Thursday, August 9, 2018

Typical Sherer Family Vacation

We’re almost through our Ocean City, NJ vacation and the tribe is getting restless. With Four grandkids, four parents and us, a fight broke out! Caroline seemed unconcerned but Mike is holding off the attackers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

2018 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423 Facebook Group

I just started a Facebook group for easier give and take on the 2018 ICW Cruising Guide. It has the creative name of 2018 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423. Sorry about that, I'll think of something better later, maybe. It will also address questions on the use of Aqua Map as well as any and all questions about the use of the Guide. This is experimental, we'll see how it goes and if there's a demand or not.

I've been down this path a couple of times. I started and own the Beneteau 423 Yahoo Group that now has 1000 members worldwide and found that I had to make it private - meaning that new members had to be approved by me. Whenever I left it open for anyone to join, we would invariably get someone coming in, joining and then posting a dozen ads for various forms of "enhancements." With that background, that's why I have to approve new members. Furthermore, they have to answer a question on why they want to join, again to judge whether they are bots or just want to post ads.

After that preamble, it could be a fun group and a place to ask questions and exchange ideas. We'll see if it works. It's now open for business at 2018 ICW Cruising Guide by Bob423.

By the way, thanks for buying the book, it's doing well.

On an unrelated topic, I completed compiling the links that are in the book and they can be accessed in the ICW Tips section of this blog. They are arranged by book page number for easy reference. Of course, if you bought the book, you can always download the eBook for free. The list of links is a backup to that.

Monday, July 30, 2018

2018 ICW Cruising Guide now available on

Click on picture for link

Four years ago I saw a need for a guidebook that addressed how to best navigate the ever-changing shallows of the ICW. There was plenty of coverage of marinas, anchorages and such by books like the Waterway Guide series but very little to address the details of how to navigate the always changing shallows of the ICW. Over the years I accumulated routes for deeper water and wrote my first book in 2015.

Every year the book has grown and the 2018 edition is a major rewrite. The major topics that are new include:
  • Safe passage routes change every year through the shallows of the ICW. The guide provides a full-page chart for each hazard in color with my route in the spring of 2018 shown as a red dotted line. You will know my exact path in finding the depths I report in my guide.
  • All charts have been redone using Aqua Map’s excellent charting database available through either their iPad or Android app. Their charts are updated four times a year, a must on the ICW.
  • Bridge clearances have been tabulated and shown in graphical format. On my 2018 spring trip northward, I took a photo of the height boards on every fixed bridge. I noted the day and time I passed under each bridge which I used to compute the clearance at high tide and also at 0.0 tide. The results surprised me on how many bridges had less than 65 ft of clearance, even at low tide!
  • The list of best navigation apps has changed dramatically from 2017. The new player on the block, Aqua Map, has leaped over competitors in many features (but I still use Navionics too). A complete comparison of can be found at 14 iPad Navigation Apps Evaluated
  • More GPX routes have been added for downloading. With Aqua Map, the download of a GPX route could not be simpler from a link provided on the Waterway Guide Alert icon for a shallow area or from the list of GPX Routes on this blog site. GPX downloading instructions can be found at GPX File Use.
  • I Joined Waterway Guide as an On-The-Water Editor, I’ve updated many Waterway Guide Alert icons for current information as referenced in the guide and will be maintaining them through the year to reflect current conditions at an Alert location.  
  • All sections have been updated. Products evolve and what was best last year may not be best this year. However, not everything changes and much of the “getting ready” steps for setting out remain familiar from last year.
  • The eBook is free when you purchase the paper version of the guide. Amazon will recognize if you bought the paper version and will allow the eBook to be downloaded at no charge. All the links you see underlined in blue are active links in the eBook. It’s a great time saver in looking up my recommendations on apps, marinas, restaurants, and electronics.  
The compilation of bridge clearances was a major new effort consuming many hours. Here's an excerpt from the book:

Bridge Heights

 All fixed bridges on the ICW are supposed to give 65 ft of clearance at high tide except for the Julia Tuttle Causeway in Miami at 56 ft. Unfortunately, “supposed to” does not conform to reality on the ICW. In the spring of 2018, I took photos of every fixed height bridge from Ft Lauderdale to Hampton, VA. I noted the date and time of the photo and arranged them in a spreadsheet. I then looked up the tide at the time and computed the bridge clearance at the highest tide of the day per the nearest tide station and for a 0.0 tide. Unfortunately, there were 15 bridges that did not have height boards. Obviously, they were not included.

As an example of one with height boards, let’s look at the International Speedway Blvd in Daytona at MM 830.1. I came through the bridge on 4/25/2018 at 7:29:21 EDT and took this photo of the height board. I figured the clearance to be 62.8 ft. I then found the nearest tide station, Ormond Beach in the Halifax River which is 4.6 Nm north. The nearest tide station to the south is Ponce Inlet on the Halifax River at 9.2 Nm away. I chose to use the closest tide station, 4.6 Nm north.

