This website was about voyages on various boats and then a plane owned by John and Laura Lee Samford of Birmingham, Alabama. The last boat and plane have been sold, so the blog has turned to other travels and comments on life events. It also contains other blather user-generated content. Check out what you like and ignore the rest. Thanks for stopping by.



Family Reunion

My photos from the family reunion are posted here.


On the horse show circuit again

No time to write today during our family reunion, but videos of Laura Lee's first show on her new horse last night are posted here and here. (Slow download for you, David. Sorry.)



Im your captain, Im your captain,                                                       
Although Im feeling mighty sick.
Everybody, listen to me,
And return me, my ship.
                    Grand Funk Railroad 
                    I’m Your Captain 

    I’ve been in something of a grand funk lately after selling my boat, so I decided to do something nautical last week. Since I started boating in 1990, I’ve wanted to get a Coast Guard Captain’s License. It’s not required on a pleasure boat unless carrying passengers for hire, but it can reduce insurance rates and allow you to bareboat charter easily. And it’s a badge that says you know what you’re doing on the water. Now that I have no ship, it seemed a good time to get the license while my “sea time” is current. 

    So last week, I drove down to Bayou La Batre, Alabama to attend “Seaschool”. It is a Coast Guard approved 54-hour school aimed at getting the student an “Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel” license, also called “OUPV” or “six-pack”, since it allows one to carry up to six passengers. 

    Bayou La Batre is about 30 minutes south of Mobile along the Mississippi Sound. It looks out across the sound toward Dauphin Island. For years, it has been a center of Shrimping, boatbuilding and boat repair. The area is still devastated from Hurricane Katrina. There are shrimp boats left in the woods from a tidal surge that was 15 feet above land in the area.

   Most houses have FEMA trailers parked in their front yards while owners try to get their houses repaired. And there are acres of FEMA trailer parks where families are living in 250 square foot trailers because their houses are simply gone. All of this comes on top of a declining shrimp industry made economically impossible by cheap imported shrimp, high fuel prices, and regulations that are expensive for Shrimpers. A popular bumper sticker I saw in the area says: “Friends don’t let friends eat imported shrimp.” Many of the shrimp boats left in the woods are those whose owners had no insurance, can’t afford to haul them out and couldn’t make money with them if they did salvage them. Amazingly, on the Friday during my week in Bayou La Batre, The New York Times published an article about the area. It is copied below this blog entry.. 

   But while the area tries to recover, jobs are available in the oil fields and on the boats which ferry crews and supplies to the offshore platforms. There are construction jobs rebuilding platforms damaged by Katrina, jobs working the oil rigs, crew boat jobs, and even some privately owned boats are being paid to ferry water and supplies to the oil fields. There are signs along the highway offering $1,000 signing bonuses for licensed 100-ton boat captains who can earn up to $500 a day. So there is a boom of sorts, going on amidst the bust, leading to a full house when Seaschool started class Monday morning. 

    Our class started at 8 a.m. each morning and ran until 5 p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch. It ran for seven straight days, Monday through Sunday, and finished at 3 p.m. Sunday. It is not necessary to spend that much time in the classroom to go over the material, but the Coast Guard requires the school to run for 54 hours, so it does. We all would have been better off with a little less class and a little more study time. Those continuing through to get the 100-ton Master license continued the class for a total of 10 days while the OUPV candidates finished Sunday and took the four exams Monday. I plan to go back for a three-day school to upgrade to the 100-ton license because I simply couldn’t’t stand 10 straight days of the class. 

    The class started out with 25 students, but by mid-week, we were down to about 15. Some just decided this wasn’t for them and left after the first day or two. Some learned that they didn’t have the sea time to get the license even if they finished the course. Sadly, it was Wednesday before we got into these details which caused several to drop out.  The group of students was extraordinarily diverse, including some fairly rough customers who made a living on oil field supply and crew boats. The language was colorful, to say the least. When I first appeared outside Monday morning, everyone had a cup in his hand which I assumed was coffee. Soon, I discovered that most of the cups were for spitting tobacco juice. 

    There were three of us, including myself, who were essentially pleasure boaters who might need the license for insurance, to maybe take paying passengers out, or perhaps to hire out to deliver boats. There was a lifelong shrimper who could no longer make a living shrimping and had parked his shrimp boat. He hoped to do some charter fishing trips to earn an income. There was a tugboat captain who already held an “Operator of Uninspected Towing Vessel” License and who wanted to change careers to do fishing charters. He had already passed a much more difficult exam years earlier, but that didn’t help. He could push ten barges loaded with methane gas through the center of New Orleans, but he couldn’t take a group out fishing in the bay for hire.And there were any number of mates or deckhands on oilfield supply and crew boats who wanted to move up to captain where they could increase their earnings. 

       None of the material we learned was terribly difficult to grasp, although many of the students had barely a high school education and, for them, the mathematics of plotting courses and positions was pretty difficult. Some didn’t know, for example, that a circle has 360 degrees or how to locate a position on the chart when given a latitude and longitude. There was a large amount of memorization of lights and day shapes shown by various types of vessels, fog signals using the horn or “whistle” or a bell, rules of the road, etc.Those with some education had little difficulty with any of it, but I felt for the men who had quit high school 30 years ago, and whose livelihood now depended on their academic skills. 

    I was struck by one 38-year-old man from Corpus Christi, Texas. He had worked as a deck hand on crew boats, but he did not have a steady job. He had no car and little money, but captains were being hired if he could get the license. He saved up the $900 to pay for the course and rode a bus to Bayou La Batre to attend the school. He appeared totally lost throughout the class. I don’t think he has a prayer of passing the tests, but he doggedly worked through the week. He has the motivation but he’ll have a hard time getting there. I wish him well. He reminded me daily of just how fortunate most of us are. 

    The school facility was an absolute dump. Our classes were in a basement room with a window unit air conditioner that functioned loudly all week. The chairs were uncomfortable. There were constant distractions. Almost daily during class, the janitor mopped the floors outside our classroom with clorox, leaving many of us gasping. (On Monday, the same janitor graded two of my tests while the regular office manager was at lunch). Several students were staying in “dorm rooms” on the third floor of the building where they could stay free for the week. The floor was more of a barracks and looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in years. 

    While the materials and sample questions were excellent and could easily prepare you for the tests, the teaching was awful. Our main teacher did little but read through the written material with us and show how to work a few problems. She ran the class like a drill sargeant and got particularly mad when questions were asked. Often, she simply didn’t know the answer and was mad that she was being put on the spot. If she did know the answer, she was mad that her poor explanations didn’t get through to anyone. 

    diploma.jpgThe tests turned out to be easy, and most questions were taken exactly from the sample questions we had been given. I breezed through the four exams starting at 9 a.m. Monday, and by 11:30 I was on the road back to Birmingham. I’m not a captain yet. I have to take a first aid and CPR class, get a physical exam, await the results of the drug test I took at the school, get three character references, and then bundle all of the paperwork together and present it to a Coast Guard regional examination center in Memphis where I can be fingerprinted and issued my license. 

    When it’s all said and done, I’ve asked my wife to address me as “Captain” around the house. She has agreed, as long as I refer to her as “Admiral”.

From The New York Times
June 9, 2006

The Road Back
100-Ton Symbols of a Recovery Still Suspended


BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala., June 7 — To understand a little about this small crustacean of a city nine months after Hurricane Katrina, you have to accept a counterintuitive concept: Boats in the trees.

About two dozen shrimp vessels, some of them 80 feet long and weighing more than 100 tons, list in suspended state amid scrub oak and pine, many yards from the bayou where they belong. Removed from the blue and shoved into the green, their white masts and rigging rise like bleached treetops in a forest.

Here is the Gold Star, rooted in the sand and brush like a huge and dangerous jungle gym. Here is the Peaceful Lady, its charts neatly rolled up inside, its bow planting a hard kiss on a pine. Here is the Mee Mee M, the bottle of soy sauce in its cabin just one of the hints that many of these stranded boats are owned by Vietnamese immigrants.

The only things darting beside the exposed hulls are yellow flies — and shrimp season started Wednesday.

Trying to comprehend the reasons boats still nestle in trees so long after the storm can hurt the brain: the owners never acquired or could not afford insurance; the federal government saw no compelling need to remove them; there are protected wetlands to worry about, and even an Indian burial ground.

If Katrina ever slips momentarily from one’s mind here — if — the plain sight of these boats in the woods snuffs the daydreaming. The slow, complicated efforts to extricate the hurricane-stranded vessels mirror the slow, complicated efforts to extricate this hurricane-damaged city of 2,100 from that one day last August.

“It gets mind-boggling,” said Debbie Jones, 47, who after the hurricane wound up as the city’s long-term recovery coordinator. “I go home at night trying to figure out how we’re going to do this.”

And she was just talking about the boats in the trees.

To get to Bayou La Batre, you turn off U.S. 90 at the Citgo station, where a huge plastic chicken rests in the bed of an El Camino, and follow a road that runs like a stream to the all-important bayou. Shrimp and oysters have long defined the city. But then you pass evidence of Katrina’s temporary redefinition.

The guarded encampment of trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Zirlott Park, where children should be playing baseball. The mud-colored tent shading mounds of donated clothing, where, at night, people shine the headlights of cars on the piles as they pick through. The many out-of-state volunteers, including those young Mennonite women along the roadside, playing a game of evening volleyball in their plain dresses and prayer coverings.

These are snapshots from a city where, before the storm, 30 percent of the residents were living in poverty, and rising fuel costs and competition from imports were already squeezing its seafood industry. Life wasn’t easy here, before.

