Chip Ford’s 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The Idle Hours II Log/Journal

See also:

The Photo Album

Following the Even Song disaster in 1976 and the crew's two-week getaway down to Key West, I returned home and found an apartment in Salem. After getting moved in and settled, I bumped into Brad. He was also looking for a place to live, so I invited him to move in with me. Almost immediately, he began talking about finding another big old classic wooden boat that needed work, getting started all over again.

He did a lot of research, we drove all around New England looking for "the good deal" from the coast of Maine down to Long Island. We finally found the Idle Hours II, a 46-foot Dawn "commuter-cruiser" built in 1926, out on the southeast tip of Long Island, stored at a marina in Shinnecock Bay, not far inside the inlet.

Brad bought it and in the spring of 1977 we went back down and got it, cruised it home to its new slip at Beverly Harbor Marina. We both quickly gave up the Salem apartment and moved aboard. The restoration and projects began just as immediately.

The first project was to strip the battleship gray paint from the topsides, then varnish the well-preserved mahogany beneath. One of my projects was to better insulate the big icebox beneath the starboard side salon seat and convert it into a refrigerator, a new experiment for me that took over a month to put together and perfect. As well as working as a 110v refrigerator while dockside with shore power, the added insulation kept blocks of ice longer.

In preparation for living aboard through the coming winter, we added electric baseboard heaters with individual thermostats in each cabin. Brad cut the cabin roof off an abandoned boat and added it over the Idle Hours II's cockpit on stanchions, as was the original style of the classic old "commuter-cruisers" back in the '20s. (See "The Late J.C." -- a sister-ship.)

We rode out "The Great Blizzard of '78) and its 3-4 feet of snow aboard Idle Hours II, fortunately covered from stem to stern with heavy canvas; just a flap opening to get in and out of the cabin. After that storm and winter, we were ready for someplace warm come the next one. Our plan was to take Idle Hours II down the coast, through the Intracoastal Waterway and down to the Florida Keys, come fall.

The restoration and projects continued through the spring and summer of 1978: By the end of the fall we were again ready to depart on a new adventure. Since Idle Hours II was powered by twin gas engines, fuel alone for the trip would be expensive. By the time for our departure, we'd recruited a few friends who wanted to come along and share the expenses. Besides Brad and I, his brother Jeff decided to come along for the cruise down and brought two of his friends, John Young and David Able. Our friend Michael Kokernak, who'd moved aboard during the summer, also signed up for the trip.

For the cruise, as well as being the ship's official photographer I would be its navigator. Over the summer I accumulated all the charts we'd need to reach Key West, our ultimate destination, along with the coastal pilot and tide-and-current books. Just before leaving we picked up a Honda generator for general utility and to keep the 110v refrigeration unit chilled while underway.

Bringing the boat back up the coast the following spring, 1979, just Brad and I remained of the original crew, joined by our girlfriends Linda and Alison.

Chip Ford
Monday, December 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 3, 1978 (0930)

This is to be my log of my cruise this year. As of today we will be two days behind our planned departure date. We expect to leave tomorrow morning. We still have to set up the compass for deviation, but if we can leave tomorrow, we can spend the first part of the day doing that.

Along for the cruise aboard the Idle Hours II, the crew will be Michael Kokernak, Jeffrey Barrows, David Abel, John Young and Brad Barrows, along with myself.

We had our first "Bon Voyage Party" at Monica’s apartment last Friday night with about 50 friends and guests dropping in. It was a really good time that went on until after 4:00 am.

Last night we had our second party, a spontaneous affair held while Robert worked in the bilges on the 32 volt electrical system.

We’re now awaiting the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary inspection, then finish up the few details around the boat and do our food shopping. We collected the $1,500 last night from the crew, the agreed to split for estimated fuel cost for the trip.

Wednesday, October 4, 1978 (0800)

This is it! We’re all set to leave today. Brad got a Honda generator yesterday for $100. Still have to get our food provisions and set up the compass, but we should be out of here by 11:00 am.

We had Bon Voyage Party #3 last night. My buddy Bill Green slipped me a $100 bill as a gift of what he called "security money," to keep handy for "an emergency." I’ll put that to good use, one way or another.

Thursday, October 5, 1978 (0700)

What a night it was. We pulled into Misery Island’s cove yesterday afternoon, after we gassed up and left Beverly. (We left at 2:00 pm and arrived at Misery Island at 2:40.) It was too rough with the SE wind so we decided to hold over until today, so we could set up the compass on the courses I’d plotted.

We had a few drinks and ate dinner. We discovered that the refrigerator wasn’t working, were unable to fix it. I eventually went to bed at about 7:30 pm.

I awoke a bit later to a sound much like the boat’s bottom striking something solid, but after an inspection of our surroundings through my hatch, didn’t see any need for alarm. As I laid in my bunk this strange sound continued to interrupt the common and expected sounds of a boat on the water. I didn’t think we were hitting bottom, but it had to be something . . .