Using Aqua Map’s excellent tide charts, I changed the date to 4/25/2018 and moved the slider to 7:30 am and found the predicted tide to be 0.6 ft. I also noted the high tide of the day to be 0.7 ft from the text below the graph. Now I had enough data to compute the clearance at low tide and the clearance at high tide:

Clearance at Low Tide = 62.8 ft + 0.6 ft = 63.4 ft
Clearance at High Tide = 63.4 ft - 0.7 ft = 62.7 ft

There are many examples in the book with a tabulation of all such bridges and a graph showing heights for each bridge at low and high tides. 

Compiling this data was rather exciting while going under bridges at all hours and always being ready to snap a photo. Aqua Map has the handy feature of giving a popup of date and time at a point on a track just by tapping that location. I can tap the track by a bridge and compare that date and time to the time stamp from my camera to double check that I have the right photo matched to the right bridge. I thought all this data might be useful to some cruisers along the ICW.

So there you have it, a labor of love over the past two months. I hope you enjoy the book and if you find it useful, please leave a review at Links:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Home at the Poughkeepsie YC - at our dock

We were in the East River and saw this sight!
By Natalie Sherer
Today was our last day on the one and it was a long one. We went through New York City and all the way down the Hudson River. The day started with Sarah and I heading to the V-berth since the engine was turned on at 6:00 in the morning! We chilled there for a while then had breakfast, which for me was a bagel with cream cheese. We went all the way around Manhattan and it was pretty rocky with all of the waves from the ferries and water taxies. Not only was it a long day, but it was also hot! We had to either by up in the cockpit with no wind or down below with no A/C! It was hard and at one point Sarah took an ice cube and rubbed it on Finn and I. Well, it has been fun for the past two weeks sailing with Nana and Grandpa, swimming with Finn, Sarah, and Rowan, and spending time with the family. I will be sad to go (like always) but it’s time for all of us to go home. ‘Till our next adventure, Au Revoir!     

He flew right by our port side. There was a take off about every 10 minutes. A tourist flight I guess over Manhattan. 
It's 90 miles from Manhasset to the Poughkeepsie YC. That is usually too far for our 7.3 kt boat but if the tides are just right and you can catch the flood tide going up the Hudson River, then you can ride it all the way home. This technique does not work in the opposite direction since the tides move northward only. We caught the flood tide around the George Washington bridge and still had a flood tide at PYC. 

We always seem to catch the flood tide at the George Washington Bridge, it's enough to reach PYC, usually.
The big downside was the heat! We had a south wind all day, about 7 kts which was the same speed we were making northward. The net result was no wind at all in the cockpit. The sun was beating down and even though we had a bimini, it was very hot, in the 90's. Finally, I started the genset which allowed us to turn on the A/C down below. We don't usually run the genset when we're motoring but we made an exception this time. It was a good choice. Everyone but the captain disappeared down below but Ann came up every 30 minutes to give me a spell. 

It was all hands on deck as we docked at PYC all by ourselves. By now we have an experienced crew and everybody knew what to do. Ann came in perfectly and we docked without a problem. We went out to the Everyready Diner for dinner to give the cook a break and to enjoy air-conditioned comfort for the meal. Tuesday will be a very busy day to unload Fleetwing and take the crew home to Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Their parents will no longer be "kid free." 

This ends the current interlude for the blog. The adventure with four kids on board has come to an end. The blog will restart 9/15 as we start our 9th trip down the ICW to Key West, tune in then!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Manhasset Bay - at a mooring

The sunset crowd has gathered for the show
Well. It has been an exciting 2 weeks that went by like The Flash on steroids.  Anyways we had an amazing breakfast of French toast and a boatload of syrup (pun intended) so it started raining around 2:00 in the morning which instantly woke me up because I felt like someone was dripping stuff on me. Woke up 5 hours later and it is still raining. So everyone walked the dog in the rain (gloat voice) while I stayed in and enjoyed my well-deserved sleep. I then was woken up by the smell of FRENCH TOAST. I scorned down my food and helped with the lines. After we got to Manhasset bay we swam off the back of the boat. I took Hoolie to shore. Well, that’s all I did, bonsoir.      

Today was not a good day for a long run up the Hudson what with all the thunderstorms forecasted. So we had a late start from Sand City and motored over to Manhasset Bay. From here, we're about 1.5 hours from Hell Gate so by leaving at 6:00 am, we should hit Hell Gate at slack tide. If all goes according to plan, by the time we reach the Hudson River, the tide ought to be running north and we'll have tide with us all the way to PYC to arrive sometime around 6:00 pm. It will be a long day but with good weather predicted, it shouldn't be a problem. Meanwhile, the antibiotics seemed to have taken effect and my jaw no longer feels like a hot poker is nearby. Hopefully, it was stay that way. 

The main attraction tonight
The crew has been rotating all chores with a duty roster as a guide. They are learning to work together in getting the boat on and off the dock. Everybody has a job to do and they've been learning well on this trip. We were tucked in tight at the fuel dock here with a pretty good wind pushing us into the dock. So I put a fender at the bow, a line from the bow to an aft cleat on the dock and had Ann power the boat forward. That pushed the bow into the dock, protected by the fender, and the aft section swung out. When it reached about 45 degrees, Ann put the boat in reverse and we backed out without a problem. It's a handy maneuver to learn if you don't already know it. 

