A ff SOLVE – Part 5 of 8

Mike Cowling (a popular you tube ff treasure hunter) once did a video on the dust cover of The Thrill of the Chase (TTOTC). Mike correctly identified the dust cover to be a huge hint. However, to my incomplete knowledge, Mike never identified the truth behind the hint. This module will unveil the long sought out truth. That the good map that ff often references is none other than the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS).

Notice similarities between the dust cover and the 12T zone

This module will explain at least six hints in TTOTC that would direct the savvy searcher to the MGRS. The module will go on to explain some of the solves of Stanzas 5 & 6 which will confirm the use of the MGRS as our long sought after good map. With this crown jewel unearthed, we have our second sign post which let’s us know we are still on the right path. With this sign post, we will also be able to more easily solve Stanzas 5 & 6, and eventually the poem.

The good map

A ff solve – part 4 of 8

After solving Stanzas 2 & 3, and finding the blaze in module 3, I would think you are becoming convinced that there just might be some sanity in this solve method. We will now apply this same methodology to Stanza 4. The solve will be short and sweet, mostly a transition from finding the blaze to start of the search for the good map.

The Crafty Architect

A ff solve: part 3 of 8

Armed with our two gold nuggets, design features from Part 1, and our Word that is Key from Part 2, we are now ready to begin our trail to the summit of the solve of the ff poem. In Part 3, we will apply our design features and solve Stanzas 2 & 3. Along the way, we will find a true gem. As we top a foot hill on the way to the summit, we will find the blaze. This blaze will be the first signpost we find that lets us know for certain that we are on the right path.

Decoding the Blaze

A ff Solve – part 2 of 8

I promised to unveil the meaning behind the phrase ‘A Word that is Key’ in Part 1of this series. So without out further delay, promise made, promise kept.

A Word that is Key : learning how to use the Word is the next step on the journey to solve the Poem.

A ff Solve – Part 1 of 8

Many have looked at the words in the Forrest Fenn (ff) poem, but few actually see the blueprint the words actually draw. The crafty architect, ff, took 15 years to draft the plans to hide the design features concealed by the words in the poem. The information contained in this presentation unveils the design features built into the poem. Once you understand these design features, you will be able to read the blueprint. Once you learn to read the blueprint, you will be able to solve each stanza of the poem.

To start your journey to learn how to read the blueprint: click on: A Method to the Madness.

Tomorrow, July 6th, I will post: A Word That Is Key, which will unveil the mystery surrounding a key word needed to solve the poem. With these two modules, you should have sufficient information to work out the solve of the poem.

Good Luck

The skipper

The end of the trail starts here

The Chase: Re-imagined

Ahoy from Florence Harbor Marina! Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

You may notice a different look to the post today. The skipper has decided to embark on a strange mission to conclude a three year hobby of his, Forest Fenn (ff) treasure hunting. So skipper, take it away. I will return once the skipper gets this out of his system.

Eric the Red

So, for those who might not know of Forrest Fenn and his treasure hunt; probably, your first question is “Who is Forest Fenn, and what is this nonsense about treasure hunting”? Those questions will be answered as you read on, but basically he hid a treasure chest full of gold somewhere in the Rocky Mountains back in 2010. Then wrote a book, The Thrill of the Chase, which contained a poem with directions to the chest. Well, if you could understand the directions in the poem.

The elusive prize to the successful solve of The Thrill of the Chase poem

I believe I solved the poem in November 2019. So while waiting for the snow to melt to begin my Search & Rescue mission, I began thinking about the next phase of The Chase. Stephen Covey, of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, taught me that we should begin with the end in mind. So I developed a plan, The Chase Re-Imagined, to implement once I safely had the chest in hand. My plan was simple, but thought it would help keep the Chase alive even though the chest would no longer be alone in the wild frontier.

Unfortunately, someone else found the treasure chest the week before I was going Boots On The Ground (BOTG) to recover the chest. I have been wrestling with what to do with my plan ever since because the guy who recovered the chest has announced he wishes to remain anonymous and will not release the solve of the poem. With that in mind, I finally have settled on a plan of action. Hopefully, others will catch the vision and we can work together to achieve…………

The Chase Re-Imagined.

The Thrill was definitely in my three year stalk of the chest. Taoist Proverb: The Journey Is The Reward!

Obviously, some things will have to change. But I would like to think some form of what I originally planned could be salvaged, reworked, and made to work. I would much prefer a more positive outcome to The Chase, rather than the chaos that ensued over the last few weeks with the announcement that the chest had been recovered. What follows was my original idea:

The Chase Re-Imagined

  1. Erect a tombstone at the location where the chest was found
  2. Turn the chest over to a nearby Visitor Center/Museum so searchers could view the chest and the contents
  3. Set up interactive displays at the museum:
    • Ask searchers what their ‘Word that is Key’ was, and how it helped in their solve
    • Where / what was your home of Brown
    • Showcase the diversity of thought in the solves
    • Have some of the YouTube channels, ‘best of The Chase’ showing on screens
    • Have a place to show some of the documentaries that some are working on
  4. Write up the solve, (I have actually completed my solve in 8 power point modules), release the 8 modules once a month, and allow searchers time to complete each module and solve the poem for themselves
  5. Searchers go to the tombstone on their own schedule to take selfie
  6. Turn the spot into a Puzzle Geocache
    • The Museum would be the initial gps coordinates for the Puzzle geocache
    • after solving poem, searcher could go to the spot, take selfie with tombstone
    • Searcher go to Museum
    • Exchange selfie pic for a commemorative Chase Coin
    • Museum could then post selfies in a display and online

Which finally leads me to the purpose of this post.

