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.

Aqualarm Flow Alarm Failure And More Problems With Moeller Marine Products

In preparation for our current cruise, one piece of safety equipment we installed was a raw water flow alarm made by Aqualarm. The alarm is attached to the intake for the raw water to the engine and, in theory, will sound an alarm when the flow stops to the raw water pump. We wanted this installed to give us a heads up that there is a restriction in the water line or some other problem BEFORE the engine overheats, causing possible severe issues and major expense should there be an overheating problem. In a little more than 12 months we noticed that the alarm was no longer working. It generally sounds when turning on the ignition key at start up. The sensitivity is adjusted by sliding a sensor back and forth along a plastic tube plumbed into the water intake. There are no moving parts involved. After trying to do some adjusting, it was apparent the sensor had failed. We contacted Aqualarm and noticed first of all that they have totally redesigned the flow alarm and it now has a paddle wheel instead of a sensor. Their response to me was that they redesigned the unit because of problems like the one we are now having. But the rest of the response was pretty much, "that's too bad, buy another one." I doubt seriously that I will buy another piece of equipment from a company that made an inferior product and when it fails, tells customers that it's tough luck, we're not going to help. So we'll be looking for a replacement from another manufacturer that builds a better quality product and is more responsive to customer problems.

In a previous post we did a review of some products we had purchased made by Moeller Marine Products. That review can be found here, . Unfortunately we had to buy a couple of 5 gallon gas tanks so that we could carry additional gasoline for the dinghy and these were all that was available at the time. In a matter of months, both of these gas tanks developed a serious split in the plastic near the top of the tank. This wasn't near any seams, so it was a surprise to us. The spit allowed gas to leak out of the tank onto our deck. Had we not been around the boat, this could have been disastrous. After our experience and that of other boaters we have talked to, we urge everyone to avoid Moeller Marine Products, especially those that carry fuel. Consider the consequences. These products are carried at almost every marine supply store, including large chains like West Marine. It's our hope that these reviews will help others avoid the problems we have encountered.

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.

Checked Your Boat Zincs Lately? By Mike Dickens

For the first time, we present a guest blogger here at Trawler Beach House. Mike and Mary Dickens are our guest bloggers for today’s post. Mike and Mary were the owners of Paradise Yachts in Florida where they assist boaters in selling and buying of luxury trawlers, motor yachts and sailboats. They are also trawler owners and full-time liveaboards.  

We all hear talk about the docks regarding boat zincs at haul out, but what do they really do?

Another Boating Equipment Update

We like to take some time at the end of a cruise or during a pause in a cruise to report on the equipment we have installed in preparation for traveling the waterways. If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you know we post each installation, upgrade and repair we do to Beach House in hopes that other boaters will find the information useful. These Project Posts are the most read and most popular on the Blog, so it only makes sense to let you know how things are holding up, what works and what was an absolute failure. Finding quality equipment and parts for a boat is getting more and more difficult as manufacturers look for ways to cut costs, and as a result, the quality declines. It's also the trend to add more and more bells and whistles to everything, and to use the latest and greatest in technology to justify the increasingly higher costs for equipment. This makes many of our electronics more difficult to understand and also adds to the possibility of failure as new features are added. We're still of the KISS mind set (keep it simple, stupid), but we also appreciate advancements that actually serve a purpose and make our boating experience safer and more enjoyable. So let's do an update of our equipment.

If Your Mate Has a Stroke Can You Help?

I know that's a scary question and not a subject you usually find here on our blog. One of the big "What if" questions that often goes through our mind when cruising revolves around what we would do if a medical emergency arises. First and foremost, would we recognize the signs, and then, would we know what to do. As our fellow boaters, us included, approach our golden years, the potential issues change in our minds. Early on, our concern was getting injured, but in these later years, it turns more to potential serious health problems. The real possibility was brought to mind by a recent article written by Keith Murray and published online at . It is with their permission that we re-post the article here for your thoughts and consideration. We hope you find it as informative as we did...

I have written about this topic before, but it’s all I can think about today. When I conduct onboard CPR, AED and first aid classes, we always review the signs and symptoms of a stroke. It’s important to recognize those signs so you can help someone having a stroke.

