In the fall of 2014, Clayton and Deanna Naeve moved aboard their 1999 Nordhavn 50, Tivoli. Originally from South Dakota, Naeve was starting his retirement. They sold their house, put their remaining things in storage, and began a new life afloat. The Naeves had owned three sailboats before, but Tivoli, powered by a 250-hp Lugger, was their first powerboat, and they headed south, to Florida.
They basically have been cruising ever since. Last year, for example, they cruised to Bermuda to watch the America’s Cup, then up to Nova Scotia and Bras D’Or Lake, and even farther north to Newfoundland to explore the fjords along the southern coast. But, as Naeve points out in his blog, “cruising is not always sunny beaches and cold umbrella drinks.” Indeed, on their current trip back to Florida, they had three separate crises. Here’s what happened:
First, heading down the ICW on the Alligator-Pango River in North Carolina, they met a fully loaded grain barge heading toward them in a narrow section. They radioed the barge captain, and agreed to pass port to port. As they moved as far to starboard as they could, Naeve said he worried as he watched the depth gauge drop. Just when he realized that the depth sounder was on the port side of the hull, the starboard side started dragging, and Tivoli was running aground. He couldn’t do anything; the barge was too close. “After thousands of ocean miles, I thought it would be an ignominious fate to be sunk by a barge in six feet of water,” he said. They eventually called TowBoatUS and got towed off, with no real damage.
A few days later the Naeves were cruising down the outside, in the ocean, and wanted to get back to the Waterway in Jacksonville. Coming into St. John’s Inlet, they found two warships also preparing to enter, a large ship coming out, several shrimpers dragging nets across the channel and rough seas to boot. The farther in Tivoli went, the larger the seas, ending up with 8-10-foot standing waves. The boat was surfing, with the prop partially out of the water. “The ride was boisterous to say the least,” Naeve wrote.
The third problem came outside Fort Pierce, again with Tivoli approaching from the ocean. The Naeves arrived at 11:30 pm, facing an ebb tide that was running at 3 knots. Naeve said he tried the inlet, but couldn’t steer a straight course, so he went back to sea and steered a holding pattern until slack tide at 3:30 a.m., when they made it safely straight down the channel.
Naeve’s conclusion from all of this: “Had we experienced any of these situations in our first months of cruising, we may have opted for another avocation…Yet, because of the knowledge one gains over time, we were able to assess each situation and manage each event without injury or damage to the boat and, importantly, learn a great deal…If you stay in port on your boat and don’t challenge yourself, you will not gain the experiences and knowledge that make you a better boater.” Read more: