Saturday, May 30, 2015

Running the Coast Again: Retiring to the ICW

The trip from Hingham to Fort Lauderdale was actually great fun.  Diana drove me 20 minutes from Hingham to Hull to catch the 8:40 AM ferry to Boston.  35 minutes later, after a brief stop at Long Wharf, the ferry dropped me off at Logan Airport.  Ten minutes later, a shuttle bus arrived and deposited me at the Jet Blue terminal.  The flight took off on time and landed early.  Jet Blue has their act together or maybe it was just my lucky day.

Ferry to Boston and Logan Airport
The old Coast Guard Station at Pemberton Point
Hull Gut and Peddocks Island in the background
Boston Harbor looking toward Fan Pier

Water taxi waiting to take people to Boston
Hull holds memories for me as it was here that I spent my summers from 1948 (age 5) to 1963 (age 20).  The ride to Pemberton Point spans all of Hull. I had free run of their from the time I was 8 years old.  Just driving through causes me to talk about people and events from long ago.  Note the photo of the Henry J parked at the ferry.  Not in great shape but a car I would have seen as a kid.

Henry J automobile - a rare sight
Built from 1950 to 1954

I called Pam right after arriving at the gate and she arrived at the airport before I had picked up my checked bag.  Unbelievable!

By 4:00 PM, I was on the boat with HMY Yachts representatives Tim and Kim.  Tim helped me understand the new Garmin 8215 Glass Screen and Kim walked me through a thorough engine room check using the 63's Engine Room Checklist.  I also met Pam's friend Cherry who was accompanying us to Charleston.

Explanatory Note: Garmin builds a great product.  However, it is hard to understand why their engineers change the look and feel.  All the stuff is still the same but the top screens are all reorganized.  Marketers must feel they need to have new bells and whistles.  Whatever.  I was thinking about replacing my two pilothouse 7215s with three 8215s, which probably would have cost $30,000.  Not going to happen.  Having two different user interfaces, one at the pilothouse and the other on the flybridge, does not make sense.  So, if I decide to add a third screen it will definitely be another 7215.  Why three screen in the pilothouse you ask?  Easy answer.  Running at night requires chartplotter/AIS, radar and night vision.  Having each on a separate screen simplifies thing and makes the images that much easier to interpret.

Explanatory Note: Why was I doing an engine room check on a friend's boat?  Well, that's easy also. If I'm going out on the open ocean I want to know that everything is working properly. Additionally, I wanted to give Pam the benefit of my very thorough checklist.  I brought my computer to the engine room and working with Kim adapted the checklist for the 54.

Needless to say, Thursday evening was very busy.  I managed to fit in a slice of pizza at Whole Foods while we were provisioning.  Not a great dinner.

Friday: Dania Beach to Fort Pierce

Pam, Cherry and I departed Harbor Town Marina in Dania Beach (just south of Port Everglades) at 6:55 AM and headed for the Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) Inlet.  By 7:25 AM we were out on the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were 2 to 3 at the start of the trip, which appeared on the surface to be better than forecasted.  I say "on the surface" as we had departed early.  Winds, and therefore waves, tend to build as the day progresses and the earth's surface heats up.

Leaving Port Everglades
This proved to be the case and by noon we were in 3 to 5s with an occasional 6.  The stabilized Grand Banks handled the quartering seas off the starboard bow fairly well. However, my fellow travelers not being accustomed to coastal seas were a bit uncomfortable.  Hence, at 11:55 AM we turned into Lake Worth Inlet and proceeded north on the ICW.

The ICW on the stretch between Palm Beach and Fort Pierce is easy well marked water.  The only "obstacles" are 5 low bridges (below the 54's 27 foot air draft) and numerous no wake zones.  Opting for the ICW added about 90 minutes.  Not a bad trade-off for calm water.  The afternoon was spent running the boat from the flybridge.

