One Door Closes...

It is with a certain amount of sadness mixed with excitement that we announce the end of one era for us and the beginning of another. Health issues have required us to move off the water, and our beloved trawler Beach House has been sold and is now being enjoyed by her new owner. This also means that we will cease publication of The Great Book Of Anchorages guides. Even though the books have been extremely popular and well received by boaters, we can no longer keep up the publications as we would like, and the sales and distribution process has gotten to be more than we can handle at this time. Once the current stock is depleted at our retail partners, there will be no more.  

We learned a long time ago that life is always changing. Once we stopped fighting and accepted the changes, the new direction was even better and the benefits greater. We aren’t ready to give up or pack it in just yet. We need to stay closer to available doctors and medical facilities if needed, but the wanderlust is still in us. Last year we purchased a Class A RV and the new plans are to tour the country by land. Our new adventure begins in just a few short weeks. In many ways it will be different and in many ways it will be the same. One big lesson learned is recognizing when it’s time to stay in a situation and when it’s time to let go and move on. The signs have been obvious for us now. Someone said to us, don’t be sad because it’s over, be happy because it was. We’re both excited to begin this new adventure and see where this new direction will take us. We will leave the blog in place for as long as you all find the information useful. 

We will miss all the wonderful places we have visited, but what we will miss the most are the wonderful people we have met along the way. Thank you all for making our anchorage guides so much more successful than we ever imagined when we published the first copies in 2012. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement along the way. We’re ready now to pass the torch on to another boater who might want to pick up where we left off, and to head out on our new adventure. We won’t forget the old friends and who knows? If you see a big old RV pull into your marina parking lot, it just might be us. Fair winds and stay safe out there. Chuck Baier and Susan Landry

How To Avoid The Scammers

And not get separated from your hard earned dollars. If you have ever bought or sold anything over the Internet, whether it was equipment, parts, electronics or even a boat, chances are you have been contacted by scammers. If you haven’t, I can promise you that you will be. Our recent experience in selling some boat equipment online is a typical ploy used quite often to try and con someone out of their money or personal information, and we want to share that experience and offer some tips on how to avoid being scammed yourself by these lowlifes. We always ask that our followers share our blogs if they find them useful, and in this case, we encourage you to share this post with everyone and anyone you care about so that they can avoid the heartache and financial loss if they are taken in by these criminals. The following information and tips may just help others avoid making mistakes, so please read on.

Our Top 10 Anchorages

When we were asked to pick our 10 favorite anchorages, it felt like trying to decide which child you like best. So our criterion was holding, protection, things to do ashore, beauty and location. Some don’t meet all of these, but they cover the range of things we look for in an anchorage. The following are a good sampling of some of our favorites and we hope they will be yours too.

Bahamas Cruising Itinerary

No matter how many times we go to the Bahamas, we cannot wait to return. Its pristine beauty never ceases to amaze us. Like many cruisers, we have our favorite routes and favorite islands. Also like many cruisers, our favorite way to truly sample the flavors of the Bahamas is finding those perfect spots to anchor. Anchoring in the Bahamas offers some unique challenges that aren’t often encountered cruising inland coastal waters. Bottom conditions can range from excellent in sand to very difficult in scoured-out rocky channels. Some of the most problematic bottom conditions will be heavy grass and thin layers of sand over a rock base. Heavy grass tends to foul the anchor, and thin sand over rock doesn’t give the anchor a chance to dig in. We have found generally good holding in most of the anchorages we have visited on our trips that have covered from the Abacos, to the out islands, to the extreme southern islands. We have also encountered some of the more problematic conditions firsthand. Anchoring close to a cut or a break in a Cay can result in a very rolly anchorage.

Ice Cream Shops on the Chesapeake Bay

Ice Cream Shops by Boat on the Chesapeake Bay 

By Susan Landry

We have been traveling up and the down the ICW for over 20 years now and have our routine ice cream shop stops pretty well set. (See Cruising World Sept. 2012 issue.) But although we are originally from the Chesapeake Bay, we had never spent months just leisurely circling the Bay and sampling all of the creamy, sweet delights it had to offer. The summer of 2013, while researching our Chesapeake Bay anchorage guide for our Great Book of Anchorage series, we decided to do research of a slightly different and more fattening kind.

Boating Safety Tips For Everyone

Always review basic safety rules with your passengers before departure.

