Mark S. Blackburn

Report of the Maiden Voyage of

CANISTEL of Balboa Island, CA

November  2002


Toronto, Ontario to Miami Beach, FL

2000 Nautical Miles

28 days

Latest Whereabouts & Status:  Canistel is at her slip in Miami Beach at Sunset Harbor Marina. I have returned to Sacramento as of December 10, 2002.   In February 2003 Canistel was a featured yacht in the Miami Boat Show.  In March, Canistel was featured at Trawlerfest in Melbourne, FL.


Concluding remarks from the Skipper:

Never in my life have I had a vacation of more than 2 weeks' duration.  Never in my life have I voyaged over 5 days in a row.  And, never in my life have I sailed up or down the Eastern seaboard.  I'd never been to New York City, Washington D. C. or many other wonderful cities.  Never in my life have I skippered a vessel (mostly) by myself for such a distance:  2000 miles!   Although I had a couple protracted stays (4 days in NYC due to weather, 4 days in Cape May, NJ due to mechanical issues) I did make consistent progress.  After nearly freezing my dear friend Ida to death in the Erie Canal, I made it into tropical waters.  When I recognized that I was offshore from Miami Beach, I began to realize that I had really traveled a distance.  After all, I had cruised through snowstorms, hail, rain, and gales.  While I had many people who wanted to travel aboard Canistel, I think I had the right mix, with about 80% of the trip made solo.  Making most of this trip on my own helped me gain familiarity with the boat by having complete and exclusive responsibility for it.   I have added this cruise to my list of greatest accomplishments.



Photo Album of the Trip:              


                              Photo Highlights Only


            Cruise Photos in Chronological Order


            Page 1       Departure to Oswego, NY

            Page 2       Oswego, NY to Amsterdam, NY

            Page 3       Schenectady, NY to West Point

            Page 4       New York Harbor

            Page 5       New Jersey & Delaware     

            Page 6       Annapolis & Washington D.C.

            Page 7       Strange Sights of the Chesapeake Bay

            Page 8       Norfolk, VA & the Intracoastal Waterway

            Page 9       North Carolina

            Page 10     Charleston, SC to Miami Florida

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Flash Animation created by my associate Mr. Kim Berry

Leg One:          Toronto, Ontario to New York Harbor


The Crew:        Captain Mark and First Mate Ida Philippi


The Route:     Toronto to New York City   425 Miles  (see below)


                         1.  Cross Lake Ontario (an inland ocean)

                         2.  Clear customs at Oswego, NY & enter Oswego Canal

                         3.   Head East on this hemisphere's most famous Canal (Erie)

                         4.   South on the Hudson River past West Point




Photos from the Trip:

Before Leaving Toronto  A tremendous amount of provisioning and equipping of the boat needed to occur in Whitby, Ontario at the docks used  by PDQ Yachts for commissioning.  I frantically did this in 2 days.  Also, I had to get my 'papers' in order for the US Customs who were sure I was a terrorist, since everybody except George Bush is a terrorist.  Ida Philippi, my First Mate for cruise leg one, arrived on October 30, and we left on Nov. 1 at 3:30am for Oswego, New York.  Photos include a factory tour led by Rob Poirier.

Across Lake Ontario & the Erie Canal  This was an uneventful trip across Lake Ontario.  We arrived at Oswego at 10:30am after crossing the lake at 15 Knots.  Customs delayed us a day in Oswego.  We sailed through horrible weather.  We were in fact the LAST vessel through the Erie Canal in 2002.  The system closed after we passed through.  Despite inclement weather, freezing temperatures, and sailing through snow storms Ida kept smiling!  (She even survived without coffee).  We saw beautiful fall colors in between 30 different Locks.  The many charming upstate NY towns were so charming.  Real Estate was very cheap:  2 bd homes for $30k,  4bd homes for $80k 

New York Harbor  OK, I'll admit it.  I've never (really) been to New York before.  The city absolutely blew me away.  And, I believe the best views of the city are from the Harbor.  We arrived in NYC on November 3 and circled Lady Liberty on Liberty Island.  Ida's Father and my Great-Grandfather both entered the USA through Ellis Island.  We also circumnavigated Ellis Island.  I had a wonderful time in NYC including a couple extra days due to gale winds.  I thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful tour of Manhatten Island given me by Sandi Rizzo of Reno's Raw Food Group.  We had dinner at Quintessence, a Raw Restaurant with mouth-watering food at about 1/3 the price of Roxanne's in Marin.   Quintessence has 3 locations with a fourth in the works.  They have got it right.  Ida had to fly home on Nov. 4, and I have been cruising alone since that time.  I believe this is best as I need to learn to handle the boat on my own, and get to know it very well, so that in the future I can have others cruise with me.