Since Mr Anonymous (the chest finder who says he will not divulge the hidden location) does not even want to be a fly on the wall, I have decided to go ahead and release my eight modules. The modules will shine a light on the poem and illuminate a path so that anyone who cares to try can actually figure out the poem and complete the solve. Which will, prove my point, that once you see the secrets hidden in the poem that you too can follow the trail thru the poem and discover the one and only verifiable, confirmed, surefire solve of the poem. I will show that the poem is actually a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the blueprint hidden in the poem. And as with any SOP, the method will achieve a repeatable, consistent outcome that anyone can find. In other words, if you learn to see and hear the words of the poem, the words actually only lead to one secret where. And you will follow the trail on your own, and find the answer on your own, I’ll just provide hints and show the way.

These eight PowerPoint presentations will lead searchers thru the poem and to the solve. I will start releasing them on this blog site (and a few ff fb pages) starting July 5th. METHOD TO THE MADNESS will be first. Then on July 6th, I will release A WORD THAT IS KEY. Then on the 6th of each month I will release the next module. So August 6th, Decoding the Blaze will be released. This will allow time for searchers to solve each Stanza of the poem at their own pace. When we are done, the poem will have released her secrets and all searchers can know the ‘secret where’ the chest was found, discovered by their own hard work, and some gentle nudging from me.

Here is hoping that you will join the adventure and work out the solve to the ff poem.

My Sad Sad Story in solving the poem and subsequent crash landing:

In April 2017, we were having the wheels replaced on Still Waters II, props changed, shafts straightened, stuffing box repacked, and cutlass bearings replaced. The boat was hauled ashore for the work and the crew moved ashore to a hotel.

Still Waters II being hauled out at marina

While chilling at the hotel, reading Dead Man’s Chest, a sequel to Treasure Island, to pass the time, my thoughts of pirate treasures and Long John Silver were interrupted by a ring tone on my phone. A quick glance at the phone showed somebody else was also treasure hunting. The male heir’s name and number appeared. I reluctantly reached for the phone to see what he might need now.

Well, to my surprise, he was looking for help but not the kind I was expecting. He announced that he had come across a poem while doing some unrelated internet search on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Supposedly, some guy named Forrest Fenn (ff) had hid a treasure chest with more than a million dollars worth of gold, coins, and jewels back in the 2010 timeframe. Then ff released a poem in October 2010 that contained nine clues that were thought to be a map to the treasure chest.

Treasure Museum on Treasure Coast

The male heir now clearly was speaking my love language. A hidden treasure, a puzzle to solve, and an eventual Search & Rescue Mission into the Rocky Mountains. It just doesn’t get much better than that. The male heir had been working on the poem for several months and had derived a theory that the first clue would be found in West Yellowstone. He asked if I would help him find the answer to the first clue, Begin it where warm waters halt. He believed that the warm waters were a steam engine, and the halt would be an old train station that no longer existed. He was asking my help to find the long forgotten train station.

I gladly accepted the challenge. I needed something better to do than read a Treasure Island sequel. I asked him if he could send me a copy of the poem, and within moments of hanging up, my phone gave that familiar ding of a text message. I opened the text and read the poem for the first time.

So I wrote a poem containing nine clues that if followed precisely, will lead to the end of my rainbow and the treasure:

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasure bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

My first impressions after reading thru the poem several times was that the descriptions were extremely vague and there were no obvious distances to travel along the described path. I had hiked and hunted more than a few times in the Rocky Mountains, and something sure seemed a miss with the poem.

I had promised the male heir help, so I turned my attention from the poem and towards West Yellowstone. About the time I had burned the last drop of midnight oil, I had solved the ‘halt’ question at hand. Unbeknownst to me, a halt was actually a water tower stop where steam engines would take on water for the steam engine. From Chicago to West Yellowstone (a distance of just over 1,400 miles) there was a halt about every 7-10 miles, with the last halt actually in West Yellowstone, just past the train station where passengers were exchanged. This meant there were numerous (more like hundreds maybe even thousands of warm waters halts in the Rocky Mountains) possibilities to answer the first clue, Where warm waters halt.

My brain was working overtime as I tried to fall asleep, trying to figure out what that uneasy feeling deep in my gut was trying to tell me. Then like a front end loader dropping a load of sand, it hit me. Guessing at geographical locations to solve the poem just could not be a winning strategy. This ff fellow most have done something unique in the words of the poem to provide the specificity needed to find a treasure hidden in the Rocky Mountains. There are just way too many variables to ever precisely follow the poem as written, match up the descriptions to a guessed geographical location, and connect the guesses to the end of the ff rainbow and the chest. With that resolved, I drifted off to sleep.

The next day I called the male heir and passed on the information he had asked for. Then I broke the news to him that he was on a wild goose chase that would never end with a successful solve. I gave him this little example that he could relate to because he was familiar with the area in Colorado. We had been there numerous times on summer vacation.

Mount Princeton Hot Springs – Chalk Creek

Thought Experiment: let’s assume (or guess) for a moment that warm waters halt is somewhere along the flow of water out of the Mt Princeton Hot Springs. The poem does not define warm, so we will have to guess where hot becomes warm along the creek headed down the canyon. Then we have the vague: Not far, but too far to walk line. So let’s hop in the car and drive down the canyon road towards the Arkansas River. We will need to put in below the home of Brown though. Well, from where we are sitting there at the Arkansas River, there are at least four (guesses) homes of Brown off the top of my head: Brown Canyon which people raft thru, trout fishery where the state raises trout, a home of Brown of unsinkable Molly Brown in Leadville, and her home in Denver. We will have to guess which one of these might be correct. As you can see, none of this is very precise, and way too many variables if you expand the possibilities into the four state search zone of New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana.

I explained to him that I did not know how to solve the poem, but guessing at geographical locations, and travel distances just was not going to cut the mustard. I also informed him of my first strategy to attack the poem. Because I was surprised about the word ‘halt’, I had decided to look up the definition of every word in the poem. I was curious what other secrets the poem might cough up if I studied the words thru the microscopic lens of a dictionary.

