Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hauling the 63 on the Manatee River

New boats have warranty issues, it simply comes with the territory.  What does not necessarily come with the territory is how those warranty issues are resolved.  Our experience with Outer Reef with regard to correction of problems continues to be excellent.

Background: Over the summer we accumulated a list of problems that Outer Reef needed to correct. The good news is that all fall into the minor category.  The most significant, and also minor, was paint missing on the bottom discovered shortly after delivery.  This was pointed out by several divers and on the basis of their reports Outer Reef immediately agreed to repaint the bottom.  This, of course, necessitated hauling the boat and that required waiting for the right time and access to a boat yard with the capacity to lift the 63.

Explanatory Note: Finding boat yards with the equipment necessary to haul a 40 plus ton yacht is not that easy.  No yard in the Boston area would touch us.  The closest yard with sufficient lifting capacity was 40 miles south in Plymouth. Hence, we decided to put off lifting the boat until we returned to Florida.

Explanatory Note: The 63's empty displacement weight is 73,000 (36.5 tons).  At time of the lift she had 1,100 gallon of fuel (7,865 lbs at 7.15 lbs per gallon), 100 gallons of water (800 lbs) and our stuff (2,000 lbs).  Total weight: Approximately 84,000 lbs (42 toms).

Fortunately, two events created the perfect opportunity to haul the boat and address the current punch list.  The first was a trip by Diana to Chicago and the second was a request to dog-sit Kodi's best furry Sarasota friends, Molly and Jake.  This created a two week window where the boat could be on the hard.  We talked to the folks at Marina Jack and got their recommendation on a local yard with the capacity to lift the boat and a good reputation.  Snead Island Boat Works in Palmetto on the Manatee River came highly recommended.

So on Monday morning at 10:00 AM my friend Darrel accompanied by his friend Amos and Darrel's wife Sue met me at the marina.  The plan was for Darrel and Amos to accompany me on the 22 nautical mile cruise north with Sue providing transport back to Sarasota once we arrived.  With Sue's help we pulled out of the slip and headed north along the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway (ICW).

I chose the inside (ICW) route to Snead Island as opposed to going outside into the Gulf, which would have involved heading southwest through Big Sarasota Pass' shallow tricky water and a greater overall distance.  The inside route is shorter and involves calm waters. It has the disadvantage of two low bridges in the vicinity of Anna Maria Island.  Oh well, nothing is perfect.

Snead Island lifting bay
The cruise north was uneventful including the bridges.  We made the scheduled Cortez Bridge opening (with a short power blast).  That put us in position for the next Anna Maria Bridge opening and clear sailing for the remainder of the trip. We arrived at Snead Island Boat Works at 1:30 PM.   On the dock was Capt Randy, Outer Reef's delivery captain and warranty manager, who directed us into the lifting bay.

the 63 in the slings

The lift begins
Once lifted I had a chance to inspect the bottom.  This was of great interest to me as the bottom had been recently cleaned by a diver prior to leaving Hingham.  The question I sought to answer was how well had the diver, Bob Swartz, cleaned the bottom.  The answer is very clear in the four photos below.  He did an excellent job.  The bottom, especially the chines, showed only light fouling resulting from sitting still for 25 days.

Bow thruster showing some barnacles inside of the props
Note: Difficult for the diver to reach.

Stabilizer fin

Props and rudders
Notice the fish netting on the port propeller.  We ran over a fish net on the way south

Running gear and stern thruster
Notice the cleaning marks on the propellers
Guided Discovery moving to the pressure washing area
Explanatory Note: The hull is pressure washed immediately after lifting.    Boat yards in several states including Florida comply with the Clean Marina Act.  This encourages them to recirculate and recycle waste water used to pressure wash boats.  This is a big deal.  Friends of ours in Mystic Connecticut and former marina owners told us that they spent $100,000 to install the wash pad, drainage and filtration system required to comply with the law.

