Cruising Stories

Cruising with the Durs

DeGrasse III battles Mother Nature while cruising up the coast


A love for the sea, respect for high winds and waves, and a tremendous sense of adventure are a few lessons Admiral Philip A. Dur learned during his career in the Navy. Now retired, Dur is cruising the coasts with wife Judy and goldendoodle Cody by his side on their 53 Maritimo, DeGrasse III. He still finds himself battling the seas just like he did on his first command in the Navy. Having named all of the vessels he has owned after his first command Comte DeGrasse, and spending most of his youth traveling, it is clear that cruising the seas has become more than just a hobby, it's a lifestyle.

This past year the crew took off on one of the longest trips they have ever taken. Their four-month voyage at sea offered more excitement than ever expected. They battled hurricane Ernest, two tough thunderheads and a failed engine, but after putting 2200 miles and 300 engine hours on the vessel, this trip proved that DeGrasse III knows how to battle the sea.

Departing out of Destin, Fla., the crew traveled along Florida's Panhandle heading towards the west coast. They made a stop in Apalachicola and Clearwater and were en route to Anna Maria when they hit the first of many bad storms. With heavy winds and four- to five-foot seas, they were stuck at sea all night struggling with the very unfortunate weather conditions. They cruised south stopping in Venice, Captiva and Naples heading towards the Florida Keys. After leisurely cruising the Keys, DeGrasse III sailed from Miami to Palm Beach where they docked at Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach (561-655-4757, The floating docks and extremely courteous service made this a favorite marina for the crew. You call them on the radio and they are there within minutes to help tie up the boat and hook up any necessary power. They show you all of the amenities and are happy to take you to and from the dock office, raved Philip. The most hospitable marina I've ever been to!

The crew continued north along the ICW and got caught in dicey weather conditions produced by Hurricane Ernest. Before taking on the storm, the staff at the Camachee Cove Yacht Harbour (904-829-5676, in St. Augustine, Fla. helped prepare them for the weather. This marina was a highlight for the Durs, who described the marina as the highest standard that a transient boater can expect in a marina.

Further north, they headed through Georgia to the Carolinas. They began traveling to Ocracoke Island, but with a challenging seaway (about three- to five-foot seas) they decided to abort the plan. DeGrasse III fell behind a large 60-foot cruiser and rode in their wake across Pamlico Sound and Croatan Sound all the way to Coinjock, N.C. The crew was off to Virginia, heading north towards the Chesapeake Bay. When entering the Rappahannock River to The Tides Inn Marina (804-438-4418,, they hit another unbelievably powerful storm, this time causing the vessel to lose an engine.When they reached the marina they were greeted by a very accommodating staff ready to help with the engine casualty.

As luck would have it, leaving Irvington, Va. and continuing north towards Solomons, Md., the crew hit yet another storm, with winds up to 70 knots. We couldn't turn the boat around with the heavy winds so we had to ride it out until the storm passed.

With only one engine we were more than concerned since we were going to be on a mooring, said Philip Dur. When the weather settled they were able to travel to Annapolis, Md. where they stayed for a handful of days. Major repairs to the vessel needed to be done so they took the trip to Grasonville, Md. to get DeGrasse III back into shape.

The crew traveled back to Portsmouth, Va. where the boat stayed docked during the rest of the hurricane season. The Durs plan to continue their voyage south from Portsmouth, Va. to take DeGrasse III back to Florida. Come spring, the crew plans to take their next adventure to the Bahamas.

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