We arrived at Harbotown Marina at 6:25 PM.  By 7:30 the boat was fueled and "desalted."  Dinner at Harbor Cove was delightful.  Readers will recall that Diana and I were here three weeks ago for 10 days prior to the "wild" trip north..

Sea Rose at Harbortown
Post Script.  Readers know that I have been struggling with the 63's fuel on board and fuel used.  The combination of engine monitors giving overly optimistic fuel flow numbers and two systems (site gauges and tank tender) to measure fuel on board that give erroneous readings have given me fits. So, I was curious to see how Grand Bank's SINGLE fuel measurement system compared.  I was blown away.  The 54's system said we would need to add 217 to port and 240 gallons to starboard.  Actual fuel added was 214 to port and 240 to starboard.  UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!  DEAD ON THE MONEY! WOW!!!

Attention Outer Reef: Read the above and tell me why I'm having to struggle.  Note: Outer Reef and Caterpillar have worked with me to cure the fuel flow problem and we have made some progress.

Written by Les.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Running the Coast Again - The Adventure Begins

A little background.  My friend Pam has just taken delivery of a new 2014 Grand Bank 54 Heritage, The boat is located in Dania Beach and as I write this is in the final stages of preparation for a cruise north to Newport, RI.

Grand Banks 54 Heritage EU
Diana and I met Pam when we moved from H-dock at Chicago's Belmont Harbor to I-Dock in the spring of 2007.  This was a year after we purchased the 2006 Sea Ray Sundancer.  At the time she owned a 40 foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge.  She later upgraded to a 2008 47 Sea Ray Sedan Bridge. Pam is unique in the boating world as she single hands her own boat.

Pam hosted our 2010 Great Loop going away party on October 2 on her boat.  In attendance were Mark Fidanza, our next slip neighbor, Dick and Cathy Hoffman, Mark, Wendy, Mike and Brad.  On October 3, Dick followed Guided Discovery out of Belmont and took photos of our departure.  Most recently, Mark visited us with his children, Jon Marco and Helena, in Sarasota and again connected with us last week in Hingham.  Dick, as you recall, crewed for me when we ran the boat north from Fort Pierce to Hingham (See the three part series "Onward to Hingham" published two weeks ago).

We made a lot of good friends on I-dock.

Now to the 2014 Grand Banks Heritage 54 EU.
  • Overall Length: 54.4 feet
  • Max Length: 61.6 feet (with bow pulpit and swim platform)
  • Max Beam: 17.9 feet
  • Max Draft 5.0 feet
  • Air Draft: 25' 11"
  • Displacement: 83,335 pounds (1/2 load)
  • Fuel Capacity: 1,500 gallons
  • Water Tank: 270 gallons
  • Holding Tank: 100 gallons
  • Engines: MTU S-60 825 HP
  • Top Speed: 21 knots
  • Cruise: 17 knots
So how does this boat compare to the 63 Outer Reef?  While the GB is shorter by 9 feet she is wider by 9 inches.  Grand Banks says she has the space of a 65.  Beam makes a big difference.  Hence, she is almost as roomy, overall, as the 63.  That extra 9 inches translates into some very desirable features such as dual helm seating on the flybridge, slightly more room in the salon and a settee with a large table across from the galley.  What's missing is the lazerette. a complete jitchen and the abundant storage found on the 63 (which makes sense given that we have 9 more feet of length).

Like the 63, she has an open layout on the main deck, which gives a feeling of increased space.  We love the open layout on the 63 and it works well here.  She also has a walk-in engine room with well organized storage space.

54 open layout looking forward from the galley to the pilothouse

Galley and dining area with settee and two chairs (comfortable seating for 5)

Galley equipped with stove top, dishwasher, drawer type refrigerators and microwave
The double draw freezer is located forward of the sink
Another view of the dining area
Salon looking aft
This is a three stateroom boat, which is, again, very similar to our 63.

