The Voyages of s/v Lucky Bird

21 August 2019 | Straits Marina, Mackinaw City
06 August 2019 | Village of Brockport
30 July 2019
27 July 2019
21 June 2019 | Wickford Cove Marina
20 May 2019 | Antlantic Yacht Basin
13 May 2019 | Homer Smith Marina, final Salty Dawg Destination
21 April 2019 | Frenchtown, St. Thomas V.I. Easter Celebration
20 April 2019 | Brewers Bay, St. Thomas VI
11 April 2019 | Nanny Cay Marine, Tortola, BVI
28 March 2019 | Green Cay Marina, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
25 March 2019
24 February 2019 | Jolly Harbor Marina, Antigua

Back Home in Southport Marina

27 August 2019
Robert & Alice Smith
We left Southport Marina in early September 2017, planning a two your journey to the Western Caribbean. After traveling some 10,700 miles we are now back in our slip on "E" dock.

We spent close to year in the Western Caribbean touring and waiting out the hurricane season. Then we sailed across the Caribbean Sea to again experience the Windward and Leeward Islands with our favorite Antigua; quite a trip.

All alone Alice was consistent and persistent in her desire to be back by September 3 or 4. We had also decided to join two Ocean Cruising Club rallies, Chesapeake Bay and Southern New England. Participating in these was important for the camaraderie and friendships with cruisers we'd met from England, New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands, Canada, the US and Australia. We also were blessed by a visit from our daughter Diane and her four boys. Seven or so days cruising with three adults and four boys was one of many highlights of our time on LB.

When Di left, it was July 11th and Kenosha, WI was a long way away. All-the-while in my mind was Alice's desire to be back. So I started pushing us. With only two planned stops, New York City and to visit my brother's family in Buffalo we were going every day. Some days only 30 miles, some over one hundred, stopping though when we were tired or the weather wasn't right.

We tend to do more night time sailing. We are comfortable with our rotation schedule and we can cover more miles. We left Buffalo on August 11th and arrived in Southport at 2300 August 25th. Our last sail was from Ludington, MI to Kenosha, just over 100 miles with a weather window pushing us to be in safely before midnight on the 25th. After that the wind was forecast to build out of the SE to almost gale force, not our cup of tea. Fortunately for us, the winds were forecast to be easterly fairly constant throughout our planned passage. We set off around 0730 from Ludington and had one of our better sails right up until we were just passing Racine. The winds turned SE and started building. With some 7 or 8 miles to go we rolled the jib and power sailed with a reefed main. By the time we reached the Southport breakwater it was blowing pretty hard. Alice being the sailor she is went out of the enclosure and rolled up our main while LB rock and rolled in the building 3 to 5 waves. We maneuvered through the breakwaters, and I circled LB while Alice prepared the fenders and dock lines, not so easy do to the winds and tight quarters inside the marina, but after a few circles we were tied up at the gas dock, we had achieved Alice's, and my, goal of being home before September 4th.

Lucky Bird is quite the boat. She served us so well for all though 10,000 plus miles and afforded us so many cruising experiences that will be with us forever.

It may be interesting to see how we transition from life on the water to land based living. I'm sure our friends and family will contribute to making it a quick adjustment. I'm a sailor at heart and will surely miss the challenges of long term cruising. It's truly been a marvelous experience and I am thankful for Alice as my cruising partner and LB as our home away from home.

I encourage all you sailors and boaters who may have a yearning to explore, do cast off and head out there. You will be rewarded beyond your expectations for doing so.

Mackinaw City, Three Lakes Down One To Go

21 August 2019 | Straits Marina, Mackinaw City
Robert & Alice Smith | Waiting for a Break
I say three lakes because we sailed across Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and Lake Huron. St. Clair was a power boat trip of some 20 or so miles.

