3rd Annual Dismal Day Saturday, October 11, 2014

We have written blog posts and articles covering our trips through the Dismal Swamp Canal, so it's no secret about how much we love the trip and recommend it to others. For the third year, the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center is presenting Dismal Day on October 11th from 10 AM to 2 PM. The event includes something for everyone, adults and children. Everything from a 5 K Fun Run/Walk to live music, bouncy castles, crafts, food and much more. You have to be there.


Participants may pre-register by calling (252) 771-6593 by Sept. 28 or register at the event. 


The Next Great Anchorage Book

Susan and I are very happy to give you the news everyone has been waiting for. The Great Book Of Anchorages, The Gulf Coast, Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL, including the Okeechobee Waterway is now available on our website for advance orders. The book is at the printer and we expect to begin shipping on or about September 4th. If you haven't ordered our other guides, take advantage of our multi-book discounts. In addition to getting a great anchorage book you will be helping a good cause. We pledge to donate $2.00 of every order placed between now and the end of September to the Wounded Warrior Project.

This guide starts in Cape Sable along the Southwest Florida Coast, works its way north along the coast in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, in and out of the beautiful rivers of the Big Bend and then continues on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – East of Harvey Lock section until its conclusion in Mobile Bay. The book also includes the Okeechobee Waterway. It is the must-have anchorage guide for anyone cruising the Gulf Coast! 

Where the River Flows

The next morning started overcast but quite warm. A 50% chance of rain meant we also had a 50% chance it wouldn't rain. Yeah, right. Our anchorage for the night was not yet decided, but a few options were available. The plan was to transit about 50 miles of the river before we stopped and 50 miles is not a long day for us. That's probably why we got a later start than usual; Beach House didn't get off the dock until almost 9 a.m. One of our neighbors from the night before, a sailboat, had already gotten underway, but we knew we would catch up later. The owner was singlehanding and also heading for Demopolis to leave his boat. Later in the day we would get quite an education in anchoring on a wide and deep river system.

Come Vist Us At Trawlerfest Baltimore

We're very excited to announce our upcoming presentations at Trawlerfest Baltimore 2014. We look forward to seeing everyone there.

On Friday September 26, our seminar topics will be...

Presented by: Chuck Baier and Susan Landry
Authors and long-time liveaboards Chuck Baier and Susan Landry discuss what couples can expect when they go cruising and secrets to maintaining their relationship.


Presented by: Chuck Baier & Susan Landry
Authors and veteran cruisers Chuck Baier and Susan Landry provide an overview of what to expect as you head southbound on the ICW. This seminar “closes the loop,” so the speak, making an excellent companion seminar to the Hospodar’s presentation on the inland portions of the Great Loop.


The River Is Waiting

First I would like to apologize for our blog postings not being as timely as they have been in the past. There is a very good reason for that and I will do a post explaining why sometime in the future. Beach House still needed to get farther north to be sure we met our insurance requirements and to also give the crew peace of mind during this next hurricane season. The stay at Dog River Marina was nice and the chores and repairs we wanted to make were done early. The only delay was waiting for the chart chip for the plotter that covers the inland river systems. We came to the realization that our plotter only covered a small part of Mobile Bay and did not cover any of the inland rivers. So a new C-Map chip was ordered and, of course, the two-day shipping arrived in four days. Since it was delivered at about 10 a.m., the docklines were cast off and the trip up Mobile Bay and into downtown Mobile was made a little later than we liked, but still early enough to reach our first day's anchorage with time to spare.

The Fantastic Journey Continues

The run from Apalachicola to the docks at White City is a short one. There were a couple of potential anchorage spots we wanted to check out, including one that was a regular for us on our sailboat, Sea Trek. The White City docks are located in a basin surrounded by a park with a boat ramp. There has never been a lot of activity here whenever we have visited. The dock next to the pavilion was under repair and closed off with caution tape. There are 20 amp outlets at the pavilion that can be used for limited power. A new floating dock has also been added on the canal front. The floating dock is better for deeper draft boats since depths along the fixed docks are 6 feet or less. There is a 24-hour limit at the docks, but if bad weather is in the area, a longer stay would not be a problem. A short walk down the road to the east brings you to a gas station and convenience store with basic staples. This is a favorite stop for us and most other boaters that pass this way. But we did find a problem on board that needed our immediate attention.

Now You Can Own A Piece Of Boating History

Here’s your chance to own not only a classic Chris Craft, but one that was owned and operated by the venerable Claiborne Young. Classic refurbished 19′ Chris Craft Lancer. The personal research vessel for Claiborne S Young, author of six cruising guides for the Intracoastal Waterway and Co-Founder of The Salty Southeast Cruisers’ Net. For details, read more here...