Master stateroom

Master head and shower

Guest head and shower

Looking from the master stateroom at the washer, dryer, refrigerator, storage and accessed to the engine room
The 54 has significantly more power.  The 63 has two 503 HP Cats.  The 54 has two 825 MTUs.  1006 HP versus 1650 HP.  This produces some interesting differences.  While both are displacement hulls, the 54 is considerably faster than the 63 with a top speed of 21 knots as compared to 13.5 knots.  The 54 can cruise at 17 knots.  However, that comes with a significant increase in fuel consumption, which should be in 60 GPH range.  That provides 22.5 hours of cruise time and a range of 382 NM with a 10% reserve (based on 1350 gallons).  The 63 really does not have a rational cruise speed beyond 8.5 knots.

Walk-in engine room with 6 feet of head room
By comparison, the 63 running at full tilt burns 50 gallons per hour and with a 10% reserve can run for 23.4 hours at 13.5 knots.  That yields a range of 316 NM.  The 54 has 16% more range at cruise, which could come in handy to run toward shore in an emergency or to seek shelter from a storm.  Put the 54’s “pedal to the metal” and her 21 knot top speed will produce 17 hours of running time and 354 NM of range with a 10% reserve (at 80 GPH with 1350 gallons usable).  Again, much better emergency capability.

Running the 54 at trawler speeds makes the most sense.  The 825 HP MTUs burn about 10.0 gallons per hour at a speed of 9.0 knots. That yields 150 hours of run time or 1215 NM range (with the 10% reserve).  This is very similar to the 63’s capability of 1178 NM at 8.4 knots; her best range versus speed setting.  Essentially Grand Banks, by installing bigger engines, gets the best of both worlds. She can run very efficiently at trawler speeds and move fast when she has to.

Displacement of the boats is very similar.  Grand Banks represents displacement for the 54 at half load or 83,334 pounds.  The 63’s empty weight is 73,000 pounds.  Add 4550 lbs for 650 gallons of fuel and 1600 lbs for potable and black water (200 gallons) and the 63 comes in at 79,150 pounds.  Both boats are semi-displacement fully stabilized trawlers.  They should have very similar see keeping characteristics.  We’ll see if this is true as we experience the different seas on our run.

Cruising Options:

The next question is whether Pam decides to take a leisurely run up the coast with stops every night or run the distance to Newport, which in this case is 1308 nautical miles.  The theoretical difference is 6.5 additional days (i.e., 13 days with stops every night versus 6.5 days running 24 hours per day).

I say theoretical because in long distance cruising the wildcard is weather.  As readers know, I like to take advantage of weather windows and prefer to run at 24 hours/day with good (well OK good enough) weather rather than sit at a dock overnight.  The weather is going to change.  It is rare to get 6 days in a row of favorable weather (which I've come to define as winds under 20 knots and seas under 5 feet).

The run up the east coast is further complicated by the ever present Cape Hatteras.  The combination of its location at the convergence of the Gulf Stream and Labrador currents and its 17 mile Diamond Shoal, that must be circumnavigated, present an interesting obstacle.  Running the Cape with at trawler speed (8.5 knots) requires traveling at night to cover the 200 NM distance between Morehead City and VA Beach as there are no usable inlets.  The alternative is three days on the ICW.  Unfortunately, when bad weather (i.e., high winds producing heavy seas) dictates the ICW route the likelihood that the run will be more than 3 days increases due to the Alligator River Swing Bridge and Currituck Sound, both of which are effected by high winds.  Throw in a 3 mile long river with 5 feet of depth at MLW and you have lots of potential for delay. 

In any case, I’m not up for a leisurely cruise up the coast.  Been there, done that (actually two times – the Great Loop on the entire 1000 mile ICW and the 2014 spring run to Hingham – which took 35 days).  However, Pam needs help.  So I volunteered 6 days which she can use as she pleases.  If we run only during the day we will comfortably make Charleston by Wednesday (June 3).

