Saturday, April 25, 2015

Crossing Florida: Sarasota to Fort Myers

The goal today (April 24) was a 7:00 AM departure.  Diana picked up Phil and Carol at their home on Long Boat Key and had them on the boat at 6:50 AM. Darrel and Sue, our cruising friends that we met in November 2010 on the Great Loop arrived earlier and were on hand to see us off.  They helped with the lines and took the photos below.  Darrel also helped me fix the strangest problem.

Strange problem. I have a Glendenning wired remote that enables me to control the boat from just about anywhere on the main and upper deck.  The remote plugs into one of three ports.  It consists of a control panel and 30 feet of cable with a plug.  The plug has a protective cover over the contacts, which I rarely use. This morning the protective cover refused to come-off and that resulted in a seven minute delay in departing.  Not that I am all that concerned with departing on time, but I did not expect such a trivial thing as a cover to gum up the works.  Ultimately we used vice grips and a pliers to remove the cover. The cover will NEVER be used again.

Explanatory Note: Before moving the 63 I go through several checklists to verify that the boat's system are operating properly.  The cover for the remote is not on the checklist.

Thus the journey began at seven minutes past seven.  Darrel captured the departure.

We're moving as Carol brings in the stern line
Clearing the slip.  That's me on the boat deck controlling the boat with the remote 
Leaving our winter home
This promised to be an easy run.  The winds in the AM were light out of the northwest and the forecast called for partly sunny skies with a slight chance (10%) of showers.  Making things even easier are the tracks that the Garmin laid down from our voyage last November.  Essentially, the boat drops bread crumbs and all I have to do is follow them to traverse the same safe waters as last time.

This was a good thing because the first challenge is Sarasota Big Pass which we hit at 7:29 AM. Sarasota Big Pass is not properly named.  "Big" implies easy with deep water, which is not the case. Active Captain identifies this as a pass requiring "local knowledge," which means, in this case, it is not easy due to hard to see very small private buoys, and shallow water due to an extensive sandbar of the northwest side of the channel.  The tracks made the passage easy as we crossed over the same waters as we did in November.  Note: I also visited the pass several times with the tender to verify that nothing had changed.

We cleared Big Pass at 7:43 AM and spent the next four hours heading southeast along the Gulf coast within two miles of shore.  The winds were out of the northwest at 8 knots and the seas were around one foot.  Water temperature was 82 degrees and the air temperature rose to 87.  Unfortunately our SE course cancelled out the breeze so that it was a bit warm of the flybridge.  Oh well.

We reached Red Fish Pass at the north end of Captiva Island at 1:15 PM and here again benefited from the tracks laid down last fall.  The photo below is of South Seas Resort on Captiva, which had initially been our first day destination.  Change of plan.  Phil and Carol arranged dockage at the Saint Charles Yacht Club in Fort Myers and this yielded two benefits; free first night dockage under the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs reciprocity rules and an additional 15 NM of distance traveled.  More about St Charles later.

South Seas Resort
At 1:24 PM we joined the Gulf ICW and preceded toward Fort Myers in a very well marked channel. Being Friday there was lots of boat traffic especially as we approached the famous miserable mile. It's nice to have stabilizers when boats go tearing past.

Unusual sight.  A water sports shop along the miserable mile
We arrived at the the entrance to St Charles Yacht Club at 3:12 PM and turned right into a long and very well (read as perfectly marked) channel to the club.  The dockmaster had informed me that the channel's depth was 6 feet at mean low water and that the bottom was soft mud.  We draw five feet so that's a little tight.  However, we arrived at high tide which added almost two feet of additional clearance.

Mike, the dockmaster. was also very accommodating.  He put us on a T-dock and helped us secure the boat.

The St Charles Yacht Club is located in a very protected cove with expensive homes.  The home astern of Guided Discovery was UNBELIEVABLY large with 13,326 square feet and 400 feet of water front.  Zillow showed a value of $1.6 million (which seemed extremely low).