My father just had a stroke last weekend. Fortunately, it looks like he is going to make a full recovery.

When reading this column today, please ask yourself if you would know what to do if someone you loved were having a stroke, heart attack or other medical emergency. Could you help them? Could you recognize the signs of a stroke? Do you know how to treat a stroke victim? What would you do if a crew mate began to slur his words, appeared confused or not walking well?

A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency that can cause paralysis, coma and death. It is the brain's version of a heart attack. A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain (ischemic stroke) or an artery bursts and blood leaks into brain tissue (hemorrhagic stroke).

Think of a stroke as a plumbing problem at home or onboard. Either your pipes are blocked with rust (plaque) or the pipe is leaking.

When either of these occurs, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs. Where the damage to the brain occurs and how much of the brain is damaged will determine which symptoms the person will display.

Here are some typical symptoms that you may observe:
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

It should be noted that women may experience symptoms that are different from men. Those may include sudden face and limb pain, sudden hiccups, sudden nausea, sudden general weakness, sudden chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, and sudden palpitations.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do this simple test:

F -- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A -- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S -- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T -- Time: If you observe any of these signs, get medical attention immediately.

Though it is not part of the test, note the time when the symptoms first began. There is only about a three-hour window for a clot-busting medication to be given at the hospital. It is very important that the stroke victim get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is called a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke". This type of stroke produces stroke-like symptoms but generally has no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs may reduce the risk of a major stroke. Often TIA symptoms are the same as those of a stroke, only temporary. The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.

The best way to help someone having a stroke is to recognize that they are indeed having a medical emergency and getting them to a hospital as quickly as possible. Stay with the victim, place them in a position of comfort, and monitor their breathing and consciousness.

To learn more about stroke warning signs and other medical emergencies, take a CPR, AED and first aid class. Ideally, everyone should take a refresher class at least every two years. Often classes can be conducted at your location, on your boat, or at your business.

Shipboard classes are helpful because they allow the crew to develop plans, review first aid supplies, and talk about medical emergencies as they relate to their surroundings, crew, passengers and the various ports of call.

The American Heart Association has a good 60-second video that everyone reading this should watch. And send the link to a friend. It may help someone save a life. Visit, click on the FAST box on the right side, then scroll down to the FAST Body Language PSA box.

Keith Murray, a former firefighter EMT, owns The CPR School, a first-aid training company. He provides onboard training for yacht captains and crew and sells and services AEDs. Contact him at 877-6-AED-CPR, 877-623-3277 or Comments on this column are welcome at

Is Facebook Really for Boaters?

We think so. There are several very active boating groups on Facebook with a lot of knowledgeable people who can provide answers, insights and even some humor when answering many boat related questions. There's something for everyone, from the novice to the old salts. If you haven't visited our Facebook page lately, or not at all, we've posted lots of great information, news and, we think, wonderful photos to enjoy. Just some of what you will find there...
  • Our Gulf Coast Photos for the Florida west coast and Panhandle (more coming)
  • The latest on the Florida anchoring issue
  • News and reports from the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Navigation reports
  • Articles of interest to boaters
  • Wildlife on the waterways
  • Current boating news
  • Lots More
  • Links to our videos
If you do Facebook, come and visit our page here and if you like what you see, click the Like Button. If you don't have a Facebook page, start one, they're fun. We already have hundreds of followers, so come and join our group. Here are a few photos from our page.

Give us your thoughts on Facebook. Post in Comments.

Where the River Flows

The next morning started overcast but quite warm. A 50% chance of rain meant we also had a 50% chance it wouldn't rain. Yeah, right. Our anchorage for the night was not yet decided, but a few options were available. The plan was to transit about 50 miles of the river before we stopped and 50 miles is not a long day for us. That's probably why we got a later start than usual; Beach House didn't get off the dock until almost 9 a.m. One of our neighbors from the night before, a sailboat, had already gotten underway, but we knew we would catch up later. The owner was singlehanding and also heading for Demopolis to leave his boat. Later in the day we would get quite an education in anchoring on a wide and deep river system.

