All good things must come to an end. And yes, we are sad that our beloved Diesel Duck has been sold. However, at the same time we are confident that her new owner, Glenn, will love her just as much as we did and that Diesel Duck will continue her voyages to all the beautiful and exotic anchorages in this world.
Benno and I experienced eight fantastic years of cruising aboard Diesel Duck, one of the finest seaworthy yacht designs on this planet. We loved the freedom of traveling, exploring, discovering and seeing places you can only reach by boat. Whenever possible, snorkeling and swimming were activities we most enjoyed. Over the years we've met many wonderful people who we hope to stay in touch with in the future.
Life can be exciting and wonderful whether you are on land or at sea, so enjoy every moment of it.
With our very best wishes to all our friends and followers we are closing this capital of our lives.
The picture is of Glenn, the new owner of Diesel Duck
Wrap up of Diesel Duck
25 April 2013 | Florida
It seemed like a long time we, and our Diesel Duck, spent at the work yard this year. Not that we rushed doing our chores while crossing off little jobs from the to-do list that were completed one by one. The last task of applying two coats of antifouling bottom paint I completed two days before Diesel Duck was moved into the storage area of the boat yard. Promptly at 8 A.M. the crew, Proctor and James, arrived with the travel lift to relocate Diesel Duck to her new spot and shortly after, Neil with his assistant of the "Mobile Shrink Wrap Service" came to shrink wrap our duck. That was no easy undertaking in 91F temperatures for the guys who did a fantastic and neat job.
The majority of stored boats in the yard are left uncovered but we wanted to preserve the beauty of the Duck, her clean decks, protect her from bugs, bird droppings, dust and grime of the air pollution and from the rains during the summer time in Florida. Basically, once the shrink wrap is taken off, she should be ready to be launched.
In the evening, after Diesel Duck looked like a gigantic white parcel, we headed for a hotel to spend the night before heading for the I-75 highway for the drive home to Canada. Our van was jam-packed with stuff (thank goodness for tinted windows) because if anybody looked in they must have thought we were fugitives or gypsies.
The trip home can be done nonstop (approx. 2300 km). However, we took 3-1/2 days stopping along the way at interesting sites. One of them is the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Kentucky. I trust that all of our readers have at one time or another eaten chicken from the KFC chain. There is a marker honoring Kentucky's most famous citizen and following is the inscription if you are interested in its history.
Colonel Harland Sanders began the part of his life that brought him fame in a small gasoline service station on the opposite side of this highway. Born on September 9, 1890, near Henryville, Indiana he left school at twelve to support his family. He held a wide variety of jobs as farmhand, soldier, railroader, secretary, insurance salesman and ferryboat operator until 1930 when he came to Corbin, moved his family in quarters behind the station and started pumping gasoline. This was then a main route to the south, the Dixie Highway from Detroit to Florida. Traffic slowed during the Great Depression so Sanders, who enjoyed cooking, augmented his meager income by selling meals to tourists. His food was liked. His reputation grew and his career as a restaurateur began.
In 1932 Colonel Harland Sanders bought the small restaurant near this site. Here he combined good cooking, hard work, and showmanship to build regional fame for his fine food. His restaurant and motel, now gone, flourished. To serve his patrons better, Sanders constantly experimented with new recipes and cooking methods. Here he created, developed, and perfected his world famous Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe. In 1956 plans were announced for a Federal highway to bypass Corbin, the new Interstate 75. Threatened with the traffic loss, then 66 and undaunted, sold the restaurant and started traveling America and selling seasoning, and his recipe for fried chicken to other restaurants. His success in this effort began the world's largest commercial food service system and made Kentucky a household word around the world.
We are home now freezing our butts off. Ottawa just had another snowfall but here, at Lake Erie in the southern part of Ontario, it rained all day long. If anything exciting happens, I'll post it.
Boat Yard Work
26 March 2013 | Florida
Three weeks ago Diesel Duck crossed lake Okeechobee bound for the Glades Boat Storage where we planned on taking her out for a bottom paint job and maintenance work. The boat yard is situated between Stuart and Fort Myers on the Okeechobee Waterway. It is a do-it-yourself place which Benno and I prefer because we are very particular and careful which products we use and how they are applied and when it comes to technical repairs, Benno really would do them himself. Beside the work area where the occupants are allowed to stay onboard, there is also a separate and secured large storage field for the boats stored here during the hurricane season or, in some cases, for longer periods.
(view from our door over the blocked boats to the west)
To get around while working in the boat yard we wanted our van at our disposal which necessitated that Benno flew home to fetch the car and drive back down. While he did that, we had prior tied Diesel Duck to a private dock on one of the canals at the Turtle Creek area which is about 3 miles farther than the boat yard on the opposite site of the waterway. Mark & Joyce Richter of "Mark Richter's Mobile Marine tel. 863 517 1152", who Benno knows from the internet's "T&T list" referred us to this lovely secluded spot. We were able to use the facilities of the currently unoccupied and very beautiful house and had water and hydro hooked up to the boat. I enjoyed 10 days there and met the whole neighborhoods who were all somehow involved in yachting.
To our surprise we spotted "Northern Lights" anchored across from the boat yard when we motored up the Okeechobee Waterway. She is a custom 48+ foot steel Diesel Duck built also at McNally Marine in Canada and the last time we had seen the boat was in 2008 in Panama . We blasted our horn and John, her owner, and Benno shouted to each other "What are you doing here?" John kindly offered to drive Benno to the airport at Ft. Myers and promptly arrived at 2:50 A.M. the morning Benno was to fly out to pick him up. What a friendship!
Now we are hauled out working on Diesel Duck's bottom and other areas that needed our attention. If you have been there, (meaning living on the hard) you know what I am talking about. A few boats down from us, a power boat had a different kind of problem that needed to be looked after. It seemed that a complete beehive found a new home in one of the exhaust tunnels. The owner only comes here on weekends to work on his boat and the new occupants got busy to produce enough honeycombs to yield a full pot of honey during his absence. Luckily, the boat owner is a hobby beekeeper and was able to relocate the entire swarm.
27 February 2013 | Stuart, Florida
Sorry to all our email contacts, but you got a spam from us. I never thought it would happen to us too, but our email address was compromised. Someone hacked and hijacked our entire collection of email addresses and sent a bogus message. Hopefully you all recognized it as spam and deleted it ASAP.
Meanwhile, we were traveling on the ICW to Stuart, Florida, to pick up our new mainsail and cover which Mack Sails had made for us and being unaware of what was going on with our emails. Just imagine my horror when I found out a professional spammer had been sending spam with our email address in the reply-to field (a process called “spoofing”) and our inbox filled with a pile of bounced messages and emails from friends telling us we had a virus. Our virus program discovered three Trojans. Ouch!
Having Internet access on board can be such a godsend, but in this instant it turned into a calamity.