Large home behind Guided Discovery
My friends Jerry and Cathy Swerdlick arrived for cocktails at 5:20 PM.   We were joined by Phil and Carol and their friends by Daniel and Angel.  We sat and chatted until 7;00 PM when we all adjourned for dinner.

Jerry and Cathy at the St.Charles Yacht Club.
Jerry, Cathy and I ate at the St. Charles Yacht Club where we each enjoyed a lovely delicious dinner in a quite and charming setting.  We had a jolly good time.

Jerry is my oldest friend dating back to 1968 when I was working as the manager of the Liberty Loan Company office in Westerly, RI.  I spent a year their before being promoted to manager of the Providence office.  Jerry, at the time, owned a women's clothing shop downtown and Jerry's Summerwear and Souvenirs on Misquamicut Beach.  We had a great time chasing women (I was 25 and single with a Corvette).  Today he is the owner of EVAS. a firm that provides computer aids for the visually impaired and handicapped (

I have connected with Jerry and Cathy every time I've passed Captiva, which now is three times.  The first was in 2011 on the Great Loop, then last November and yesterday.  I suspect we will make this a bi-annual tradition.

Life is good thanks to Phil and Carol being on board.

All and all a very easy and fun day.


  • Distance Today: 69.9 Nautical miles
  • Fuel Used: 68.0 gallons of diesel
  • Time Enroute: 3 hours and 28 minutes

Written by Les.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cruising Plans - Spring 2015

I suspect many of you will find this difficult to believe, as I  do, but my days are so filled that it is difficult to find time to blog.  In the near future I plan to write three articles, one summarizing our winter in Sarasota, one about the recent Sarasota Boat Show and one about Southeastern Guide Dogs. But for now I need to talk about the big move north.

The move north has three parts.  We will cross the state of Florida between Friday, April 24 and Sunday, April 26.  This phase involves cruising from Sarasota to Fort Myers and then crossing the State via the Okeechobee Waterway.  Our destination is Fort Pierce where we hope to be before sunset on Sunday evening.

My friend Phil Fuoco and his wife Carol will be acting as my crew on this 215 nautical mile journey. Phil accompanied me along with my friend Dick Singer on the 9 day cruise from Hingham to Sarasota last November.  Phil and Dick were also on the three day non-stop Norfolk to Hingham run last May.  Diana and Kodi are driving across and will catch up with the "ship" on Sunday evening.

Below is the tentative itinerary:

  • Sarasota to Captiva (South Seas): 54.1 NM.  Estimated time: 7 hours and 35 minutes.
  • Captive to Moore Haven: 73.5 NM.  Estimated time: 10:22 minutes
  • Moore Haven to Stuart: 61.1 NM.  Estimated time 9:32 minutes
  • Stuart to Fort Pierce: 26.3 NM.  Estimated time 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Note: Given that we now have 13+ hours of daylight we may do the leg from Moore Haven to Fort Pierce in one shot if we do not have delays at the three locks along the route.

IMPORTANT: As of 11:00 PM on Friday evening (i.e., this writing) we have modified the plan and traveled an additional 15 NM beyond Captiva to Fort Myers.  Stay tuned for tomorrows article, Crossing Florida: Sarasota to Fort Myers.

Part two involves a 10 day stay at Harbor Town Marina in Fort Pierce for warranty work, maintenance and waxing.  Harbor town is located just north of the Fort Pierce inlet and will be a perfect departure point for the the final leg to Hingham.

Part three will be a 1,500 NM non-stop six day and five night straight shot up the east coast. Accompanying me on the leg will be my two Chicago friends, Dick Hoffman and David Jones. Diana and Kodi will drive the car up the coast.

This promises to be an easy run as I have all the routes pre-programmed into our Garmin chartplotter. All I need is a little cooperation from the weather.  We plan to depart Fort Pierce on May 5 and arrive in Hingham on May 12, just in time for Spring.