So here we are in Mackinaw City having left Buffalo some eight days ago. The sail across Erie was notable only in that we hobbie-horsed for some 24 hours sailing as best we could westerly winds. You know tacking back and forth. We finally called it a night when we rounded Pelee Island hoping to find a safe anchorage. It was late at night or actually very early in the morning and the wind was blowing 15 to 20. We came around the island to anchor behind the breakwater only to find that the direction was parallel to the line of the breakwater. No safety at all. So we powered out into the bay and dropped the hook in two to three foot waves and 25 feet of water. It turned out to be not too bad a night.

The next day was up the Detroit River against a two or three knot current. I found a possible anchorage behind a river barrier and we drooped the hook for the night. Peaceful sleeping but then.... Time to pull up the anchor. Oh crap, weeds galore. I mean weeds that took me more than 30 minutes to clear from the chain and then the anchor. Wow!!

Our next anchorage was just before entering Lake St. Clair, then powering across the lake to a spot sort of open to the south west and guess what, yup it started blowing from the south west. Wind against the river current of 2 knots so we sat broadside for most of the night. We were safe and tired so no problemo.

Next day onward up the river to Port Huron and then the Lake. The Lake was calm, after clearing the last bridge we sailed out onto Lake Huron at an incredible three knots. So what, we had planned plenty of time for this passage so we relaxed and enjoyed the sunset and calm waters.

We made it to a Harbor of Refuge for the night having covered almost 80 nms. We pulled in after midnight, found a spot and dropped the hook. Ah so peaceful. sleep!!

The next morning there were decent winds but to sail we had to head out into the main body of the lake and then jybe back. Lots of sailing to make so few miles up the track, but that's sailing. So we continued on; out, then back across Saginaw Bay toward Thunder Bay. Around 1600, I was on watch and could see a shelf cloud heading in our direction. To be cautions I called for a double reef for the main and jib. It slowed us but then it hit. IMG, 35 plus wind driven waves with the white caps being blown off the tops. Time to get rib rolled up, yup as you can imagine that was not easy but these old fogies got it done. It passed and we were back sailing north.

Then later that evening somewhere around 0200 another frontal burst of energy hit us. This time we were ready for the 35 plus knots but unfortunately it was on our nose. I decided to hove too, that is slow the boat essentially letting us set still in the water as the wind blew us sideways as we decided what to do next. After an hour I decided to head back to Thunder Island off of Alpena and find a safe anchorage to wait out the blow. We debated, we talked, we wondered what was best for us and LB. Sitting out in the lake with waves building was more than I wanted to expose us to so I decided to turn back and sail toward Thunder Island. Go move BoB!!

An hour and half later we were powering into a small bay where we could drop the hook and relax. 0500 and we were safe and asleep!!

Let me take a moment of your reading time to talk about weather changes on these lakes. Looking off into the distance you can see dark clouds. A look at the radar and there is pretty heavy rain up ahead. Then a shelf cloud begins to form. This is a very particular cloud formation signaling strong down drafts. The clouds go from gray to darker gray and then almost purple. This thing coming at us has a lot of energy and we know from experience it's going to get a little dicey. So we prepare, we talk to each other about what happens when. My Alice is far more cautious than me and I listen to her as she starts to worry. We are reefed, we can get rid of the jib easily and can turn and run if we have to. All lines are secured, the enclosure is closed up tight, I'm ready with the engine and we continue on. Then BAM!! Again another of these burst of energy. I timed it. Less than 15 minutes and it was gone. I'm glad we were out in the lake where we were safe. No shoreline, no reefs, just open water.

Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo

11 August 2019
Robert & Alice Smith
The Erie Canal passage is past tense and we are so glad to be done with the hours and hours of running under engine. Close to 400 miles and eight and half days.