It's about time
10 February 2013 | Beautiful Florida
We'd like to share with our faithful followers pictures of our floating home. In this blog I have created a new album to invite you aboard Diesel Duck.
Over the years there have been many new Diesel Ducks being built but as far as we know there is only one built in Aluminum, it is our Diesel Duck and it is 100% "Made in Canada". She is very different, inside and outside, than all the others. Her looks have caused a lot of interest, thanks to her designer George Buehler and many boaters and viewers have asked us to get a tour.
Just click on the right side menu "Photo Gallery" and then Diesel Duck built in Canada. It might also be shown down the right side with a picture and other photo galleries. We hope you like her as much as we do.
You think this little car will fit onto our aft deck?
24 January 2013 | Key West, Florida
Our readers must have been wondering where we have disappeared to. It's been a month since I last posted on the blog. Right now we are in Key West, the southernmost city of the USA. The Florida Keys begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, 15 miles south of Miami and extend southwest in a gentle arc all the way to Key West and on to the Dry Tortugas.
If you don't want to come here on your own keel, as we did, other than flying by plane, you could drive the 120 mile long Florida Keys island chain on U.S. 1, the Overseas Highway. You'd be crossing 42 bridges and the longest one being the famous Seven Mile Bridge which connects Marathon on Knight's Key to Little Duck Key. This bridge was built from 1978-1982, replacing the old one which was constructed from 1909-1912 as part of the Flagler Railway but after extensive damage from Labor Day Hurricane in 1935, were it blew a full passenger train off the track into the ocean, it became restored for automobile use. A large part of the old bridge is still standing, running parallel to the new highway.
And this is only the half of it!! I took this picture while we were passing though the center, where the bridge rises to a 65 foot clearance for boat passage.
Traveling south you will pass paces like Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon before arriving in Key West. Back in the 80ies we traveled this route as well and have wonderful memories of the time we spent in the anchorage of Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, on our sailboat Najade. This is a busy place and was nicknamed Hong Kong Harbor. Nothing ever stays the same and passing through this time we were not surprised at the overwhelming number of boats that have made this place their temporary home. Some, it seemed, permanently. The once vast anchorage is now regulated by rows upon rows of mooring balls. A marina office staffed by a lady acting like a sergeant handed out our dinghy parking permit, access cards to facilities and scheduled the mandatory pump out after collecting the hefty mooring fee. There was no wifi reception in the mooring field, but we could cozy up to other computer users on benches along the wall in the very drafty warehouse type hall overhearing everyone's Skype conversation. The place was as busy as a train station at rush hour and cruisers lugging heavy bags abandoned their borrowed grocery shopping carts from the mile and a half located Publix supermarket at the end of the dinghy dock. If you wonder why this is such a popular place, the harbor is totally protected from all wind and wave directions and the temperatures are subtropical. In addition there are plenty of stores and restaurants within walking distance or tourist attractions. I have to say that the city has done a good job of improving and prettying up the waterfront and general area since our last visit.
Benno took a picture of a fellow cruiser passing our boat in Boot Key Harbor. If it wasn't for the outboard motor, I would have thought he was the real deal (Viking).
Key West is a charming town. Strolling through the residential areas with lovely restored houses and well kept yards lush with tropical vegetation is a nice contrast away from the touristy streets lined with outdoor eateries and boutiques. There is much to do and see here and if you want to take it all in, you'd have to have deep pockets. At the Hemingway house, as an example, there is a constant throng of people lining up on the sidewalk trying to get in to look at the rooms and furnishings. With cruise ships docking here year round, spilling off thousands of vacationers each day, these attractions are raking in multimillion dollars in revenues. Having read "The Old Man and the Sea", the book that earned Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize, we were interested in more info and conducted our own research on the internet. It revealed that after his death, the house was sold without furnishings or books and he only kept peacocks and no cats at this location, so the bunch of famed descendents are to be found in Cuba and not here. But, it's an interesting place nevertheless.
All in all, Key West is a place worth visiting. Yes, it has a huge mooring field with amenities like in Marathon, but also a much larger anchorage in the flats where you have the option to pay for dinghy docking and services when needed.
Sloppy Joe must be one of the most famous restaurants/bars in Key West where Hemingway was one of the regulars during his stay!
Both of us are having the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" lunch Jimmy Buffet sings about in his song while taking in the ambience of the Margaritaville Restaurant, sorry the picture was taken thru the dirty window glass and Benno mentioned the onion rings were greasy too.
Benno goofing around at an old car placed as an attraction in town
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
26 December 2012 | Miami Beach
The beauty of cruising is that you can choose your neighborhood. Here in Miami Beach we have quite the rich and famous right next door so to speak. During the holidays we parked our Diesel Duck between Palm Island and the MacArthur Causeway opposite where the cruise ships dock. It's a quiet spot next to big yachts moored in front of beautiful estates and a perfect setting for roasting our Christmas turkey in the oven. To the east we are looking at Star Island. Everyday sightseeing tour boats bring tourists by to show and tell who resides on the island or previously owned what house. Being curious Benno and I took a dinghy tour around the island. The largest property and most impressive estate belong to Dr. Phillip Frost, 2.4 billion worth and #190 on the Forbes list. Among other accomplishments he founded Ivax, a generic drug co. best known for the drug "Viagra" his impressive résumé is a mile long.
We located the estate of Gloria Estefan and know that Rosie O'Donnell's house was hidden somewhere among the beautifully landscaped surroundings. Also Sean Combs was supposed have a house amongst these famous neighbors. However, the pictures I took of previously owned houses by Elizabeth Taylor who sold to Don Johnson (Miami Vice), Julio Iglesia, Madonna, who sold to Xuxa, Will Smith and Diddy's abode, we cannot verify as being true. But then, do we need to?
Now we think we'll move on to explore the Florida Keys and beyond. It would be far more interesting to discover nice snorkel grounds and swim in clear water. We'll let you know what we find.
Dr. Phillip Frost's home
Elizabeth Taylor and Don Johnson's dig
Gloria Estefan lives here
Julio Iglesia's estate
Suppositly Madonna was living here before passing it on to Xuxa
You think this belongs to Will Smith?
Only in Miami
07 December 2012 | Miami Beach
Where else would you see a poodle like this? I spotted him at the famous Lincoln Road in Miami Beach while taking a stroll together with Benno. It was more of a people watching and window shopping event which tired out my hubby pretty quickly as it’s not something he really enjoys doing and I shouldn’t have worn my new shoes.
Back at the boat in the anchorage speedboats of various kinds keep disturbing the otherwise peaceful scenery. One of them advertises tours on a hovercraft. At a cost of $59 for 15 min. of your time in this thing could be spent worse, I suppose.
