Gray whale in Guerrero Negro

Boaters get up close and personal with gray whales

By Cheryl Veldhuisen

A favorite activity for boaters in California is taking a trip off the coast to see migrating gray whales.

These 45-foot-long, 35-ton mammals spend the summer months (June through September) feeding in the Arctic Ocean by scooping up mouthfuls of the ocean floor, straining out the unwanted mud and water through their baleens, and eating the remaining krill and tiny amphipods.

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Maine Windjammer Cruises schooner Mistress ready to set sail.

Cruising Penobscot Bay

Sailing Maine’s coast aboard a full crewed schooner

By David Mangold

We wanted to sail the coast of Maine but were not keen on doing a bareboat charter. Maine Windjammer Cruises made our decision to explore the evergreen-spangled islands of Penobscot Bay easy by providing us with a rustic schooner complete with captain, crew and provisions.

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The Galapagos of North America

Sailing Channel Islands National Park

The Galapagos of North America

By Keith Dahlin

For over a year, my family and I have been sailing Steadfast, our Spindrift 43, out of Channel Islands Harbor in Ventura County, California. Eleven miles west of the harbor, a two- to three-hour sail, lies Anacapa Island. Beyond Anacapa sit three larger islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. These islands, along with Santa Barbara Island to the south, make up the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary.

Called the Galapagos of North America for their unique natural history, these islands also have a cultural history that spans at least 13,000 years. Local anthropologist Phil Orr discovered the 13,000-year-old remains of “Arlington Springs Man” on Santa Rosa Island in 1959. Perhaps the oldest dated human remains in North America, Arlington Springs Man supports the theory that the first immigrants to North America migrated along the Pacific coast from Siberia and Alaska using boats to inhabit the Channel Islands.

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La Isla Bonita

Sailors recall trip to Canary Islands

By Howard and Judy Wang

The night before Laelia’s departure from Santa Cruz de la Palma, Canary Islands, off Africa’s west coast, everything is calm and quiet except for the clanking and clacking of dock hardware and the groaning of boat and lines. The overcast sky reveals no stars or moon, and the humid wind nearly drips with moisture.

Well-provisioned, Laelia sits low in the water, showing little waterline. With water tanks and fuel tanks at the full mark, the boat stands ready for the 20- to 25-day, 2,800-nautical-mile sail across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.

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From Newport News to Mystic

From Newport News, VA, to Mystic, CT

By Paul Gray

In early fall, my friend Al Bezanson used to sail Green Dragon, a small wooden schooner he’s had since 1963, down south to the Chesapeake for the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. After spending the winter in Norfolk, Virginia, Green Dragon would head north to cruise the Massachusetts and Maine coasts all summer long.

One year I joined Al and Jay Irwin for the return trip north. We planned to leave Norfolk early on a Friday, round Cape Charles, sail directly to Montauk and head into Mystic, Connecticut, sometime on Sunday, sailing nonstop for about 60 hours.

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Tips for cruising the Bahamas

Tips for cruising the Bahamas

By George Shaw

Depending on who is counting, the Bahamas consist of about 700 islands, limestone cays and rocks. A dozen have a significant population; others house a couple of families or a few fishermen.

The area is one large plateau of sediment brought in by the prevailing equatorial current as well as limestone deposited over thousands of years by sea creatures who made the area their final home.

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From Cancun to Punta Gorda

Sailing from Cancun to Punta Gorda

Sailing trip around the Dry Tortugas puts book learning to the test

By Dannela Varel

After many years of boating experience—living aboard, running a marina, working for a cruise line, being a member of two squadrons and completing all USPS courses—I decided to put my boating knowledge to the test.

A local boat, Calypsa, was offering passage from Punta Gorda, Florida, to Belize and back, but I could only join for the Cancun to Punta Gorda leg, so I arranged to fly to Cancun to meet Calypsa at the Hacienda Del Mar Marina.

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Sea Rays trek to Sleeping Bear Dunes

Sea Rays trek to Sleeping Bear Dunes

By Tim Healey

I had recently bought a used 2005 Sea Ray 200 Sundeck, a near carbon copy of my buddy Pat Flynn’s boat, except mine was red and his, blue. Earlier in the summer, we’d made a few short trips to Long Tail Point in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and my Sea Ray had handled the chop when the wind picked up in the bay.

Although both native Michiganders, my wife, Amy, and I have lived in Green Bay for 20-plus years. Pat and his wife, Mary, are both born and bred cheeseheads. Mary had seen the “Pure Michigan” TV commercials featuring Charlevoix, Sleeping Bear Dunes and other picturesque Michigan scenes. When I heard that she put a bug in Pat’s ear about visiting, I said we should consider a trip with the two boats.

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The Charm of Battle Island, Lake Superior

The charm of Battle Island, Lake Superior

by Boni Thibert

Lake Superior’s real charm lies hidden among its many islands. Of the lake’s ideal anchorages, one in particular—Battle Island—stands out. With a safe harbor, good holding ground, free moorings and a small concrete dock, this exceptional spot welcomes boaters with a tranquil breeze and magnificent views.

To enter the little harbor on Superior’s northern shore you must pass between two small islands that blend in with the shoreline. You get an uneasy feeling as you head toward the rocky coast looking for the little opening that appears on the chart but can’t be seen until you are upon it.

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Tidal extremes in the Bay of Fundy

Tidal extremes in the Bay of Fundy

By Arnold M. Bucksbaum

Our last stop on a cruise of the states and provinces north of New York City was Saint John in New Brunswick, Canada, on the Bay of Fundy. Although I’ve taken many United States Power Squadrons courses and studied tides in Advanced Piloting, I wasn’t prepared for what I encountered on the Bay of Fundy.

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Cruisers charter catamaran in Thailand

Cruisers find adventure in Thailand

By Marie Genteale

When new sailing friends asked Chris and me to join them in chartering a 46-foot catamaran in Phuket, Thailand, we said yes. The vessel had four staterooms and four heads, a large common area inside and out, and was a stiff sailor. A dinghy and two double kayaks would allow us to go exploring.

We arrived in Phuket four days early, checked out the vessel and took in the countryside. One day we rode elephants through the jungle and kayaked on swollen rivers. Another day we toured Phuket, visited the great marble Buddha overlooking the harbor and shopped. Our hotel, the Supalai, sat high on a hill above the sea.

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Sucia Island

Sucia Island, jewel of the northwest

By Linda Newland

In the northern San Juan Islands, the 564-acre Sucia Island State Park features incredible scenery, 77,700 feet of shoreline and solid holding ground, making it the area’s premier anchorage.

Named in 1791 by Spanish explorers, sucia means “dirty” or “foul,” referring to the reefs and hidden rocks surrounding the island. With this in mind, keep your charts current, pay particular attention to the reef on the north shore, keep a close eye on the depth finder and charts, and you should have little problem safely navigating the area.

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