Suddenly I heard someone up in the salon, heard Brad mutter, "Oh shit!" As I had my clothes and shoes on in bed (after all, we were at Misery Island weren’t we?), I was up instantly; a quick glance off the port side showed we were among rocks along the shore, much too close to it. I got topside and turned the spotlight on while Brad got one engine running. I went forward and tossed off he mooring line – we had dragged the mooring! Luckily we were able to back right off and out into the cove. We pulled around to the lee of the idland and took the Nibroc’s mooring for the remainder of the night. Misery Island almost got us at long last.

Saturday, October 7, 1978 (0930)

Things just have to get better. We left again yesterday at 7:30 am in pouring rain. The forecast called for one foot seas building to 6-8 feet by afternoon. We got beyond Bakers Island and were greeted by 4-foot seas. Back we came. Upon our return to the dock, we soon discovered a leak in the hull: We’d done damage after all the night out at Misery Island. A chunk out of the keel just behind the stem was letting in a steady flow of sea water. Brad tried repairing it from inside, unsuccessfully. We now plan to beach he boat today at high tide, repair the hull at low tide and attempt departure tomorrow at high tide. How far will we get this time?

Sunday, October 8, 1978 (1020)

We beached Idle Hours II on the sandy shore of Salem Willows at high tide yesterday (4:15 pm); refastened and recaulked the garboard seams on both sides of the bow. Then we waited for the next tide, this morning at 4:15 am. With much difficulty we finally refloated the boat: Boat engines in reverse, kedging with an anchor we set off the stern, and rocking by the crew – with the assistance of Alison, Linda, and Rick, who we temporarily recruited the day before.

We are now preparing to leave, once again. How far will we get today? The weather is clear, though cool. The wind is from the west at 15 knots, temperature in the 50s and the barometer is rising at 39.97. Weather reports are for clear and cool weather for the next few days. We’ll see . . .

Monday, October 9, 1978 ("Columbus Day" – 0915)

We are now docked at the Onset Town Pier at the west end of the Cape Cod Canal. We left yesterday at 10:40 am and ran into problems right off, again. The starboard engine started running badly so we shut it off, ran on the port engine alone. We arrived in Onset at 5:20 pm and ate dinner. Brad found that the problem motor had a bad condenser; we replaced it this morning. We’re now eating breakfast and will be off to Newport, RI, and hopefully beyond (this time).

Tuesday, October 10, 1978 (0715)

We’re just waking up here in Point Judith Pond, beyond the Point Judith harbor of refuge. We arrived here at 3:40 pm yesterday and were able to tie up at a private dock. The homeowner even offered us the use of his outdoor shower, but outdoors was a bit chilly for my taste. I took a bicycle ride to a marina to mail a letter while everyone else explored our new surroundings.

Yesterday we cruised for 5 hours, 20 minutes. We covered 38.3 nautical miles at an average speed of 7.2 knots. Today we decided on an earlier start so we can run further and put more miles between us and winter! We hope to make it to New Haven, CT (84 nms), but that’s questionable.

Rip the sea dog doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself while underway, nor does Brad's Angus the young newfoundland. He goes into a low crouch and just sort of shakes. We experienced 3-5 foot seas yesterday and Rip was shaking most of the time.

At one point we heard a crash and discovered that the starboard side salon door window pane had blown out onto the water!

The compass seemed off quite a bit yesterday, but this may be caused by the strong headwinds and seas. I’m watching this situation closely.

We fueled up yesterday at Point Independence Yacht Club and only required 49.2 gallons of gas. All the running around we did before departing plus our cruise through the canal and beyond on 49.2 gallons; not too bad so far.

Wednesday, October 11, 1978 (0745)

Yesterday was a rough one. We left at 7:40 am and no sooner pulled out beyond the breakwater when the sea got rowdy. One wave came right over the bow, then continued up over the bridge and windshield, soaking us! We decided to put in early at Mystic Harbor, but missed it and wound up in New London instead. We toured around the harbor looking at the USCG square-rigged barque "Eagle" and the Navy’s submarine base.

We finally tied up to a dock with electricity and water. We did some shopping (I got a case of beer) and ate "New London Stew," my new concoction.

I’ve worked out a deal with the crew: I’ll cook if they do the cleaning up after. Everyone seems more than satisfied, so add Boat’s Chef to my other hats as official Navigator and Photographer.

Later Brad, Michael, John and Jeffrey went out clubbing, while Dave and I stayed aboard "guarding." A "wharfinger" stopped by and told us he’d be back in the morning; if we were still here it’d cost us $8.00. Needless to say, we got an early start this morning. I called home last night, mailed a letter home from New London so the folks know what’s happening.

Today the weather report sounds good. We should put some distance behind us. We hope to reach Greenwich by dark and spend the night there. Dave and John have some friends there.

We’ll be underway as soon as Burr’s Marine opens so we can fuel up. (I just met the owners of "Paper Doll" and "Caribbon" of the Cape Ann Marina, tied up here at Burr’s.)

Friday, October 13, 1978 ("Friday the 13th" – 0945)

We just passed Manhatten Island, NY, and the Statue of Liberty on our way down to the New Jersey coast. We made it to Greenwich on Wednesday afternoon and spent the night tied up at their gas dock for no charge. (We bought another $30 in gas.) That evening I made dinner ("Greenwich Gruel" I labeled it) then walked around town.