Revisiting The Florida Panhandle

It would seem that the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of the Steinhatchee River has it's own weather system. For a week we watched as the reports from almost every other location showed light winds and quiet conditions. Yet all of the forecasts and buoy reports for the area we needed to transit to get to St. Marks had winds and seas more uncomfortable than we prefer to travel. A long time ago we came to the conclusion that the shallow waters of the Gulf can develop some nasty waves without a lot of wind. The constant forecasts of 15 to 20 and buoy reports confirming winds kept us in the Steinhatchee much longer that we would have liked. Even on the day of our departure, the morning brought winds of 15 knots directly from the direction we had to go. We patiently waited and checked the buoys every hour until they showed wind had dropped to 10 knots. Beach House and crew was underway. The conditions were not ideal; there was still a very sloppy sea for us to plow into for a few hours. As the day progressed and we moved away from the Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach, things began to settle down and eventually the seas flattened and the winds dropped below 5 knots. Finally we were experiencing the Gulf at its best.

Crystal River and the Withlacoochee River Videos

Beach House and crew would like to share a couple of short videos taken as we cruised some of the rivers in the Big Bend section of the Florida Gulf coast.

This one is from the Gulf of Mexico, up the Crystal River to Kings Bay.

The Withlacooche River from the GOM approach Channel to Yankeetown.

Exploring Florida's Gulf Coast

For a couple of days, thunderstorms have rumbled all around us, keeping us from our next destination some 50 miles to the north. This isn't like the protected waterway; this time we need to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Steinhatchee to St. Marks. "How did you get to Steinhatchee, you were just in Fort Myers," you might ask? That's a good question and one we ask ourselves. The time seems to be flying by and we are covering a lot of ground, err, water. Up until a week ago, the weather was cooperating, the boat was running just fine after the repairs and all was right with the world. After Fort Myers, there were days when we only traveled 10 to 15 miles along the waterway. But that was by design.

The Passing of Claiborne Young

Claiborne during a recent visit to Beach House
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we report the passing of our good friend Claiborne Young. Claiborne dies as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Saturday June 14th. The boating community has suffered a major loss. Very few boaters have not benefited from the contributions Claiborne has made over many years in the form of his excellent cruising guides covering the ICW from Virginia to Alabama and most recently from his website, Salty Southeast Cruiser's Net. His wife Karen died in October 2013 of what Claiborne called “never smoker’s lung cancer” and Claiborne seemed to recently start getting his life back on track. Just a few weeks ago he purchased a trawler and in an email to us a few days ago, wrote of how excited he was to get back on the water and explore the waters he knew so well. He was a true gentleman and someone that never had a harsh word to say about anyone or anything. He will be missed by so many. The following was taken from cruisersnet.net ...

Claiborne Sellars Young [1951-2014] passed away on Saturday evening, June 14, 2014 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill following a serious motorcycle accident. He passed into the arms of the Lord at 7:00 p.m. surrounded by family and friends.

Born and raised in Burlington, Claiborne lived there all of his life. He was a well loved, well respected man in all aspects of his life. He was a devoted husband, well-known boating author, speaker, and web publisher. He was also a generous, kind and loyal fellow to the many people who called him Friend. Claiborne will be mourned and missed by family, friends, associates, and fellow cruisers.

Claiborne was a graduate of Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington and NC State University in Raleigh. Following the closing of the Sellars family business in the early 80s, he turned to his next loves – water and boating – eventually authoring a series of books for the cruising community from North Carolina to Florida. His first book, the “Cruising Guide to North Carolina” was published in 1983. He also worked with UNC-TV [PBS] to produce a series of travel videos on the waters and small towns of North Carolina’s coast. More recently, Claiborne went on share his love and knowledge of all things water related and published a successful website dedicated to the boating community and boating legislation. Claiborne was loved by many friends within that community, and always had a place to stay and chat while traveling on his speaking engagements. Those who knew him, found that Claiborne was never at a loss for words!

At home, Claiborne was a loving and devoted husband for 40 years, a motorcycle enthusiast, and animal lover. During the years of their marriage, he and Karen were ardent supporters of the Alamance County Humane Society and the American Humane Society, and surrounded themselves with many four-legged friends. Claiborne was also a self-taught chef who was often found in the kitchen producing the most aromatic and tasty dishes. When Claiborne put on a spread, everyone was happy, full, and sated!

Claiborne was preceded in death by his wife Karen Williams Young who passed away October 2013, and his parents Claibourne Clark Young and Dorothy Sellars Young Brawley. He is survived by family from his Sellars and Young relations, as well as his Williams in-laws.