The River Is Waiting

First I would like to apologize for our blog postings not being as timely as they have been in the past. There is a very good reason for that and I will do a post explaining why sometime in the future. Beach House still needed to get farther north to be sure we met our insurance requirements and to also give the crew peace of mind during this next hurricane season. The stay at Dog River Marina was nice and the chores and repairs we wanted to make were done early. The only delay was waiting for the chart chip for the plotter that covers the inland river systems. We came to the realization that our plotter only covered a small part of Mobile Bay and did not cover any of the inland rivers. So a new C-Map chip was ordered and, of course, the two-day shipping arrived in four days. Since it was delivered at about 10 a.m., the docklines were cast off and the trip up Mobile Bay and into downtown Mobile was made a little later than we liked, but still early enough to reach our first day's anchorage with time to spare.

The Fantastic Journey Continues

The run from Apalachicola to the docks at White City is a short one. There were a couple of potential anchorage spots we wanted to check out, including one that was a regular for us on our sailboat, Sea Trek. The White City docks are located in a basin surrounded by a park with a boat ramp. There has never been a lot of activity here whenever we have visited. The dock next to the pavilion was under repair and closed off with caution tape. There are 20 amp outlets at the pavilion that can be used for limited power. A new floating dock has also been added on the canal front. The floating dock is better for deeper draft boats since depths along the fixed docks are 6 feet or less. There is a 24-hour limit at the docks, but if bad weather is in the area, a longer stay would not be a problem. A short walk down the road to the east brings you to a gas station and convenience store with basic staples. This is a favorite stop for us and most other boaters that pass this way. But we did find a problem on board that needed our immediate attention.

Revisiting The Florida Panhandle

It would seem that the Gulf of Mexico in the vicinity of the Steinhatchee River has it's own weather system. For a week we watched as the reports from almost every other location showed light winds and quiet conditions. Yet all of the forecasts and buoy reports for the area we needed to transit to get to St. Marks had winds and seas more uncomfortable than we prefer to travel. A long time ago we came to the conclusion that the shallow waters of the Gulf can develop some nasty waves without a lot of wind. The constant forecasts of 15 to 20 and buoy reports confirming winds kept us in the Steinhatchee much longer that we would have liked. Even on the day of our departure, the morning brought winds of 15 knots directly from the direction we had to go. We patiently waited and checked the buoys every hour until they showed wind had dropped to 10 knots. Beach House and crew was underway. The conditions were not ideal; there was still a very sloppy sea for us to plow into for a few hours. As the day progressed and we moved away from the Steinhatchee and Keaton Beach, things began to settle down and eventually the seas flattened and the winds dropped below 5 knots. Finally we were experiencing the Gulf at its best.

Crystal River and the Withlacoochee River Videos

Beach House and crew would like to share a couple of short videos taken as we cruised some of the rivers in the Big Bend section of the Florida Gulf coast.

This one is from the Gulf of Mexico, up the Crystal River to Kings Bay.

The Withlacooche River from the GOM approach Channel to Yankeetown.

Exploring Florida's Gulf Coast

For a couple of days, thunderstorms have rumbled all around us, keeping us from our next destination some 50 miles to the north. This isn't like the protected waterway; this time we need to cross the Gulf of Mexico from Steinhatchee to St. Marks. "How did you get to Steinhatchee, you were just in Fort Myers," you might ask? That's a good question and one we ask ourselves. The time seems to be flying by and we are covering a lot of ground, err, water. Up until a week ago, the weather was cooperating, the boat was running just fine after the repairs and all was right with the world. After Fort Myers, there were days when we only traveled 10 to 15 miles along the waterway. But that was by design.

The Passing of Claiborne Young

Claiborne during a recent visit to Beach House
It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we report the passing of our good friend Claiborne Young. Claiborne dies as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on Saturday June 14th. The boating community has suffered a major loss. Very few boaters have not benefited from the contributions Claiborne has made over many years in the form of his excellent cruising guides covering the ICW from Virginia to Alabama and most recently from his website, Salty Southeast Cruiser's Net. His wife Karen died in October 2013 of what Claiborne called “never smoker’s lung cancer” and Claiborne seemed to recently start getting his life back on track. Just a few weeks ago he purchased a trawler and in an email to us a few days ago, wrote of how excited he was to get back on the water and explore the waters he knew so well. He was a true gentleman and someone that never had a harsh word to say about anyone or anything. He will be missed by so many. The following was taken from ...

