Month: June 2018

From the Smallest to the Largest Vermont City and Beyond!

As we came through the last lock of the Champlain canal, our ubiquitous friend the wind was back with a vengeance.  It had whipped Lake Champlain up to 3-foot waves covered with blowing whitecaps.  We’re getting used to this but don’t particularly like traveling under these conditions.


We rode up the lake, taking the waves to the bow so it wasn’t too uncomfortable.  We passed some lovely farmland, Fort Ticonderoga and under the Champlain bridge.  We were headed to the little city of Vergennes, Vermont, touted by itself as being Vermont’s oldest city and by the Waterway Guide as the smallest city in the USA, with a population of 2,500.


 To get there, we had to navigate Otter Creek, which looked more suitable for a paddleboard or kayak than a cabin cruiser and we entered the creek slowly and with much trepidation.  As described, there was plenty of water between narrow rocky shores which divided the creek from bodies of water on each side of it for the first mile or so.

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The arrow is our boat on Otter Creek, the tan is land and the blue is water!  We’re in a creek in a bay here!  That’s a first!

A lightly bovine scented breeze announced the presence of cattle farms somewhere close by but this couldn’t dim the tranquil beauty of the tree-lined creek that meandered through forests to finally arrive at Vergennes.  The free city docks sit at the foot of a waterfall which cascades down from the part of Otter Creek that is above the city.  We docked in our 11th state of the cruise and went exploring as the sun was lowering to the west of us.


The town is charming, very old fashioned and nestled into rolling hills.  We enjoyed appetizers and a beer at the Black Sheep Bistro and felt a little like we were in a tiny version of Paris in Vermont – must have been the wonderful baguettes and escargots we enjoyed.


 If this town is 2500 souls, I think every one of them turned out with all their friends for the band concert in the park that evening.  There was a strawberry shortcake fundraiser for the band and young, old and their dogs all enjoyed the tasty treat while the multi-generational band delivered renditions of Souza and more modern numbers.  There was a feeling of community so strong that it warmed our hearts and we counted ourselves blessed to be a part of it for the evening.

The next morning, we headed out Otter Creek and it wasn’t more than a few minutes into the trip that Jerry noticed our port engine was way too hot.  We tried shutting her down to bring the temperature lower but nothing worked.  I navigated the narrow creek on one engine, passing deer and beaver lodges (we would see our first live beaver in Burlington) along the shore while he diagnosed a case of impeller failure.  Our impellers had been replaced in October before we left but there was no denying the fact that this one was toast.


Fortunately, Jerry had the good sense to bring extras of almost everything with us and he had a new one installed in no time WHILE we were underway!  He had never done this before and both of us were very proud of him when we started the engine back up and the temperature dropped back to where it was supposed to be.  (For those unfamiliar with marine engines, an impeller pumps cold seawater through the engine block to keep it from overheating.  When it doesn’t function properly and isn’t detected in time, it can permanently ruin an engine).

We made the short run to Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, grabbed a mooring ball, threw our bikes in the dinghy and went in to explore the town.  It is amazing to see our boat against a really different backdrop than she is used to.  Here she sits at the foot of a hillside city between the town and a breakwater, beyond which is Lake Champlain.  On the opposite shore are the Adirondack mountains stepping back in ever lighter shades of purple mountain majesty.

The light is abundant here, creeping into the boat before 4:30 AM and not fully extinguishing until after 10 PM.  In short, this is an absolutely lovely setting that reminds us of being in the cool air, warm sunshine and mountain surrounds of Colorado.

We love Burlington.


The bike trail runs along the water and a five-minute ride had us out in sunny fields of wild flowers and shady forests.  There are beautiful coves with large sailboats anchored in them, sandy beaches with folks gathering their vitamin D against the long winter to come, campgrounds with dogs and kids all over the place and people walking, biking and swimming (the water is a temperate 65 degrees- so I know these were all Canadians!!!).   We are getting close enough now that we hear lovely French accents and conversations on the radio and around us in town.  It won’t be long until we are in a new country.

We rented a car (we are now frequent fliers with Enterprise) to explore the countryside for two days. The Boat needed a rest and we needed some land time.  We played tourists, vising the Cold Hollow Cider Mill (the smell and taste of the freshly pressed apple cider reminded me of going to our local orchard with my Mom when I was little) and then driving over to Stowe and visiting the Von Trapp (think Sound of Music) Brewery and Bierhall.

The family still runs the Von Trapp Lodge, which is absolutely gorgeous and youngest son, Johannes is now realizing his to brew an American version of the lagers he loves in his ancestral home of Austria.  The brewery started modestly but its beers were so well received (many have won numerous awards) that a new 30,000 square foot brewery opened in 2015, along the mountain bike and cross country ski paths near the Lodge.  We enjoyed a flight of beers, liking their Helles and Kolsch beers best.

The scenery was amazing. We sat outside, surrounded by shimmering birch trees amongst the majestic pines.  This must be an amazing place to cross country ski in the winter and it is equally as pretty in the summer.

