Sunday, June 29, 2014, Atlantic City: On a falling tide we make our way out of Utsch’s into the Cape May Canal and harbor bound for Atlantic City. We were sorry we didn’t make AC our destination the previous day as it is only 37 miles from the Atlantic end of the Cape May Canal. Once out of the shallows we encounter the hordes of fishermen speeding out for the catch of the day. The Ocean was calm and less than 90 minutes later we are turning into Absecon Inlet with the Farley State Marina at the Golden Nugget Casino in view.

The Golden Nugget is hopping but the marina is well kept and serviced. MarinaLife gives us a nice discount and we have the run of the hotel and casino. We were planning only an overnight here but we got the two-step from Liberty Landing in Jersey City. They failed to tell us that they were booked and couldn’t take us for the week. We had the choice of going directly to Port Washington or staying here for the week. We are staying in AC for the week then to PW and to destinations on Long Island Sound. Maybe we’ll catch the Big Apple on the way back but we want to be in Newport, RI, for July 10 to meet son Judah.

Saturday, June 28, 2014, Cape May, NJ: Once again, the water was flat all the way, even Delaware Bay. No shortage of yahoos on America’s boating day. We suffered a brief but unpleasant encounter with a commercial party barge. From 200 yards to starboard the captain decides to cross ahead of us at about seven knots as opposed to our 22—no sounds, no radio hail, nothing. “I’m goin’ and I’m commercial so get out of my way.” We skid to a stop in plenty of time but he is on deck shooting down all the birds. The pity is, had we been unfortunate he had made us the burdened boat!

Utsch’s at Cape May proved to be a big disappointment and not a repeat. Hurricane Sandy was unkind to the marina, which had all the appearances of being long in the tooth for the last few decades anyway. Our bow bumped bottom at low tide during the night, the shore water was foul, the electricity finicky, and the entrance shoaled in. Not a repeat. I don’t know why Active Captain lists the place as a top choice. We have stayed at the others in the same area. They are definitely nicer, especially Canyon Club. I posted Active Captain and didn’t I get a call from Utsch’s apologizing. They will try to make the marina better. As an inducement to return the offered us a refund for the night.

zlzWe met the crew of Corryanne, an oceangoing sailing yacht next to us. The couple had been in Utsch’s before and agreed that they would choose elsewhere next time. They are old salts and anyone could tell they had been around. The other crew was John and Amy Hanzl who had just picked up a slightly used Sabre 38 in Jupiter, FL, and were pushing it home to Providence, RI. They weren’t happy with Utsch’s either.

Friday, June 27, 2014, St. Michael’s, MD: We depart Onancock for the 100-mile run up to St, Michael’s, MD. I gave up on NOAA and used a commercial weather map service plus an eye on the sky. The morning dawned crystal clear and cool and not a breath of wind. Out on the bay the water was flat. Once out of the flats we put the pedal down and flew to our destination in four hours. St. Michael’s Marina was hopping. We left the boat at 12:45 to walk the town, pretty, colorful, and well kept. We had lunch at the C-Street Pub—pleasant and adequate tuna wraps. The marina was jammed when we returned and promised to be that way all weekend. We decide to head to Cape May, NJ, about 140 miles distant the next morning as long as the weather was cooperating.

Thursday, June 26, 2014, Onancock, VA: We say good-bye to Judy and Mike and make loose plans to meet on our way back south. The weather is fine and calm. NOAA tells us the bay is quiet, too. We head out of Lynnhaven and set Captain-Pilot Blackthorne on a course for Onancock on the eastern shore. We take the direct route across the bridge-tunnel into the bay proper. As we travel north the bay gets rougher and rougher in a freshening northeast wind and incoming tide. Before long we are slamming into steep fours and fives, luckily on the nose. Onancock is only 50 miles distant and we make for the creek leading into the town. The channel is well marked but there are shifting shoals to get through. Once in the water is flat for five miles.

We tie up by 12:30 and bolt to the local pub 200 feet away to watch USA play Germany in the World Cup soccer matches and dine on fish and chips washed down with a cold beer. Ain’t much to Onancock! Scott, the dockmaster of the small marina, is a pleasant and helpful young man. It turns out that we dined at one of the two restaurants in town!