Claiborne Sellars Young [1951-2014] passed away on Saturday evening, June 14, 2014 at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill following a serious motorcycle accident. He passed into the arms of the Lord at 7:00 p.m. surrounded by family and friends.

Born and raised in Burlington, Claiborne lived there all of his life. He was a well loved, well respected man in all aspects of his life. He was a devoted husband, well-known boating author, speaker, and web publisher. He was also a generous, kind and loyal fellow to the many people who called him Friend. Claiborne will be mourned and missed by family, friends, associates, and fellow cruisers.

Claiborne was a graduate of Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington and NC State University in Raleigh. Following the closing of the Sellars family business in the early 80s, he turned to his next loves – water and boating – eventually authoring a series of books for the cruising community from North Carolina to Florida. His first book, the “Cruising Guide to North Carolina” was published in 1983. He also worked with UNC-TV [PBS] to produce a series of travel videos on the waters and small towns of North Carolina’s coast. More recently, Claiborne went on share his love and knowledge of all things water related and published a successful website dedicated to the boating community and boating legislation. Claiborne was loved by many friends within that community, and always had a place to stay and chat while traveling on his speaking engagements. Those who knew him, found that Claiborne was never at a loss for words!

At home, Claiborne was a loving and devoted husband for 40 years, a motorcycle enthusiast, and animal lover. During the years of their marriage, he and Karen were ardent supporters of the Alamance County Humane Society and the American Humane Society, and surrounded themselves with many four-legged friends. Claiborne was also a self-taught chef who was often found in the kitchen producing the most aromatic and tasty dishes. When Claiborne put on a spread, everyone was happy, full, and sated!

Claiborne was preceded in death by his wife Karen Williams Young who passed away October 2013, and his parents Claibourne Clark Young and Dorothy Sellars Young Brawley. He is survived by family from his Sellars and Young relations, as well as his Williams in-laws.

A service of remembrance will be held at Rich and Thompson Chapel in Burlington on Wednesday, June 18, at 11:00 a.m. with Dr. Genie Martin officiating.

Visitation will be Tuesday evening June 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rich & Thompson in Burlington and other times at the Young’s home [814 Colonial Drive, Burlington].

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Hospice of Alamance/Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215.

Condolences may be offered at

If It's A Boat, It Will Break

If there is one thing that I am certain of after a half century of boating, it's that on a boat, something will break. A pesky oil leak in the front of the engine began as a minor thing and an annoyance. By the time we were halfway across the Okeechobee Waterway, the leak increased and since it was the front main oil seal, the belt pulley was starting to fling the oil as it spun. That meant oil was not only dripping under the engine, but slinging up on the engine room walls and everything else around it. Not a pleasant thought and definitely time to make repairs. Replacing the main seal is not a major repair, but it requires equipment most boaters don't carry on board. We knew a good mechanic from our time living in Port of the Islands near Marco Island, so a call to him arranged the repair when we arrived in Fort Myers. The parts were ordered from American Diesel and would arrive at about the same time as Beach House. All seemed to be set for a short stop and a quick fix. Ah, but this is a boat after all.

Franklin Lock And Dam Campground And Marina

We recently visited the St. Lucie Park and had written about what a pleasant and unexpected gem it was. Imagine, then, our surprise at what we found at the WP Franklin Lock and Dam Park. It is the westernmost lock in the Okeechobee Waterway out of the 5 locks in the OWW. Initially we had thought we might go ahead through the lock and continue on to LaBelle. However, as we approached the lock, the wind began to gust and we decided it was time to call it a day. I had glanced over and realized that the docks were on the east side of the lock and not the west as I had originally thought. Also, they are tucked up in a protected basin and not right next to the river as the docks are at St. Lucie. We spun the boat around and headed for the docks.

