Passage Planning


We’re looking at routes for next Spring to take Tortuga from Deltaville, Virginia  all the way to Lake Michigan and into Chicago.  There are two primary options, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

The first option is the quickest in terms of time, and involves sailing from Virginia northward into New York Harbor and then up the Hudson River to the Erie Canal, and then to the Great Lakes.  While quick, this route would require us to stop at a boatyard along the Hudson and unstep our mast.  This is not an insignificant job and would take an entire day of removing sails and lines, and a crane to lift the 65’ mast and set it on a wooden cradle on the deck.  Without doing this we could never make it underneath the many low fixed bridges along the way.

Once through the Hudson we would have to spend an additional day stepping the mast, in essence reversing the process.  Not my idea of a good time.

The other option is significantly longer, and far more challenging… read that as “fun”. We would sail north up the east coast from Deltaville, past New York, around Cape Cod, and along the New England coast.  This would require a lot of open water sailing, which Tortuga is more than capable of handling.  We would stop along the way to see friends and family in New York and Maine, taking our time and enjoying the extended adventure.

From Maine we continue northward into the Canadian Maritime provinces, squeezing between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, staying leeward of  Prince Edward island, and up into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  From there, down the St. Lawrence Seaway with all of the shipping traffic into Lake Ontario and onward across four of the Great Lakes. This is known as the Down East Circle Route, or at least part of it.

Aside from being long, almost 3,000 miles we would have to deal with fog,  some of the largest tidal ranges in the world, as well as epic currents (5+ knots) against our bow.  On the plus side, we would not have to unstep the mast, and we would get to visit costal New England during the summertime.  All-in-all this route would take 8-10 weeks of relaxed sailing,  spending time with family and friends along the way.


Log Book Day

Denali National Park from above
Denali National Park from above

Today was “Log Book Day” for Tortuga.  Janet and I formatted and printed the plethora of pages that are needed in the Ship’s Log.  We have places to enter passage planning, engineering information, required parts, to-do lists, as well as the ship’s insurance papers, FCC paperwork, etc.  Many countries use electronic logs, but the United States Coast Guard still requires written logs on all U.S. flagged vessels. To be honest, it feels more in-line with maritime tradition to hand-write logs.

Denali From The Air

Flying over Denali
Flying over Denali
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Fledgling Bush Pilot

We chartered a flight in a de Havilland Otter over Denali National Park park yesterday.  The pilot took us around the mountain, down through the gorges and followed the glaciers as they descended off the mountain.  It was an amazing experience to say the least.  Janet took a bunch of photos with the Nikon, so we’ll upload  some winners as soon as we have them downloaded.  While Janet was immersed in the beauty of the experience, I just wanted to fly the plane.

MMSI and Ship’s Station Callsign


We just received our MMSI number (367701590) and our Ship’s Station Callsign (WDI4751) from the FCC.  Geeky stuff, I’m aware 🙂

Our MMSI is similar to a cell phone number, it is our unique calling number for DSC (Digital Select Calling) VHF. It registers the boat information in the U.S. Coast Guard’s national distress database for use in emergency situations. The MMSI number is transmitted with a DSC call, like “caller ID.”  So in the event of trouble, so much as a single button will transmit Tortuga’s exact location and all of the details of the boat to an international search and rescue network as well as other vessels in the immediate area.

The Ship’s Station callsign is unique to Tortuga and identifies her to other vessels and listeners when we transmit radio signals either on VHF or SSB (HF).

All this to say, it makes Tortuga much safer and more visible to other vessels and may be able to assist in an emergency.

That’s A Wrap!

Tortuga Blog (1) Tortuga Blog

Tortuga is all wrapped up for the winter.  The yard finally got around to wrapping Tortuga this week, completing the final step in winterizing her.   The wrap will protect the deck from the winter elements, and other nasty stuff, but it’s a trade off with moisture.  You don’t want moisture building up underneath the plastic causing mildew when the weather finally warms up in the Spring.  Hopefully next year she’ll be in a heated storage building, so we won’t need to take such extensive winter preparations.

Springtime Plan

Janet relaxing onboard Tortuga
Janet relaxing onboard Tortuga

The to-do list is growing for Tortuga.  When we return to her in the Springtime we have a pretty extensive list of things that we’ll need to do to get her back in the water again.  I think between Janet and I we can get it all done in a couple of weeks.  First on Janet’s list is a good cleaning from having sat in the boatyard for the winter.  This will give us a chance to dig into all of the various spaces and update the boat’s inventory.  We’re using an app called MyStuff2 Pro that maintains a running inventory of all of the spares and supplies onboard.  Currently we have over 1,000 line items of things that are stowed away in the various spaces throughout the boat.  The app knows where everything is, quantities, expiration dates on food and medications, and photos of all of the items.

Aside from cleaning and re-storing things, we’ll have to de-winterize all of the systems; removing the polyethylene glycol and replacing with appropriate water.  This includes the engine, generator, watermaker, Electro-Scan toilet, fresh water system, washing machine, etc.  The sails will all have to be re-rigged, the canvas picked-up from the sailshop and installed, batteries topped off, etc. The list is pretty extensive.

One item that we’re really excited about is removing the paint from the upper portion of the aluminum hull.  This will expose the aluminum all the way up to the toe-rails.  We are going to run a new stripe around the hull, add new naming and port-of-call decals, and possibly polish the bare hull.

Can’t wait 🙂