It takes about 15 minutes to walk Onancock. Nothing doing!

Tuesday and Wednesday in Virginia Beach: We do housekeeping chores and play with friends Judy and Mike. At the Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club we have the run of the club, a beautiful facility on a saltwater lagoon connected to the Chesapeake at Lynnhaven Inlet and well sheltered from every quadrant. Mike’s diver, Rob Rice, pulled the props within moments of our tying up in Mike’s slip. One slightly bent blade on the starboard aft prop! That must have smacked a piece of debris when Albemarle Sound kicked us around. Lots of stuff floated in the sound—construction debris, two by fours, deadhead logs, and stumps. We never heard or felt the boat hitting anything but then we were riding through tall steep surf.

The girls go shopping for the Hechtkopf son’s wedding on September 1. The boys boat shop and I go back to cleaning up from days on the water. Later, I practice a little medicine for Rob, the diver. The Coasties have mandated that he carry a huge inventory of emergency supplies. I teach him how to resuscitate, take blood pressure, administer CPR. I suggest a portable defibrillator because he has all the airway stuff he needs. He needs a jar of meat tenderizer for the jelly stings since the Chesapeake is full of jellies. We take Judy and Mike to supper at a tasty Italian restaurant in Virginia Beach, Il Giardino.

On Wednesday Mike takes me down to Chesapeake, VA, to fetch the newly minted props at Bay Propeller.  Max Allen, the owner, knows Nelson Durant, the prop guy who does the tuning for me in Charleston. Max is a jolly fellow and expect to get hosed but he says only the one prop was bent and he charged me for that and balanced the other three. Rob meets me back at Sequel where he remounts the props. He refuses payment as he is grateful to barter for my services in giving signed approval of his emergency kit for the Coast Guard.

Monday, June 23, 2014: We met friends Judy and Mike. They live in Virginia Beach, closer to Chesapeake than Norfolk. Our AC died, again. They offered to take us back to stay with them but I was too preoccupied with problems I thought I had solved. We dreaded not having AC through the night. Providence smiled on us once again. The night turned cool after the front weather passed. We opened every hatch and port light and found that we needed a blanket.

The AC—I discovered that the top of the raw water sea strainer was dripping. I could not remove the top, which is very thick plastic. Atlantic Yacht Basin, a very well stocked yard, did not have a replacement. We could get one in 3 days from the factory or Defender Marine but West Marine came through. They had a complete new strainer that matched ours and agreed to cannibalize the top. Mike picked it up at their store near their house and West took the delay to replace the top to their part. Thank you West.

We are now in Mike’s slip at the Cavalier, Yacht & Golf Club in Virginia Beach. Mike’s boat is on the hard, bad sick! I hired a diver to pull the props and one was bent but not badly. Upon our arrival I went to work on the AC. Marsh, at Marsh Marine in Charleston advised using a spanner to remove the old cap. For a hand-tightened piece the top required all of my strength to loosen. Marsh had just completed an AC raw water cleanout. I discovered that the threads on the cap had broken. The cap is old and the replacement fit as designed. It cured the strainer leak. Priming the pump restored AC.

Monday night Judy lays out a gourmet meal at their house overlooking the lake around the bend from the club. Mike has picked us up in his runabout from the club dock. Mike’s 100-year old mom, meets us at the Hechtkopf abode. She acts like a 60-year old! She would still be golfing regularly were it not for a vision challenge.

Sunday, June 22, 2014: This must be Dowry Creek. This is close to wilderness, North Carolina. The nearest ville is Belhaven. We have been to Belhaven once before and it can be described in one word—nothing. Despite the nearby medical services there is no commerce. We use Belhaven’s empty grain silos as our landmark the turn to the east in the Pungo River. The place once thrived on farming and fishing. Since we import veg and fish who feeds from America’s breadbasket and waters anymore? Pity

Mary, who owns the marina facility in Dowry Creek, makes no apology for the Belhaven. “One eatery,” she says, “and it isn’t very good.” The supermarket is 3 miles out of the town. Mary and her friend Nick run a first class facility—pool, clubhouse with TV and a swap library that is well stocked, laundry, bath house—all clean.

