Published Articles


The articles listed are the “as submitted” version, or a reference to the journal entry from where they were extracted.  What appears in print is slightly different.

There Goes the Mast
Living Aboard Sept/Oct 1999 Page 31 “There Goes the Mast”

Transition to a Trawler
Southern Boating Sept 2000 Page 61 “From Sailboat to Trawler”
Power Multihulls  Spring 2000 #4 Page 45 “Transition to a Catamaran Trawler”
Reprints were handed out by Endeavour as part of their sales information.

Illinois River Cruising
Heartland Boating May 2000 Page 9 “Sailors add Illinois to list of waters traveled

Try Philadelphia
The Great Loop Link May/June 2001 Page 5

Masking Tape Shelf Design
Living Aboard May/June 2001 Page 25

Trawlercat Cruising
Power Multihulls Spring 2001 #6 page 35

Those Pesky Cords
Living Aboard January/February 2003 Page 14

What Works
Living Aboard November/December 2003 Page 13

There Goes the Mast
The low hazy sun glowed like a beacon, drawing boats on Oneida Lake toward it like bugs to a light. Hundreds of powerboats headed back to Brewerton on a hot lazy Memorial Day late afternoon. We were part of the flow moving along at 6 knots watching the powerboats speed past at 20 knots. The variety was incredible. Mainly runabouts 16-20 feet but occasionally a cigarette boat, usually being chased by another one, moving at 60 mph.

Sound drew our attention starboard. A 40′ Mainship up on plane was overtaking us to pass. It’s captain realizing he was too close for the wake he was making slowed. However, instead of slowing to a no wake speed, he slowed only enough to drop just off plane and create an even larger wake.

A frightened Oh No! escaped Ruth’s lips as she spun the wheel turning Tranquility to take the huge, high, steep, wake bow on. We didn’t make it. The wake hit at a slight angle to the bow and we rolled violently to port. For the first time, our laptop, a veteran of many rough crossings was thrown to the cabin floor.

I clung to the winch to keep from being thrown to the opposite side. Ruth gripped and fought the wheel. We both watched horrified as the bow mast support lifted about 6 inches off the starboard side of deck. We crested the wake and started down its backside. For an instant all looked well. The mast support had settled back down on deck. Our slide down the wave now jerked us violently to starboard. The port mast support lifted from the deck then sat back down.

The next wake repeated the cycle. This time the starboard support came higher off the deck, twisted a bit but settled back down as we crested the second wake. We again snap rolled to starboard and the port mast support again lifted accompanied by a cracking sound from the plywood cross ties. We watched horrified as the mast slowly moved to starboard, looking like a pole-vaulter riding the mast support out over the lifeline.

Our view turned blue. The falling mast had hit the bimini, tearing it in half and dropping it in our faces. As we cleared it away we read ‘ITSY Liverpool, NY’ on the stern of the departing powerboat. Our mast now lay along side trailing off and down behind us. One of the hold down lines was all that prevented it from sinking from sight.

We tried raising ITSY on the radio. They never answered, but did come back, look around and then left the scene. We turned to mast salvage as a flotilla of boats gathered to watch and offer assistance.

The mast trailed off behind us, its free end resting on the bottom of the lake. Attempts to rig lines from deck failed and I finally went in the water to work. A few local boaters dove in to help. One, Ray McDougal helped get lines down deep so we could get an angle to lift. He then assisted as we slowly winched the mast end off the bottom. It took over an hour to get the mast up and secured along side. Then slowly in the fading light of evening we limped into Brewerton.

Tranquility with her mast recovered

No marine patrol was available on the Brewerton end of Oneida Lake. We notified the police and they traced ITSY. The owner never returned our calls. Since we did not want to press criminal charges, the police could do nothing but formally record our complaint.

Having the bimini repaired, building new mast supports and getting the mast back up on its supports took 3 days. Only the bow support tripod had failed. Our rebuild included two modifications to make the bow tripod more robust. First we moved it back 2 feet and spread the support legs further apart. Second, all three legs are now bolted to the stanchions so they can’t lift we are ever waked as badly again.

We’d met Jim and Celina on At Ease a year ago in Washington, DC and became good friends. They were in port and made our ordeal easier by providing dinner upon arrival, moral support, and lending us the use of their truck and power saws. They also provided inspiration for handling the mast. Brewerton is a powerboat area. There is no place locally with power equipment capable of lifting a mast. Jim suggested rigging fenders to float the mast once we released it from Tranquility’s side. In the water I went again securing fenders to the partially submerged mast. We added their kayak as the final float and it worked. The mast floated to shore once we released it from Tranquility. Wayne at Brewerton Yacht Yard volunteered his staff and I rounded up others to help lift the mast. It took 8 people to lift and carry it out the dock and place it on Tranquility’s mast supports.

With the mast secure we cast off lines and headed to Newark, NY to visit family and continue repairs. We’ll stay a week or so enjoying the pure joy of being with family and resting up.

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TRANSITION TO A CATAMARAN TRAWLER
Decision and Selection

Our transition to a trawler probably began when we started to joke about how we used our sailboat. “Actually this is a trawler with a really high radio antenna” we’d tell people asking about our nomadic lifestyle living aboard. It was true. While exploring the Great Lakes and from Maine to the Bahamas the motor was on 95% of the time. Thoughts about switching to a trawler would surface only to be washed away by a rare day of great sailing. Slowly even that changed. We motor sailed on good sailing days just so we could anchor earlier. Enjoying a quiet anchorage swinging on the hook had replaced the joy of sailing.