But Bayou La Batre is demonstrating its grit to all “farmers,” as locals refer to anyone who lives inland. Some boat-building continues. Fishing vessels pull in and push out. Heavily damaged St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church held a rededication ceremony Sunday morning, and an embroidery class Monday evening. And yet, boats in trees.

Katrina actually stranded several dozen boats, but most of them were insured, which meant their owners were able to pay for their retrieval within a few months. The uninsured vessels are victims of bureaucracy and, simply, the way things are.

A county health officer had the boats declared a public hazard, which prompted the Coast Guard to remove the fuel and batteries, which prompted FEMA to say it no longer had reason to spend public money on retrieving private property, which prompted the state and the city to submit an application to the Clinton-Bush Katrina Fund, a private charity organized by two former presidents.

Finally, two months ago, the city received $1.6 million from the fund to get those boats out of the trees and back into the water. But it seems that no hurricane-related problem is ever easily resolved.

The Army Corps of Engineers, not keen on the idea of dragging tons of steel across protected wetlands, is encouraging salvage crews to take the long way around, along timber cuts, and not straight to the water. And in the case of a few boats some 800 yards into the woods, like the Gulf Star, the shortest path to the bayou might mean disturbing an Indian burial ground.

The Gulf Star’s owner, Jimmy Nguyen, 36, was reached by telephone on a relative’s boat in Mississippi Sound, but he emphasized that he would rather be shrimping out of Bayou La Batre on his own boat, bequeathed to him by a brother. “Most definitely,” he said.

“Your boat looks good, if that helps,” Ms. Jones told him, leaning into a cellphone set on speaker mode. “It hasn’t been vandalized. For the other boats, I can’t say.”

Mr. Nguyen’s thank you came drifting back.

Linked in misery to Mr. Nguyen is Buddy Johnson, 66, the owner of B&B Boat Builders, on the bayou. Katrina took temporary custody of several of his boats, including two shrimp boats he had just bought to refurbish and resell, but which now lay deep in marsh grass, against a pine thicket.

A large man, white, friendly and exceedingly candid, he distinguished himself from everyone else encountered in Bayou La Batre by peppering his observations with slurs about blacks, Catholics and, especially, the Vietnamese. Mr. Johnson, it seems, has a thing about the Vietnamese.

As he stood at the bayou’s edge, some Vietnamese fishermen puttered past, and he said a bad word. Then he returned his gaze to those stranded vessels, a sight that vexed him, a sight that spoke of Katrina’s sweeping democracy.


To the left or to the right

    When I was 16 years old and a junior in high school, my parents’ Christmas present to me was a gift certificate for a Brooks Brothers suit. This was 1966 and Brooks Brothers had a lot more meaning then than it does today. Such a suit was very special and could only be purchased at Brooks Brothers single location in New York City. A young man’s first Brooks Brothers suit was an important ritual in his development, a signal that he was to be a gentleman. 

    I was in school in Connecticut at the time and at the first opportunity, I went in to New York for the weekend to pick out the suit and have it fitted. It was a glorious experience in a bastion of male sartorial splendor. I was treated as a king. A young man being fitted for his first Brooks Brothers suit was a very important occasion in the store. Everyone scurried about to advise me on fabrics, sizes and cuts of suits. 

    Once the suit was selected, I was sent into the fitting room where a tailor crawled around checking everything very precisely. There were decisions to be made: cuffs or no cuffs, dimensions for the cuffs, break, slight break, or no break. And finally, the tailor looked up at me and asked: “Do you dress to the left or to the right?” 

    Hmmm. This was not something I had ever considered. I somehow knew right away what he meant, but I couldn’t imagine how it could matter unless he tailored the pants ridiculously tight or I wore them pulled up to my chest. Nevertheless, four thoughts flashed through my mind. One, was this a kind-of coming-of-age decision that had to be made once and could never change? From now on, when friends asked “How’s it hangin?” would I always have to answer “to the left”? Two, what if the suit was tailored “to the left” and accidentally I ended up “to the right"? Would I look odd? Would I “stand out"? Three, what if this was a code question? The tailor was obviously gay. What if dressing to the left or right was like having a left or right ear pierced, forever a symbol of sexual inclination? And finally, most embarrassing of all, what if the guy was simply having a little fun at my expense, pulling my “leg” so to speak. To avoid making unintended sexual statements or being made a fool of, I looked at him directly and said: “I dress straight ahead”. He nodded and went about his work, but I thought I saw a little grin as he leaned down to check the pants length once more. 

    As is often the case in such situations, I thought of all the best answers later. “Leave room for it all the way to the left knee,” I could have said. Or I could have told him I don’t dress left or right, I dress up or dress down depending on the occasion. I have been fitted for many suits since that time, and even had a few custom made, but the question has never come up again…until yesterday. 

    In preparation for a bicycle tour of Burgundy this fall, my wife went out last week and bought us bicycles to practice with. Yesterday, we went out for our first training run, an eight-mile cruise in a nearby state park. The bike is beautiful and easy to operate, but the seat is about as comfortable as sitting astride an iron railing. For a man, the immediate question to be answered as you climb on the bike is: should I arrange myself to the left or to the right of this seat. It’s not a trick question being asked by a tailor, it is simply an anatomical requirement that the front of the seat rest against one leg or the other, not in the center. After forty years of avoiding this decision, I could not make it yesterday either. I rode one way for awhile, the other way for awhile, and whenever we coasted downhill, I shifted to sitting sort-of sideways on one thigh or the other, avoiding the issue altogether. 

    Who designs these things anyway? This is obviously a female bicycle seat. I’m heading back to the bike shop as soon as possible to find something a little more accommodating.


One Last Voyage Aboard The Suladan

    I’ve been pining away the last few weeks over the sale of Suladan, so when Paul Hood, the new owner, asked me to join him moving the boat from Savannah to Ft. Lauderdale where it will be put on a ship to the west coast in June, I happily obliged. For one thing, I wanted to experience travelling on the boat with none of the expenses or responsibilities that come with ownership. Also, I considered this an ego trip since everyone considered me the expert on the boat and the area. 

    We departed Savannah on Monday, March 24 for the 400 nautical mile journey. The weather was flawless enabling us to cover about 100 miles each day offshore. We anchored out the first night off Cumberland Island at the St. Mary’s inlet and tied up at marinas the next three nights in Daytona Beach, Ft. Pierce, and finally ended our trip in Ft. Lauderdale Thursday afternoon. 

    Along for the trip were Paul’s friends Jason Liguori and Larry and Cindy Recht. Larry and Cindy proved to be excellent chefs while Jason has quickly become a fanatic about cleaning and taking care of the boat. It is already cleaner and more shipshape than I ever kept it and the food kept up the noble tradition of eating and drinking well on board the Suladan. 

    On our first night out, we quickly discovered the hazards of having both the new and the old captain on board at once (too many cooks…). I went to bed before everyone else and awoke just after midnight to discover that my cabin was hot and stuffy and the air conditioner was not working. I got up to check and discovered that the starboard generator had somehow quit running. Since it was hot from running, I decided to troubleshoot in the morning and simply started up the port generator and went back to bed. At 3:30 a.m. I was awakened again and this time the port generator had stopped. I got it restarted and began troubleshooting the starboard generator in case the port one stopped again. I took the cover off and checked everything thoroughly. It was full of oil, had plenty of coolant, etc. so I put it back together, left the port one running, and went back to bed. 

    As you’ve probably figured out by now, everyone else had decided the weather was nice and they would open windows and sleep without the noise of the generator, hence my first awakening. After I got up at midnight to start up the second generator, Paul woke up shortly thereafter and turned it off, baffled at how it had started on its own. When I restarted it at 3:30, he heard it again and figured out what was happening so he let it run the rest of the night. 

    Our trip was otherwise uneventful. We ate Mexican off Cumberland Island, dined out at the marina in Daytona Beach, ate Italian in Ft. Pierce, and topped off the trip with delicious Thai cooking in Ft. Lauderdale. We consumed vast quantities of good wine. It was a great transitional trip for me, getting one last journey on a great boat, in the company of great new friends. 

    When we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Paul offered to let me dock the boat one last time. I noticed how small the slip appeared to be and joked that I had one last opportunity to damage the boat. I managed to get it in the slip which turned out to be about 2 inches wider than the boat and, sure enough, the boat did get a little damage. The slip was so tight that our teak rail was rubbing up against a wooden board with rusty bolts holding it to the concrete piling. There was no room on either side for fenders. We quickly determined that the boat would be seriously damaged if left there so first thing Friday morning, we moved it to a different marina. 

    After the repositioning, Jason began directing a wholesale cleaning of the boat, so I quickly said my goodbyes and headed out to visit some friends nearby and…look at boats for sale. The Suladan has been a great adventure for me over the last six years, but it’s time to move on to other things. It’s been a magnificent journey. I can only say that I wish her new owner well, and I know already that my ship is in good hands. I’m thankful to have been given this one last journey and thankful to have four new friends from the west coast. I hope I’ll see you guys again soon. Good luck!


This just in!