We were treated to nature’s fireworks through the late Saturday afternoon and evening. The protected creek served us well. The winds came in ferocious gusts. The rains, though brief, came in squalls like the Almighty was emptying a barrel of water on us. Luckily, the docks were substantial and on piles. We broke one line but everything else held. Examining the line later, I have to say that I should have retired it long ago! After the storms passed, the sun shone beneath the cloud layer creating a kaleidoscope of color in a phenomenon we recognize as storm lighting.

Today, our plan is to negotiate the Pungo River, the manmade Pungo-Alligator River canal, Alligator River, Albemarle Sound, and the Alligator-Chesapeake Canal, to Chesapeake, Virginia. This passage, 120 miles in length, is picturesque. The predicted weather, courtesy of Mr. NOAA, was fair and it started pristine, clear, cool, and mirror calm. We came across Ragtime II, again. They had intended to be in Coinjock but held back the previous day because of the impending weather. We discovered later that they pulled up in Coinjock because of a bent prop.

All of the aforementioned waterways are in the safekeeping of the USCoE. I hate to keep ragging on them but the waterways are in poor shape. The canals are not well marked and very shallow. We passed one barge tow after another. The captains are all very helpful. They tell us of the bad spots, the better side to choose, and where the shoals are this week. How they negotiate the S-turn of the Alligator as it flows into Albemarle Sound remains a mystery. The waterway is less than a 100 feet wide and less than two feet deep on either side.

As we emerged from the Alligator River the clouds thickened, the wind shifted to the northeast, and freshened to about 25 knots—not a NOAA prediction. This is the exact condition to avoid when crossing the sound but we were committed. Anchorages are too shallow and would have ridden it out if there was an available anchorage. We forged ahead across the sound into the wind. We bashed through 5-footers buttoned up and used our speed and trim tabs to even out the 10-mile ride into the more sheltered Chesapeake Canal. It was a cocktail shaker of a ride with substantial below decks redecorating. At 22 knots the worst was over in about 30-minutes but we both felt like we had a workout.

Coming into the flat calm of the canal Sequel picked up a new shudder. I recognized it as a bent prop. We got into shallows but did not feel as though we grounded the props. Albemarle Sound is full of dead heads, logs, and building debris. It is possible we dinged the props during the raucous sound crossing but we never felt it.

We pulled up in the Atlantic Yacht Basin in Chesapeake, Virginia, just a few miles from Norfolk. We were 100 yards upstream from the Great Bridge Bridge and Lock System that begins the slow 12-mile passage through the highly controlled Elizabeth River that flows past Portsmouth and Norfolk Navy Yards.

I tried to free dive on the bottom but couldn’t see the tea colored water. There is a scrape on the keel at the bow that suggests we plowed into some debris on the sound.

Thursday, June 19, 2014: We are underway, finally. A litany small but consequential failures held us back. The AC system got balky—the worst of the problems—due to plugged raw water hoses. Traveling sans AC is not the end of the world. However, without humidity control everything below decks would get damp and mildewy. The fix was not bad. Marsh Marine came to the rescue and during the repair he found a basic design flaw in the raw water handler. The builders did not control water supply to the five AC units from a single manifold; every plumbing joint became flow restrictive plus the overboard waste connections were made with reducing barbs—5/8 to 3/8 of an inch. Marsh changed all that. With the increased water flow the AC has never been so efficient. 

We pulled out this morning at the dawn of a brilliant day, already feverishly hot and humid. The harbor was flat calm but for the wakes of numerous fishermen heading for deep water. We turned toward the northeast and drew an open water rhumb line to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. Except for a light chop over long period ocean swells, our passage was smooth a quick. We were docked, fueled, libated, and victualed at the Bald Head Island Marina by 13:30.