Our cruising interests had slowly changed. Dreams of exploring distant islands of the Caribbean and sailing in the trade winds disappeared. Now we prefer poking along the ICW, exploring up rivers and finding new anchorages in out-of-the-way places. We’re itchy to again travel the Erie Canal, Trent Severn Waterway, Great Lakes, and rivers from Chicago to the Gulf of Mexico.

Increased comfort slowly crept into our thoughts. We weren’t uncomfortable, but realized we could be more comfortable especially with guests aboard. Tranquility, our 36′ S2 center cockpit sailboat was extremely comfortable for two, but tight with guests aboard.

The decision to move to a trawler came slowly. A year earlier, we had planned on attending the October Trawler Fest in Solomons Island, MD. Instead we stayed longer in Maine enjoying good sailing days. September a year later found us in Milwaukee, WI finalizing plans to have the mast taken down a few days later in Waukegon, IL as we continued on around the Great Loop route. We looked at each other and said almost at the same time “It’s time to change to a trawler.” We laughed at the coincidence but agreed we needed to change. Over a glass of wine, to celebrate our decision we started a list of what we wanted on our trawler.

Our first few list entries were the most interesting and challenging. The very first item listed was a washer/dryer. Using laundromats, even the ones located in marinas was not fun. It was the one aspect of living aboard we did not enjoy and wanted to change. Next came 360-degree visibility from the steering station. We both loved the view from our center cockpit and did not want to give that up. At the same time, we did not want a flying bridge. Walk-around side decks for easy docking and locking came next. We didn’t want to have to pass through the main salon while handling lines. We both wanted an island berth for ease of making and for convenience when getting up at night. A guest cabin was next in priority. We debated about two heads and decided against because of maintenance and wasted space. Instead we figured a single head with good physical separation from both cabins would be a better set up for giving everyone privacy while using the facilities. Main salon or cockpit seating for six for dinner went on the list. At anchorages we had a tendency to invite two couples and seating on Tranquility was tight for six. The list went on with more routine items such as single engine, bow thruster, stabilizers, good dinghy handling system, decent shower stall, etc.

Over the past few years we’ve spent many hours aboard different trawlers. Leisurely tours of Grand Banks, Krogen, Albin, Marine Trader, DeFever, and others, with serious discussions about each trawler’s merits and drawbacks provided outstanding background for our future search. Yet for all of our visits and discussions we had yet to find our next boat to dream about. We knew we liked pilothouse trawlers, but didn’t have a favorite.

Before purchasing Tranquility we knew what we wanted. Years earlier S2 center cockpit sailboats captured our imagination and dreams. When we decided to live aboard, we looked at many boats comparing each against the S2 we had dreamed about. Finally we selected Tranquility from S2’s for sale at that time. For eight years we enjoyed our choice and lived comfortably aboard for three years.

We had seen Nordic Tugs while cruising but had not been aboard. The new 37′ Nordic Tug caught our eye as an ideal live aboard trawler. We made an appointment to visit Midwest Nordic Tugs in Manitowac, WI. We liked what we saw and did sea trials. It was a bumpy day on Lake Michigan and the 37′ Nordic Tug rode the swells in fine fashion. We liked the performance and we liked the boat. We went aboard the 42′ model and liked it even better. However, it didn’t fit one item we hadn’t thought to add to our list and that was budget. We left happy and comfortable knowing we had found the trawler we would probably purchase. We knew we needed to sample other trawlers and make sure we had indeed found the right one.

A month later found us at Trawler Fest in Solomons Island, MD. A perfect fall day made for enjoyable trawler inspection. We revisited many trawlers we knew from visits aboard friends’ trawlers. New for us were Eagle, Ocean Alexander, Pacific, and Mainship trawlers. These we’d only previously seen in ads and magazine articles. All were very nice, but nothing grabbed us. A second reality was becoming clear; we’d probably needed to go to 42′ to have the increased level of comfort we wanted.

One trawler on display looked out of place. It was low compared to the trawler next to it. The top of its radar antenna matched the bottom of windscreen on the flying bridge of the next trawler. This trawler had a 10′ advantage for going under bridges. The dinghy hung across the stern from davits sailboat style. As we looked closer, we realized we were looking at a catamaran. Stepping aboard we learned we were looking at an Endeavour TrawlerCat 36. People say you don’t select the boat, the boat selects you. This one selected us. As we looked around, the Nordic Tug we had been so positive about faded away.

From the dock, the TrawlerCat seemed small; it wasn’t. A comfortable cockpit provided our desired 360-degree view from the steering station. Both the salon and cockpit are comfortable for six for dinner. Below were 3 cabins providing generous space for overnight guests. We overheard a couple commenting to each other “not for us, too sailboatish.” For that same reason, we felt this was the boat for us. Its sailboat feel combined with the comfortable space appealed to us. Where the TrawlerCat looked small from the outside, from the inside we felt we had the space equivalent of 42′. Later we confirmed our impression by scaling floor plans obtained from the Internet and overlaying them to compare living areas. The pictures show how we compared our present S2 with our planned TrawlerCat.

TrawlerCat side view

S2 floo plan
S2 Measurement TrawlerCat
36′ Length 36′
12′ Beam 15′
66″ Draft 34″
51′ Bridge Clearance 13.5′
15,000 lb Displacement 13,000 lb
7,000 lb Ballast 0
70 gal Fuel 300 gal
70 gal Water 115 gal
30 hp Engine(s) 2 @ 125 hp
6 Knots Speed 12 Knots

Not everything met our specifications. Gone was the island berth. We thought about that a long time but felt all the plus features we found outweighed that drawback. I spent quite a bit of time looking at the engine set up. We average over 1,000 engine hours a year and easy maintenance, especially oil changes are significant to us. It wasn’t on the list, since I’d been expecting a large engine room such as you find on most trawlers in the 36-42′ range. Here both engines are in compartments under the berths. Rolling back the mattress and lifting an access panel allows for routine work. For major work the mattress and access panels lift out exposing the entire engine. Optional oil change pumps make for easy oil changes and eased my concerns. We were sure we had found new trawler, but were reluctant to commit. We needed to let some time pass and look again.

