A storm to remember

A Storm to Remember

One boater recounts her family’s terrifying ordeal on Lake Champlain

By Diane Ptak

One summer about 50 years ago, my family voyaged to Montreal for our annual cruise. We began our excursion at Waterford, New York, passed through the 11 locks of the 60-mile Champlain Canal, and entered Lake Champlain.

Dad, Mom and we five children—ages 3, 5, 10, 11 and 13—relaxed aboard Princess IV, our 24-foot twin-engine wooden-hull Trojan Sedan cabin cruiser (circa 1960). While leading a small convoy of boating enthusiasts north on the 120-mile-long lake, we encountered a horrific storm. Our boat took a beating. Luckily, we were riding with the current. The wind, waves and rain were another matter.

Having perfected his United States Power Squadrons Seamanship skills, Dad repeatedly examined our vessel instrument panel gauges—tachometer, engine hour meter, ammeter, engine temperature, oil pressure and the fuel gauge to the 50-gallon tank. Then he ran the bilge pump and Raytheon depth sounder. Despite knowing the lake well, he double-checked the compass and nautical charts to avoid crashing into rocks. He knew that when you hit rocks, the rocks win. He was also alert to unusual boat sounds.

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Top view of Nao Santa Maria in Beaufort

Piloting a Historic Replica

By Howard Heckrotte with Douglas Nelson

Photos by Bob Corso

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources 25-foot twin-engine fast boat propelled us through rain and 3- to 4-foot seas at over 35 knots for a rendezvous with the Santa Maria. The North Atlantic waves pitched and yawed the two vessels. When a higher wave materialized, the 25-footer went into thin air, engines over-revving before thudding back into a trough, testing knee and shoulder sinews as white knuckles gripped the center-console grab rail.

The DNR officer smiled thinly and throttled back a bit, continuing a course to our rendezvous point, unseen in the rain and light fog but somewhere a few miles ahead. I was wondering how the boarding would take place when the ship’s profile appeared out of the sea mist, looking daunting.

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Sailor satiates wanderlust, grows on Salish Sea

Sailor satiates wanderlust, grows at helm on the Salish Sea

By Patrick O’Brien

After years of living in Boulder, Colorado, we moved to Oriental, North Carolina, to cruise the Atlantic coast and beyond on a 40-foot Passport. After enduring the rigors of offshore sailing for two years, we sold the boat and returned to Boulder, only to stay for a year before leaving for Seattle, Washington.

Wanderlust seems to be a force in my life, and with it comes the desire to grow as a sailor.
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Racer's Edge--How Chris-Craft got its start

Racer’s edge—Chris-Craft boats

Before he founded Chris-Craft, Christopher Columbus Smith of Algonac, Michigan, built some of the first gasoline-powered boats as well as the earliest speed boats. In 1915 his Miss Detroit won the Gold Cup.

Garfield “Gar” Wood bought Miss Detroit and Smith’s company, and for six years, Smith built race boats under Wood’s direction. By 1921 they had won five more Gold Cups and two Harmsworth Trophies.

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