Monthly Archives: September 2014

What an ass…..

Fairport, NY; Position: 43 06.1N 77 26.5W
Posted by Bill

We awoke to sunshine (yea!) but temps in the low 40s (booo!). I thought we were trying to escape this crap! We departed Brockport and motored to Fairport. It warmed up in the afternoon and the trip was delightful. The canal is very scenic along this stretch, especially after passing the Genesee River around Rochester. We navigated through 2 locks today with a flotilla of idiots. There were these rental boats, a group of about 4 of them, and many of them were clueless. As we entered the locks they moved out of position and almost ran me up on shore. Once in the locks, the one behind us had some lady holding a line around the lock cable at the bow. Every 30 seconds she yelled “BOW!” I finally looked back to see what her deal was and realized the bow was drifting away from the wall and she wanted the helmsmen to goose the bow thruster to re-position the bow. I’m thinking “what?!”, you are holding a line wrapped around the lock wire, in a boat that is less than 1/3 the weight of ours…just pull the bow in with the line that’s in your hand! Idiot! That’s what we are doing, with just 2 people and a heavy as hell boat. So I blasted past them out of the lock to get away. Morons and my boat don’t mix!

Weirder yet…one of the clueless boats radios me and says he has a friend that has an Island Packet like ours with the same boat name, and asks, “did you buy your boat from Doug Jackson?”. I say “why yes”. Turns out the guy is from Powell, Ohio and knows the guy we bought the boat from. Idiot!

Part of the flotilla of idiots:
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We were trying to make Newark, NY today but after distance calculations and the experience of missing the bridge in Rockport, we opted to make a short day and check out Fairport. It is a pretty cool little town. We have been pushing ourselves hard and decided to spend a little time at port. Wouldn’t you know it…the flotilla of idiots ended up docking across the canal from us. So now we get to navigate with them tomorrow too…can’t wait.

While walking around Fairport, we saw Sal again. She must be following us. What an ass…
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We saw the USS Voodoo at the dock today. Another WTF moment. Not sure if this is a cruise boat or someone that doesn’t get many passengers, but I still like it.
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Fairport at the canal. See Island Bound almost to the end on the left.
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Boat name of the day


We see many interesting boat names and I thought I would follow the lead of one of our favorite blogs that we follow and do an occasional boat name of the day. Today the name is Dictanic…not sure exactly what they were thinking, but that is one cruise we don’t want to go on. (WTF…who names a boat something like that anyway???)

We found Sal…on the Erie Canal

Brockport, NY; Location: 43 12.9N, 77 56.4W
Posted by Bill

Today was the first full day on the Erie Canal. We got started around 8:30 with decent weather, but it deteriorated rapidly into rain and drizzle with 15 knot winds and 52 degree temps…booshit! Fortunately, several years ago we purchased quality Gill foul weather gear, complete with pants, coats and West Marine boots. It was a miserable day to hand steer the boat for 8 hours. We were trying to make it to the “award winning welcome center” at Brockport, NY to enjoy nice facilities and the town of Brockport.

After several hours of motoring, we came to our first set of locks. Each took us down approximately 25 feet. The Erie Canal system has a total of 34 locks, runs 338 miles and drops a total of 572 feet from Lake Erie to sea level. The lock process goes like this: When you get a green light, motor in to the lock and grab the lines on the lock wall. One person grabs at the bow (front of the boat) and the other grabs at the stern (back of the boat). Some locks have fixed lines or cables that you wrap your lines around, and most of them have dangling lines that you just grab on to. Then the water goes up or down depending on which direction you are headed.

Descending in the lock.
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Doors opening…get the HELL OUT!
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Then we encountered a series of lift bridges. You have to contact the lift operator on the marine radio and request a lift. Then they stop traffic, lift the bridge and you can go under. If you don’t wait until the bridge is completely up and a green light comes on, you get yelled at…don’t ask how I know.

Lift bridge.
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Look…we made it to the big apple!!!
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After we made it to the big apple we saw apple orchards for at least 15 miles along the canal. Wish I could have picked some.

After 8.5 hours of motoring, we made it to Brockport. Unfortunately, this time of year the lift bridges close at 5 PM. Because the bridges made us wait for a slower power boat at each bridge (can you believe a power boat slowing down a sail boat…for the love of god…what is the world coming to?), we didn’t make the bridge at Brockport; and instead of luxury accommodations with electric and restrooms, we are tied to a rough concrete wall with no amenities…Booooo, Hisssss! Ahhhh, but no dock fees.

And look…we found Sal (the mule from the Erie Canal song – Google it if you are too young to know what I am talking about, people)
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We are now a motor boat.

Erie Canal, Tonawanda NY, Latitude/Longitude: 43 01.3N, 78 52.3W
Posted by Bill

Yesterday after we landed at Rich Marine we had to get ready to have the mast taken down so we could transit the Erie Canal. The lowest bridge heights are 13 feet and we have a 54 foot mast. So we busted ass and took down the sails (not an easy task for a boat our size). We finished up around 8 PM and went to find a place to eat. Now Rich Marine is not in a very good part of town, and we walked around for at least an hour trying to find a place to eat. Plenty of places…none open. WTF? The best place in the area was open but closed at 7:30. Again…WTF? So we go back to the boat and Tricia makes a home made pizza…yum! Of course I made cocktails. And a good time was had by all.

This morning we moved the boat over to the crane area and the yard crew took the mast down and built a support structure to hold it while we transit to the Hudson River. The crew was really good and a very colorful lot, which I always appreciate.

Here is them taking the mast off with a crane.

Here is the final result.
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We are officially a motor boat.

We left Rich a little after 4 PM and motored down the Niagara River. We had a downstream current between 2.5 to 3.5 knots, which is pretty strong. At one point the boat’s speed transducer said we were moving 5.5 knots and the GPS on the chart plotter showed Course Over Ground of 8.7! When we hit Tonawanda Creek we made a right and went into the Erie Canal. It was really cool. The Niagra had some really varied scenery, from interstate 90 running along side, to factories, to riverside homes with sprawling lawns and boat docks.

Tonawanda and North Tonawanda are really nice towns. We stopped there for the night and walked into both towns which are on opposite sides of the Canal. We stopped at JP Dwyers Irish pub and had some downright awesome wings. Then walked over to the other side of the canal and went to Smoke on the Water, and had awesome pork bar-b-que. Highly recommend both places if you ever get this way.

We saw some weird shit walking around as well. There was some guy parked along the canal in his car with the trunk lid open. Inside the trunk he had a small AV system and he was facing the trunk singing into a mic. He had a nice voice but no audience. He was literally singing into the trunk of his car with no one around. An hour later we passed him again…same deal…singing away. We also saw this car/grill/oven contraption. If the food it makes is even close to Smoke on the Water, I am good with it.
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Island Bound docked in the Erie Canal at Tonawanda
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Bridges and Canals and Locks….Oh my!

Buffalo, NY: Latitude/Longitude 42 56.2N, 78 54.4W
Posted by Bill

Beautiful motor sail to Buffalo today. It took around 4 and 1/2 hours to sail from Dunkirk and it was a day of firsts. First place to sail into with a city skyline…
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First passage under a lift bridge (I wasn’t sure it was high enough)…

…and swing bridge

First passage through a lock (pretty uneventful)…

We docked at Rich Marine and will have them take our mast down tomorrow so we can go through the Erie Canal. Sad to see these towns in western New York as they are having troubles in today’s economy. Not good to see them struggle. As we talked to locals we came to feel their plight as manufacturing and jobs in general have left the area for overseas competition.

Sorry for the late posts but every day has been full of activity and work and I have not been able to keep up! It should slow down from here on out so I can keep you up to date!

We finally left

Dunkirk, NY : Latitude/Longitude 42 29.28N, 79 20.41W
Posted by Bill

The last week has been so crazy trying to ready the boat and house for departure and we did not get everything loaded onto the boat until Sunday, missing our intended departure on Saturday. Not really a problem because just as predicted the winds blew 30+ knots most of the morning and early afternoon.
We finished loading around 9:00 AM Sunday (2 hours behind!!) and left our dock at 9:15, headed for the fuel dock to pump out the holding tank (toilet waste for you non-boaters) and fill up with diesel. As we pull up to the fuel dock the alternator light goes on….crap! We haven’t gone 100 yards and we are already fixing something! This is usually a sign that the alternator belt needs tightened, so before departing the fuel dock I dig the tools out of storage and make the adjustment, start the engine and the light is out. We head out into the West Harbor channel and 200 yards later the light comes on again…crap! We head back to our dock and I make more adjustments. Finally at 10:15 we leave the dock for the second time.