A crew update from Rob McAdams, a worthy crew member of the Suladan during it's extended Bahamas cruise. Good to see Rob has moved on to a productive and fulfilling life in Chicago: 

    I hope this finds message everyone in good spirits. I found myself in quite the lively, libacious spirit last Sunday. A friend called to see if I wanted to go get lunch and watch hoops. However, when I walked into McGee's Pub I noticed that everyone was still wearing green and was drinking green beer. The St. Patty's Day celebration was still in full stride at McGee's, this being its ninth consecutive day of celebration here in Chicago. St. Patty's Day is like Hanukkah here in Chicago, only for the drunk. There wasn't an empty table or seat in the entire joint. I didn't want to be a party pooper. I decided I was spinning my dradle. So I saddled up at the bar and let the green beer and jagermeister flow like the salmon of capestrano. In addition to it still being St. Patty's Day, the genius marketing squad that is McGee's had stepped it up this Sunday by unveiling their newest promotion- SUNDAY, SUNDAY, FUNDAY. Let me explain how this works. They dress their four hottest cocktail waitresses in short, plaid mini-skirts that they've most certainly stolen from the nearest all-girls Catholic High School (if you're wondering if I meant that the girls or the mini-skirts were stolen, it's both). Then they give these girls some tight green T-Shirts that they tie in a knot, just below the fun bags. Then they send them out to battle with trays full of jagermeister shots, which they can't sell fast enough to every straight guy in the bar. Once everyone in the bar is equipped with a jager shot, the four Catholic School Girls stand up on four chairs around a circular table. Some big meathead bouncer stands up on the table in the middle of all the talent. He is equipped with three things- a pitcher of beer, an enormous funnel with four tubes protruding from it and a microphone. I'm sure you can all see where this is going. The music stops and the meathead bouncer, who from this point forward we'll refer to as Bif, yells into his microphone in his best "Let's get ready to rummmmmmble!" voice "Itttttttttttt's SUNDAY, SUNDAY, FUNDAY!" 

    As Bif starts his chant, everyone in the bar raises their shot of jagermeister and joins Bif in his battle cry. And as Bif and everyone else in the bar slams back their shot of jager, Bif's assistant pours the entire pitcher of beer into the funnel as we all cheer on the Catholic School Girls, who spill beer all over their skimpy T-Shirts as they do their best pound the entire pitcher. They finish and the bar erupts into an uproar, which is immediately followed by a blaring "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," courtesy of the one and only Pat Benetar.

    This entire process repeats itself every fifteen minutes. And I, like everyone else, was a sucker for it every time. And who wouldn't be? It's no different than going to the gentleman's club. Nobody goes in there and just drinks. The first second a beautiful, naked young woman who hasn't yet figured out a way to attend college asks you if you'd like a lap dance, what are you going to say? Uhhhhhhh, yeah. I mean, I've even been to the gentleman's club with girls and they couldn't turn down a lap dance. Anyway, Sunday-Sunday-Funday began to take its toll on me around 5:30 in the P.M. I decided to head home so that I could catch a nap before I went to bed. I woke up around 7:30 in the P.M. with a burning desire to drunk dial someone, anyone- only to realize that I had absolutely no idea where my phone was. It is gone. Long gone. I got a new one yesterday and my number is still the same. However, I don't have any of my old phone numbers. If you all would be so kind as to email me your phone numbers, I would be forever grateful.


Drunk & Stupid


Dogsledding in Quebec

Silly me. For Christmas I gave Laura Lee a dogsledding trip in Quebec. She had been talking about going on some kind of cross-country ski trip and I figured riding a sled had to be easier than cross-country skiing. I assumed that you simply stood on the back of the sled and went for a ride, occassionally giving commands to the dogs who did all the work.

No one mentioned to me that the dogs really cannot pull you up a hill. On a slight hill you must use one leg to help the sled along, kind of like riding a scooter as a child. For a steeper hill, you must get off and run behind the sled. In this instance, you cannot walk because the sled gets lighter and the dogs take off full-speed. You either run with them or get your arms torn off...or both. After a heavy snow, when the path has not been groomed or packed down, the dogs cannot even pull you on level ground or a slight downhill slope. Since we had about 12 inches of snow the night before we started, and another 6 to 8 inches our first day out, most of the trip consisted of running behind the sled having our arms torn off.

But we did have fun, one of my greatest adventures ever. The photos are published in a photo album here to the right. Click the arrow to the right of the word slideshow to see full-size pictures. There are not too many of them because at sub-zero temperatures, it's really not fun to take off your gloves for snapshots very often. I haven't figured out how to add a description to the individual photos but I'm working on it. The first few are around Quebec City while the later ones are at the sledding camp and on the sledding trip. Leave a comment if you can't figure something out.

I'll start at the beginning. We left Birmingham and flew to Quebec City last Monday, February 13. We spent three nights there at the Chateau Frontenac Hotel shown in a couple of the pictures. Quebec City is the only walled town in North America. It was founded by the explorer Champlain in 1608 and fortified to defend against the British. It has all of the flavor of a European village. It is French-speaking and when you are there, it is difficult to believe you are in Canada. It is a great place to spend a couple of days, although it has become somewhat touristy. We took a two hour bus tour on Tuesday and went snow-shoeing for a couple of miles Wednesday. It was snowing hard most of the time we were there with temperatures in the low teens most of the time.

Thursday we drove North about 225 kilometers to the Saguenay area and our base at a place called "Les Chiens et Gites du Grand Nord" which I think translates to "The dogs and Guest House of the Grand North". When we arrived, we quickly learned that this was not the Ritz Carlton. It is a remote outpost set up for serious adventurers.

Our cabin was small and quite simple. It was very cold when we went in but someone came over to help us light the woodstove, which kept it quite warm. Temperatures hovered around zero out first night and it snowed hard. After about 12 to 15 inches of snow that night and the next day, temperatures dropped and were around 25 below when we left Sunday morning.

After a family style dinner with owner Fabienne and a couple of the guides, we retired the first night and awoke Friday to a hearty breakfast and a briefing from our guide Bertrand. Bertrand is 31 years old and came to the camp with his own 28 dogs, making the total number of dogs there over 100. His briefing was thorough and this was our first sign that we were in for something serious. We joined him around 9:30 to help hook up the dogs to our sleds. We each had our own sled with five dogs while Bertrand had six.

The dogs are truly amazing, all huskies of various types. They live outside in temperatures that occasionally drop to under 40 below zero, each chained to a small doghouse which often totally disappears beneath the snow. While some of them burrow their way down to their house, many simply curl up on top of the snow. The dogs love what they do. When Bertrand shows up and starts pulling out sleds, the dogs go wild barking and begging to go on the trip.

The dogs were all hooked up to our sleds which were tied to posts to keep the dogs from taking off. Bertrand was in front with Laura Lee in the middle and me bringing up the rear. Bertrand took off and another guide came and untied each of us. The dogs started off in a rush and we were on our way.

Riding the sled is exhilerating. You stand on the back with one foot on each runner and your hands holding a rail on the back of the sled. The sleds contain a personal bag and all of the food, cookware, etc. It is not too difficult to balance although a little steering by leaning is sometimes necessary to keep from cutting a corner too steeply or to keep the sled in the trail. I only hit one tree. While we learned the commands for our dogs, we rarely had to use them as they simply follow the lead sled down the trail. I never had to use "Gee" (right) or "Haw" (left). When we wanted to stop we would press on a foot brake and yell "whoa". The brake simply pushed a sort-of rake down into the snow and gave resistance to make the dogs stop. To go again, you simply take your foot off the brake and yell "hup hup" and the dogs take off.

Because of the deep snow on the trail, going was tough and Bertrand decided to head for a cabin about 15 kilometers out. Unfortunately, he learned from another guide during the morning that the cabin was occupied by another group heading back from an 11 day trip, so he diverted and we headed for a more remote cabin 35 kilometers away, mostly uphill.

I joke about the difficulty of running behind the sled and helping the dogs along, but the trip was truly beyond my abilities. Toward the end of the day, I questioned how much more I could take. But we made it, and after about seven hours we arrived at a primitive cabin deep somewhere in a national forest.

The cabin was made of plywood with a tar-paper roof and contained a wood stove, six built-in canvas bunks, and a table with a few chairs. There's no power, or water but there is a small outhouse nearby that's delightful in sub-zero temperatures (not exactly a good place to read the morning paper).

Laura Lee had brought a flask with a little bourbon and after downing that and getting the woodstove going, we were downright happy. Bertrand whipped up a good dinner of soup, chicken and rice, and a few slices of bread. He took a giant drill-like device down to a nearby lake and drilled down about three feet to get us some fresh water. I had thoughtfully brought along a bottle of Bordeaux which made the evening complete.

We didn't sleep well. Laura Lee was awake a lot which meant that she heard me snore and kept me awake as well. Bertrand allowed two of the dogs to sleep inside with us since they looked particularly tired. They got warm during the night and discovered our water bucket which they drank gallons from and then of course they had to go out and back in a few times. All in all, it was not a restful evening.

Saturday, we got uparound eight and had a quick breakfast of juice, toast and instant coffee. Then it was time to saddle up again. There was even more new snow on the trail heading back, but it was more downhill and we took a slightly shorter route. While it was not as physically demanding as the first day, it had turned bitterly cold and was about 10 below. My socks and glove liners totally froze and I'm still numb today on the tips of my fingers and toes. I happened to be seeing a dermatologist today for other reasons and he informed me that I have a mild case of frostbite. He said the feeling may or may not come back depending on the degree of nerve damage. I've had to give up sewing but I still seem to be able to type.

We made it back in less than three hours and were thrilled to get back to a warm cabin and a hot shower. Sunday we drove back to Quebec City and by 10 pm we were back home to a real bed and our own non-working dogs. All in all, a great adventure -- much harder than I ever imagined but well-worth the effort.

Laura Lee kept a journal of the trip, and has details such as the names of all our dogs and the background of some of the amazing people who run this operation. I'll encourage her to post her version here. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the next adventure. 