The Okeechobee Waterway Revisited

It's been three years since our last cruise on the Okeechobee Waterway and this time we planned to do it a little differently. On our last crossing of the Lake, we took the direct route across or what is also known as Route 1. This time we planned to take Route 2, or the rim route as we traveled east to west. This trip was also work, since it was the beginning of our research for our fourth book in The Great Book Of Anchorage series and will cover the Okeechobee Waterway and the Gulf Coast from Cape Sable, FL to Mobile, AL. Most folks avoid the rim route because of the reputation for shallow water, but we know a little secret that will allow even deeper draft boats to use the rim route in all but extreme low water levels. Prior to any Lake crossing there are three things a boaters wants to know before starting at either the east or west end of the OWW. There is one place to find two pieces of the info you need and that is on the Corps of Engineers website - the lake level and lock restrictions. The third is weather information - the National Weather Service website for Lake Okeechobee can be found here.

St Lucie Lock and Dam Marina and Campground

The St. Lucie Lock and Dam is located a little more than 15 miles upriver from the “crossroads” at the St. Lucie Inlet, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Lucie River. Approximately 10,000 vessels transit this lock every year and the majority of them are recreational vessels. The Locks are operated from 7 AM to 7 PM, seven days a week. It takes about 20 minutes on average for boats to lock through completely. Signs indicate the arrival point on both sides and the Lockmaster is contacted on VHF Channel 13. He will give instructions to wait for the green light before entering and the Captain can choose the side of the lock on which to tie. Lines are dropped from the lock walls to secure the boat at the bow and stern as the water levels are raised or lowered. The Lockmaster announces when it’s safe to proceed after the lock gates are opened.

Warning on Caframo Fans

We don't have enough information yet to determine if our experience with the Caframo 747 fans are just an isolated case that only we have experienced, or whether this is a problem with other fans of the same model. On both our Mariner 40 ketch, Sea Trek and now our Marine Trader trawler Beach House, the Caframo 747 model fans have been our preference for many years. The fans use the least amount of power, are the quietest and move the most volume of air of any other fans we have used. The fan is mounted using the more permanent mount and hard wired into a circuit breaker. The circuit breaker did not trip. As full time cruisers, improving the air flow inside the cabin is very important. In the last year, we have had two failures that have given us serious concern. Just over a year ago, one of the fans, which is mounted in our main salon near the lower helm station, suddenly began smoking and the body of the fan became very hot. Fortunately, we were able to shut off the power immediately and no harm was done other than evacuating the smoke. A replacement fan lasted about a year when we noted the smell of electrical burning and immediately determined that it was the replacement fan. The second time there was no smoke, but perhaps that was because we quickly shut off the power. Our concern is what might have happened if the fans were running and we were off the boat, even for a short period of time. Usually all fans, etc. are turned off when we leave the boat for any period of time, but not if we step off the boat for short periods, like talking to neighbors or taking out the trash. We now worry about these fans and whether we should consider another manufacturer in light of our experience. We have contacted Caframo about the issue, but as of yet, have had no response. We would very much like to hear from anyone else that has had issues with this specific product.

Update May 20, 2014

We have finally received a reply from Caframo. They have offered to replace one of the fans but did not address the question of why they might smoke and overheat even if not seized. One of the fans did slow down a bit but the other seemed to run at normal speed. Here is the reply... 

Dear Mr. Baier,

I am sorry for the bad experience you had with the Caframo model 747 fans. Please be assured that we take these issues seriously.

With your fans we only us special Fire Retardant grade plastic for the housing so that should the motor seize there is not risk of fire. However, with older units, should a motor seize heat can get sufficient to cause some smoke and smell.

Our new fans have added thermal protection so that should the blade get jammed or the motor seize current will be cut off to the unit ensuring all components keep at low temperatures. We will gladly send you a new unit at no charge. Please confirm your postal address and I will arrange for a unit to be sent to you.

Sincerely, Mike Tettenborn

Friends And Free Docks

One of the benefits of cruising as a couple for over 20 years is the fact that we have met some wonderful people and made many friends for life. Whether traveling by land or sea, we can't travel very far without needing to stop and visit with one of those friends. And Lord help us if we travel past and fail to visit. Many of our friends are former cruisers that are now land dwellers and some are still into the live-aboard lifestyle. So we would still have a few more friends to visit on this transit of the ICW. But the next day would be for just cruising and relaxing at our next destination, the free town docks at New Smyrna Beach.