Written by Les

Friday, April 17, 2015

Living on a 63 Outer Reef

We now have 14 months of experience living aboard the 63.  Readers will recall that we took possession on February 10, 2014.  We have been living on her since that date, which as of this writing constitute a total of 427 days.  This is almost the same as the 444 days we spent aboard the 48 Sundancer when we did the Great Loop (October 3, 2010 to October 10, 2011 - Chicago to Branford CT; July 1, 2012 to September 6, 2012 - Branford to Chicago).

Guided Discovery at Marina Jack
Guided Discovery at Marina Jack
While the time frames are similar, the experience is totally different on so may levels.  The Great Loop was a 6,150 mile counter clockwise circumnavigation of the eastern half of the US.  The last 14 months on the 63 involved just two major trips; a 1,165 NM up the east coast from Palm Beach to Hinghan MA in April and early May of last year (actually 35 days)  and a 1,446 NM trip from Hingham to Sarasota last November, which was accomplished in 9 days.

The Great Loop was a series of 50 to 100 mile cruises involving stops at 135 marinas over the 444 day period.  The last 14 months involves extensive stays at two marinas; Hingham Shipyard Marina in Mass for the summer and Marina Jack in Sarasota FL for the winter.  Yes we stopped overnight at a few marinas (13) on the trip north and three on the trip south (Stuart, Moorhaven and South Seas) but these were quick stops.  We would have characterized ourselves as cruisers during the Great Loop, especially since we had a condo in Chicago.  Now, since selling the condo, we are definitely "liveaboards."

Another key difference between cruising and living aboard is the availability of a vehicle.  Ours follows us to our "home" marinas courtesy of Diana and Kodi who team up to move the Taurus.

In summary, we are spending our winters in Sarasota where it is warm and our summers in New England where it is cool.

Now to living on a boat and in particular the 63 Outer Reef.   Diana would often complain that living of the 48 Sundancer was like camping, which is not an unreasonable characterization given that it had a "camper canvas."  While the camper canvas does not make it a camper, the 48 was never designed for living aboard.  Storage was at a premium (and we used all of it on the trip), the galley was not designed for cooking, the V-berth was not a master stateroom, the outdoor spaces had limited usage when docked, the camper canvas was a pain in the neck (as the eisenglas windowns needed to be stored in the V-berth during the day), there was effectively no guest stateroom (as it was used for storage and had little headroom) and we lived in a cave, which is the nature of an express cruiser. She was a great weekender or vacation boat.  She was also quite adequate for the loop.

The 63 Outer Reef is a home on water that has the capability of moving to where we want to be (except it cannot do the Great Loop because of its height).

The key to the boat's livability is the open layout.  We chose this over a traditional layout where the pilot house is a separate room.  No matter where you are on the main deck you have a feeling of space and openness (despite it being an area of only 400 square feet).

Now to the details.  Let's start with the galley.  The 63 has a complete kitchen with GE Monogram appliances, the same ones a person can purchase for their home.  This includes a side by side refrigerator, stove top, oven, microwave, 18" dishwasher, trash compactor, disposal and a 26 bottle wine cooler.  The only "small" appliance is the dishwasher which is 2/3rds the size of a regular 24" model.

Galley facing aft
Storage is plentiful.  We have two pantries with pullout shelves, the larger one is lighted.  We use the lower drawer of the large pantry as an appliance garage.  Drawer storage is also plentiful with 8 drawers and a ninth large drawer for pots and pans.  Cabinets above the aft facing counter tops hold a dishes, glasses and serving pieces.

Pots and pans drawer

Appliance garage
Additionally, Outer Reef did a great job with the layout.  The dishwasher is convenient to the sink for loading and to the cabinets for unloading.  There is considerable counter space and all of the drawers are easily accessible.  Finally, we specified two extra 2 plug 110 volt outlets in the galley (for a total of 6 outlets).