Two weeks later we were at the Powerboat Show in Annapolis. We’d again toured trawlers to see if something would again select us and replace the Trawlercat. Two new catamaran trawlers were on display. The Maryland 37 and Venturer 38 were impressive but not quite what we wanted. Most importantly to us, we spent a number of hours at the show talking with people, learning about the expanding interest in catamarans and their popularity in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. We left comfortable with our potential decision.

Two months later in Florida we went for sea trials on the Endeavour TrawlerCat 36. It was a great day for sea trials, windy and choppy. We were impressed with the stability, liked the ride, loved the shallow 34″ draft, were impressed with the skeg-protected propellers and felt the engine sound levels were equivalent or lower than our present boat. We finally handed Endeavour a check to begin our formal transition to a trawler–a catamaran trawler.
June 2000 Update

Odyssey on Erie Canal Steering Station Library
Galley Looking Aft Office/Guest Cabin Salon
Head/Shower/Work Room Head looking Aft Engine Access

We took delivery of Odyssey in March 2000 and have taken her from St. Petersburg, FL on Tampa Bay to Fairport, NY on the Erie Canal. Coming north we’ve sampled quiet waters of the ICW and canals, a rough passage down Delaware Bay and offshore swells as we rounded New Jersey. When we weren’t moving, we enjoyed anchoring out and found a few places to try that took advantage of our shallow 34″ draft. Ride, handling and stability has more than met our expectations. Our low profile is especially pleasing as we pass under a number of bridges we’d expected to have to open. Cruising speed is an unanticipated surprise. We’d thought we’d move from a 6-knot sailboat to an 8-knot trawler capable of 10 knots if pushed. Instead we cruise easily at 12 knots and can run at 15-18 knots if we want to spend more on fuel. Our daily cruising distance has doubled. The washer/dryer is a hit. Now we do laundry underway. Now we even have a library, the bookshelves in the forward cabin give a very library feel to the cabin and main salon. When we don’t have guests aboard, we convert the port stateroom to an office by adding a shelf for our laptop at the foot of the berth. For our live aboard cruising lifestyle we have picked the right boat.

Once before we’d purchased a new boat and swore we’d never do it again. Working with the dealer to get factory mistakes or oversights corrected was a huge aggravation. Many items we had to fix ourselves or pay to have them corrected. If we could have found a used, debugged trawlercat around, we might have considered purchasing used. We had huge reservations about what would happen once we’d taken delivery and began debugging. Our worries were unfounded. Endeavour was superb in handling all the little and big items that came up during sea trials without any hassle. Their support added to our enjoyment of making the move to a trawlercat.

June 2002 Addition
What and Why provides a description of what we ordered o have added now that we are starting our third year living aboard.

Equipment: What and Why We Chose

This list covers what we chose when we had Odyssey built, added later, and are working on as future improvements. The list is not in any order.

Second Bow Roller: Many of the places we stop have moorings. We use the second bow roller as the attachment point for the mooring line. We carry a second anchor, but rarely use it and it is stowed in a locker instead of on the second roller.

Anchor windlass: Very convenient. We went with the Endeavour recommendations and find the Delta anchor and 30’ of chain to be fine for ICW and river anchoring. We’ve had to redo the rope/chain splice twice. First time we found it pulling out and I redid the splice. After tearing up the stripper arm and talking with Maxwell I learned I’d made the splice too long and hadn’t tapered it. I had a professional in Oriental do the splice. Now it’s very smooth going through the windlass.

Anchor Wash Down: Went with fresh water and are pleased. If I were doing the boat again I’d consider having both a fresh water and seawater wash down option.

Deck Cleats: 6 cleats are standard. We had two additional cleats added on the stern rail. They are used to tie down the dinghy when underway. We also use then when tying up at a dock. They are handy for moving the dock line outboard to get a better angle on the dock line. We use them all the time and would add them again. We saw one other boat that had two cleats mounted aft just forward of the aft deck entrance gate. There have been a few times when those cleats would have been handy for running spring lines and keeping the line from running in front of where you step aboard. I’d think about adding them if we did the boat again, but don’t consider them as a high priority item.

Window Shades: Both for privacy and for keeping the sun out of the interior. We had shades installed on all windows and ports except for the opening port in the main saloon, galley window, and two aft facing opening ports over the berths and starboard workroom.

Washer/Dryer: A great convenience when living aboard full time. Sure beats hauling laundry. The washer/dryer doesn’t hold much but works well. It uses more water than we expected, but now we always go into a dock so we are using shore power and have unlimited water available when we use it. It has to be installed during construction and once installed, the only way to take it off the boat is to cut a hole in the deck to remove it. It can however be removed from it’s working location for service.

Additional Shelves: see our article about adding shelves in the port forward area near the washer/dryer. We also had bookshelves added in the aft starboard cabin. Endeavour was able to add in a total of 3 shelves and we are very pleased with them. We had Endeavour leave out the door they normally install between the galley and forward berth. Haven’t missed the door, it just seemed to us to be in the way.

Galley Storage: Standard is a storage compartment aft of the microwave compartment. A sister ship had added second compartment added forward of the microwave. Had we known, we would have requested the second compartment. It makes access to that area much easier than working through the main salon settee access.