This first step turned out to be a winning strategy that firmly planted my feet on the trail that eventually led to solving the poem. The dictionary uncovered several nuances in the poem, which in turn led me to discover a ‘Word that is Key’ in solving the poem. The word literally unlocked the secrets hidden in the poem. (Module 2 will give the details.) (Then you can apply the Word, solve Stanza 2 & 3 on your own, and find the blaze.)

With the Word that is Key, I was able to decipher Stanzas 2 & 3 fairly quickly. The blaze also made an appearance with two confirmations at the end of Stanza 3. This cemented my belief that I was on the right trail. ( Module 3 will give the details.)

When I started into Stanza 4, I was able to use what I had learned in Stanza 2 & 3 to again make quick hay of the words, but the directions made me sit up and take notice. I was not yet prepared to actually do what the poem said so I mulled it over in my mind for several months, and moved onto Stanza 5. (Module 4 will give the details.)

During the summer cruising season of 2017, we headed to Maine. When the geese decided to head south in the fall, we followed them south all the way to the Bahamas in February 2018. All the while, thinking about that nagging little issue in Stanza 4, and the brick wall I ran into with Stanza 5. However, in the spring of 2018 we stopped in historic St Augustine as we headed north along the Atlantic ICW. It turned out to be an historic stop. While touring town, I found the gem I had been searching for. The gem turned out to be the key that helped me unlock Stanza 5. ( Module 5 will give the details.)

Now on to the final Stanza. In 2018, we had decided to cruise America’s Great Loop for a second time. In my spare time, I continued my final assault of Stanza 6 and the poem. I thought I had a good plan of action, but once again I found a wall. After trudging so many miles I could not decipher Stanza 6. I decided to spend the summer reading The Thrill of the Chase and look for hints to unearth the good map. (Module 6 describes the initial thoughts on Stanza 6)

I managed to find the good map, which once again put me firmly on track for solving the poem. (Module 7 describes the discovery of the good map, and with the knowledge of what the good map turns out to be, you should be able to complete the solve of the poem.)

In 2019, we decided to cruise the Down East Loop, up to Quebec City, out the St Lawrence Seaway, down to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and then Nova Scotia. Because this was unfamiliar waters, I spent most of my time focused on the immediate adventure taking place just in front of the bow of the boat. However, on our way south we stopped in Brunswick, Georgia. I spent three days dedicated in November working out the final solution, and like a good detective, eliminating all other suspects. However, I was still stumped on how the last line of the poem confirmed the solve. We needed to travel back to Texas, so we rented a car and headed west. Somewhere between Mobile and Baton Rogue I finally saw the ninth clue solved, and the poem confirm in my minds eye. (Module 8 pulls it all together and unveils the final solve of the poem.)

At that point, I began to monitor the snow conditions in my search area. With early snowfall in 2019, I decided it best to time the Search & Rescue Mission with the spring thaw. By the first of December, the chest was already insulated with more than four feet of snow.

I began to monitor snow conditions at the calculated spot, and it looked like the spring thaw would be early so a Rescue Mission was commissioned for April. Then the big surprise of 2020 hit and COVID-19 yanked the rug out from under my Rescue Mission. Montana put a 14 day self quarantine in place for out of state arrivals. I also am in the high risk group, so I decided life is better than treasure and decided to wait and see how the nation wide lockdown would play out.

By the end of May, things began to look promising for a Rescue Mission, Montana announced that the out of state self quarantine would end June 1st. Yes, things are starting to fall in place and the expectations began to rise. I arranged for a rental car on Monday, June 8th to drive precisely to the treasure chest. Our motto, reminiscent of the gold rush days of old was: Treasure Chest or Bust.

Montana Gold Rush Ghost Town – kinda like my Search & Rescue Mission

And bust is exactly what happened.

The chest, 10 years later
Forrest Fenn examining the found treasure

It took about 30 minutes of starring at the announcement that the treasure had been found before I recovered from the knock out blow. As I slowly began to regain consciousness, I decided to go for a walk. I went into the captain’s quarters to get some socks. I accidentally woke the Admiral up, and as she squinted thru her partially opened eyes, I must of looked like a pale ghost rider. She asked what was wrong. It took a minute, but I finally was able to muster the words: ‘ff has announced that the treasure has been found.’ It actually sounded worse hearing it come out of my own mouth than it did starring at the announcement. I mentioned I was going for a walk, grabbed some socks, turned and left.

(Over the next few days a series of God moments occurred that let me know that The Chase was for me to solve, not to retrieve. What follows are just a few of these encounters.)

Amazingly though, I barely got a half-mile from the boat when I heard God clearly speak to my spirit: ‘Your treasure is in heaven.’ Then a quiet warm peace fell over me and I knew everything would be alright.

Sunday night I prayed that God would answer the why question, Why was the chest not for me to retrieve? At dark thirty in the night I woke to what I thought was someone boarding our boat. While I was tuning my ear to listen for footsteps, I heard God say, ‘It’s for your safety!’ It took me a minute to figure out he was talking about my physical protection from the Chase Crazies, not an unwanted visitor onboard the boat.

There are a few more stories but I will save them for another day. However, after reflecting on what has happened over the last several weeks and months, it is obvious to me I got the better deal. I am still living the good life on my boat, carefree, and worry free. While that sly fox that beat me to the treasure now has several problems to deal with. For starters, the IRS has their handout looking for their fair share of the treasure. I am sure they will track him down, one way or the other. Looks like six lawsuits have been filed making various stupid claims against the guy. And because the guy wants to remain anonymous and never reveal his solve, he has several hundred thousand people up in arms and mad at him for ending the Chase.

Yes, that boy has more problems than a pregnant nun.