By Monday night, we should be at the Poughkeepsie YC in Hyde Park, NY. We'll spend the night on the boat and head home the next day. It's been an adventure. 

TIP: If you think having 12 USB outlets is enough to recharge the electronics for four kids, think again...

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Northport at Sand City - at anchor

We weren't the only ones out enjoying the day
Hi, it's Sarah again reporting from Northport also known as Sand City.  This morning I woke up to the smell of delicious bacon and pancakes. Shortly after our rather big breakfast, we left Port Jeff. The water had a pleasant calmness to it even though it was a beautiful day with everybody out on the water. I sat on the rim of the boat as we passed by countless numbers of land formations and different kinds of boats. There was one section of water where it seemed like every single fishing boat was in the area was fishing. There was one big fishing boat that had about forty people that were fishing on it.

As we passed by various things I slowly daydreamed into sleep, taking a short little nap until we got to Northport. We didn’t have much trouble anchoring and found the perfect spot. There were so many small boats near the shore. So once in a while, the boat has gotten rocked pretty well and let me tell you it’s surprising. I then made lunch for all the kids and we continued are so-called ongoing chess championship. First, it was Finn and Natalie, I helped by literally moving the pieces for Natalie. In the end, I had Finn trapped (After I took over the side of the board Natalie had) and he then lost. For the last couple of days, I have been unbeatable, unlike my last Blog where I kept on losing. Later we put on our bathing suits and rode the dink into shore to go swimming. The water was cold, but it was that good kind of cold where it was surprising and pleasant at the same time. I walked Hoolie up the shore before going into the water and I saw a bunch of horseshoe crab shells all surrounded each other. My first thought was that somebody found a bunch along the shore then put them near each other, but thinking now what if it was a whole group that just shredded their shell.

The great chess tournament resumes. That's Finn opposite Natalie. Rowan is in the background.
In the water, it was the Sherers against the Mcnaughton’s in a splashing water war. It was unclear who the winner was, but it was still a great time. After a good hour and a half Finn, Natalie, Grandpa, and I lifted up the dink to bring it back into the water. That was no problem, the problem was Natalie and Finn weren’t in the boat for our descent. They had to flop over barely making it on and as someone who was already on the boat, it was hilarious to watch. On the boat, we rinsed off and I went on deck to read my book until I  remembered I had to do the Blog. I don’t know why I always forget and it springs up on me. For dinner, we're having sweet and sour chicken and tonight were finishing a beloved movie here on the Fleetwing that is “Captain Ron”. Bye

Well, I guess Sarah had a lot to write about today. We are on our way back to PYC and stopped over at Sand City near Northport. Sunday is predicted to be a day of thunderstorms so we thought we would layover at Manhasset and leave for PYC on Monday morning. The tides are right for a ride up the Hudson with the current in our favor all the way home. The only hitch is that we have to leave Manhasset at 6:00 am or earlier to make slack tide at Hell Gate.

Sand City on a Saturday in July
Meanwhile, we still have no wind. We haven't been able to sail the entire trip! Sunday and Monday are predicted to be no better, light winds. My toothache seems to have settled down with the antibiotic treatments.

Even without the wind, the kids have been in the water every day and that's a big plus. At Sand City, there were almost a hundred boats enjoying the hot weather. It was a little rocky with all the boats going by but not too bad. On to Manhasset Sunday.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Port Jefferson - at anchor with toothache


A classic boat in front of Hoolie's beach
Hi! It's Rowan reporting from port Jeff .Today we got a new alternator. That’s the good news. The bad news is grandpa got a toothache. Good news again! He got better. While walking over to the park, we saw the Samuel lake explorer. A sub designed to go on the bottom of the lake and retrieve items there. That’s all.Bye.   
More boats here than last time
Rowan was rather brief but he spent the better part of an hour on that short piece, pretty good for an 8-year-old. I think he said he had "writer's block." The excitement today was that I came down with a toothache this morning. Ann got hold of Monique who was only an hour away and she came and got me for a visit to her dentist. They closed today at noon but we just made it in time at 11:30. Yep, it was related to where an incomplete root canal was done years ago. Therefore, I need a new one, oh joy. 

Calm winds are forecast for later tonight. Plenty of room.
Monique's dentist prescribed antibiotics and a painkiller to tied me over until the root canal could be done, about 1.5 weeks away. I don't know if I can last that long but we'll see. We're back at Port Jefferson for the night and then we're headed back home so I can be close to my dentist. Manhasset is on the itinerary for Saturday and then it's up the Hudson River. If it wasn't for my problems, we would have turned around at Block Island. This trip has been without wind the entire way, we mostly motored. 

However, the new alternator arrived today at 10:00 am from Amp Tech in Texas and it fit perfectly and fixed the charging problem off the engine. We now have a fully functioning boat now, minus the capain - who marking time until he's fixed up too. Wish me luck.