We departed yesterday morning at 7:30 and pulled into Port Washington at about 9:15 am. Marinas there wanted 50-75 cents a foot so we left. After trying a few other places along the way, we settled for Mayer’s Marina, alongside LaGuardia Airport, which charged 20¢ a foot.

John called some relatives; his aunt picked him up to do our food-shopping. Later that evening his cousin and some friends came down; John went into New York City with them for the night.

We made arrangements for a private dock on Long Beach, on the south side of Long Island. We intended to be there today, but decided to push on through New Jersey instead. I was up at 7:15 this morning and got us underway. No dock bill again – so far it’s cost us nothing for dockage.

We cruised past Clason Point, birthplace of the Idle Hours II, but there was nothing there all these years, decades later.

Our boat’s joint financial account is down to $1,080 – $297 already spent on fuel. (Another new hat for me: "Ship’s Purser"!) We’re going to need conserving fuel the rest of the way if we’re going to make it on the planned $1,500.

Sunday, October 15, 1978 (0730)

As of the last entry above, we headed for New Jersey, but a SW wind and 5-7 foot seas changed our minds for us – we had to turn around and head back to Sandy Hook, NJ for shelter. We followed the notation on our chart made by experienced cruising sailor Pat Haughley ("Thursday’s Child") back in Beverly, and anchored behind the breakwater at the Atlantic Highlands Marina at 2:10 pm. That evening we hit the showers (and a liquor store for beer). Michael and I moved the boat back out while the rest of the crew went carousing in town.

Saturday morning I spotted the " Three Diamonds" from Blue Bell, PA. I rowed over and asked it they knew Joanie O’Toole, who had loaned us the owner’s dock and amenities one night some time back or a previous long-weekend cruise we’d taken down to Nantucket. The owners of "Three Diamonds" also own the tuna canning company by the same name – the brand I’ve always bought since. They informed me that she was presently in Philadelphia, and thanked me for stopping by.

We left at 11:40, later than usual, and cruised down the coastline to Mannasquam Inlet. We arrived there at 3:00 pm. As we cruised up the into the entrance to the Intracoastal Waterway we spotted another vintage Dawn, seemingly a sister-ship of Idle Hours II! We pulled into where "The Late J.C." out of Mystic, CT, was docked, the Bimini Marina, and tied up for a few hours of talking with its owner, Jack Carter (his boat is named after his father). Jack was cruising south also, but singlehanded. We made plans with him to cruise together, and loan him a couple of our crew to provide a hand.

Sunday, October 15, 1978 (1430)

We are off the coast of Ocean City with another 30 miles to reach Cape May. It’s cold and windy (out of the NW) but we are making about 10 knots.

Monday, October 16, 1978 (1000)

We arrived in Cape May Harbor yesterday at 5:15 pm, making a good 85 nm run. We pulled to an empty dock at Seven Evans’ Marina and were told it was closed for the season, so we stayed. At about 8:00 pm a bunch of guys, including one of the Evans, came down and told us we’d have to leave, so moved the boat over to the railway dock alongside "The Late J.C."

We walked over to a nearby tavern for a few drinks then called it a night. I called home then Alison from a pay phone.

We met one Charlie Gague from "Achushla," who was going up Delaware Bay and through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. We took a vote among the crew and Jack Carter. We decided that, though a longer distance (and more fuel consumption), it would be safer taking the C&D Canal route than running outside in the predicted easterly wind.

This morning we cast off at 6:45 am, but once outside the Cape May Canal, Jack Carter (with Jeff and John aboard "The Late J.C.") unexpectedly turned off toward Cape Henlopen. Over the VHF he informed us that he was still planning to go up the bay, but that we were on the wrong course! I rechecked the chart and course then insisted that ours was correct. He said he would go out to the middle, pick up a marker, then go up the bay from there: We would meet up at the C&D Canal. Brad told Jack that they’d have to come up the Chesapeake Bay to meet us if they continued on their course! We haven’t been able to spot them for a few hours now.

Wednesday, October 18, 1978 (1345)

We’re on our way down Chesapeake Bay. We finally met up with "J.C." later Monday. They caught up with us along the C&D Canal. They thought they’d beaten us to the canal, were gloating at the first bridge that they’d arrived ahead of Idle Hours II – until we informed Jack that we’d just passed under the second bridge! After that we started calling them "The LATE Late J.C"!

We dropped anchor in Annapolis Harbor (Maryland) at 7:30 pm, but subsequently moved alongside Jack’s boat at a dock. We decided to take a day off and catch up on laundry and things, so off we six went to the nearby laundromat. After that, Brad and I took off on the bicycles with dogs running alongside and did some sightseeing. Last night we all went out carousing through town getting a good party buzz on along the way. The Pirates of Idle Hours II had landed.

Today we hope to make it to Norfolk, VA, but it took us 11 hours on Monday to make 125 miles and it’s 140 to Norfolk, and due to the fog we didn’t underway until 8:50 am. By comparison, on Monday we were on our way by 6:45 am.

Thursday, October 19, 1978 (1830)

We’ve just pulled over on the ICW for the night (we hope). We passed through the locks at Great Bridge, under the bridge, then pulled over at the public dock.