Boat Name of the Week

We first met the crew of Long Story at Heritage Harbor Marina on the Illinois River back in 2018. Thought their boat name was appropriate to announce the long story that will unfold over the next few months as we explore the ff poem and head out on the trail of the solve. Hope you take the time to join this new adventure.

Next Week

The crew will return their granddaughter to her rightful owner, so another road trip to Texas is on the books. They will return to Florence and begin planning their next move on the Tennessee River.

Be looking for the first module, Method to the Madness, to be released next Sunday, July 5th.

Loop On –

Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

The skipper

Shoaling Around

Ahoy from Muscle Shoals. Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventurers.

Summary of the Week

The crew remained at Florence Harbor Marina and conducted shore excursions to explore the surrounding area in northwest Alabama.

Voyage of Discovery

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. How did Muscle Shoals get it’s name?
  2. How did commercial traffic navigate around the Shoals?
  3. What replaced the original canal?

Looking down River where the shoals used to be.

By the 1830’s, people began to explore ways to cut a canal around the shoals to make the Tennessee River navigable from north to south. The first Canal had 17 locks over a distance of 14.5 miles. However, Alabama did not have the financial resources to maintain the locks, so the Canal closed just two years after it opened.

This section of shoals dropped 137 feet over about a 37 mile distance. Following the Civil War, a second Canal project was completed and managed to operate until 1918. Today, the Tennessee River is controlled by a series of Locks and Dams managed by Tennessee Valley Authority.

Lieutenant George W. Goethals was assigned to the second Canal project to expedite the completion of the Canal. His work here earned him promotions and assignment to one of the most famous canals in the world down in Panama. Major General Goethal was the chief engineer over the Panama Canal starting in 1907.

Looking upstream towards the TVA Wilson Lock and Dam.

Five Years on the Boat

June 18, 2015 marks the day that the crew moved aboard Still Waters II to start this incredible adventure and boating lifestyle. To celebrate the anniversary of this date, the crew went out to a restaurant and reminisced about all the water that has flowed under their keel in the last five years. What a ride it has been.

The start of this adventure actually predates 2015 by several years though. In what the crew likes to call a pre-ordained God appointment. The skipper had taken a new assignment at work as the Emergency Preparedness Manager in 2008. As part of his on-boarding and training for this new role, the skipper’s boss (Danny Wilder – thank you Danny) signed the skipper up as a peer reviewer on an INPO Emergency Preparedness Review Visit. The skipper was assigned to a team, and the nuclear power plant the team would review was Clinton Power Station located in Clinton, Illinois.

Upon arrival at the Station in 2009, the skipper met the Clinton Emergency Preparedness Manager, Al Darelius. Al seemed rather distracted with some new purchase he had just made and was busy showing everybody he came in contact with a picture of his purchase. (Imagine a brand new grandmother showing pictures of her brand new grand baby.) You get the picture of the enthusiasm Al was displaying.

When the skipper inquired to take a peek at the photo, Al gladly handed the photo over. The photo was a picture of a rather large boat, Al called it a trawler. He claimed he bought it so once he retired, he could cruise America’s Great Loop. (What inspired over the next week was a canny game of cat and mouse as Al continued to distract the skipper with tales of America’s Great Loop, and how he and his wife would cruise this Loop once they retired.) The skipper immediately was intrigued and became a double agent. By day, the skipper was trying to complete the assigned task of reviewing the Clinton Power Station Emergency Program and making recommendations for improvements. At night, he was also sleuthing around the internet trying to learn all he could about ‘The Loop’ so he could ask his new found mentor questions. The skipper got very little sleep that week.

Al and Ruth At Mackinac Island, 2018

Upon arrival back home, the skipper began to share with the Admiral what he had learned at Clinton. ( The ‘Great Loop’, not the gifts of recommendations for improvements he had left Al at Clinton.) They decided it sounded like an interesting endeavor to pursue during retirement, and the idea of navigating America’s Great Loop was added to the Bucket List.

Fine dining at The Woods, Mackinac Island 2018

In an interesting twist, the skipper accepted a job offer to actually work at INPO in 2011, so the crew moved to Atlanta. In addition to the in-house employees (like the skipper) INPO also has a ‘loanee program’ where workers from the different utilities are temporarily assigned to INPO for 18-24 months. Soon after the skipper arrived in Atlanta, he learned that Al had been assigned as a ‘loanee’ to the Emergency Preparedness Division. So they got to work together for just under two years.

Ruth and Al on a rescue mission (provision run) while the crew was stuck in Marquette on the upper Mississippi River

In another interesting twist of fate, the skipper managed to retire before Al. This resulted in the mentee (skipper) earning the Gold Burgee before his mentor and teacher (Al Darelius). Al eventually retired and has since completed the Loop and earned the Gold Burgee.

Al & Ruth celebrating their Loop completion

And in our last interesting twist of fate, Al and Ruth now keep their boat berthed at the Florence Harbor Marina, where the crew just happens to be on this fifth anniversary. You just can’t make this stuff up!

Thanks Al for acting like a grandmother and showing off your ‘new to you’ boat and introducing us to America’s Great Loop. It has turned out to be a wonderful retirement plan.

Boat Name of the Week

Al and Ruth’s Boat

Next Week

The crew will continue to hang out in Florence. They do have a grandkid scheduled for arrival on Tuesday. That should make for a fun week.

Loop On

Where the road ends, The water begins.

The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Muscle Shoals

Ahoy from Florence, Alabama. Hello virtual crew members and fellow adventurers! This is the first post of 2020, and as you are probably aware, what a year it has been.

Summary of the Week / Year

The crew spent the winter hanging out along the west coast of Florida. They did manage to drop down to the Keys for a short while, but most of the time was spent at Marina Doyle. Thanks to David and Barbara for hosting the crew.

