Pathfinder to the Sea

... Go east older couple!

29 May 2023 | Champlain canal and Lake
24 May 2023 | Hudson River
23 May 2023 | New York City
21 May 2023 | Jersey coast
17 May 2023 | Chesapeake Bay
15 May 2023
30 April 2023 | Charleston, SC
23 April 2023 | Beaufort, SC
14 April 2023 | Cumberland and Jekyll Islands
08 April 2023 | Florida
06 April 2023 | Gulf Stream
05 April 2023 | Powell Cay
02 April 2023 | Manjack Cay
01 April 2023 | Green Turtle Cay
29 March 2023 | Marsh Harbor
26 March 2023
26 March 2023 | Hopetown

The final leg

29 May 2023 | Champlain canal and Lake
Susan DeSimone
The weather gods gave us 90+ degree temperatures for the entire span of time from getting the mast down to putting the mast up; all hard outside work. Of course, as soon as the mast was back in place, the temps plummeted ☹. We expected to find other boats at Castleton and that we would work together unstepping masts, alas there were no other boats there. We were thus VERY happy to get help from Fritz (our friend and current commodore of the DIYC).
Unstepping was uneventful, we had the mast down and were ready to move by about 12:30 on Tuesday 5/30. So, we headed north for the Federal Lock, the first of 12 locks we would pass through to get back on Lake Champlain. This can be challenging since we are now a 60-foot-long boat but still have the turning radius of a 38-foot boat given the horizontal position of the mast and keeping the boat aligned with the lock wall is critical for protecting the very expensive top and bottom of the mast. Luckily, we had extra help with Fritz, who lost his “lock virginity” without any duress or drama (we did try to be gentle). It was a short hop from the Federal Lock to the free wall/dock in Waterford which is also the entry to the Erie Canal system. We shared the wall with several power vessels that were working on the Great Loop trip and were headed through the Erie Canal. We enjoyed dinner out and a little stroll along the canal to close out the day.

On Wednesday, we moved through 5 locks- all lifts around dams as we moved north along the Hudson River. Sometimes it is a little eerie to look at the dams from above- fingers crossed the engine doesn’t fail us now. We got an early start to beat the heat and we were through lock 5 at Northumberland on a free dock before 2pm. After letting the heat dissipate a little, we explored the history/sculpture walk in the adjacent park.

We had a good/mellow time coming up the rest of the canal stopping on the wall just ahead of the final lock at Whitehall the following day. We enjoyed dinner with Betsy and Fritz then said goodbye to both as they headed home. We were ready to go through the first opening at 7:00 Friday with another boat for the first time. The bottom of Lake Champlain is more like a river than a lake. It is none-the-less quite beautiful and we were both happy to be back in the landscape we hold so dear.

We motored to Chipman Marina and were stepping the mast just after lunch time. It went smoothly, thanks in part to our organization and Chip’s great work, though it was still crazy hot. Roger did a little more putting together and I focused on laundry in the afternoon. The weather was forecasted to break the next day so we held off on the heavy lifting.

Saturday, we motored a short distance against the strong north winds up to Fort Ticonderoga where we had good protection and anchored for the last time for this trip. We spent the day tuning the rig, reorganizing a bit, and reinstalling the foresail. It was odd to be anchored somewhere where we had occasional cannon fire overhead. Roger would call out “missed me!” every time they fired, which made me laugh. The winds blew steady and hard out of the north all day but eased again at sunset so we decided to complete the final 30nm in the dark. We had an easy motor under a beautiful full moon and arrived at the club mooring at PBM just before 12:30 am on Monday. We would get a pump out and take on fresh water in the morning before heading to Kingsland Bay. We were able to use the north wind to finish our trip with a short sail over to and into our home bay, it was a lovely way to end a fantastic adventure.