You Can Follow Along

All of our friends and followers can keep track of our locations in almost real time. For quite awhile, Beach House has been using the Argus Survice Engineering (spelled correctly) on-board sensor platform for recording depth data as we travel along the waterways. This data is uploaded to Argus computers at the end of each day. Beach House is just one of many commercial and pleasure vessels equipped with the Argus systems. You can follow along with our progress by visiting our page on the Argus website,  and moving the map around. Clicking on one of the bubbles along our track will bring up depth and other information. This can also be a good resource for finding data collected from other participants by visiting the Solution Set page, . This data can be one more resource in your safe navigation arsenal. Have a safe boating season.

For you Facebook users, visit our Facebook page for lots of photos of these places and news updates of the waterways.

Satsuma to Palm Coast

Departure day came cold, dreary and overcast. Waiting a few hours for things to clear up proved to be fruitless, so the power cords were disconnected, the docks lines released, everything safely stowed and at 10:00 a.m. the next adventure began. Every hour and every mile northbound on the St. Johns River we hoped that the clouds would burn off. It's always nice to have a good start on the first day underway. At least Beach House was underway and we were still excited to begin a new cruise. There were a few details that needed to be tended to, but not right away. Our destination was only about 50 miles north so a delay of a few hours was not a concern. The river was a little choppy from the 10+ knots of north wind right on the nose. Still nothing of concern. We cruised past the Palatka town docks and said goodbye to the town for the last time. The rest of the day stayed pretty much the same so the inside helm station was the most comfortable spot for navigating. At the lower helm, the laptop is our primary navigation tool. There are several charting programs to choose from and the most current NOAA charts had been downloaded the day before. The presentation on the laptop is much better than the chartplotter on the flybridge, but the computer screen is not good in direct sunlight and the computer doesn't like moisture.

A Short Cruise on the St. Johns River

A weeks worth of great weather was all the excuse we needed to get out of the slip and do some cruising on the St. Johns River, south of where we have spent the winter. What a spectacular trip it turned out to be. The weather was perfect and the river is beautiful. This was also a good opportunity to do a shakedown cruise before heading out again for some serious time on the water. We wanted to check out some of our anchorage information for the ICW book and just enjoy some time on the boat. It also allowed us to do some experimentation with our new video camera. We left Satsuma around noon, dropped the hook for the night at Lungren Island near Astor, and continued on the next day to Sanford. A couple of days at Monroe Harbor Marina gave us enough time to explore the town and enjoy the hospitality of the marina. Sanford is a very nice historic waterfront town with lots of shops, restaurants and art galleries. On Saturday, there's a small local farmers market with fresh veggies, crafts and food vendors. Here's a rough video of the cruise on the river.

Downtown Sanford...

Our Latest Projects

Since our arrival at Acosta Creek Harbor on the St. Johns River in Satsuma, FL, we have had two priorities. Number one was to finish the Chesapeake Bay anchorage book and have it ready for distribution. Number one completed. Number two was actually several small projects to be completed before we headed out in the spring and begin the next phase of our cruise. With number one behind us, we started as soon as the winter weather would allow. It's been a cold wet winter here in northern Florida and many of the exterior projects just had to wait. But the break finally came; the clouds parted, the sun came out, the temperatures began to climb and the crew shouted "Hallelujah!"

Finding A Winter Home.

Before the day was done, upon our arrival at Fernandina Harbor Marina, the winds began to pick up and continued to increase for almost a week. This was the weather system that we were trying to stay ahead of and the reason we planned a marina stop instead of finding an anchorage or picking up a mooring. Beach House was snug and sound at one of the inner slips of the marina, even with the 4-foot depths in the slip at low tide. The shallow depths are why the marina gives discounts for these slips. Even if we settled on the bottom at lower than low tides, the bottom is soft mud, so no harm done. The full keel on Beach House also makes this a non-issue. As the winds increased, the tides did indeed drop lower than normal. The time was well utilized to wash down the boat, clean the ICW "beard" off the hull and fill the water tanks. A few other small projects were done - changing the fuel filters, doing laundry and stocking up groceries. That's what marina stops are for.