Once the COVID-19 fear mongering started, the crew decided it best to leave Florida before hurricane season arrived. The skipper’s goal was to avoid the following headline: Texan Dies from Hurricane While Sheltered in Place Due to COVID-19. The skipper also said it was a service to the medical examiner because now the ME would not be forced to claim the cause of death was COVID-19, when it would be obvious the death was caused from hurricane inflicted injuries. The skipper, always thinking about others.

The crew decided to cross the Gulf, and run up the Tenn-Tom Waterway. They waited out the COVID-19 restrictions at the Columbus Marina. With limited cruising options in 2020, the crew has decided to run the Tennessee River this summer, and pretty much take a bit of a break from full time cruising. They had already made that plan earlier, but COVID-19 just cemented the thinking. The Illinois River Locks are scheduled for maintenance, July – October. The Erie Canal Locks are not scheduled to open till mid August. And who has a clue when the US/Canadian Border will be opened back up for boaters. So it appears the Tennessee River Plan was a good decision.

The crew made four jumps to arrive in Florence, Alabama early last week. The first night, they anchored in the Canal Cutoff. The second day, they made a 50 mile jump to Bay Springs. The third night, they stopped at Aqua Yacht Harbor. On June 4th, the crew arrived in Florence Harbor Marina.

Monday, June 1st

The crew took a short 4 hour, 32-mile cruise up the Tenn-Tom Waterway. The Aberdeen Lock did not present much of a challenge as the operator flung the gates wide open and Still Waters II glided into her position midway up the lock. The gates slammed shut and a few minutes later, the liquid elevator ride 29 feet up was underway. When the water level in the lock chamber matched that on the other side of the gates, the operator opened the gates and Still Waters II was back underway up the Tenn-Tom.

The anchor spot in the Canal Cutoff was found void of any other boats, so the crew spent a secluded night on the hook serenaded by nature.

Tuesday, June 2nd

Today’s menu option started with an appetizer of three locks over 25 miles. The first three nibbles turned out to be so tasty, and it was not even noon, so the crew decided to add three more locks as a main course and travel an additional 25 miles. Unfortunately, these entrees were bitter herbs. If you are a long time virtual crew member, you know of the skipper’s love of vegetables. It took a long 6.5 hours to choke down those three herbs, and the crew finally landed at the Bay Springs Marina about 1830.

Wednesday, June 3rd

Luckily, there were no more locks to chock down, so today was more like a dessert menu filled with root beer floats, ice cream, whip cream, and cherries on top. And speaking of a cherry on top, the crew managed to get a $99 credit returned from the marina upon arrival. The crew went to celebrate the end of the Tenn-Tom Waterway by having a dine-in experience of fresh fried Mississippi mud cats at the Hotel Catfish near Shiloh. Now that beats bitter herbs any day.

Thursday, June 4th

The happy parade did not last long as the crew woke to thunder and showers. The skipper reviewed the weather radar, and decided that they might get a little wet, but the main body of the storms would remain to the north as they skirted along the edge of the weather.

An invisible umbrella was raised over Still Waters II as she began her easterly run along the Tennessee River. To the north of her were dark black skies, while to the south were sunny blue skies. That umbrella kept the crew dry for most of the day with only a few drops of rain penetrating the shield and actually falling to barely dampen the crew’s spirit.

The crew got the last long term slip available in Florence Harbor Marina. They will stay in Florence for the next month and head towards Chattanooga after the July 4th weekend.

Next Week

The crew plans to stay in Florence until after the July 4th weekend. Then they will continue east towards Chattanooga where they will spend a week social distancing with some of their Softball Family.

Loop On –

where the road ends,

the water begins.

the water goes on forever,

and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

Passing It On

Ahoy from the Big Apple! Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

The crew departed NYC back on May 23 to launch their Down East Circle Loop. With their arrival back in NYC on Friday the 13th they bring the adventure to a close. Thanks to all who joined along the way to make this trip special. For those who are thinking of making this trip, the crew encourages you to throw off the lines and experience the fun for yourself. You will not regret the decision, in fact, the trip will probably exceed all your expectations. It did for our crew. If you have any questions about the trip, please contact the crew, they would love to pass on what they have learned.

Summary of the Week

The crew spent the week making way down the Long Island Sound from Portsmouth to New York City. Along the way, they made stops at Groton, Port Jefferson, and Port Washington.

Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. What is the smallest state in the Union?
  2. Which State was first to renounce alliance to England?
  3. Where was ground zero for America’s first spy ring?
  4. What was the name of the spy ring?
  5. What famous speech was given on September 12, 1962?
  6. What was the last minute change to the speech?
  7. Where did the crew cross their wake?
  8. What was New York City’s original name?
  9. When was the City initially founded?
  10. What are three historic events associated with St Paul Chapel?

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Monday, September 9

The crew shoved off from their hurricane hole at Pirate Cove Marina and started their final run towards New York City to complete the Down East Circle Loop. The weather was great and the waves were calm as the crew returned to the big open water made up by the Rhode Island Sound.

Some of the 400 miles of Rhode Island coastline

The waters might be big, but Rhode Island holds the claim to the smallest state. The colony got its start from Roger Williams when he was banished from the Massachusetts Colony in 1636 for pushing his views on religious freedoms.

A Few Fun Facts:

  1. First colony to renounce allegiance to King George III of England on May 4, 1776
  2. Preferred the Articles of Confederation, so refused to participate in creating the US Constitution
  3. Was the last state of the original 13 to ratify the Constitution

State Motto

The crew stopped and took a mooring ball at the end of the day with this view.

Not much later, the crew was rewarded with this beautiful sunset

Tuesday, September 10

The run from Groton, Connecticut to Port Jefferson, New York was smooth and relaxing as the crew crossed the Long Island Sound. The crew dropped anchor across from Setauket Harbor. This Harbor was anything but calm between the years 1778-1783 though.