Thanks to everyone for reading along and encouraging us along the way. We are so grateful to all our friends who helped make it possible but three in particular deserve special note:
Peter Chornyak for giving a month of his time to help unstep and step the mast in the fall and braving the cold fall/early winter sailing with Roger to move Pathfinder from the Chipman Point, VT through the locks to NYC then by multiple offshore jumps to St. Mary’s GA.
Fritz Martin for crewing the two long jumps with rough seas in November. First from Hampton, VA around Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout to Beaufort, NC and then around Cape Fear to Charleston, SC. Then for coming to help us unstep and work up the locks in May.
And finally, Jerry Henrichon for persevering with Roger last spring to scrape and sand the bottom of our boat so that we could put on a new barrier coat and bottom paint. It is hot and rotten work when done on one’s own boat, never mind someone else’s!

The Hudson

24 May 2023 | Hudson River
Susan DeSimone
We left Sheepshead Bay early to move with the tide. As we were moving along Connie Island we noticed a string of Naval vessels moving toward the Verrazano Bridge. This was an official parade of vessels from the US Navy, Coast Guard, Army Core and even one from the Canadian Navy. Luckily our timing was just right that we didn’t have to wait for them, since we definitely did not want to get within 1000 feet of them!

Our views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Manhattan were stunning. I feel particularly moved sailing past Ellis Island since all my grandparents and my mom came into the US that way. The movement up the Hudson is best described as a steady plod. We took a mooring at the Nyack Boat Club to let a front with strong N winds move through. The town of Nyack is cute and we enjoyed walking around a bit before getting back to the boat before the front would hit. The club has an active race program and there were many boats heading out for a race that night in spite of the forecast. They even finished, after it came on bringing steady 25 kt winds.

Wed night was the second rockiest night we have had on the trip, this time on a mooring though. It was a bit like sleeping in a washing machine. At about 1 am as I lay there thinking, “I am so glad we secured the anchor away from the pendant to avoid chafe since it would SUCK if the pendants broke in this” it occurred to me that our insurance runs through the 23rd-ish of May (and it is the 25th) and did not recall either of us paying. I jumped out of bed, and paid the insurance which was going to lapse if not paid by the 25th!

We spent Thursday on the mooring waiting for the wind to die back which it did not do until late. My sister came to get me after work to help me get to Middlebury on Friday and I left Roger to move up to Poughkeepsie over Friday and Saturday. I got a wonderful albeit short visit with AnneMarie, Matt and Kian on Thursday night before taking the train on Friday from Poughkeepsie to Albany. I rented a car in Albany and drove to Middlebury arriving at 4 pm with plenty of time to pick up the food and set up a dinner celebration for my scholars and their families. It was a great evening! Luckily it ended before dusk since I had worn my sunglasses when leaving the boat and forgotten my regular glasses on the boat. I spent the night with our friends Deb and Mark since our house is rented, enjoying great company and a delicious special cookie 😊.

We anchored at Saugerties for Sunday night where Roger spent about a week on the way down. Roger had stayed at Stan’s marina and on anchor then and it was nice for him to see Stan on this side of the trip. The weather was VERY different this time as we were hiding from the sun and heat in the afternoon instead of bundled up in all our winter clothes. This may be the last time that we anchor on our trip which was a bit bittersweet to realize.

We are currently motoring up the Hudson to the Castleton Boat Club where we will hopefully unstep the mast tomorrow. Our friend Fritz will join us tonight so he can lose his lock-virginity and to help unstep the mast. Finger’s crossed that the unstepping is entirely uneventful!

The Green-Wood Cemetery

23 May 2023 | New York City
Susan DeSimone
As it turns out, we have seen lots of cemeteries on our trip. It's been interesting to see the different ways that people do and have handled death between cultures and and over time. This one is most definitely our favorite though.

Dave, the commodore of Miramar recommended that we take in the Green-Wood cemetery on our down day. He said it was his favorite place in Brooklyn and we totally understand why after spending the afternoon there. The grandeur and beauty began with the Gothic arch that marks the main entry (shown in the photo). It was designed as both a park and cemetery in the 1800s and is the site of the Battle of Brooklyn which was one of the first major Revolutionary war battles. Once again, we stood in Washington’s footsteps as we looked out from Battle hill. The landscape is incredible and full of very old beautiful trees. The views of Manhattan are stunning, there are sculptures spread around the cemetery in addition to the gravestone sculptures and finally we saw several graves for historically significant people. My personal favorite was the monument to Margret Corbin who was the first women to receive Veterans benefits which she earned by taking over her husband’s cannon duties during the Revolutionary war when he was killed in action. We bookended the cemetery with a great Turkish meal prepared by an enthusiastic chef-sailor and a wonderful dinner with Melanie who was a scholar from my first Posse.