Next, we held our breaths, driving the switchbacks up to Smuggler’s Notch state park where we watched crazy people climbing the sheer rock faces of the summit.  It was a breathtaking drive and I love watching Jerry play Mario Andretti on these hairpin turns!  He always wishes he was doing it on his bike!

IMG_4835.JPGSee if you can find the three climbers on this wall?

Last on the tourist list for the day, was a visit to Ben and Jerry’s factory, where we took an amazingly interesting tour and learned how they make, package and ship their ice cream.  Jerry and I don’t keep ice cream in our house but we have sure made up for it on this trip.  I discovered B&J’s flavor called New York Super Fudge Chunk and Jerry loves the Caramel Almond Brittle flavor.  Unfortunately for our waistlines, there is a B&J in almost every port we have docked and I don’t think we have skipped sampling their wares even once.  We adored the flavor graveyard, where they inter discontinued flavors under their humorous gravestones!


The following day the weather cleared and we drove around the bottom of Lake Champlain in a dense fog and were glad not to be going by boat in it.  We planned our arrival at Ausable Chasm for the park’s opening because there were heat warnings out and we wanted to do the physical part of this adventure before it got really hot.


We checked in and were immediately sent to do the Adventure Trail which is a ropes and cable course similar to the one we did in Puerto Rico a few years ago, minus the swimming in underground cave rivers. This was a Via Ferrata course.


This is an Italian term that was developed during the wars for the shortest route between two points.  A protected climbing route was established in the Dolomites that allowed transportation of troops and munitions as quickly as possible from one place to another.  Our course consisted of single wire bridges, cables along rock walls over the raging Ausable river and swinging rope bridges.  It was a blast and Jerry and I put in a good showing for “old folks.”  Yes, the kids on the tour with us actually stopped short of saying, “I hope I am still doing this when I am your age.” But we knew that’s what they meant!  It’s kind of nice to be an inspiration to younger people and it was fun to share our other adventures with Jon and Angela and have them share some of the things they have done with us as well.

After the adventure trail we rafted down the chasm, marveling at the geology that makes up this magical place.  It really was a great experience – just the kind we like – outdoors in the middle of God’s handiwork and grateful for every single moment there! So much fun!

We came home to meet up with new friends who have to cut their loop short this year, due to an injury.  We helped them clear out their perishables, anything that contained liquid (including a bottle of Tequila!) and stuff that will expire before they resume their Loop adventure next year after a full and total recovery from knee surgery has been effected.

We didn’t think about the fact that we may be in trouble with customs due to all of the excess food and alcohol that is now aboard when we cross over the border.  Tomorrow will tell!  We will cross into Canada earlier than we thought we might.   Our crossing will be on July 1 which is Canada Day or Fête du Canada.  It celebrates the anniversary of the Constitution of 1867 which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  I’m not sure what to expect so tomorrow will be an interesting start.  We are now in Week 26 (half way though the planned calendar of the trip) and have covered 3,400+ miles.  We are excited about this next leg of the trip as it will include Montreal, Quebec City (not by boat and if time allows) and a visit with some of our Snowtarians (Rotarians from Canada who have wintered at our club for decades)!

Getting a little hot down there

Jean and I had spent the evening in Vergennes, Vermont tied up on the community dock after a cruise up from Whitehall, New York. We departed just before 6 a.m. for a seven-mile trek out the Otter Creek River before joining Lake Champlain. The water was like a mirror, and gentle wisps of steam stood sentinel along the bank. If you leave early enough sometimes, you will see wildlife on the shore, and we were fortunate enough to see deer this time. About 25 minutes into our idle out the river I notice a harmonic change in the engine sounds and checked my gauges and saw that the port engine was beginning to overheat. I asked Jean to take over and continue to idle out the river on the starboard engine while I went below to see what could be the cause of the overheat. The port engine has been the most dependable thus far the entire trip, and I was not sure what I was going to find. I checked the valves on the water feed to ensure that the engine was receiving water from the outside and then made sure the engine had not sprung a leak in the heat exchanger. After finding no leaks and no pools of water anywhere, the next check would be to see if the impeller was operating correctly. I had all the impellers replaced before we left on the loop and thought that it was odd that they would be in need of replacing so soon. I had not changed an impeller before and was not sure on procedures but forged ahead anyway since there were no services available in Vergennes. Jean was doing a great job of keeping us in deep enough water on one engine, and we had time before we entered Lake Champlain again.
The impeller housing on the Ford Lehman engine is a straightforward affair with several small screws on a face plate, so I started there. All of the screws came out without any problems, and I was able (this time) not to drop any of them down into the bilge. The faceplate was removed, and I was amazed at the condition of the rubber impeller. Only the hub was left.