Pam, at my suggestion, installed a complete Garmin system (Chartplotter, AIS, Sonar, Weather and Radar).  I hope to share with her my "Garmin" knowledge, which should have the benefit of greatly shortening her learning curve.  That said, the Garmin system is incredibly user friendly.  I've managed to master the system over the last 15 months but at times it was stressful due to sea conditions and the need to solve a problem.  Rarely, have I used the owner's manual, which was helpful when I needed it but not well indexed.

Pilot House equipped with Garmin 8215s, autopilot and GMI-10,
Now back to weather.  The forecast as of Friday morning for the coast between Fort Lauderdale and VA Beach shows a ridge of high pressure over the Appalachian Mountains that will continue though weekend.  The high is forecasted to produce winds of 15 to 20 knots and sea of 3 to 5 feet with a wave period of 9 seconds over the Florida waters.  At Cape Hatteras the forecast calls for a frontal boundary to move southeast through the waters by midweek. Winds are predicted to be 5 to 10 knots with seas of 3 feet through Wednesday when they build 3 to 5 on slightly higher winds.

Again, I consider the conditions along the Florida coast as reasonable and the weather north of Florida to VA Beach as very favorable.  Assuming an early Friday AM departure on Guided Discovery I would be rounding Cape Hatteras Monday evening on calm seas (a first).  The potential to go from VA Beach all the way to Newport is very favorable assuming one is willing to put up with 3 to 5s.  

Oh well, we'll (or shall we say, she'll) see what the weather brings after Wednesday.

Written by Les.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Views of Hingham & Hull

Our docking situation definitely improved this year owing to now having the T-dock of "I."  The "T" is the end dock and, unlike a slip, which has boats on either side, the "T" is on the water.

That translates into 270 degrees of spectacular unrestricted views.

Looking west toward Bear Cove from the aft deck
Sunset view

Looking northwest toward Tern Cove Marina

Looking east toward the ferry dock

Looking southwest at J-dock

South southwest view looking toward Stodder's Park

Southeast view of the marina, condos, restaurants and mall

North view of condos in Weymouth directly across the main channel
For more information on Hingham refer to my May 22, 2014 article "Hingham Adventures: Connecting and Reconnecting."

The other place that is special for me is Hull, where I spent my summers from age 5 to 20.  Yesterday (Sunday), I launched the tender and zoomed (30 MPH) over to Hull to visits my cousins Myrna and Kenny.
Approaching the gas dock at Sunset Bay Marina at low tide

A Street Pier, where I hung out as a kid
(Today, a shadow of its former self)
Sea Dog Restaurant at Sunset Bay Marina

The A-Street Pier at low tide
A-Street Pier with an incoming tide

Low tide on Hull Bay
Same view as above with an incoming tide
Here are views as I approached Hingham Shipyard and the marina on the way back from Hull.

Hingham Shipyard townhomes from a distance

Approaching Hingham Shipyard Marinas
(The smoke stack is from WWII)
Approaching Guided Discovery on the "T" of I-Dock
Written by Les.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Onward to Hingham: Dealing with Tropical Storm Anna

Morehead City, NC to Hingham, MA

We had been dealing with Tropical Storm Anna for four days.

The weather at Morehead City Yacht Basin on Saturday morning (May 9) was overcast with light rain and light winds.  The big question facing us that morning was whether to run the ICW from Morehead City to Norfolk, stay put and wait out the storm or head out on the Atlantic and try to outrun the storm.

Option 1: Run the intercoastal from Morehead City to Norfolk.

This option has the advantage of the intracoastal's protected waters for a distance of 185 nautical miles, which we would have to do in three segments.
  • Morehead to Belhaven: 67 NM
  • Belhave to Coinjock: 96 NM
  • Coinjock to Norfork 43 NM
Note: The actual distance to the sea in longer than 185 NM.  You need to add 27 additional NM to get out to sea making the total distance 211 NM.