A service of remembrance will be held at Rich and Thompson Chapel in Burlington on Wednesday, June 18, at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Genie Martin officiating.

Visitation will be Tuesday evening June 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rich & Thompson in Burlington and other times at the Young’s home [814 Colonial Drive, Burlington].

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Hospice of Alamance/Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215.

Condolences may be offered at www.richandthompson.com.

If It's A Boat, It Will Break

If there is one thing that I am certain of after a half century of boating, it's that on a boat, something will break. A pesky oil leak in the front of the engine began as a minor thing and an annoyance. By the time we were halfway across the Okeechobee Waterway, the leak increased and since it was the front main oil seal, the belt pulley was starting to fling the oil as it spun. That meant oil was not only dripping under the engine, but slinging up on the engine room walls and everything else around it. Not a pleasant thought and definitely time to make repairs. Replacing the main seal is not a major repair, but it requires equipment most boaters don't carry on board. We knew a good mechanic from our time living in Port of the Islands near Marco Island, so a call to him arranged the repair when we arrived in Fort Myers. The parts were ordered from American Diesel and would arrive at about the same time as Beach House. All seemed to be set for a short stop and a quick fix. Ah, but this is a boat after all.

Franklin Lock And Dam Campground And Marina

We recently visited the St. Lucie Park and had written about what a pleasant and unexpected gem it was. Imagine, then, our surprise at what we found at the WP Franklin Lock and Dam Park. It is the westernmost lock in the Okeechobee Waterway out of the 5 locks in the OWW. Initially we had thought we might go ahead through the lock and continue on to LaBelle. However, as we approached the lock, the wind began to gust and we decided it was time to call it a day. I had glanced over and realized that the docks were on the east side of the lock and not the west as I had originally thought. Also, they are tucked up in a protected basin and not right next to the river as the docks are at St. Lucie. We spun the boat around and headed for the docks.

The Okeechobee Waterway Revisited

It's been three years since our last cruise on the Okeechobee Waterway and this time we planned to do it a little differently. On our last crossing of the Lake, we took the direct route across or what is also known as Route 1. This time we planned to take Route 2, or the rim route as we traveled east to west. This trip was also work, since it was the beginning of our research for our fourth book in The Great Book Of Anchorage series and will cover the Okeechobee Waterway and the Gulf Coast from Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL. Most folks avoid the rim route because of the reputation for shallow water, but we know a little secret that will allow even deeper draft boats to use the rim route in all but extreme low water levels. Prior to any Lake crossing there are three things a boaters wants to know before starting at either the east or west end of the OWW. There is one place to find two pieces of the info you need and that is on the Corps of Engineers website - the lake level and lock restrictions. The third is weather information - the National Weather Service website for Lake Okeechobee can be found here.

St Lucie Lock and Dam Marina and Campground

The St. Lucie Lock and Dam is located a little more than 15 miles upriver from the “crossroads” at the St. Lucie Inlet, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Lucie River. Approximately 10,000 vessels transit this lock every year and the majority of them are recreational vessels. The Locks are operated from 7 AM to 7 PM, seven days a week. It takes about 20 minutes on average for boats to lock through completely. Signs indicate the arrival point on both sides and the Lockmaster is contacted on VHF Channel 13. He will give instructions to wait for the green light before entering and the Captain can choose the side of the lock on which to tie. Lines are dropped from the lock walls to secure the boat at the bow and stern as the water levels are raised or lowered. The Lockmaster announces when it’s safe to proceed after the lock gates are opened.

Warning on Caframo Fans

We don't have enough information yet to determine if our experience with the Caframo 747 fans are just an isolated case that only we have experienced, or whether this is a problem with other fans of the same model. On both our Mariner 40 ketch, Sea Trek and now our Marine Trader trawler Beach House, the Caframo 747 model fans have been our preference for many years. The fans use the least amount of power, are the quietest and move the most volume of air of any other fans we have used. The fan is mounted using the more permanent mount and hard wired into a circuit breaker. The circuit breaker did not trip. As full time cruisers, improving the air flow inside the cabin is very important. In the last year, we have had two failures that have given us serious concern. Just over a year ago, one of the fans, which is mounted in our main salon near the lower helm station, suddenly began smoking and the body of the fan became very hot. Fortunately, we were able to shut off the power immediately and no harm was done other than evacuating the smoke. A replacement fan lasted about a year when we noted the smell of electrical burning and immediately determined that it was the replacement fan. The second time there was no smoke, but perhaps that was because we quickly shut off the power. Our concern is what might have happened if the fans were running and we were off the boat, even for a short period of time. Usually all fans, etc. are turned off when we leave the boat for any period of time, but not if we step off the boat for short periods, like talking to neighbors or taking out the trash. We now worry about these fans and whether we should consider another manufacturer in light of our experience. We have contacted Caframo about the issue, but as of yet, have had no response. We would very much like to hear from anyone else that has had issues with this specific product.