Impeller install

Photo by Jerry Coleman

None of the fins were on the hub but laying in the chamber. The hub was removed without any difficulty, the chamber cleaned of debri, and then replaced with a spare impeller I brought along. A gasket was installed, and the faceplate screwed back on, and with an engine restart, the temperature dropped immediately back to normal. A few lessons learned from this experience were: always to have spares onboard, to take your time and assess the problem and then begin with the apparent culprits first working towards the solutions. Trust your co-captain to take care of their part, and to carry on.

Up, Up and Away and Then Down Again!

The last couple of days have been interesting!  Part of being successful on the Loop (or probably any extended boat voyage) is being flexible and being able to pivot as information and circumstances change your impression of your destination and its path.

Our original intent was to go up and around Nova Scotia, into the St. Lawrence Seaway and down into the Great Lakes System.  Some challenging experiences in the open ocean and some reading about the black fog that frequently descends on the Nova Scotia area plus time considerations influenced us to reconsider this route, leaving us a choice between the Erie Canal or the Lake Champlain Canal.


Having studied both routes, we decided to go the Champlain Canal route.  Fortunately for us, in observation of the New York State Canal System’s 100th anniversary, all lock fees for recreational vessels are waived for 2018 which make this decision even more attractive, as do the many small towns along this scenic waterway that offer free wall dockage, power and water.


We left Half Moon Bay and a few hours later were in Rondout Creek which is a suburb of Kingston, NY.  It has a wonderful maritime museum with exhibits covering the history of the Hudson River.  All of it was interesting but the most unique thing, to me, was the history of ice-yachting (more here:  These incredible wooden craft were built to sail over the surface of the frozen river at amazing speeds, sometimes even up on one pontoon-looking skate.  Now they are built of alloys that lighten them considerably and allow even greater speeds but they lose some of the romance at the same time.

This sport reminds me of my dad, who was over six feet tall.  One winter he built a dad-sized, aluminum framed kite, which he would hold by its cross members and sail, with my skates between his, and me hanging on to his knees for dear life as we whizzed, at break-neck speeds, across the frozen lake near our home, our black lab slipping and sliding as she tried valiantly to keep pace.  While memories of ice sports are great, I still prefer the sun and sand to the snow and ice!

We had a few Looper boats with us at Rondout and had a great time sharing stories.  Some of us have chosen the Erie route and others of us have chosen the Champlain route.  The only iffy thing about the Champlain for us is that according to our boat’s prior owner, our air draft was 17.5’ hard and there are a couple of bridges where the lockmaster can lower the pan to 17’ but that’s it.  There is zero wiggle room if you are any higher than 17’, unless you want to start shaving off radar, pieces of hard top or antennas.  (We did get under the lowest bridge but it was still pretty harrowing!)


As we looked at our neighbor’s boat, we commented that his boat looked taller than ours and he had to make the low bridge also.  Long story short, we both re-measured our heights with a tape measure and our boat was actually 16’9” tall with his falling slightly under the 17’ mark.  We all heaved a sigh of relief because this meant we could each travel the route we wanted to and safely navigate all the potential obstacles.

Leaving Rondout, we traveled up the Hudson river to the town of Castleton on Hudson where we picked up a mooring ball (our boat looks really pretty against a pine backdrop – very different than the sandy beaches she’s used to!).

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We dinghied to shore to catch an Uber into Albany, the capitol of NY.  We had a fabulous time on a self-guided walking tour. It is a pretty little city that is blending old and new with great success.  We visited old churches, one of which had imported Italian craftsmen to paint the frescoes on their sanctuary walls with gold leaf and beautiful paintings.

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Saint Mary’s in Albany

We shot to the top of the Corning Tower, walked onto the 42 story observation deck where we could see for miles in all directions.  Returning to earth, we walked the Empire Plaza, where the “Egg” is undergoing some kind of renovation.  This plaza is an amazing place, where concerts happen on weekends and food trucks make a living during the week.  The perimeter and corners are landscaped to give respite to people who work in the city.  There are memorials tucked into secret gardens and shady places to rest, eat and get away from the hustle-bustle of the city.

It was a lovely afternoon and after a quick stop for beer and pizza at The City Brewing Company, we returned to our Boat Club to sit and listen to the locals riff, for our benefit, about creating smokers out of 250 gallon oil drums.  According to one guy “diesel chicken” is the culinary delight produced by this creation but the other guy claimed to have made a smoker this way and sold it for enough money to keep himself in beer for a long time!  We laughed until we cried!

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We got an early start yesterday, as we planned to cover a lot of miles.  South of Albany, we passed the site where the tug and barges had delivered the newly deconstructed spans of the Tappan Zee bridge (we had seen these spans sitting on barges when we went under the Tappan Zee on Father’s Day).  We passed a scrap metal yard here so perhaps the spans will be recycled to live on in newer construction of some sort.


We passed Albany and then Troy and then we were in the lock system.  The locks are rising locks on this section of the river and canal system.  We went through three locks, ascending a total of 42 feet without incident.

