Special Delivery

When Rogan, my former crew buddy on Weatherly, called me last week to ask if I was available to do a weekend delivery from Annapolis to Newport, I realized I hadn’t been sailing offshore in nearly two and a half years. I accepted.

The boat is a brand new carbon fiber sled and had been left in Annapolis for the winter after the boat show in October. The current owner wanted it back in Newport for some spring racing. Rogan, Zach, Austin, Jeremy and I departed Annapolis on Friday afternoon, headed north up the Chesapeake and through the C&D canal.

Motoring along...
Motoring along…


A dense fog enveloped us as we slid under the railroad bridge.


We rounded Cape May at daybreak, but with still very little wind, kept motoring at about 8 knots. The breeze finally filled in on our starboard quarter so we decided to pull out the asymmetrical spinnaker, which pulled us along at over 10 knots.


This is when things got eventful. The steering quadrant had not been secured correctly by the boat yard who worked on her that winter, and as such it jumped up and into the base of the grinding pedestal. The spinnaker was shrimped and dragged to the boat as Rogan worked out the steering situation. Luckily nothing was broken and we returned to sailing under a main and jib. As night fell the breeze picked up to about 20 knots sustained, right on our port beam. With no way to reef the main, we were soon overpowered with gusts over 25 knots. Zach was having the time of his life surfing down the 5 foot seas, still at our backs, and hit a delivery high of 17 knots of boat speed.

Its worth mentioning that at this point I had not gotten much sleep. A carbon hull is very echoey with a lot of vibrations from either the engine if it’s on, or wave action if it’s not. Also, this boat was outfitted with the most horrendous pipe berths I’ve ever seen. No cushion, just a taut mesh and a gap between the berth and the hull your whole arm and shoulder could fall into. There was absolutely no way to get comfortable and the only way I ended up getting any sleep was due to exhaustion after a cold 2-4 am watch.

It was too much though, and I called for Rogan and all other hands to assist in taking the main down. This went, thankfully, without incident. We continued under jib alone and still made about 8 knots. Montauk was in sight at 8 am Sunday morning. Zach and I were on watch again and we surfed down the now 6-8 foot faces as we motor sailed. Good times!


The boat was safely tied up in Newport by 3 that afternoon. Diegos was the next stop for some much needed beverages. I slept soundly that night.

Although I was completely exhausted in both mind and body by the end of the trip, it was absolutely worth it. My first offshore experience in well over two years was well due and has only served to reinvigorate my taste for those kinds of experiences. Sailing into Narragansett Bay was extremely nostalgic and nearly brought tears to my eyes. I vowed it would be the last time for a while though, especially during the shoulder months, I am thoroughly done with high latitude sailing. But damn, seeing Montauk Light, Block Island, Point Juidth, Beaver Tail and finally Newport Bridge rise from the horizon after a long delivery was moving to say the least.

Great strength of feets: removing the old diesel

After a blissful Christmas at brother’s house with his family in Stuart, and my new little nephew, I drove back to Sarasota to start working on getting the engine out from under the cockpit. I got to my sweet Soveraine on Sunday morning and, after getting the lock open, couldn’t slide the companionway hatch forward. This had never happened before. No amount of pushing could get it over the drop slides, it was as if they had swelled for some reason. I took out my sawzall and cut a tiny bit away from the top drop slide and it slid open.

I was dumbfounded. The entire cabin was submerged in four inches of standing water. Nearest I can tell, during the fall the oak tree, that the jackass trailer park owner let the jackass of a hauler park my boat under, had shed all its tiny goddamn leaves which clogged my cockpit drains causing water to spill into the cabin.

Luckily my dad was there to keep my spirits high and attitude in check, because I was in a throw in the towel, no good, dirty, rotten mood after I saw that. In addition, about three dozen wasps had moved into Soveraine and threre was mold EVERYWHERE. We piled into his truck and headed to Home Depot to rent a generator and 2″ sump pump.

The pump worked quickly and dad and I called it a day to let the boat dry out. I checked the wooden bulkheads for any signs of rot and there were none.


I appreciate the juxtaposition of this one.

The following day the boat was aired out nicely and we got to work on the engine. By noon we had most of the accessories stripped away, including the instrument panel, wiring harness, alternator, fuel pump, starter, and the gear box separated from the block and the prop shaft. The volume of blood shed removing the coupling bolts on the prop shaft was minimal.