Trip to Maine with Sam

So, here is what has happened. Because taking the boat more than 1,000 nautical miles from Savannah to Maine is to be a fast trip, and not a leisurely cruise, I arranged a few months ago to hire a friend who is a licensed captain to accompany me. I also invited Sam Durham, my 14-year-old nephew, to go with us. Last Saturday, my captain called to report that he had been in a very bad fall on board a fishing boat where he was working. His hip was crushed and he was to undergo hip replacement surgery last Sunday. I thought seriously about finding a replacement, but I finally decided that Sam and I, being the real men that we are, can handle the trip alone. Sam has never been on a boat like this and there are several things he will need to learn. He will have to handle the lines and fenders, check the engine room daily, and learn how to drive the boat so that he can take his watch at the helm. Besides all this, he will have to learn to handle his daily grog ration, smoke cigars, cuss like a sailor, and locate the women in every port. I have no fears. He has a great teacher. Laura Lee is accompanying me to Topsail Island just North of Wilmington, NC where we will pick up Sam and Laura Lee will fly home. Today we are en route from Charleston to Southport, NC and we should arrive at Topsail tomorrow. Sam and I plan to head out Tuesday morning, July 5th and I’ll be posting periodic reports from there on. Wish us luck. We’ll enjoy any responses you may wish to make. If you get bored with this narrative, just let me know and I’ll take you off the list.

July 5, 2004 Distance Traveled: 55 Nautical Miles (from Topsail Beach) Location: Morehead City, NC Laura Lee and I spent last night anchored in the sound across from her brother-in law Greg Durham’s mother’s house at Topsail Beach. We enjoyed a fantastic 4th Of July feast of boiled shrimp and watched fireworks from the dock before riding our dinghy back to the boat for the night. This morning, we loaded Laura Lee’s luggage onto the dinghy and took her to the dock. Her sister Bess drove her to the Wilmington, NC airport while young Sam and I returned to the Suladan to begin our adventure. It is apparent there is little to do at Topsail Island. When we arrived yesterday, some 20 family members came to the dock to greet us. Today, the same crowd stood on the dock to bid farewell to Sam and me. Thirty minutes later, when Sam and I passed under the bridge to Topsail, the same crowd stood and cheered us on our way. God knows what they do when there is less excitement. Sam and I worked our way slowly up the intracoastal waterway today. There were a million boats out for the holiday and we could only idle our way to avoid throwing a huge wake. We made only 56 nautical miles in eight hours and we are tied up tonight at Morehead City. We walked down the street from the marina for a simple dinner and we are now aboard watching Horatio Hornblower. Tomorrow, we will head up Adams Creek to the Neuse River and into Pamlico Sound. This is an inside route to avoid going to sea around Cape Hatteras. In two or three days, we should be in Norfolk, VA and three days after that, we should enter New York Harbor, if the weather remains good. Sam is proving to be an able-bodied seaman. He learned to help raise the dinghy today and stow it on the boat deck. He learned some simple rules such as never going on deck while we are underway without informing me first. He learned the location of lifejackets and the rule to put one on at the first sign of any trouble. Tomorrow morning, he will learn the morning engine room routine, how to work the radio in an emergency, how to operate emergency flares, and how to deploy the liferafts. These are all little lessons to be dealt with before we really go to sea. He drove the boat for about two hours in the waterway. (When I asked if he wanted to drive, he said: “Sure! How do you do it?”) He learned how to set up the lines and passed them off to the Marina dockmaster when we stopped for the night. He helped deploy the shore power cord. At dinner, I asked his impressions of his first day at sea. He conceded that it’s “a little boring”. I have taken to calling Sam the “disappearing man”. Most people on the boat will leave the bridge or pilothouse and say “I’m going below to rest” or “I’ll be back in a minute”. Sam simply disappears. I soon discovered that he is prone to going below to his bunk to read without saying a word. I simply look around and he’s gone. Sam’s a quiet companion, but that beats the friend I had on the boat several years ago who was a compulsive talker. “Ah hah, beautiful day, beautiful day.” He would say, or “Sun’s coming up, sun’s coming up”. I tried timing him and he never went a full minute without saying something. Sam, on the other hand, is quite content to sit for hours without uttering a word. I find it quite relaxing. I somehow have misplaced my camera for the moment, but I will be including pictures with these reports as soon as I find it or get a new one. I hope to show you Sam’s indoctrination into the ways of sailors as well as some of the sights along the way. Stay tuned for later reports. The Captain and Crew of the Suladan

maine trip 2004 002.jpgJuly 7, 2004 Location: Coinjock, NC Distance Traveled: 190 nautical miles Yesterday was a great travel day. From Morehead City, we followed the Intracoastal Waterway up Adams Creek into the Neuse River, then out and across Pamlico Sound inside the Outer Banks of North Carolina. From there we crossed Croatan and then Albemarle Sounds and then proceeded up the North River into what is called the “North Carolina Cut” where we stopped for the night at Coinjock, NC. Coinjock has a couple of marinas which are very competitive in trying to get fuel business from transiting vessels and is therefore known as one of the best places to purchase diesel fuel. Our price was $1.27 per gallon compared to more than $1.60 in Charleston. Needless to say, we are fully loaded down with fuel and ready for the long run to Maine. Because we traveled 134 nautical miles yesterday which is more than I expected on an inside route (where you have to slow down for “no wake zones”), we are a day ahead of my mental schedule. Today we only have about 40 miles to travel to Norfolk, the beginning (or end) of the Intracoastal Waterway. From there, we will venture into the Atlantic for the first time, Leaving Cape Charles en route to Ocean City, MD, New Jersey, and then through New York City into the Long Island Sound. Sam is proving to be a valuable deckhand, handling lines, connecting and disconnecting power cords, and last night he hosed the boat down to get rid of some of the salt accumulated in the open sounds. We spent the night at the Midway Marina and had a decent dinner there. Afterwards, Sam watched the second episode of the Horatio Hornblower series while I turned in early. At Norfolk tonight, we’ll stop at the Waterside Marina where Sam’s “Great” Uncle Jim McKee joined me a couple of years ago for a run South. Now that Sam has grown accustomed to his daily grog ration and fine cigars, he’ll get a taste of shoreside pursuits at Hooters restaurant there. There is a mall nearby so I hope to get a camera to further document our exploits. We took it easy this morning and got away around 9:00. We’ll keep you posted. John and Sam (the disappearing man

July 7, 2004 Location: Norfolk, VA Distance Traveled: 176 nautical miles We had a relatively easy day today departing Coinjock at 9:00 a.m. and arriving Norfolk at 2:30 p.m. We crossed Coinjock Bay, the Currituck Sound, meandered up the North Landing River into the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, and finally out into the Chesapeake Bay. It was slow going with much traffic, draw bridges to wait for, and one lock which raised us up about one foot to, I guess, a different sea level. We’re tied up at the Waterside Marina for the night. We walked a couple of blocks to a nearby mall where I finally got a relatively inexpensive Casio digital camera to allow me to share images with you, faithful readers. Here is Sam preparing to enjoy his afternoon grog ration: and then another of him romancing the waitress at Hooters: Needless to say, Sam’s being a good sport about all this. We head out tomorrow for a 140 mile passage in the open Atlantic to Cape May, NJ. We’ll let you know when we have safely arrived. John and Sam

