Date: 16 April 2014. Manatee Moves.
I met the coolest boat couple a little bit ago -- and gosh,
it's amazing the feats that ordinary folks can accomplish with a
combination of naiveté and determination. It all began back in 1986
when Ted and his bride Sarah lived in Michigan on the water. Life was
grand and they enjoyed boating, albeit in small (16') runabouts versus
Ted and Sarah thought it would be nice to take their
boating experience up a notch and went to a boat show. The first
boat they stepped aboard was a Kadey Krogen (pronounced Kay-Dee Crow-Jen) and they
loved it. The Manatee (name of the 36' model sold by Mr. Krogen) was
beautiful, spacious and they wanted it.
Without looking at another boat they asked Mr. Krogen if
they could buy the boat. Ted was told it takes a year to build one
in Asia but they could put down a deposit and in a year their boat would
arrive. Ted said "but I have no money" to which he was told "Write a
check -- we won't cash it."
So Ted did.
Ted enjoys relaxing
with a glass of rum and coke. I'm a bit envious of the ice!
The generator aboard Manatee provides all the accoutrements
for a civilized life.
Sarah is a wonderful hostess
and fixes great food too. Note the radios on the bulkhead
near Sarah. Communication between bridge deck and galley
This couple knew the type of boat they wanted, that it
should be open and airy, with plenty of room for a life afloat. I loved my
tour and Sarah's got a spacious galley with plenty of storage, a big
refrigerator and everything required to fix anything from gourmet hotdogs and
to Porterhouse steaks. Two pounders!
I initially met Ted and Bob (a fellow cruising in tandem
with Ted & Sarah) on the Little Manatee (the tender) and Ted couldn't
wait to tell me all about the roast Rack of Lamb his Sarah was fixing for
his 74th birthday later that night. He didn't get the banana split of his
dreams (yet!) so will have that to look forward to that at some point
Ted, Bob (of the houseboat Bottom Feeder) and Sarah in
Little Manatee come to Seaweed for a visit.
Bob owns Bottom Feeder, a
houseboat he bought in Minnesota and brought down the
Mississippi River. Bottom Feeder has been traveling in
tandem with Manatee recently though they intend to break apart
later down the coast.
Isn't that just the cutest houseboat? Bottom Feeder
of room and a pretty decent layout too with a foredeck for
fishing, the controls inside to starboard. Like Seaweed, you
have to move through the boat to get aft for throwing lines.
Without side decks means we have a larger living area.
Bottom Feeder rafted to Manatee.
The boys are coming home in Little Manatee.
Bob, relaxing on Manatee the night of the
At one time I considered a houseboat simply for the
space afforded in a small package. And the smaller production models
can be had for a song. Specifically, that means less than $5,000.
The Night of the Dogs:
Sarah, Ted, Bob and I had been chatting and enjoying getting
to know one another when food came up. After a batch of wonderful
hotdogs with all the fixings (including grilled onions) and
we were all well satisfied.
Life afloat isn't defined
by Porterhouse steaks or grilled mahi-mahi although they are
of course tasty. It seems to me that it's the simple meals
with new friends that make the best memories. Thanks Sarah for
pulling together a welcome repast. I'll long remember it.
Side Note: Those dogs
were delicious to me for another reason. Just a few days
before the Kidlet's "Counter Surfer" (aka her dog
Lizzie) had removed
two packages of Kosher hotdogs from her bar and eaten them
Back from the Bunny Trail:
One year later in 1987 as his boat was to arrive Ted
arranged financing and took delivery for $87k one brand new Kadie Krogen
36 foot long Manatee model boat. And she was gorgeous. By allowing
the use of his boat in two boat shows he was able to negotiate a $4k
discount too. [Something to consider if you too go the new boat
And so Ted and Sarah began their journey, cruising the
Great Loop. In the United States the Great Loop (or Loop) is the
trip through the Erie Canal, down the Mississippi River, around the coast
of Florida and back up the Atlantic ICW. A journey of some 5,500-plus miles, it's an ever changing panorama of sights.
America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association
Many boaters join the America's Great Loop Cruisers'
Association aka AGLCA [http://greatloop.org]
and if you too dream of "doing the Loop" you might consider the same.
On the VHF often I'll hear Loopers chatting on channel
69, making plans and setting way points, estimating times of arrival
and more. It's a good resource.