Next came the ordeal of how on Earth we were going to get it shoved out of the opening in the bulkhead forward of the engine compartment. We went back to the Depot and bought a single 2×8 which was just as wide as the bottom part of the bulkhead opening. Then using some pry bars and great feats of strength/great strength of feets, on the count of push (please tell me you got that reference) it popped out onto the board, resting on the oil pan. It was then fairly easy to shimmy it down a bit so it was completely out of the engine compartment. We cleaned up and were out of there by 4. It took less time than I had planned, how often does that happen on a boat?? I only want to rent a crane once, so there it shall sit until the new one goes in this coming summer.

Over the next few days I continued to work on the engine compartment and start the glamorous task of cleaning 40 years worth of sludge out from the bilge. Mat came along and his dad lent me his generator to run the shop vac. I only dropped the container filled with sludge once, which I’d say is pretty good.

I also put together a little system so that whole flooding thing won’t happen again, which includes my existing bilge pump and 5 watt solar panel and a new battery and charge controller. In addition to a partial cover to keep those God forsaken leaves off the deck. I’ll be back in two weeks to check on her.


aaand we’re back…

Yes, I know this is only my second post in 2015, which is almost over. Not much to report on however, just living in New Jersey and teaching math at a local public high school. Soveraine has been on the hard in that trailer park in Sarasota since last November, and I’ve been down a few times to work on her. As of right now, she is completely gutted with the exception of the engine, which will be coming out next week.

Elizabeth and I purchased a new Beta 25 3-cylinder diesel from the boat show in Annapolis in October. I decided a few months ago to go the repower route as opposed to trying to keep up with an aging foreign model for which spare parts are harder and harder to come by. The Beta was our choice for a few reasons, not the least of which is the support they offer along with many options that make a repower from an older diesel a breeze.

In addition to the new engine, I will be replacing her standing rigging with new stays and a set of swageless fittings, probably the Hi-MOD brand. I’ll be upgrading her nav equipment to something more modern, possibly with AIS, as well as a new galley with a small fridge unit and a couple of 100 watt solar panels. A fresh coat of paint inside and out and replacing some ancient teak trim should round out the refit nicely.

It should be a busy 6 months, with a light at the end of the tunnel of some real cruising.

Chris Christie Says He Will Not Run in 2016…to Go Sailing?

TRENTON – In a dramatic move that has stunned not only Republicans in Washington but has sent waves from coast to coast, Chris Christie has announced that he will not be running for the nation’s highest office in 2016. From his home in Trenton Tuesday afternoon, he stated he will instead “pursue a quietly held lifelong dream of living and cruising on a small sailboat.”

When asked why this sudden change of course occurred, Christie looked away from the cameras and other press members, and gazed somberly into the distance for a moment before saying, “I just can’t do it anymore. It’s gotten to the point where even I don’t believe half the crap that comes out of my mouth. I’m not apologizing for anything as Governor, but I have to admit I haven’t been at my best the past few years.”
Sources close to the Governor said in recent months he has been furiously reading the blog and newly published book, both titled I Hate Shoes, of New Jersey resident and veteran seaman, Scott ‘Sailor’ Keddy. “He always keeps the blog open in a tab in his browser, and hits refresh a few times a day, at least,” confessed a top aid to the former presidential hopeful. Keddy has been hired as the mental, physical and spiritual guide for Christie as he transitions from high-profile GOP politician to wayward vagabond sailor.
“I am genuinely looking forward to working with him” Keddy said in a phone interview following the Governor’s announcement. “There is a lot of work to be done. He and Mary [Christie’s wife since 1986] will be joining my fiance and me in Florida on our 30 foot ketch as soon as we can sever ties with his political career.”
Christie is wasting no time, and has already put multiple items owned by New Jersey’s First Family on Craigslist at the behest of Keddy. “It’s the first step in a long process of shedding one’s old life, habits and material possessions to clean the slate,” Keddy explained. When asked what goals Christie was looking to achieve out of this radical and unexpected life decision, he replied, “The only goal Chris Christie has, for the foreseeable future, is to find out who Chris Christie really is. See you out in the chop!”