July 8, 2004 Location: Cape May, NJ Distance Traveled: 341 Nautical Miles I knew this trip was going too well. We were ahead of schedule, the weather was fantastic, the boat was doing well mechanically. We left Norfolk at 7:30 this morning under clear bright blue skies, after violent electrical storms last night. It was very slow going getting out of Norfolk with no-wake zones surrounding the enormous Navy shipyards there. But the scenery was fantastic. As we got out into the open Chesapeake Bay, we found that we were so loaded down with fuel from Coinjock that our normal cruising speed of 18 knots had become 16 knots. The seas were totally smooth though, and the voyage was enjoyable, even though it was to be a long day. As the day wore on, the wind and seas picked up, but the boat became lighter and picked up speed. By noon, we were doing 17.5 knots. Winds were 15 to 20n knots from the South, behind us, and seas were three to four feet. Running downwind with our stabilizers working, the ride was smooth and it looked like we would make Cape May by around 5:30 p.m. At about 4:30, some 17 miles out from our destination, the starboard engine suddenly quit, and about 1 minute later, the port engine quit as well. Finally, our generator quit too. Too stupid to realize that this had to be a fuel problem, I started the other generator. It ran for three or four minutes and then it quit as well. The boat quickly turned broadside to the waves and began rocking violently from side to side, about 30 degrees of roll in each direction. Everything, and I do mean everything, started flying. Coffee mugs, glasses, dishes, etc. were crashing all around us. I yelled for Sam to come up from his room. I told him not to be alarmed. We were safe, but I needed him to try to grab things and secure them while I went to the engine room to figure out the problem. I went below to look around, but it was dark without the generator. I came back up to get a flashlight and Sam had returned to his cabin. Slightly irritated, I yelled: “Sam, what are you doing?” He poked his head up the stairs and informed me that he was throwing up. “Continue what you were doing”, I said, and I returned to the engine room to get to work. Suladan has five fuel tanks – a “day tank” from which all fuel is drawn for both engines and both generators, and four storage tanks. Normally, fuel is pumped from the storage tanks into the day tank before a trip. However, today I knew that we would be running far and fast enough to use all the fuel in the day tank. In this case, you can open valves at the bottom of storage tanks to allow fuel to flow freely into the day tank so that you don’t have to stop on the high seas to transfer fuel. I opened the valves on the port and starboard main storage tanks this morning, but I neglected to open the valve at the bottom of the day tank to let this fuel in. Therefore, with more than 2500 gallons of fuel on board, we simply ran out of gas at 4:30 this afternoon. I quickly figured out the problem and opened the appropriate valve. But once you have starved a diesel engine of fuel, there is hell to pay getting the air out of the lines and priming the engines to restart. And I had not only starved the two main engines and the generator we were using, I had also starved the other generator by starting it after the problem should have been obvious to me. So for about a half hour, I found myself in a dark, wildly rolling engine room with a flashlight in one hand and a wrench in the other trying to get us underway. The only procedure I know to solve this problem is to take a wrench and crack open one or more valves on the top of the engine. When you then turn over the engine, air can escape and ultimately diesel fuel will start spraying from the cracked open valve. For a qualified mechanic, there may be a clean and efficient way to do this. For me, it involves cracking open one valve, trying to start, cracking another, trying again, etc., until suddenly I have diesel fuel spraying in my face and hair. Then I close all the valves and try again several times, and eventually one cylinder starts firing, and then another, and before you know it, the engine is running. I got the starboard engine going first because it runs the hydraulic system which gives us stabilizers. I came upstairs, got the boat going on autopilot, and went back down to go through the whole process again until I finally got the port engine going. I then tried for awhile to get a generator going but did not succeed until after we docked in Cape May, NJ. When we were finally underway and “running on all cylinders”, I peeked below at Sam who was fast asleep in his bunk. He didn’t emerge until we were coming into port when he stuck his head out to inform me that he was hungry. Anyway, no one was hurt and there was no serious damage. My good sunglasses were somehow crushed and my cellphone lost its antenna. One of my favorite William Woods University coffee mugs was broken. There are a few new stains on the carpet in the galley. After being in the 180 degree engine room while I was standing in the pilothouse sweating and trying to get back underway, a plastic bottle of water rolled down the steps from the flying bridge. It was just what I needed but I looked up top to find that the refrigerator had come open leaving beer, soft drinks, and bottled water rolling all over the bridge. So there you go. Another day in the world of luxury yachting. We had dinner at the Lobster Trap Restaurant and Sam is watching the final Horatio Hornblower episode. I’m about to hit the rack. We’re still ahead of schedule. We’ll get underway tomorrow as soon as I get the second generator going. We should be in Manasquan or Sandy Hook tomorrow night and go through New York Harbor and up the East River through Hell’s Gate into the Long Island Sound on Saturday. Let’s hope the bad luck is behind us. John and Sam P.S. Here’s Sam at the wheel before the calamity:

Friday, July 9, 2004 Location: Atlantic Highlands, NJ in Sandy Hook Bay Distance Traveled: 454 Nautical Miles We took it easy this morning, after yesterday’s adventure, and didn’t get away from Cape May until 10:15. We had about 115 miles to travel and I knew we could make it by around 5:30. We traveled up the entire New Jersey coast, past Atlantic City with its high-rise casino hotels, and past Asbury Park, hometown of the “Boss” Bruce Springsteen. The seas were a little choppy with wind off the shore at about 20 knots. The boat ran smoothly with little motion. I, of course, checked the fuel gauges about 200 times to make sure I was not repeating yesterday’s mistake. The weather is fantastic…cool and clear with blue skies and a few scattered clouds. We shut off the air conditioning and opened up the doors to enjoy the ocean breeze. At about 4:15 I began to spot the New York City skyline in the distance. By 4:45 I could clearly identify the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building through the binoculars. I called Sam up top to look and he responded that it was “pretty cool”. Then he went back to his reading below. I can’t remember any of my kids being interested in sightseeing either. But I think he’ll be blown away tomorrow as we enter New York Harbor and cruise by the Statue of Liberty and up the East River, right beside Manhattan. We’ll get away late again tomorrow as the tide doesn’t start in at the Narrows until noon and it’s nice to ride the incoming tide up the East River. From our boat tonight, we can see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge eight miles to the North, the entrance to New York Harbor. We can still see the skyline in the distance and I’m waiting for sunset to enjoy the lights of New York City. Later. John and Sam

Saturday, July 10, 2004 Location: Stamford, CT Distance Traveled: 505 Nautical Miles Well, I finally got a rise out of Sam. The kid who loves to read was impressed enough with the scenery today to spend almost two hours on deck, looking and taking pictures. We departed Sandy Hook at 11:00 this morning and by noon we were passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, the entrance to New York Harbor. Photos are attached of Miss Liberty, the skyline, the Empire State Building, and a wonderful little lighthouse in the Long Island Sound. We cruised right up the East River under the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, past the South Street Seaport with its collection of tall ships, past the United Nations Building, under the Queensboro Bridge, past Roosevelt Island, and through Hell’s Gate where the East River turns away from Manhattan and enters a narrow stretch toward the Long Island Sound. Hell’s Gate is known for its fierce currents so we had timed our departure to ride the incoming tide for the entire day. We had about 4 knots of current as we passed Hell’s Gate making for a rapid trip. Then we went by Riker’s Island (the prison), past La Guardia Airport, past Yankee Stadium, under the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, under the Throg’s Neck Bridge, and out into the Long Island Sound. We’ll be in the Sound for another 75 miles between the Connecticut shore and Long Island. We could make it all the way to Newport, RI tomorrow but there are so many sailboats out on the Sound during the weekend, we will probably just cruise slowly and take our time. Besides, I want to wait until Monday morning to call a boat yard in Newport to see if I can stop for a couple of minor repairs to a water pump and our inverter. Keep tuning in for the next episode. Sam and John

Monday, July 12, 2004 Location: Mystic, CT Distance Traveled: 581 Nautical Miles We had a fairly quiet day yesterday. We left Stamford at around 7:15 and cruised East with a strong tidal current helping us along. At a power setting that normally gives me 12 knots, I was making 14.5 knots part of the day. We stopped at Mystic for the night just to see if Julia Roberts was around. Apparently she doesn’t work here anymore and the pizzas are lousy too, so we ate dinner elsewhere. Mystic is a picturesque little town full of tourists and quaint little shops. Sam wandered around for about an hour yesterday and returned with a beautiful brass “spyglass” in a beautiful wooden case and a miniature trumpet from some of the nautical and souvenir shops. We had a lobster dinner and I was asleep by 9:30. I’m wearing a sweatshirt this morning. I think it’s around 60 degrees. The water temperature has dropped from 85 degrees at Topsail Island to around 67 degrees in this area, and there is a noticeable chill in the morning air, although it’s been warming into the 80’s in the afternoons. We’re headed East this morning and we’ll stop in Newport, RI if the boatyard there can help me with some minor repairs. I’ll call them later this morning. If they can’t help me out, we’ll keep going and perhaps pass up Buzzard’s Bay and through the Cape Cod Canal this afternoon. After that, we’ll be with 60 miles of Boston. Stay tuned. Sam and John Tuesday, July 13, 2004 Location: Newport Rhode Island Distance Traveled: 626 Nautical Miles I thought we could make it to Boston in about a week, but I allowed two weeks in case of weather or repair problems. Today we have both. It rained a steady drizzle all night and this morning it is a chilly 60 degrees and still drizzling. I slept with all the windows open enjoying what Laura Lee refers to as “real air”. Today’s forecast calls for a high of around 70 with the rain ending early this afternoon. We are at the Hinkley boat yard awaiting a replacement for Suladan’s inverter, which has been acting up for some time. What is an inverter? Basically, it is the reverse of a battery charger – it takes direct current of 24 volts from a bank of batteries and “inverts” this power into 120 volts alternating current such as you have in your house. Normally, the boat gets power from giant power cords at dock or from its own generator when underway. However, when we are anchored out for an extended period, or tied to a mooring as we will be for weeks at a time in Maine, it is not desirable to run the generators 24 hours a day. Not only is it noisy, but it uses fuel and the oil must be changed after 200 hours of use. The inverter does not provide enough power to run air conditioning, the stove, the hot water heater, or anything else requiring 240 volts or high current. However, it will keep the refrigerator and icemaker going, allow you to watch TV, and otherwise live in basic comfort. The normal procedure is to run the generator for a few hours each day to heat up the hot water, allow cooking, and, most importantly, recharge the batteries. Then it can be shut off overnight or during the day while the inverter is running. My inverter for some time has been shutting off when battery power is applied to it, even if it is not being used. It shows a fault of “heat sink overtemp”, even though it is not hot since it is not even running. I had it worked on in Savannah before the trip and a main control circuit board was replaced. But the problem didn’t go away. In talking to the company yesterday, it seems that we would need to take it from the boat and send it to New Jersey for repairs. It weighs about 125 pounds and the shipping and repairs are so expensive, it is quicker and about the same price to simply replace it. So, here we sit in Newport awaiting a new inverter which we hope will arrive Wednesday allowing us to get away Thursday (best case). We are about two days from Boston and Sam needs to fly out Sunday or Monday to be home for band camp. I’m hoping we’ll get to Boston Friday or Saturday and have a day or two of sightseeing before he heads home. The boatyard is a fairly dull place to hang out. There’s no restaurant or anything else here. Last night I thawed out a long white package which was stamped “meat dept”, thinking it was a beef tenderloin. When it was completely thawed and opened, it turned out to be chicken breasts. So we had grilled chicken breasts for dinner. The boat yard has a courtesy car which can be used for a couple of hours at a time when it’s available. Today, if we can get it, we plan to drive into Newport to see some of the sights and have lunch. Otherwise, we’re simply sitting here. I won’t write again until we’re underway, unless anyone wants a more extensive private discussion of inverters, or is really interested in what we eat for dinner. I had to let family know where we are but I do know when to quit. Tune in later for the exciting conclusion to Sam’s travels. Sam and John

Thursday, July 15, 2004 Location: No Change Distance Traveled: No Change Well, as often happens when you’re really in a hurry, the order for our new inverter was faxed to California with an agreement to pay excessive extra amounts for overnight shipping so that the inverter would be here yesterday at 11 a.m. The fax was “misplaced” and now we are told that the inverter will be here today at 11 a.m. If it really arrives, we plan to leave late today around 4 p.m. and travel about two hours up to near the west end of the Cape Cod Canal. That would put us in position to transit the canal early tomorrow and still be in Boston tomorrow evening. This is what we now call Plan C. We’ll let you know if the inverter arrives.

