Out with the Old, In with the New!

After owning and nurturing Thalia for 14 years, it is time to move on. Thalia is now up for sale at Navy Point Marine, in Sackets Harbor, NY, and we have bought a new boat! Our future adventures will now be onboard a brand new 2018 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 440.

If you had asked me several months ago if we would ever sell Thalia, I would have told you an emphatic “NO”! She had taken us up and down the East Coast, to the Canadian Maritimes, and to the Caribbean. The year we spent with the boys onboard filled our family bank with priceless memories. And our most recent adventure this summer, breaking into new territory in the Great Lakes and the canals, was more beautiful and charming than we could have imagined. Thalia was at her finest sailing us across the waters of our choosing with ease and grace, and at the end of the day we could enjoy her new amenities, including this year’s new dodger and varnished mahogany cockpit.

But, alas, we ended up at the Annapolis boat show in October, walking the docks and the decks of as many new boats as we could manage during the show’s opening hours. Through it all, I remembered why we had not gone to a boat show in the last 14 years. Seeing all the shiny new boats, I knew the temptations would be too strong! The wheels had been set in motion when we listed our boat for sale with Navy Point Marine and realized they were a Jeanneau dealer. And conveniently, we hauled out a week before the Annapolis boat show. And, OK, I’ll come clean by admitting that there were a few days in the summer that I had been browsing the Jeanneau website and accidentally left a page open of a new beauty, as Karen was taking over the watch!

The Jeanneau 440 is their newest generation of cruising boat design and has some very appealing features, the most notable of which is an inclining side deck that leads around the helm into the cockpit, making the transition from cockpit to deck very smooth. Unlike a lot of sailors that keep getting bigger boats, we are downsizing with this new boat, but Jeanneau has done a fantastic job with the use of space, making it feel very similar to the size of Thalia.

With the Jeanneau plant in France, we opted to take delivery in the Mediterranean. If all goes as planned, she will be bobbing in the water in late Spring, ready for us to grab the reins and start exploring the Med. More news to come as it gets closer! In the meantime, if you want a fantastic long distance cruising boat, check out this listing! The wonderful folks at Navy Point will take good care of you.

End of a Chapter, End of a Season

All good things must come to an end. At least that is what Geoffrey Chaucer said in 1374, and for his sake, I sure hope that 1375 brought Geoffrey many more good things. Because Karen and I had an amazing summer of travel onboard Thalia this year and we sure hope more fun is in store for next year.

We brought Thalia to her new winter home at Navy Point Marine, in Sackets Harbor, New York this week. It was a whirlwind of a week, not the least of which was due to a weather pattern that started out in the low 90’s and ended in the mid 40’s. We had been blessed with three weeks of sunshine and warm temperatures in the Thousand Islands, so it was fitting that the cold weather would catch up to us eventually. It took Karen and I four days to unload the boat and winterize it for her long winter nap. She has now been hauled out and is in the fine care of the staff at Navy Point Marine. For our part,  we hope the winter is gentle in the North Country so that Thalia can easily rise to the task of another adventure, on the St Lawrence River and beyond.

Karen and I were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity this summer to explore and discover the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. And we had a fine boat that took us wherever we wanted to go in comfort and safety. Thalia weathered hurricane force winds, shallow canal waters, jagged concrete lock walls, skinny bays and coves, lighting and squalls, and even two teenage intruders. But she was also a platform for reunions with friends, old and new, and a waterfront dining extravaganza. As the days get shorter, and the temperatures drop, we will look back fondly on the tremendous uniqueness of the Great Lakes, the generosity and sincerity of it’s people, and the incredible natural beauty.

Thank you for following along on our adventure and for your comments and support. We look forward to sharing the next chapter of our adventure with you. Until then, I’d recommend locating a nice puffy down jacket and at least one thick pair of wool socks!

Thalia being hauled out at Navy Point Marine
Appropriately, our last night at Sackets was graced with a beautiful sunset, viewed from the historic War of 1812 battlefield

Islands a-Plenty

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

-John Donne

While I agree that ‘no man is an island’ but part of a greater whole, poet John Donne could not have know when he wrote these words in 1624 that the Thousand Islands area could capture many a man (and woman) in it’s warm and tender embrace.

