investigated a lot of boats with sails. Eventually, however,
we decided on a trawler-type yacht, with our pocketbook
proscribing anything over about forty-four feet.
All that spring and summer, while we spruced up our home and
our Columbia 34 and put them on the market, we planned how
we would outfit, provision, stow and decorate a new power
cruiser, and the voyages we would take in her.
Our search continued into the fall; then, in October, through
sheer serendipity, we saw just what we wanted at the
Annapolis Boat Show. Her dimensions were 42’4” x 39’6” x 15’
x 4’7”. From a high, solid-looking bow her decks and
bulwarks swept aft gracefully to a slightly rounded stern.
There was a spacious upper deck that extended all the way
aft to provide shelter of an open area abaft the cabin. She
had a large, pleasant saloon with fully equipped galley, two
staterooms with head and shower, and a commodious
pilothouse. I especially liked the big, reliable
six-cylinder diesel and the deep and well-protected
propeller, as well as her sturdy anchor platform housing two
anchors and an electrically operated windlass.
The more we looked, the better we liked her, but we soon
discovered that she would exceed our budget when we added
the extra gear we wanted. So we called a marine surveyor and
asked him if he knew of any available Kadey Krogen 42s – for
that is what she was. “Funny you should mention that boat,”
he said, “I was out on sea trials on one today.” And that
was it. The following spring we moved aboard our “new” used
boat and quickly became involved in the work we knew had to
be done. Try to conceive of moving from a fully furnished
four-bedroom home aboard a forty-two foot yacht. We gave
things away; we sold, loaned and stored things and stashed
others in a safe deposit box. And we took some things with
us. That required a lot of decision making and trafficking
back and forth.
Aboard the Krogen, the generator, heads, shower and heaters
all needed repairs, and when we filled the water tanks we
somehow also filled the bilges. There were myriad other
time-consuming tasks – the boat’s name to be changed
reshaped to fit our dinghy, a loose water heater to be
screwed down, and all-too-many other chores.
But with the help of the local yacht yard, one week after
moving aboard we were almost ready to get under way on our
first passage – destination Charleston, S.C. It was Easter
Sunday, a day of glorious rebirth which should have been
auspicious – but it was not.
We backed out of the slip precisely at 0805, the first time
(except for ten minutes of turning her in circles out in the
open water five months before) that we had ever handled our
new floating home. Exactly fifteen minutes later we began
bumping through the river mud a hundred yards or so outside
the channel. I had misread the channel markers.
"Funny you should
mention the Kadey Krogen 42, " he said. "I was out on sea
But we powered on through, digging a trench in the bottom, and safely
reentered the channel. By a little after 1000 we were
purring comfortably down Chesapeake Bay. The Bay was calm
under a high overcast. On the advice of the previous owner,
we were running at 1,500 r.p.m., a power setting that I
understood him to say would give us a speed of eight m.p.h.
However, it didn’t quite work out that way.
By 1200 we were experiencing rain and increasing headwinds
and by 1800 we were navigating by radar. At 1930 it was dark
and raining hard, the wind out of the northeast at 20 knots.
But our progress down the Bay had been steady and now
through the murk the radar and an occasional glimpse of a
flashing white light showed Windmill Point Lighthouse at the
mouth of the Rappahannock River two miles on the starboard
was another 30 minutes on the same heading to the buoy at
the river mouth, but we had to be sure it was buoy number
two. Misidentification could mean piling up on the tongue of
sand and mud that makes out from the point to the
lighthouse. So we
the buoy close aboard and verified. As we came to a
new heading around the buoy the short, steep seas which had
been astern were now on the starboard beam, giving us a
lurching roll that made it difficult even to stand. At that
point I began to feel sorry for, but increasingly admiring
of my wife, Charlene. From experience as navigator in the
navy, I had complete confidence in the radar. She lacked
that experience. For her, reality was the drumming of the
cold rain on the cabin top, the streaming windshield, the
cresting seas, the pitch dark and the incessant cursed
rolling. Yet, I heard no hysterics or even complaints. That
steadied my nerves.
Slowly but steadily we picked up each buoy on schedule,
finally coming into the lee of the point and calmer seas. At
2030 we picked up buoy number six, which meant only a mile
and a half between us and the tranquil safety of the harbor
and those long awaited steaks and martinis. But in the
continuing wind and rain this proved to be the most
difficult part of the passage. However, by using extreme
caution as we nosed into the harbor entrance, and with the
resourceful help of Charlene, who suddenly appeared at my
side wielding a flashlight, we safely maneuvered the channel
into the peaceful landlocked basin.
At 2115, still in our soaking clothes but relaxed, we were in
a local restaurant enjoying martinis, steaks sizzling on the
fire, and peering into the rain filled darkness from which
we had come, thankful to be where we were. Just across the
dock, unscathed and somehow now really ours, gleamed the
white hull and distinctive bow of the Krogen- our gallant
new sea-going home.
For us, the big switch was the right one.
Edward Stafford, Commander, USN
(Ret.) has a
20-year history of freelance writing on nautical subjects.