IMG_4665.JPGEntering a cavernous, concrete box, one must figure out how it is configured and adapt on the fly (although we had a pretty good idea from our waterway guides what we would face at each one) to grab lines that hang from the tops of the walls or sling a line amidships around a cable or a pipe and sometimes all of the above were the required protocol.

We did fine in spite of a couple of crusty lock masters and the drizzle that spit on and off all day and were happy to get to the wall at Mechanicville, where we tied up, changed into dry clothes and basically stayed out of the weather for the night.

This morning dawned overcast and gray but we were ready to go as soon as Lock C3 opened at 7AM.  We spent the day going from one lock to the next and ascending another 120 feet before getting to lock 9 where we began our descent.  It was relatively simple and much quicker than we had anticipated because we started early in the day and we are still early in the season as well.  Each lock master called ahead to the next so that most of the locks were open and waiting for us, which was really efficient.  We only had to pull over after one lock and wait to allow a tug and barge to pass into the lock.


As we came out of lock 7, it was if we had entered a different county.  The trees changed from a lot of maples, oaks and sycamores to stands of majestic pines, with Hemlocks dripping down over an ever-narrowing canal. IMG_4735

This was the man-made portion of the canal which connects the Hudson with Lake Champlain.

Interesting scenery including a curious cow we named “Oreo!”

It is quite narrow and runs through rolling farm country and forests after turning north from the Saratoga battlefield and monument (a mini-Washington monument).  It is lush and green and very, very peaceful and we enjoyed the cruise, only seeing maybe 3 or 4 other boats.


Saratoga Monument

We are anchored on the town wall in Whitehall a once prosperous village that is now almost a ghost town.  Its claim to fame is that this is where the US Navy was born. This credit was bestowed on the town because the timber and craftsmen for the first US ships, commissioned under Benedict Arnold, came from right here.  They fought the British at Valcour Island in Lake Champlain (we hope to see this later next week).  Whitehall is also the midpoint between NYC and Montreal and so we are excited to begin this leg of our journey.


We have only one lock to go tomorrow, descending 15 feet for a total descent from lock 8 of 44 feet.  We will enter Lake Champlain, hit our 11th state and explore the coastal towns for the next week.  From there we will move on to Canada, just missing Canada Day there and 4th of July here.


New York, New York!

As an infant I lived in New York; my parents were married at St. Thomas Episcopal Church at the Corner of 53rd and 5th Ave.    I was christened there and was fortunate to be able to continue the tradition and have my first child christened at St. Thomas as well. My family moved to Princeton, N.J.  when I was 3 but my mom brought us into the city often to shop, visit museums and to spend time with our paternal grandparents who lived on 62nd Street.  The Museum of Natural History was my favorite and I still love it.

Later, I commuted in and out of the belly of the World Trade Centers when I worked on the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange, during Christmas and summer vacations.  This was my first real job and I loved the way there was always something new around every corner of the city and I tried to walk as many different ways form the WTC to the NYSE as possible and used my lunch hour to explore as many different neighborhoods as I could.

Upon graduating from college, I was fortunate to live in Manhattan for a month, as I trained to be a stock broker with Smith Barney in the early 80’s.  I lived at the Hotel Navarro on Central Park South (Built in 1928, the Navarro became the go-to stop for rock bands in residence in New York. In the 1970s, it was home base for the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who ((Google the story about Keith Moon and the Nararro!)) and many others. It was later converted into a Ritz Carlton and is now apartments.).  I walked to our headquarters on the Avenue of the Americas and learned to call the city my home during that time when my 29 classmates (from all corners of the country) and I would check out the nightlife.  I loved it but not enough to commute an hour and a half in and out again as a career move.

As often as I have visited, I never tire of being in this town.  There is always something new to see. Different people-watching venues provide lots of entertainment and the history and architecture are amazing.  On this trip, we returned from Long Island Sound, having timed the tide to where we actually hit 15.5 mph in the East River as we rocketed through Hell Gate toward the UN building.


This was a personal best for our boat at 1200 rpm and went a good way to blowing the growth off the bottom of the boat (she had sat in Milford, CT for a week in VERY stagnant water, while repairs were done and we traveled home for a week).  The current was ripping and the wake wash of tugs and barges, pleasure boats and commercial ferries bounced off the sides, creating a washbasin of current and tide, roiling with debris…a veritable minefield!

We navigated it and the harbor successfully and tucked in behind Lady Liberty in an anchorage where we traded smooth water for an incredible view of the Statue, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline.  We sat topsides in the evenings, rolling sometimes gently and sometimes more actively due to wakes from the harbor, soaking in the view as twilight fell and the lights began to come on all over the city.  The Verazzano and Washington Bridges looked like strings of diamonds shimmering against the velvet of nightfall and the City That Never Sleeps sported every color of light imaginable.  The base of Lady Liberty glowed softly and the first lighthouse in New York Harbor held her torch proudly aloft in the night sky for all to see.

