Cruising Stories

Navigating the New York Canal System

The Quest for Mind’s Eye II


Our adventure started in August of 2012 on the quest for Mind's Eye II. My wife Tammy and I received the news that we were going to become grandparents. After much debate about whether to purchase a home in the south, we decided to upgrade our 43-foot Cruisers Yacht, Mind's Eye.It has long been on my list of adventures to bring a boat north along the ICW. The plan would be if and when we find and purchase the right boat, I would captain the boat by myself heading north in the spring to our homeport of Kendall, N.Y. After much deliberation and extensive research to find a boat that is just right for us, we finally came across a 46-foot 2006 Cruisers Yachts 460 Express, known today as Mind's Eye II.


Over the past couple weeks I traveled to and from Cape Coral, Fla. and finally closed the paperwork on the 18th. We decided to take her to Legacy Harbor in Fort Myers, Fla. to allow for easier access to the waterways.


I spent the next couple of days fixing her up. Changing the oil, air filters and belts, finalizing the windshield cover repairs and getting our icemaker and air conditioning up and running. We are heading home for a bit and plan to return in mid-November to provision and prepare the cabin for our trip to Key West. Tammy and our two Pomeranians, Caleb and Sophie will be joining me for some of the legs.


In one day we cruised 140 miles from Fort Myers to Conch Harbor Marina in Key West, Fla. and I saw several dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico. About 20 miles away from Key West I spotted a manatee. He watched as we approached and looked at me and snorted and dove back into the water. On New Year's Eve we had a lovely dinner at A&B Seafood. We then walked to Sloppy Joe's to watch the conch drop. Similar to a mini Times Square, the restaurant hangs an enlarged conch structure and steadily drops it until the clock strikes midnight. A couple from Germany got engaged right in front of us at midnight and I took a picture for them. We left Conch Harbor and cruised to Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.


From Ocean Reef Club, we cruised to Palm Harbor Marina in West Palm Beach, Fla. Tammy and I spent most of our time working on the boat. We decided to fly home for a bit and planned to return to West Palm Beach in late February.


Happy Birthday to me! We departed Palm Harbor mid-morning and entered Fort Pierce inlet by mid-afternoon. We had to slow down because of 6-8 foot rollers and white caps. We cruised into the ICW at markers 186G and 185R, making our way into Loggerhead Marina in Vero Beach, Fla. by 3:30 pm.


Departed Vero Beach and cruised to New Smyrna Beach, roughly 95 miles. We stayed there for a few nights and from there had a beautiful ride to St. Augustine, where we docked at Camachee Cove Yacht Harbor.


And we're off to Hilton Head, S.C. I cruised outside and off the coast of Georgia. About 12 miles out, I saw about 20 stingrays that were just hanging out under the surface of the water. We pulled into Harbour Town Yacht Basin and were greeted with a slip below the famous lighthouse.


We cruised the 70 nautical miles outside the ICW to Charleston. When I was offshore about 15 miles, in 50 feet of water, I saw something that I thought was a large dead fish. I got closer and realized I was interrupting the nap of a large sea turtle. He picked up his head and looked at me and took off quickly. He wasn't happy with me.

MAY 3:

I flew back to Charleston today after spending time at home with the family. The next destinations will lead us to Myrtle Beach Yacht Basin in Little River, S.C. and then onto Morehead City Yacht Basin in N.C.

MAY 6:

What an interesting day! We departed Morehead City, N.C. I cruised in the sound instead of the ICW and although charts show it's passable, it's not. I grounded Mind's Eye and had to get a tow. We threaded our way back as the tide was even lower than before. I ended up at Beaufort Town Docks in the midst of a lightning storm and pouring rain, fortunate to find no damage to Mind's Eye.

MAY 9:

From Beaufort I cruised to Coinjock, N.C. and then to Baltimore, a very happy 29 knots at all day in calm, deep waters on the Chesapeake Bay. After going under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge I arrived at BMC at Inner Harbor. I headed to the Rusty Scupper for a much-needed glass of Chardonnay. It is time to head home for a short trip and we plan to return mid-May.

MAY 18:

Made it back to Baltimore today with Tammy and our daughter Jenn. I got things stowed away that we had shipped during my absence including a boat hook, buckets, simple lines, gloves and filters most of which will be for transiting the locks in the Erie Canal.

MAY 19

We left Baltimore and headed to Cape May, N.J. and then north towards New York. Yesterday we arrived at Haverstraw Marina on the Hudson River after cruising past the Statue of Liberty and the breathtaking view of Manhattan. We made it to the first lock in Troy, N.Y. Entering lock no. 2 we got our 10-day pass and cruised through lock no. 3. We had to tie off on a sea wall and wait two and a half hours for a very large barge to pass. Annoying!

MAY 23:

All was well until we got to lock no. 8. The attendant was not there and it was a crazy time fighting the current. Large amounts of debris were going under the boat. Jenn jumped on shore and went looking for the lockmaster, while Tammy kept a close eye astern on debris and advising me as we treaded water. Finally, we're on our way to St. Johnsville, N.Y.

MAY 24:

Made great timing getting through the locks up to lock no. 17. Lock no. 17 is the largest lift, 40.5 feet! We had to wait a bit for the lockmaster to show up, but we made it into Pirates Cove Marina, which is just past lock no. 23. We rubbed bottom several times going into the marina and also hit a submerged log in the canal. Once again, by the grace of God, no damage!

MAY 25:

We are heading north toward Oswego through the last of the locks. We got through the Oswego locks to no. 4 just fine. At no. 5 the lockmaster tells me that when he lowers the water the lock becomes a bad wind tunnel and to hang on tight to the bow. I had no idea how bad it would be and did not warn Tammy. I don't know how she held the stern because I could barely hold the bow. We recouped and progressed through the locks into Oswego Marina.

MAY 26:

Next it was out into lovely Miss Ontario (Lake Ontario). With stiff winds at 20-30 knots all day, we could only do 10-15 knots and the water continued to crash over the hard top. We finally arrived at our homeport Eagle Creek Yacht Club in Kendall, N.Y. The entire club began sounding horns and cheering, welcoming us and our new addition, Mind's Eye II. It was so good to be home after seven months of boating and many interesting memories to last a lifetime.

Check off the bucket list.

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