Yesterday we finally left Annapolis Harbor after the fog lifted, at 8:50 am. We ran out of chart after a while so decided to push on until our next chart became useful, before attempting to enter a harbor for the night.

At 8:30 pm we arrived in Horn Harbor, VA, but what a challenge. Prior to finding the entrance we almost ran into some fish weirs or oyster beds or whatever. It was pitch dark and they weren’t marked whatsoever. We talked to Jack and John aboard "J.C" and Jack assured us that that "I know my way into the harbor like the palm of my hand" – but we knew from recent experience that he never quite knew which hand to look at, and what to do with what he found there, so we told him to follow us – we had a chart, something he continually was lacking. (Jack told us he didn’t believe in them – he’d done this cruise so many times he "didn’t need charts.") He refused, so we continued along our way without him, and two of our crew.

By reading our chart and observing the lights we were able to creep through the narrow, shallow inlet into Horn Harbor. As we crept along feeling our way we tried to contact "J.C." on the VHF, but there was no reply. Unable to advise them of the situation, we continued on – fully expecting that the next time we heard from them they’d likely be aground.

Sure enough! Just as Idle Hours II was almost through the many hazards we got their call – "J.C" was hard aground. Jack wanted us to venture back out, tie a line to our stern, and pull his boat off. We kicked that idea around a bit, gave it some thought and discussion (none of it flattering), and advised him he to call the Coast Guard – we were not coming back out for him now.

John, our crewmate, finally convinced him that he had a better chance of getting free with the boat’s motors in reverse rather than in forward – that he was burning out his engines trying to park further up on the sandbar. Jack finally managed to break free in reverse, minus one damaged diesel engine.

By that time all of us had just about had it with the "Late Jack Carter" – we all were on edge watching him attempt to follow our directions in with his VHF radio switched off. When he finally pulled in to the dock where Idle Hours II was tied up, struggled not to slam into our bow after unsuccessfully trying inadvertently to ram us broadside, we all just yelling, venting our frustrations in unison at him. He later decided – very diplomatically? – that he would leave in the morning by himself. (I wonder if Jeff telling him that none of our crew would go along with him again had any influence on Jack’s decision?) Farewell, The Late Late J.C., may you rest in peace.

Friday, October 20, 1978 (1550)

We should reach Albemarle Sound shortly. No problems where we docked last night. We pulled out at 10:20 am, as soon as Brad and Michael got the 32v generator working. (It needed a new belt and to be repositioned.) At 12:10 pm we stopped for a bridge opening and were spotted by a woman from "Achusla" at Captain Kidd’s Marina where they were docked. It’s been a pretty uneventful day. The waterway is calm, running through marshes and woodland. In some spots the canal is only 30 yards or so across. So far, the ICW seems well marked; with the help of our charts and vigilance, navigating is no problem.

This morning I wrote postcards to Rick, Alison, Barry & Betty, Monica, and Charlie. I also took this leisurely opportunity to clean up the bicycle I borrowed from my brother John and spray a coat of LPS on it. Amazing how quickly they begin to corrode aboard.

At 2:20 pm we stopped at CoinJock Marina and fueled up. We bought some milk and things, I mailed my postcards. We’re down to about $700 for fuel expenses now.

Sunday, October 22, 1978 (0930)

Friday we arrived on Little Alligator River and dropped the anchor at 6:45 pm. There were a few other boats there, all sail. We sat around and watch a little TV then hit the bunks early.

Saturday we hoisted anchor at 10:10 am. We’d just run out of propane for the cooking stove; figured on arriving at Belhaven, NC, in the afternoon and refilling the tank there. We cruised down the Alligator River to the Pungo River all day, pulled into Belhaven at 4:35 pm. On the way I wrote a letter, polished the chrome in the cockpit, and took my turn at the helm. It was a calm and quite day of cruising.

After unsuccessfully trying to refill the propane tank at the first marina we came to, River Forest Marina, we docked at Jordan Yacht Marina (30¢ a foot) then set out to find propane, food, liquor, ice, and a good bar. We finally got everything but the tavern – no pirating available, darn. Instead we spent another quiet night onboard.

I called home last night, asked them to send more of my money. It’s supposed to be wired to Western Union in Charlestown, SC. I’ll pick it up there in a few days.

We arose early this morning to leave, but were fogged in. I hope to make it to Morehead City tonight, but that’s about a 10-hour cruise, so we’ll have to be leaving shortly if we’re to make it by nightfall.

Belhaven, the only stopover between Great Bridge and Morehead City, was a big disappointment. A quiet (dead is more accurate) town with little to no entertainment – a pool hall downtown, a private club at the next marina. This is, as the waterway guide terms it, "Brown-bag Country"!

Monday, October 23, 1978 (1130)

We’re just leaving Oriental, NC, on our way to Morehead City. Yesterday we pulled out of Belhaven at 10:00 am, as soon as the fog lifted. No charge for dockage again! We made it as far as the Hobucken Bridge, which was closed since the previous day for repairs. We rafted up with some 25 other boats long awaiting the bridge’s opening. At 12:20 we concocted the original "Pungo River Punch" then sat back enjoying our wait. The bridge wasn’t supposed to open until 2:00 pm, if we boaters were lucky. It was sunny and in the high-‘80s so we broke out the sun-tan oil and cut-offs! The bridge finally opened at 2:25 and the stacked-up boats slowly drained through.