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Around 2 AM our bunk started to behave like a bunk rather than a cradle and all was calm until about 5 AM when all the commercial traffic started up again.  After waking up, we decided to take our lives in our hands by dinghying around Ellis Island, into the harbor and then to Liberty Landing.   We had a few moments of panic as the ferry boats cut in front of us to Ellis Island rather than going toward the Statue of Liberty but we got out of the way and managed to stay out of the way and dock safely!


Andrew let us tie up for the day and we water-taxied across to lower Manhattan.  We explored South Street Seaport

IMG_4468.JPG(where there is another lightship! The Ambrose), stopping for slices of Little Italy pizza for breakfast and then walked into uncharted territory for both of us as we traversed the NYC City Hall area, admiring the architecture of the City Hall itself and nearby David M. Dinkins Municipal Building, Surrogate’s Court Building, the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse and more.  The architecture compels me to look up even though I know this gives away the fact that I am not a New Yorker but the statuary that adorns these buildings is not to be scoffed at.  It makes me wonder what became of the people who used to make a living carving the beings that still grace these facades.

city hall nyc

We wandered uptown to Chinatown where we were overcome by the wonderful aromas of the cuisine until we couldn’t take it anymore and ducked into Delight 28 Restaurant, a dim sum place on Pell Street.  Walking in the doors was like entering another world; the noise was deafening.  Asian friends and families were gathered around tables laughing, eating and sharing the latest news and we were the only non-Asians in the place – we knew we were where we wanted to be!  Steamer carts were rolled by us and we pointed to things that looked good, not having a clue about what we were eating but I guess you couldn’t go too wrong because everything we had was fantastic – even the little tempuraed fishies that seemed to be looking at us through the crispy batter covering!  It was a phenomenal assortment of goodies which was thoroughly enjoyed by both of us!IMG_4470.JPG

We wandered around enjoying the city before fastening our life jackets for the return trip through the harbor to Makin Memories.  After another gorgeous evening, we crossed behind Governor’s Island (where Jerry was stationed during his Coast Guard stint) and picked up son Leland and his friend Leanne from Brooklyn for a ride up the Hudson on Father’s Day.  Cruising up the west side of Manhattan was really interesting.  Leland has done some marketing for several realtors and we were able to see some of the projects he has worked on and Leanne, who is a video editor and who has lived in different parts of the city, was able to share some information about some of the newer areas and also gave us insights into some of the commercial areas, so it was a very interesting ride.


Venturing along uptown was an education as well. We passed some buildings in Harlem that have over 1,000 rental units in them!  They are absolutely huge.  We also passed the Cathedral of St. John the Divine which majestically overlooks the Hudson from on high and from there the river became more pastoral, if that term can be applied to New York.  We passed by Yonkers and the Palisades rise high on the other side of the river.  The amount of green is simply amazing this close to NYC.


I also got to see The Little Red Lighthouse Under the Great Gray Bridge, which is a book I want to get for our grand kids for Christmas (YES! There will be two of them by Christmas – Walker is going to have a little sister!)

We reached Croton on Hudson at mid-afternoon and Leland and Leanne grabbed a train back to the city pretty easily as our dockmaster, Steve gave them a ride to the nearby station.  We settled in to clean up the boat as she had been neglected for the week that we were gone plus being anchored out in NY Harbor with no fresh water to clean with had left her a little grungy.  There are about 10-15 Loop boats here and we started to meet other fellow-loopers almost right away.  Many are from the north and so have valuable insights and information to share with us.

The next morning, we rented a car to do some exploring.  We went to Croton Gorge Park which is a 97 acre property that includes access to New York State’s Old Croton Aquaduct and this was a really cool place to visit.  Volunteers were at work erasing the evidence of Father’s Day celebrations that had doubled as overnight animal food from the park that sits at the base of the dam.

croton dam

The Old Croton Dam was built to supply New York City with water and was the first large masonry dam in the United States.  It was completed in 1842 and became the prototype for many municipal water supply dams in the east during the mid-nineteenth century. Of course, it didn’t take long for the city’s needs to outgrow the Croton Dam water supply. So, work began on the New Croton Dam, also called the Cornell Dam due to its location on land purchased from A.B. Cornell, in 1893. The Cornell Dam was completed in 1907 and stands over 200 feet high. The Croton Reservoir has a capacity of about 34 billion gallons of water with a watershed covering 177 square miles and is impressive to look at from the top of the aqueduct.  The spillway beside the dam is active in the spring but was just trickling when we were there in June.  The hike up, walk across and hike back down from the aquaduct and dam was a wonderful way to start the day.


We really focus on creating opportunities to exercise when we are off the boat because we are sitting a lot when we are under way.  So, the next stop was West Point.

