The Voyage of Krogen 54' Horizon's: Forty Thousand Miles and Still Going Strong — Julie Ann Lubarsky and Becca Vannier
The Ruffin's know the seas. From an early age Frank was sailing around England, the Mediterranean and across the North Sea. His wife, Maude, however, began her extensive travels after meeting her husband and becoming his first mate. In 1998 when the Ruffin's purchased Horizons, (a 54' Krogen), and made the move from sailboat to Trawler, they began preparation for an offshore voyage which would last more than five years and tens of thousands of miles.
When asked how they prepared for their extended travels, Frank cites, "Preparation, preparation, preparation" as the key. He also mentioned having spoken with the captain of a mega yacht who gave him the following advice, "When at all possible, remain the Master of your own schedule". Frank recalls the captain saying, "As long as one has the prerogative of when to come and when to go, there is significantly less chance of encountering extreme weather situations". Planning well and not compromising safety are key pieces of advice the Ruffin's offer to others considering a long range voyage.
Since most Krogen's are Owner operated, the Ruffin's pinpointed coastal cruising as an excellent way for new Owner's to learn their vessel. Coastal cruising offers a vast array of situations which can be equally as challenging as offshore voyages. High instances of fog, rocks, and tidal variances, etc. can offer incident. Mechanical problems can often times be resolved by a captain familiar with his vessel. The Ruffin's recommend new Owner's reading their Equipment Manuals, saying "Quite a few 'situations' can be resolved by a capable captain with working knowledge of his vessel, and a comprehensive guide to the equipment on board." He adds though that, "Nothing beats sweat equity and experience".
The Ruffin's choice of a Kadey-Krogen Yacht came from Frank and Maude's desire to embark on long range voyages. The ultimate deal clincher for the purchase of Horizons, however, came from her outstanding hull, tremendous living space and comfortable motion at sea (due to the Krogen's pure displacement hull form). Additionally, the Ruffin's loved her climate controlled, spacious pilothouse, where they added most of their time is actually spent while underway.
The Voyage Begins.
According to a British magazine that the Ruffin's read: relative to other oceans, the North Atlantic is very safe. Frank relayed that the North Atlantic is covered by the Canadian, British and American Coasts Guard and Navy, and if problems were to occur you'd not be more than 12 hours from help. Of additional comfort to the Ruffin's was the high volume of ship, sailboat and cruiser traffic that regularly makes way across the Atlantic. With this in mind, Frank, Maude and their German Shepherd Yankee left San Francisco, CA in August of 1999, cruised south to San Diego to wait for the Baja-Ha-Ha Sail boat Rally to begin and then traveled south with the sailboats and a few other Trawlers after hurricane season ended, November 15th. The Ruffin's made way to La Paz where they stayed for about a month, and then continued onto Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to stop for the Christmas Holidays. From Puerto Vallarta, Frank and Maude slowly worked their way down the Mexican and Central American coast towards the Panama Canal. They were held back in Banana Bay, Costa Rica for a month due to engine problems. Frank mentioned that, "When we purchased Horizons, she was a pre-owned boat with less than 500 hours on her and had never been more than sixty miles from her home port. Since she had not been used very often, her general maintenance was behind, causing engine problems". He also offered that, "The 220 hp Ford Lehman that she was equipped with was not well adapted to the boat and gave us quite a bit of problems". Once they replaced her power with a John Deere Lugger (which is standard in all late model KKY vessels), Frank pointed out, "We have been more than pleased with her performance and have not had a bit of trouble".
On April 1, 2000 Horizons made her way through the Panama Canal. Like most boats passing through the canal, Frank and Maude had rope handlers to assist them with the lines. While making their way through the locks, Horizons was tied between two mega yachts with a large freighter ship behind them. The Ruffin's offered that while Panama is known mostly for its famous canal, the country's natural attractions offer much to travelers, including some of the finest birding, snorkeling and deep-sea fishing in the Americas.