We arrived in Oriental at about 5:45. Brad and I walked over to "Miss Oriental" and talked to its owner about lettering his transom. Unfortunately he’d just engaged someone else’s service the day before, oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Last night we crew all went off to "the tavern," sat around ingesting 50¢ draftees. We have 25 miles to go today to reach Morehead City, about all I feel up for.

Wednesday, October 25, 1978 (1645)

We arrived in Morehead City at 2:15 pm, gassed up at the Gulf Dock. We calculated the gas mileage to be better than a mile a gallon now at 2200 rpms. We tied up at Captain Bill’s Restaurant next to the gas dock. Brad and I rode around town on the bicycles, later took showers at the Gulf gas dock and marina’s shower. I retired early that night.

Idle Hours II departed at 7:40 on Tuesday for its next leg, to Southport. As soon as we hit the Waterway we saw a school (or pod, whatever) of dolphins swimming alongside. I took a few photos of them jumping across our bow.

We pulled into Southport at 6:30 pm and tied up at the gas dock there. We had dinner then went to Wittler’s Inn in town. I borrowed $10 from Jeff and ended up spending seven of it. It’s the first bar we’ve been in where there have been any women! We all got thoroughly bombed before returning to the boat, didn’t hit the bunks until quite late.

I got up for our departure at 8:00 am to a very quiet boat, then climbed back into bed too to suffer quietly through my own hangover. Activity aboard didn’t commence until after noontime – boy, those Tuesday nights of pirating are getting worse. Nonetheless, we should arrive in Georgetown, SC, in less than an hour – our stopover for tonight. Let’s see if we can keep up our record; we still haven’t had to pay for dockage!

Monday, October 30, 1978 (1045)

I haven’t had much chance to make any entries in this log/journal lately. I’ll try to bring it up to date now from my notes.

We arrived in Georgetown on Wednesday at 6:00 pm, tied up to a dilapidated dock right in town. This dock was so bad you had to watch every step you took – even the dogs had a rough time of it. But it was FREE again!

We took showers at the local Gulf Marina and after dinner Jeff and I did our laundry at its laundromat. It was another early turn-in for the night soon after.

In the morning we departed at 10:00 am for the short run to Charlestown. We gassed up at the Gulf dock, 139.9 gallons for $98.91, which figured out to be 1.4 miles per gallon, a little better than we’d been doing. We stopped to look at a ketch, about a 50-footer named "Hallee" which needed quite a bit of cosmetic work. Jeffrey left a note and photo of Idle Hours II, inquiring about potentially buying it. Old wooden project boats must run in the Barrows family!

We arrived in Charlestown on Thursday at 5:30 pm, tied up at the municipal marina. They stuck us way out on the end, alongside an Army Corp of Engineers boat for the night. We paid (PAID for the first time!) $11.25 for the night. I called Western Union about my expected money transfer, but they were closed.

The six of us took a cab (a buck apiece) into the town proper (to the Market Place) and patronized a few of the local taverns. (It was Pirate Time all over again!) We finally ended up right down the street from the marina, at a place called Xanadu’s. While there, Dave and I spoke with the owner of the establishment who’d just thrown a big party in the side room. He invited us to the leftover food from the shindig, so we the unabashed crew of the pirate boat Idle Hours II not only pigged-out but were urged to take a bunch of it back to the boat. Sheesh, twist our arms!

The next morning we were moved to a better slip at the marina. It appeared that in the confusion the dockmaster thought we’d paid up through the weekend -- and who were we pirates to bicker?

As Brad, the two dogs and I left on our bicycles, the dockmaster asked for me – he had a message for me. Juanita Foster (Pat Haughney’s significant other aboard "Thursday’s Child" back in Beverly and a Charlestown, SC, native born and bred) had called and wanted me to call her back collect at work. When I got in touch, she told me that she’d fix us up with some of her and Pat’s friends down here. We spoke a few more times to make further arrangements.

When Brad and I arrived at Western Union there was no money awaiting me, so I called home. They hadn’t sent it out because they didn’t know where I was! So the folks said they’d send it immediately. It picked it up at about 5:30 that evening. I made arrangements with the folks to call Alison at Barry’s house that night at 8:30, where she’d be, and wished Dad a happy birthday.

Tuesday, October 31, 1978 (1310)

To continue on . . . Juanita had her friend Earl call us later last Friday. He agreed to meet us at the boat later that evening. He took us (two carload trips) to the White Horse Tavern for happy hour. I called Alison at Barry & Betty’s house as arranged and talked with her for a while – then Linda wanted Brad to to call her, so I found him and we called back.

This time we spent about an hour on the phone. The two girls were going to try getting Michael’s twin brother Carl to fly them down on Sunday! After that we wound up back at Xanadu’s for the evening. We got back to the boat at about 1:30 am.

