The Route South

Saturday, September 1, 2012

August is code for HOT!

Webster defines the word August as Imposing, Impressive, Majestic, Dignified, Stately, Eminent and Humble.  He left out HOT!  It was warm enough that after anchoring last night I went swimming…in Lake Champlain.  The water really wasn’t all that cold which is an indicator of how long and hot the summer has been.

The cruising guides counsel to try and be south of the Hudson River by Labor Day.  After that, the weather windows are farther apart and we risk wasting time just sitting in NY or NJ.  Plus, we really want to visit Maine again and get our annual lobster fix.  So that means we have several weeks to enjoy our time in Lake Champlain and the Champlain Canal.

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Started up at 0922.  Where to go?  There are so many coves, islands and anchorages to sample.  A few hours spent with our noses in the guidebooks, armed with a yellow Hi-Liter and we had a pretty good idea of where we would head for the next few days.  We will head south through the Lake, crossing back and forth between New York and Vermont, checking out different anchorages as we go.  At 1200 we passed through the bridge at “The Gut” and passed into what is known locally as the “Inland Sea”.  It was fairly breezy and we were hoping to find a good hidey-hole where we could enjoy the scenery and the crystal clear water without a million other boats around.  Yeah, right!  We ran into St. Albans Bay and did a U-turn once we got to the head of the bay.  Not much to recommend it…at least in our book.  Two –and-a-half hours later we were passing back through The Gut after waiting for the timed bridge.  We were able to pick up a mooring in Deep Bay, on the NY side.  It was a challenge because there were at least 36 other boats in the mooring field and probably a few hundred anchored outside the moorings.  We were the only US boat there.  The rest are French-Canadians! 
We decided to spend two nights so we could put the dinghy in the water and explore a bit.
38 NM

Full mooring field at Deep Bay.

Monday, July 30, 2012
We dropped our mooring at 0845 and motored around the point, bound for Treadwell Bay Marina, just outside of Plattsburg, NY.  By 0910 we were safely in slip C-4, having first gone to the pump-out.  Both Vermont and New York are deadly serious about holding tank usage, to the point that any possible plumbing connections that could be used to pump overboard must be completely removed.  I had made that change some time ago and it was a real pain.  We will be glad to get back to sea water, where we can use our Lectra-San system to treat sewage on board!  Our plan for the day is to take on water, do laundry, wash the boat down and borrow the car to go to the grocery store.  We are looking forward to shopping where the brands and variety are familiar.
2.5 NM

Tuesday July 31, 2012
It’s windy today, but manageable, we think so shortly after 1100 we left the marina.  By 1115 we were in Lake Champlain with 20-25 kts. of wind and 3’ waves.  After altering course and speed several times we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and turned tail and headed back to Treadwell Bay Marina.

Treadwell Bay Marina was interesting.  It is a 330 slip marina.  Only 10 boats were US-registered.  The rest are Canadian!  They are able to register their boats in Canada but don’t have to pay tax on the boat if they don’t take it into Canada.  Since the State of NY hasn’t figured out how to tax them, it is quite economical for the Canadians since their tax rate is huge.
3 NM

Wednesday August 1, 2012
Conditions being more favorable today, we left the marina again at 0915 and ten minutes later we were heading into a much more moderate breeze, on our way to Valcour Island.  Valcour is a historical site (back when Benedict Arnold was one of the good guys) and very popular.  Fortunately, there are at least five different anchorages on the island and we were able to find a comfy spot to drop the hook at Bluff Point North at 1050.  Once again, plenty of neighbors, but really not too crowded.  We decided to stay two nights and once again explore the area by dinghy.  We crossed over to the mainland in the dinghy to fill the gas tank, a trip that got us pretty wet from the chop and spray.  But hey, its fresh water so you don’t get sticky when it dries.
8.9 NM

Morning Star at anchor.  Valcour Island, Lake Champlain.

Lighthouse and eagle's nest - Valcour Island, Lake Champlain.

Friday August 3, 2012
 Up and at ‘em early! 0750 start, headed to Burlington, VT for a few days.  The local wisdom is that we want to get in some time after 1000, when the mooring field starts to clear out.  Moorings are first come – first served.  Timing was perfect and a few minutes after 1000 we picked up a vacant mooring (#302).  The mooring pennant barely got wet.  The last guys dropped it and we slipped in to pick it up.
13.4 NM

We spent the rest of the day going ashore for lunch after taking the free circulator bus for a quick, unguided tour to help us get the lay of the land.  After lunch, we got picked up by the local Enterprise Rental Car office, where we had reserved a car for the weekend.  That evening we had Dan, Jackie and their two boys Luke and Bodie aboard.  We are mooring neighbors and I met Dan at Treadwell Bay Marina.  They live in the Plattsburg area where Dan works as an RN and Jackie as a Physical Therapist.  The boys work at being boys!

