A Year and More of Catching Up!

Wow!  It has been a very long time since this blog was updated.  Somehow we have managed to not find the time – more like the incentive to update this very overdue blog.  We did last post on our trip getting down to Florida from the Chesapeake Bay, but left out the Kadey Krogen Rendezvous.  Oops!  Well, here’s a snippet of what happened.

We left off in Chrisfield, where Pauline had an opportunity to do some crabbing. From there, we headed across the Chesapeake Bay and back north to Solomons, MD for the Kadey Krogen Rendezvous. This is an annual 6 day get-together for owners and their Kadey Krogen boats. Wouldn’t you know it, a hurricane (Matthew) decided to make it’s way toward us and it was looking like the Rendezvous might be cancelled. There were already about 24 boats who had arrived and were docked – including us. We (along with almost everyone else there) made plans to have the boat hauled out and be put on the hard. We rented a car and a pet-friendly hotel to wait it out. And, then a day before it was all to happen, the hurricane decided to veer off and out to sea. We were all happy to see that happen! Never a dull moment in the boating world. So it was full steam ahead, let the partying begin! Watching all of these boats dock is an amazing feat.  The guys in charge of positioning the boats certainly knew what they were doing.

A great time was had by all over the next few days. Lots of laughter, learning, eating and drinking. It was fun to do the Krogen Dock Walk and get to see all Krogen’s of shapes and sizes. It’s very true when they say “When you’ve seen one Kadey Krogen, you’ve seen one Kadey Krogen”. Even though the hull shapes are very similar, what each and every person does inside of the boat is amazing. It’s always great to share ideas and comments about what one has done to their boat to make it more livable for them. Kadey Krogen is outstanding at listening to their owners on thoughts about how to improve on the newer boats.

The last night was a fabulous New England dinner provided by Kadey Krogen Yachts, with lobster of course!  Included were Dark and Stormy’s and the famous Krogen Punch.  After dinner, it was dancing, a bit of it done in the muddy grass under the tent.  If you can’t handle a little muck, you shouldn’t be a boater! (Note to our Breckenridge friends, you may recognize Susan Weeks and Al Halverstadt, at the dinner table. They have a KK42, TwoCan.

And then it was time to start heading south for the winter.  It was so interesting to watch each boat pull away and make way for the next boat to exit.  Almost like unravelling a knitted chain braid.  The Kadey Krogen Rendezvous is such a fun event, seeing old KK friends, along with some new, and we also met some nice future KK owners.  If you’re thinking of buying a Kadey Krogen, you should definitely attend one of these events if you have the opportunity.

We, instead of turning south, turned north and returned to Annapolis further up the Chesapeake. We spent 4 days, showing our boat in the Annapolis KK open house. KK used our boat for test drives for serious prospects. It was the last commitment we had them with them to show our boat as part of our build contract.  They also had a professional photographer photograph our boat. The pictures are in the new KK48 sales brochure. Pauline even gave a brief interview, which is on the Kadey Krogen website.

Then we turned south and had 14 days to travel 1100 miles to get our boat down to Stuart, Florida by November 1st, when we had a reservation at Sunset Bay Marina, last years winter layover spot. While in Stuart, we decided  to have sun shades made for our aft cockpit (also serves as a cat “Cage”.) More boat dollars $$$$$.  But it has turned out to be one of the best investments we’ve made on the boat.  It provides coverage from the sun, but also gives us privacy in our aft cockpit when in marinas.  It really does feel like we have another room back there.  And, of course, it’s very beneficial in allowing the cats to go outside without having to be watched.  We close all of the shades except the center back piece, where they are able to look out.  They have never wanted to jump from there to the swim platform.  We keep the companionway door closed so they can’t wander.  They love being out back there watching all of the activity going on around us.

We got lucky with the weather for a change. Only having two weather hold days on the entire run south. Since we had come up the coast the prior June, we were much more familiar with the ICW and knew where the good anchorages, marina’s and shallow spots were located. We did have some issues due to the damage caused by hurricane Matthew in October once we reached the Carolinas.  A couple of the draw bridges south of the Cape Fear River were still out of commission, so passage down the ICW was impossible if a boat’s air draft exceeded 15 feet, as ours does. We were forced to go out into to Atlantic Ocean, and run outside down the coast. We had been planning to do so anyway, because ocean “jumps” as they are called, are much quicker and far less stressful; deep water,  able to run on autopilot for hours at a time, instead of hand steering down twisting waterways. Our first jump was from Bald Head Island, NC to Charleston, SC a run of 16 hours.  Weather and waves were OK, not great. Charleston is a major seaport with much commercial ocean freighters going in and out 24 hours a day. We timed our departure so that we would arrive at the outer channel buoy at daybreak, after a moonless night passage. What we didn’t take into consideration was a south setting current which got us there one hour before daybreak. When we got within 3 miles of our turn into the 5 mile long entrance channel, there were 13 blips on our radar! Three or four were stationary, anchored awaiting a dock assignment, the rest were all either converging on the channel or departing. Did we mention it was a moonless, pitch black night. So all we could see were a lot of red, green and white lights when looking out of the pilot house window. However, with the help of radar and AIS (a new radio based positioning/identification system, all commercial boats carry), we could avoid any close calls. Once we got to the channel entrance, because of our 5 foot draft vs a freighters 35ft draft, we were able to run just outside the navigation buoys and not get run over. The sun rose just as we entered Charleston’s inner harbor.

We had originally planned to anchor and get a couple hours of sleep in clam waters, and then head south on the ICW. However, when we woke up at noon, we had a decent weather forecast for the next 24 -36 hours so we decided to go into a marina, stay the night, then depart early the next morning for a 24 hour run down to the St. Mary’s river inlet on the Florida/Georgia border. It’s an wide, deep water, well lit, all-weather inlet because there is a submarine base just inside.

We departed as the sun rose and set a straight course to the inlet. Our course took us 60 miles offshore, because of how the coast of Georgia curves. Well, the weather forecast was somewhat optimistic. After midnight, instead of 2 to 4 foot waves on our beam (side) and 15 knot winds, Mother Nature decided to treat us to 4 to 6 foot (occasional 8 ft) seas on our beam and the wind was 20-23 knots. Since it was pitch black, we couldn’t see them, but we sure could feel them! The boat handles such conditions just fine, but our cats didn’t, we drugged them with anti-motion pills as much as we could, but they literally didn’t move for 12 hours.  We reached the St. Mary’s inlet just at sunrise and since we had the wind and tide with us,  it was an easy entry.

After just a couple of river miles, the ICW crosses so we turned south at Fernandina Beach, FL. On the way north we stayed a the nice municipal marina there, but hurricane Matthew had completely wiped out the marina leaving just a few pilings, no restaurants, bath house, marina office or fuel dock.

We hadn’t planned to stop there so it wasn’t an issue for us.  But what was an issue was the extremely shallow water. The stretch of the ICW from Fernandina Beach to the St. John’s river is notoriously shallow, but the hurricane rearranged the sand bars and made them even more shallow. Fortunately, we weren’t the first boat through last fall. The first boats felt their way thru and posted the winding course on Active Captain for all subsequent boats.  Active Captain is a crowd sourced web-based, free service that warns boaters of hazards, and provides marina and anchorage descriptions and ratings. They have virtually put paper based cruising guides out of business.

So after crawling along at 3 knots with 12 inches of water below the keel in spots, we finally reached the St. John’s river.  We had planned to find a marina in the area, but were feeling surprisingly good after our long night on the ocean, we kept going and anchored a couple of miles above St. Augustine, FL.  We slept well at anchor that night in a beautiful spot.

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The next few days were a rush to get to Stuart down the ICW, the weather outside was too rough to run down the coast.  We met up with Alexandra and Christopher on Sweet Ride, a KK 44AE and Gail and Chris Wilkinson on Tortuga, a KK42 in a marina the next night in Daytona Beach. We gathered for cocktails, appetizers and shared stories aboard Next Dance.  It was great fun to catch up with them.  We left the next morning and travelled with Sweet Ride,  the rest of the way.  Tortuga was less in a hurry, so they smelled the roses on the way down. We anchored one more night and made Stuart at 4:00 p.m. the final day.  All the way down the Florida ICW we saw many beached and sunk boats and damaged . But we were happy to see that Sunset Bay Marina, in Stuart, located 12 miles inland on the St. Lucie river, had no damage. We were greeted by many KK friends that we last saw at the Rendezvous.

We’re going to close it here for now.  The next issue, will take us from Stuart, FL to Longboat Key, where we spent the winter season from January to the end of March 2017.

Until then, fair winds and follow seas.

Pauline & Mark Masuhr (and boat cats, Ming and Pema)

 

 

 

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