Next the Ruffin's headed up the Yucatan to Isla Mujeres, across from Cancun. The Peninsula of Yucatan is made up of three states; Quintana Roo, Campeche and Yucatan. Interestingly enough, the Yucatan was the first part of Mexico discovered by the Spaniards (who accidentally landed on its coast in the year 15ll A.D.), when a ship that had sailed from Darien (Panama) for the island of "Espanola" (Santo Domingo) was stranded by a hurricane in the bay of "Las Viboras" (the Vipers) in front of the Islands of Jamaica. While most people think of the Yucatan Peninsula as a treasure trove for shopping, beaches and hotels (Cancun alone boasts more than 25,000 hotel rooms), Frank and Maude toured Mayan Ruins and enjoyed the historical significance of the area (as well as its natural beauty).
After exploring Isla Mujeres, Frank, Maude and Yankee ventured past the northern tip of Cuba, through the Florida Straits, up the Florida Keys and docked in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. On the 6th of July, Frank and three crew members left for Bermuda, while Maude and Yankee remained Stateside. The trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda took Frank and his crew three and one half days. From Bermuda, Frank and crew continued onto the Azores and then Lisbon, Portugal, where Maude and Yankee hopped a flight over to join them. The Portuguese have a saying, "Come to Portugal a stranger, leave Portugal a friend". The Ruffin's spent a month traveling and enjoying the Portuguese coast, its incredible climate and much that this lovely country offered.
Upon leaving Portugal, Frank and Maude made their way to Barcelona, Spain where they insisted, "Barcelona is a fantastic place to winter"! For those not familiar, Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean at the northern tip of the Spanish coast. It is a cosmopolitan and economically vigorous city, and although modern to the point of being a cutting edge leader in international tendencies, the city boasts an old history. With monuments of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance periods (and those still before), amazingly, most characteristic is what has been built during the last 100 years. Barcelona has become a center of Modernist architecture and is distinguished especially by the works of genial Antoni Gaudi, who gave a new and exciting look to the city, which, ever since, has remained at the top of modernity. The Ruffin's loved the Country's fabulous food and incredible wine, people, culture, heritage and lifestyle. Frank and Maude would return to Barcelona several times during their trip prior to making their way back home.
In May, 2001 Frank and Maude headed to Antibes, France where they found a John Deere Lugger Dealer to replace Horizons engine. Frank emphasizes that the Lugger, "Has done very, very well and suits Horizons perfectly". Frank suggests a parallel between Ft. Lauderdale and Antibes, both with their exclusive mansions, bustling beach areas and plenty of hot spots and adds, "It's a huge hub for mega yachts". Because boating is a large part of the 'Riviera Lifestyle', most marine dealers and accessory outfits have an operation in the area. This made the change-out from Horizons original Ford Lehman to the new John Deere very convenient, even though the Ruffin's were abroad.
From France, Horizons traveled to Corsica where the Ruffin's found beautiful beaches and fabulous food. Moving onward, Frank and Maude cruised along the Italian Coast - crossing the Straits of Messina -- and then traveled onto Greece via the Corinthian Canal to visit Athens. The Corinthian is four miles in length & twenty three meters in width. Interestingly, Nero attempted this project himself, but his efforts were met with failure; the canal was completed between 1882 and 1893. In its few short blocks in length, the Canal joins the Adriatic and the Aegean Seas. Its construction has saved the modern shipping industry and passage maker alike much in the way of time and expense spared.
Frank and Maude then crossed to Izmir, Turkey and then stopped in Kemer at the Park Kemer Marina in southern Turkey for the winter. While in Turkey, the Ruffin's met a lot of wonderful people and made some good friends. Both Frank and Maude raved about the hospitality and friendliness of the people. Kemer is home to such resort areas as Antalya, Finike and Kas -- all lovely seaside towns - that have unbelievably beautiful bays filled with ships and yachts. Backed by mountains and facing the sea, the promenades and avenues are decorated by palm trees, and new and impressive buildings stand side by side with dwellings dating far before the age of Christ.