Hassock: It’s a storage compartment, coffee table (use the galley stove cover as the hard surface) and extra seating for guests. Endeavour matches it to settee fabric.

Solar Panels: Either get none, or get the maximum number of panels. We have 300 watts and if there was room, I’d go for 400 watts. Panels are only worth the investment if you like to anchor out and don’t want to have the noise of the generator to keep the batteries charged. Even with 300 watts of solar power we still need to run the generator every other day to heat water for showers and to bring the batteries back up a bit.

E Meter: Provides a read out of amp hours used on the house battery. Provides a great way of knowing where we are at in terms of battery status when we are anchored out for a number of days.

Interior Lights: Overall lighting was fine. One reading light was standard over both berths. We had a second reading light added to both berths.

Fans: We had all the fans Endeavour recommended installed and use them all at various times.

Dinghy Davits. We are very pleased with the davits and swim platform. Endeavour may now extend the davits out further. We had to have them extend ours out another 6 inches to have the right extension for our and most 10’ dinghy beams.

Oil Change pumps: Make oil changes much easier. We’re glad we have them on the engines. Ask if you can get one for the gen-set, it wasn’t offered, but now I think it is available.

AM/FM Radio:
If we were doing our boat again we’d get a Sirius satellite AM/FM radio in place of a regular radio. We listen to radio extensively enjoy NPR and jazz stations. We’re looking at adding it to our boat now just for the wide variety of commercial free music available and NPR and other news stations available. Monthly cost is $13/month for Sirius or $10/month for XM satellite. As part of the AM/FM radio package Endeavour installed our cockpit speakers in the aft seat sides. Endeavour is now installing overhead speakers so people sitting in front of them do not block the sound.

Television: We had the boat wired for cable and phone hookups. We didn’t have the external amplified TV antenna added. Now we find there are occasions where it would have been advantageous to have the external antenna. We’d have that added on a new boat and may add one to ours to improve reception on those occasions when we end up using internal rabbit ears. We’ve considered satellite TV but after a session at a dock with cable hook up, or a session ashore with cable in hotels we find that after a few days we’ve become bored with TV and leave it off, so satellite TV for us remains off our list.

Cell Phone: We had Endeavour add a roof cell phone antenna and run the coaxial cable to the shelf above the water tank. We then connected in our speakerphone system so we have a speakerphone set up in the main saloon for talking with family and friends. 2010 update: Don’t use it anymore since newer cell phones work without it.

Head: We went with the Vacuflush toilet and are pleased with it. We’d put it in again.

VHF: We like the radio. The remote mike is great. We didn’t specify location and Endeavour mounted it on the left side of the cockpit panel. In it’s present location it’s easy for the helmsman to hear but difficult for the passenger to hear. Now I think it’s on the right side of the panel so it’s easier for the passenger to hear and or use. We are going to either add another remote mike to the starboard side (first choice) or just a speaker so we both can hear the radio more easily.

Instruments: We have a Raytheon radar (black & white), depth sounder, and autopilot. We are very happy with the Raytheon equipment. We asked for a Garmin GPS and mounted it on the port starboard side. We’ve had Garmin GPS on our previous boats. The Garmin is interfaced to the VHF, autopilot and radar. We also had Endeavour run GPS output cable to the port aft cabin and to also leave one in the cockpit. We then added a serial port connector to each cable so we can connect in our laptop. The laptop interconnect allows us to upload and download waypoints to the GPS.

Now everyone seems to be going with the integrated Raytheon daylight visible color charting, radar and GPS system. That system uses C-map chips for charting and I’m impressed by it. However, if we were doing another boat I’d still go with a setup similar to what we have and add a daylight visible computer monitor screen at the helm. The reason is that we presently use Nobeltec navigation software, are happy with it and have a significant investment in electronic charts.

When we are underway we always have Maptec Chartkit or the equivalent opened to the current page with a marker showing our current location. Our electronic aids are secondary to our visual review of our charts.

Cockpit Lights: We use the 3 led courtesy lights all the time. The two overhead fluorescent are fine for working, but too bright for mood lighting for dinner in the cockpit. We now use two halogen lights we plug into 12-volt outlets, shield with soup can with both ends cut out and use to shine indirect light back up onto the overhead.

Cockpit Threshold Strip: When it rains water from the back deck collected in a puddle on the port side in the cockpit under the table. Two years ago it seemed to be a common problem because when I mentioned it to Endeavour they knew all about it. They had a suggested solution that we went with and are happy with the results. They glued a Kingboard plastic strip across the aft end of the cockpit floor. It’s about a half inch high and looks like a door threshold plate with it’s tapered edges. It blocks the water from draining forward into the cockpit area. When you take delivery, hose down the aft deck and check the drainage.

Cockpit Carpeting: The white cockpit floor is difficult to keep clean. We added outdoor carpeting and are pleased with it. We are going to try adding the same carpeting to the area around the dash around the companionway to cut sun glare.

Water maker: Our one bad selection. We’ve have one aboard and have never used it. If you are planning on one, we can give you a deal on our never used unit. We had debated about a water maker for a long time. Thought we’d make good use of it only if we went over into the remote areas of the Bahamas which we had plans of doing. Shortly after taking delivery we both admitted we’d enjoyed the Bahamas, but didn’t have the burning desire many have to return every year. Traveling along the ICW it’s better not to use the water maker because of all the stuff in the water and there is no real reason since we go into a dock on a regular basis for supplies.

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Illinois River Cruising

The Chicago Harbor Lock gates opened, and we headed for the turning basin just beyond to anchor out and explore Chicago. Slight problem– the turning basin was gone, a cofferdam partially closed it off. As we headed closer, the police boat indicated the turning basin was closed. For $72 we could stay the night at Marina City, a marina literally under a skyscraper. Next we found a floating dock where for $43 we could tie up for 3 hours but couldn’t stay overnight. Instead of heading back to the outer harbor to anchor, we elected to push on but worried about where we’d find a place to stop for the night.