Close-up of the port propeller and line cutter showing some barnacle remnants
Another question involved the location of the depth sounder (sonar) transducer in relation to the keel. Since the transducer is not located on the bottom of the keel the depth readings are not accurate.  In April, Darrel and I used a lead line to estimate the offset (i.e., the distance between the transducer and the keel).  We estimated it at 24 inches.  In the photo below I measured the exact offset as 20". Bottom line: When the depth sounder indicates 5 feet of water we actually have 3 feet under the keel.  We plan to apply the two foot offset to the Garmin sonar readout.

I used the wood block to establish the bottom of the keel.  It was just 2" inches short.  

Captain Randy Ives

The 63 on the hard.  Sanding of the bottom has begun.

Cleaned up running gear in preparation for Prop Speed

Cleaned up running gear from a different angle
On Saturday we visited the boat.  The bottom was finished and Prop Speed had been applied to the props and shafts.  Again some background.  A running gear coating called Velox Plus was applied in Taiwan.  45 days after delivery a diver reported that the 80% of coating was off.  Outer Reef promptly refunded our money.  We opted for the Prop Speed product this time.

Proop Speed applied to props and shafts

Coatings like Prop Speed reduce marine growth by making it difficult for the growth to adhere. Marine growth, especially barnacles, dramatically decrease propeller efficiency which both reduces speed and increases fuel consumption.  We saw this in Annapolis in 2011 when the 48 Sundancer sat for 30 days in brackish water.  When we attempted to cruise at 2,400 RPM, which would have yielded 30 MPH, we discovered that our speed at that RPM was 22 knots.  When we lifted the boat at Marine Max' Baltimore we discovered considerable barnacle growth on the blades and hubs. Marine Max removed the barnacles using scrapers and a wire brush.  The cost, including the lift was approximately $700.  The cost of prop speed.  The cost to apply Prop Speed was $850.

Written by Les.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Celebrations 2014

We had the pleasure of two Thanksgiving celebrations, one in Sarasota at the Bird Key Yacht Club with Marjorie and Dick on Thanksgiving day and one in Captiva on Saturday with Cathy and Jerry.

A bird and a key on a navy background adorn the BKYC burgee

Bird Key Yacht Club Dining room with a spectacular view
Readers will recall that I stopped in Captiva on the trip from Hingham to Sarasota (November 12). That stop involved the Bird Key Yacht Club and my friends Jerry and Cathy.  The yacht club was holding a rendezvous at South Seas Resort Marina and since my crew members, Dick and Phil, were BKYC members they wanted to join the celebration (and arranged for us to stay at South Seas at the yacht club rate).  I wanted to have dinner with Jerry and Cathy who have a home on the island. Coincidentally, this years Thanksgiving celebration some 13 & 17 days later involved both Bird Key and Captiva Island.

The Sarasota celebration took place at the Bird Key Yacht Club where Dick and Marjorie are members.  We were joined by their friends Pip and Judy who both live in the United Kingdom and spend time in Sarasota.  We were also joined by Marjorie's Guide Dog in Training, Doc, a 6 month old black lab.

Pip, Marjorie, Dick, Les, Diana and Judy
Bird Key Yacht Club produced a spectacular four course Thanksgiving dinner.  All of us choose the Traditional Roasted Turkey.  The food was excellent and it was served very casually.  We met at 1:30 and left at 4:30 PM.

We have been to the yacht club many times.  It is a lovely place.

Old Elco cruiser docked at Bird Key across the bay from Marina Jack

A young at heart Diana on Thanksgiving Day at BKYC

Members always get excited when the see the Marjorie with a Guide Dog in Training

Diana with Pip and Judy
The second celebration took place on Captiva Island with my friends Jerry and Cathy Swerdlick.  I met Jerry in 1968 when I worked as the manager at the Liberty Loan Company office in Westerly, Rhode Island. Jerry holds the title of my oldest friend (46 years).

We were joined by Jerry's very good friends Art and Sue Bookbinder from Naples.  Jerry and Art are both vision impaired.  Art is president of Lighthouse of Collier, an organization that provides programs to blind visually impaired persons that helps them live independently and improve the quality of their lives.  Jerry is president of EVAS (Electronic Vision Access Solutions), a company that provides plug and play computer solutions for visually, physically, learning or hearing disabled persons.  Below is a link to the EVAS website.