Thousand Islands, between New York and Ontario

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Try, and try again! The Life of a Sailor

Our New Companion!

We are back on the boat after taking our youngest son to college. As you’ll recall, we left Thalia in Toronto so it was a long drive home and back. Our dog “Journey” is now on board with us. Journey is a ten-year-old cross between a black lab, a blood hound and several other breeds. Journey has become less excited about being on the boat as he has aged. He gets anxious when we heal or if we are slamming through waves. While our son was home working this summer, it was nice to have Journey able to stay home; but with our son going to college, Journey had to come with us! This will be an adjustment for all three of us.

We decided to make our first day out with Journey a shorter one so we stopped at Port Whitby, a 27 mile sail from Toronto. Continue reading “Try, and try again! The Life of a Sailor”

Flushed Out, We Say Good Bye To Lake Erie

I’ll just get it out at the beginning. Leaving Detroit behind and entering Lake Erie, we were both a bit apprehensive. Apart from the tasty mojitos at Put-in-Bay on our way through last time, Lake Erie had not been very kind to us. Bugs, hurricane-force winds, shallows – I would have been perfectly happy finding a portkey of the kind Harry Potter would discover to take us directly to Lake Ontario. But being mere Muggles, we were going to have to do this ourselves.

The action adventure got off to an immediate start as we were pushed down the Detroit River, running with the strong current directly into an opposing wind, what we affectionately call the Buzzards Bay effect, as it is reminiscent of being flushed out the Cape Cod Canal into Buzzards Bay with it’s prevailing SW winds and step square waves.

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Life in the Fast Lane

Just a quick note to let you all know that we are working on our next blog post, but in the meantime we have been busy off the boat moving our son Caleb into college. He will be attending Wentworth Institute of Technology, in downtown Boston.

It’s amazing how much distance you can cover in a car going 70mph! It was a 12 hour drive home from Toronto, and then 14 hours back a week later. We are settled now on the boat and getting ready to tackle Lake Ontario, as we make our way east from Toronto, albeit at a much slower pace. The upside is that we gained a passenger in the process, our dog Journey!

More to come soon.

Move in day at Wentworth Institute
Our new passenger, Journey, nestled into the quarter berth

A Word From The IT Department

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If you simply go directly to our website to read the blog, then you can ignore this message.

Thumbin’ It

I’m not sure if being born in 1963 qualifies me as a child of the 60’s, as I was still in diapers during Woodstock, but the concept of thumbing your way across the country is certainly appealing. In the present context, that means hitching a ride on the winds of the Great Lakes around the coast of Michigan. And what better coast to hitch along than one that Michiganders whimsically portray as the outline of a thumbing hand!

Map courtesy of: thefiresidecollective.com

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Explorations of Lake Michigan

Our last post was from Mackinaw City just before we were to leave Lake Huron to pass under the Big Mac (the suspension bridge that connects upper and lower Michigan and also represents the line between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan). The waters here are called the ‘Mackinaw Straits’ and since this is a relatively small passage between two huge bodies of water the conditions must be considered before navigating through in anything other than a large ship! We passed under with sunny skies and light breezes which was just fine with me. This image shows our ports of call for this episode – our anchorage/dockage locations are marked by the stars and the arrows show our path of transit. Facts on Lake Michigan can be found at the end of the blog.

Our Time in Lake Michigan

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Big Mac Attack

When an island has everything you need – beautiful clear water, rocky pink shores with deep woods, wild blueberries that grace your pancakes in the morning, and bonfires around which you develop new friendships – it is hard to say goodbye. But that was the Benjamins, and although goodbyes don’t come easy, they are a reality in the cruising world.

Nearby, at Hotham Island, we had been tipped off by a fellow North Channel cruiser that if we played our cards right, we could be invited ashore for happy hour. As it turned out, the invite came easily, as Elaine came kayaking around the anchorage with a friendly welcome and an invite. The rules were easy enough. Bring something to drink, bring a small food item to pass, and take home your own garbage. Sounded good to us!

Norm and Elaine’s little slice of heaven

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