However, it comes with three major disadvantages.  The first is the Alligator River Swing Bridge. Right you are, a 30 knot wind would close the bridge.  The problem is exacerbated by the fact that there is no place to dock between Belhaven and the bridge.  We were shut down last year for 6 days when high winds forced closure of the bridge.  The second is Currituck Sound which while shallow to start with becomes very shallow when the wind blows out of the northeast.  This would definitely be the case with a massive low pressure system to the south and east.  The third is a three mile river segment that has 5 feet of water at low tide.   Sue Lister, also know affectionately as "the navigator," reported boats being stuck in Coinjock in the last few weeks due to winds and shallow water on Currituck Sound.

Option 2: Stay put in Morehead City or Belhaven:

With Tropical Storm Anna southeast of off the South Carolina coast churning up 50 knots sustained winds with gusts to 60 knots and forecasted to move slowly north northwest and then to turn northeast, which would have put the storm right over the the ICW route from Morehead to Belhaven, it portended a minimum 4 to 5 day layover.  On Saturday morning Anna was located at 32.4 N and 77.6 W moving northwest at 3 knots.  Maximum sustained winds were 50 knots with gust to 60.

Tropical Storm Anna 
Option 3: Head out and attempt to outrun the storm;

The Sirus Satellite Weather screen shot below along with the one above provide the big picture. Anna is still over a hundred miles from the coast and moving slowly (3 knots).  The morning forecast called for 5 to 7 foot waves with winds 15 to 20 knots along the route from Cape Lookout just outside of Morehead City / Beaufort, to Cape Hatteras, 8 foot waves around Cape Hatteras and then reduced wave heights immediately north of the Cape.  The distance to Cape Hatteras is just over 90 NM which translates into 12 plus hours.  Five to eight foot waves are no picnic but we've experienced this in the 63 and she can handle it with ease.

The area of immediate concern.  About 90+ nautical miles.
One critical factor in our decision was the forecasted wave period of 9 seconds around Cape Hatteras. Wave period is the distance between the wave peaks of the highest ones.  The longer the period the smoother the ride as the boat rides up, over and down the first wave and then up the second.  NOAA was also forecasting a shorter 4 second period on the smaller waves but this was of lesser concern.  A shorter wave period on the larger waves results in taking seas over the bow also known as burying the nose.

Forecast for Cape Hatteras
Another critical element was wind.  The Cape Hatteras forecast called for 15 to 20 knots out of the southeast.  Wind produces waves, period!  The higher the wind the higher the waves.  I considered these winds as favorable, relatively speaking. In the segment from Fort Pierce to Southport we experienced winds between 30 and 40 knots, which ultimately forced as to run in close to the coast in search of smaller seas. The forecasted southeast direction would be in our favor on the run from Cape Fear (Morehead City) to the beginning of Diamond Shoal (Cape Hatteras) as seas would be on the beam. Once we started the 17 NM southeasterly run along the south side of the shoal the winds would be on the nose and would increase as we headed out to sea.

The final critical element in the decision is the status of the boat's systems, machinery and electronics. As of Saturday morning all systems were functions as expected.

The trade off was 12 hours of discomfort about equal to that experienced from Georgetown to Southport followed by rapidly calmer seas just north of Cape Hatteras lasting all the way to New England.  Assuming the forecast held and the ship's systems functions as they had and we made no mistakes the risk was, in my opinion, reasonable.  A vote was taken and we decided on Option 3.