An interesting gathering given our involvement with Southeastern Guide Dogs.  We spent a lot of time talking about the way that each of us work to help visually impaired persons.

After a lovely traditional Thanksgiving dinner we adorned to the beach just south of Jerry house for a musical program called Sunset Arias on the Beach,  It was sponsored by Tween Waters Island Resort and featured two local opera singers (I'm embarrassed that I do not know their names) putting on a 90 minute show. Below is a YouTube video of their 2013 show.

The program began at 5:00 PM, just before sunset and ended at 6:30 PM, which on Saturday was at the end of astronomical twilight. The singing was spectacular.  Kudos to Tween Rivers for setting up a great sound system.  But for an "old salt" like me, a secondary benefit was sitting quietly and listening to beautiful music as I watched the transitions from daylight to sunset to nautical twilight to astronomical twilight and finally dark.  The experience was unforgettable.

Cost: None!!!! Unbelievable!!!

The sun has set and we are in nautical twilight
(where you can see objects on the water for about 40 minutes)

The seating on the beach after the sunset

A spectacular sunset
After the concert we returned to Jerry's home for desert and conversation.

Jerry & Cathy's Captive home fully decorated for Christmas
Sue, Art, Cathy and Jerry

All in all two great thanksgiving celebrations.

Written by Les.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Welcome to Sarasota

Sarasota is not new to us and neither is Marina Jack, where we stayed for 21 days during our Great Loop adventure (12/22/14 to 1/10/11).  What is new is that we will be spending the winter at Marina Jack (three and a half months 11/13/14 to 3/31/14).

Marina Jack is a modern well maintained marina with a number of very nice amenities:
  • Floating concrete docks
  • Excellent security
  • Protected waters
  • Close to Sarasota downtown (less than an 1/16th of a mile to Main Street)
  • Three restaurants at the marina (four if you count O'Leary's Tiki Bar)
  • Pump-out facilities on the dock
  • Adjacent to Sarasota Bayfront Park (where Kodi can run off leash)
  • Close to Selby Gardens Botanical Gardens (3/4 of a mile)
Marina Jack and adjacent Bayfront Park that provides protection from wind and waves on Sarasota Bay
View looking no
Coming back to Sarasota.  Why Sarasota of all places on the eastern seaboard?  The answer starts in 2010 when Diana, Kodi and I walked up Main Street to explore Sarasota's downtown.  As we passed a building just south of S. Orange Ave, Diana noticed a sign in the window that said "hug a puppy." We walked into Southeastern Guide Dog's Discovery Center only to discover there were no puppies (false advertising).  The volunteers at the center commented about how cute Kodi is and, as is our custom, we put on a show.  The hubbub attracted the attention of Marjorie Singer, who officed at the center, and Kodi got invited to a puppy play date with Marjorie's two labs at her home on Bird Key. We became friends with the Singers.

Marjorie, Dick and Diana in January 2011

Kodi and Wolfie (November 2011)
Ten months (October 2011) later as we headed south from New England to Florida we stopped in Mystic Connecticut where we had also made friends with Dutcha and Doug and their 95 pound doberman, Wolfie.  Before leaving on the morning of the 10th we stopped for a puppy play date. Short version of the story.  Wolfie was chasing Kodi and ran into Diana's leg fracturing her tibial plateau. Two weeks in Yale New Haven Hospital, two surgeries (one 5 1/2 hours long), three weeks at Apple Mystic Rehab and a month at Jerry and Cathy's home in Westerly (RI) and it was now December and getting cold.

Our Palm Aire rental home
We could not go back to our three story Chicago town home as Diana, on crutches, was unable to climb stairs.  So the question was where to go.  Sarasota got the nod.  We liked the town and we had two sets of friends, Dick and Marjorie and my late associate Ron Markovitz and his wife Linda. VRBO to the rescue and with a little scouting from Ron we had a 4 month rental for a 3 bedroom house on a golf course in Palm Air.  We stayed in Palm Air until mid April.