Glassware cabinet (6 white wine, 12 red wine, nine 12 oz tumblers and 6 coffee mugs)
Flat ware (all plastic) service for 10 and outdoor service for 4
Trash is efficiently handled with a trash compactor.  Additionally we specified a trash container on the aft deck which we use for recycle.

We had a spectacular kitchen in our Chicago condo but it was no where near as efficient as the one on the 63.  While there was considerably more storage it was all spread out.  Note: Most of the stuff comfortably fit in our galley.  We ultimately donated lots of extra stuff when we sold the Chicago condo.

Everything was spread out

Stove and refrigerator
The salon has proven to be quite useful and comfortable.  We have had a dinner party for 6 and easily seat 8 people on the settee and barrel chairs.  The 46"Samsung HDTV located aft of the settee is perfect located for viewing from the salon and while we are working in the galley.  It hides in a cabinet when not in use.

46" Samsung HDTV deployed.  Next to the TV is entertainment center cabinet
Additionally, there is a storage cabinet just before the stairs (i.e., under the sculpture).  We use that to hold our complete set of paper charts and cruising guides for the east coast.  There is also storage under the port settee, most of which is not used.  The salon has two 2 plug 110 volt outlets in the space and another six in the entertainment cabinet.

The aft deck is my favorite place.  It's dimensions are 10 feet deep by 15 wide long.  The settee seats three to four and we have three teak deck chairs.  Comfortable seating for six to seven with a lovely varnished teak table in the middle.  I love sitting on the aft deck and reading a book or playing with my iPad.  We specified a refrigerator, sink and storage along with the trash container.  We also specified teak for this area, a decision that added warmth and charm.  Turns out the aft deck is often the coolest place in Sarasota as the the prevailing winds (westerlies) provide a lovely breeze.

Aft deck with settee, deck chairs and teak floor

Looking forward to port at the cabinetry holding the refrigerator, garbage, sink and storage
Last summer in Hingham the aft deck was only usable in the morning an early afternoon due to our stern facing due west.  Late afternoon and evening was problematic as the hot sun zeroed in on us. This was also a problem in the January and February in Sarasota where we also face due west.  I solved the problem with a custom made sun cover,  The 90 UV Textaline PVC screen clips to the aft deck ceiling and straps down to the stainless steel swim platform rails.  On and off in less than 10 minutes it will shield us from the sun and cut down its heat without compromising the breeze.

New sun cover
The pilot house has proved to be amazingly comfortable, useful and bright.  It serves perfectly as my office (and the place where I write my blog articles).  We specified additional 110 volt outlets making it possible to have a computer, printer, air card, portable VHS charger, iPad charger and camera charger all plugged in at the same time with two open plugs to spare. The pilot house also serves as the control center for the home part of the boat.

AC controls are located over the control station as is the tank tender (for gauging water on board), holding tank capacity lights and alarm system.  There is plenty of room on the control station for the computer and printer freeing up the table for dining (comfortable for four with the Stidd helm chair re-positioned).  Located by the flybridge stairwell is a file drawer and located under the table are two storage drawer, one houses "office stuff" while the other holds the myriad of cables and connectors needed to survive in the modern world.  Located under the settee is still more storage where we keep the hard copy of boats manuals.  Still more storage is located under the control station where the "black boxes" that feed the electronics are held. All can be accessed easily.  There even a storage compartment under the first stair leading to the flybridge.

Storage under control station and black boxes
Access to black boxes and wiring under control station
Speaking of storage.  Under the aft deck is the lazarette, which in our world is the equivalent of a basement.  Here we store our bikes (on a SUV rack custom mounted to the floor), extra fenders, lines, spare parts, tools, miscellaneous gear (compressor, shop vac, blower, etc.) and extra cold weather jackets. We specified additional cabinetry including a hanging locker, locker with shelves and a locker with open storage.  I'll let the photos tell the story.