Saturday was spent mostly in pirate’s recovery mode, but that evening we were back up in true piracy form – for the crew’s morale mind you. We all walked into town and again went from bar to bar; Whittier’s to Willard’s to Don Quixote’s, etc. We wound up back at the boat at about 12:30 am Saturday night – where we found Alison, Linda and Carl waiting! I stayed up most of the night until near dawn catching up with Alison.

Sunday, Alison and I took the bicycles and rode around town, stopping at Wendy’s for dinner. That evening we all stayed aboard. Carl and the girls were supposed to fly out on his plane at 1:000 pm, but decided to stay another day. Carl was still tired from the flight down and, well, the girls certainly weren’t in any rush – they only had work and school the next morning!

On Monday morning we all parted company at 8:30 am: Them back to Massachusetts, and we the crew continuing along on our voyage.

Idle Hours II pulled out of Charlestown Harbor at 8:45 am. Both motors died on the way out of the harbor due to a break in the battery cable, but with a quick repair we were soon back on our way. We arrived in Beaufort, SC, at 4:20 pm, gassed up at the municipal marina (96.1 gallons for $67.21), then tied up along their wall for the night. The seven foot tides made setting up a bit of a problem, but we were soon secured and comfortable. From there we went out food-shopping and exploring the town – which took about half an hour. Back aboard we had dinner, watched some TV, then hit the bunks early.

We left Beaufort this morning at 8:00 am for Savannah, GA. This should be another easy day. We’re doing a lot of zigzagging around these rivers and creeks, but we’re getting further south every day! The sun returned this afternoon, after disappearing last Saturday. For this we are most grateful.

Friday, November 3, 1978 (1000)

We never made it to Savannah: We passed it by at about 12:30 pm and decided it was too early to stop. Everyone is now running low on money and wants to push on to Florida so we can get some work and money saved up. We stopped beyond mile 625 at Cow Pens Creek, anchored along with six million no-see-um flies! We left there at 7:40 am Wednesday and continued on.

At 4:30 pm we crossed into Florida! We had a celebration drink then pulled into the Fernandina Beach Florida welcome station for our free orange juice. We had a free dock there, but a shrimper pulled in and wanted to tie up alongside, so we moved and found another free dock.

We departed Fernandina Beach at 9:50 am on Thursday. I spent most of the day shining up the brass air-scoops. It was sunny and everyone just relaxed. We arrived at St. Augustine at 5:00 pm and fueled up at the municipal marina (173.4 gallons for $119.50), but they had no available slips for the night. It was a really nice marina with floating docks, electricity, showers, all the amenities for only 20¢ a foot – but full. We went across the river to the Anchorage Motel & Marina and tied up, then found that the owner wanted 50¢ a foot plus another $2.50 for an electric hookup – plus another additional $2.50 for showers. We ended up paying $12, then used the electricity for nothing (as pirates often do so long as they don’t get caught and hanged).

We went out last night to Mario & Chickee’s and drank 25¢ draftees: A pretty decent place. Today we’re going to beach the boat for a second shot at the persistent but minor leak in the hull since Misery Island. South of St. Augustine and its one foot tide, there’s not much of any. I may have a boat-lettering job here too, but if it doesn’t work out I’ve got to find one soon – I’m almost broke again.

Monday, November 6, 1978 (2:00 pm)

Saturday we left Anchorage Motel & Marina and tried again for a slip at the municipal marina with equal success. We found that it was too rough to beach the Idle Hours II for the planned repair. Subsequently, we pulled into a cove and, after being ordered to leave a private dock by a security guard, we anchored out just off the crucifix monument. We put out a stern anchor, then ran a line ashore with which to pull the dinghy in. We spent that afternoon ashore doing laundry. I was presented with a case of beer and $20 as a birthday gift by the crew so it was a good party night for all.

Sunday we beached the boat at about 11:30 am, then awaited low tide to get at repairing the leaky seams. By dark we were awaiting the tide to refloat us.

That evening while waiting for the tide, Jeff, John and I rowed ashore to shower and make a few phone calls. I called home and got a shock of news: The Bowditch, Fred Streng’s 38' steel-hulled ketch, had capsized and sunk off the Bahamas after being caught unawares by Hurricane Kendra (?) – all of the crew of four, of which I was once supposed to be, were rescued by a Cuban trawler and were safe in a Cuban hospital. Along for the cruise in my last-minute place was the director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Recreational Vehicles. This was the last thing I’d expected to hear, or to ever happen. I was supposed to be on that boat, until the crew of the Idle Hours II firmly committed to head south before next winter. After the Even Song disaster, Fred agreed that it was more important that I go along as navigator with my friends then him holding me to my commitment to crew for him.

We finally found a shower in a hotel room that was being renovated (pirates must be resilient and adaptable). It was really a gracious gesture by the desk clerk to offer it to us.

We stopped on the way back to the boat for a few beers then walked on to the cove. We were informed that the boat still leaked, that we’d have to await the next tide. We woke up the next morning at about 5:00 am in a funhouse of sloping floors and slanted walls. We dug out the boat, determined where the leak remained, fixed it, and went back to bed to await the incoming one-foot tide. At about 9:00 am we pulled off the island and motored back over to the municipal dock, where we were finally granted a slip. After cleaning up the disaster area the boat had become and taking showers, we all took off to explore St. Augustine. Brad and I peddled around town on the bicycles. The crew sat in last night and watch "The Sting" on TV.