An experienced cruiser once said "The circumnavigation of
Eastern North America by water is known as The Great Loop. The trip
varies from 5,000 miles to 7,500 miles depending on the options used.
So let's say 6500 miles at 6.5 knots...that's 1000
hrs....at 4-5 hrs per day that's 200-250 days....with a minimum of a
day layover every 2 weeks for weather, maintenance or fun.... I would
say easily 250-300 days and that's not a fun trip for me because I
would only be cruising about 1/2 the days. (though some days are more
than 4-5 hrs as you would press on for a better stop if one at all)"
I haven't yet made that journey but lots of folks have --
including Ted and Sarah aboard Manatee. They've made 23
(yes, you read that correctly!) loops. When I asked Sarah
why they repeatedly do the same trek, I was told "We revisit
old friends and there's always something new to see."
So the other afternoon I spotted a couple of boats coming
into the river on the south side. The marinas are on the north side so
seeing a larger boat was a treat for me. Many (almost all) of the
big boats tend to be marina hoppers in this area so a fellow boat anchoring
always interests me.
First I check to see if their anchor is dinky. And I watch
anchoring techniques too.
I saw a guy (who will remain nameless because, well,
because I'm a lady!) stand up on the bow of his MacGregor26 and throw an
undersized Danforth knock-off off the bow of his sailboat. This area has
changing tides so we swing and Danforth's don't reset well. Of course a
few days later he dragged -- and seemed surprised.
When I mentioned that perhaps setting the anchor might be
helpful I was told (you know that "Man Voice" some have when explaining
stuff to "the little woman" -- especially one with grey hair?!) that
his method had worked all the way down the Mississippi River so...
But I digress.
Anyway, Manatee has a lovely large anchor -- and it's
orange too. Easy to spot on the bottom and big enough to keep the boat
steady in one spot. I like that. They also have all chain rode which is
reassuring. That tells me that Ted and Sarah take their anchoring
You'll note Patches the dog on the bridge deck enjoying her
Nobody had told Ted and Sarah this was a "coastal cruiser"
so they took off -- and promptly ran into 15' seas in Lake Huron and gale
force winds. When things started breaking they called Mr. Krogen and said
"why?" to which they were informed it was a coastal boat. So Ted and
Sarah fixed what broke and continued on their first loop.
Lots of folks have this as a goal for their cruising life
and it's a grand one.
Most people however chose to do the Loop one time, or perhaps two.
Ted and Sarah have made 23 complete loops so far, along with six
trips down island.
One of their four daughters,
Robin was even brought to
veterinary school in St. Kitts via their Kadie-Krogen Manatee -- named Manatee! She was
the first student to arrive by boat from the United States and is now
practicing in Colorado. Visit Robin's website at:
Close up version with
St. Kitts at the red arrow.
The West Indies overview map:
[From our old
Rand McNally atlas, circa 1943.]
St. Kitts is one of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser
Antilles. The map
shown is seventy years old (and no, I'm not quite that old --
YET) so the alliances are off. Independence came to most of
the island nations and they are no longer under the British or
French protectorate though of course the flavor remains.
You can see for yourself
how close the islands are to each other. Visiting paradise
doesn't have to mean crossing the Pacific Ocean to land in
Tahiti... in case you wondered.
Ted and Sarah are on their fourth engine and figure they've made
approximately 120,000 miles afloat on one boat. How cool is that?!
Right Here I could be pretty smart and say I "knew" the
name of the boat by a singular clue -- their steadying sail is
outstanding! And yes, that's a manatee on the sail.
You'll note the bright orange color makes her show up. On
the bow are three anchors. A 156 pound Fortress, plus two plows. On
all chain, of course.
How do I recognize a cruiser from a weekender? Chain,
oversized, and lots of it. The boats that are marina mavens simply do not
need the type of gear those of us who anchor out require. And all chain
certainly gives a level of peace of mind that others cannot have.
Fortress anchor (#1), and at
the waterline the snubber attachment eye-bolt (#2),
and Chain hook (#3).
I like his set-up too with the snubber coming from an eye
near his waterline. It allows Ted and Sarah to use less rode than normal and
keep the angle low which means better holding. The anchor is less likely to pull out
in storm conditions.