The Journey:

The first step was getting the boat ready for heavy seas.  Over the course of the last two runs Atlantic coast runs I have learned a preparation few lessons beyond the standard stow everything that could potentially move .  Here's a list of our extra preparation for running in heavy seas:
  • Position the salon table next to the salon settee
  • Place a rubber mat under the salon table (to prevent movement)
  • Place cushions at the table posts to prevent damage to the salon settee woodwork
  • Place the barrel chair against the table
  • Secure all outdoor cabinets with duct tape.
  • Remove books from bookshelves in the VIP stateroom
  • Place a towel in the wine cooler to prevent movement of the draws
  • Lay bottles on their side in the fridge
  • Remove the anchor canvas (learned the hard way.  We tore out a fastener)

Note: Barometric pressure at the dock was 30.05 inches at departure.

We departed the dock at 5:30 AM and within 10 minutes were heading southeast down the Beaufort Inlet.  As expected winds picked up as soon as we left the rather well protected marina.  They were coming out of the east at 27 knots.  As we headed out Beaufort Inlet to open water the seas quickly built to 5 to 8 on the nose.  The good news is the wave period was the predicted 7 to 8 seconds.   The ride was OK enough.

By 7:15 AM we were running south and east along Cape Lookout Shoal.  We had covered 13 nautical miles.  Winds were east at 20 and the barometer was rising (30.07 versus 30.05 at the dock).  We estimated waves at 7 to 9 with an occasional 10 to 12 on the starboard bow (head sea).  The period between peck waves was 6 seconds.  The 10 to 12's get your attention.  They appear and are big.  The 63 handled them smoothly.

This is what an 8 to 10 looks like

At 8:02 AM we crossed the shoal in waters where the depth was 18 to 24 feet.  The seas over the shoal were confused and there was breaking surf around us in the shallow water outside of our course.  Waves were 5 to 8 with a few big ones mixed in.  We never saw less than 10 feet under the keel.

At 8:15 AM we were clear of the reef.  The waves were 10 to 12 mostly off the starboard beam. The stabilizers proved their worth.  This condition continued until we reached the area off Ocracoke Inlet around 1:30 PM. In this area, which is just southwest of Cape Hatteras, the winds were east southeast at 22 knots with waves heights between 4 to 6.  Still a head sea.  We were somewhat in the protection of Diamond Shoal which extends south and east 17 miles off of Cape Hatteras and cannot be crossed.

Around 1:00 PM we had lunch, which due to the turbulence consisted of crackers and cheese.  Notice the coke in Dick's hands.  We needed to hold our drinks to prevent spilling.  Everything else stayed put on the rubber matting.

David and Dick pose with our crackers and cheese "heavy seas" lunch
At 3:44 PM we began the 17 NM trek out to sea to round Diamond Shoal.  Waves continued in the 5 to 7 range off the nose with a tolerable period of 7 seconds (yes I actually count the seconds).  Winds were south southeast at 27 knots  Barometric pressure was now 30.13 indicating movement away from the low pressure zone.  We had covered 80 nautical miles.

Approaching Cape Hatteras and Diamond Shoal
At 4:55 PM we turned east for 35 minutes to clear the southeast end of the shoal.  Winds were from the southeast at 20 knots.  Waves were 4 to 6 on the beam with an occasional 8 to 10.

At 5:30 PM we had rounded the eastern end of Diamond Shoal and turned north to a heading of 6 degrees.  The world changed in an instant,  We now had a 4 to 6 foot following sea off the starboard aft quarter.  Somehow the big waves disappeared, which may have something to do with convergence of the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current at Cape Hatteras.  Winds were noted as southeast at 203 knots.   We had now traveled 95 nautical miles and had been on the water for 12 hours.  Our average speed since leaving the dock was 8.1 knots.  Barometric pressure was 30.15.

Now to the weather. The screen shot below shows Guided Discovery about to head out to sea along Diamond Shoal and into an area of rain that ranged from light (green) to moderate (yellow) to heavy (red).  Dick predicted that the heavier storm cells would pass before we arrived.
I was less optimistic.  His prediction proved correct.  We experienced light rain.