We spent the afternoon tooling around the island in a golf cart. Bald Head is hilly and covered with the typical growth of Virginia pines and marsh grass. The interior of this roughly 4- x 3-mile land mass features a country club and a golf course. The island is girdled by beaches and dunes on all sides.

 The marina is well managed. Although completely enclosed it is scoured by southerlies because there is no elevation to the island facing south. High winds make docking especially on the north end of the marina a challenge. If docked on the north side of a dock finger, as we were, expect the lines to creak and groan all night. I softened the annoyance by wrapping the fairleads with towels. On the south side of a dock finger the noise comes from fenders being squeezed between hull and dock.

 There are several restaurants to choose from in the marina area. The most recommended is Mojo. Despite many vacant tables the wait was long, the service terrible, and the result hallucious. Who could possibly bugger up a salad! The best restaurant on the island is our galley.

Despite the sketchy eating arrangement we would go back. The island is quite beautiful and not overbuilt. The only access is by ferry or private boat. There are no cars except for police, emergency, and service vehicles.

 Friday, June 20, 2014: Last night’s weather features thunderstorms and lightening shows. NOAA weather, our “gumint” weather forecaster foretold of evil portents. We made a plan to do the run to Morehead City in the ICW with a substantial trawler, Ragtime II, captained by Rick Graham from Somewhere, Florida, and Boston, Massachusetts.

Daybreak today was fair with a cloud bank out to sea. NOAA advertised 3- to 5-footers offshore, which means 8-footers, most of the time. The ICW was dead calm and easily negotiable in the ripping currents of the Cape Fear River and tributaries, that is until we ran out of tide. Then, typical of our friends in the USCoE, they forgot to dredge critical places. We rang up Towboat US for some local knowledge when we were coming into Wrightsville Beach. Wouldn’t you know it? The open sea featured 0- to 1-foot over short period swells. We bolted for Masonboro Inlet and got out of the ditch and all of the brain damage that implies. The run up to Beaufort ship channel and Morehead was quick and comfortable, not a cloud in the sky. Once again, we were fueled and docked by 12:30. Ragtime II stayed out too but, at 10 knots of cruising speed, got hammered by late afternoon thunder squalls. The only benefit to the squalls is that Mother Nature does the washing of the caked salt from hull and fittings.

Morehead City is not the garden spot of North Carolina. The marina staff at the yacht basin was very helpful. They have a convenience vehicle, ten dollars for 2 hours, plenty to get the feel of Morehead City. Beaufort Town docks are desirable because downtown Beaufort is quaint and lives. Diesel at $3.48 per gallon at Morehead City is hard to pass up. Next stop Dowry Creek on the Pungo River. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014: After a long hiatus, Seaquel is going to sea, again. Shortly, we will head north, our destination Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. Stay tuned! We plan to be there from mid-July until sometime in August before we head south, hopefully ahead of the snowbirds.

Day 295, February 10, 2013 (Charleston, SC): Sequel made home port in good order at 13:55 on February 10, 2013, to a welcoming committee of friends Theo, Joan and Perry, Janet and Carl, Jerry and Jenny, and McKenzie. As we were backing into our old slip at The Bristol Marina the feeling of accomplishment hit. Our log says that we covered 5,260 nautical miles, which translates to 6,050 statute miles. More than remembering every one of those miles we remember the places we visited and the wonderful friends we made along the way. We don’t apologize for moving out at our own pace but know that all of you will be welcome when you visit Charleston, the Holy City. Give us a “heads up” when you think that you will make port.

The Bristol Marina doesn’t advertise transient slips but you must have an air draft of 15 feet or less. It is quiet and there is space. City Marina is south of the bridges and offers the Megadock as well as shuttle service for those who don’t want to walk the mile to King Street. There are other marinas close by offering an abundance of dockage. However, every marina is fraught with strong currents. As far as I know City Marina and Bristol are the only ones that have along-side facedocks for captains who are not accustomed to dealing with the peak ebb and flow of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.

We will spend the next week emptying ten months worth of “stuff” before Sequel goes up on the hard for R & R.

Edie guides Sequel through the oyster beds of Wadmalaw Sound. We have been in our old stomping grounds since St. Augustine, FL.