Fuel economy is such that Manatee sips fuel. Still, according
to Ted they are on their fourth engine, and have come 120,000 miles in
comfort. And after all those miles, Ted has come up with a couple of
improvements that make life afloat safer and better.
The first alteration Ted came up with concerns their air conditioner.
Yes. Even on a boat that is not a marina maven, the
accoutrements are available, albeit with a bit of foresight
and planning. In that regard, Manatee has a quiet
generator housed under the galley. It provides charging
and power for the "good stuff" such as a full sized
refrigerator and even air-conditioning. The battery bank
on Manatee is impressive.
In the Bahamas when the temperature soars and
humidity is sky-high, Manatee is living life on the hook while
running the air conditioner. Actually there are two --
an RV unit on the pilothouse and the main unit below for the
primary living space. But what Ted did was smarter than the
He discovered the water the a/c unit pulled from the
boat amounted to 13 gallons per day. That's a nice long
shower, and more -- all "free" water and usually plumbed
Instead, Ted and Sarah have theirs drain into the
water tank. Not only are they cool, they are making water.
Brilliant -- and if I even do go with an RV unit (the only
type that would fit aboard Seaweed) I'll be sure to remember
But the smartest thing they've done is safety related and
one worth considering for any cruising boat. The Manatee has a single
engine and that causes some to have concern. Folks worry that without a
second engine they can break down and be stranded -- forgetting that most
"issues" with engines are fuel related so both engines will go belly up
for a recent article pertaining to exactly that scenario.
So, Ted and Sarah have a wonderful orange 13' Caribe
tender they bought when in Columbia. The Little Manatee is
cute as a button, has a big fast 35 horsepower out-board motor, and some nice
upgrades as well.
For those like me who are geographically challenged,
Columbia is shown at #7.
2. The Bahamas island chain
5. Haiti (to left) and Dominican Republic
6. Puerto Rico
Samson post (anchor light
below), and Chart-plotter/auto-pilot, and
push bars (white arrow) at bow.
Bright orange, the Little Manatee is visible far further
away than a grey marshmallow* would be.
The color is a wise choice if you ever get into dicey situations or areas
with reduced visibility.
*Marshmallow is the term I use for inflatable dinghies
because they are poofy.
But it's not just their Little Manatee that makes this a
genius tender. It's how Ted figured out an auxiliary propulsion system,
and made it all come true for the main boat. His set-up means the folks
aboard Manatee have an added degree of security that simply isn't present
on most single screw boats. And it's one that perhaps can be adapted for
your boat as well. Or mine, should I ever change my dinghy and outboard
Auxiliary propulsion via a
An idea worth duplicating for every cruising boat.
stainless "T-bar" on Little Manatee.
The Universal joint on Manatee.
Once the dinghy (aka
tender Little Manatee) is attached with that universal joint
and the T-bar she's secure to the mother ship. But, there's
If main propulsion on
Manatee fails for any reason, Ted merely has to start Little
Manatee and that boat can push Manatee to safe haven. The
auto-pilot on Little Manatee is programmed and ready to take
over. It's genius, and what I like best is that at a moment's
notice, the couple can be underway again.
Many of us out here cruising have towing insurance. Ted and
Sarah's method appeals to me more though. The independence it allows is
admirable. They don't have to worry because they've got back-up. Though
some of us have considered side tying a dinghy to the main boat if engine
difficulties arise, this method is better by far.
It was a pleasure meeting the couple, and their tandem
cruising partner for this area of the Big Bend* and I'll not soon forget
the lovely times aboard Manatee. And Bob on Bottom Feeder -- hope to see
you too, further along the coast.
*Big Bend: The area of the Florida panhandle where the
state turns and heads south is known as the Big Bend to cruisers and dirt
P.S. to Sarah and Ted: Remember the good times at Harry's Bar in
Carrabelle? Remember the tickets purchased for the cancer society benefit? Well, I
won! $500 smackers -- all of which (and more) will be shortly spent on
this engine swap.
Oh well: it's always easier to spend and the new engine
project is not inexpensive. To think you've done it four times makes
you either nuts or totally an expert at the process. I've learned lots:
like don't ever do this again!
That said, the rewards of having an economical diesel will
far outweigh the process once completed. Engine swapping is sort of like
aging: It's not for sissies.
How long and far have you planned to cruise? Is there
any particular destination that appeals most?
And, are you planning on mostly anchoring or marina hopping?
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