Thursday, July 15, 2004 Location: Onset, Mass. Distance Traveled: 672 Nautical Miles It’s glorious when a well-laid plan (plan C) comes together. At 11:00 a.m. this morning the electrician arrived at our dock with the new inverter. Sam and I were just back from breakfast in town with Pete and Caroline Sloss, friends from Birmingham who arrived last night on their sailboat. Pete goes to Maine each summer and has been my informal guide for this trip. By 2:00 p.m., the inverter was actually inverting. We left it on for the rest of the day and it seems to be perfect. We headed out through Newport Harbor and, for the first time the entire trip, got a taste of wind and seas. A little further south and we would have been protected by Long Island to the east. An hour after we got into the seas, we entered Buzzard Bay and were protected by Cuttyhunk Island to the southeast. But for about an hour, we were completely exposed to the Atlantic. Winds were coming straight in from the sea at about 19 knots and seas were three to four feet. Tough guys that we are, we thought it was fun. We traveled for about four hours up to the northeast corner of Buzzards Bay where we will enter the Cape Cod Canal in the morning. The canal is only about seven miles long and when we emerge at its eastern end, we’ll be about 68 miles from Boston harbor entrance. The canal has n locks and therefore suffers from something called “tidal range conflict”. Tides at this end have about a 4-foot range from high to low while tides at the eastern end have a range of nine feet. High tides at the two ends are also at different times. What all this means is that the currents through the canal are wicked as one part of the ocean tries to empty itself into the other. The tide “floods” or comes in from west to east so we need to transit the canal during the flood. This will give us as much as a 5-knot pickup in speed while trying to go against the current would be like running on a treadmill. To ride the flood, we need to buy fuel when the marina opens at 7 a.m. and then get through the canal before 10 a.m. when the ebb starts tomorrow. It should be no problem and the ride will be exhilarating. We learned today that one of the members of this list, Melissa Bice and her husband Brian, listed in the addresses above as Rosebud and Steve (don’t even ask), are the proud parents of their first child. Margaret Irene Bice arrived this morning at a little past 6 a.m. She weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and is 20 inches long. Mother and Maggie are all doing well I understand. Melissa is Laura Lee’s first cousin. Click on the first email address above and send her a note of congratulations. This makes me a new Uncle I guess and is a new cousin for Sam. We were glad to get underway today after our long layover. But there are some good things about being in port so long. The boat is relatively clean now. I replaced several lightbulbs, repaired a lamp on the galley wall, got the watermaker going after it has been shut down and “pickled” for the winter. What is a watermaker and what does it mean when it’s pickled? I’ll save that for another time. We should be in Boston tomorrow night. We’ll keep you posted. Sam and John

Saturday, July 17, 2004 Location: Boston, Mass. Distance Traveled: 734 Nautical Miles Engine Hours: 61 Average Speed: 12 knots Sam’s journey comes to an end this weekend. We’re tied up in the heart of Boston’s inner harbor just two blocks from historic Faneuil Hall and the Quincy marketplace. Here are pictures of him at the wheel coming into Boston Harbor, in front of Faneuil Hall, and in front of the Black Horse Tavern next door to Durgin Park restaurant where we went last night for “yankee cooking”. We pumped fuel for about two hours yesterday morning and finally got away from Onset at about 9:15. We rode the end of the flood tide through the Cape Cod Canal and emerged right at slack tide into Cape Cod Bay. We passed by Plymouth where the Pilgrims landed and cruised slowly up the coast for the remainder of the day, enjoying fantastic weather with cool breezes. We arrived Boston at about 4 p.m. Marinas are crowded this week as a number of boats are being brought in for the Democratic convention which starts in about a week. We got into a well-located spot by promising to move around as needed when some of the larger boats come and go. We plan to do a little sightseeing today and tomorrow, and a little cleanup work on the boat. Sam flies out Monday at 11:00 a.m. and I’ll mess about with the boat until Laura Lee arrives Friday. Sam’s been an excellent first mate. Like all of my kids at his age, he doesn’t really like just riding and watching the sights. When off-duty, he retreats below to read or watch cartoons. And he finds driving on the open sea to be “boring”. However, he’s taken his two-hour shifts on watch and he’s become a pro at handling the lines and power cords when we are arriving or leaving the dock. He’s gotten pretty good at hosing off the salt after a day at sea. He’s welcome back on my ship any time. Thanks for tuning in, faithful readers. I appreciate your kind notes along the way. I was disappointed that I received no requests for an explanation of “pickling” watermakers, but I’ll just save that for a future trip. Congratulations to Rosebud and Steve. See ya’ll. Sam and John


2003 Bahamas Trip

Day 1 — Wednesday, January 22, 2003

31 degrees 56 minutes North/81 degrees 17 minutes West

The Ford Plantation


Arrived here from Birmingham Monday evening with Daniel and his college roomate, Rob McAdams. We enjoyed a fried chicken dinner Monday night at Laurie’s house prepared by the incomparable Lillian and then spent yesterday morning provisioning Suladan for the journey. We bought engine oil and coolant, fishing tackle, and three grocery carts full of food from the Wall-Mart Supercenter.


Our plan is to depart today on the high tide at around 10 get down the Ogeechee River and a couple of hours South on the Intracoastal Waterway where we plan to anchor out and then head south on Thursday. The weather forecast is dismal. A cold front is moving through today bringing rain followed by high winds and severe cold for the next couple of days. The marine forecast for Thursday is “North winds 20 knots becoming Northwest early in the afternoon and increasing to 30 knots. Seas 5 to 6 feet…building to 7 to 8 feet. A slight chance of showers in the morning.”


With 30 knot winds and 8 foot seas Thursday, we have no intention of leaving the comfort of the waterway so we will make slow progress inside for a couple of days until the wind subsides and lets us out into the ocean. We need about four long days to get to South Florida and then a good weather day to cross over to the Bahamas.


Our destination is the Exuma Islands south of Nassau where the air and waters are warm for a little snorkling, scuba diving and fishing.


We’ll try to keep up this little journal every couple of days. Drop us a note if you wish.


The Boys



Day 3 — Friday morning, January 24, 2003

30 degrees 18 minutes North/81 degrees 25 minutes West

Travelling South on the Intracoastal Waterway near Jacksonville, Florida

Distance Traveled: 147 nautical miles


Yesterday the weather cleared as the cold front has passed. The wind picked up as predicted from the Northwest and the temperature fell throughout the day. We continued south on the waterway. For family members, we passed some very familiar areas — Altamaha Sound, St. Simons Island, Jekyl Island, Cabin Bluff, Cumberland Island, and finally, Amelia Island, home of the famous cat Amelia. We stopped for a small amount of fuel and lunch at Jekyl Island.


We had planned on anchoring out another night but the cold wind convinced us to seek shelter at the Amelia Island Yacht Basin on the south end of the island. We borrowed the marina’s courtesy car and enjoyed a great dinner at the “Down Under” Restaurant which is under a bridge on the waterway.


The temperature when we woke this morning was a pleasant 15 degrees. The wind is still howling so we continue in the waterway instead of the ocean. Progress is slow and tedious with bridges, no-wake zones, shallow areas, etc. We are all getting a little frustrated at the cold weather and the inability to get south more quickly. While we’ll be happy with slow progress in the Bahamas, cruising in 20 degree weather is not our ultimate objective.


Daniel and Rob are quickly mastering the boat’s operation. They are handling the engine room check each morning and we are all driving the boat in 2-hour shifts.


We’ll probably not write again for a couple of days since this part of the trip is really pretty boring. I hope to get back to you soon with some adventures.


The Boys



Day 4 — Saturday Afternoon, January 25, 2003

29 degrees 05 minutes north/80 degrees 39 minutes west

12 miles off the coast of Daytona Beach, Florida

Distance traveled: 232 nautical miles


We only made about 50 miles yesterday because the weather restricted us to the waterway and progress was very slow. We stopped for the night at St. Augustine and had dinner at Peerce’s Restaurant at the Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor. Dinner was excellent except we fled hastily afterwards since it was Karaoke Night.


This morning was again below freezing but the wind had died down. We plan on travelling overnight to arrive at Palm Beach by morning. We slept in and delayed our departure until 10 a.m. so as not to arrive at Palm Beach before dawn.


Seas are 2 to 3 feet and very comfortable. Fishing lines are out. All is right with the world. The water temperature has warmed up from 48 to 60 over the last three days. Only about 25 degrees more to go before we can swim.


We’ll spen Sunday night in Palm Beach and watch the Super Bowl. If seas are calm Monday, which looks doubtful, we’ll cross over to the Bahamas. Otherwise, we’ll proceed further south while we wait for good weather to cross the Gulfstream.