Plans for Guided Discovery taped to the walls (March 2013)
A short 3 1/2 month visit to Chicago and then it was back to Branford Connecticut where the boat had spent the winter.  We then completed the Great Loop returning to Chicago in Mid September 2012.  We enjoyed the Chicago fall but did not intend to do another Chicago winter.  Where to go? Sarasota, of course.  So back to the Palm Air Rental, this time December to June.  The winter of 2012/2013 was spent in Sarasota with plans for the 63 now under construction taped to the walls of our study.  Back to Chicago for 5 months enjoying the summer and fall and then back to Sarasota in early December for the winter of 2013/2014.  Two months later we moved to a hotel in Fort Lauderdale for two weeks and then on to the 63 which had "splashed" in Port Everglades on February 2nd.

Guided Discovery showing Sarasota as her hailing port
Guided Discovery was christened at the Miami Boat show in late February.  On the stern she shows Sarasota, FL as her hailing port.

Sarasota officially becomes are new home as the champagne bottle breaks (on the 1st try)
Now to our surroundings.

Let's start with the Bayfront Park.  75% of the park surrounds Marina Jack providing shelter from wind and waves.  At the north end of the park is a lighted fountain visible from our boat and the marina restaurants.  Kodi loves the park and especially the squirrels that she constantly chases and does not catch.  There's a tiki bar (O'Leary's) and a jet ski / kayak rental on the south end.  Walking the loop at Bayfront Park is a distance of a 1/2 mile.

Marina Jack in relation to Sarasota downtown and the Ringling Bridge to Longboat Key
Selby Garden is in the lower left hand corner
Walking south from Bayfront Park and about 3/4 of a mile from the Marina is Selby Gardens (lower left hand corner of the above photo).  The walk itself is along busy Route 41, the Tamiami Trail, but the walkway is separated from the street by a park that runs south to the Gardens.  All told a stroll through Bayfront Park followed by a walk to Selby Garden produces a lovely 2 mile walk.

Selby Gardens grounds map
The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (7 acres) are extensive botanical gardens dedicated to research and collections of epiphytes, especially orchids and bromelaids, and their canopy ecosystems. They are located on the grounds of the former home of Marie and William Selby (of the Texaco Oil Company) at 811 South Palm Avenue, in the heart of Sarasota.  We are members.  The grounds are beautiful and fun to walk.

Walking north toward the Ringling Bridge you pass Unconditional Surrender, a statue by J. Stweart Johnson based on an iconic photo that marks the Japaneses surrender and the end of WWII.  The walk north leads to a neighborhood by the bay called Golden Gate where we can walk with no traffic.  Up and back to the marina is 2 miles.

Cross the Tamiami Trail (Route 41) and you are at the foot of Main Street and Sarasota's lovely downtown shopping district.  Within easy walking distance are at least 40 restaurants, a Regal 20 screen movie theater, three playhouses and a Whole Foods Market.

Back to Marina Jack.  This is a destination marina due to it's proximity to downtown stores, restaurants and culture.  Most recently, the Boca Grande Yacht Club held a rendezvous.  I snapped photos of two unique boats.

Down east style cruiser built in Maine in 1980
Wood transom on a fiberglass hull

The Eagle, a 1960 Hinckley 68 foot wooden motor yacht in pristine condition

She shows a Woods Hole Massachusetts hailing port
The captain sailed her down in October
Marina Jack is a prime location and a great place for us to spend the winter.  We barely need a car.

Written by Les.

Hingham to Sarasota: The Final Leg

Reader Note: We arrived at Marina Jack in Sarasota on Thursday, November 13.  I started this article on the way to Sarasota.  Today, as I finish it, it is Monday the 17th in the late afternoon.   Diana often jokes by saying "how did you ever find time for work.  Given the above I can say with all sincerity I do not have a clue.  Retirement is great fun.  I just need more time.

Guided Discovery at sunrise on November 13
Now to the journey.  At 5:00 AM I checked the weather and to no surprise it was perfect for our short 50 NM cruise to Sarasota. Below is the official NOAA forecast and the forecast map on Sirius Satellite Weather


Notice the cold front crossing northern Florida
We departed South Seas at 7:15 AM.  As a general rule I don't speak to docking maneuvers but today is different.  Leaving South Seas required backing straight and pivoting the boat in a very narrow area - essentially backing out and taking a right turn to back the stern into a narrow fairway.  Fortunately the winds were very low.  This should have been an easy maneuver and it was until the starboard engine quit. Fortunately the engine restarted and the maneuver was completed successfully. Note: I had to run down to the pilothouse to restart the engine. I think the problem was related to a short warm up time. Going forward I will extend the warm-up period.