So far, we have visited the Air Force Academy and on this trip, we have been to the Citadel Campus, the Naval Academy at Annapolis and the Coast Guard Academy at New London.  It is hard to say which is most impressive as each is so different, though they share the mission of training up our country’s next leaders.  To us, West Point is unique in that it exudes an air of overwhelmingly solid permanency.  The campus looks more like a castle than anything else, with the Hudson River serving as its moat.  The grounds are hewn from granite faces which in turn were used to construct the buildings.  The only flat surfaces were the parade ground and athletic fields and so in spite of the 92 degree (which had a “feels like” of 101!) heat, we spent a few hours climbing up and down hills on “Historic Trails” of rock and newer stairways of concrete or slate.  The views that the campus enjoys of the river are amazing. Sitting on a sweeping bend, it is easy to see how soldiers might have stretched a massive chain across the river to halt the British naval advance up the Hudson.


We managed to visit 3 out of the 6 chapels on campus and were suitably impressed with the grand way in which spirituality is encouraged.


We hated to leave but there was one more stop we wanted to make and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery closed at 4:30.  So, we only had an hour to get to Tarrytown and tour it.  Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is 85 acres in size and has over 40,000 in-ground interments.

 The cemetery is on the Register of National Historic Landmarks based on its embodiment of high artistic values, such as the landscape design of rolling-hilled natural settings, the  works of well-known American architects and sculptors of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries seen in numerous headstones and mausoleums, the major structures such as the Washington Irving Memorial Chapel and the William Rockefeller mausoleum; and the nationally-known individuals buried there including Brooke and Vincent Astor, Major Edward Bowes, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Samuel Gompers, Oswald Villard, Thomas Watson, and, of course, Washington Irving.

We only had 20 minutes to explore prior to closing time and I really regret not having more time because, while these were amazing monuments to self and so were distasteful on that front, the art of the architecture and adornment was astoundingly impressive.

We finished up our time in Croton on Hudson with a 3.5 mile hike through Saw Mill River’s Audubon Sanctuary named Brinton Brook Sanctuary, where we saw deer, squirrels and chipmunks, groundhogs, a couple of garter snakes and various other wildlife and birds.  It has been a lovely, restful time and we are ready now to move on up the Hudson into the region known and the “Rhine of America!”



Landing in the right place

Leaving the pier at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London early last Sunday may not have been our best decision considering the weather forecasted that day.  Weather prognosticators were calling for winds out of the east around a consistent 15 knots with gust to 20 knots and waves near the Fishers Island Sound to be in the vicinity of 2 to 4 feet stretching out the length of Long Island Sound. Jean and I discussed staying at the pier another day and possibly leaving at first light Monday instead, but the forecast for Monday read the same. The rough idea was to cruise to Stamford or Greenwich and anchor out for the evening and then time our approach to the Throgs Neck Bridge the next morning to ride with the current through the East River to New York Harbor and spend a night at Liberty Landing in Jersey City. The next day would be a four or five-hour cruise up the Hudson to Half-Moon Bay Marina and tie the boat up for a week. We had purchased airline tickets in advance for a trip home for a week, and we would then commute to a hotel near LaGuardia Airport and fly out Friday morning. We had planned a couple of weather days into our formula, but we were using those up quickly. Sunday was the kind of day we knew might not be our most comfortable cruise but forecasts are just that, and they could prove to be wrong. Being wrong though can go either way, meaning, the weather could be better or could be worse. 

Jean and I made our preparations for departure and waved good-bye to family as we brought our lines on board and headed out the Thames River. It was a sunny morning with winds out of the east around 10 knots or so and little to no waves in the river. As we reached the mouth and begun our turn west into Long Island Sound, we thought that maybe this cruise would be a little lumpy but not uncomfortable. We turned on the auto-pilot and cruised with the current at 10 to 11 mph for a couple of hours. As we traveled along with the following sea, we began to notice the increase in gusts and the height of the waves. The two to four-foot waves forecasted turned into four to six-foot waves with several rollers higher than that. The high swells would lift the boat up and place it down 45 degrees in the trough, and we would have to quickly steer in the opposite direction to straighten out again. The auto-pilot was turned off, and we steered manually for another hour or so looking for a harbor or river to enter for the day when the steering began to become practically unresponsive. After 50 miles of four to six-foot waves and dodging submerged crab-traps seen at the very last minute, we found a safe haven in the Milford river and headed to Milford Landing Marina. We were met there by 4 marina staff that helped catch lines, run electric and water to us.  I wanted to see if the rudders and shafts were ok and if we had snagged some rope or something that hindered rudder control. I put on a diving suit and went into the water to check underneath the boat. There appeared to be no line wrapped around rudders or shafts, and the rudders were appropriately aligned and tight to the touch. Later I checked the steering compartment and could see nothing amiss so after adding hydraulic oil to the steering reservoir, we settled in for the night and planned a first light departure for the next day.  