Saturday August 4, 2012
Today we did a car trip to Shelburne Farms, a delightful relic from the past.  What a treat! 

From their website:
“Shelburne Farms is a membership-supported, nonprofit environmental education center, 1,400-acre working farm, and National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont. Our mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future. Casual visitors may enjoy the walking trails, children’s farmyard, inn, restaurant, property tours and special events. To pursue our mission, we practice rural land uses that are environmentally, economically and culturally sustainable.
Shelburne Farms was created as a model agricultural estate in 1886 by William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb.  In 1972, it became an educational nonprofit. Our nearly 400 acres of woodlands are Green Certified from the American Tree Farm System. Our grass-based dairy has 125 purebred, registered Brown Swiss cows. Their milk is transformed into our award-winning farmhouse cheddar cheese here on the property.”

The wagon tour we took around the grounds was a delight.  The farm was planned by Fredrick Olsmtead (you might have heard of his other work – he designed Central Park in NYC).  Nothing like having Vanderbilt money behind your project!  If you are looking for a weekend getaway, the old house is now an inn and I’m sure they would love to have you.  You can check out their website at:

After a late lunch, Cindy found a spot to get a haircut while I  took the car and ran a few errands.

The barns at Shelburne Farms.

As farmhouses go, this one isn't bad!
The farmhouse is now operated as an inn.  Book early!

The library at the Inn at Shelburne Farms.

Sunday August 5, 2012
Woke up to the storms that the weatherman forecast.  He sure got it right this time.  We are safe on our mooring, tucked in behind a granite breakwater.  But the direction of the wind is such that there is a fair amount of chop in the harbor.  We stayed on the boat all morning, not wanting to risk being away from the boat.  Finally, by the afternoon, the wind began to shift and moderate.  We took the dinghy ashore and headed to the grocery store.  We were quite a sight going back to the boat with our grocery sacks wrapped in a 35 gallon garbage bag to protect it from the spray.  Just part of the adventure that is our life these days!  

The boats all sail on their moorings in a strong south breeze.  
Looks like it might hit us or the granite breakwater!

Calm evening after the storm.

By sunset the wind shifted and laid down further and it was very comfortable aboard again.  Life’s good on our boat!

Monday August 6, 2012
After returning the rental car in the morning and visiting the courtesy dock for a pump-out and filling our water tanks, we are under way again.  Our destination today is the little town of Vergennes, VT.  We arrived at Otter Creek at 1440 and it took almost 1-1/2 hours to run up the creek to the town.  We tied at the wall alongside the park.  We walked around a bit but couldn’t muster the enthusiasm for a walk up the hill into town.   

View across Otter Creek at Vergennes.

Tuesday August 7, 2012
Up early and under way by 0700.  It only took an hour to travel downstream and we left Otter Creek shortly after 0800.  Back in Lake Champlain, headed south.  

Lake Champlain is deep in these parts!
The depth sounder stopped registering shortly after this photo - too deep!

At 1000 we passed beneath Crown Point Bridge a.k.a. Champlain Bridge.  We were eating lunch as we passed by Ft. Ticonderoga, another Revolutionary War historical site.  

Ft. Ticonderoga.

At 1500 we arrived at Lock #12 and fifteen minutes later we locked through into the Champlain Canal and tied up at the wall in Whitehall.  We were behind the firehouse and the new volunteer recruits had a training session after dinner, providing us with some unexpected entertainment.

Training the new recruits - Whitehall, NY.

Going up?  Whitehall, NY Volunteer Fire Department.

Champlain Canal maintenance.
Sort of a combination boat/tractor/weed whacker/scooper-upper.

Lake Champlain was beautiful.  Pristine waters holding lots of anchorages, islands and small bays to explore with the backdrop of the Adirondack Mountains to the west and Vermont’s Green Mountains to the east.
52 NM

Wednesday August 8, 2012
We don’t have a particularly long day ahead of us so we didn’t get away until 0815.  We locked through #11 at 0930 and by 1230 we were through #7 and tied up to the town wall in Ft. Edward, NY.  Its hot here and we are glad to be plugged in and running the air conditioning.  After lunch we put the bikes down and explored a bit, finding a restaurant for dinner that night.  The big surprise was that there was a concert in the park that night, complete with a fireworks show.  I thought it was in our honor but we found out that it is summer series.  I can dream!