Update May 20, 2014

We have finally received a reply from Caframo. They have offered to replace one of the fans but did not address the question of why they might smoke and overheat even if not seized. One of the fans did slow down a bit but the other seemed to run at normal speed. Here is the reply... 

Dear Mr. Baier,

I am sorry for the bad experience you had with the Caframo model 747 fans. Please be assured that we take these issues seriously.

With your fans we only us special Fire Retardant grade plastic for the housing so that should the motor seize there is not risk of fire. However, with older units, should a motor seize heat can get sufficient to cause some smoke and smell.

Our new fans have added thermal protection so that should the blade get jammed or the motor seize current will be cut off to the unit ensuring all components keep at low temperatures. We will gladly send you a new unit at no charge. Please confirm your postal address and I will arrange for a unit to be sent to you.

Sincerely, Mike Tettenborn

Friends And Free Docks

One of the benefits of cruising as a couple for over 20 years is the fact that we have met some wonderful people and made many friends for life. Whether traveling by land or sea, we can't travel very far without needing to stop and visit with one of those friends. And Lord help us if we travel past and fail to visit. Many of our friends are former cruisers that are now land dwellers and some are still into the live-aboard lifestyle. So we would still have a few more friends to visit on this transit of the ICW. But the next day would be for just cruising and relaxing at our next destination, the free town docks at New Smyrna Beach.

You Can Follow Along

All of our friends and followers can keep track of our locations in almost real time. For quite awhile, Beach House has been using the Argus Survice Engineering (spelled correctly) on-board sensor platform for recording depth data as we travel along the waterways. This data is uploaded to Argus computers at the end of each day. Beach House is just one of many commercial and pleasure vessels equipped with the Argus systems. You can follow along with our progress by visiting our page on the Argus website, http://argus.survice.com/vessel_tracking/images/trackline-MarinaLife.html  and moving the map around. Clicking on one of the bubbles along our track will bring up depth and other information. This can also be a good resource for finding data collected from other participants by visiting the Solution Set page, http://argus.survice.com/argus_sample_data.asp . This data can be one more resource in your safe navigation arsenal. Have a safe boating season.

For you Facebook users, visit our Facebook page for lots of photos of these places and news updates of the waterways.

Satsuma to Palm Coast

Departure day came cold, dreary and overcast. Waiting a few hours for things to clear up proved to be fruitless, so the power cords were disconnected, the docks lines released, everything safely stowed and at 10:00 a.m. the next adventure began. Every hour and every mile northbound on the St. Johns River we hoped that the clouds would burn off. It's always nice to have a good start on the first day underway. At least Beach House was underway and we were still excited to begin a new cruise. There were a few details that needed to be tended to, but not right away. Our destination was only about 50 miles north so a delay of a few hours was not a concern. The river was a little choppy from the 10+ knots of north wind right on the nose. Still nothing of concern. We cruised past the Palatka town docks and said goodbye to the town for the last time. The rest of the day stayed pretty much the same so the inside helm station was the most comfortable spot for navigating. At the lower helm, the laptop is our primary navigation tool. There are several charting programs to choose from and the most current NOAA charts had been downloaded the day before. The presentation on the laptop is much better than the chartplotter on the flybridge, but the computer screen is not good in direct sunlight and the computer doesn't like moisture.

A Short Cruise on the St. Johns River

A weeks worth of great weather was all the excuse we needed to get out of the slip and do some cruising on the St. Johns River, south of where we have spent the winter. What a spectacular trip it turned out to be. The weather was perfect and the river is beautiful. This was also a good opportunity to do a shakedown cruise before heading out again for some serious time on the water. We wanted to check out some of our anchorage information for the ICW book and just enjoy some time on the boat. It also allowed us to do some experimentation with our new video camera. We left Satsuma around noon, dropped the hook for the night at Lungren Island near Astor, and continued on the next day to Sanford. A couple of days at Monroe Harbor Marina gave us enough time to explore the town and enjoy the hospitality of the marina. Sanford is a very nice historic waterfront town with lots of shops, restaurants and art galleries. On Saturday, there's a small local farmers market with fresh veggies, crafts and food vendors. Here's a rough video of the cruise on the river.

Downtown Sanford...