Spring Came Late This Year (2014)

Well, late for me anyway!

The marina has a policy of everyone being in the water by Memorial Day.  This is good because it keeps the travel lift schedule full and discourages those who procrastinate launch for real or imagined reasons.

But, for those of use who have 10 gallons of projects and a 5 gallon completion bucket, it doesn’t work out very well!

This year, I had elected to replace part of my standing rigging (just the forestay) and also decided to replace all of my running rigging as well.  Plus,  I was adding a new anchor light, combination steaming and foredeck light, new VHF/AIS antenna and, of course, everything had to be snaked, routed and pulled up the length of Amalia’s 30 foot mast.

Oh, did I neglect to mention that I had a worn-out cutless bearing that had to be replaced before the splash?

I don’t recall that the spring was particularly late as far as the snow leaving and temperatures making it tolerable to spend afternoons on projects on the hard, but it definitely seemed that my pre-splash project bucket had grown to about 50 gallons and most of this work hadn’t even been started by Mid-May.

I began to get some of these things done but didn’t realize that the events around the (apparently) simple task of replacing the cutless bearing would take quite that long!

A Winter Storage Voyage – A Tearable Journey

N ot all voyages take you somewhere different.  Some times, a voyage starts and ends in the same place – but things happen in between.

That’s the story with the winter storage voyage of 2013/2014 which started well and ended – let’s just say less well.  Possibly tearably!

It all started with the purchase of Amalia and my discovery that the improper shrink-wrapping job would require a complete hull (freeboard) paint job.  Sadly, this could have been avoided had the PO (previous owner) taken the time to pull the mast down and use the custom canvas cover that came with the boat.

So, when it came time to put it pull it for winter storage last October,  Kevin and I pulled the mast, dropped her on the massive oak cradle and covered her up for a long winter’s nap.  I was amazed that I was able to wrestle that massive cover up over her horizontal mast and deck and have it tied down in about an hour.

Asleep for the winter of 2013/2014 at Muskegon Conservation Club on her sturdy Oak cradle.
Asleep for the winter of 2013/2014 at Muskegon Conservation Club on her sturdy Oak cradle.

I came back within a few weeks and added the custom end-of-the-mast sleeves that I’d made to keep even more wind and weather from entering the coccoon.

And, there she sat for an epoch winter season with more cold and more snow than anyone had seen for many years. I started checking up on her in January and made trips out in February, March and early April to begin pre-launch activities and start upgrades and repairs.  I was delighted to see how well she weathered this ball-buster winter under her snug canvas cover.

Cover removed on cockpit

So, it was a complete surprise when I came out to continue my cutless bearing project during the week of April 14 to find that I no longer had a boat-draping, custom canvas cover over my craft.

Instead (see phontos) I had a variety of torn canvas pieces draped around the base of the cradle.  This was not a cover with a few tears, this was a pile of canvas pieces!

While I had heard about the severe storms, massive rains and high winds (up to 75mph, straight-line) on the news, I hadn’t given it much thought until I saw the results.

My custom “cover” is now residing in the back of my Explorer for a detailed examination to see if I should use it to build a new cover or make repairs and some desired modifications.

Oh, did I mention that, after being covered all winter with the hatch boards in and front hatch just “cracked” for ventilation, the now uncovered boat had been left (pre-windstorm) with the hatch boards out and v-berth hatch wide open?  So, there was actually a bit of frozen snow on top of the engine cover inside and iced-over cockpit drains in the cockpit.

It could have been much worse and I’m grateful it wasn’t.  If I have any area of the cover that is torn in the future, I will repair it before it is subjected to storm disassembly!

Do You Really Want To Do This All Alone?

Want to?  No, not really.  Certainly not the whole trip.

Willing to?  Yes, but it will be much nicer, easier and more fun to have some companionship.

And this is where you come in!

If you go to the  Great Loop website or study that Great Loop Map, you’ll see that this trip traverses some of the prettiest, wildest, most historic and nature-filled real estate in this country that can really only be accessed effectively from a boat.

There is plenty to see and lots of opportunity to chill and enjoy moving slow.  While a good portion of this route makes movement by sail possible, the majority is done by motoring at 5-6 miles per hour.  That means that most days that we are moving all day, we won’t generally travel more than 30-40 miles and never at night.

So, there is plenty of time to snooze, read, listen to music and just soak in the experience.  And, Amalia is very receptive to having one or two guests at a time with pretty comfortable accommodations.

Technically, she has berths for up to six.  The bed in the main saloon (main area of the cabin) is supposed to be for two – but you’d better be either tiny adults or children to sleep two up here.  That bed is very comfortable for one.