Wednesday night concert.  Ft. Edwards, NY.

Thursday August 9, 2012
Away from the wall at Ft. Edward before 0700, rejoining the Champlain Canal five minutes later.  There is heavy barge and tug traffic in this area caused by the river remediation project – dredging up the PCP’s dumped into the Hudson by General Electric.  Fortunately the tab is being picked up by GE. 

We ran the length of the canal, including six locks, and were tied up to the familiar wall at the Waterford, NY Visitors Center at 1315, thus closing the “Little Loop” we began in June. 
32.7 NM

Friday August 10, 2012
Lay-day and rain day.  Between showers we walked across the bridge to Troy so we could pick up a few things at the Price Chopper supermarket.  We aren’t familiar with that chain of groceries but it was a pretty nice store.  We loaded two backpacks and walked back to the boat and stayed dry to boot.  Lunch in town.  We have been having difficulties with our satellite dish – it quit working completely and despite my troubleshooting, its time to call on a professional.  We were able to find a guy who came to the boat and fixed it.  It took two trips.  Turned out to be a corroded connection, buried deep in a coax cable.

Saturday August 11, 2012
We departed the wall in Waterford before 0700, arriving at Federal Lock #1 by 0715.  The lockmaster was ready for us and we were promptly locked through.  By 0830 we passed the state capital of Albany.  Its always surprises me to see ocean-going ships this far up the river!  We are still running on fuel we purchased in Brewerton, NY in early July and I’m getting worried.  I‘ve done the math and in theory we can make it to the cheap fuel in NJ…in theory.  We decided to take on 50 gallons just to make certain so we stopped at Coeyman’s Landing Marina where the price was a touch over $4/gallon.  OUCH!  Better safe than sorry.  It rained on and off throughout the afternoon, sometimes heavy.  We had the radar going since the visibility was pretty lousy.  We watched the weather radar on the internet and finally ran out of the rain by 1545 when we anchored off Port Ewen in the flats just south of the entrance to Rondout Creek at Kingston, NY.  No reason to go ashore tonight.
57.8 NM

Sunday August 12, 2012
Its going to be a long day today!  The anchor is aboard by 0630 and two hours later we are passing Poughkeepsie.  The Hudson River cuts through the mountains in this part of NY and we pass Storm King Mountain at 1100; the impressive and imposing US Military Academy at West Point at 1130; and beneath the Bear Mountain Bridge that crosses the river to the strangely named Anthony’s Nose, at 1200.  Don’t know who Anthony was but I can only imagine what his face must have looked like!  Its too early in the afternoon when we pass through Haverstraw Bay – too early in the day to stop, so we press on.  The Tappen Zee Bridge is just ahead and we are under it just after 1400 and we can see NYC!  We never learn.  Its going to be on our horizon for quite a while.  The wind is picking up so we hug the western shore to hide from the wind under the cliffs of the Pallisades.  I think the wind is actually funneled by the cliffs but by 1630 we pass beneath the George Washington Bridge.  NYC is right there but its is still almost 2-1/2 hours further to the anchorage behind the Statue of Liberty.  Finally, after almost being hit by a Park Service boat in the entrance channel to the Statue, the anchor is down for the day at 1850.  12-1/2 hours today.  Why do we do this to ourselves?!
79.7 NM

Monday August 13, 2012
Another early start.  We are like a horse that smells the barn.  We are anxious to get back to Solomon’s.  Anchor’s up by 0630 and we are under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge by 0725, dodging tugs, ships and ferries all the way.  After yesterday’s close encounter with the Park Service, maybe we are a bit sensitive!  By 0830 we have cleared the NY harbor traffic and are running south in the False Hook Channel off Sandy hook.  Shortly before noon we leave the Atlantic, entering Manasquan Inlet.  Traveling south and west, we run through Point Pleasant Canal while we eat lunch.  The NJ ICW is not our favorite place to run, especially the southern portion so we call it a day at 1540 and anchor at the southern part of Barnegat Bay.
62.6 NM