The first portion of the canal is essentially the Mohawk River with locks and dams to keep the water depth at around 12 feet. Most of the time it was much deeper but on those few, thankfully, instances where it dropped to less than 8 we were just truck'in along. When it dropped below 8 we slowed LB just in case we bottomed out. We need 6' 1/2". It takes twenty locks to reach the highest elevation of the first section. Then it's down for two or three and then back up to the level of Lake Erie. The middle section is a combination of rivers and man-made canal cuts, fewer locks and it went smoothly.

As we had read about the third section we became a little anxious. The guides warned us that the bridges in this section had clearance heights of just 15 feet. I had carefully measured the clearance required to safely pass our AIS antenna, 15.5 feet. The guide also said that water levels many vary making the 15 foot clearance questionable. Here's my favorite situational descriptive word, ARG!!

So I climbed our stern arch with the Admiral pushing on my a** while I unscrewed the AIS antenna and angled it so its clearance became a little over 14 feet. We cleared all the bridges and locks of the first two sections and as we approached the first bridge of the third with a charted clearance of 15 feet we slowed LB to a stop. What-tha-heck, it was 16 feet or more, no problemo. The same for the next bridge and the next. So, after passing the first few we were able to determine bridge height clearance as we approached. It turned out the books and charts where all wrong.

Let me offer a comment about the friendliness and hospitality of the towns along the way. We spent eight nights in the canal and anchored only one. Each town where we chose to stop offered free docking, electricity for a very reasonable cost, water, showers and lots of local restaurants. After a long day on the canal, knowing there would be a safe and comfortable place to spend the night really made the passage more tolerable.

36 locks including the Black Rock Canal lock in Buffalo. This being our second canal crossing I'd say the Smithies are pretty lock proficient, dont'cha say?

So here we are tied up in the Eire Basin Marina. LB is almost back together and we've visited with my brother's family. We'll share a dinner with them this evening and then tomorrow start heading west on the Lakes. Getting closer to Kenosha and our home in Addison.

The chart plotter odometer is reading 8,500 nautical miles since leaving Kenosha back in September 2017. LB has treated us so well and we've treated her well in return. It's a fair trade and as I've said before we are blessed.

Understanding the word SLOG

06 August 2019 | Village of Brockport
Robert & Alice Smith | A rain squall came through this afternoon and we couldn't see either side of the canal
Yup, plodding along, working at keeping LB safe in the locks, some 35 or so, holding our breaths when the depth drops to 7.9 feet, passing under bridges that the chart says have 15 foot clearances, but here we are in the Village of Brockport getting ever closer to Buffalo. The villages along the canal have really done a great job providing safe places for cruisers such as us to tie up for the evening. They offer a free docking, charge minimal for water, electricity, laundry and wifi.

We only had to anchor once due to crowding at the place we chose to stop. Anchoring in the canal is'nt like dropping the hook in the islands. Here the depth shoals quickly and there is always a little current to consider. So we turn off the channel and slowly, very slowly work our way toward shore attempting to keep inside a channel marker. We have no anchor light so I have one of those collapsible led lights that I leave on illuminating the cockpit.

The lock are the most stressful part of the trip. Alice and I are getting pretty good at selecting a set of ropes and slowly angling LB toward the lock wall to reach and secure us to the ropes. Alice is on the bow and grabs the first rope as I try and maneuver LB to time it so we stop just in time that she can pass me the rope and then go forward and try and snag the second one.

Somehow we lost the boat hook in one of the locks so my imaginative Admiral wife started using her umbrella to snag the ropes. She is really cool. That's since been replaced with a really neat boat hook that extends to almost 10 feet. No more worries about catching the lines. But we now check for the boat hook before we leave each lock, LOL!!

There is very little traffic on the canal which is good for us. We've seen only a couple of boats going west and one or two going east. Maybe it's the time of the year, maybe we're early but we're thankful.