The V-berth up forward is very comfortable for two.  And, unless I convert one of them into storage space before the trip, the two quarter berths in the stern are good for one each.

But, as my Dad had said many years ago when he had a small camping trailer:  “Yeah, it’ll sleep 5 but you better not have more than three for breakfast!”

So, with the possible exception of a few teenage grandchildren who might be willing to rough it a bit, I think one or two guests would be the most desirable.

So, if you think you’d like to accompany us for 1-2 weeks – or even longer – here is what you want to consider.

  1. What part of the trip would you like to visit?  As a reminder, it is 2 months or so going down to the Gulf, another couple around Florida, a few more up the East coast to NYC and the Hudson and the Erie Canal and summer sailing on the Great Lakes.
  2. How will you meet up with me and then head home?  With the exception of the river trip down to Mobile which is not really near any airports, the rest of the trip can easily be a fly down to Pensacola and fly home from Fort Lauderdale or into NYC home from Buffalo or anything in between.  This is particularly true on the portion from Florida up to New York with most of the time spent inside on the Intercoastal.  If you look at the map. you’ll see plenty of come and go possibilities.
  3. You won’t need any money for the trip itself except to kick in a few bucks for food and drink aboard or meals ashore.  Depending on how long you stay, you’ll also need funds for doing your laundry, souvenirs and maybe a bit of bail money.  Hopefully not!

If you think you want to consider coming aboard for a portion or portions of the trip, just email me or call and we can kick it around.


616-Three Zero Four- 2 3 Four Five

An Introduction


Let me start of by saying that my “plan” is to take my Amalia on a 6,000 mile trip starting on or about September 22, 2015).

I know that is ambitious because there are a variety of obstacles in my way – not the least of which is $$$$ to make this trip.  But that is not going to stop me if I can help it!

IMG_2904IMG_2900 IMG_2902 IMG_2905

There will be much more detail about the planning and execution of this adventure in later posts, but let me fill you in on what is involved.

If you take a look at this map of The Great Loop, you’ll see that this trip is a circumnavigation of the Eastern half of the US.

  • Muskegon to South Haven to Michigan City to Chicago and into the Chicago River.
  • Down to the Illinois River and on to the Upper Mississippi river.
  • Up the Ohio River to the Tennessee River
  • Down the Tennessee to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway
  • Into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay
  • Around the West coast of Florida to either cut across the center through Lake Okeechobe to the East coast, or
  • Down the remainder of the West coast down to Key West and up through the keys to the East Coast Intercoastal Waterway.
  • Up the East cost ICW (with some sailing “outside” to New York City.
  • Up the Hudson River to join the Erie Canal.
  • Erie Canal to Buffalo and on to Lake Erie
  • Lake Erie to Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, Lake Huron and eventually through the Straits of Mackinaw to Lake Michigan
  • Down the West coast of Michigan to Amalia’s home port of Muskegon.

Probably the best introduction to what this trip is and what it entails can be found at this excellent site put together to capture the experiences and adventures of the thousands of boaters who’ve made this great voyage:  America’s Great Loop.

If I am ready with the many upgrades I’m making to Amalia and feel that the financial situation will allow, I’ll begin the trip in early to mid-September.

Here is the tentative plan.

  • Muskegon to South Haven to Michigan City Chicago.  Since I’ll be solo, I didn’t think a night lake crossing across 14 shipping lanes would be a good idea.
  • Go into the Chicago River lock and begin the river journey.
  • Step the mast (put it up) in Mobile, do some repairs and winterizing and haul for yard storage while I go back home from about early December through mid-April.
  • Return to Florida by Mid-April and continue to leisurely cruise for another two and one half months in Florida and maybe the Bahamas and haul and store again by about July 1.
  • Implement whatever plan we can make if Vickie is available to join me.  If not, come back to continue by January 2017.

Oh, did I mention that I’m doing this alone (at least part of or majority of the time)?  Yup!  It isn’t a matter of choice so much as practicality.

While I am retired – except for my Summer job at West Marine and Communications Consulting work here and there – Vickie is a mere child and won’t turn 62 until June 27, 2016.  This is opposition to my (supposed) Geezer status of being nearly 68.

Even if she is able to retire next July 1, I don’t want to think that I could have health problems that may get in the way of this adventure and have decided to let her stay behind – except for a few weeks when she is able to join me in thrilling destinations, of course!

So, I’ll be alone.  Unless you want to join me!  See “Do You Really Want To Be Alone” post.