The (second) haulout

It was a bittersweet decision. On the one hand, I wasn’t using Soveraine all that much and over $300 per month to keep her in wet storage was getting expensive. Sure, I visit Florida pretty often, about every second or third month, but by the time I got to her slip and started in on some projects I’d want to complete I would realize how far behind I was on basic maintenance. This was getting annoying. Two steps back for every one step forward, and it seemed like every time I would visit she would be in worse shape than before. The piles of bird poop, the dead batteries, surface rust on the bow pulpit, oiling some teak, cleaning a musty, moldy cabin…you get the idea. It left little time for any actual improvements to her let alone any time to actually enjoy a sail in a short 3-4 day period.

On the other hand, I need to replace the standing rigging, build and install a windvane, finish repainting the interior, shore up some play in the rudder, get some new ground tackle, completely redo the galley with a fridge, the possibility of a complete repower (?), among a myriad of other small projects.

That entire decision was brought to the front burner a couple of weeks ago when I got a certified letter (almost never a good thing) saying I had to be out of my slip by November 15th due to the fact Manatee County found the docks unsafe and had to be replaced. Luckily I already had a plane ticket down and scrambled to find a place to haul out and someone with a hydraulic trailer to transport my boat inland where the rent was cheap. I found both and as of tonight my sweet Soveraine sits on the hard in a trailer park in Sarasota awaiting a nearly complete refit.

The purpose of this whole shenanigan? More cruising of course. I won’t allude to what my grand plans are (never good luck to do so) but I will say that when she goes back in the water, 18 to 24 months from now, she will be as ready to cross oceans as when she was built 51 yeas ago.

I leave you with pictures courtesy of my mother who was kind enough to drive up and find her still on the trailer from the boatyard:

Book is published!

Well, self-published but nonetheless, I am on Amazon and you can get your copy today! Here is a link to Amazon’s site where you can get either a Kindle or paperback version. If you would like a signed copy mailed to you, simply pay me via PayPal (smkeddy@gmail.com) and don’t forget to include your address!

From the back cover: “Growing up a sun-drenched kid in Florida, it was a rude awakening when I became a desk driving engineer in frigid Boston. So began a five year odyssey to return home via sailboat, filled with adventure, tragedy, love and heartbreak. From humble starts in questionable boats to high seas sailing from Hawaii to Alaska, and ultimately restoring a 50 year old world cruising boat, no, the journey wasn’t always easy, but it was unquestionably worth it in the end. You only get one spin around this merry-go-round, you better make it count.”

My goal is to sell a few hundred copies to justify my time and expenses, so your purchase of this book today helps fund the next one! Thanks!

Windvane self-steering, sailing on the Hudson, book coming soon!

I’ve been in New York (well, technically New Jersey) since February. I moved here to be with my new fiancee Elizabeth, and things were very quiet on the sailing front until recently. I’ve been working for a charter/sailing lesson company up on 79th Street and its been going very well so far. The Hudson River is known for its currents, fickle and shifty winds, massive amounts of boat traffic, very surgey unprotected marinas and things in the river that, well, shouldn’t be. It does have some nice views of the city and Statue of Liberty though. All in all, not a great place to sail, but I’m on the water, and that’s something.  I also managed to get my NJ teaching certification and hope to be using it in a classroom this fall.

My sweet Soveraine is docked in Florida, where I visit her every few months. I still plan to cruise on her extensively, but it will be more piecemeal for the next couple of years. I need to do some work on her anyway, including installing a wind vane, redoing the galley and possibly installing a self-contained cooler/refrigeration unit. I’ve heard it before and its true: refrigeration makes the difference between living civilly and camping.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Scott and Kitty at their home in Connecticut. We went for a short cruise which allowed me to see how their wind vane self-steering system operates. I took many pictures and videos and Elizabeth was kind enough to hold the tape measure:

Over the course of the last week, I have built a model out of cardboard and balsa wood:
Which actually works, with a fan to simulate the flow of water over the pendulum…


I’ll be visiting Florida next week and will be working on a full size model from plywood, which is what Scott’s was made from originally when they went around the first time in Bebinka.

With all that said, I’ve been working on a book! Its a chronicle of this crazy sailing/life adventure I’ve been on for the past 5 or so years, and goes into much more depth than this blog. I decided to write a book mainly for my great-great-great grand kids. I would have loved to read about how Alexander Kady came over on Winchelsea in 1749. Why he decided to leave England/Scotland, what his thoughts were, his challenges and new life in Nova Scotia. This book will be for generations after me to look back and give some inspiration to step out on a limb and try a different lifestyle. Of course, if you’d like to purchase one and help fund my next adventures, that would be fantastic as well!