THE jump to NYC

21 May 2023 | Jersey coast
Susan DeSimone
We were heading down the Delaware towards Cape May by 7 am. The plan was to anchor either at Cape May or move up the coast to Atlantic City and anchor there. As luck would have it, the wind was much better than forecasted and were able to motor sail at 7-8 kts down the Delaware so we arrived at Cape May 2 hours ahead of schedule. The forecasts showed that we either should motor up the coast tonight with no wind or we would likely be stuck for many days at Cape May while north winds kicked in. Since we were trying to get me to my Posse's graduation on Saturday, on we went. We were able to sail along NJ for about 2 hrs before the wind died ☹. The trip from anchor-up on the Delaware to mooring in NYC was 34 hr, not exactly fun but not particularly challenging either since the sea state and traffic were both very calm. The crescent moon above Atlantic City was beautiful but the coast is pretty dark overall.

We motored up the coast taking 1 hr shifts at the helm. Luckily for me, I have the gift of sleep; if it takes me 5 minutes to fall asleep, I'm feeling like an insomniac 😊. So, I get about 38 minutes of sleep during 40 min timer during my off watch. Roger on the other hand rarely can sleeps and only rests. Since he is also our navigator, during each of our longer jumps he was seriously in need of sleep by the time daybreak came. Luckily, I had some rest by then and took at 3 hr helm shift to give him a shot at actual sleep.

We easily navigated the inlet to Sheepshead Bay and grabbed a mooring at the Miramar Yacht Club which we had heard about from Lesley on Happy Together. What a great club! They were so welcoming, and you can't beat the price of $50 for a mooring in NYC, even if it is at the bottom of the Brooklyn peninsula. We got showers, ate dinner, and then went to sleep at 6:30 pm for 12.5 hrs!

Annapolis and the C&D canal

19 May 2023
Roger Wallace
We took a mooring in Annapolis harbor at about 2:30 pm and quickly went ashore to explore the town since we needed to depart at 3 am if we wanted to be in sync with the flood tide at the top of Chesapeake Bay and make the next weather window on the Delaware River. We both really loved Annapolis and hope we get back for a real visit! We enjoyed seeing their state house which had lots of historical exhibits. Most notable was that we stood in the room where George Washington resigned his position as general and they have statues of and some history about Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas who were two famous Black Marylanders. I was struck by how short Harriet Tubman was and was struck by how unusual it felt to be able to look directly into the eyes on the statue. She was clearly small but mighty! (It was also that I too am short, which oddly always comes as a bit of a shock to me!).

Unfortunately, by the time we left the State House, the Naval Academy Museum was closed. We walked around the town a bit and saw two other memorials; a brand new one to Thurgood Marshall’s important legal legacy and another dedicated to the unnamed enslaved people. It was striking to me how differently Annapolis handles the legacy of slavery compared to Charleston, I much preferred this way. The state of Maryland apologized for their role in slavery in 2007, and it took Charleston until 2018 (after the Emmauel AME church mass shooting) so hopefully Charleston will catch up and maybe the next time I am there it will feel better to me.

Not long after leaving Annapolis at 3 am we were “dancing” with a large cruise ship. Normally it is easy to see them and navigate with them, but it was dark and foggy so we actually could not see them except for on our AIS until they were very close. Thank goodness for AIS! We had about 0.25 mile visibility until well into the morning. It was good experience to round out the adventure and I think I would be ok cruising the Canadian Maritimes with AIS and radar, though peering into the fog requires a level of attention that can be tiring.