Tall buildings let just a narrow line of blue sky peek in to see the river. The narrow line of sky disappeared frequently as we passed under one of the 24 bridges in 4 miles of river. The Chicago River, barely 200 feet wide as it threads its way through the heart of Chicago, is a concrete trench. Noise from traffic, people, tour boats, planes and elevated trains echoed off buildings and the river’s concrete walls. Splashes of color from flowers, people and tour boats stand out boldly against the grays, browns and blacks of the buildings. Tour boats scurry up and down the river grabbing our attention and making it difficult to see the sights. The noise, narrowness, and activity made our first trip through very memorable.

Industry took over the river edge and never seemed to let go as we headed out of downtown Chicago. Scrap yards filled waiting barges, chemical plants sucked in stuff from barges along side, cement plants scooped up sand, cement and gravel from barges. The variety and quantity of industry was incredible. The Chicago River changes to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and seemed to shrink even narrower because of all the barges tied off against shore. We cringed when we encountered our first tow. Half the river width disappeared as a 105-foot wide tow approached. We moved over hugging the ‘Right Bank Descending’ shore as it’s known in the language of the river. Down we went past a tow 3 barges wide and 5 barges long being pushed by a towboat. The tow of 15 barges and one towboat was about 1,100 feet long. Passing them in subsequent days was rarely a routine event.

Thirty-seven miles down from the Lake Michigan entrance, we asked the Lockport lockmaster for permission to tie off behind the lock for the night. Tired from our long day, we were in bed early. Morning brought a surprise. Fog had closed in stopping all river traffic. Off to our port a tow (15 barges and a towboat) was pushed up against shore. A second tow shared the exit pier with us. We scrambled onto the pier, walked down and talked with the tow crew and captain as we all waited for the fog to lift. Made for a unique morning as two tows followed by Tranquility pushed off into the misty remains of the morning fog.

Like the lock, dockage at Joliet was free. We took advantage, enjoying the town and the friendly, helpful folks who came to chat with us. For me Joliet’s Union Station was a thrill. The station stands at the intersection of two rail lines crossing at right angles. For all my years of enjoying trains, I’d never seen a real rail crossing. For less than $20 round trip we both could take the train to Chicago so we went. We had wanted to see “Cows on Parade” one of those quirky art things unique to Chicago. Artists had decorated full size fiberglass cows, and they were placed at odd places all over downtown. As we came down the river, we’d spotted one on a tour boat. We stopped at the Shedd Aquarium to see the new facility and special exhibit of sea horses. Then we set out to find the cows. It was amusing to see a brightly decorated cow standing on a busy street corner of Chicago. We had a grand time finding 20-30 of the many scattered about.

Somewhere above Joliet the Sanitary Canal became the De Plaines River. Now below Joliet the De Plaines River, character changed. Wilderness crept in broken at odd intervals by power plants, cement plants or grain elevators. Private residences along the entire length of the river were rare. Because of flooding, riverbanks are high dirt levees, many overgrown with trees. Somewhere the river changed names again and became the Illinois and kept that name to the Mississippi. We traveled along knowing that civilization was just over the levee, but invisible from water level.

We waited patiently at the Marseilles Lock as half a tow locked through. The lockmaster used a cable and winch to pull 9 barges out of the lock. A 20-foot gap between the last barge and the lock wall let us get in and lock down. Then it was another squeeze to get past the last 6 barges and towboat waiting to lock up and pick up the front of their tow.

At Joliet we’d met Dick on the trawler Casablanca. At Starved Rock Marina we met his wife Pat and spent the evening swapping notes and becoming good friends. Having done the trip in 95′ they were a great source of information and took us to some of the “finer” places along the Illinois River like Henry. There we tied up against an old lock wall. We scrambled to lengthen dock lines, tying one to a tree root, the other got wrapped around a tree 20-feet away. If power was required, a cord was run to a board over by the trees and reached up 5 feet to the outlet. Town had a sleepy, dusty tired feel. The big business in town was the Case tractor and farm implement dealer.

We had made reservations at the local boat club in Peoria. We thought we’d treat ourselves to a dock and go watch football in the club lounge. About 50 yards from the entrance we hit bottom. Thinking it was just a short sand bar, we pressed ahead, accomplishing very little distance. Finally we agreed we were out of the channel. Unfortunately, we were stuck solid so Don (known to some as Captain Marvel) lowered the dink and played tug captain. He was able to move the bow around and then pushed us back into deeper water.

It turned out to be serendipitous as we tied up to the downtown dock for free. It was supposed to be a day dock, but no one was around. It was just a short walk to a microbrewery so we got to watch football after all.

Tying up for the evening and going ashore to sample the character of the area became one of the fun events along the river. The friendly voice on the VHF indicated we could tie off the crane barge “down a few barges from the stairs to the office.” As Logsdon Tug Service at Beardstown, IL came into sight all we saw was a huge barge fleeting area. Hundreds of barges were tied off along shore.

Casablanca and Tranquility on a barge at Beardstown

We found the crane barge and rafted off Casablanca. The walk to the office was unique. We scrambled aboard the crane barge and then walked along the decks of fully loaded barges. The huge size of barges became even more evident as we walked along the narrow decks. Each barge will hold the contents of 60 trucks. Deck cleats as thick as your arm were measured in feet. A rickety gangplank and stairs lead up from the barges to the top of the levee that shielded any view of Beardstown from the water. The last 10 feet of levee was a thick concrete wall. Entering the way we did gave us the feeling that we were entering an ancient walled city.