We’ll be here for a little while and I’m sure it won’t be boring…
To recap since my previous blog entry, we ventured from Stuart to Palm Beach where Benno took his first dive in warm and clean water since Canada to inspect DD’s bottom and prop. His verdict was that she is clean as a whistle, no mussels, barnacles or anything, not even any antifouling paint, which has worn off and is now nonexistent. From Palm Beach we moved on to Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale where we enjoyed the Christmas decoration displays of the adjacent villas for some days before coming here.
The long trek south
27 November 2012 | Stuart, Florida
We are now in Florida, having arrived at Fort Pierce yesterday evening after a 34 hour run on the outside from Fernandina Beach at the Georgia/Florida border. All the way from south of Cape Hatteras to Fernandina Beach we were forced to enjoy the ICW. The Atlantic of the south eastern states was presenting gale force winds for the last two weeks which had even diehard sailors crowding the ICW and complaining about bad waves and strong winds of 40 knots. Just a few days ago the winds were slacking off and the sea was showing her friendlier side again. From Fort Pierce Diesel Duck moved on this morning to Stuart, where Mack Sails is making us a new mainsail to replace our 7 year old, well weathered one.
Previously I mentioned that we see interesting things along the waterway which you wouldn't come across while driving your car down south. So while we were leisurely motoring along the winding Intracoastal Waterway through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia we just had to chuckle to ourselves near Savannah, Georgia. There were many ducks sitting along the sides of the waterway. Usually waterfowl takes off when we come close, but these did not. Upon closer inspection through my binoculars I discovered that these specimens were decoys. And then I detected the hunters in their camouflaged boats waiting for the real ducks to arrive. But the only duck to appear was our "Diesel Duck"! Thanks God the hunters kept their guns on safety and did not pepper us!
We have seen many cruise ships over the years, but not during our trips on the ICW. In Charleston, SC, we spotted the "Independence" a smaller cruise ship than most of her sister ships and she was heading for the ICW. A couple of days later, we noticed her again sitting under anchor off the ICW and then she seemed to follow us around until she passed us just before Brunswick, Georgia. I took pictures of her and several passengers took pictures of Diesel Duck while we waved to each other. Then two days later, while we were swinging on a mooring ball from the marina in Fernandina Beach, the "Independence" docked at the marina opposite us to disembark guests and take on new passengers. This ship makes regular return trips on the ICW between Jacksonville, FL and Charleston, SC . Come to think of it, we should not ever complain again that the ICW is a tedious way to travel while the" Independence" has paying guests to do just that.
Fernandina Beach is a wonderful tourist town teeming with nice shops and restaurants. The reason we went there was two of our dearest friends, Linda and Ed, were picking us up to take us to their lovely home in Jacksonville, FL, where they showed us around the area. Back in 2006 we had met for the first time in Georgetown, Bahamas where "Dreamtime" and "Diesel Duck" shared the same anchorage. Their boat is still in the Caribbean while they came home for the holidays. It was good to catch up on all the happenings. Let's do it more often.
More questions than answers
15 November 2012 | Wrightville Beach, NC
Coming down the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway) toward Florida has been an interesting experience every time. It is never the same as the route is pretty much ruled by the weather and if favorable, we run outside on the Atlantic and if rough and windy, we do the more tedious trek on the ICW.
Sometimes we see interesting things along the waterway. So I have to ask: What is a pelican doing so far up north? He obviously wanted to hitch a ride south and flew by our pilothouse windows a couple of times looking me straight in the eyes before he made his move landing right in front on the coach house. I talked to him though the open window as I tried to steer a straight line between markers and even honked our horns, but he stayed with us for quite some miles and luckily didn't leave anything behind before departing.
In Norfolk the channel is busy with commercial traffic. A tug came toward us towing a barge with a large object tied to its deck. We were wondering what was hidden beneath?
And finally, in the early morning hours of November 11th, while we were running down the North River toward the Albemarle Sound, a motor vessel passed us at high speed, throwing a wake that rocked us from side to side, rattling the contents of every locker before they made a beeline and stopped to fish something from the water. So what was the hurry and what were they looking for? If anyone of you recognizes this object, please let us know. Is it a fuel bladder or what?
A hard earned night rest
05 November 2012 | Chesapeake City, MD
Yesterday morning, Sunday, I called the Coast Guard and we were granted permission to head down the Hudson river through New York harbor and straight out to sea, but the Coast Guard officer stressed that we were not allowed to make a stop in-between. The weather forecast called for 10-15 knots of wind from the northwest which would mean a nice breeze from shore. The sky was mostly blue with some clouds. Perfect. We pulled out the jib, raised the main and life was good. In the early morning hours on Monday, just when I got off watch to lie down to sleep the weather turned nasty. I mean waves slapping us around and the wind turned into a bitch, freshened up to30 knots. It was not in any of the forecasts we got and the recorded VHF weather forecasts kept insisting all morning that we were to experience 5 to 10 knots with waves of 2 to 3 feet! Ha. Big liars they are. Anyway, we don't have commitments and no deadlines to catch, so we headed up the Delaware Bay and beat into the wind for most of the day with green water coming over the deck. Not a problem, but it reminded us a lot of the trip around Cape Horn with the same low outside temperatures to prove it. Well, such is the cruising life. Tonight we are tied up at the free town dock in Chesapeake City. It's a pretty setting at a park, restaurants decorated with lights and up the road there are gift shops and boutiques. It is totally sheltered from wind and currents in here and I shall have a good night rest.
Being stuck at the George Washington Bridge
01 November 2012 | New York, NY
On Tuesday, the day after the storm, we spent one more day at the marina and took a stroll along the waterfront and into town. There was still no power for the majority of houses and shops, but the bagel shop had power and the lineup for hot coffee and toasted bagels wound up to the parking lot.
The scene of the damaged boats at the Croton Yacht Club was sad. They lost 21 boats. Some had sunk. I took some pictures of them and the two yachts that had ended up on the railway tracks. Cleanup will take some time we presume.
Yesterday we relocated around the bay to the Ossining bay in hope to get some Internet connection, but no such luck as there was still no power on shore. In the morning we hauled anchor and started motoring south. Unfortunately high tide would only start at 11 a.m. which meant that we had to motor against the current, but that could not be helped. The Statue of Liberty was already in sight where we wanted to anchor when a Coast Guard cutter hailed us. We were advised that the New York harbor had been closed to all pleasure craft and restricted to commercial vessels with special permits. When it would be opened again they could not tell us. We were sent back up to stay north of the George Washington Bridge and that is where we are now.
Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
30 October 2012 | Half Moon Bay Marina
Diesel Duck weathered the storm fine. This morning we are waiting for the internet to come back on, but there is no power on shore so this might take some time. Anyone that had been monitoring this storm will know that there was much destruction in New York and area. Search and rescue is still ongoing. From my viewpoint I can see over to the small boat club on the north side of the bay where the hauled out boats are lying on their sides on the ground, one 44 foot power boat is sitting on the railway tracks, blocking train traffic, and many boats had washed off their cradles and disappeared on the Hudson River during the hours of darkness.
