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A delivery seeking some luxury

Top: This 55-foot luxury motor yacht was missing some key elements of cruising, including a generator and properly functioning heads. Below: Yacht owners Bill and Pat Cara in the lock. Motor yacht delivery to Toronto

By Captain Dave Mathews

What comes to mind if the vessel in question is a luxury 55-foot motor yacht? Answer: All the modern touches we associate with such a vessel. Right? Allow me to describe our arrival in Cape May, New Jersey to pick up the boat.

Our rental car from Toronto disgorges the owner Bill, wife Pat, my mate Chuck and me.

It's an unusual situation in that Bill, showing more guts than a burglar, has made this purchase sight-unseen, based on partial survey information. As the yacht broker conducts our introductory tour several interesting facts jump out at Chuck and me:

- No generator (Water in the Oil)
- No fresh water (System is broken)
- No working heads, since they use fresh water
- No radar
- No autopilot
- No stove/microwave/fridge/toaster underway (needs a generator)
- No anchor recovery, although windlass is happy to deploy the hook

The Good Points?

- The 2 MAN German diesel engines work just fine, 610 H.P. each
- The bow thruster works well
- The old Garmin chart plotter kinda-sorta works, although no chips are installed
- The interior is ultra comfortable
- My small 750-watt inverter supplies AC power to my GPS-enabled net book with excellent detailed chart data.

Our destination for this trip is Toronto Island Marina, and after filling a large cooler with block ice we take on fuel and supplies and commence the ocean run from Cape May Inlet north in the Atlantic.

Not wishing to arrive in New York City in the dark, I make entrance to the inlet at Atlantic City, securing for the night at what used to be the upscale Trump Marina. We soon discover this operation has fallen upon hard times with many annoying features, hard-to-locate showers, etc, so we cheerfully take our leave in the morning, northbound.

The big MAN diesels push us right along, as we enjoy the ponderous motion of a larger motor yacht in ocean swells, soon arriving at the Sandy Hook ship channel into New York's lower bay. The Statue of Liberty is on our port as we enter a small marina, out of the current opposite the tip of Manhattan.

Mate Chuck is enjoying the novelty of the powerboat atmosphere; he is a hard-core sailboat guy, having just completed the Lake Ontario 300 event. This year there was little to no wind, which was disappointing for the many boats involved.

Proceeding north on the Hudson, we are surrounded by fast-ferries, tugs, barges, pleasure craft and are buzzed by helicopters. We witness all this confusion and marvel that U.S. Airways' Captain Sullenberger, having experienced a bird strike and total engine failure on his Airbus A320 just north of the George Washington Bridge, somehow managed to make a split-second shift to glider mode and land in the river near the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, saving all 155 persons aboard. Now there is a guy with quick reflexes!

Yacht owner Bill has arranged for a business associate to meet our boat at the Garrison Marina, where we spend a quiet night directly across the river from West Point Military Academy. Next day we head north, the many enormous mansions catching our eye on both sides of the river. These hark back to the era of the railway barons and other members of the super-rich set the so-called one per cent. As Canadians we all wonder what the future holds for this rich country with its government and numerous other challenges.

The spot on the river where our trip is to divert into the Erie Canal is Waterford, N.Y. Imagine our dismay upon arriving there to discover that severe flood damage has closed the canal for an unknown period. A brief conference yields the decision to push on through the alternative route the Champlain Canal to Sorel, Quebec on the St. Lawrence River.

Chuck soon has a major job, which is removing all items mounted above the roofline, to deal with low bridge clearance ahead. In the end he got us down to 16 feet 10 inches. The clearance we have available up ahead is seventeen feet even!! On one section of canal, we even had to supply notice in order for some water to be released out of a section of canal to enable our passage under the bridges.

Lake Champlain comes to us as a surprise, with its many indented bays and sheltered spots. Its 75-mile length presents an ideal cruising ground, and the many vessels we encounter are taking full advantage of it. Finally, we make it to Sorel, Quebec and stop for the night on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. Travelling past Montreal, the intense commercial aspect, with many huge cranes, docks, ships and barges full of containers shows us the industrial face not readily apparent when cruising past on the highway.

Soon we are experiencing the scenic 1000 Islands and surprisingly, there are three different castles to view along our route through these islands.

Meanwhile, on board Pat has been serving up rather excellent fare, with many salads and meals contrived from the large Igloo 6-day cooler and jugs of water we keep replenishing as we travel.

Each of us deals in our own way with the lack of proper toilet facilities - it is similar to camping, but without the amenities of camping! It is indeed bizarre to be aboard a vessel this impressive in appearance, with the only AC electrical power coming from my small inverter.

On occasion we do stop for the evening at a dock where our 50-amp yellow cord can be plugged in, bringing to life the full suite of galley equipment. It seems apparent the previous owner lived on board dockside, explaining the numerous offline systems so essential for cruising.

Departing the 1000 Islands, we begin our trek along the length of Lake Ontario, and make a familiar stop at the excellent facilities of Cobourg Marina. Once again I am grateful that somebody else is purchasing all this diesel fuel - but the other side of the coin is the way these big motor yachts eat up the miles! In what seems like moments we make our way into the familiar Toronto Harbour waters, and snuggle up to the assigned slip in Toronto Island Marina. The trip was longer than anticipated because of the Erie Canal closure, but we saw many new sights as we did the detour. It was very interesting for all of us.

Captain Dave Mathews, who holds a 200 ton Masters Ticket, keeps busy re-positioning sail and power vessels. He can be reached at, Email: or phone 905-706-9994.

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