Day 5 — Sunday Morning, January 26, 2003

26 degrees 45 minutes north/80 degrees 03 minutes west

West Palm Beach, Florida

Distance traveled: 382 nautical miles


Arrived safely in Palm Beach after an all night run. Super Bowl tonight. Layover day tomorrow.



Day 7 — Tuesday Morning, January 28, 2003

26 degrees 35 minutes north/80 degrees 02 minutes west

1/2 mile off the coast of Delray Beach, Florida

Distance traveled: 397 nautical miles


We had a relaxing layover yesterday in Palm Beach. We watched the Super Bowl Sunday night, relaxed all day yesterday, and had a great dinner in a new area called City Place in West Palm Beach last night. I returned to the boat after dinner while the boys hit a few bars. They told me they were in search of a chef or “galley wench” for the boat. This morning, I found a slip of paper with the name “Nicole, your Chef Boy R Dee” and a phone number. I don’t know much more about this story but we departed Palm Beach this morning without Nicole on board. This is just as well because Daniel reports that she is a young lady of questionable moral values.


The weather continues to plague us. Another front passed through yesterday and winds are from the northeast at about 15 to 20 knots. However, we are sick of the Intracoastal Waterway so we are braving 4 to 6 foot seas today for about 5 hours to get down to Miami. Things look decent tomorrow to cross over to Bimini. It will probably be a little rough but another damn front is due in Thursday night or Friday so we’ll probably try to get across while we can


I continue to receive valuable feedback to these emails from some of my so-called friends. One told me it was fun to hear about us freezing our butts off but to please stop reporting when we are in the tropical islands. Another questioned my signing these notes “The Boys”, pointing out that I am an old geezer. We will begin signing as “The Men” when we accomplish our mission of reaching the islands. In the interim, we have made a slight change to reflect our transitory state


The Boyz



Day 9 — Thursday Morning, January 30, 2003

25 degrees 44 minutes north/79 degrees 18 bminutes west

Bimini Big Game Club, Bimini, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 502 nautical miles


Spent a quiet night Tuesday at the Miami Beach Marina and headed out yesterday morning in questionable weather to cross the Gulf Stream. Winds were from the east-northeast at 15 knots with seas about 5 feet. The normal rule is to wait for more southerly winds since a wind from the north running into the north-running stream makes the waves stand up and be quite uncomfortable. However, it looked like our next window to cross would not be untilo the weekend so we forged ahead.


The seas turned out to be only slightly uncomfortable and only for a few hours. We arrived at Bimini around mid-afternoon, went through the customs/immigration paperwork two-step, and celebrated with a beer at the Compleat Angler, one of Earnest Hemingway’s old haunts and home of the original ring-toss game later imported to Inland Lake by Susan Butterworth, whose father once had a house here.


Bimini is a hopelessly run-down but charming place. It has a history of rum-running, drug smuggling and lost weekends only 50 miles from Miami. A presidential candidate got into trouble here a few years back when he was photographed with a woman on a boat called “Risky Business”. A t-shirt for sale locally says: “What happens in Bimini stays in Bimini”. But things are very quiet here in January. Most of the restaurants are not even open and the “End of the World Bar” with its famous panty collection only had one drunk in it yesterday afternoon.


Daniel and Rob plan to go out scuba diving on a local dive boat today. Tomorrow, we’ll head out across the Great Bahama Bank, a giant area only about 10 feet deep at its deepest. Our next stop should be Chub Cay in the Berry Islands. More to come.


The Men



Day 11 – Saturday morning, February 1, 2003

25 degrees 25 minutes north/77 degrees 50 minutes west

Berry Island Club, Frazier’s Hog Cay, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 589 nautical miles


You would think the Chub Cay Club would be located on Chub Cay. But here in the parallel universe of the Bahamas, it is actually on Frazier’s Hog Cay. We are tied up on the eastern side of the island at the opposite end from the Chub Cay Club.


The Berry Island Club is a single house with two guest rooms upstairs and a bar and restaurant down. The owners are two brothers from Louisiana, David and Donald Loupe along with Donald’s wife. David currently has a girlfriend here named Ruth who is helping out. The restaurant is only open for dinner if you call by lunchtime and order when you call. They specialize in Cajun food. Donald and his wife are quiet and simple, but David is sort of a combination of Cheech and Chong. The great entertainment here is simply sitting at the bar listening to David’s stories.


We crossed the Great Bahama Bank yesterday and had an uneventful trip except that Rob decided to let Daniel give him a haircut enroute using my beard trimmer. It went fairly well until a wave made Rob lean into Daniel creating a bald area just above his right ear. He looks like he has just joined the marines, at least on that side.


The weather is fantastic…about 70 degrees, clear and sunny. Water temperature is up to 74.


Daniel and Rob are bone fishing this afternoon. We plan to move on to Nassau tomorrow.


The Men



Day 13 – Monday morning, February 3, 2003

24 degrees 58 minutes north/77 degrees 14 minutes west

10 miles southeast of Nassau, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 636 nautical miles


Moving from the Berry Island Club yesterday to Atlantis in Nassau was sort of like wandering in the desert and coming upon Las Vegas. Atlantis is an $800 million resort/marina/casino complex that pretty-much dwarfs anything I’ve ever seen. We spent yesterday afternoon in the giant water park, ate a great dinner in one of the 36 restaurants on site, and played in the casino for awhile last night


The fishing luck has been dismal the entire trip. We’ve been trolling since Florida and haven’t had a single strike yet. Additionally, one of our reels was broken. So this morning early I headed into Nassau to buy a replacement reel, an assortment of lures, and some frozen ballyhoo. We are certain today will be our lucky day. We are in fairly shallow water for the 20-mile trip down to the Northern Exumas but we are assured by all of the experts at the tackle shop that there are plenty of fish out there.


Our first stop in the Exumas tonight will be Allan’s Cay, a beautiful anchorage in an uninhabited area. The island is famous for its huge iguana population. There’s not much else there but it should be a pretty place to hang out, snorkel, fish, and recover from Atlantis. We plan to cook fresh fish for dinner as soon as we catch something.


In view of the warm weather, my beard came off this morning. My face now matches the side of Rob’s head.


The Men



Day 14 – Tuesday afternoon, February 4, 2003

24 degrees 13 minutes north/76 degrees 48 minutes west

Norman’s Cay, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 663 miles


Travelling with Daniel and Rob is an exhilarating experience. Their enthusiasm for everything is contagious. We got into Allan’s Cay yesterday around 3:30 and they immediately jumped in the water and snorkled all over the cove where we were anchored. A fairly large Barracuda followed them around, making them somewhat nervous, but they had a blast.We grilled chicken for dinner, smoked cigars, and tried to watch Thunderball in preparation for visiting the grotto where part of it was filmed. By 10 p.m. we had given up and crashed. Daniel and Rob seem to be moving to my sleep schedule now.


Today we moved about 10 miles south to Norman’s Cay, famous base of a drug lord in the 70’s and 80’s. The boys took the dinghy out into the flats to snorkel and bonefish. They failed to realize the tide was going out so the dinghy is now high and dry on the sand. They swam back to the boat for awhile and are now back in the dinghy waiting for the tide to come back up. They swam back to it with two beers in each of their pockets so they’ll be OK for awhile.


I mentioned yesterday our bad fishing luck. Shortly after that email, we got our first catch: a small barracuda. We threw him back, but today, Rob hauled in a beautiful yellowfin tuna which we estimate at about 10 pounds. We filleted it on the back deck and the two giant fillets will be on the grill in about an hour.


The weather is fabulous…mid 70’s and clear today. The water temperature is just over 75. We’ve been bathing off the back deck each afternoon.


Thanks for all the replies we’ve been getting. Flippen’s one-worders are great and Bill Barclift’s sarcasm is like a breath of stale air.


Laura Lee is flying down to meet us in Georgetown this Saturday, and my frien Julian MacQueen is considering flying his Wigeon seaplane down so he can land on the water and tie up to our stern for a day or two. Tomorrow we plan to travel about 30 nmiles south to Staniel Cay and then we’ll travel on to Georgetown by the weekend. This is really hard work, but someone’s got to do it.


The Men



Day 17 – Friday, February 7, 2003

23 degrees 52 minutes north/76 degrees 6 minutes west

Exuma Sound, 23 miles northwest of Georgetown, Exuma, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 782 nautical miles


I’ve been negligent in not updating this log, but the pace has been so frantic and the work so hard, we’ve barely had the time. Tuesday afternoon, we arrived at Staniel Cay and snorkled in Thunderball Cave. We decided to tie up for two nights at Staniel Cay “Yacht Club” rather than anchor out since we needed to change the oil in both engines and generators, which is a lot easier to do if you’re not having to run a generator at the same time.


Tuesday evening was spent at the yacht club bar which also has a pool table. I won’t go into detail but a local named Angel renamed Rob “Johnny Boy” and Daniel became “The Lion”. A couple of interesting guys were there whom we called Baldy and Combover. They had “girlfriends” with them whom we think were probably hired for the trip. Two more young ladies of questionable moral character. At any rate, we made it out of there without a fight although Rob…Johnny Boy, was warned to “keep your hands off my girlfriend”.


Oil changed and everything running well, we are enroute to Georgetown. The Lion and Johnny Boy hope to scuba dive tomorrow and Laura Lee plans to meet us at 5:30 tomorrow afternoon at the Peace and Plenty Hotel. Julian MacQueen called today and he’s going to attempt to fly his Wigeon down tomorrow if weather and everything else cooperate. He’ll also be at the Peace and Plenty if he makes it.