Our only worry during the night while the storm raged was the rising water. We may have had a few wind gusts over 50 - 70 knots but mostly we saw the wind clocking at 34 knots. Around 11 p.m. a firefighter came knocking on the boat wanting to take us off the boat. We had more worries for him being blown off the exposed long dock and Benno fitted him with a life vest before sending him back to rescue people who were in danger. We discussed a plan of action in case the water would rise so high that the docks would come off the risers. It would have required us to warp the boat out of the dock in total darkness during high gusts and dropping or cutting 16 lines. Not something we really wanted to do.
Just before midnight we noticed the water level to be at a standstill and New York City had already reported dropping water levels. That was a huge relief and half an hour later we noticed too that the water seemed to go back down.
The picture shows the riser before the storm started and during the night.
Three floating docks from the marina got hung up on the risers, one of them lost a float but thankfully not the one we were on. It looks like we picked the right marina at the best location!
Bracing for the Franken Storm Sandy
29 October 2012 | Croton-on-Hudson, NY
“Hurricane Sandy strengthening as it closes in to New York City” is the headline of the NYC Post newspaper for today and we are on the Hudson River, some 40 miles north from there. Hurricane Sandy is called “Mammoth Sandy” and may pack more trouble than the infamous 91 storm “Perfect Storm”.
Last night we arrived at the “Half Moon Bay Marina” in Croton on Hudson, NY, where we tied up long side to a floating finger dock at the entrance to the marina. I have a clear view from here of the Hudson and the bay where one ketch is anchored and a small sloop is tied to a mooring ball in the corner.
The decision where to go for safety during the storm was not easy. In Albany the dock master at the Waterford Harbor suggested that we could ride back up and stay between lock number 2 and 3 where there is a small basin together with all the commercial vessels that were already up there. Later that day our friend “Deb”, who locked through after us, said that all pleasure boats were told to leave and from lock number 12 on the canal would be closed for further traffic. We stepped our mast at the Castleton Boat Club and stayed the night at one of their mooring balls. The guys from the Boat Club were pulling boats out and dismantling docks to be taken out in the next couple of days. The next day we moved on to Kingston where we traveled all the way up the Rondout River and anchored for the night at the very end which is blocked by a low bridge. That was a very sheltered spot surrounded by hills. However, beyond further up the bridge there is a dam and a reservoir with electrical generator station and during Hurricane “Irene” they dumped water to prevent dam damage, which caused a flash flood coming down the river flooding the roads, houses and causing havoc in the marinas. It is not so much the wind that concerns us it’s the rising water and flash floods during heavy rain fall which makes all the otherwise cozy anchorages unsafe as the water rushes at 100/mph downstream taking everything with it.
As we were motoring down the mighty Hudson a steady stream of Coast Guard vessels were going up the Hudson. The troops were leaving town. Even NYPD, New York Police Department patrol boats were rushing up into safety. Most marinas were already closed for the season and had their docks pulled out. I managed to get Wifi reception off and on while moving on the Hudson and contacted various marinas, but they would NOT take any transient vessels because of the storm.
So far, all is good. If Wifi stays up, I’ll post some more later.
Diesel Duck is on the move again
23 October 2012 | The New York State Canal System
A week ago, at 3 a.m., Benno unplugged the power cord from the dock of the Leamington Marina. Fall weather had arrived with high winds and colder temperatures some days before. Summer was definitely over. Time for us to head south to a warmer climate by retracing the route we had come in the spring. The marina officially closed the day before our departure on Oct. 15th, although the manager, Ronan Oliver, assured us that he would still be there until month end and the facilities could be accessed, but the windows were all boarded up, the planters and patio furniture mysteriously disappeared and all the colorful flowers had been ripped from the grounds. So we surrendered our slip to the seagulls as they seemed to own the place anyway.
A small weather window with calm winds got us across the lake Erie and the28 hour trip turned out to be uneventful. We arrived in Buffalo, NY at daybreak the following day and found the Video phone to call Customs and Border Protection, which provided a floating dock at the entrance to the Erie Basin. The check-in process for Canadians is pretty simple and a one year Cruising Permit was faxed to the boat yard for us to pick-up to which we were motoring next to un-step the mast. The rest of the day we de-rigged, dismantled and prepared the mast to be lifted out. In the morning it was hoisted with the crane of the boat yard while Benno and I guided it to rest on the deck where we strapped it into the cradle. Mid morning all chores were done and we got underway. The picture shows us entering the first lock where we were showered with blowing leaves from above.
Motoring along the Erie Canal sure is nice this time of year. We are rewarded with gorgeous views of the changing leaves.
While we were a bit in a hurry coming up the canal in the spring, motoring down we take some more time to enjoy the sights. In Pittsford, NY we tied to the town wall early afternoon and visited every tourist shop around the area, admiring the most amazing displays of wood creations and handcrafts.
Today we took the whole day off traveling. We tied Diesel Duck to the town wall in Herkimer, NY, hailed a taxi to the Remington Museum, which had been on Benno's "to visit" list, toured the town, shopped and dined out. Tomorrow it will be work again, but as you might guess, it's not too strenuous.
Ever wonder who reads your blog?
14 August 2012 | Leamington, Canada
Ever wonder who reads your blog?
Well, I have. This summer I have been neglecting our blog and to all our devoted followers, my apology. It's just that when we return home to the boat in the evening after work and more work on our (new to us) summer home/cottage I don't have the energy to write a blog after making dinner, followed up by doing dishes and showering. So after days that ran into weeks of the same, it was time to let you know what's happening.
So far, it has been fun to work at remodeling our house. Benno discovered new skills he didn't know he possessed and I am suddenly faced with landscape decisions in addition to learning construction lingo. A few months ago I didn't even know what a sill plate is. We decided to have weeping tiles around our house and a sump pump installed. Being located close to Lake Erie and to avoid any moisture from heavy rain falls in our crawl space, it seems to be the prudent thing to do. Of course all that digging and moving of additional sand and gravel made a mess of the lawn but that is a project I need to tackle next year.
While work inside and outside the house had been going on, our friends Marcie and David Lynn, from the S/Y "Nine of Cups" came by for a one day/night visit. As per chance it was the 1st of July (Canada Day) and in celebration there were fireworks in the evening at the marina. We had met Marcie and David first while cruising in Panama and then again in Chile. Marcie and David happened to be in Windsor the previous day and I spontaneously invited them over. Meanwhile, their boat is stored on the hard in Tasmania, Australia, as they are driving through USA by car during the summer.
