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Marion wrote: I am a sea lover. Seems to be an interesting cruise. david martin Abrahams would love to travel on it.

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Just Add Water!
The adventures of running a yacht from Maryland to Florida

Thirty-five years ago I sat on mom’s lap riveted to her every word as she told stories about Jacques Cousteau (whom I met), pirates of the North Atlantic, and ghost ships galore. Little did I know that I would revisit these stories in real life. Yes, my mom is a saint, and she inspired me to pursue my dreams. Here is one of my fondest.

There are three North American motorized voyages that I have wanted to make and that everyone should make once in their lifetime. This is my story about one of the most exciting. By the way those voyages are...

  1. Driving from Cabo san Lucas, Mexico, to San Francisco.
  2. Driving from Massachusetts to Key West, Florida.
  3. Running a yacht from Annapolis, Maryland, down the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida, the Bahamas, and beyond. I’m no Hemingway but, if you bear with me, you’ll know what not to do when traveling the Intracoastal.

My most recent journey started on a cold and forbidding day in December, 2004. I departed from the Indian River inlet in Delaware bound for Annapolis after purchasing a refurbished Hatteras Sports Fisher. The very first day was an expensive disaster as we took on water, lost an engine, and limped into a small town in Delaware at two in the morning. The Delaware Bay can be very unforgiving in late December. On the first leg I spent $20,000, lost one of my best friends, and almost died running in fog that was thicker than a bad batch of turkey gravy.
It might help if I give the readers a little background on my world. In December of 1999 my dot-com company was purchased by a Fortune 25 company and was part of one of the largest e-commerce purchases in dot-com history. Yeah, it only took me 20 years to become successful overnight! There were years in which my maids made more money than I did...The day it hit I cried like a baby, having achieved my life-long dream at the age of 39, or so I thought. I started a charter company to provide my clients with yachts, jets, and villas all over the world. I felt my special insight as an owner and luxury traveler would enable me to provide valuable knowledge to my clients and friends.
On with the show...part of the joy and excitement of any voyage is the anticipation. Months before my departure I lived on the Internet, finding software, cruising guides, and Intracoastal war stories every day. My provisioning included the prerequisite trip to Target with mom in tow, buying all the staples for my voyage. Although I tried to become familiar with various ports of call beforehand, I refused to chart arrival dates, not knowing what my daily mileage would be. This turned out to be appropriate as I spent three weeks awaiting the Daytona 500, and two more weeks awaiting the Super Bowl. My pretrip planning included $3,000 worth of maintenance-related work in order to be shipshape.
Although I have lived on yachts before, I have not captained one for any distance so for this trip I decided to hire a licensed captain for the first leg. What a mistake. I departed day one full of zest and lathered with Old Spice – I couldn’t hide the euphoria I had looked forward to this day for years. Day one was overcast with 15 knot winds and 4’–6’ seas in the Delaware Bay with the wind temps at 36 degrees. We were headed for Annapolis through the C and D canal. Two hours into the voyage the port engine began to blow black smoke and I recommended that the captain shut it down so as not to cause damage to the Volvo Penta. He chose to ignore that request and we spent the next 30 minutes losing more and more power. The seas were around 6 feet and, as any seasoned mariner knows, running in bad seas with one engine is no picnic. Finally the captain went below and noticed that we were taking on water as a 5-inch strainer had blown and was literally pumping seawater 4 feet into the air filter. Diesel engines may be water cooled, but it’s not wise to cool them through the turbo chargers. So with a bellyful of seawater and making 5 knots we changed course and headed for the nearest and only marina!
We limped into the marina at 2 a.m. after 10 hours of rough sees and ice crusted all over my foul-weather gear. The next morning I awoke to a spectacular winter morning in Delaware. Canadian geese dotted the skies, reminding me of my childhood years hunting and fishing on the Eastern shore of Maryland. Right out of Michener’s Chesapeake! The flyway was littered with these marvelous creatures heading south as if to lead the I yearned to be with them. Then the mechanic yanked me back to reality with the “good news”: the captain had blown a piston due to running the engines too long after noticing the smoke. I knew that this layover would take some time so I called on a lifelong friend that I had not seen in years. Ronnie and I first met when the headmaster of our private school decided to make examples of us by putting a bowl on our heads and giving us a haircut. The next week we got caught selling firecrackers at school – we became immediate best friends.
One week and $7,000 later I fired up the engines with my friend Ronnie on board and my resolve to move on unbroken. The Delaware Bay was again very rough with seas around 6 feet. Winter on the bay is unbearable, as winds rip in from the northeast creating those dreaded nor’easters. Running into these winds is merciless as the only other vessel we saw was a 150’ Coast Guard cutter. Ahhhhhhhh, the C and O Canal. Built to connect the top of the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay for commerce, this waterway is pristine and calm, as it is protected from the elements. What a beautiful site! As I turned the yacht and headed west, I cranked the Volvo Penta up to 2600 rpms and held my breath as the turbos kicked in – 25, 26, 27, 30 knots and screaming! Seconds later 30, 27, 26, 25 and belching white smoke. Ronnie ran below and pulled the hatch as the port engine bled white smoke and belched diesel oil. Eight days and counting, I had made 38 miles. Should make Florida by Feb. 2006! Ronnie was petrified and truly thought we were sinking. What started out as a civil day trip quickly became a shouting match as I desperately needed him to help and he was paralyzed with fear. Ronnie bailed in a fit and I was left alone again, one less friend and lots more heartache.
About Stuart Snyder
Stuart Snyder has traveled all over the world and has experienced most of life?s luxurious pleasures. As a dot-com success, he has built and owned luxurious villas and a resort and has refined the traveling lifestyle. He has owned a number of yachts and currently owns a luxury travel and charter company. Catering to the most refined clients, provides yachts, villas, and private jets around the world.

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