Earlier the marine forecast said “possible morning showers and waterspouts”…sheesh! Great way to start a voyage. Actually the weather was good until about 2 AM Monday and the wind kicked up a typical Lake Erie washing machine effect that threw us around like a cork, forcing me to hand steer until around 6 AM (“Otto”, our autopilot, isn’t good at steering in confusing waves). Then we got swarmed by thousands of little bugs that stuck around for the duration of the trip, still swarming as I type, so it was a typical Lake Erie experience. After 25 hours of passage we arrive at Dunkirk, NY, tired and bug laden.

Dunkirk Yacht Club turned out to be a real hidden gem. The people were so hospitable that I thought we were in a time warp…back 50 years or so. After talking to them on the phone about possible dockage they called me repeatedly to ensure I got the “local knowledge” about how to navigate the harbor entrance. Upon arrival they helped with the docking, gave us the lowdown about the club and the surrounding area, and invited us to all of the amenities that their club had to offer. The facilities were clean and very adequate and the people were exceptional.

This is the Dunkirk Yacht Club:
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Here is a pic of the bugs we got swarmed by:
Bugs on boardThey literally covered the whole boat. We had no idea how many there were.

When we docked in Dunkirk I had to wash the boat because the bugs were so bad, but all in all a good passage, and a first destination on our journey.

Here we are at departure:
Departure 2014Pic courtesy of our friend and dock neighbor Brian Leonard! Thanks Brian.

Great stop Dunkirk. We had dinner at Dimitri’s and it was very good, and at Jenna’s for breakfast…also outstanding!

The boat is sinking!

Catawba Island Ohio
Posted by Bill

We have been working non-stop (and I mean it!) for almost a month now. Frantic pace to get the house sold, frantic pace to move, and frantic pace to get the boat ready and leave. Trust me…that’s a lot of frantic pace. For the last week we have been dis-positioning stuff at the house and hauling it to the boat, and stuffing it away in what ever hidey-hole we can find on the boat. Every day I look at the waterline (how low in the water the boat sits a dock) and it keeps getting lower and lower. We haven’t even loaded the really heavy stuff yet, which is fresh water and fuel. Our Island Packet holds 170 gallons of water and 90 gallons of fuel. Right now we have 1/4 tank of water and 2/3 tank of fuel. When we load it up it will probably sink another inch, which is a lot for a 42′ boat!

That is really not a big deal except that the water line is demarcated by the top of the antifouling paint on the hull. You need anti-fouling paint so that the marine growth doesn’t stick to the hull, build up and slow you down. In the tropics it looks like a beard around your boat and it needs to be scraped off on a regular basis. We use Petitt Trinidad SR bottom paint and it is pretty good a keeping the growth at bay for at least 2 years. But, if the water line rises above the anti-foul you are going to have more of a mess to attend to than you want.

So….we are loading and watching the weather. Right now is showing gusts up to 30 knots out of the north from 10 AM to 2 PM. That will mean 5 foot waves of significant steepness and a very uncomfortable ride to Vermilion. Due to our conservative nature, we will wait another day for better weather. The boat can handle much more severe weather than that but the crew doesn’t want to endure more than they have to…lol (see Dan and Mary Jane, you don’t have to worry!). Right now it is blowing 15 knots in the harbor (which is always less than on the lake). Deadlines and cruising don’t mix, and usually makes sailors make bad decisions to meet a date versus using prudent judgement. We will make the final call tomorrow and will err on the side of safe passage.

Lesson of the day: If you have been drinking and can carry a 40 lb bin out from the back seat of a Jeep Wrangler, down a 50′ dock, onto a boat, under the bimini cover, and not drop anything in the water…including yourself…you can have another martini!

First dose of storage management

9/10/14 – Catawba Island, OH
Posted by Bill

In the last post I was expounding on the virtues of inventorying everything on the boat so you can find it. There are more than 70 storage locations on our Island Packet 40. We have been inventorying and stuffing things away and noting the location of where it is stuffed. Today I was doing a boat project installing 12V cigarette lighter receptacles in the navigation station (nav station). We have a pretty elaborate electrical system on board which allows us to use AC power at the dock or through an inverter when not connected to shore power. The inverter converts DC power to AC power and works very well but uses battery power at a feverish pace, all depending on the power draw. Charging phones, iPods, iPads, laptops, etc… is very inefficient compared to just plugging in to a 12 volt receptacle like you would your car, so this is a good project. I look up the location of the electrical supplies storage and it reads “Starboard – salon – forward – settee – under” which means it is under the bench seat on the right side of the boat in the “living room” at the forward most seat. I know this is wrong because there is an air conditioning unit in that storage location….crap! I begin to search around that area and after 20 minutes of pulling out storage bins and tearing the inside of the boat apart I find what I need. At this point I realized 2 things: 1) Don’t drink vodka while you are putting stuff in storage, and 2) it’s a good thing we are inventorying all of this stuff or the process I just went through would be a standard routine every time I need to find something.