❐ Check local weather conditions before departure
• Play it safe and get off the water if you notice darkening clouds, rough, changing winds or sudden temperature drops


❐ Boating safety rules
❐ Proper equipment
• Ensure you'll be ready for any on-water emergency

❐ Operate at a safe speed, especially on crowded waters
❐ Be alert
❐ Steer clear of large vessels
❐ Pay attention to buoys and other navigational aids


❐ Ensure another person on board can take the helm and return to shore should you become incapacitated

❐ Always let someone on shore know your boating plans.
• Name, address, and phone number of trip leader and passengers
• Boat type and registration
• Trip itinerary
• Type of communication and signal equipment on board


❐ Check with local pools, or organizations such as the YMCA and American Red Cross for lessons

❐ Fit and assign a lifejacket to each passenger prior to launch

• Boating education requirements vary by state; regardless of your state's regulations, it's smart to be educated

• The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks to verify presence and condition of safety equipment, check out your boat and make safety recommendations. Find an examiner:

• Official boating safety courses and online tests for your boat license
• US Power Squadrons ( and Coast Guard Auxiliaries ( Free vessel safety checks, boater education and safe boating tips
• Water and boating safety instruction
Content courtesy of

Special Notice

The Coast Guard has recently released its first boating safety App. Features of the app include: state boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water. The app also features an Emergency Assistance button which, with locations services enabled, will call the closest Coast Guard command center.

Simple and Inexpensive Air Conditioning

The heat is already upon us in northern Florida and summer has not yet arrived. Already, the air conditioner is running daily, and day and night most of the time. On our previous boat, we did not have the luxury of a built-in air-conditioning system, and early on, we decided not to install a central system. It would be another piece of equipment to maintain and would also require a generator installation for use when we were cruising. We opted for an inverter system to run the 110 appliances and tools, and to take a little different approach to the AC problem. Of course, on our current trawler Beach House, we have a built in heat/AC system and a generator. Living aboard in the Chesapeake in the summer, then many years in south Florida did require that we cool the interior of the boat if we wanted to be comfortable. While we were cruising through the Bahamas and Caribbean, we never felt the need for an air conditioner. But at the docks for periods of time, to replenish the cruising kitty, we decided on a less traditional setup.

Wifi On The Boat - Part 4

Our current WiFi set-up has been functioning almost full-time on two boats for about seven years. The progress of our WiFi system has been recorded in previous blog posts, Simple And Inexpensive WiFi and WiFi On The Boat-Part 3 that details the progression to our current equipment. This blog post is possible via that same set-up. We're not ones that have to have the latest and greatest, and we have one hard and fast rule, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But change is inevitable, and we have made a few additions to our WiFi arsenal to improve our ability to get online as needed. This is very important since we run our anchorage guide business online and everything from the publishing to shipping and receiving is done exclusively from the boat. Changes to the availability of free or open WiFi signals made these additions a necessity for us.

The Ultimate Tribulation

By Chuck Baier

Today's blog post will be more of a personal nature rather than another boat related post. I hope you'll bear with me as I get my thoughts down to let everyone know what's going on, and for my own therapeutic value. The big story is near the end if you want to skip right to it. I will bring you up to date first on where we are and how Beach House and crew finally arrived after a long and difficult struggle to make our current destination. If you have been following our recent posts, you know that we had been in Carrabelle for a couple of months trying to cross the Florida Big Bend to get over to the west coast of Florida. Beach House finally made the crossing, albeit short one of her regular crewmembers.

Can I Take My Boat to Cuba?

Can we go now? That's the question every American Skipper has been asking since the President announced talks on normalization with Cuba on December 17th, and the internet is abuzz. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation out there. That announcement stated that talks were to begin on the normalization process, and although the idea of formal talks between the two countries in itself is historic, we still have a long way to go before we top off our fuel tanks in Key West and point the bow south. So the short answer to the main question is, YES AND NO. The original announcement was only for formal talks and nothing more. In the following weeks, there were more announcements and some changes, and suddenly everyone was getting more excited and the rumors began flying throughout the boating community. There is a but. You have always been able to take your boat to Cuba, IF you apply for and are granted a license by the Treasury Department. This is still the case.

Trials and Tribulations

The mechanic at Dockside Marina in Carrabelle did an excellent job getting Beach House back in operation. After our 4-hour tow back to the marina from the Gulf of Mexico, and a quick phone call to the mechanic, Eric arrived early the next morning. We were concerned with letting the engine sit, even overnight, with water in the cylinders and oil pan. There wasn't much that could be done about it on such short notice and just getting someone on board by the next day was better than we expected. Not knowing how serious the problem was made for a fitful sleep that evening. Whenever something like this happens, you always expect the absolute worse and have expectations of major expense and delay. When you live on your boat full time and don't have a place to go ashore when these things happen, it makes the anxiety even stronger.

