Cruising Stories


The Niehoffs’ Two-Year Adventure



44° 18.46 N, 68° 33.55W

North Brooklin, Maine

Today we move onto Adelaide, the boat that is to be our home for the next nine months.We plan to drop the mooring in the morning, and then the voyage will begin. The weather has turned chilly here in Maine and the leaves have begun to fall. While autumn is beautiful in the Northeast, there is also a good north wind that can blow us south, so it is time to leave.We'll ease down the coast past Portland, Gloucester, Boston and Newport.

We then plan to spend most of October in the Chesapeake Bay area before rounding Cape Hatteras and heading down the coast to the Florida Keys.We look forward to hearing from our friends along the way. Please remember to keep emails short, no forwards or pictures. We will get back to you as soon as possible.We thank you for your interest in us, and for your prayers for our safety.


42° 22.18 N, 71° 03.49W

Boston Harbor, Massachusetts

The good ship Adelaide is at dock in Boston Harbor. We are just across from the naval ship Constitution, aka Old Ironsides, of War of 1812 fame. She is a beautiful ship, and to our surprise fires her cannon as she hauls down her flag at sunset.

After we left our cottage boarded up for the winter we set sail south. Our stops in Maine included Camden; Hog Island, which is owned by the Sierra Club and has some beautiful walking trails; and Portland.

We spent a couple of days in Portland one was for weather, and the other was so that we could see a fine exhibit of Impressionist art at the Portland Art Gallery. We then sailed on to Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Gloucester, Massachusetts; and Boston, where we are currently doing laundry and topping off our fuel and water.

The crew-members are being well fed and getting their sea legs. We have caught fish, navigated into busy Boston Harbor in a thick fog, seen porpoise and seals, and been offshore in fairly large swells. The sailing has not been all that good, with light winds mostly on the bow, and so we have motored more than we would like, but everyone is getting used to living on a small boat. School has begun, and while it hasn't been much of an adjustment to start the home schooling on the boat, getting back into a routine is always hard.

Tomorrow we head for Plymouth, and then on to Buzzards Bay; Martha's Vineyard; Newport, Rhode Island; and Long Island Sound. We are in no hurry and are enjoying how glorious New England is at this time of year. Tomorrow is Beth and my 20-year anniversary, and we are very happy to be celebrating it in Plymouth. We are grateful for our time together and look forward to everything to come. God has truly blessed us.


38° 51.516 N, 76° 10.727W

Wye River, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

After leaving Boston on September 26, we found a neat little anchorage near Plymouth Harbor. We looked for the famous rock but did not find it, and our keel is grateful.We had one of our better sailing days so far, with 10-15 knots of wind just aft of beam. From Plymouth we took aim for Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Canal, which splits the cape at its narrowest point. Catching the tide through the canal is critical, as it can run six knots.

We spent that night in Hadley Harbor, Buzzards Bay.Newport, Rhode Island was our next port of call. We spent four nights there waiting for a nor'easter to blow through with its gale force winds. Newport was fun, a real sailor's town steeped in America's Cup tradition. We toured some of the famous mansions, caught up on rest and schoolwork, and generally took it easy.The next few days had us moving down Long Island Sound toward New York City, stopping each night at a new anchorage.We had one of our best sails yet along the New Jersey shore.

Winds were strong from behind, and the boat was surfing down the waves. Adelaide hit 10.4 knots coming down one wave! The cold wind was driving us south to the Chesapeake.We arrived in Annapolis on October 10 and spent a couple of days going to stores for food and supplies. The Chesapeake is beautiful at this time of year, with fall foliage and flocks of migrating geese. As I write this, we are anchored in a picturesque river (a bald eagle flew over this morning), and we plan to stay in the area for a while to catch up on schoolwork and boat chores. Sometime toward the end of the month we'll head south for the Norfolk area and begin looking for a weather window so that we can get around Cape Hatteras and hit our target, Charleston.


34° 37.211 N, 76° 33.043W

Anchored Point Lookout Bight, near Beaufort, N.C.