The Men



Day 20 – Monday, February 10, 2003

23 degrees 39 minutes north/75 degrees 20 minutes west

Calabash Bay, Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 862 nautical miles


It is hard to summarize the strange events of of the last few days. We arrived Georgetown Friday afternoon, anchored out, and had dinner at the Two Turtles Inn. Saturday morning, Daniel and Rob went scuba diving with a guide. That afternoon, they rented equipment and went out for another dive on their own.


Saturday evening, as we sat at the poolside bar of the Peace and Plenty Hotel, Julian (Doodlebug) MacQueen buzzed the harbor at about 50 feet in his Widgeon, a 1943 model flying boat.He then flew on to the airport and appeared at the hotel about an hour later. Meanwhile, Laura Lee, who had spent 7 hours flying down commercial, also arrived at the hotel. We had been setting up both of these visits for several weeks by email but it was still amazing to see it all come together.


Sunday Doodlebug, Laura Lee, Daniel and Rob went to the airport and went for a flight in the Widgeon. Meanwhile, Doodlebug’s nephew, Johnny Rocket (really) and I moved the boat over to Volleyball Beach in the harbor. A short time later, the widgeon landed beside us creating quite a stir. We tied it up to the back of the boat and all went ashore to the Chat & Chill for lunch, where we heard about the dog that would follow its owner “to the Gates of Hell, if I wanted to go to the Gates of Hell.” The widgeon remained tied to the back of the boat overnight while sightseers wandered by in their dinghies to see what was going on. There is nothing like a 60-year-old flying boat to get attention at Volleyball Beach.


This morning, the Widgeon took off headed back to Florida while we hauled anchor and traveled 25 miles to Long Island. We anchored off one of the most beautiful beaches in the world which we had visited several years ago in our previous boat. Bonefishing is on tap for tomorrow.

Your humble correspondent was injured today and is typing with one hand. After hauling in a good-sized barracuda, I was attempting to let the dinghy line back out when it caught a fish hook and ripped it across my hand. I don’t believe stitches will be required but I am going to a clinic on Long Island tomorrow to have it looked at. It is a little painful and quite irritating.


I’m glad to have Laura Lee on board. I’ve missed her. She’ll be with us until next Tuesday when she flies home from Nassau. Daniel, Rob and I will take another four days or so to get the boat back to Ft. Lauderdale and then we’ll be home. They planned to be here for three weeks but they now refuse to get off until I do since they both must go home to look for real jobs now that college is over.


We’ll be seeing several islands over the next few days that all claim to be the sight of Columbus’s first landing. Here, Cape Santa Maria is named for one of his ships and there is a monument at Columbus Point on the east side of the island. We also hope to see San Salvador, Conception and Cat islands. I’ll report back when my typing hand is in better shape.


Three Men and a Lady



Day 23 – Thursday, February 13, 2003

24 degrees 09 minutes north/75 degrees 31 minutes west

Hawk’s Nest Marina, Cat Island, Bahamas

Distance Traveled: 897 nautical miles


An incredible laziness has overtaken us, a kind of island disease that takes away the spirit of adventure and forces us into hammocks under palm trees. We seem to have come to the conclusion that each of these little islands is a paradise and there is not much reason to leave one and visit the next.


We spent Monday and Tuesday nights anchored off Cape Santa Maria at the north end of Long Island. We had sent word ahead to our old friend Presley Pinder and he and his wife, Ora Mae, joined us for dinner Monday night. Tuesday, Presley took Daniel, Rob and Laura Lee out fishing. They got to watch him dive for conch and spear some fish. Later, they tried bonefishing but, as usual with Presley, they had little luck.


Meanwhile, I rented a car and drove to the town medical clinic where I got a tetanus shot, antibiotics, a cleaning and dressing of my wound, all for $40. I decided I might come to the Bahamas for all of my medical care in the future. The hand did not require stitches and is healing nicely, although it is still a little painful and tender. I have tried to milk the injury for all it is worth but the crew stopped giving me special attention after the first day, and I am now treated with the usual disrespect.


Yesterday, we traveled north to Cat Island where there is a small marina and resort. It is nice to tie up after anchoring out for five nights. This allows us to take out the garbage andstraighten things up a bit while also plugging into shore power and giving our generators a rest. We got up this morning with every intention of traveling on but the beach and pool and hammocks called out to us so we are staying here another day. After all this vigorous activity, we all need a break.


Three Men and a Lady



Day 25 – Saturday, February 15, 2003

24 degrees 43 minutes north/76 degrees 49 minutes west

Highbourne Cay, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 984 miles


Cat Island turned out to be a pleasant stop. The Hawk’s Nest Marina looks like a bombed out area of Afghanistan, but a quarter mile up the road, the clubhouse/restaurant is nicely llandscaped and has a pool and a beautiful beach behind it. The airstrip and marina on property would make an ideal spot for drug smugglers, which is exactly what the facility was used for up until eight years ago. Now, under new ownership, they are trying to make a nice little resort out of it.


Thursday afternoon, we rented a car for four hours and drove toward the middle of the island where we visited The Hermitage, a miniature monastery on top of a 200 foot high mountain near the center of the island. John Howe (1876-1956) was an Englishman who studied architecture and later theology and was ordained in the Church of England. He first came to the Bahamas in 1908 and traveled the islands building and repairing churches. He later converted to Catholicism and became a priest known as Father Jerome. He returned to the Bahamas in 1939 and went to this site, the highest in the Bahamas, to build the Hermitage. It is a beautiful sight with an incredible view.


Yesterday, Friday, we moved up to Little San Salvador and anchored off a beautiful beach. The only problem is that the island is owned by Holland American Cruise Lines and when we arrived there were two gigantic ships and several thousand passengers on the beach. The cruise lines use this as a day stop to offer passengers a completely contrived day ashore where they have constructed a fake village complete woith straw market, a church, etc. Late afternoon the ships left and we had the beach to ourselves. It was quite beautiful but the wind was high, making our anchorage rolly.


We got up this morning and crossed back over Exuma Sound to Highbourne Cay, close to where we started our exploration of the Exumas. Tomorrow or Monday, we’ll move back to Nassau where Laura Lee flies home and we begin to wind down the trip. Rob, Daniel, and I plan to get the boat back to Florida next week and we’ll all head for home. We should cross the 1,000 nautical mile mark tomorrow, about the same distance it is from Boulder to Birmingham.


We’ll let you know when we come to a stop and, of course, we’ll report any further adventures. Otherwise, we’ll sign off for now.

Three Men and a Lady



Day 28 – Tuesday, February 18, 2003

25 degrees 05 minutes north/77 degrees 19 minutes west

Nassau, Bahamas

Distance traveled: 1028 nautical miles


After attending a barbecue Saturday night at Highbourne Cay, we moved Sunday back to Allan’s Cay, our first stop in the Exumas on the way down. Laura Lee, Daniel and Rob went bonefishing while I did some unpleasant repairs to the boat sewage system (ahh, the elegant yachting lifestyle).


That afternoon, I drove the little boat while the boys went lobster hunting with snorkels and their new spears and Hawaiian Slings. And they got one…a gigantic Bahama lobster. We came back to the boat and had one of those spiritual moments eating fresh lobster tail on the flybridge while watching the full moon rise. They hunted again Monday morning with no luck.


Monday afternoon, we returned to Nassau for Laura Lee to catch her flight home this afternoon. But we can’t get rid of her. She went to the Nassau airport this afternoon to find that her flight was cancelled. It was on USAir through Charlotte and the bad weather up there has screwed up the whole system with airplanes stranded everywhere. So, as I was hanging around the deck this afternoon, she reappeared. The next USAir flight she could get is Friday so she’ll go with us back to Ft. Lauderdale over the next few days and get home from there.


Tomorrow early we plan to head out for Bimini or Cat Cay with hopes that we can get to Ft. Lauderdale Thursday afternoon. We’ll keep you posted.


Three Men and still a Lady.



Day 30 – Thursday, February 20, 2003

26 degrees 07 minutes north/80 degrees 07 minutes west

Bahia Mar Marina, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Distance traveled: 1202 nautical miles


Home again! The cellphones work, the satellite TV works. We are experiencing culture shock.


Yesterday we left Nassau early and traveled almost 12 hours to Cat Cay at the western edge of the Bahamas and just south of Bimini. This route across the Great Bahama Bank was not as deep as our previous one and the tide was low late in the afternoon, so it was slow going dodging shallow places. We only ran aground once and got off fairly quickly. Cat Cay is a private club which accepts transient boats it its marina so we stopped there for the night and a very good dinner. It’s a beautiful place. We asked how to join and you need to be sponsored by a member. The membership list is private. So I guess we won’t join for now.


This morning, we pulled around on the west side of Gun Cay, just to the north, and the boys gave lobster hunting with spears one last try. They came up with two so we boiled them up for lunch during the five-hour trip across to Florida.


As we approached Ft. Lauderdale, we were hailed by a Coast Guard cutter. They asked us to slow down while they conducted a “boarding”. This was my fifth time to be boarded by the Coast Guard. I guess we just look suspicious. Rob almost panicked into throwing away his Cuban cigars but I told him just to put them away. The Coast Guard didn’t look for them (whew!).


So we’re safely home. I’ve enjoyed sending out this little chronicle and I hope I haven’t bored anyone too much. Thanks for tuning in. Daniel and Rob have been great traveling companions and outstanding crew members. It’s been a pleasure.


Everyone heads home Saturday. I’ll stay over until Monday to get the boat into a boatyard for some maintenance and then head back to reality myself. Tune in next time.


The Captain and Crew of the Suladan

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