This morning we were up early and ready to shove off. After running a few last minute errands ashore, we departed St. Augustine at 10:30 am headed next for Daytona Beach.

Wednesday, November 8, 1978 (0900)

We arrived at Daytona Beach at 4:30 pm and tied up at a hotel’s private dock, Pendleton Condominiums, so I could ride up to the local Western Union office to pick up more of my money. John and I returned to the boat and moved it to the municipal marina across the river, where we tied up for the night at its gas dock and inhaled more fuel. (45.5 gallons for $31.09.) After dinner we all took a walk to the beach, while John left to meet his parents who were staying in town. We found a bar serving 25¢ draftees and free pizza, so we hung around for a while as good pirates are wont to do in such circumstances.

The next morning John and Jeff decided to leave for home from Daytona Beach, so we waited around for them to pack. Brad and I took a ride down along the beach; I tried unsuccessfully to find a copy of the Boston Globe in the hope of learning more details about what happened to the Bowditch.

We said our good-byes to the departing crew, John and Jeff, then pulled out of Daytona Beach at 11:20 am. I’d talked with Alison to make arrangements to have someone at Logan International Airport in Boston to pick up Jeff and John. At the same time, she informed me that she’s preparing to come down and meet us. I agreed to call her again when we reach Miami or Boca Raton.

The weather yesterday was pretty lousy: Cloudy all day and rain most of the afternoon. We arrived at Cocoa at 6:10 pm and found a public dock just beyond the bridge. There wasn’t a soul around in what looked like a park of playground. We had 4½ feet of water alongside the dock with virtually no tide, so we stayed there for the night. No water or electricity, but no charge either.

We walked to the closest supermarket and bought about $50 worth of groceries and borrowed a shopping cart to bring them back to the boat, about a mile away. We were stopped by the local gendarmes on our way; I explained the situation and told them we’d return the cart, so they allowed us to continue on our way unmolested, unrestrained.

This morning we left at 7:25 am heading for Stuart. I decided to start over on my "Boat Lettering" signboard. Boy, what a project it has become! I re-did it about a week ago: Sanded the old lettering off, put on a new coat of varnish, re-lettered it, then put on another coat of varnish -- to which I must have added too much Penetrol. It still hadn’t completely dried. All kinds of dirt, dust. and fingerprints have settled into the finish. After trying all sorts of last ditch methods, I decided to just start over from scratch again – this is after all my only advertising along this cruise.

Tuesday, November 14, 1978 (1145)

Back again at last. It’s been quite a while since my last entry. We’re right now cruising through the Florida Keys under sunny skies, temperature is in the ‘80s, the water’s about seven feet deep and crystal clear – a light turquoise green in color, just like in the travel brochures! I’ve got a bit of catching up to bring this up to date.

Wednesday, November 8th , we arrived in Manatee Pocket, St. Lucie Inlet at 5:30 pm and anchored out. Brad and I rowed ashore and walked around for a while, getting caught in the rain. (Who cares, it’s warm out!) David did some fishing off the boat, quickly catching a sort of catfish, plentiful in the area.

We left at 7:30 am Thursday morning heading for West Palm Beach, where I hoped to find "White Dove" of Rye, NH, which I’d arranged to letter back in Beverly when and if we got down here. We checked out all the marinas without success, finally stopping at the Lantana Boatyard for fuel and a phone call to Carlene, the boat’s owner. (Gas: 67.6 gallons at $49.26.)

Carlene didn’t answer, so we continued on to Boca Raton, stopping at the Cee Bee Marina. We’d stopped at the Cove Marina first, but they wanted 50¢ a foot, so we went up the canal and wound up with free dockage. What really nice folks we met there. The broker, a woman named Pat, came aboard, being very impressed with our boat.

We went ashore for dinner at a local Wendy’s. I actually recognized where I was from the last time I was down here with Monica in ‘76! Carlene, my hopefully next boat-lettering customer, still hadn’t arrived. I gave my old army buddy, Bob Boschen of Boca Raton, a call but is parents told me he was up in Connecticut. We crew ended up in a local bar for a few drinks that night (50¢ for a gin and tonic, 75¢ for bottled beer) that evening.

While we were sitting aboard the boat prior to stepping out for the night, having a last drink, Rip the Boat Dog let out an ungodly howl. We quickly looked up and around, discovered the bow swinging out with the current! The bow line had broken free, the boat was on its way out from the dock! I leaped to the dock as Brad raced for the bridge and controls. Michael jerked out the shore power plug and threw it to the dock (in the process falling overboard) as I whipped out my knife and cut the taut stern line free. The spring line tore out the cleat amidships on the starboard side along with a three foot section of the toe rail. With Brad at the helm, the engines now running and the boat freed from the dock, he pulled the boat back into the dock and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. If we hadn’t had that last drink aboard we wouldn’t have been around when it let loose . . . and would likely have lost another boat.

I called Alison that night and made arrangements to meet her at the Ft. Lauderdale municipal marina the next day: She’d already sold her daddy's gift Volkswagon, quit college, and bought a ticket to Miami -- I think she must miss me. We took off at 9:30 am on Friday, November 10th heading to Ft. Lauderdale. We arrived at 12:10 pm.