Guided Discovery at sunrise on the last day
The photo does not fully depict the close quarter
I had to back the stern around the stern of the sailboat
Excitement over, we exited South Seas and proceeded north to Redfish Pass where we met up with a 45 foot sloop named La Vie en Bleu (Life on Blue).  The owner, Guy, a member of Bird Key Yacht Club, had graciously offered to cruise north with me so that he could guide us into Big Sarasota Pass.

La Vie en Bleu running west of our position
Explanatory Note: Passes (aka inlets) seem to fall into two categories.  Ones that are well marked with deep water, which are often commercial inlets, and those that require local knowledge.  Big Sarasota Pass falls into the latter category.

At 8:48 AM we passed R2 off Boca Grande and turned northwest on a course of 344 degrees for Big Sarasota Pass.  Our speed was 7.4 knots, which allowed us to keep pace with Life on Blue. The winds were northeast at 12 knots and we were experiencing a lovely ride on a 2 foot head sea.  As we proceeded north the waves subsided just as forecasted.

Phil at the helm
At 2:05 PM we arrived at Big Sarasota Pass.  The photo below shows the pass.  The channel starts in the lower left hand corner and runs northeast into Sarasota Bay.  Notice the sandbar along the channel.  Compare the color of the water in the lower left-hand corner to the water in the channel. There is plenty of water in the channel.  The problem is the approach.  The locals tell me the approach keeps changing resulting in the "private buoys" being moved.

Big Sarasota Pass
I followed La Vie en Bleu through the approach as shown in the photo below.  Blow up the photo and look closely at our tracks (aka bread crumbs).   The private buoys dictated a course over what appears on the chart as an area with a 2 foot depth at mean low water.  I registered 4.0 feet as I passed over that "bar," which means I had 2 feet of water under the keel. (Note: Last April my friend Darrel and I determined that the transducer was 2 feet above the keel - somewhat scientifically using a lead line).

Following La Vie en Bleu on the approach to the pass
Shallow water to our left as we follow La Vie en Bleu
Siesta Key homes to our right
Once in the pass and in deep water I called Marina Jack to determine our slip assignment.  Still more excitement (OK, well not exactly.  How about just a touch of frustration).  I requested a 65 foot slip so that we could pull in bow first with a starboard tie, which is necessary if I want to board from the swim platform and launch the dingy.  Problem: Marina Jack has 60 foot slips.  The next size up is 85 feet and they will not put our "little" boat in an 85 foot slip (nor do I find fault with that). Solution: Back into a stern in starboard tie.  Problem: They only had a stern in port tie on a 60 foot slip.  After a bit of discussion I conceded that the 60 footer stern in port tie would do for the short term.

Our temporary slip is 3 in on the first pier on your lower right
Explanatory Note: The problem with the dockage arrangement was my fault.  We had told them we would arrive on December 1.  We were 17 days early.

So at 3:00 PM I backed her into the slip and brought a 9 day 1,450 nautical mile trip to a close.  My frustration with the docking arrangement took the edge off (slightly) to what would otherwise have been a very celebratory moment.

The crew poses for a final photo after 1,450 nautical miles
Dick, Les and Phil
Final Statistics - Hingham to Sarasota:
  • Total Distance: 1,450 nautical miles (1,667 statute miles
  • Time Enroute: 9 days
  • Total Fuel Used: 1,619 gallons (includes approximately 45 hours of generator)
  • Efficiency: .90 nautical gallons per mile (NGPH) (1.03 SGPH)
  • Hingham to Stuart: 6 days, 5 nights
  • Stuart to Captiva (Okeechobee Waterway): 2 days (no nights)
  • Captive to Sarasota: 1 day (54.1 NM)
  • Total Expense: $7,388 (fuel, dockage, food, travel reimbursement)
Written by Les