Stuart to Sarasota, with an ironic twist

After spending a week and half over Thanksgiving at my brother’s place in Stuart, it was time to weigh anchor and head over to the west coast. I had a great time over there, and even met up with Scott and Kitty again which is always a pleasure. Stuart was not my final destination though, and I’m now starting to realize I’m not sure if I have one.

I was getting desperate for some other crew and wanted to leave by the end of the week when a guy Chris responded to my ad on a cruising forum. I had sailed with people from that forum before, it was how I got in touch with Alex and got on the whole Hawaii/Alaska/San Diego expedition. Two days later he flew into West Palm and we left the following morning.

I decided to take the Okeechobee Waterway across the state as opposed to going around the tip of Florida and through the Keys. I’ve heard with the Gulf Stream so close to the reefs it can get a little intimidating trying to shoot between them. It only took us two days to get from Stuart to Ft Myers, with some great sailing on Lake Okeechobee.

We also traveled through 5 locks, two on the east side of the lake to bring Soveraine up to the level of the lake and three on the west side to lower her back to sea level. Most locks use valves to raise or lower the water level, but on these five locks they simply open the gates! It can be a shock the first time you see it, but it was pretty cool.
We spent the first night in Clewiston Rock City, at a dock that I was pressured into getting when I called to simply find the rate for the night. The guy at the marina called me all afternoon, assuring me he’d be there to show me where to go and tie me up, he kept saying his name was Little Man or something, odd and demeaning nonetheless. After navigating the narrow channel in total darkness with Chris on the bow with a spotlight, I gave him a call and he said he’d left for the night. I was kind of ticked since he had repeatedly told me he would wait, but he gave me another number to call, which didn’t work. We found the dock, tied up and told ourselves that we would be out of there before dawn to give them the slip for such lousy service. Our plans were thwarted however when we met an Irish guy, totally out of place in Clewiston, who bought us round after round of Jameson shots. I forgot to set my alarm and woke up with Little Man standing right at the boat.
We were in Ft Myers the next night, after a thankfully uneventful motor the rest of the way across the state. I snapped this as the sun went down.
I saw Alaina for the first time in a year and half, she was living back in Ft Myers. Things went well considering the past and I saw her as nothing more than a friend. I invited her to sail with us the next day to Sarasota, which I didn’t think she would take me up on, but she did.
We were off the mooring early afternoon the next day and promptly ran aground south of Lofton’s Island in a spot that was not clearly marked on the chart. We could have waited until the tide came up at 6 that night, but I wanted to get going so Tow Boat US came to the rescue. Underway again, we cleared out of San Carlos Bay around sunset and motored on a glassy Gulf of Mexico into the night around Sanibel and Captiva. The wind picked up on my watch around two in the morning and I set the sails myself not wanting to wake my crewmates. I turned the engine off and Soveraine slid over the light chop at 5 knots with a gently easterly offshore breeze. This was, more or less, the moment I had been working towards for over a year and a half restoring the fifty year old Allied Seawind, with a little twist of irony that Alaina was sleeping below on the boat I purchased with her former engagement ring as I completed the trip home to Sarasota. I’d that’s pretty much full circle.
The sails came down at dawn and the engine pushed us between the Venice jetties as we motored up the ICW to Sarasota. Just before noon, Chris snagged the mooring pennant in the bay that I had fought against two years earlier, another small ironic situation.
We took the dinghy ashore and walked up Main Street, back in my hometown.


Fernandina Beach to Stuart

Fernandina Beach is an interesting place. It had a cute, quaint downtown area with more bars per square mile than Newport, which is definitely saying something. A few days after I got there my good sailing friend Joey joined me and we spent the next few nights reveling in the small town and waiting for the weather to change. A cold front had stalled out over the eastern Florida coast and was not making an easy decision as to when to leave. After a few days we kinda just said the hell with it and proceeded down the ICW at about 4 pm on a Thursday.