Going for the gold. Charleston’s western skyline, the James Island connector, and the imposing Ravenel bridge in the background.

Day 293, February 8, 2013 (Windmill Harbor, Hilton Head, SC): It is hard to believe that we have come full circle. We will cross our wake on Sunday morning, February 10, 2013, having traveled 6,040 statute miles through 18 states and 2 provinces in Canada. We remember the people we traveled with along the way, the people we’ve met where we landed, and the vastness of the land traveled.

People ask us, “What was your favorite place?” The question has no good answer. Every stop we made had its own uniqueness. What we did discover time and again was grassroots America and Canada, the fundament perceptions of ordinary people in villages, towns, and the big cities, their reasons for happiness and disappointments.

The other most common question that folks asked was, “What do you do all day on the boat?” Invariably, we answer that there is not enough time in the day to do all the things we planned. Firstly, we adhered to our float plan except on very few occasions. That plan was to travel no more than 50 to 75 miles per day and not even that if we were tired. Translated to real time, we spent from sunrise until about midday on the move and planned to get to a destination where we could spend the rest of the day poking around.

The second principle of our float plan was to decide over breakfast whether we would stay or move on. Most of the time we stayed more than one day in port or at anchor. For example, we planned to stay just a short time in Ocean Reef on Key Largo and stayed two weeks. We hung out in New York City for a week, Montreal for a week, Marathon for a week, Chicago for eleven days.

Some of the way was phsyically strenuous. We have locked through 151 times. Some locks were a breeze, others took all of our strength to hold the boat to the chamber wall. Ottawa’s Step-of-Eight Lock sapped us; it is out one lock into the next and there is no turning around. Some passages were straight in the open water; others traversed tortuous channels requiring two pairs of eyes forward. Tugs and tows in the inland rivers were always a challenge.

Our autopilot saw yeoman service. It is now known as Captain Pilot Blackthorn. He got sick one day in the Straits of Florida with the wind howling at 30 knots. I spent time fixing it while Edie kept watch. Then there is the constant weather watch ahead of us. Our Internet weather courtesy of T-mobile was abysmal most of the time until we purchased an iPad connected to Verizon. After that we had infallable Internet 99 percent of the time. Aboard there is always something to fix not to mention service breaks to swap out air, oil, and fuel filters, oil changes, belt and impeller replacements, and the litany goes on.

And so we will see the Charleston skyline in another day and take the time to greet old friends and plan our next adventure aboard Sequel.

Here are some of the last images from our last leg northbound.

Last time we saw white pellies was in Ontario. They come south to St. Augustine for the winter, too.

Cannon fire in Castillo San Marcos, St. Augustine, FL

 The old grist mill in St. Augustine, FL

Sunset over Camachee Cove near St. Augustine.


American bald eagle perched on a range marker near Jacksonville, FL.







Gray lady in drydock, Jacksonville Navy Yard.

Wine time aboard Sequel with Rob and Gail Wynn. I participated in training Rob as a thoracic surgeon, the first of some 80 men and women who came under my tutelage.

Day 286, February 1, 2013 (Titusville, FL):

Two’s company!

Three’s a crowd!

Manatee drink fresh water draining from our sink (Titusville).


Day 283, January 29, 2013 (Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Palm Beach County, FL): The Palm Beach County government created a water impoundment that became the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The wetlands have become their own ecosystem supported by plant life that has attracted numerous species of birds and reptiles. Here are a few of our sightings.

Anhinga mating plummage

‘Gator snoozing

 Woodstork beating the weeds for grub

Mom and one of the kids

 Purple gallinule (colorful chicken)

Go ahead! Take my picture.

This guy is a pest and foreign species. It eats everything in sight.

Moorhen (another kind of chicken)

Anhinga collecting nesting material

Can you see the ‘gator?

 Great blue heron feeding the kids

Great blue heron tired of feeding the kids

It’s mine! No … it’s mine!