At the beginning of May, just as we came into Canada, we received an email from someone who asked us if there was a possibility to visit and view our boat. She had been following our building website which has been discontinued, but can still be found under MSdieselduck
since its inception and she also follows my blog. She said they owned a Diesel Duck 462-12 which lies presently in the Philippines.
Now you see what I mean ever wonder who reads your blog?
A couple of weeks ago, we finally met. As it turned out, Drs. Janice L. and Rosario B. were delightful visitors. They own "Wendake" a 46'+ Diesel Duck built by Seahorse Marine in China and they had just returned from the boat to go back to work in Toronto. In the course of the afternoon they earned my respect and admiration by being so meticulous in their research and approach regarding the technical issues every boat has. Our conversations had been most pleasant and it would be great to see their Diesel Duck someday also. Thank you both for taking us to dinner.
20 June 2012 | Leamington, Ontario
One morning we woke up to discover the deck of Diesel Duck strewn with large insects. These were fish flies that are not common to the Toronto area and totally new to us. Washing them off only helped somewhat, as there were more of them all around. Out on the parking lot the white cars and trucks had it worse and the ground was covered all over with these critters. I photographed one that held on to the window of our van while we were driving. The good part is, they do not sting or pester you other than being there by the billions!
A quick research on the net revealed the following excerpt:
A female fish fly lays about 4,000 eggs
In an interview with the Windsor Star, University of Windsor biology graduate student Ellen Green said the fish fly mating season is in full swing when you spot big blobs of brownish stuff on the surface of the water near shorelines. Those blobs are the fish fly eggs. After mating by travelling through a swarm of males hovering in the air, the females head to the water to lay about 4,000 eggs each.
The eggs then sink to the bottom, where they hatch. The first evolution of the newly hatched fish fly will camp out in the sediment for up to two years before beginning its journey to the surface and out of the water for its own in-air mating dance.
The fact is, fish flies exist solely to mate. Alas for the fly, the lifespan of a single adult specimen is anywhere from 30 minutes to one day, depending on the species. Dead or alive, they stick to decks and houses and patio furniture like Velcro.
Many people power-wash the fish flies off their houses and storefronts. Doing that, however, will release a powerful dead fish smell. It’s best to either gently sweep them off with a broom, or simply leave them there until they dry up and blow away on a spring wind.
The good news for the waterfront is that a heavy infestation of fish flies can be a sign of a healthy marine ecosystem. According to Green, since the prehistoric water-dwelling insects are sensitive to pollution, they need lots of oxygen to survive until they hatch. A healthier lake, with less algae for example, will hold more oxygen.
Fish flies have been called “an indicator species” of a less polluted ecosystem. And healthy fish flies are much better for the fish that feed on them. Which means the fish we catch will be much better for us, too.
Bring on the fish flies!
Building a nest for the summer in Canada
20 June 2012 | Leamington, Ontario
Has anybody been wondering what we have been up to for the last month? We were working our butts off at our construction site, aka our house. It's an older house and before we make it all nice and homey inside, we made it worse by tearing down part of the ceilings, looking into walls and fixing up the floor, replace some of the rotten wood or reinforce a weak spot. This process has been going pretty swiftly so far, but we are only a one man one woman crew, so don't hold your breaths for us to announce that we are all done. It will be a long while yet...
And then it's wise to call in the professionals too for their expertise and help.
Like Jim Ciliska of Ciliska Excavating & Trucking, who came to take out the abandoned attempt of a foundation for a garage the previous owner wanted to build next to the house. We already had rented a waste disposal bin which we were filling up slowly with other debris. The stones sure jacked up the weight and fee.
When even the bin was full, our trusted van (previously owned and maintained by "Bell Canada" for service work and being equipped with extra strong shock absorbers to hold the built-in aluminum tool cabinets and equipment) was packed up to drive to the city's waste disposal site.
And Scott Dundas of Dundas Excavating & Septic Service was called in to inspect and pump out the septic tanks. It looks like we have a fair sized weeping bed and septic system to support our household and guests without worries. This is all new to us, since we had always been living in the city.
Tired and dirty every night we are glad to return home to our Diesel Duck which is moored at the Leamington Marina. This is a very pretty and nice marina at the shores of Lake Erie. The ferry to Pelee Island, Cda. and Sandusky USA has its dock at the same harbor basin opposite the marina.
One memorable stopover
13 May 2012 | In the Erie Canal System
The second lift bridge we arrived at was in the town of Spencerport. The bridge tender recommended that we tie up for the night at the town dock between the Union Street Lift Bridge and the Adams Basin Lift Bridge because the bridges wouldn't operate past 5 p.m. and there would be no opportunity to tie up anywhere before the next bridge in Brockport. Also, these 15 lift bridges we were going to pass were operated by "Roaming Operators" which means, one operator would operate two bridges, so once we passed one, he or she would then drive by car to the next bridge to open up for us to go through. Sometimes the distances in-between where so short that we had to wait for the operator, sometimes the operator was waiting for us to show up.
Here in Spencerport, the bridge operator had been very nice. He came to our boat after we tied up representing us with two "Boater Resources" pamphlets. Benno inquired where he could purchase some spray paint he needed and because the store being too far to walk to before closing, the bridge operator quickly gave Benno a lift to the local NAPA store and back. That was very kind of him.
After a stroll through the town and adjacent area of the dock we determined that this was a nice town to visit and to spend some time at.
In the late evening a fast moving thunderstorm approached. Benno had just plugged in the shore power cable but decided to remove it again in case of heavy rain. We then retired for the night. Suddenly, two lightening strikes with instant ear busting thunder made us sit up straight in our bed. Our first thought was that we got hit, but thankfully all seemed ok. In the morning, however, we discovered that the town's flag staff one and a half boat lengths away on shore had been hit and the golden ball on top had popped off by the strike and was now laying on the dock and the flag lay tangled in the hedges.
(This picture is of Diesel Duck tied to one of the town docks in Tonawanda. The power and water were not yet turned on, but some local boats came to tie up for the weekend and to party at the pubs lining the canal.)
(Following pictures are of canal traffic and stepping our mast again at Wardell's Boat Yard in Tonawanda)
Diesel Duck left Wardell's Boat Yard on Monday morning at about 10 a.m. after stepping our mast. Ahead was one more lock and several swing bridges to pass before we could enter Lake Erie. At lunch time we headed out to the lake. The boys from the US Coast Guard made us stop for an inspection and check of paperwork. Then we were let go and proceeded to cross the lake. Benno, sweet as he is, but not made from sugar, went out to install the steps of the ratline (the steps to the crow's nest) the VHF antenna and mast head light in pouring rain. Next day, in the afternoon at 5:30 p.m with bright sunshine we arrived at the Leamington Marina in Canada, which is our home for the summer.