I didn’t think motoring down the ICW at night would be a huge deal, turns out I was wrong. Thankfully nothing dreadful happened, but when a day marker that’s not on your Navionics app, nor your paper charts appears out of the pitch black darkness a mere 15 feet to starboard, its a freaky experience. I’ve done this in twilight before, in a much wider waterway with many well lit buoys, however the narrow, dark channel between Fernandina and the St. Johns river was a different story. Oh yeah, and throw in a huge dredger who we had trouble getting in contact with just for kicks. Joey and I decided to anchor, but not without running aground coming into the anchorage (I blame the Navionics app, it switched from a color-coded chart with numbers marking the depth to a unitless contour map) and spending the better part of an hour trying to kedge ourselves off.

We motored down the St. Johns river the next morning, heading into the open Atlantic. The NOAA buoys still said there was a 7.5 ft sea and winds out of the northeast gusting to 20 knots. Neither was accurate. There was still a 5-6 ft swell from the east but zero breeze. Sigh…this would be a long 48 hours, and indeed it was. We motored the whole 210 miles down the eastern coast of Florida in little to no breeze for 47 straight hours. We did sail a little on the final morning when it finally picked up again out of the north.

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I am not a sailing purist. I used to think I might be, reading books by the Pardey’s, Moitessier and other engineless sailors, but that’s just not my bag. Sailing is a lifestyle and sport that demands patience as it is, even under the best conditions I’m only going about 7 miles per hour. If the wind isn’t blowing in my favor, or at all, I’ll admit I’m quick to turn on the “iron spinnaker” and just get somewhere. I really don’t mind it either, for me voyaging is more about the experience of travel and discovery than bobbing about in a windless ocean for days at a time.

I’m at my brother’s in Stuart at the time being. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving here and then motoring along the Okeechobee Waterway that connects the east to the west coast of Florida and then sailing up to Sarasota next week. Its a great relief to be down here and out of the cold that is gripping the rest of the east coast currently and, more importantly, to be around family again.


I’ve wanted to title a post “Florida” for a long time, four years actually, and today I finally can.

The reason I started this blog, nearly four years ago, was to document my travels south, specifically to Florida. I was living in Boston at the time, winter was coming on and I needed a way to get out. The desk job didn’t have any transfers down there and there was just no way I was spending any more time in New England. This is how I came into purchasing Winchelsea. It was a pretty basic idea: buy a boat and sail it down to Florida.

That started a four year odyssey involving three boats, two oceans, an engagement, a captains license, a galaxy of new and wonderful friends, and roughly 10,000 nautical miles under various keels. I can’t emphasize the friends part enough, it is the thing that has really made this whole voyage worth while. Anyone who has met me in the past four years has known I’ve had this one and only goal, a one-track mind if you will, it was all I talked about and every single one of my actions and thoughts went into this one endeavor, almost to a fault. I would be here until next week thanking everyone who helped me get here personally, but you know who you are and you have no idea how grateful I am.

Pearce and I got into Charleston last week and were greeted by one of the best hostesses a city could ever ask for, a friend I met there a few months ago, Anita. She met us at her dock, her former place of employment, with mimosas and spent the rest of the day touring the city with us. On Tuesday a larger ketch pulled in and the captain was none other than my friend Drew, a guy I met on my first delivery on When and If! And, as it turned out, Hugh, another guy I met on that delivery was living in Charleston! I hadn’t seen these guys in over three years and it was wonderful reminiscing and catching up with them.

On our last night in town (Drew and I had both decided to depart Charleston Thursday) Anita hosted all of us, as well as her three friends, for a spectacular dinner party.

Pearce and I were up at sunrise the next morning but couldn’t get off the dock due to current issues. We waited for slack tide at noon and were off. It was a beautiful sunny day and the wind was about ten knots out of the northeast, which built throughout the afternoon. I’m usually pretty good about seasickness but I won’t lie, on this day I wasn’t. The seas were a very moderate three to five feet, but something hit me the wrong way and I spent the next 18 hours in agony. I think it may be the head cold I have, messing with my inner ear equilibrium and amplifying and feeling of uneasiness. I was pretty much over it by the next morning though, but the wind had died and then switched to the southwest so we motor sailed the remainder of the way into Fernandina Beach. It was surreal coming into St. Mary’s inlet, with Florida to port and Georgia to starboard. I had done it. After four years the goal I had set for myself was finally coming to completion and at 10 pm last night, with my anchor resting on a sandy Florida bottom, it had.