Industry Mourns Marine Magazine Publisher, Skip Allen

The industry mourns the passing of an Icon. Skip Allen gave us our first break by publishing many of our cruising articles in Southern Boating when we first starting cruising as a couple in the early 1990's. Skip's passing is sad news for us and for the marine industry. He will be missed by many. Fair winds Skip.

If It's Monday, It Must Be Florida

Leaving the Duplin River as soon as the fog lifted put us in the Little Mud River just past high tide. A little later than we planned, but still with a good safety margin. The 7- to 8-foot tides allow us safe passage even through the 4- to 5-foot spots along the Little Mud. This is one of the worst parts of the Georgia ICW, but with some planning and the many anchorages in the area, making a safe transit at a higher tide is not difficult. As we got underway, the fog was still around but not dense, and the day began cloudy and dreary. As we past red marker "192" in the Little Mud, our depths began to shallow up and soon we found a stretch that would be 3.5 to 4.5 feet at low tide. Even with Beach House's 4-foot draft, we would be hard aground without the help of the higher tides. The rest of the channel maintained what would be 5 to 6 feet at low tide. Although the really shallow spots are few, they are enough to cause concern for most boaters and certainly for deeper drafts.

Just An Old Sweet Song Keeps Georgia On My Mind

It's always hard for us to leave Beaufort, South Carolina. There are discussions about staying for a while and talk of former good times. The folks are friendly and welcoming, and it just feels right. But the waterway called once again and we gave in to the beckoning. The winds were gone and the sun was shining. It wasn't an ideal day for departure, but ideal days are sometimes hard to come by. There was a 30% chance of rain, not too awful, but once again, it was time to point the bow south and begin our winding journey through the dreaded Georgia ICW. I say dreaded, because the Georgia waterway is the least maintained section of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and has a terrible reputation for very shallow stretches. Even with the winding channels and occasional shallow areas, it's still a gorgeous section of waterway, and by planning head, transiting anywhere in Georgia is not that difficult. We wrote an extensive post on the Georgia ICW that might be a good read for anyone wondering just how bad it is.

A Homecoming of Sorts

Beaufort, South Carolina has a special meaning for us. Aside from being a regular and well-liked stop along the ICW, it's also where we sold our Mariner 40 ketch, Sea Trek, and where we found and purchased Beach House. We also lived there for a year and a half and did a lot of the preparation on Beach House for cruising. Lady's Island Marina is always our choice when we stop for any period of time or need to hide from weather. Even if anchoring, we prefer Factory Creek, very near the marina. It isn't right in the downtown area, but is a short walk across the bridge. Factory Creek is very peaceful and away from the hustle and bustle of the Beaufort River, all of the traffic on the water and the very swift currents. There is current on Factory Creek, but it is not as strong as the main river.

Myrtle Beach Onward to Beaufort, SC

Myrtle Beach is one of our favorite stops that is always too short, and we have a tough time leaving. But we had to leave - warmer weather called and we had to answer the call. Between Myrtle Beach and our next stop of any duration, we would need to visit some old favorite anchorages along the way. We would also want to top off the fuel tanks, not that we needed fuel, but there is one place where the prices are always too good to pass up. The anticipation of exploring the Waccamaw River once again made moving on a little easier since the weather was cooperating, so at 0815, Beach House backed out of the slip and re-entered the ICW channel. In another 20 minutes, the Little River Swing Bridge was moving past our stern. Fifty minutes later, we were transiting the Barefoot Landing Swing Bridge past the huge shopping and tourist complex at Barefoot Landing. When this was a free dock at the shopping complex, boats would raft 3 deep this time of the season. Now that it's just another marina, there was only a handful of boats tied to the dock. By noon, Beach House was tied to the dock at Osprey Marina, a short 38-mile trip.

Happy New Year 2014

A very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year to all of our friends, family and followers, from the Trawler Beach House. We apologize for the blog being a little behind in our posting. The holidays and work stuff seems to have gotten in the way. Susan is currently working on our third anchorage book. We promise to get all caught up in the next two weeks. Chuck and Susan