The aroma of Peppermint
13 May 2012
In Lyons we arrived late afternoon and decided to tie to the town wall which provides hydro outlets for the cruisers. A gentleman hasted toward us and offered to help us with the lines to tie up. He introduced himself as “Canal Bob” but is name is Robert Stopper, a retired teacher, who takes an interest in the visiting cruisers. He handed us a map of the town and gave us the historical background. Lyons, once upon a time, was a major exporter of peppermint. Peppermint oil is extracted from the pressed stems and the leaves of course you find in peppermint tea. But I didn’t know that only one 21 ounce bottle of peppermint oil will give the right flavor to a ton of candy.
The slope of the town dock had been planted with peppermint and spearmint and I was given a bunch of each to take back to the boat for later enjoyment.
(The picture is of Robert Stopper on the left and his friend, a teacher, to the right, who had been weeding the peppermint and spearmint plants talking to Benno about our solar panels)
How many locks?
13 May 2012 | Erie Canal System
Cruising through the Erie Canal System or taking the canal to Lake Champlain can be a summer cruise done at your leisure, if you don’t have a commitment like we did. There are numerous places to tie up free of charge. Also several towns offer 30-50 amp power outlets, sometimes free of charge, and there are many marinas along the way. The best way to plan the trip and to inform you is to get “Cruising the New York Canal System” by “Skipper Bob” and the paper chart book from The New York State Canal Corporation “The Cruising Guide To The New York State Canal System” for $19.95, a great value for this book. Both are excellent resources with detailed information.
Motoring through the canal was interesting, but also a lot of work. We had to master 35 locks, all of them, except 3, going up which has more turbulence and requires more attention than going down. The lock keepers monitor VHF channel 13 and were operating from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. However, we would have to be at the lock before 4:40 p.m. to get through as we found out at lock #23, because the operator had already gone home. Being forced to retire early gave us an opportunity to explore the area, but in this case, it was very rural and remote from everything.
Throughout our cruising live we’ve done our fair share of locks and bridges, believe me. We looked through our notes and calculated that in all we have locked through 323 locks and uncountable lift and bascule operated bridges in our life so far. Some of the locks in the French Canals in the Mediterranean we had to operate ourselves. Hey, we are pros, we should write a book about locks and locking thru!
(The picture on top is courtesy of Mr. Robert Stopper)
Almost missed the opening of the locks
13 May 2012 | Castleton on the Hudson River
In my last blog post I wrote that we were still waiting for the locks to open up, but it didn't take that long, after all. I did call the Troy Lock mid April to find out if they were by chance opening before May 1st, but the guy answering said no, only as per schedule on May 1st. On Friday, April 27th we looked at the New York State Canal, Notice to Mariner's website and it said May 1st. On Saturday, Benno and I were sitting in the Castleton Clubhouse at noon, waiting for our serving of Philly Cheese Steak and discussing that we had enough time to clean our dinghy the next day at the dock before taking our mast down on Monday. Benno started to read the Albany Newspaper from the previous day and in it there was an article that 3 airplanes (Royal Navy donated airplane, a MIG airplane and some previous secret airplane) would be transported by barge from New York's Pier 93 through the Troy and Erie Canal locks to the museum further up on SATURDAY and that the locks would be open.
Boy, did we wolf down our lunch and the dessert of chocolate cheesecake. Then we hurried to the dinghy, gunning the outboard to get back to Diesel Duck. Back onboard I called up the lock at Troy, the same number as before, and yes, they were open until 10 p.m. However, the other locks, starting with no. 2, would close at 5 p.m. Benno checked the Canal website and yes, the show was on the road, an early opening beginning 10.00 a.m. on Saturday morning. In no time was our dinghy on the aft deck and the mooring line let go. We moved over to the club to start taking our mast, boom and rigging down. We finished at 3:30 p.m. and were underway for Troy.
A couple hours later Diesel Duck went through the Troy lock and the lock keeper said he already locked 13 boats through that day. We then tied up to the long wall before lock #2 in Waterford for the night. This wall is equipped with hydro posts and water outlets for transient boats. There were two sailboats and two trawlers tied up to the wall with their masts down. But the sailboats were going to Lake Champlain (Champlain had an opening scheduled for the 29th of Apr.) and the trawler owner said he wanted to wait a couple more days for warmer and calmer weather to start locking through.
On Sunday, shortly after 7 a.m., right after getting our canal pass, ($50.00 for a ten day pass for vessels over 39ft) we entered the Lock No. 2 and hurray, we were the first pleasure boat locking through the Erie Canal.
23 April 2012 | Castleton on the Hudson, NY
It seems to me a whole lot of time I am waiting for something. Presently, I am waiting for the 1st of May, when the season starts at the New York Canal System and the locks open up so that we can start transiting the 35 locks of the canal system which takes us to Lake Erie. We have traveled as far north as we could for the time being. Last Wednesday we took one of the eight mooring balls belonging to the Castleton Boat Club
on the Hudson River. This is the place where we are going to lower our mast by using their mast crane. This little club is a great place for transiting boats and I'll tell you why.
The use of the do it yourself mast crane, which is operated with a remote control right from the deck of your boat or from the floating dock to step or un-step your mast, cost only $50.00. Down the river in Catskill you dish out a minimum of $125 for a mast up to 40ft and plus, plus for all the extras like removal of furling, or disconnecting of the wiring, which can jack up the price quickly to $250 and more by having it done by them. Over 40ft mast height the price goes up and up! Here the charge is the same for a large or a small mast. Benno and I can do the un-stepping ourselves and have raised our mast here in this club when we were coming down from Canada in 2005 with Diesel Duck. Also many years ago, we stepped and un-stepped the 50' mast of our sailboat "Najade" here. If you think you need help with this task, consider buddy boating to help each other, as we have assisted a large ketch with his masts.
The club offers the moorings for $5/a day. This includes free Wifi (strong signal, five bars to the mooring field) and the use of their very clean washrooms with hot showers. There is a large bin for your trash on the property. The clubhouse/bar and restaurant welcomes you to visit. Guys, tap beer cost only $1.00! On weekends they have lunch specials. On Sunday we had tasty open faced roast beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes and corn. Included was coffee and blueberry or cherry cheesecake for $4.00/per person. Eat your heart out, this meal will cost you more than 12 bucks down the river for sure. Saturday's lunch of half a roasted chicken with various side dishes for $6.50 we missed, because we'd been offered a ride into town to do a little shopping from one of the members. The club also sells diesel and gasoline at market price.
Directly behind the clubhouse on Main Street, there is a Laundromat with modern front and double loaders ($2.25/load) and large dryers ($0.25), or, if you prefer the top load washers, there is another Laundromat five houses down, west on the same road. At the end of the block there is Stewart’s, a large deli type variety store with snack bar and ATM. In the opposite direction, east on Main Street, there is a post office and a library.