Tuesday August 14, 2012
We need an early start today so the anchor is aboard before 0630.  The flies (NJ Green Heads) were terrible yesterday afternoon.  We anchored near the marsh and we were OK when we were inside the cabin with the screens closed.  But that was the harbinger of what was to come today.  After taking on 146 gallons of diesel from May, the dockmaster at Beach Haven Yacht Club, we continued on.  The ICW gets shallower and shallower as we continue south.  We would have liked to go out Absecon Inlet at Atlantic City but the wind forecast wasn’t favorable so we passed Atlantic City at 1130 and pressed on.  Cranky, uncooperative bridge tenders and No Wake Zones make traveling trying.  And the flies… we actually taped some screen material over the front windshield with blue painter’s tape.  They were so bad we got the Shop Vac out and sucked ‘em out of the sky.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  At 1820 the anchor was down at Sunset Lake in Wildwood, just outside of Cape May.  We are beat and call tomorrow a lay-day.
72.3 NM

Wednesday August 15, 2012
Slept in and loafed for an hour or so before pulling the anchor at 0830.  At 0915 we were tied up at Utches Marina in Cape May.  We have passed through here several times but never stopped.  This afternoon we biked into town and took a trolley tour after lunch.  Cape May is known for its old Victorian houses and after the trolley tour we biked around, enjoying the sights.  We planned to eat at the “Lobster Trap” but they don’t take reservations.  When we got there the wait was at least 1-1/2 hours.  We were discouraged so we ordered carry-out and went back to the boat.
.9 NMN

Thursday August 16, 2012
 Breakfast out.  We ordered breakfast after the waitress asked “What do youse-guys want?”  Welcome to NJ!  I knocked out a quick oil change before we left at 1030, anchoring off the Coast Guard Station at 1100.  We are staged for an early departure tomorrow.

Friday August 17, 2011
Last time through here wasn’t fun.  It was late, pitch black and windy.  Even with today’s 0530 start, we could see…kinda.  But we need an early start to catch the current for our run up Delaware Bay.  We left Cape May Canal behind us at 0620, before the ferries started running.  We picked up the current by the time we passed Miah Maul Shoal at 0815.  Ship John Shoal at 0925, making good time.  By lunch time we are approaching the C&D Canal.  We have averaged 8.3 knots coming up the Bay.  Not bad for a 6.5 knot boat!  Plus, we did it before the wind came up!  We are through the Canal and into the Elk River at 1400.  Chesapeake Bay welcomed us back with wind gusting over 20 knots – on the nose, of course!  We entered the Sassafras River at 1545 and ran up to Georgetown where we were able to pick up a mooring for the night at 1700, just in time for a couple of glasses of wine.

The forecasted squall line blew through after dinner.  We sat in the cockpit and enjoyed the light and sounds of the storm until the sailboat next to us started dragging their mooring and almost hit us.  No one was aboard and we couldn’t get anyone from the marina on the radio or by phone.  Fortunately, just when it seemed inevitable that they were going to hit someone, the mooring caught again.
82 NM

Saturday August 18, 2012
Dropped the mooring pennant at 0930.  It’s sure easy doing it this way.  No anchor chain to wash down, no mud on the decks, no wind-blown salt spray getting my clothes wet first thing in the morning.  We ran south down the Bay, passing beneath the Bay Bridge at 1415, arriving in Annapolis at 1500.  The bridge tender obliged us and opened the Spa Creek Bridge promptly at 1530 and ten minutes later we picked up mooring #64.
45 NM

Sunday August 19, 2012
The engine was running by 0615 so we could make the 0630 opening of the Spa Creek Bridge.  An hour later Thomas Point Light was abeam.  Once again, we ran south down the Bay, passing Drum Point at 1230, entering Solomon’s Island harbor fifteen minutes later.  By 1300 we secured to the floating dock at Calvert Marina, our home until we head south in October.
44.5 NM

Our summer’s trip was almost three months long, 1712 NM or over 1900 statute miles and 100 locks Solomon’s to Solomon’s.

Two days later, we were in our rental car for a trip to Maine!
These photos show why we go every year.

Monhegan Island

Monhegan Island harbor

The Island Inn on Monhegan Island... a great place to sit and read a book....

...or paint a landscape.

Pretty little Rockport harbor.

Shaw's Lobster Wharf in New Harbor.  We eat there at least twice each trip. 
Down the lane from Sister Jane's cottage is Peter Kass' small boatyard, Johns Bay Boatbuilding Company.  Peter has developed a worldwide reputation for wooden boatbuilding.  Last year he was finishing a lobster yacht which was shipped to an owner in Australia.  He has had articles written about his boats in "Wooden Boat" magazine and "Maine Boats and Harbors".  The boat currently under construction is too big for his shed so he had to add five feet to the back.  Notice the new shingles in the photo.  Read more about Peter and his boats

Peter Kass' Johns Bay Boatbuilding Company.
Lobster!!  The real reason we come to Maine!