We got a slip there right alongside the canal wall. It was a really nice spot, and at 20¢ a foot! Once settled, Brad and I did our laundry, then later David and I went for a bicycle ride. When we got back, Alison had arrived.

That evening we went to a few bars in a car Michael managed to borrow from a friend who lived in town. Nothing to write about concerning that night – just a typical evening of carousing with one less unattached pirate among the crew.

We all went to the beach the next day, catching a bus around the corner. Michael stayed behind to meet his friend. Alison and I walked around shopping for a bathing suit for her, but they were too expensive at $20-$30, so we settled for seats in the Propeller Tavern for lunch instead.

Sunday Alison and I cleaned up the boat some and just hung around. Brad and David took the bicycles for the day; Michael was off somewhere. We had a big roast beef dinner aboard that night.

Monday morning we took off for Miami and, as nobody had asked, we didn’t bother offering to pay. Another free dockage, for three days. We left at 10:10 am and arrived in Miami by 2:30 pm. We cruised up the Tamiami Canal looking at all the derelict and seized boats. We fueled up at Dawson’s Marine Service (130 gallons for $88.50) then continued on. We arrived at Pumpkin Key at 7:30 pm to anchor, but discovered – low and behold – a brand new, deserted marina and dock. A 50-plus foot ketch was tied up already and its crew of about seven welcomed us and took our lines.

It turned out that they were on a 3-day charter, and came over will all kinds of drinks and the makings. We partied all night with them – it was Michael’s birthday so we had a reason, at least a rationale. I ended up swimming that night, after losing my wallet overboard. The water was great!

We headed along our way this morning at 6:35 am for Key West, hitting our first sight of the sparkling pale turquoise waters of the Florida Keys. I can watch the bottom passing beneath us. We passed over a snorkel I spotted from the bow on the bottom and went back. I dove overboard and retrieved it! At about 11:00 am we stopped the boat; David, Brad and I did some snorkeling, along with Rip and Angus, the boat dogs, of course.

Friday, December 8, 1978 (1000)

Well here we are, finally in the Florida Keys and things really are laid-back here! I’m catching up with my writing, again, picking up where I left off.

At 8:00 pm on November 14th we arrived in Key West, at the Key West Yacht Club. We stayed there until the 16th looking for permanent dockage without success. We didn’t do better anywhere else.  In the end, we visited with Warren Patick at his job as desk clerk for the Southern Cross Hotel for a bit, hit the touristas spots like Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s, and discussed our dismal prospects in Key West.

We decided to head up to Marathon on Key Vaca to look for dockage there for the winter, leaving Key West at 1:35 pm. We dropped the Northill anchor with a trip line off Little Spanish Key in Big Spanish Channel at 6:30, just after sunset, and threw out the Danforth as added protection in the wind. Come morning at 9:15 am, we went to pull up the anchors and discovered that only the Danforth had kept us from dragging!

We arrived at Boot Key Marina, Marathon, on November 17th at noon. We set out in groups to look for a permanent dock; a difficult task this time of season we were learning.

David and Alison found one right next door, at the Lion’s Den Travel Park – a run-down trailer park with a run-down cement wall on a canal, but with electric power from a nearby utility pole and water faucets. We moved in on Saturday, November 18th. We’ve got permanent dockage, electric, water, rustic showers, and our own thatched tiki-hut but a step alongside the boat for just $80 a month rent!  Paradise if not damn near heaven.

We went out to the nearby reef on Sunday for some snorkeling and fishing, with our usual success. It’s sure a good thing that we’re not trying to live off the ocean! We got all kinds of advice, tackle and bait across the Overseas Highway at Hall's Bait and Tackle – but forgot to buy any luck.

Socially, this island seems to be pretty dead. There are two clubs, the Brass Monkey and the (honest to God) Idle Hours – with a new disco that just opened last Friday. We can’t pick up any TV stations very well, if at all. There are no FM radio stations and only a couple AM signals we can get.

I’ve been doing pretty well with sign-painting work already. I finally got a phone number (with no phone aboard, how do you find work?); Hall’s Bait and Tackle across the street is letting me use theirs and keeping messages for me. When I first went out (on my bicycle with its newspaper racks) I landed my first job right off lettering a boat in Key Colony Marina: Sundancer, Marathon FLA for $80. A couple of days later I did Rainbow, Baton Rouge for another $80. Next came Eaglet, Wilmington at Boot Key Marina for another $80.

I got a message from Hall’s to do a job at Faro Blanco Marina, but while on my way over Dean, from Marathon Marina, stopped by and drove me to their yard to letter Ray Allen, Marathon FLA on transom and bow sides for $105. Then I went across OS Highway to Faro Blanco and did T.P. Estero Is., FLA for $45. I got another job from there which I’m doing today, Mad Dog for another $40. Not a bad income ($390) for a week’s worth of work so soon after arriving and making myself known!

-- A continuing work in progress - more to come --

Last Updated:
June 21, 2011

You are the
Hit Counter
visitor to read Idle Hours II’s log