Happenings on the Hudson
18 April 2012 | Hudson River, NY
Heading north to Canada I do not really define as cruising, not at this time of year, anyway. It is an enjoyable motor trip nevertheless with lots to see. We are now traveling on the Hudson River. It is 300+ miles long and flows from north to south through eastern New York. There are many historical sights on both sides of the river. Some of the landmarks might be worthwhile to visit and I can imagine that in the summertime, this waterway will be very busy with recreational vessels. For the time being, most of those crafts are on shore, shrink wrapped or covered up and the marinas and yacht clubs are still closed this far up.
After leaving New York City we anchored for the night on the Hudson River, at the town of Ossining, within sight of "Sing Sing" the famous correctional facility you have probably heard of before. The town Ossining was called previously Sing Sing and had been derived from the name of the Native American tribe, "Sinck Sinck" or "Sint Sinck" from whom the land had been purchased in 1685. The prison complex is massive if you view it from the water and the many guard towers and shiny barbed wire around the compound really earn your respect. I'm glad we were staying on the outside of it.
The next day we passed the United States Military Academy at West Point. The academy sits high on scenic ground overlooking the Hudson River. I believe most buildings are constructed from gray granite and they looked most impressive from our viewpoint.
Was this plane parked for the winter or had barnstorming gone wrong?
What happened to this vessel? We speculated if the repairs of this commercial ship at the shipyard weren't completed before launching, the yard manager now might have terrible nightmares. It sat right in front of the slipway.
This paddlewheel ship we passed seemed to be authentic, using it's paddle wheel for propulsion and not just looks.
Leaving the Hudson river, we proceeded west up the Catskill Creek all the way upstream, where we dropped the hook for a week in front of the fixed low bridge. By the way, the chart we purchased for this trip which had been updated 2010, only two years ago, still lists this bridge as a bascule bridge, although locals told us that the bascule bridge was replaced with this fixed bridge 20 years ago!! This was a dead end for us but no problem to pass under for the many small fishing boats that have homes at the many small marinas lining the creek. A 15 min. walk up on Bridge Street West were a Walmart Super Center, a large Lowe's building supply store, plus other stores and a large Price Chopper supermarket. It was a convenient place for us to head into town for food and supplies. We will be taking our mast down at the Castleton Boat Club further up the Hudson, but that place was not open yet, so we had lots of time to start preparations and for Benno to fabricate a wooden mast support and a fender board to protect our fenders from the rough walls of the locks.
In all the seven years that we have been cruising, this was a first for us. This happened on the hottest day of this spring. The temperature was predicted to be 92˚F, although on the water I think it was probably more like 87˚F, but the wind blew very hot air for sure and it gusted a good 20+ knots from the south. We had left the Catskill anchorage and we were only going to be moving about 15 miles further on the Hudson to an anchorage in a little side arm called Stockport Middle Ground. Following the description of the latest edition of "Skipper Bob" and exactly the markings and drawings of the "previously mentioned chart" we got stuck in the channel at an outgoing tide. Yikes! Our guess is that last year's hurricane "Irene" which had destroyed most marinas on the Hudson River and surrounding creeks and which had caused extensive flooding to buildings on the river, must have caused severe mud slides as it tore through the area.
As the water rapidly vanished under us, Diesel Duck gracefully settled into the mud, making herself comfortable, but NOT US! I know all you sailors are used to be heeled over, but I bet Diesel Duck cranked over even further than what you deem to be comfortable. Let me tell you, walking around the deck or inside the cabin took an acrobatic effort. How long did it last? Well, we got stuck at around 5 p.m. and started working on wiggling free at 11 p.m.
We must be way ahead
04 April 2012 | New York, N.Y.
We must be way ahead of everyone else. It is a crushing truth, that the cruising folks that migrate back north after wintering in the Bahamas or Caribbean are not here yet. But the Canada geese and the migrating duckies are moving, including us, let me tell you!!! It is the week before Easter and our anchorage here in Liberty State Park, New York City, is deserted. No wonder, the nighttime temperature last night moving along the New Jersey Coast in glassy atlantic water was a chilling 3˚ Celsius. I don't know how we could have existed without our two Webasto diesel heaters, which are working overtime. So, life is good on Diesel Duck, although it's cold outside.
This picture of the Webasto Air Top 2000ST forced air diesel heater is mounted forward in Diesel Duck's utility room, next to the anchor locker with the heating outlet in the saloon. It has given us flawless service for seven years. An identical unit is in the aft cabin.
As we travelled up the coast, stopping in some familiar spots and several previously unexplored ones, I was thrilled by the kind gestures of strangers and friendliness of the American people bestowed on us. Ashley Erwin, SSCA Cruising Station in Oriental, NC, personally delivered charts to our boat at the town dock, which we had sent to his address. He even took me on a little sightseeing tour of the area and to the grocery store to buy some essentials.
In Solomon Island, Andrew and Digna passed us in their sailboat and spontaneously invited us to their condo the next day. Not only did they treat us to coffee and doughnuts at their beautiful place, we were to bring our dirty laundry to wash in their apartment while Andrew took us grocery shopping. What a Royal treatment. Thank you!
For a few days we were back in Weems Creek, Annapolis, swinging on the same mooring ball we had occupied in the summer months. Several people stopped by in their water crafts to say, "Welcome back." David Skolnick, director of the SSCA, sent us a nice email with tons of information and even inviting us to use his slip during his absence. Lauren Anthone drove all the way from Kensington, MD, to Annapolis to bring us a package with a much needed fitting for our furling, which had been ordered by mail.
While tied up to the 200' floating free town dock of the Chesapeake City, at the C&D Canal (stands for Chesapeake and Delaware Bays Canal) we took a stroll of the area. At a bench Benno found a nice looking smart Casio cell phone but no one was around. Sometime later, when we were back at the boat, three young people from a small motor vessel walked by and Benno asked them if they were missing a phone. All three checked and yes, one guy was missing his Casio phone, the make we had not revealed. He was relieved that we had found it. We got talking and inquired if they were from the area and knew if we could purchase milk somewhere close by. But unfortunately, it required a car. The reunited cell phone owner said that after motoring back his boat to the launching ramp down river and putting it on the trailer; he would then return by car and bring us a gallon of milk. And you know what, he did!
When you don't have the foggiest idea...
21 March 2012 | Norfolk, Virginia
When you don’t have the foggiest idea…
I said that sometimes, but for the last two days the conditions we were in came pretty close to that statement. We were in the Intracoastal Waterway in North Carolina traveling on the Alligator River, when heavy fog set in. With enough water around us and on a course with the autopilot steering, it’s not so much of a problem,although the channel markers would not be visible until we were right beside them. When we approached the Alligator River Bridge and I called the bridge tender to request an opening, we weren’t surprised when he told us that he would not open up until he could see the traffic lights. I said we’d be standing by on VHF radio for him to announce when he would open up and that we would drop the hook to wait for better conditions. A sailboat arrived shortly after and anchored next to us. We settled in the wheel house with a cup of coffee, but the conditions didn’t seem to improve. All of a sudden I noticed that the swing bridge started to open up. Benno scrambled to get the anchor up quickly while the bridge tender called: “Let’s go skippers!”