A couple of more days before we arrive at the marina where we will re-step LB's mast and then.... we are once again a sail boat, hurray!! Hopefully weather will permit several overnight sails to help us keep to our target schedule of being in Kenosha in early September. We'll see

All Set To Go

30 July 2019
Robert & Alice Smith

Here's LB Tuesday July 30th just waiting for us to fire up her engine and head north up the Hudson to Troy. We expect to be there in the early afternoon with help from the current flowing along with us. We're waiting until around 10:00 to try and get the maximum boost.

We'll spend the night at the canal entrance and then tomorrow our almost final journey begins.


We've Been Busy

27 July 2019
Robert & Alice Smith
Once LB was back in the water in Wickford we sailed to Newport where we hooked up with OCC members for the Southern New England Rally.

Sailing here brings back so many memories of the times back in the 70's and 80's when we chased America's Cup races, raced our own boats on the bay, bought two boats a C&C 35 and a new Beneteau First 42 for racing, cruised all the islands, Nova Scotia, and Maine.

Having met our OCC friends, we sailed from Newport To Bristol, RI to celebrate the 4th and watch the oldest 4th of July parade in America; it went on and on and on. Next to Cutty Hunk, then New Bedford, back to Newport then Wickford to pick up our daughter Diane and her four boys.

I bought an inflatable paddle board for the boys and it was a super hit. We sailed back to Newport and the boys fished and played on the board. Then it was off to Block Island. I wanted to take the boys to the ocean for body surfing. The first day there were huge waves crashing on the beach. I thought the kids might be intimidated but no way, they loved it. After threes days of swimming, an island tour by car, we were ready to move on so off to Mystic and the Mystic Aquarium.

Di had figured to head back around the 20th so after two days in Mystic we left in really thick fog and headed back to Wickford. It was a terrific visit and we adults kept the four boys going constantly.

I'm sure most of you can relate to the feelings of sadness we shared when Diane drove out of the marina heading back to Wheaton, Alice and I were along again on LB and now we would focus our planning on the trip back to Kenosha.

I know this sounds like a broken record, but... we sailed back to Newport to our favorite, and free mooring to do our planning. The next day we sailed to Point Judith Harbor of Refuge for the night. Next was Duck Island along the Connecticut shoreline. Across Long Island Sound to Port Jefferson where we experienced another one of those severe late afternoon thundershowers. 35 kts and rain so heavy we couldn't see the boats on moorings right next to us.

All along Alice wanted to meet her life long friend who lives in the Brooklyn. We thought this would also be a good opportunity to visit Ground Zero of the 911 terrorist attack. We sailed to City Island, stayed on a mooring at the yacht club, took the bus and subway to the World Trade Center and the 911 Museum. A trip to the top of 1WTC for the awesome views and to try and soak in the the incredible building our country has created in response to that devastating terror attack. Then to the reflecting pools and the museum. For us it was a roller-coaster of emotions. We felt the highs of being so proud of our country for building such an incredible memorial and then the museum! So much thought and effort dedicated to preserving the events, the sights, sounds, the pictures of the people whose lives were lost.

For us 911 is no longer that event we followed on the news. Seeing the two inch steel beams bent and torn apart; seeing the pictures of the people, looking at the actual foundations of the two towers embedded in the bed rock makes it all so real and we are thankful we made the effort.

So now we are at the Hop-On-Nose marina south of Albany and Troy where LB's mast gets stepped and laid across the deck. This is in preparation for our upcoming trek across New York via the Erie Canal.

Our chart plotter says we've traveled 8,230 nm since leaving Kenosha back in September 2017. We've got a few more to go before making our landing back at Southport Marina, hopefully in very early September.

Vessel Name: Lucky Bird
Vessel Make/Model: 1990 Moody 425 cc
Hailing Port: Kenosha, WI
Crew: Robert & Alice Smith
Alice and I have spent considerable time together on the water; cruising and racing on the waters of New England, the Caribbean and Lake Michigan.

Sailing is our passion and together we've been fortunate to experience the thrills, the camaraderie and the enjoyment boating provides. [...]