We encounter rain as we round Diamond Shoal
As of 5:00 PM EDT, Tropical Storm Anna was still off the South Carolina Coast (32.9 N, 78.3 W) moving northwest at 3 knots.  Maximum sustained winds were 50 knots with gusts to 60.  Notice in the photo below the orange storm symbol.  It marks the eye of a tropical storm or hurricane.  Notice also that the bands of rain are predominantly in the northeast quarter of the storm and that the storm is still offshore.  We are in an outer band of rain with some small heavy cells approximately 150 nautical miles northeast (i.e., in the upper right side of the photo).  Anna is not a threat now or in the coming hours as she has to move on shore before turning northeast to run toward Cape Hatteras and then out to sea to head north along the east coast.

Our position relative to Tropical Storm Anna
The sunset at 8:08 PM and the light failed shortly after civil twilight at 8:38 PM.  It was lovely. Besides catching a lovely sunset, I recorded the following data in my cruising log.  Winds ESE at 14 knots, barometer 30.17 and seas 3 to 4 feet of the starboard aft quarter.  In three hours, the seas and winds had dropped to where the ride was very pleasant.  We had now traveled 121 nautical miles.

Sunset three hours after rounding Diamond Shoal off Cape Hatteras
We continued on through the night running up the coast along North Carolina's Outer Banks as winds and seas continued to diminish.  Dick recorded winds at 9 knots out of the southeast at 2:39 AM and 2 to 3 foot seas on Sunday morning.

Sunrise on Sunday morning with calm seas
At 6:39 AM and 200 NM into the trip we were abreast of Cape Henry.  This is significant.  We had been traveling for 25 hours and were off of Virginia Beach.  Twelve of those hours were in heavy seas, 13 were on calming waters that were now flat.  Had we stayed in Morehead City the storm would still be south and east of us.

We crossed the Chesapeake Bay shipping channel on Sunday morning and made our way toward Cape May passing Ocean City Maryland early Sunday evening (around 7:00 PM).  A check of the weather at 5:17 PM showed that Anna was now a tropical depression moving NNE at 7 knots. That put the storm in the Southport Cape Fear area.  Winds had diminished from 50 with gusts to 60 to 30 with gusts to 45.  She was starting to chase us but we were better than 250 miles north and moving slightly (1 knot) faster.  The only question now is whether the storm would accelerate and catch up. NOAA's forecasts said this would not be the case.

Dinner on Sunday evening was a fine filet from Allen Brothers cooked on the grill, which as you know is on the boat deck.  Fixings included garlic and herb de provence potatoes baked in the oven and a salad with tomatoes, avacado, pine nuts, walnuts and raisins.  The meal was accompanied by a fine 2011 Sequoia Grove Napa Valley Cabernet.

We reached Cape May around 11:00 PM on Sunday night.  Winds were out of the southwest at 5 knots, the temperature was 59 degrees and the barometer was 30,22 inches (as compared to 30.05 at the start of the trip).  Waves were less than 2 feet.  Visibility had dropped to less than a mile. Tropical Depression Anna was now 237 NM behind us at Cape Hatteras.

We passed Atlantic City at 2:34 AM on Monday and continued north toward Sandy Hook and the New York shipping channels.  As we approached New York we changed to a more northeasterly course and headed direct to Fire Island on calm water.  This course put us about 30 NM out to sea and avoided the congestion at the shipping channels that converge at the entrance to New York harbor.

Now we were cruising along the south coast of Long Island.  As we proceeded northeast fog began to set in reducing visibility.  In the vicinity of Shinnecock Reef at 5:44 PM we began to encounter fish trap markers.  They were all over the place and the were difficult to see due to the fog.  Readers may recall that I encountered fish trap markers a year ago in the same area.  The difference this time was that I had night vision in addition to radar.

Hard to see fish trap marker in the fog off Shinnecock Inlet
We were abreast of Montauk Point (the furthest eastern point of Long Island) at 9:25 PM and then passed Block Island (RI) at 11:33 PM.  Throughout the night we were in 2 to 3 foot seas with zero visibility.  The combination of AIS, radar and night vision made this segment quite manageable.  As we passed Block Island we had covered a total of 544 nautical miles since leaving Morehead City.