Jean and I departed Milford the next morning at 630am and headed back out into Long Island Sound. The steering still felt off, and the waves were still high. I went to the steering compartment as Jean steered and I immediately saw that the pedestal that held the steering cylinder and auto-pilot arm was cracked and was separating from the hull and ready to break off. We immediately turned around and using propellor thrust only, headed back to the marina. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the auto-pilot arm was sheared off and that while the steering components were in working order, there was no stable platform for the steering gear to function upon. We were fortunate that a highly recommended marine boatyard was located next store we would call them when they opened.  

We tied up in the Milford Landing Marina and waited for staff to arrive and discuss the possibility of leaving the boat there for a week or so and having fiberglass work done in the steering compartment by the Milford Boat Works next store while we are away. I was happy to learn that the manager of the marina followed our blog and had heard of Makin Memories and followed us since Key West. We talked about the loop, and he hopes to begin the loop in a year or so with his wife. The boatyard next to us has been in business for over 80 years and sent a person over to inspect the damage first thing that morning and will repair the steering with the boat in the water at the marina. 

We learned several new lessons as well as being reminded of many old lessons as well. When I first started to research the loop I read a post that said that the number one rule is  “thou shall have NO schedule.” Weather and mechanical can put you into decision-making loops that can be harmful to you and your boat. Our cruise Sunday was very close to breaking that rule. Fortunately, we were able to find positive alternatives. This could have been much more dangerous than it turned out to be. A second lesson is that pushing for high mileage day after day can sap your energy and effect your decision-making as well. The joy is in the journey and not the destination.  A lesson that I personally learned is that I will need to be much more thorough in my inspections and to follow-up every suspicion that may arise and test before getting underway.  

Lastly, I want to thank the individuals at Milford Landing Marina and Milford Boat Works for their professionalism, responsiveness, and friendliness to boaters in need. Our impression of Milford is that it is a great community and it is evident in the people that we have met there.

Music on the Loop

Very often, when we have long travel days and the scenery is a lot of water and not much else, we listen to a variety of podcasts.  Some are personal narratives like Story Corps, others are more science-based information like TED Radio Hour and Story Collider and still others are psychology-work stuff like Adam Grant’s fantastic Work-Life podcast.  We are always learning something new, which we love, especially when what we learn plays out in what we experience in our own lives.

One recent podcast included an interview with one of my favorites, Benjamin Xander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, talking about how music affects people at an atomic level and that it actually changes us as we listen to it.  It is a universal language which all people understand and it can bring us closer in community with each other when we experience it together.

We have experienced a lot of different kinds of music on this trip, man-made and natural  (this post got too long so the natural music will have to be a separate post) and both have provided unique experiences for us to change and grow in different kinds of appreciation.

Human Music

The human music comes from many different instruments, in many different venues and can be produced by solos or ensembles of various sizes and we have experienced a wide variety of them.

The alto sax lifting patriotic strains into the evening in Alexandria helps support a veteran who would rather earn by giving than by taking.

Washington Square in Manhattan is full of kids’ birthday parties, people sunning themselves for the first time in the warm spring air and couples for whom privacy does not appear to be a concern.  A sole violinist coaxes sweet and sad notes into being, accompanied by the nearby fountain’s tumbling water.  People all around him breathe deeply as if pulling his melody into their very beings.

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In Islamorada, a lone acoustic guitar and its cowboy lament against magenta and burnt orange sunset streaks and provide a backdrop rather than a blanket for the conversations bubbling at the cabana bar and beach tables.  The songs grow sadder as the sun sets (isn’t that the destiny of most country music?) and contrast nicely with the escalating cheer of the audience.


Drawing near to Grace Episcopal Church, in Charleston, the sweet strains of boys’ voices waft from the doorway and we scurry inside only to be shushed and to have tickets thrust at us and seats pointed out after we pay for them.  We tiptoe in and sit on a side aisle, completely awed by the beauty of the church and the music that fills it.  White marble walls uphold gleaming arches overhead and every vault is filled with clear notes of almost impossibly complicated harmonies.  The voices of the Canterbury Cathedral Choir send shivers down our spines and all who are gathered seem to sit up straighter to catch each and every note, united in sublime appreciation.


In Mystic Seaport Museum, the tiny chapel is all dark wood and hand-turned benches.  A carved, marble conch shell sits on a pedestal in one corner, serving as a baptismal font and a foot-pedaled organ sits in the other.


A small group is gathered to listen to songs and stories of whalers and whale boats and the young man sitting in front of the altar has a scattering of stringed instruments around him.  His fingers fly almost too quickly to see over the face of a well-loved banjo, with holes worn in its surface hide, reminding me of Willie Nelson’s beloved guitar.


Between songs, the man explains how sea chanteys were used to coordinate and maximize the work of the ship and to keep men motivated by taking their minds off the physical labor required to run a ship, especially after the time of Bonaparte when ships’ crews were slashed to a fraction of their former size (15 men doing the work of 40!).  And then he demonstrates the effort expended in raising a sail and how the lines move with halting inefficiency without song and how much more smoothly and efficiently they move when coordinated with the rhythm of a chantey.   We actually get to try this out when we are conscripted to help set the mainsail on the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship the next day and singing a call-and-response chantey in unison  really does work to streamline our group’s efforts!