We seek the freedom, excitement and challenges of voyaging.

Lucky Bird's Photos - Journey of s/v Lucky Bird
Photos 1 to 121 of 121 | Main
The ole captain of the sea resting in a Botanical garden, a beautiful rainforest of unbelievable species.
Oh, here
Ilse des Saintes for a brief pause.  Somehow the captain hogged all this photo ops.
The Soufriere Hills volcano as we approached from Antigua
Very active as you can see, we were about 12 miles out at this time
Our first sight of the volcano from the taxi, wow, it seemed like a picture of the moon.
Alice haming it up with the local fisherman, boys
This is just after we had finished out island tour, something very big is going on at the volcano, that is an ash plume aftere an eruption.
Wow, from daylight to darkness in a matter of moments.  We were concerned, you bet, that is ash from the eruption and with the wind from the south the ash is falling all over the island and Lucky Bird
The next morning, we were covered, the ash was everywhere, argg!!
Even t/t Lucky Bird got doused.
Red at night, sailors delight, notice the empty glass, Bob stop talking pictures and fix me a rum!!  Aye Aye matey
There it is, you can just barely see the plumes over the bow of the boat anchored behind us.  For several days while anchored in Falmouth we had this spectacular view of an active valcano.  Often it would send a blast of steam and ash so high as to dominate the clouds of the trades.  On a five step scale of activity it is currently at level four meaning a good portion of the island is restricted due to potential eruption and ash.
The largest sail boat and tallest mast in the world, right here for us to gwak at.  Wow
Just another boring picture of megaq yachts sitting at the dock growing foul stuff on thier bottoms.
Eleven miles of pink sand, calm waves and no people, how exquisite for us!!
Hey Solomon, thanks for a great ride to the Frigate colony, we almost skipped the rain.  If you sail to Low Bay Barbuda, you will find Solomon and his sidekick walking the beach encouraging you to take his water taxi to Cordington or to see the birds, Thanks Solomon
The second largest Frigate colony in the world.  Once we got out to their part of the mongroves they were everywhere, thousands and thousands of birds, wow!!
The mails are courting the females by showing their huge red breasts, the females are hovering, checking out the guys and the guys are sitting loking handsome.
Look at the ladies swooning over this guy
The rich and the famous a view down the dock at St. Barts, if your boat is only a 100 feet long don
Hey Jake we can still see you, look, look there
"GG" great grandma and her great grandson in the islands, not too shabby
Whay to go "GG"
Now here
Wow and 11 on a scale of 1 - 10.  I
Darn why did we pick the islands, we could be burried in snow in the mountains
One happy momma, soak
Two beautiful ladies on Cow Wreck beach just chill
Two beautiful ladies, oops, one beautiful lady and an old guy trying to snuggle
The sun, the sky, the water, the beach and the lady Laura, oh my how come I
More ahhh!!!...........
No green flash, darn!!
Laura shot this view of the sunset while we were anchored at Anegada.  She was hoping to catch that elusive Green Flash
All the Jumpies together after their show, quite an experience to watch, so much energy.
Hey who
Making the pattern for the dodger, the bimini is installed with its support bars.  You can see just how much space we
Making the pattern is a precise process, it amazes me though that these pros can take the pattern back with as few alignment marks as they make and return with a perfectly fitting dodger.
See our new step for getting into and out of the dinghy.  We were getting pretty tired of fighting the stern so we thought we
Carl pondering, he is the chief desinger and installer, quite a talented guy
Carl feeling pretty good out the project or was then when we offered him some muffins?
Just a little tighter over here, umm what about the winch handles, oops we have to be able to trim the sails ya know!!
Oh ya Bob don
The old folks on Smith Beach on St. Thomas, can you feel the love??
Oh my God are these two people beautiful or what???  Sarah and Luke, our hostess and host for this afternoon.  Thanks you guys we had a great time.
No it
John and Mary Driver say their thanks.
Rick and Julie Palm, world travelors and Caribbean 1500 leaders, really nice people.  We spent several nights in anchorages with them.  Super conversations.
Bob and Danny sorting out the worlds problems.  Most everybody knows I am to the right of Rush Limbaugh and Danny, a New Zealander, is to the right of me.  Can you hear the conversation?  We hit it off fantastically.  I rteally like that guy.
Caption Smithy on one of the nicest days of the passage.
Randy and Jeff thankful that the trip is almost oveer and the winds are much lighter
Heading for Nayy Cay, Randy is our look out, are we there yet Randy??
More of our Carib 1500 Thanksgiving
Lots of enginuity, patience and time invested by some eagle, osprey or hawk,  no eveidence of anyone at home as we passed
Lots of enginuity, patience, and time invested by some two footed creature looking to surprise some of the feathered kind.  My son-in-law and father-in-law might appreciate this blind.
This picture just doesn
It was busy at the dock as well.  Rafted three and four deep.  Just imagine you pay half a million or more for a power boat that has to be rafted four deep because you are the smallest.  