Looking forward to port

Looking forward to starboard

Storage cabinet

Hanging locker
Exiting the lazarette through the aft deck door places you on the swim platform.  Our swim platform serves as the boat's primary boarding point.  We also have two additional boarding points (doors) on either side of the aft deck and on either side of the pilothouse.  We have Marquip boarding ladder mounts at each boarding door.  We specified teak decking on the swim platform and had the platform lengthened by one foot.  Both of these decisions proved correct.  The extra foot makes boarding very easy and the teak decking looks good.  Another standard feature found here are three 2" stainless steel safety rails, which both look good and add a significant safety element both at the dock and underway.  The door on the transom is water tight.  On either side of the swim platform are boarding door proving access to the aft deck.

Swim platform (photo from the Miami Boat Show Feb 2014) 
Now to the upper deck features.

The boat deck is amazing.  Below is a photo of my friend Mark Fidanza with his children John Marco and Helena next to the tender.  This photo does not fully show the amount of room.  The tender is launched to port with a 1,000 pound davit (crane)

Mark, John Marco and Helena

Dakota, Nathaniel and I launching Kodi's (a 13 ft RIB with a 60 HP)
When the tender is on its cradle there is plenty of room for washing it, loading it or doing maintenance.  The tender is an AB DLX 13 with a 60 HP Yamaha.  It has way exceeded my expectations.  It holds 5 people, cruises at 30 (or 28 with a FULL load) and has a top speed of 36 MPH.  My favorite play toy.

The boat deck houses the three burner full size gas grill and four storage compartments.  It also has a fresh water faucet and two 110 volt power outlets.

AB DLX13 with 60 HP Yamaha 4 stroke
Moving forward is the flybridge.  Great fun when the weather is right (which is never the case when we are moving north and south in May and November),  This space has seating for 5 to 6 along with its own refrigerator, sink and storage.  The control station duplicates everything in the pilothouse except the night vision.  This turns out to be the least used space.  It is only used for local cruising in Hingham and Sarasota when we have guests.

Now to the accommodations.

The curved stairwell to the accommodations is located to starboard in the pilothouse.  Stair are teak with Bolon insets.  They are easy to negotiate.  At the bottom of the stairwell is a cabinet housing the Bosch washer and dryer and across from it is the linen closet and soap draw.  We had a washer/dryer combination unit on the 48 Sundancer that was essentially useless.  It could do at best 2 towels and took forever.  We also had a spectacular laundry room with over sized appliances at our Chicago town home.  However, it was located on the ground floor and had limited counter space.  Outer Reef located the washer and dryer next to the master stateroom thus allowing the master bed to act as work surface for folding clothes. Hard to believe but the Outer Reef's laundry system is the best we've ever had.

Linen closet and soap drawer
A turn aft (left) from the stairwell takes you into the master stateroom.  Here we have a king size bed with a custom mattress.  We also have abundant storage.  There are large two hanging lockers (one with double clothes rods), a locker with four shelves, a cabinet with three shelves on top of three drawers, four large drawers under the bed, open storage under bed and finally another locker on the forward bulkhead.  Accessed through the forward hanging locker is finished lit space under the stairwell which we refer to as the cavernous area.  Here we store our suitcases and expensive dress pillows in large plastic containers.

Master stateroom looking to port
The master stateroom has a complete entertainment system including 20" Samsung HDTV, satellite receives, Bose audio system and DVD player.  Adjacent to the bed are built-in night stands with three drawers each.  Located on the nightstand counters are a total of six 110 volt outlets.  Here again we specified two extra plugs.  Each side of the bed has a complete set of lighting controls.

The master head is located to starboard through a pocket door.  The head has a Kholer sink with a modern single lever faucet and a large marble counter top. A single 2 plug 110 volt outlet is located next to the electric head controls.  An additional 2 plug 110 volt outlet is located inside the cabinet for recharging appliances.

Adjacent to the sink is the stall shower,  This is a full size 4' by 4' shower with a seat.  It also has a etched glass shower door and a rice paper covered port hole providing great light.  Under the sink is storage and under the counter is one drawer.  We had four large drawers and two under counter storage areas in our Chicago town home master bath. All of our stuff comfortably fit into the boat's head, which seems to be statement about our inefficient use of storage when we living on the hard. The head has its own HVAC outlets.