We have been seeing plenty of Osprey on our travels north, but the top of the Chesapeake was incredible! There was a nest on almost every navigation marker and we got lots of great views of them. We saw several flying with fish or eating fish atop the marker. There have been some eagles, but clearly the Osprey are doing well here.

We anchored at Chesapeake City on the C&D canal around noon while we waited for the tide to shift again. Chesapeake City is a lovely little town and we would love to come back some time to bike along the canal and explore the communities more. Today we had 5 hours and needed to spend some of those sleeping since we were pretty tired. We moved on at 5 pm to finish the C&D, then settled for the night in the Delaware River just south of where the canal enters and in site of their nuke plant.

The Chesapeake begins

17 May 2023 | Chesapeake Bay
Susan DeSimone
The push to get to the forecasted southeast wind on Wednesday was worth it; we had a beautiful down wind sail up the Chesapeake Bay to Deltaville. Chesapeake Bay is quite large and there is lots of commercial and naval ship traffic to navigate around. Thankfully we were able to stick close to the shipping channels and did not have to deal with any crab pots so the going was easy.

In most places we’ve been on this trip the chatter on the radio is usually to communicate details around passing or being passed by another vessel or someone yelling at the turkey in some type of fast power boat to “slow down, you are in a no wake zone! You are responsible for any damage that your wake causes” (or course there are more colorful versions of that too). Today we heard something we had not heard for a while … ’this is war ship #So and So, vessel BLAH you are closer than 1000 feet, move away immediately or we are authorized to use lethal force’. Apparently, the other vessel headed the threat since the warship did not need to issue their threat another time! Or did they open fire?

We took a much-needed day off from travel in Deltaville while the winds went north. It is a lovely harbor and the folks at the Deltaville marina were nice. We caught up with Nuvo, a Montreal-based sailboat that we have been playing leapfrog with since leaving the Chesapeake and finally got to meet the crew. They are not going to head on as fast as us, in his words “you know, it’s still cold on the lake”. We got to take showers, do laundry and get a little bit of shopping done. Best of all we enjoyed some delicious scallops and Rock fish for dinner with a new boating acquaintance. Oh, and we got a nice long bike ride in using loaner bikes from the Marina.

After our day off, we had another good down wind sail up the bay and anchored just south of the Solomons with 4 other boats then moved out at first light on Thursday to use the flood tide heading to Annapolis. Once again, we would be under sail. The last two days of sailing had us in a very deep reach which was made easier thanks to our newest rigging set up which Roger devised. We call it the “bisker pole” (boom+whisker=bisker), it’s shown in the picture with this post. For you non-sailors, a whisker pole is a long metal pole which has one end attached to the front of your mast and the other attached to the sheets of the front sail (the sheets are the ropes that attach to the back bottom corner of the sail triangle). This allows you to keep the sail out to the side of the boat and stops it from flopping around if the winds lighten or the water is very bumpy. We used a whisker coming across from the Bahamas, but currently our pole is being used to secure our spare water and diesel jugs. So, Roger devised the bisker by putting a snatch block on the end of the boom to catch the sheets, moving the boom as far out to the side as possible and securing it there with a preventer. Though not as good as a whisker, the bisker works well enough and we have used it several times this trip.
Vessel Name: Pathfinder
Vessel Make/Model: Bristol 38.8
Hailing Port: Kingsland Bay, VT, USA
Crew: Roger & Susan
We met paddling whitewater kayaks. Now, after raising two wonderful adults, we are excited for the next water based phase of our lives together. [...]
Pathfinder is a Bristol 38.8, which is an excellent bluewater sailboat. Our search for an trans-oceanic boat started with a spreadsheet containing data on dozens of boats. The Bristol 38.8, and her sister vessels, were at the top of the list "by the numbers." Pathfinder has proven to be a joy to [...]
Pathfinder's Photos - Georgetown
Photos 1 to 22 of 22 | Main
View from monument trail- names in the beach
View from top of Pathfinder mast- check out that water!
Ocean view from monument
Trail up to the monument on Stocking Island
Going under the bridge into Lake Victoria
Race crew of White Seal
Geo mark at the monument