The next song paints a picture of whalers being paid at the end of their voyages, which could be 2 years or more, and how that made them easy marks when they got to town.  This often reversed the vow of never going to sea again because a sailor who had lost all of his money on wine, women and song had no choice but to sign onto another ship and go whaling once more.


The last song explains that stopping in port could be costly in terms of crew retention. So, whale boat captains often went to isolated places, like the springs on the Galapagos Islands to replenish their fresh water supplies because “if a whaler was going to stop in heaven and hell, and that vessel stopped in hell first, half the crew would jump ship.”

Sorry this is sideways – just listen, it isn’t about the video!


The man’s voice is warm and rich and his eyes twinkle merrily as he changes some of the more salty lyrics to suit the grandmother who has 3 granddaughters under the age of 5 snuggled up against her.  You know you are successful, as a performer, when the little ones aren’t squirming and are clapping and tapping along with your music!

We are fortunate to have really special friends who are taking great care of us, even long distance.  It has been a blessing to know that even though we are not physically present in Tarpon Springs, we are still maintaining our relationships there through our blog, FaceBook posts, emails and IM’s.  We are so blessed to live in this age of connectedness.  Some of our friends write newsy letters or texts, other have sent Prosecco for times of celebration; some have made sure we have a way to grill onboard, others are watching our insurance and investment concerns and still others provide work updates or stay connected to us by responding with suggestions of things to do and see as we disclose our progressive whereabouts.

Rotarian, Joan Jennings lived Rotary’s “Service Above Self” motto when she asked if we would like to see the Broadway musical, Hamilton while we were in New York.  We immediately made plans to stay an extra day when her contact came through for us.  We made a day of it, taking the water taxi from our marina in Jersey City across to lower Manhattan and walking up the 7+ miles to Broadway, stopping to window shop and grab small bites at various places along the way.  Living on a boat where there is little space and less desire to fill it, makes window shopping about the only kind of shopping we do other than for groceries.

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The atmosphere in the theater was electric as we waited for the doors to open.  People had waited eons for these tickets and we felt very humbled to walk in and have the manager of the theater show us to seats in the 8th row.

Neither of us was familiar with the music prior to experiencing it, which made it that much more powerful.  The passion, precision and talent of the voices in the cast were unequaled and we were swept back into the history of the time on a sea of music that might be termed a melange of show-tune soul, rap/hip-hop and dancehall ballads.  Lin-Manuel Miranda took a theater full of strangers and turned us into comrades, who laughed, cried and jumped to our feet, as one, to applaud this amazing production.

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In Greenwich, Connecticut, spring signals the annual Town Party at the harbor.

21 10A huge sound stage is set up near the water and a large tent is reserved for those willing to pay $1500 for unlimited food and adult beverages.  The grassy areas around the harbor have towels and chairs set out early in the morning, reserving space for those of not such affluent means. Boats start to fill nearby slips and are rafting together from mooring balls.  Pretty soon it is questionable whether there is room to safely fit any more boats in the small basin and yet they keep coming, snaking their way between those already secured and giving those of us watching heart attacks!

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Music plays all day, starting with local and regional bands but people are more intent on being seen or partying with friends and family until darkness starts to settle around the harbor.

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Everyone has come to hear Eric Clapton play tonight and when he takes the stage, quiet falls and his unmistakable voice and guitar reach out across the water.  Between songs, boat horns blare and people cheer each of the favorites that he has chosen to play for this party.  Cell phones are raised high to capture sound and sight, preserving it for later.  We sit on the fantail of our boat with our dear cousins next to us, in the best seats in the house.  Only residents of Greenwich can dock here and my cousin has arranged a slip for us where we are out of the general mayhem and where we aren’t threatened with permanent hearing damage either!

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We sip prosecco by candlelight and as the concert ends, watch with bated breath as over a hundred boats try to exit the narrow channel simultaneously, in the dark and mostly under the influence. It is harrowing to watch and at one point we shine our big spotlight on an overloaded john-boat that has almost no freeboard and definitely has no running lights so that the forty-footer bearing down on it will see it and slow down.  Seeing the little boat must come as a shock to whomever is captaining the forty-footer because s/he throws the boat into reverse, causing serious consternation to the boats lined up like bowling pins behind and beside him.  For now, the 8 people in the John-boat are safe and our evening of music ends on a high-note!

Lastly, before we embarked, dear friends Faith and Tom Trask made a mix-CD of songs, aptly entitled, “Songs for Loopers 2018,” which we play on wireless sound systems provided by BJ Coleman and Kristopher and Rachel Sandberg.  The songs bring us closer to younger versions of ourselves and to our family and friends.


And sometimes you just have to dance on a flying bridge while travelling the Loop.  How did you all know that and we didn’t?!?!?




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