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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 yachts.

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 is easy.


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 further south.
 


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 has lots 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 dogs.*

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 both. 

 


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 route.]

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 seriously.
 


You'll note Patches the dog on the bridge deck enjoying her life afloat.
 

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:  http://vetdocrobin.com

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 average.

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 overboard.

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 the idea.

Thanks Ted.


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 simultaneously.  See
Tired Captain 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.

1. Florida
2. The Bahamas island chain
3. Cuba
4. Jamaica
5. Haiti (to left) and Dominican Republic
6. Puerto Rico
7. Columbia
8. Venezuela
9. Trinidad


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 set-up.
 

Auxiliary propulsion via a Tender push.
An idea worth duplicating for every cruising boat.

Solid 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 another benefit:

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 dwellers too.


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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