The shower goes all the way to the hull
Master bath at our Chicago townhome
Turn right (or forward) as you come down the stairs and you enter the guest quarters.  This consists of the VIP (V-berth) stateroom, a guest head and guest stateroom with two bunks.  The head is accessed from the hall of from the VIP making in partially en-suite.

VIP stateroom
The VIP stateroom has full size two hanging lockers, two large drawers at the foot of the queen size bed, two storage lockers on the bulkhead, two storage area under the bottom steps leading to the bed and voluminous long term storage area under the bed which is accessed from a hinged mattress. There are book shelves on either side of the bed, which now house our books and, of course two 110 volt 2 plug outlets on either side of the bed.  Each side also has its own lighting controls.

Guest head and stall shower

Guest stateroom with two bunks
Kodi and the 63.

Kodi is the quintessential boat dog, totally comfortable anywhere on the boat.  She hangs out during the day on the salon and pilot house settees.  At night she initially sleeps on our bed and then late in the evening retires to her own bed.  She loves sitting on the aft deck settee and watching the action on the dock.  Most mornings we hear a soft bark which beckons us to let her onto the upper deck where she goes to boat deck to sun herself.  Occasionally she will make her way via the side deck to the Portuguese bridge and sun herself on the bow.

From time to time we play a game called go find your squirrel.  The game starts out with her in a sit stay in the galley while I hide her stuffed squirrel somewhere on the boat.  Then she is given the command "go find your squirrel" and off she goes.  Hiding places even include the engine room and lazarette. Kodi finds the squirrel 98% of the time and some searches last as long as 6 to 7 minutes.

A word about maintenance.

Living on a boat is very different than living in a home on the hard.  A long range cruiser like the 63 has a considerable equipment related to both the operation of the boat as a boat and as a home.  All of this requires maintenance.

Explanatory Note: Prior to taking delivery I was concerned about having a complete list of the boat's equipment including model and serial numbers.  I also expressed concern about maintenance and specified in the contract three full days of training.

Outer Reef to the rescue.  Not only did their delivery captain and warranty manager, Randy Ives, take me through the operation and maintenance of every system, Outer Reef provided me with a maintenance software application called Wheelhouse Technology.  This software provides not only the model and serial numbers but also the manuals, spare parts needed and spare parts on hand for every system.  The software uses time and hours to alert me to maintenance tasks on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual basis.  While there is a lot to be done at least the process is well organized.  They also provided a iPad Air that houses the Wheelhouse Technology software and the boat's owner's manual

For a complete list of equipment go to the 63 Outer Reef tab at the top of the page.

Now to marinas and our living arrangements.

Marina Jack has also proved to be prize.  We discovered this marina in December 2010 while visiting Sarasota on the Great Loop adventure and stayed for 19 days.  It was the best of the 135 marinas we visited and it was perfectly located in relation to downtown Sarasota.

Initially we were assigned a 60 foot slip that did not allow us to launch the tender as it was a stern-in port side tie.  We could have gone bow in with a starboard tie but that would have eliminated use of the swim platform for boarding and killed our great view.  But that still would not have solved the problem as the adjacent boat, a 60 foot Viking, was too wide making it impossible to launch the tender.  Marina Jack to the rescue.  First, they helped us off load the tender at the slip and then gave us a hydraulic platform to store the tender for the month of November.  Then they assigned us slip D-11 which permitted a stern in starboard tie with a great view and room to launch the tender as the boat next to us, Ronda Voo, is a 53 Carver Voyager.  We also got great neighbors in Hank and Ronda.

When I informed the dockmaster that we would definitely be back next year and that we would like the same slip he said great but that he could not guarantee the slip D-11 or for that matter dockage (as Marina Jack is a first come first served municipal marina).  No problem.  We took the slip on an annual basis, which, while a bit more expensive, guaranteed us our perfect situation.