From Kemer, the Ruffin's traveled to Rhodes, Crete, southern Greece, and the Peloponnese, then up the Croatian coast. "The Croatian Coast was wonderful!" Croatia is a European and Mediterranean country, bordering Slovenia in the west, Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south, and faces Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. Frank and Maude had a wonderful time traveling along the Croatian Coast, anchoring in bays harbors and side tying on the docks of many lovely forts and 16th Century towns; it was a return into history which they cherished every minute of.
From Croatia the Ruffin's made the long trip back (about 1,000 miles) to Italy and retraced their tracks. They continued around the southern coast of Sicily and to Malta for fuel. Malta is an ex-British Island and still has a quarantine on dogs; upon entry the Maltese Authorities told Frank and Maude that they would have to anchor in the middle of the Harbor and put Yankee underneath before they would be allowed to come up to the fuel dock. Consequently, the Ruffin's chose to continue onto Tunisia instead, where Frank relayed, "Fuel prices were less expensive and the people more friendly". The Ruffin's spent a month in Tunisia, which is frequented by visitors worldwide looking to sunbathe, dive, sail, and fish. With its vast stretches of glistening, white sandy Mediterranean beaches and 810- mile coast, Tunisia hosts some of the most fabulous beach resorts in the world.
Leaving Tunisia, the Ruffin's traveled up the coasts of Sardinia and Corsica and then returned to Antibes, on the French Riviera. The company who sold them their John Deere engine had scheduled a check-up, so they stopped back through before their passage back to the States. From Antibes, Frank and Maude traveled to Marseille (France) and then back to Barcelona (Spain) to spend their third winter. They left Barcelona in April after five months and journeyed onto the Balearic Islands (Spain) before the beginning of tourist season in May.
By now Frank and Maude were making plans to cross the Atlantic on their trek home. While they prepared, the Ruffin's opted to spend the summer in Europe, settling on the western coast of France. On their way up the coast they cruised past Portugal and the Northern tip of Spain, where they remained for two weeks before they could cross the Bay of Biscay (due to the weather). Having crossed the Bay of Biscay, Frank and Maude had a wonderful time, enjoying the cuisine and countryside, and revisiting an area where they had lived years before.
After their stint to the Brittany region, Frank and Maude began to think about their return trip to the States. They wanted to cross the Bay of Biscay before September and the stormy season. Crossing the Bay, they moved onto Gibraltar and in early October they left to travel onto the Canary Islands. While in the Canaries they staged the boat for the return crossing and waited until the end of hurricane season in November. Sailboats typically leave the Canary Islands in November, they by pass the Cape Verde Islands and hit one of the Antilles, about 2,800 miles. Horizons could have made the voyage, but it would have stretched the trawler's fuel to the limit, so instead the Ruffin's cruised from the Canaries to the Cape Verde Islands and then onto Martinique, well within their range. After reaching Martinique, Frank and Maude cruised up the Antilles to Puerto Rico and then onto the Dominican Republic, finally ending their journey in Florida.
Leaving San Francisco in 1998 and returning to Florida in 2003, the Ruffin's traveled on their Krogen 54' for five years and forty thousand miles. They particularly loved Turkey, Croatia and Barcelona (Agreed!). When asked how and why they ultimately chose a Krogen 54' the Ruffin's offered that they loved the Krogen's hull lines and classic Trawler look (with her strong bow and powerful looks from behind). From a performance standpoint, they were more then sold. On their return passage from the Cape Verde Islands to Martinique -- a voyage of about 2,100 miles -- Horizon's averaged about 7.2 knots in 15-20 seas with winds of 20 plus knots. When they reached Martinique they had about 300 gallons of fuel left in their tanks.
Frank, Maude and Yankee are still cruising on Horizons, enjoying Maine and the rest of New England this summer. Currently, they do not have any plans for another Trans Atlantic Passage, but have chosen to enjoy the thousands of miles of beautiful coastline right here in the United States. From everyone at Kadey-Krogen Yachts, "Many thanks for your assistance and lovely photos which accompany this article, and we wish you all the best on your future journeys".