John Berling (berlingj@fuse.net)
Sun, 28 Feb 1999 11:18:11 -0600

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Hi All, This is a really long message, but I have questions, so many

I have this whirlwind, month-long, drag-the-Potter-all-over
Trip (actually, if she says “yes” – and if I can “Screw my courage to
a sticking place” - it will be a honeymoon, but that’s a different
story…) planned for this summer:
to Erie PA;
to Niagara Falls;
to Toronto (3 days);
1000 Islands;
Lake Champlain;
Lake Winnipesaukee, NH;
A week in Southwest Harbor (Bar Harbor), ME;
Portland, ME;
E. Falmouth/Nantucket/Vineyard (3 days);
Newport, RI;
Mystic, CT;
Pittsburgh (to go to the IKEA store, of course!);
and finally home again, about a month later.

Now, I've been trying to locate charts for these areas, and the recent
listserv “chart” posts have been some help, but it seems like the NOAA
charts, though they have all the info I need, are big unwieldy things.
How do other small potter owners deal with these massive charts in a
tiny cockpit?
(non-sequitor, “Can this Cock-Pit hold the vasty fields of France?”)
Do you just fold them up? Does that destroy them?

Having formerly been a powerboater, and having done my boating (if you
want to call something that is almost indistinguishable from driving a
car, "boating") on Army Corps waterways, the only charts I have are the
ones they publish in spiralbound book format. These are really handy,
durable, and manageable.
Do NOAA charts come in a similar format?

I've looked at some navigation software, and even some chartplotters,
but it all seems way overpriced. However, because Andrea and I are both
looking for new teaching jobs somewhere south and coastal, I may be able
to rationalize the expense – meaning both cartridges for this trip,
which I’ll probably never use again, and new disks for the area where we
eventually live. Jeez, I think I just talked myself out of it…
Anyway, I’d be interested in some reviews and more info on this type of
One option lets me have a laptop on-board (which appeals to the geek in
me), but then I’m back to something difficult to manage in the cockpit,
and there’s the added worry of it going overboard or getting wet…
For safety’s sake, I really like the idea of having a GPS – even if I’m
never out of sight of land.
Is any of this truly better and worthwhile, or is it just another
too-expensive toy?

Our sailing experience consists, so far, of a few day-rentals at a very
small local lake (that rented us the skiff the first time even after we
told them we had NO experience – what an adventure!), and a week-long
level I & II ASA course that we took in Florida last August. Without
practice since, I feel everything we learned there slipping away… Now,
we’re hoping to get in some substantial experience on our recently
acquired WWP15 before we leave for this trip in Mid-June, and we’ll be
getting more experience along the way in progressively bigger waters,
before we head out into the ocean, but, still, the idea of open water
is giving me the nagging doubts…

For example, with such limited experience, would we be foolish to
attempt the 10 mile (?) crossing to Nantucket Island, let alone the
three mile crossing to Martha’s Vineyard – even if the weather is
perfectly cooperative?

What about sailing in Frenchman’s Bay, Maine; as far as I can tell there
are no NOAA charts for the north side of MDI…what does that mean?

Are there some of these areas -- Presque Isle in Erie, PA, for example –
where we won’t even need a chart?

I’ve heard that I’ll need special insurance for using and towing my boat
in Canada, or that my standard coverages don’t extend there. Obviously,
I’ll be calling Allstate, but I want to make sure I’m asking the right
questions; anyone have experience with this?

Any sort of fees for towing the boat across the border?

We’re (I’m) planning on saving some money by sleeping on the boat in
rented slips about 10 or 12 days (though never more than 2 nights in a
row) of the approximately 24 we will be gone.
Now, having spent five years in the Navy and twenty years climbing,
camping, and going on extended unsupported road and mountain-bike tours,
I can sleep in something as small as a bivvy almost indefinitely, but I
wonder is ten days, total, on the boat realistic for “normal” people?
I’m not worried about boredom, but I am worried about “claustrophobia.”

Obviously, we need to find marinas with bathrooms and showers for their
transient slips – any ECPA members have any ideas?
I have found some marinas on the net, but an experienced recommendation
is always better than a random name from a list and a brief phone call.

I’ve heard that 1000 Islands is a touristy Zoo. If it’s anything like,
say, Gatlinburg TN, or Orlando FL in late June, I’ll hate it a lot;
should I just avoid it altogether?

I’m curious about the terrain in the Northeast; I’ve been to CT and Cape
Cod, and I seem to remember that area as pretty hilly. I imagine N.
Vermont and Central NH are more so. My tow vehicle is a four cylinder,
four door car with a transmission oil cooler, and it did a good job
pulling the boat from Milwaukee home to Cincy, but mostly flat Indiana
(the bulk of that trip) is maybe no test. I can borrow a
much-less-economical six cylinder vehicle for the trip Northeast; should

And last, but not least, some non-sailing-related questions: Our
Mountain bikes will be on the roof rack, and our golf clubs in the trunk
(I confess: I’m a funhog); anyone have recommendations for the areas
where we’re headed?

Ok, thanks for letting me take up so much server space with these
detailed and idiosyncratic questions – it was the only way I could think
of to reach a wide audience.
If you feel like the answers to any or all of these questions are not of
general Potter-list interest, please click the “reply to sender only”
option when responding. Thanks again!

John B.