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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

The mechanics from Dover arrived shortly thereafter and took my Hatteras pack to the marina. Three days before Christmas I was informed that the vessel need four more pistons as a result of the first incident, and the only pistons were 18,000 miles away at the Volvo plant in Sweden. Since Volvo celebrates Christmas and New Years, the parts would not ship until January 2, 10 days later, so two more weeks in Dover, Delaware. The good news was that they were expecting a warm front for Christmas and the temps reached a scorching 29 degrees. Next time you plan to go south for the winter, remember that you have to get there first. My winter clothing choices were foul-weather gear: overalls and duck shoes, in two styles yellow and orange. Fortunately Ronnie left me a camouflaged full-face hat...very stylish and perfect for Dover as the hunting season was in full swing.
   
Onward and upward.
   
The mechanics finished the job Friday afternoon as I prepared to depart with renewed vigor and a bellyful of turkey. When I received the bill I confused it with a bill of sale: $13,500 – cash. Of course, the banks were closed until Monday.
   
So three days later I paid my bill in cash and then paid the mechanic to load my 15’ jet boat on the bow and strap it down for the long journey ahead. Big mistake, when you want something done right, do it yourself. This would haunt me for the next 500 miles. After checking the weather and saying my Hail Marys I went back to the Delaware Bay and headed due south. Alone and fearless, I throttled up. The air was cold and crisp and at first light the engines purred their approval.
   
Four hours later I began to appreciate the value of proper training. Twenty years before I had gotten my pilot’s license. Little did I know it would save my life. When the dew point approaches the air temp, fog develops. True to form and 20 miles out in the middle of the shipping channel, the fog rolled in like a Hitchcock movie and the seas were my angry friends. Having learned to use radar while flying, I turned on my trusty Furuno and navigated in 0 visibility by radar alone in one of the busiest shipping channels on the east coast. What I failed to realize was the scope was set on an 8-mile range when it should have been at 1/2 miles. As I entered the mouth of the Delaware Bay/Atlantic Ocean my jet boat broke free of its straps and bounced on the bow like kids on a trampoline. It smashed its way through both salon windows and I had to do the unthinkable. I climbed from the fly bridge to the bow and slid violently along with the jet boat as the boat pitched relentlessly. Twenty minutes after relashing the jet boat to the bow, I crawled back to the bridge knowing that one slip would mean instant death as hypothermia would have set in had I went overboard. Unfortunately, my hands were frozen as the bridge was neither heated nor waterproof. The plastic window bridge covers had ripped due to the winds and I had to remove the center cover so I could try and see through the fog.
   
Now the radar starts blinking. But since the scope/range was improperly set, I was unaware that the tiny blip on the screen was not 8 miles away but 1/2 mile. As I gingerly peered through the fog, fortunately I noticed a strange shadow dead ahead. Slowing down I saw the outline of a huge towboat creeping slowly toward the west. I approached from the north at a perpendicular angle, and at about 60 yards out I looked behind the vessel and did not see the towline. Confident that she was running unfettered, I began to edge behind her stern. My spidey senses were tingling, so I decided to do a 360-degree turn just in case. Sixty seconds later a 300 foot barge laden with an entire junkyard blurred my entire view. Full stop! Full stop! I came within 50 yards of hitting the barge and almost cut between the two vessels. Had I done this my running gear would have ripped off and I would have sank in seconds and the following day would have reappeared...in the obituaries!
   
Ironically, 15 minutes later the fog cleared and I passed the same inlet I had left three weeks earlier, far wiser and very humbled. It was at this point that I began to understand the challenges that the mariner faced throughout time. Two hundred years earlier, at the exact same spot as the towboat incident, the S.S. DeBreak had encountered foul weather and was swallowed whole by sea. The Debreak was an 18th century sailing vessel laden with gold and was returning to port when a violent storm took all souls. I had experienced the same life or death incident at nearly the same spot and survived. As I pulled into Ocean City, Maryland, at dusk I was still alone but no longer fearless, I kissed the dock and hugged my yacht. Some tests make you, others break you.
   
Fortunately I was bowed but not broken.
   
With renewed vigor I awoke the next day to sunshine and happiness. I had survived my first test and hoped the worst was behind me. One thing is a must when traveling the Intracoastal – transportation. Fortunately I brought along a sports bike, which provided me with the freedom to spread my wings. I spent the next three days recovering from my ordeal and repairing the damage done by the jet boat. Having spent summers nearby, I relished the chance to relive my old haunts in Ocean City. Most of the bars had long since closed but Skeeter on the bay was still open and was a lively and spirited club even for a 44-year old like me.
   
I departed Ocean City with a smile and headed back out to the Atlantic to run south to Norfolk. On the way I saw the conning towers that dotted the beach built during WWII to watch for the Nazi U-boats that were patrolling the Eastern Seaboard. In those days hundreds of thousands of tons of ships were being sunk every month right off our shores. My generation does not appreciate the sacrifice made by the “greatest generation.” I come from a proud military family. My father was an officer at the Naval Academy and a distinguished judge. My uncle was a Nazi camp POW survivor and escapee. Seeing these reminders, I paused to remember those valiant mariners and military men and women who protected our shores.
   
Interestingly enough, the Atlantic has sandbars that appear 10–15 miles or more at sea. As I passed Chincoteague, Virginia, I saw the horses that Chincoteague is famous for. According to legend, a Spanish galleon laden with horses had grounded in the 1700s. The horses swam ashore to nearby Assateague where 300 years later the local firemen round up the horses every July 4th and have an auction to raise money for the locals. If you have never been, I highly recommend Pony Swim week in Chincoteague.
   
As I pressed on, the sea rose to 4’ and my jet boat became loose once again. The fogs returned and I pushed on with the reassurance that I was not in a shipping channel. The depth finder started to beep and I found myself in 10 feet of water, 10 miles out to sea. It is quite unsettling to go through this so far out knowing if I grounded, it would have been very difficult to get help before dark. It’s always wise to leave at first light just in case you have problems. When you add darkness to problems at sea, you amplify the terror. So I slowed down and journeyed on mindful of the pea soup fog. I finally rounded the tip of Virginia and crossed the largest estuary in the world – the spectacular Chesapeake Bay. Famous for blue crabs, oysters, rockfish, and much more, the Chesapeake is home to generations of watermen.
   
Just seeing the Chesapeake oyster boats brought me back to my boyhood in Annapolis as my folks provided me with the world’s best childhood! What I failed to realize before the voyage was the extent of reminiscing I would experience. The new memories that flooded my life were becoming equally as thrilling as my previous experiences. Many of us live our whole lives looking to the future for answers. I believe these answers can also be found by revisiting our past and learning from it. Take a dream trip, remember your youth, and appreciate your past. We don’t have a lot of time here together. 
   
Please stay tuned for more exciting adventures as I continue to head south on my voyage.

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, www.WorldClassLuxury.com provides yachts, villas, and private jets around the world.

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