Friday, October 26, 2007


You can stay in New York City for thirty bucks a night if you bring your boat. We picked up a mooring on the Hudson River at 79th Street and were very comfortable there. The next stage of our journey would take us “outside” on the North Atlantic Ocean, so we had to wait in New York City for weather to make that passage.

Meanwhile, we explored Manhattan. One evening we walked down Broadway to Lincoln Center, and heard The Marriage of Figaro at the Met. Sat in the second row, center, right behind the conductor. Those seats are not generally prized, as he does tend to obstruct the view, but we thought it was fun to sit there, and the sound was superb.

When the forecast was right, we headed out, past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, around Sandy Hook, and into the Atlantic. We boomed down the New Jersey Coast at about 9 knots in a 20 knot offshore wind all day and all night and then the next day ran up Delaware Bay in nearly calm conditions. It was perfect two day weather window for the trip.

To get from Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay, we took the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, a 12 mile long sea level ditch that is big enough for ships 800 feet long. It must have taken a lot of digging to build that canal, but it was worth it. It cuts hundreds of miles off the trip from Baltimore to Philadelphia for the big ships, and for us it meant continuing our trip south in the relative shelter of Chesapeake Bay.

At this writing, we are again waiting for weather, this time in Annapolis. The winds are contrary and it has rained constantly for 3 days. We haven't seen this much rain since the Des Moines flood of '93! Annapolis is the yachtsman's mecca filled with all the parts, fabricators and repair facilities you can only dream about in other parts of the world.


After arriving in the USA from Canada, it took just 10 minutes for the Customs officer to figure out we weren’t drug runners or terrorists and clear us and Seabbatical into the United States.

Next, we started our 4-day journey through the New York State canal and lock system. The locks, in a series of about 30 steps, lifted us up over the Catskill Mountains and down to near sea level at Troy, New York. Upon entering a lock, it is your job to carefully bring your boat alongside a cement wall and grab on to the slimy, disgusting lines that hang down from the walls. Then the lockmaster closes the lock doors and adjusts the water level to the level of the next step while you keep the boat alongside the wall by holding onto the lines. Sometimes we felt like rock stars as we smoothly brought in the boat and made the vertical adjustment. Other times, mostly depending on the direction and speed of the wind, we felt as awkward as a middle school boy asking a girl to dance for the first time.

At the quaint town of Catskill, NY the mast was lifted by a crane and guided into place. Rigging and lines were then adjusted and Seabbatical was once again a sailboat.

The trip down the Hudson was magical. Autumn leaves, 19th Century light houses, Vanderbilt mansions, West Point and then finally the George Washington Bridge and the skyline of New York City. Quite a ride.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Lake Ontario is a huge body of water that can have ocean sized waves in windy weather. We took advantage of the absolutely still night of October 5 to cross from Whitby, Ontario to Oswego, New York. The lake was as flat as a mirror and the only wind was that which we created as we motored across. It was a peaceful, beautifully clear night with the planet Mars sparkling like a diamond pendant below the smile of a crescent moon.

Upon arrival at Oswego, we tied up to the municipal dock waiting for a Monday visit from Customs to clear us into the USA. Then we waited another day because a big barge was blocking the whole Oswego Canal a few miles ahead. Seabbatical is too wide to get through until the barge was removed.


On August 24, Seabbatical was moved overland from the PDQ factory to Port Whitby Marina in Whitby, Ontario. (Whitby is on the north shore of Lake Ontario about a 45 minute drive east of Toronto.) Once Seabbatical was in the water, the commissioning crew set to work rigging, testing systems and cleaning.

We drove a rented truck full of boat equipment from Des Moines to Whitby and went aboard Seabbatical for the first time on September 20th. We moved our gear aboard a few days later. It seems like we spent the next two weeks making daily visits to the nearby marine supply store as we installed the gear we had brought to Whitby.

We made a couple of shakedown cruises on Lake Ontario, and then, after all systems were operational, it was time to unstep (take down) the mast. Our course will take us down the Erie Canal and Hudson River to the North Atlantic Ocean. The mast has to be down on deck so we will fit under the bridges along the way. By Friday, October 5th, the mast was down and secured by a cobweb of lines to the deck and all of our errands were completed. It was time to say good-bye to our new friends at the dock and head out across the lake.


The story of Seabbatical starts 35 years ago. In the summer of 1972, Mark was in medical school at the University of Minnesota and Tana was home from college for the summer. We met at a church event one Sunday evening and Mark invited Tana to go for a sail on his father’s Columbia 26, Repose II. Tana accepted his invitation and several times that summer, we traveled down to the wide spot in the Mississippi River called Lake Pepin to sail for an afternoon. Five years later, Tana accepted another invitation from Mark and we were married.

Fifteen years, several moves and 3 children later, we took a Live-Aboard Cruising course in the British Virgin Islands. The die was cast. Since then, some of our most memorable vacations have been aboard charter sailboats with family and friends. We have sailed the waters of the Caribbean, Bahamas, North Atlantic, Central America, California and the South Pacific. We have crewed on long Pacific Ocean passages. Now that Mark has cut his work schedule down, we are ready to cruise on our own boat.

It takes about a year to build a boat which seems like a long time until you realize that it also takes about a year to gather all the supplies and equipment that an offshore sailboat requires. The list includes everything from signal flags to anchors, from tools to flatware.

Seabbatical is finally ready to go. Join us as we cruise.