I got my project half done and then we went to have dinner with friends we consider family. They grew up in the Port Clinton/Catawba Island area, lived in Columbus for a time (where we met), and then moved back up to Catawba. While in Columbus we had a dual wedding where we all got married together and had a huge party. Great fun! We have a special bond with them and it was great to spend time together again. We will miss them!

We continue to press forward, hoping to be able to leave Saturday as planned, and we just might make it!

Let’s get going…..

9/8/14 – Catawba Island, Ohio
Posted by Bill

It took a day and a half to recover from the move. Man am I sore! We have stuff piled all over the place in the house. I couldn’t sleep so got up and started route planning. The general plan is to sail for Vermilion on Saturday the 13th. We have dinner plans with friends that share the same birthday as Tricia and are celebrating at one of our favorite restaurants, Chez Francois. Sunday we plan to leave Vermilion and sail 30 hours overnight to Buffalo, NY. I figure we leave at dawn and will be there around mid day on Monday. After an overnight stay we take the mast down and enter the Erie canal on Tuesday. It will take probably 6 days to get through the canal if the weather is permitting. The canal terminates at the Hudson River, which will take 2 – 3 days to transit ending in NY City/Sandy Hook, NJ. There we will wait for good passage weather for an overnight sail in the Atlantic Ocean around New Jersey to Cape May, NJ. After an overnight stay we will move up the Delaware Bay to the C&D canal which will take us into the Chesapeake Bay. We would like to be in Baltimore by October 6. Assuming the weather follows the current forecast (uh huh), we can make it. If the weather goes bad we will sit it out and be late.

So after looking at the weather and route, we decided to bust ass this week and get the boat loaded. Sunday we dis-positioned all of the stuff we brought in the move and started to inventory everything that goes on the boat. Island Packet boats are known for their ample storage but it is still a 42 foot boat, so you can imagine the challenge of trying to find a way to load all of our land based stuff, in addition to all of the things you need to manage and maintain a sailboat. Once loaded, it can be a significant task finding something you want, so everything gets put into an inventory spreadsheet with storage locations noted. We inventoried around 70% of what we have, went and bought engine and rigging spares, and took our first load to the boat.

The process repeats starting with the most important “must take” stuff, followed by less important stuff until the boat is full. Also this week we need to get rid of 2 cars, make a trip down and back to Columbus, and I need to install some 12V cigarette lighter adapters in the boat to power our Engel freezer, laptops and phones. It is going to be another crazy week with lots of activity, but it appears do-able (yeah – sure it does).

If we don’t make it for some reason…no big deal…we have plan B!

The first move is complete


So our house in Powell has sold and we moved to our house at Lake Erie. We lived in that house for 18 years and we really liked the neighbors, the community, the Columbus area and the house. We are relieved to have made it through the process because it really sucked – mostly because we totally underestimated the effort involved in moving, and also underestimated the amount of stuff that we had stored in the house. The last 2 weeks just about killed us, especially yesterday when we actually moved. We started the day around 8 AM and worked non-stop until we left the house at 10:20 PM, then drove 2 hours to the lake. The 12:30 AM martinis tasted really good!

Now our lake house is crammed with stuff from the other house in addition to all of the boat stuff that has been waiting for the right moment to move aboard.

We will be glad to only have 1 house to maintain, but the whole event was very sad for us. Good-byes to our neighbors, Columbus friends, and especially our kids and grandkids, were very difficult emotionally. There is definitely some second guessing going on…”Is this really the right thing to do?” Our Wednesday night drinking club (WWHWC – Wednesday Watering Hole Wanderers Club) is ending it’s 7th year of meeting every Wednesday. Tricia and I are founding members and the core group of founding members are regular attenders. Some days we have only core members show up and other days we have 20 or so. We will miss them like family. We were sad that they are going to meet only monthly because of us leaving. We will be visiting back in town on a somewhat regular basis, but it is still sad. The neighbors threw a fun party for us a week ago which had me wishing we had done that more often.

Now the focus is towards the boat and the first leg of our journey. I sit and stare at the chaos inside the lake house and wonder how the hell we are going to disposition all of it, load it on the boat, and prep the house for winter before it is too late to depart through the Erie Canal. Good thing we have a plan B.