Setauket Harbor where the Culper Spy Ring operated from

The Harbor was ground zero for the Patriot’s first spy ring. George Washington had to evacuate New York City and moved his army to New Jersey. He desperately needed to know what the British were up to, so he had the Culper Spy Ring created. The spies had an elaborate method to pass on information to George Washington as depicted below.

Anna Strong’s laundry signal was ingenious. She would hang a black petticoat on her laundry line to send a message to Caleb Brewster that there was information to be picked up. Then she would hang white handkerchiefs beside the black petticoat to indicate which slew that Woodhull would meet the whale boat and pass on the message. They had six potential coves that they could rendezvous in, so the number of white handkerchiefs determined the particular cove for the exchange.

The spy ring has been credited for discovering that Benedict Arnold was switching sides in the war to become America’s first traitor. They also identified John Andre as Benedict’s handler, which led to his hanging when the Patriot’s caught him in Tarrytown.

Wednesday, September 11

The crew continued their treck down the Long Island Sound and pulled into Port Washington where they took a mooring ball for a few days. With the New York skyline on the horizon, it was a grim reminder of the events that took place here 18 years ago.

The skipper was at work at a Nuclear Power Plant that day. He was in the Emergency Preparedness Department, at the time. Turned out to be a crazy day at work to say the least. You may not know it, but there is a ten mile No Fly Zone around the plants. Shortly after the first tower was hit, the Feds put out an increased heightened awareness bulletin to the 56 nuclear sites, as well as grounding all air craft.

Just as things began to settle down a bit in the afternoon, a pilot took off in a private plane from a local airport just outside the plants 10 mile No Fly Zone. Fearing the worst and a direct attack on the plant, the Department of Defense scrambled a few jets into the air from Carswell Air Force Base and forced the private plane to the ground. That was a few exciting moments in life wondering what was about to happen. Turns out the private pilot claimed he was unaware of the grounding of all aircraft.

So the private pilot probably can easily recall where he was on 9/11. How about you, where were you on that day?

Jersey City 9/11 Memorial

Thursday, September 12

One of the best presidential speeches ever delivered took place on this date in Houston, Texas in 1962. Kennedy outlined his plan to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade and officially launched the space race.

Most people from that era are very familiar with the speech. But there was a last minute addition to the speech that is not in the recorded original. Kennedy called an audible and made a one line blue pen and ink change just before he delivered the speech that day in Houston. From the speech….

“But why, some say, the moon? Why choose as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic?

Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

That audible has turned out to be a bit prophetic. Since the speech, Texas is 30-1 against the Rice Owls. Begging the question, Why does Rice play Texas?

Hopefully Texas extends the record to 31-1 on Saturday and recovers from that gut wrenching loss to LSU last weekend. Go Horns!

Friday, September 13

Today was the day that the crew brought the Down East Circle Loop to a close. They left Port Washington and made way to New York City. The skies were clear and the crew could easily see the skyline some 6 miles away.

After rounding Rickers Island, they turned south and saw some of the iconic buildings in Manhattan.

Just south of the UN Building, the crew watched as a plane came under the Williamsburg Bridge and landed in the water. That was pretty exciting to watch.

After rounding the tip of Manhattan, the crew could see two more iconic New York landmarks. Lady Liberty and the orange Staten Island Ferry.

After crossing the Hudson River towards Lady Liberty, the crew officially crossed their wake and completed the Down East Circle Loop. They travelled 2,752 miles on this adventure and had the time of their lives.

Saturday, September 14

The crew took the Liberty Landing Ferry from Jersey City to Manhattan. While waiting for the ferry, the crew started a conversation with a man named Steve. He is a commercial diver and plans to retire in two years and buy a boat. It was a pleasure to get to spend some time talking with him. Hope to see you on the water in the future Steve.

After the crew landed in Manhattan, they spent the day roaming around a lower Manhattan park and taking in the sights.

The crew then took the subway to Uptown to find the Halal guys for a late lunch.

With their stomachs full, the crew then took the subway back to lower Manhattan to visit St Paul Chapel. The Church has a long and distinguished history. For starters, it was built from 1764 and 1766. At the time, the Church was the tallest building in the city.

Following George Washington’s inauguration on April 30, 1789, the new president and congress held a special service at the Church and prayed for the future of the new country. The Church was picked because it was the largest public building that survived the Great New York Fire of 1776, and was also where the President attended worship services while in New York.

The Church happens to also be the home of the first monument commissioned by congress. The monument honors Richard Montgomery, a patriot from the revolutionary war. The monument was commissioned January 25, 1776.

Most recently, the church survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 even though the church was just two blocks from the tragedy.

May you and yours be like this church. Facing a little adversity from time to time, but always surviving the close calls and rising to new heights.

Boat Name of the Week

This week the boat name is in tribute to the skipper’s ole fishing buddy Bill Nix. This was one of his favorite words.

Next Week –

The crew will start their south bound journey towards the warm waters of Florida. They hope to find fair winds and following seas which will allow them to make it down the New Jersey Coast and then up the Delaware Bay by the end of the week.

However, with the crew completing the Down East Loop, and re-cruising grounds they have been through several times, they will suspend the weekly blog updates.

If you would like to continue to follow them south though, then add the following link to your home screen and check the progress of their Voyage south.

Still Waters II Travel Map

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

The Gilded Age

Ahoy from Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Welcome back virtual crew members and fellow adventurers!

Entrance hall at The Elms

Summary of the Week

The crew set off from the Isle of Shoals on Monday, but could find no place to stay in Gloucester. Consequently, they moved on and dropped anchor in Boston. Tuesday, they moved down to the Cape Cod Canal and found a mooring ball for Tuesday night. Then it was on to Newport where they spent Wednesday and Thursday nights on a mooring ball. With Hurricane Dorian looming on the horizon, the crew went about 15 miles further north to Portsmouth for the weekend, and to allow Dorian to pass.