New Jersey  I experienced some mechanical issues traveling down the Jersey Coast.  Due to this, I limped into New Jersey's southernmost city, Cape May, under 1 engine on Nov. 9.  I located an excellent diesel mechanic, but it still took 4 days till I was ship shape.  I enjoyed my time in NJ.  One night, however, I drove back up to NYC and met and had another dinner at Quintessence with Denis and Lili, two wonderful new friends.  Denis, a Russian Yoga Coach who I had met in a roundabout way in Portland last August,  took me to an oriental market where we both loaded up on coconuts.

Annapolis & Washington DC   Growing up a sailor, I have been aware of Annapolis for many years.  But, it is so charming!  My cruise there was quick and easy.  My new folding bicycle was waiting for me at Chesapeake Catamaran Center, where skipper John Johnson suggested I stay.  I stayed 2 nights waiting out a storm.  One night I visited my Brother-in-Law Sam Abdo and his new wife.  I attended a wonderful Ramadan dinner celebration at their home.  On Sunday we visited some of the highlights of the capitol region including the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, The Washington Monument, and King George's Castle.  Sunday night I had a wonderful dinner at the Charthouse restaurant in an awful rainstorm.  I departed Monday Nov 18 at 6:30am.

Chesapeake Bay to Norfolk  The boat ran well and the weather was great.  This translated into a 200+mile day.  Check the pictures of  H.M.S. Bounty encountered on this leg.  What I was most mindful of was the billions OUR of dollars our government spends to 'defend' us against bogey-men.  Everywhere there were military jets, Naval vessels, and of course the Naval Academy.  I have have passed 15 different military bases.  Such activities probably create more of a threat than they mitigate, and they cost us severely.  America must learn diplomacy rather than warfare if the rest of the world is to survive! We have got to stop bullying and terrorizing the world, and learn to live in harmony and respect the autonomy of other countries.  We have become an empire which is threatening the survival of many other cultures and peoples.

ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway)  Norfolk to Beaufort, NC  The ICW is a world unto itself.  It is one of the best ways to see the heartland of America.  Thousands of pleasure boaters ply this canal twice a year as boats in the Northeastern states relocate south for Winter.  It has many historic bridges left over from the 1940s which must be opened by operators.  There are thousands of private coves and secluded anchorages, offering boaters free and beautiful natural settings to stay.   It also offers a very safe and protected route up or down the East Coast without having to go offshore.  It is much slower as it meanders making use of rivers and canals, but depending on ocean conditions, it is the preferred route.  I made use of the ICW until I got pinched on my schedule.   

Dolphins off my bow off North Carolina's Coast  I shot out to the coast to quicken my pace.  This worked great on Nov. 21, but worked to my detriment on the 22nd, so I returned to the ICW near Charleston, SC.  There was a strong Southwesterly wind which had been forecast as a Northeaster.  I assumed I'd do fine, but between the prevailing swells and the contrary wind, it was slow-going misery offshore. 

Charleston, SC to Miami Beach  I had to expedite my cruise and so from Parris Island, SC, headed out into the Atlantic for a fast but easy run down to Daytona Beach, Fl. bypassing all of Georgia.  I was in a hurry to pick up Suzan at the airport in Daytona.  She had finally decided to come meet me, and Daytona Beach was where she was flying into.  We spent a couple days in Daytona (not as nice or as warm as Miami) and then took the boat down to it's slip in Miami Beach in a 2 day run.





Planned Arrival
















Depart Oct 31




Whitby, Ontario

New York


Nov 3

  Nov 4   1 Delays with US Customs, Lock Operations and some mechanical  issues 1

New York

Atlantic City


Nov 5

  Nov 8   3   Late departure due to Weather.  (Gale winds). 2

Atlantic City

Delaware City


Nov 6

  Nov 9   Arrived Cape May, NJ Nov 9 with engine problems 3

Delaware City



Nov 8

  Arrival Nov 16   8 Left Cape May November 13 for Cohanssey River Marina for additional repairs.                4


Virginia Beach


Nov 12

Virginia Beach

Kitty Hawk

NC Nov 13       6
Kitty Hawk Cape Hatteras NC Nov 13       7
Cape Hatteras  Morehead City           8

Morehead City



Nov 14

Southport Myrtle Beach SC       10

Myrtle Beach



Nov 16

 23     11
Charleston Hilton Head  SC Nov 18   23    

Hilton Head



Nov 19

  23     12




Nov 20

  23     13


Cocoa Beach


Nov 21




Cocoa Beach

w. palm beach


Nov 23




w. palm beach

Miami beach


Nov 24

  29   5

















The above chart shows the daily legs of Canistel's maiden voyage.  To get information on the major legs of the voyage (each shown above in a distinct color), please look here.  

Main Cruise Plan

Useful Information:

How I came to buy this boat

ocean temperatures

Main MV/34 Page

Bahamas cruise February 2004


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Mark Blackburn

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Mark S. Blackburn, MBA

1310  E  Street Victorian

Sacramento, CA 95814

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Last Updated: February 14, 2010