Our situation in Hingham also improved.  We now have the T on I-dock.  This is a very big deal.  A little history.  Hingham Shipyard Marina, as you may recall, extended a 45 slip with a 20 foot extension to make room for us.  We loved the location but it came with one significant drawback related to the 10 to 12 foot Boston Harbor tides.  When the tide was ebbing (i.e., going out) the current effectively made the fairway narrower by dragging the boat toward the boats to our port side. The problem was exacerbated when there was wind from the west.  This made for a bit of a white knuckle maneuver requiring us to steer toward the boats to starboard and the use of power, which is not desirable with a 95,000 pound 63 foot boat.  Yes, we made it every time but it was not fun.  The T-dock TOTALLY eliminates the problem as there is no fairway and we can come abreast of the dock and use the thrusters to gently dock.

Written by Les.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oops! Post Script on the December Lift

Hello readers!

It's been almost four months since my last blog article.  Why the silence? Well quite frankly Diana and I (and of course the Furry Kid) have been just enjoying life in beautiful Sarasota and I have been lazy.  However, it is now mid April and the climate has changed.  It's hot (average mid-day temperature in the high 80s) so its cool to get back to blogging.  You may also notice my previous article, the "Open Letter to eBay President Donahoe" which gave me a good excuse to get back to writing.

Over the next few days I intend to write about living aboard the 63, which at this point we have been doing for 14 months, and our cruising plans for the trip back to Hingham.  But first a few words and photos regarding the December lift at Snead Island Boat Works.

Guided Discovery on the hard at Snead Island
Darrel and I return to Snead Island Boat Works on Wednesday December 17th to pick up the boat and cruise back to Sarasota.  The folks at Snead Island put her back in the water.

Enroute to the lifting bay

Backing her in

Ready to launch
The operator lowered Guided Discovery into the water and we began a series of critical pre-departure checks to verify that she was ready to go.

Explanatory Note:  When a boat is lifted the sea strainer valves are closed to hold water in the strainers.  When it's returned to the water the valves are re-opened.  It is then critical to check that the raw water pumps that draw it salt water for the engines, generators, hydraulics and HVAC are working.  All of these systems rely on salt water for cooling and if an air lock occurs the equipment can quickly overheat.

The first step was starting the 12KW and 16KW generators.  We verified that raw water was circulating through these engines.  Next we activated the Chilled Water System (HVAC) and oops, no water.  Snead Island to the rescue.  They immediately had a technician on board and he determined that there was an air lock in the HVAC sea strainer.  The problem was quickly resolved.

Main engine bilge with HVAC sea strainer to port (your left)
Next we started the main engines and verified that sea water was coming through the exhausts.  At this point the operator lowered the lifting straps.  Next was a basic check of the engine and thruster controls using the remote.  This involves briefly engaging the transmissions and each of the thruster controls. All appeared to be well and we starting backing out of the lifting bay, which is when I noticed that the bow and stern thruster were messed up.

Explanatory Note: The thruster controls on the remote are buttons on the corners of the panel.  You push the button in the direction you wish to go.  In other words to move the bow to starboard you push the starboard button.

When I pushed the starboard bow thruster button the bow moved to port. Turned out the stern thrusters were also backward.  We informed the lift operator, who immediately declared that the props had been put on backward, re positioned the boat and up she went again.  As she came out of the water we noticed yet another problem: paint was missing on several of the thruster propeller blades.  No problem said the folks at Snead Island, "we'll take care of it."  Slight problem for Darrel and I.  No cruising today.

Bow thruster propeller with missing paint on the blades

Same with the stern thruster
Re-priming the propellers

Back on the hard
We return the following day and went through the process of putting her back in the water.  This time we were successful and off we went.

Goodbye Snead Island Boat Works
The cruise back to Marina Jack was smooth and uneventful (although we did run the boat through a sea trial to verify speeds at each 100 RPM).

Written by Les.