The crew is happy to be in the south again, it got pretty chilly in the Chesapeake Bay before we left on October 30. We stayed in the Wye River area for about a week, enjoying the peace and beauty and topping off the visit with a stay in St. Michaels, a charming little town with a church that played hymns on its chimes.

We met an older Aussie couple, Moss and Theresa, who had been living and traveling aboard for six years. They were full of stories and helpful hints.We also met a family with four kids. The children hit it off instantly, and we spent three nights with them on St. Leonard's Creek, off the Patuxent River. The kids played ashore each day after school, building caves in the cliffs and fishing. Evenings brought some intense charades between families. After that we followed a cold front south to the Norfolk area. From there the Cape Hatteras passage is a 30-hour overnight trip.

We left Norfolk early one morning and motored out of the bay. Naval ships were practicing maneuvers, so we were on our toes until we were well out to sea.With winds blowing 15-20  knots off our stern quarter and seas of 5-6 feet, we sailed south at 7-8 knots. For the evening watch schedule, Tyler and I rotated three-hour stints with Beth and Petersen. Keeping the boat on course, with sails set properly, and watching out for the many big ships were our major duties. The midnight watch was beautiful, with a full moon shining on the ocean. In the morning the water had turned that deep blue color, a real contrast from the muddy Chesapeake.

Tyler and Petersen caught six bonito, hauling them in so fast that it was all I could do to keep up and cut the steaks for dinner that night. A pod of dolphins visited us, surfing our bow wave and playing and dancing around the boat. The show lasted about 15 minutes; all of us were in awe.Our anchorage at Lookout Bight is inside one of the barrier islands. Sand dunes and beach surround the boat. The kids are making sandcastles and swimming. Beth is looking forward to ordering a Dr. Pepper in a restaurant, and I am looking forward to ordering iced tea and being asked if I want it sweet. It's nice to be back in the south!P.S.,Winston the Sailor Cat is fine. He has gotten his sea legs and rarely complains. Catching the bonito has been his highlight so far, but watching sea gulls and pelicans and generally lying around isn't so bad either.


26° 42.979 N,  02.943W

West Palm Beach, Fla.

Our goal for the first part of this cruise was to leave Maine by mid-September and arrive in West Palm Beach by mid- December, where we planned to keep the boat while we traveled home for Christmas. So far, so good.Our trip has been blessed by nice weather, a safe passage, and a healthy crew.

We have met friends, been helped by strangers, and seen parts of this country we never knew. We have learned to work together, and to do things we have never done. Things seem more intense on the boat the beautiful things, like dolphins jumping the bow wave or a star-filled night watch; and the mundane things, like how good Beth's beef stew tastes offshore or the joy of standing in a hot shower with unlimited water. The scary things are more intense too: confusion about which channel we're in, our fuel filters clogging, a storm whipping up the wind and the seas. Everything seems more personal, more real, than things did when we were not living on the boat.Charleston was wonderful.

We stayed a week there, seeing the houses, visiting the museum and aquarium, meeting people on other boats and sharing experiences and plans. From Charleston it was a 30-hour offshore trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida. Everyone was sleepy from the night watches as we were coming into Fernandina. I was checking the charts when the radio blared, Southbound sailboat, this is the naval vessel on your starboard bow. I looked to starboard, and seeing nothing began to conclude that they weren't talking to us. Suddenly a nuclear submarine surfaced off our bow. Everyone was awake then! It was hard for me to believe that 30 minutes earlier we had felt very alone in a small boat out on a big ocean.

We have been in West Palm Beach for about a week, doing maintenance, catching our breaths, and visiting friends. Currently there is a late tropical storm east of the Bahamas. Hopefully it will make up its mind and head away from here, so that we can get down to the Keys before our trip home for the holidays. This will be the last update we send until we come back to Florida and head for the Bahamas.

Want to Stay In the Loop?

Stay up to date with the latest articles, news and all things boating with a FREE subscription to Marinalife Magazine!

Thanks for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Marinalife articles