Oh darn I was a big shot back home!!
Power boaters have a tradition we thought was pretty cool.  They celebrate seasonal holidays during the summer.  This week end was Christmas and New Years.  Some boaters really dressed up and got in the spirit.  Good clean fun for all.
One of so many lonely lighthouses along the Nova Scotia coast.  If only these lighthouses could talk, just imagine the stories, the winds, the seas, the waves, the ships, the people.  These are all managed electronically now, in the past there were people living next to the lighttower maintaining the light.  Wow such dedication, such suffering, such commitment, such a different time.
Here it is folks your Atlantic.  Can you believe it looks just like Lake Michigan off Chicago just before a race day in August.  This is the Atlantic Ocean, it can happen.
Ok, so Alice likes to read here emails, her she is at the nav station chuckling over someones email.  We get a chance to check in once and a while when we can find internet access.  YTonight Alice is catching up on passed emails.
Dinner for two please!  Yup, wine, salad, a casserole and we were in heaven.  You see we really aren
I didn
A simple and for most a "why did you take this picture" photo.  Well this is the last of sixteen locks we
The day before the season opening in the Northumberland Straits and all the boats are lined up ready to head out at 06:00.
Captain Paul
Beautiful vistas around the cape at Perce
As we approach the rock from the north
There it is the most famous rock in the maritimes about 12 miles to the south as we leave Gaspe
Cap Gaspe and her magnificant clifts after we passed and turned into Gaspe Bay
Cap Gaspe as we approached from the north.  You can see the lighthouse 1,000 feet above the water.
Cap des Rosiers, the oldest lighthouse in Canada or so the story goes.  We felt pretty insignificant sailing by a structure that
Most northern point, worth celebrating even if it
A little redundancy here but you get the jist, we
This is from our trusty chartplotter showing the turn to the south around the top of the Gaspe
Dinner!!! Once again my chief mate, my only mate, my Alice pulls off a miracle in our little galley.

PS:  It
Tadoussac Hotel from the river, we
One whale and the excursion boats come flying
First mate Alice as we approach Prince Shoal Lighthouse.  Can you tell it
Laurentian Mountains right down to the river.
Alice holding up the fortress wall.  Winding cobble-stone street from the upper city to the lower.
Typical tourist shot taken by some folks from Toronto visiting Quebec City for the first time as well.  Lucky Bird is in the basin below.
The famous Chateau Frontenac, the icon of Quebec City.  Wandering through the lobby and the shops gave us a sense of the granduer of this very old and famous hotel.
Put these people in tradtional 1800 attire and you would think you had stepped back in time.
Look family my first cake, I
One of 15 locks between Buffalo and Montreal.  We caught up to these people two days later in Montreal.
After anchoring for the night just off the channel we awoke to meeting this lake freighter in a narrow portion of the river.