We paid in the office and were directed to the “best restaurant in town” according to the office manager. We walked down a block, went into the bowling ally, walked to the back by the pinsetters and then up spiral stairs to the Riverview Restaurant. From our window seat, we had a great view of that levee wall and about half the river. The food was great and inexpensive. By the time we were done eating, it looked like half the town was in for dinner.

Our last stop on the Illinois River was Hardin, IL. The Riverdock Restaurant provided a dock at no charge if you ate at the restaurant. We did and again had good home cooking served by a friendly little old lady who moved faster than most teens. We wandered town, enjoying the uniqueness of not seeing one franchised business. Back by the waterfront we passed the grain elevator, and a apple press. Not a tourist cider mill, but a press. A line of stake and pickup trucks loaded down with apples were the only indication the press was there. No one was around, evidently to get emptied the first thing in the morning, you left your truck in line overnight.

Morning brought thick fog. The Riverdock Restaurant made out well. We went back up for breakfast as we watched the morning sun burn off the fog. Then it was back aboard and off for the Mississippi. 21 miles downstream at Grafton, IL the Illinois at joined the Mississippi.

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Try Philadelphia
A simple room, a few tables, chairs; one seemly misplaced sitting in the center aisle conveyed an overwhelming sense of history. “This chair was used by Ben Franklin. He suffered from gout and found it more comfortable to sit at the table side.” our park guide explained as part of a fascinating narration about what took place in this historic room. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were created here. Veterans of many historic site visits we were both surprised at how moved we were standing at the birth point of our freedom. That unexpected feeling alone made the 45 mile boat trip up the Delaware River worthwhile but was a small part of our discoveries in Philadelphia, a trip we’ll do again.

History surrounds Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell was another stop that surprised us as our emotions reacted. Many other sites were just plain interesting. Franklin Court with just a reconstructed frame to show the shape of Franklin’s home and views into the dirt below to give a glimpse of actual foundations of his long demolished home was intriguing. On the outside of the court, a print shop similar to his still operates.

Beyond pure history there was Society Hill a residential area mixing both historic and new rowhomes in a pleasing mix to the eye. We found Reading Terminal a must see and experience of food shops mixed together under one roof. Prime meats, fresh fish, cheeses, spices, delis, Amish farmers selling produce and places to get a famed Philly Cheesesteak stand side-by-side in a mix of noise and delicious aromas. We took the U.S. Mint tour and watched coins being made. South Street was an interesting walk of unusual shops.

Tired from a day’s wandering we’d pick up one last feeling of history as we walked down Elfreths Alley, a one carriage wide street of historic rowhouses. For a brief block we walked back in the late 1700’s before reentering the modern world near the Ben Franklin Bridge and our marina home at Pier 3. Hidden from street view and noise by pier buildings, we’d pas through the security door and into a quiet marina surrounded on two sides by luxury condos. A tight turn around breakwaters at the entrance blocks most, but not all waves. A Boat US discount was a bonus.

Two other marinas are close by. Just to the north, Philadelphia Marine Service has a more open water entrance, but is very close to the noise and dirt from the Ben Franklin Bridge. Just south of Pier 3 Penn Landing has a modern marina with the best wake protection. Part of a public park complex that includes a museum, ferryboat to Camdem’s new aquarium, the historic WW I gun ship Olympia and a submarine Penn Landing is always open to the public. A security door at the entrance to the floating docks keeps casual wanders off the docks.

All of the historic spots and most of the other interesting things to see are within easy walking distance of the marinas. Making it easy to reach attractions further out such as the ‘Rocky Steps’ at the Art Museum, there’s excellent bus, trolley and subway service. A tour trolley provides a comprehensive city tour and provides another convenient way to reach major attractions. A pleasing surprise was the friendliness we found. Twice as we consulted at our map, people stopped said hello and offered to help. As we walked smiles, hellos and nods conveyed a friendly feeling.

We left as we arrived on a favorable tidal current helping to shorten our river journey. The faded paint peeling stacks of the ocean liner United States provided one last photo opportunity. A restoration project ran out of money and her fate is uncertain. Over on the New Jersey shore, the battleship New Jersey suffered a better fate. She’s now a tourist attraction.

The hours flew by as we watched the passing parade of large ships easily passed in the wide well marked channel. An hour before reaching the C&D Canal the tide turned against us and then became favorable as we entered the canal. Philadelphia became a fun memory and went on our list of places we’ll revisit.

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Masking Tape Shelf Design
The portable sewing machine sat on the cabin floor near the washer/dryer on our Endeavour Trawlercat 36 named Odyssey. Sticking out slightly and while not quite in the way it wasn’t in the best of locations. As importantly, if it was lifted up the outward flare of the hull allowed it to then sit outboard of the cabin floor and the entrance to the compartment. All that was lacking was a shelf to support it. That started Ruth thinking and working. As we cruised she played with alternatives until one day she had a dimensioned scale drawing of what she wanted. One shelf for the sewing machine had grown to a number of shelves cleverly using the open space along the hull.

Dimensions had been carefully figured, but some of them were tough to determine because of the hull curve. We were also concerned about whether the shelves would be overpowering in the small space and how they’d fit in around the washer dryer. To better visualize how things would look we took her plans and masking taped them to the hull in the planned shelf area so we could double-check everything. That’s when the masking tape inspiration hit. Rapidly we masked off the floor, hull and bulkhead to show the indicated shelves . The physical space our planned shelves would take began to take place before our eyes. Tape from the overhead to the floor boxed in the area giving us a masking tape outline of our planned shelves. The results were helpful. Our simple tape outline revealed two concerns. First, as we feared, the space seemed confined with full depth shelves. Second, the shelves at the bulkhead would be very deep and we knew things would be hard to access. Both problems were fixed by cutting the upper shelves back, something we hadn’t anticipated on the original sketches. Marks went on the masking tape indicating the new shelf depth. Then we realized it could be simple to add 3 small additional shelves to continue on across the hull to the washer/dryer and provide a more finished look.