The Third Time Isn't Always a Charm

We have been delayed so long that our friends that were way behind us finally caught up. Our next weather window looked so perfect it was scary. The two previous attempts to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Carrabelle to the Steinhatchee River had met with failure. Once because the weather forecast was not what it was supposed to be and the second time due to engine problems. So it was with a certain amount of anxiety that we began attempt number three. What is it that is said about the third time being a charm? Our friends would be accompanying us along with another boat and couple we had met along the way. How perfect could it get? Well, not so much.

Boardings On The Water. What Are My Rights?

Keep in mind that we are not attorneys nor do we have any expertise in the laws regarding these actions. Every Skipper must make their own decsions when they find themselves in a boarding situation. The following are only our thoughts and opinions. Boardings by law enforcement officers on the water have always been a touchy subject for many boaters. It’s often heard that such actions are considered anywhere from a minor inconvenience to a violation of our Constitutional rights. The truth and reality lies somewhere in between. There are still many misconceptions and misinformation in the boating community as to what can and can’t be done when you hear the dreaded command, “prepare to be boarded.” What are our options?  Can we refuse? Are our rights being violated? The answers are simple yet complicated and may not be what many want to hear or to believe. 

The Best Laid Plans

After 10 days in Apalachicola and a great Thanksgiving celebration with all of the other boaters, the break we had all been waiting for finally came. The gale force winds in the Gulf subsided, the waves returned to manageable levels, the rain stopped and the sun finally came back. On Friday morning there was a mass exodus as the parade of vessels made their way under the highrise bridge and out into St. George Sound. The faster boats quickly disappeared on the horizon and the more conservative boats stayed in the marked channel, avoiding any shortcuts. Beach House has never been known for rigidly following every channel unless there is no other choice. While some boats added miles by transiting all the way out the Apalachicola approach channel, we turned off and headed across the Bay, shaving several miles off the day's run. If there is enough depth for our draft, we will take any shortcut available.

Thanksgiving, Boater Style

About the only negative of our lifestyle, living on our boat and the freedom to travel wherever we want, is that occasionally we're away from our family on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Such was the case this Thanksgiving. We have been sitting at the dock in Apalachicola, Florida for almost two weeks waiting for the right weather window to cross the Gulf of Mexico and the Big Bend region of Florida. We had hoped to be farther along and be able to spend this holiday with family. It was not to be, but just because we aren't able to spend the time with our first family, doesn't mean we can't enjoy the holiday with our boating family. For this Thanksgiving, the traditional dinner turned out to be a rather large gathering.

A Chilly Florida

Whoda thunkit. Here we sit in Apalachicola, Florida, waking up to temps in the 30s and overnight freeze warnings. The winds have been howling out on the Gulf of Mexico and the seas have been way up, keeping us sitting at the dock for over a week. It only seems like a few days since we left Demopolis, Alabama and retraced our steps back to the Gulf Coast. The reality is that it has been 18 days and we have only covered 465 miles. Under normal circumstances, we could easily do twice that many miles in the same amount of time. To get where we are today required us to transit two locks, visit nine anchorages and free town docks, spend three nights at a marina in Alabama, one night at a friend's dock in Panama City, three nights waiting for weather at the docks at White City and spending a week here in Apalachicola. And it looks like we may be here for another week.

Part 2 - Anchoring in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL

Taken from The Great Book Of Anchorages, Cape Sable, Fl to Mobile, Al, including the Okeechobee Waterway..

The Big Bend–Crystal River to Carrabelle (Mile 46 to Mile 164)
Many boats, especially those with deeper drafts, use Anclote Key as their jump off or arrival point from the Carrabelle area. Even we used to be under the impression that the Big Bend region was only for shoal-draft boats, but it really isn’t. The main thing you have to contend with is the distances in from deeper water to the river entrances, usually about 10 miles. Then add another 10 miles or so to the anchorages.

Part 1 - Anchoring in the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL

Taken from The Great Book Of Anchorages, Cape Sable, Fl to Mobile, Al, including the Okeechobee Waterway...

A very different kind of cruising awaits the boater traveling on the Gulf Coast. For starters, there is no one system for keeping track of the mileage for the various legs of the journey. Each section, the Southwest Florida Coast, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW), the Big Bend and the GIWW East of Harvey Lock (EHL–the distance east of Harvey Lock in New Orleans), has their own method–the Statute Mile is given in two of the sections and the other two use distances between waypoints/markers, leaving you to calculate the miles (which we have done for you). The biggest difference for us on the Gulf Coast is the beaches. With a few exceptions, you are generally traveling right along the coast, either just inside barrier islands or hopping from one island or river entrance to the next. And what could be more wonderful than always being close to the beach?

We begin coverage of Gulf Coast anchorages in Cape Sable, FL mainly because the major guide books and chart kits do this as well and you will be using them together. Although some of you will be Loopers using the book, you’ll simply need to work your way from back to front.