Click on the Still Waters II Travel Map to see detailed Voyage Logs.

The voyage of discovery did answer the following questions this week:

  1. Where were the Pilgrims originally supposed to land and start their colony?
  2. How many Fullers sailed across on the Mayflower in 1620?
  3. Who is credited as the first Pilgrim born in the new colony?
  4. How did the owners of The Elms make their fortune?
  5. How much did Rosecliff sell for at auction?

At the Box Office

To see past videos, click on the link to the Still Waters II Vimeo site.  The library contains videos of Still Waters II cruising America’s Great Loop.

Sunday, September 1st

The crew had a crazy cruise today. Their destination was Gloucester; however, the Labor Day weekend coincided with a large Schooner Festival in town so there was no room in the inn. The marinas were full, the mooring balls were full, and the anchorages were full. The crew decided to push on to Boston.

They did decide to cruise through the canal north of Gloucester and check out all of the activity though. That might have been a mistake with the number of people out on the water. The canal was full of boats moored and anchored in the channel with boat traffic moving both north and south.

Once they had navigated their way through the maze of boats, they arrived at an open narrow only wide enough for one boat to pass at a time Railroad Bridge. There was a steady stream of north bound boaters coming through the bridge. The problem was that the skipper was the first of many south bound boats wanting to go through the bridge. But there was a 90 degree turn to make and he could not see if the way was clear. He finally made a Securitee message call over the radio announcing he was headed through the bridge when there seemed to be a gap in the north bound boats. The northbound boater’s called back and said to wait, there were four more of them coming and then it would be safe for the south bounders. When the fourth boat came out from the bridge it signaled all clear and all was good to go. The skipper then made the right turn and passed through the bridge.

Almost immediately the crew came up on a TowBoat who was towing a broke down boat. The TowBoat was trying to maneuver over to a nearby dock, but there were so many recreational vessels in the way, the TowBoat could not move. After a few minutes of waiting, the traffic jam cleared and the crew found themselves waiting in another line of boaters at a highway bridge.

The current was running about 3 knots under the narrow bridge towards the waiting line of boats. Once the bridge opened it was total chaos as the boats all speed up to make the bridge. The wave action was horrendous, and a crowd of folks had gathered on the other side of the bridge to watch the action. I think they were hoping to see and hear some fiberglass crunching.

The crew was glad to get in the harbor, but found it full of boats as well. They looked for a place to drop the anchor, but eventually decided to just keep going to Boston. As they headed out of the harbor, they came across over a hundred sailboats and schooners out enjoying a sail.

It took nearly an hour for the skipper to work his way through all the sailboats and make a heading towards Boston. As they were entering the channel to Boston they saw a fully loaded container ship slipping up behind them. The skipper moved to the edge of the channel to make sure the container ship would be able to keep visual contact with Still Waters II. As the crew continued to keep an eye on the container ship, they witnessed three different boats cross the channel directly in front of the big ship. One sailboat was so close that the container ship started blowing his horn five times, which is the DANGER signal.

The crew eventually got into a good spot out of the wind and dropped the anchor. There were seven or eight small boats up near shore with their crews on land enjoying the day. Well all except one guy that is. The other boaters all left before the tide started to go out. But one boat was still there, with nobody in sight. In less than an hour, the boat was high and dry.

When the owner finally showed back up, he had a rude awakening. He began to dump water around the lower unit of the motor and dug it out. He then began to collect drift wood and started a fire to keep himself warm. The skipper checked the tide tables and learned the guy was going nowhere until a little after midnight when the tide would finally float the boat.

And this my friends is why some boaters say to stay off the water on three day weekends so you avoid the madness and weekend warriors. What a crazy day on the water.

Monday, September 2nd

The crew was hoping they would not have a repeat of the nonsense they encountered yesterday. They weighed anchor and headed south towards the Cape Cod Canal. The wind was a bit blustery out of the west, so the skipper stayed as close to shore as safely possible.

The wind must have kept the weekend warriors at bay because there were not as many boaters out on the water today. There was also not much excitement, which was a good thing. The crew did pass the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, just south of Plymouth.

Obviously, the Plant was named for the Pilgrims who landed in Plymouth Bay in November 1620. Their land grant was for the New England territory; however, their initial landing and colony was supposed to be at the mouth of the Hudson River. They sighted land (the hook of Cape Cod) and tried to sail around the Cape. But because of the shoaling between Cape Cod and the island of Nantucket they could not find safe passage. Because cold weather was starting to set in, they decided to abandon the plan for the Hudson, turned around, and landed in the Bay and made a rock famous.

Two of the 102 passengers were brothers Edward and Samual Fuller. Edward also had his wife (possibly named Ann) and son, Samual with him as well, for a total of four Fullers on the Mayflower. Both Edward and his wife both died in early 1621, joining the half of the folks who did not make the one year anniversary of landing at Plymouth Rock. There was a birth of an Alice Fuller on January 11, 1621 which would make her the first Fuller born in the New World. Ann Fuller’s death is listed as, after January 11, 1621, with no cause of death. Makes you wonder if it was complications due to delivery.

You might think that Alice just might be the first baby born in America to the Pilgrims. However that honor actually goes to Peregrine White. His mother gave birth to him on the Mayflower while anchored off the shore at Plymouth, which makes him a passenger. Later that same day, the passengers made their landing and went ashore. Peregrine, which means traveler, lived a long life before passing away in July 1704 at the age of 83. Which also makes him the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower.

Uncle Samual Fuller took in nephew Samual Fuller (12 years old) and niece Alice (new born) and raised them. Junior would later marry and have nine children, three sons who reached adulthood and also married. Junior’s older brother, Mathew, eventually came to Plymouth and raised his family here also. So the Fuller’s can trace their lineage back to Edward Fuller, a signer of the Mayflower compact.