Digital pictures of the masking tape outline provided a means of conveying our ideas more accurately to a carpenter. Earlier we had had a minor misunderstanding when we added shelves to our cabin. This was much more complex and we wanted to make our ideas clear. Looking at the pictures on our laptop we realized we could show more than a masking tape outline and a dimensioned drawing.

Using Photoshop, a layer with straight lines over the masking tape was added. Some tinkering allowed us to get a grid established that compensated for perspective and the curvature of the hull. With that in place the masking tape was edited out of the picture leaving the grid showing where shelves were located.

Shelves were ‘constructed’ using the grid for scaling. Each shelf was ‘built’ on it’s own layer on the computer. By stacking them up in the correct sequence a full dimensional image of the shelves came up giving us a good idea of what our unit would look like in place. Finally we added the dimensions from the Ruth’s prints so we had a 3 dimensional mock up of our planned shelves complete with dimensions. Happy with our results, we e-mailed them to Endeavour asking them to do the work the next time we visited St Petersburg.

We left Odyssey with Endeavour to do some upgrades while we headed north to spend the holidays with family. Jeff Trowbridge, one of Endeavour’s outstanding carpenters undertook the shelf project. He had large print outs of our photo mock-ups and was extremely pleased to have such complete drawings.

Jeff completed the shelves just as we returned. The workmanship is outstanding and the shelves look and are fantastic. Thanks to some masking tape, and digital photo technology we got exactly what we wanted. The sewing machine is out of the way, and now there is space to store and display in progress quilting projects Ruth’s next favorite activity after driving Odyssey.

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Trawlercat Cruising
A what? A trawler catamaran? Never heard of one. That was our first reaction. Many of our boating friends had the same reaction when we selected a trawlercat for our next live aboard boat. We’d been monohull sailors for 30 years and lived aboard a sailboat for three years while traveling the Great Lakes, ICW, Bahamas and Great Loop. Our switch to a trawlercat was a big change.

We thought going from a 36′ sailboat to a 36′ trawler would give us the additional space and features we wanted. A washer/dryer, private guest cabin, and pilothouse were high on our priority list for our next boat. We found we’d have to move up to a 42′ or larger traditional trawler to get what we wanted for comfortable livingTrawler Fest at Solomons space. Then we found the Endeavour Trawlercat 36 at West Marine Trawler Fest in Solomons, MD. Physically her looks are deceiving. Tied in a slip near traditional trawlers her low profile makes her seem very small. Once on board, however, the small feeling disappears and because of the catamaran design, 36′ of boat provides living space equivalent to a 42′ traditional trawler.

At dock, especially at a boat show, it’s easy to compare boats and see what they are like at rest. It’s more difficult to know what a boat will be like while underway or at anchor. We did sea trials, liked the feel and decided to purchase. We named her Odyssey. Now a year and 6,000 miles of cruising later we can relate many of the unique bonuses of trawlercat cruising.

The Limehouse Bridge tender again announced the bridge was inoperative waiting for repairs. Ruth slowly took us past the anchored sailboats, trawlers and sport fish caught because of the bridge’s 12′ clearance at MHW. I went forward to visually confirm my calculations were correct and our 13.5′ of air draft would clear the bridge with the favorable tide. Ruth slowed Odyssey to a crawl; I checked clearance and gave her an ok. With a foot to spare we passed under the broken bridge. Our low air draft has proven to be a benefit on many occasions. Now we comfortably pass under many lift bridges no longer concerned about opening schedules, traffic lock downs or frustrations when they announced closings. An added convenience came when we spent the summer in the Erie, Rideau and Richealu canals and didn’t have to lower any gear to clear the low fixed bridges found there.

Heading along the ICW we read two cruisers’ mail (listened in on their VHF conversation) as they discussed their strategies for crossing Albermarle Sound. One indicated they didn’t anticipate much rolling since they had stabilizers on their boat and used them most of the time. The other commented they had raised their steadying sail and had been pleased with its ability to reduce rolling when the winds were on the beam. We’d already passed the slower trawler with stabilizers and had now caught and passed the larger trawler with their steadying sail up. Our steadying came from our twin hulls. In the 2-‘3’ seas we rocked a bit but not enough to knock books we’d forgotten to remove from the unguarded shelf we use in port.

We’d long ago worked out the speed pecking order for boats on the ICW. Everyone groups nicely into boat style categories. From fastest to slowest there are sport fish, motor yachts, trawlers then sailboats. We’d anticipated moving up from the sailboat category to trawler category figuring we’d move from 6 knots to 7-8 knots with our new purchase. Instead we’ve found we can cruise easily at 10-12 knots. We’ve become our own speed category for the ICW traveling just a bit slower than most motor yachts. Our speed does come with a trade off regarding fuel economy. When we were a 6-knot sailboat we averaged 6-8 mpg. Now as a 10-knot trawlercat we average 1.5 mpg. There’s also a secondary benefit of being able to throttle up and run at 16-18 knots when we want to outrun a storm.

A catamaran hull provides an advantage when we pass other boats. The twin hulls don’t generate much wake at lower speeds allowing us to pass quickly without disturbing fellow boaters. Our small wake worked to our disadvantage near a wide spot on the ICW near theEndeavour Trawlercat underway Savannah Yacht Club. The marine patrol flagged us down and warned us about speeding. I indicated that we weren’t making much of a wake and he agreed but said the sign said: “no wake, boats over 26′ idle speed.” He didn’t consider 8 knots idle speed. We slowed, not because of wake, but because of speed.

The 10′ wide bow makes unassisted docking easy. Pilings and dock cleats are close at hand as we come along side. An easy reach places a bow line around a piling or drops it down on a dock cleat. With that, Ruth gently backs down the opposite engine, and we ease in against the dock to step off and finish securing lines. The same advantage shows up in going through locks, line handling is a snap with the almost straight sides the length of the boat

We heard and saw the wake coming. Sailboat halyards began to clang and boats seaward of us in the marina began to rock in response to a large wake from a passing boat. We sat comfortably in Odyssey’s high visibility cockpit watching the disturbance move toward us. As the wake hit, we rocked slightly and then stopped. The trawlers around us continued their significant rocking for many seconds after the wake passed. The inherent stability of a trawlercat is great, at anchor, at dock and underway.

Anchoring out has changed in a very subtle manner. We’ve always had the depth sounder set to read depth under the keel. On our sailboat we would try to get in close to shore to anchor with about 3′ under the keel if possible. That had us anchoring in about 9′ of water with our 5′ 10″ draft. Now with Odyssey we still looked for 3′ under the hull, and we anchor in 6′ of water usually shoreward of other boats anchored out, a nice advantage in crowded anchorages. Our shallow draft and protected props allows us to tuck into many of the small bays, nooks and crannies closed to boats with deeper drafts. On one occasion the uniform flat uniform bottom lured us in for a snug anchorage. Later at low tide with mask, snorkel and fins in place I eased under the water to check the bottom. I quickly surfaced laughing and stood up. The water was only 4′ deep. It wasn’t until I saw our skegs floating one foot above the sandy bottom that I remembered we were in shallow water. Now used to the cool water, I took time to walk around the boat and scrub the waterline.

The anchor drops from the center of our wide bow, and we ride with very little swinging. The width of the bow comes in handy when it’s time to raise the anchor, and mud or seaweed removal is necessary. The task while still messy is much easier standing to either side of the anchor instead of only being able to work from behind on a narrow bow.

Our first year of travel on Odyssey took us from St Petersburg, FL up the ICW and into the canals to reach Ottawa and Montreal before returning back to explore the Everglades and Florida Keys during the winter. For us, we have found our ideal coastal cruiser from which we can continue to explore.

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Those Pesky Cords
We started with a laptop and life was simple. The laptop sat on a removable shelf that serves as a desk in our guest cabin. When guests arrive or work is necessary on the engine below the berth it was simple to move both the laptop its power cord and shelf.

Chaos took over as our laptop acquired friends. An external hard drive was added for continuous backups. A CD burner stores our growing files of digital pictures. A scanner was too inexpensive to pass up and has been handy for document copy. To make all things work at once we added a USB hub. A wireless mouse, which comes with a USB connection for the transceiver made photo editing easier. Finally a docking station was added for ease in using the laptop in other areas. Had this been a normal desktop installation the rat nest of wires would be tucked behind furniture and forgotten. On a boat however that rat nest doesn’t hide well under a mattress and pulling everything apart and putting it back together for each guest or major engine access was a real pain.

I was in the midst of tearing everything apart to do an oil change and grumbling a bit loudly about having a bigger pile of cords than hardware. “Why not build all the hardware into a small portable box and move everything still connected at once?” Ruth suggested. The tape measure came out as soon as the oil change was complete and we began rough figuring to see how big a box we’d have to have built. Then inspiration hit again and we decided to prototype our idea using one of the plastic file folder boxes that travel on our bike racks when we make a grocery run. A second plastic box was quickly scrounged to serve as a shelf for the hard drive, CD burner stack we made while hiding all the wires inside the turned over box. The printer went on top and we found that the scanner when not in use fit nicely on edge between the cord box and the file box edge. The open grid of the file folder box made it simple to route power and USB cords around as needed. Cable ties hold everything in place.

The prototype became the final design. One power cord from the concealed power strip under the shelf box connects power. One USB cord connects into the laptop docking station. They coil up nicely and with a Velcro strap connect to the side of the file box when we relocate the hardware. Now it’s fast and simple to teardown and set back up when guests arrive or engine work is needed. We thought we have to take the printer off the top of the box in rough passages, but have found that it rides quite nicely and hasn’t been a problem.

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What Works
Cleaning the Waterline
Cleaning the waterline or boat sides from the dinghy just got much easier. We run a line from our bow cleat outside of everything to the stern cleat and pull it tight. A second line is looped over this fore-aft line, pulled tight and secured to the outboard side of the dinghy amidships. The tension of the two lines holds the dinghy tight against the boat side and allows working with both hands free. When it’s time to reposition the dinghy, it can be pulled along the fore-aft line without having to retie anything.
Cockpit Lighting
We came across the solution to our indirect cockpit lighting problem cleverly disguised as under-shelf kitchen halogen lights. We bought two and headed back to Odyssey to try them out. Sitting them on the cockpit console didn’t work–there was too much direct glare from the lights. Then we discovered that the lights are just the right diameter to fit inside a soup can, and we now have great custom lights. Ruth covered the cans with fabric so they blend in during daylight hours. At night the lights are placed on either side of the cockpit console and plugged into 12-volt outlets. They shine up, lighting the overhead and cast a warm indirect glow throughout the cockpit. They’ve proven to be quite popular as a number of our cruising friends have fabricated their own ‘tin can’ lights.

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