Day 278, January 24, 2013 (Miami, FL):

The trip up to Miami is not without its surprise views. Above is a look at the Cape Florida light against the skyline of Key Biscayne. Then there is Stiltsville, the decaying playpens of Miami’s rich and shameless going back to the 1920s. The houses and clubs on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay are now part of a national park and being victimized by the elements.

We docked in Sea Isle Marina behind the Marriott Hotel on North Bayshore in Miami. The facility is adequate but there is no sea wall. Lots of rock and roll in the high winds during the past two days. At the left is the hotel, an avant garde design that forms part of Miami’s skyline.

Our travels around the town took us into the Design District and art galleries. The De La Cruz Family Collection houses a humerous and innovative collection of contemporary art. Over in Miami Beach the Bass Museum of contemporary Art houses an eclectic collection of interpretive contemporary art but with a smattering of grand works by the masters. I don’t know how they fit but they were there. We finished up with a visit to the small but well done Miami Beach Botanical Gardens and the Holocaust Memorial.

At the De La Cruz an egg isn’t an ordinary egg. This is an infinity mobile. See it … the infinity part?

At right is a piece in the park in front of the Bass. Below, Bigfoot dominates the Botanical Garden.

The centerpiece of the Holocaust Memorial.

Day 275, January 21, 2013 (Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo, FL): Here we are, heading out into the Hawk Channel fleeing Whale Harbor and Holiday Isle. The picture does not give the breeze its due. Wind is clocking at 25 but the water is too shallow to kick up. We are getting only a salt spray from our own wake. Nevertheless, it is good to get out after waiting out the wind for the last five days. Once out in the channel we were getting pounded by 6-footers and the occasional rogue with tops blowing off of the waves. Behind Pennekamp Reef the surface status was more accommodating with a moderate chop and blowing water.

After nearly 6,000 miles of travel we have not encountered a place quite as superlative as the Ocean Reef Club. We owe a big thank you to Carlos De Quesada, son Judah’s business associate. Carlos hosted us in absentia with the use of his slip. We planned on three days but we will have been here for almost two weeks. It will be hard to leave but leave we must before we overstay our welcome. We must begin making our way north.

Ocean Reef is a comprehensive exclusive living environment with mostly low rise habitation among the preserved reef vegetation. The complex occupies 4,000 acres with a tennis center, golf courses, swimming pools, staffed activities for children of all ages (3 to 100), sailing, kayaking, a cultural center showing first run films, plays, musical events, and speakers, an art center for painting, photography complete with lab, potting, woodworking, and much more. There is a village with a market, restaurants, chandlery, shops, and whatever else you might conjure. As a guest or a member all one needs anywhere for transacting is a guest card or member number. Nobody has a hand out for money.

The marina offers place for 175 boats ours being among the smallest. The docks are floating and fixed and built out to withstand storms. Shelter in the marina is 360 degrees. Below is an example of the boats around us at the dock.

During the last few days the club hosted a catch-and-release sailfish tournament. Sixty-one sportfishing boats participated most being in the 60-foot plus range. Small boats participated, too, and did their fair share of
catching. At the end of the day the boats line up and enter the channel in a line. At the left a pellie leads the way. Below, the boats parade into
the harbor.




Day 263, January 9, 2013 (Islamorada, FL): Yep! We’re still here but never fear. We will move on. We meant to do it, today, but it is blowing like stink. We decided to give it one more day. We are tired of Keys kitch and grumpy dock staff. They are making me grumpy. I think we will venture out tomorrow if the wind is not too outrageous. We have an intro to Ocean Reef Club and plan to enjoy the class that we deserve!!

Here are a few pics from our sojourn at Holiday Isle.

African Gray at Theater of the Sea, a worthwhile half day in Islamorada.










Reproving pellie overlooking our boat. Thank heavens the wrong end is pointed the wrong way.









Iggy on the sidewalk. A face only a mother could love.

 Atlantic bottlenose dolphin giving us the eye.

Captain Joe is getting ready to inspect the zincs, drives, bottom. After 6,000 miles of travel we have acquired a few prop dings and wore some bottom paint off of the bow where we put it on the beach.

Kite boarders taking advantage of 30 knots out in the channel where the water is not too stirred up behind the reef.