Off we went into the fog. Some miles further I was standing up on the bow, enshrouded in mist, trying to spot channel markers and buoys, because we had to make a sharp turn around some shoals. Visibility was next to nothing. We slowed down and the sailboat which had been traveling behind us overtook us. I heard some yelling as the sailboat suddenly made a quick turn to starboard. There was the red buoy I was looking for. The excitement went on for some time, luckily without incident. Finally at 13:30 hrs the fog lifted and it turned out to be a nice, hot day. Next morning, fog again!
Today it’s raining and misty. A week ago we were still in Bimini, the Bahamas, and now we are in Willoughby Bay, Norfolk, Virginia, and staying put.
Now, that hurt!
17 March 2012 | Oriental, North Carolina, USA
And you think since my last blog entry we've been enjoying the tranquil waters of the Bahamas, lazing around in the sunshine. Not. It wasn't in our plan to spend two full weeks rolling around in the swell of the anchorages in Chub and Frazer Hog Cays while the wind blew a good 20 - 30 knots. In fact, all over the Caribbean the wind whistled, stalling traveling plans for most cruisers. A boat in the Abacos reported winds up to 52 knots. Wow. At least we had internet access which we wouldn't have had in some of the more remote places we were going to visit for the next few weeks. Meanwhile the northern parts of the USA enjoyed perfectly calm and warm weather. So, the obvious choice? Head north. We are on a mission to be in Canada in early spring anyway. Change of plan, once again.
Traveling with the wind from behind presented us with a good run over the Great Bahama Bank back to North Bimini. It looked like there would be a good weather window coming up to ride the Gulf Stream toward the Carolinas. Last Tuesday morning we checked out with Immigration of the Bahamas and motored into the Atlantic. A favorable wind report of 17 kn NE, diminishing to variable winds of less than 5 knots further down the stretch sounded good. Benno had worked out waypoints for our autopilot to make use of the extra knots the Gulf Stream could push us along for the approximately 610 nautical miles into Beaufort, North Carolina. In the first 10 hours of the journey we motor sailed with the jib and main up in 17-20 knots of wind, throwing plenty of salt spray onto Diesel Duck caking up the pilot house windows and port lights. But that is nothing new to us and we would wash down the boat with fresh water upon arrival, thanks to the water maker on board.
The trip was mostly uneventful except on Tuesday at 17:00 hrs, a Coastguard plane flew overhead, calling us on the VHF radio if we had overheard a mayday call at 14:00 hrs they were investigating. But we had not. On day one, calculating 24 hour periods, we traveled: 228 NM, day two: 200 and day three: 162 NM with another 20 NM to Beaufort harbor. Speeds varied and during one of my night watches I monitored 10 knots. As we slowly lost the benefit of the Gulf Stream on Thursday and slowed to about 6 knots during tide changes, our fishing lure came alive, landing a nice Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) to supplement our diet.
As we entered the channel into Beaufort, NC, I called the Customs/Immigration office on our cell phone to report our arrival. The lady on the phone asked me which state Bimini belonged to in the Bahamas and whether we had any meats, eggs, milk, or produce on board. Yes, we have and I said they were all bought in the USA. But if they have been to the Bahamas they could now be all contaminated I was told. We need to come to the town dock for inspection!
Two officials arrived shortly after we were tied to the dock. While one of the officers checked us in, the other one went with me into my galley, armed with two huge red plastic bags to check out Diesel Duck's provisions. There were nice potatoes that caught his eyes, which I had been nursing along. The eggs were in their original containers and had USA stamps on them. But my 8 cubic foot freezer was of real interest to him. I now learned that if meats are not in their original packaging, bought out of the country, or the origin is uncertain, they are not allowed. I use a vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn, so many of our meats are repackaged. Out came the lomito (beef tenderloins) pork tenderloins and roasts, all into the red bag.
When the gentleman was satisfied with his selection after rummaging around the freezer, he jokingly said that (they) would have a BBQ.
I'd like to mention, that we usually arrive back in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami coming from the Bahamas and there we were given an arrival number over the phone, told to visit the Immigration/Custom offices within 24 hrs and have never before encountered this practice.
For anyone wanting to use our waypoints for a Gulf Stream ride from Bimini or Miami to Beaufort, NC:
Gulf 1: Lat- 26˚ 00.0' N - Long- 79˚45.0' W
Gulf 2: Lat- 28˚ 30.0' N - Long- 79˚38.0' W
Gulf 3: Lat- 31˚ 00.0' N - Long- 79˚32.0' W
Gulf 4: Lat- 32˚ 45.0' N - Long- 77˚00.0' W
Beaufort: Lat- 34˚ 35.8' N - Long- 76˚41.3' W
I think we will eat lots of tomatoes this year!
02 March 2012 | The Bahamas
Lately my blog entries have been sporadic, but that doesn't mean I've become lazy. Boat chores keep recurring on a regular basis I do not want to bore you with, but there were interesting developments I'd like to share with you. To start off, Benno and I are known for changing our travel plans frequently like monthly, weekly, daily, and yes, sometimes every two hours! So if we are being asked: "Where are you headed next to?" Our answer might not be the same a week later. Two weeks ago, I thought we'd spend the next hurricane season again in Curacao, the Caribbean.
Last week, Benno and I went for a few days up to Canada, via Detroit, visiting family. February is not our favorite month in this country notorious for its arctic temperatures, although the weather was not too bad. It only snowed a little the night before our departure with slippery and icy roads the next morning. We were glad to board the plane for our trip back to Miami and as I am writing this, we are under anchor in the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. Aah!!
So the big news is, while we were in Canada, we signed an agreement to purchase a little house in the rural area of Leamington, close to Wheatley and only a minute or two from the shores of lake Erie. This will be a summer retreat for us in Canada's 2nd warmest area with Vancouver in British Columbia being the warmest. Leamington is half an hour's drive from Windsor Ontario and another hour to Detroit, Michigan's International Airport. As per Wikipedia, Leamington lays claim to being the "Sun Parlour" of Canada due to its southern location. Point Peele is the southernmost point of mainland Canada, and the Point Pelee National Park is nearby. Leamington has a large H. J. Heinz Company factory and is known as the "Tomato Capital of Canada", with 4 km² of this crop in the vicinity
In May of this year Diesel Duck will be arriving at the Leamington Municipal Marina where she will be docked while her crew will be busy with renovation and beautification projects on the house all summer long. I am sure that by October we will be more than ready to head back south for more cruising and relaxation in warm waters.