Tropical Storm Anna at 3:00 AM on Tuesday
Early in the morning (1:32 AM) AIS and radar showed a target directly ahead 5.2 NM on our course line.  AIS said it was the tug Neptune towing a barge with 200 feet of cable between the two vessels. Neptune was traveling 6.2 knots on a heading of 70 degrees. Our heading of 067 degrees showed a potential collision.  However, at our then average speed of 8.3 knots we had plenty of time (2.5 hours) to wait before taking evasive action and we were in communication.  Ultimately evasive action was not needed as the tug at 3:00 AM continued on a course off of the shipping channel toward its New Bedford destination.

Tug Neptune changes course
NOAA had issued a fog warning for the area just east of Montauk Point that encompassed the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts including the Cape Cod Canal.  The question then arose as to whether we would be allowed to transit the canal in zero visibility.  The question had to parts.  Could we navigate safely in zero visibility and was it legal for us to proceed.  Both answer were favorable. The canal is wide enough to permit navigation using a GPS controlled route and pleasure craft are allowed transit if the have radar. Canal Control dictates whether commercial traffic can transit.

Transiting the canal on autopilot
We arrived at the Cape Cod Canal at 5:38 AM with visibility of 1/4 mile, which is more than adequate.  Still we activated the programmed route and transited the canal on autopilot.  The route worked perfectly.  The only "bad" news was the current which was running against us at 4.1 knots. We increase power to 1600 RPM and recorded a speed of 5.2 knots.

Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge (at the west end of the canal)
The 5 hour run from the Cape Cod Canal to Hingham was easy.  Visibility continued at 1/4 mile or better and the seas were under 2 feet.  We passed the time dodging lobster pots (i.e., trap markers) which are quite prevalent in this stretch and practiced spotting them using night vision.  Time goes fast (which shows essentially the same picture during the day as at night).  We arrived at:
  • East end of the Cape Cod Canal: 7:24 AM
  • Plymouth Light at 9:08 AM
  • Marshfield at 9:46 AM
  • Situate at 10:46 AM
  • Cohasset at 11:16 AM
  • Boston Light at 12:02 PM
  • Hull Gut at 12:18 PM
  • Hingham Shipyard Marinas at 12:46 PM
Minots Light visible on night vision

Minots light looking out the window and seeing it on night vision
Boston Light.  We're less than 30 minutes from "home."

Arriving at Hingham Shipyard Marinas at DEAD low tide
Remnants of the WWII shipyard ways are visible in this photo
Diana and Kodi were at the fuel dock for our arrival at 12:50 PM.  All that was needed was to take on fuel (763.8 gallons at $2.99/gallon) and move to the T-dock of I, our home for the summer.

Dick and Les with Guided Discovery in her "permanent" slip on the T of I-dock
  • Leg Distance: 652 Nautical miles
  • Engine Fuel Used: 696 gallons of diesel per Cat engine monitors
  • Time Enroute: 79 hours and 37 minutes
  • Total Distance: 1,237.6 nautical miles since leaving Fort Pierce
  • Total Distance: 1,456.3 nautical miles since leaving Sarasota
  • Total Fuel Since Leaving Fort Pierce: 1,533.2 gallons
  • Fuel Added: 763.8 gallons
  • Fuel Price: $2.99 per gallon
  • Fuel Cost: $2,283.76
  • Total Cost to move from Sarasota to Hingham: $8,303
David departed for Albany in an Enterprise rental minutes after we landed.  Diana, Dick and I adjorned to Alma Nove for a late lunch where we had the pleasure of meeting Alma (mother of Mark Wahlberg) for whom the restaurant is named.

Dick and Les at Alma Nove
Written by Les.