The crew timed their arrival at the Cap Cod Canal just about perfect and got a couple knot current push as they transited the Canal. The skipper had noticed that Confetti had left an Active Captain review about some mooring balls on the west end of the Canal. The balls do not have any line attached so you have to attach your own line to the ball. Confetti explained how they were successful, so our crew replicated the method. It took three tries to grab the ball because of the wind, but once the crew had the ball they were able to thread the needle and get the ball secured to the bow of the boat.

Once secured, the crew had a good view to observe other boats transit the Canal. After dark, a large cruise ship went by lit up like a Christmas tree.

Tuesday, September 3rd

The crew dropped the mooring ball and made the cruise to Newport. The mooring field at Newport is first come first serve. With the three day weekend over, the skipper was hoping that boaters would have left and the crew would find a mooring ball. What the skipper did not know was that the Newport International Boat Show was scheduled for next week and the harbor was a buzz getting ready for the event.

When the crew arrived in the harbor, they hailed the harbor master on the radio and asked for a mooring. It took a few minutes, but the harbor master found a mooring the crew could take. Because of the Boat Show preps, the mooring was good for one night only. The harbor master would let the crew know tomorrow if they could have the ball for another night before noon tomorrow. The boat brokers use the mooring balls during the boat show as offices and have dibs on the balls. The harbor master does not know when the brokers will actually show up, so they keep a few balls open everyday for the arriving boat brokers.

Looking around the harbor from mooring ball #13

Wednesday, September 4th

The crew learned they could stay another night around 1000, so they hailed the launch service to get a ride to shore. They then took the trolley to one of the Gilded Age Mansions, The Elms.

The Elms was the summer cottage for coal magnate Edward Berwind and his wife, Herminie. She was the daughter of the US Consul to Italy, so she was raised overseas and had a taste for Venetian art which shows through in The Elms.

Edward Berwind made his fortune in the coal business, but before he launched his civilian career he was a Naval Academy graduate. Back in those days the Academy just happened to be in Newport. After resigning his commission at the age of 27, he started his coal business by acquiring mines in Pennsylvania. He managed to get a contract supplying coal to the Navy. He went on to land contracts with Cornelius Vanderbilt supplying coal to both the growing shipping industry and railroads.

The Berwind’s opened their summer cottage in 1901.

One interesting backstory about the cottage was the duties of the head house maid. She was tasked with making sure none of the linens/satin napkins did not disappear. This was no easy task when you realize that at one ball they would serve at least 200 guests in a 16 course French dinner. She had to count the linens when they came out of the closet, when they went to the washing area, when they went to be dried, and lastly when put back in the linen closet. Why all the security over a napkin you ask? One of those gold lined satin napkins was worth more than the servants made in the two month season in Newport.

After exploring The Elms, the crew walked down to Rosecliff to tour the ‘Party House.’

Rosecliff opened in 1902 as a summer retreat and the stage for Theresa Oelrichs to throw some of the greatest parties of the Gilded Age. Theresa’s fortune was made as the heiress of Silver Mines in Nevada. It was common for her to throw a party at the cottage with a $500,000 budget. The Ball Room was the largest room in any of the Newport Cottages and was specifically designed to hold large number of guests for Theresa’s outrageous parties. These days, the house is a favorite for weddings and other functions.

The most interesting backstory at Rosecliff was the sell price in the 1940’s. The original cost of the ‘Party House’ was 2.5 million. The house was passed down to the original owners son. By the 1940’s, the house became too expensive to maintain so the son auctioned the mansion and contents for $21,000.

Thursday, September 5th

The task for today was to figure out the best strategy to weather the winds that will arrive in the area on Saturday due to Hurricane Dorian.

Based on the current predictions of the storm track, it appears that the crew would see winds in the low 20’s with gusts near 40 at Newport. With that info, the crew decided to move north about 15 miles to a marina in Portsmouth. The winds are only expected to be 15-20 in Portsmouth, with gusts to 30. After arrival, the skipper spent a little extra time to secure Still Waters II to the dock. The winds are supposed to arrive Friday late afternoon and peak early Saturday morning. Time will tell what actually happens.

Tucked inside hurricane hole at Pirate’s Cove Marina

Friday, September 6th

So far so good for the crew. The winds have only been up to 15 mph here in Pirate Cove Marina, and very little rain during the day. Winds are predicted to get to 25 overnight so looks like all will be well here in Rhode Island.

Saturday, September 7th

Overnight the winds stayed below 25 mph, and the well protected marina was surprisingly calm. Dorian has moved off from Cape Cod and has tracked towards Nova Scotia. It will be interesting to see how much damage the ICW has encountered once the crew heads south from Norfolk in a few weeks. But it does appear that the initial storm damage reports from Florida to New England are better than expected with little loss of life.

One interesting story about post hurricane damage assessment comes from Cumberland Island in Georgia. It seems a woman had some of her ashes put in a bottle with a note and thrown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Island. Some folks found the bottle on Cumberland Island. The note request that if you find the bottle, take a picture, write and send pic to the email, and throw the bottle back in the water. The woman wants to travel the world. Well, she is off to a slow start.

To end the week on a brighter note though with someone who actually has cruised the world, the crew met a couple on the docks who have a connection back to McKinney, Texas. The Admiral has a niece who still lives near McKinney. But more interesting, the couple spent 7 years cruising the Mediterranean. Their stories were definitely more interesting than cruising Cumberland Island in a bottle.

Boat Name of the Week

Next Week –

With Dorian in the rear view mirror, the crew will focus on cruising the Long Island Sound and arriving in New York City on Saturday, to cross their wake and complete the Down East Loop.

Loop On – Where the road ends, the water begins. The water goes on forever, and the adventure never ends.

Eric the Red

%d bloggers like this: