Friday, October 31, 2014

Cruising Plans: Final Preparations & Weather

Departure is planned for 6:00 AM on Tuesday, November 4 and, weather permitting, we still plan a six day non-stop 1217 NM run to Stewart.  Below is the plan that I published in the October 15 article "Cruising Plans: South to Sarasota."  I'll discuss weather later in the article.

FROMTOMILESCUMMARINAWATERHOURSCUMDAYS
HinghamVirginia Beach447447 Long Bay PointCoastal53.953.92.2
Virginia BckBeaufort191638 Beaufort DcksCoastal23.076.91.0
Beaufort, NCCharleston212850 CharlestonCoastal25.5102.41.1
CharlestonStuart3671217 Sunrise BayCoastal44.2146.71.8
Stuart Fort Meyers1171334 TBDICW14.12.0
Fort MeyersSarasota701404 Marina JackICW/Coastal8.41.0
9 days

The following details our final preparations:

Food Plan: Cruising the Great Loop (2010-2012) and the run north from Stewart to Hingham this spring and, for that matter, all of our previous cruising on Lake Michigan involved stops at marinas every night.  Not much consideration for food on board as we would seek out restaurants most nights. Cruising non stop for 6 days changes this dynamic.  Now the question is number of days of food and groceries for a crew of three and whether we intend to cook underway.

Cooking underway is problematic.  Clean-up alone would begin to tax our water supply (300 gallons) and cooking underway especially in any kind of seas increases injury risk as hot pots and pans slide around.  To eliminate these problems we decided on frozen meals for dinners and paper plates.

Trader Joe's to the rescue. They have a nice variety of frozen dinners and I have been sampling them in preparation for the trip.  The key here is storage.  Fortunately we have a fairly good size freezer and can easily store frozen dinners for 9 days. Augmenting our frozen dinners will be fresh vegetables for salads.

Breakfasts require limited freezer storage.  The menu here will include yogurt, bagels with cream cheese, capers, tomatoes and nova lox; dry cereals with fruit and, if conditions allow, hot oatmeal. Lunch will consist of Deli sandwiches with a variety of meats and cheese.

Fuel: We topped off our tanks on Monday at Mystic Fuels in Charlestown Massachusetts (just north of Boston).  We journeyed their to take advantage of their $3.51 diesel price.  We took on 591 gallons and saved approximately $480 as compared to prices at close by marinas (which were charging $4.30).  I still do not understand why some marinas choose not to be competitive. The trip to Charlestown used less than 20 gallons, which at $3.50/gal translated into a cost of $70. We still saved $410 and got a lovely cruise to Boston Harbor on a perfectly clear day.  We are presently sitting on 1291 gallons (10 below full).

Bottom Cleaning: This was accomplished on Wednesday, which was also a beautiful day. Unfortunately our marina prohibits divers from cleaning the bottom at the dock.  This required us to motor out one mile and anchor off Grape Island.  The good news is by cleaning within one week of departure we will be moving with a clean bottom.  Stuff grows aggressively at our location and a dirty bottom can easily shave off 2 knots of our speed.  Two knots times 150 hours translates into 300 nautical miles or more than an extra day of travel, and about 300 gallons or $1050 of additional expense.  The bottom cleaning costs $375.  Even a loss of one knot translates into 150 extra miles and 150 gallons ($525).

Thermal Night Vision Installation: This project started last Thursday when the installers ran wires from the hardtop to the Garmin 7215 multifunction screens in the pilothouse. The installation of the Raymarine T353 system was completed on Friday morning.  The system is amazing.  At night from my slip I saw ducks in the water 10 feet in front of the boat, the channel leading out of the harbor, the first red nun buoy in the channel and the entire marina.  The image appears as a black and white negative and is amazingly clear.  You can see ripples on the water and I even have visibility to the sides and stern.

Thermal image of the marina at 7:30 PM on Friday
Needless to say it's been a busy week.  The good news is the boat is ready to go!

Now to the weather.

Good thing we are not leaving today and for that matter tomorrow (Saturday) through Monday. NOAA is predicting storm warnings along the entire east coast with gale warning over the route between the Cape Cod Canal and Norfolk.  Purple on the NOAA weather chart below indicates storm warnings while pink indicates a gale warning with the potential of winds in excess of 34 knots (39 MPH) to 47 knots (54 MPH).   The charcoal stuff in the middle indicates a freeze warning.  .


Notice the low pressure area off of Virginia and the low over western PA with the trailing cold front.
Weather at 5:00 PM EDT  on Friday
Heavy snow is forecasted in the western Carolinas
The next six forecast maps below show the weather getting worse (actually real bad) and then improving as high pressure moves in.  By Tuesday we should have a weather window that could last at least 3 days, time enough for us to reach the Virginia Beach/Norfolk area.
Saturday evening.  A powerful low is forming off Pennsylvania
The forecast is for north winds 30 to 40 knots with gusts to 50.  Seas 16 to 21 feet.  Visibility 1 to 3 NM
Sunday evening.  The lows merge off New England.  Note the isobars close together
The Boston area is in for a Northeaster with gale winds
Seas of 13 to 18 feet are forecasted for Massachusetts Bay

Monday evening. The powerful low pressure deepens area moves further north.
I expect winds to shift to the northwest and still blow hard (gusts to 30 knots)

Tuesday night.  High pressure dominates the coast from Cape Cod to Florida.
This is a weather window

Wednesday night.  High pressure moves north east as a cold front approaches

Thursday night.  A low forms east of Pennsylvania with a low pressure trough along the coast down to Hatteras
To help us understand weather marine weather predictions for our route to Stuart I have prepared the chart below.  It lists the NOAA marine forecast zones for every 100 miles of our route.  Traveling at 8.6 knots we make about 100 miles every 12 hours.  Using this chart you can quickly go to the applicable AM or PM zone.

Below the link to the marine forecast zones.  Click on the desired area and then click again to zoom into the zone.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/usamz.htm

Day Begin Leg Cum End NOAA Zone # General Location
1 AM 100 100 Block Island 231, 234, 236 Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, RI Sound
1 PM 100 200 Long Beach 350, 353, 355 Long Island Waters
2 AM 100 300 Cape May 450-453 NJ Coastal Waters
2 PM 100 400 Temperanceville 650, 652, 654 MD Waters
3 AM 100 500 Kitty Hawk, NC 150, 152 Virgina Beach to Cape Hatteras
3 PM 100 600 Beaufort 154, 156, 158 Cape Hatteras to Beaufort
4 AM 100 700 Cape Fear 250, 252 Cape Fear
4 PM 100 800 Georgetown 254, 265 SC Coastal Waters
5 AM 100 900 Savannah 352 GA Coastal Waters
5 PM 100 1000 Fernadina Beach 450, 452 GA & N. Florida Coastal Waters
6 AM 100 1100 Daytona Beach 454, 550 FL Coastal Waters north of Cape Canaveral
6 PM 100 1200 Stuart 552, 555 FL Coastal Waters south of Cape Canaveral

NOAA only goes out for six days.  Hence, right now we have marine forecasts through Wednesday. Below I have listed the forecasts for the first two days of our trip.  Based on available data we have a weather window through Wednesday evening that would enable us to cruise to Cape May.  By tomorrow we will be able to "see" further out.

Explanatory Note: In the chart below I list the forecast, when possible, for the period before, during and after our transition of the area.  This enables me to see the trend.  Is the weather improving or worsening.  Neeless to say I prefer the latter.

CAPE COD BAY
MON NIGHT  NW WINDS 15 TO 20 KT...DIMINISHING TO 5 TO 10 KT  AFTER MIDNIGHT. GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS 2 TO 3 FT.  >>>TUE  SW WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS 1 FOOT OR LESS.  
TUE NIGHT  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS  AROUND 2 FT

BUZZARDS BAY
>>>TUE  SW WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT.  
TUE NIGHT  SW WINDS AROUND 10 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS  2 TO 3 FT.  
WED  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS AROUND  2 FT.

RHODE ISLAND SOUND:
>>>TUE NIGHT  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS  2 TO 4 FT.  
WED  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 25 KT. SEAS 2 TO  4 FT.  
WED NIGHT  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT WITH GUSTS UP TO 20 KT. SEAS  2 TO 3 FT.

LONG ISLAND WATERS:
TUE  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT. SEAS 2 TO 3 FT.  
>>>WED  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT. SEAS 2 TO 4 FT.  


NEW JERSEY COASTAL WATERS
WED  SW WINDS 10 TO 15 KT. SEAS 2 TO 4 FT.

Stay tuned for updates.  Right now we are a go for 6:00 AM on Tuesday Morning.

Written by Les.














Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hingham Adventures: Bear Cove Park

Situated just south of the Hingham Shipyard Marina is a gem called is Bear Cover Park.  Looking at the map below you can see the marina in the center.  Immediately to the west (left) is a dog park called Stodders Neck.  Follow the Weymouth Back River from Stodders Neck as it turns south, go under route 3A and on the east side is the north end of Bear Cove Park.  The next map shows the entire park.

Hingham Shipyard Marina and surrounding parks
Map of Bear Cove Park showing paved trails
Bare Cove Park consists of 484 acres. It was set aside as a wildlife sanctuary and a place for public recreation in 1972 when the US Government declared the ammunition depot surplus and closed it down.  The park is an exceptional area of river shoreline, wetland, open fields, dense woods, and diverse animal and plant life. Many wild animals inhabit the park including coyote, fox, and deer.

The park is a 5 minute walk from the boat and it has become our favorite place for our morning walk. Unlike Stodders Neck which is an on leash dog park where everybody goes off leash, Bear Cove is an "official" off leash park.  Stodders Neck is essentially a circular dirt path. Bear Cove is about 4 miles paved paths, all of which used to be roads that were part of the military base and naval ammunition depot.

View looking north west with ammunition dock remnants

And that brings us to today's history lesson (just kidding).  Seriously, the history at Bear Cove is very rich.  In fact there is an informal museum that documents the events that took place here.  It opens once a month for two hours.  I visited it for the first time last Sunday.

The Bear Cove Museum
Bear Cove served as a US Naval Training Station circa 1918 and.  Below are two photos, one of group pictures and the other a map and photo of the Naval Training Station.


US Naval Training Station at Bear Cove Park
Later, the site was used as the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot. At peak capacity in 1945, over 2,400 civilians and military personnel worked there. In the mid 1950s, the site contained over 90 buildings, its own telephone exchange, rail lines to each ammunition bunker and 15 cranes. During the period when the Hingham Shipyard was building warship, 1942 to 1945, the ammunition depot was connected by a rail line that ran under route 3A, which you can see in the photo below (look hard it's in the left center of the photo).

Hingham Shipyard in 1970
Explanatory Note: Along the right hand side of photo above are the remnants of the ways where 227 warships were built including Destroyer Escorts, LSTs and LCIs.  To the left of the ways is the steel fabrication plant and to the left of that and beyond the highway are buildings connected with the shipyard.  Stodders Neck is visible in the upper center and what was Hewitts Cove Marina, the forerunner of Hingham Shipyard Marina, is visible in the upper right.  The north end of Bear Cove is visible in the upper right.

Bear Cove Ranger Scott, the museum's curator

The marine uniform to the right was worn by Scott's father when he was stationed as a guard at the ammunition depot

Workers, mainly women, assembling top secret proximity fuses used only with naval guns.
Military authorities feared the fuses would fall into enemy hands if used with ground force artillery

Fall colors in Bear Cove Park
Today, only four of the 90 building remain (e.g., the museum, model train center and fire museum). The rest are gone with grass fields where they once stood.  The ammunition bunkers are gone as are rail lines and the docks that were used to load ammunition on to barges that ferried them to ships in Hingham Harbor.  What's left is wonderful park that is just perfect for our morning and afternoon walks.

Did I mention  that we LOVE Hingham and that we are definitely coming back next summer.

Written by Les.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cruising to the 63 - A Boating History

My recent discussions with Eugene Wheeler regarding the two yachts that I had worked on as first mate in the summers circa 1958 to 1961 prompted me to search the Internet for boats associated with my early boating career.  I had some success and that has prompted this article in which I recount how I got involved in boating and the journey to the 63.

The story starts around 1950 when I was 7 years old.  My uncle, Louis Schlager, owned a 28 foot Chris Craft three cockpit runabout, which I think was build around 1929.  Rumor had it that it was previously owned by a movie star.  The boat was kept at the A Street Pier in Hull Massachusetts.  I spent my summers in Hull from age 5 to age 20.

1929 Chris Craft 28' three cockpit runabout


The boat was named the Murray Wolf after his son
What's not a rumor is how Uncle Louis used to boat.  He was an avid fisherman.  He used this luxury speedboat, which was capable of speeds up to 60 MPH, to get to and from the fishing grounds off Hull Massachusetts. Needless to say he did not properly maintain this magnificent all mahogany masterpiece. Still, I would kill for a ride in that boat and every once in a while my dream would come true.  Imagine at 7 years old skimming across that water at 60 MPH.  It was thrilling.  The boat was sold after about three years.  Note: I recall it was powered by a Packard V12.

Fast forward a few years to the late 50s.  Louis' wife, Frances, was my mother's older sister and my mother and Frances were very close.  As a result, we spent gobs of time with them in Newton and Hull.  I became close to my uncle and began fishing with him. .  We fished for carp in the spring and fall along the banks of the Charles River in Millis Mass.  It was great fun and Louis was an interesting man.

Around 1958, when I was 15, Louis bought a brand new 1958 Old Town Lapstrake 20 with a 50 HP Johnson outboard motor.  As I recall, this boat was actually 18 feet long with a very wide 9 foot beam, which pounded on the slightest wave.  Louis wanted to fish the waters off Boston Light and Nantasket Beach with his many fishing buddies.  I went with him to purchase the boat and during that journey Louis made me an offer I could not refuse.  If I would take him fishing on weekends and clean the boat, I could use it during the week and he would pay for the gas. WOW!  The 50 HP was replaced the following year with a 75 Johnson.  Top speed was 23 MPH and she cruised easily at 18. She was named the "Beverly K."

A slightly smaller version of the Lapstrake 20.  I think this is a 16
Louis was a genius.  Since I now had use of the boat during the week I was extremely motivated to keep it clean, which was a humongous task.  Louis with three or four of his friend and myself would catch lots of fish.  Also they liked to clean the fish on the ride back with the result that the boat was a bloody mess by the time we arrived at the dock.  Still it was a wonderful arrangement and unlike the 28' Chris Craft, which got trashed, the Old Town looked forever showroom new.  Note: I spent 3 to 4 hours cleaning it after every outing.

Enter Lester Glawson and the Randy Boatshu.  I met Lester soon after Louis acquired the Old Town. My recollection is that Lester had captained Louis' 28' Chris Craft and that is how they knew each other. Lester, a retired executive from Commonwealth Edison of Massachusetts, was the captain of the 50 foot Randy Boastshu that regularly tied up at the A Street Pier.

50 foot Wheeler Promenade Deck Cockpit Motor Yacht, Circa 1957
Sistership of the Randy Boatshu
A 50 foot luxury motoryacht was a big deal in the late 50s and an even bigger deal at the A Street Pier where even today you rarely see boats of that size.  I became friendly with Lester after I asked him for advice on the performance of the Old Town.  Eventually I starting helping him with maintenance tasks and then later helped out when his boss was entertaining clients.  The boss, Bobby Cohen, was President of the Randolph Manufacturing Company, a shoe manufacturer.  One of the products they made was a deck shoe which they named the Randy Boat Shoe (which was also, appropriately, the yacht's name).  Two years later the 50 was replaced with a brand new 65 Wheeler Promenade Deck Motoryacht and I wound up working the summer of 1961 as Lester's first mate.

Lester was an old salt who new the local waters (Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay).  I learned a great deal about boating from Lester and became good friends with he and his wife Annie.

Fast story.  In September of 1960 I helped Lester ride out Hurricane Donna.  That adventure involved bringing the Wheeler 50 from Boston Harbor Marina in 6 to 8 foot waves to the pier at Paragon Park on the Weir River.  That pier was a perfect hurricane hole.

I graduated High School in 1961 and at the end of the summer I was offered a permanent berth on the 65 as first mate.  I declined the job and returned to school.  I suspect that I would not be the owner of Guided Discovery if I had gone south with them that winter.  1961 also proved to be the end of my boating for some time to come.

In 1972 I moved to Chicago to join the Pat Ryan & Associates.  Little did I know it at the time but I would go on to have a 38 year career and spend the rest of my working life with that company and its later iterations (Aon and The Warranty Group). I retired in April of 2010.

From 1972 to 1984 my interest (actually avocation) was flying.  That adventure started innocently with a conversation on the elevator with my neighbor as we descended from the 47th floor of McClurg Court Center.  He mentioned that he had been flying that morning and I said that was something I always wanted to try and he said he was a flying instructor.  By the time we reached the ground floor I had committed to an introductory lesson.

I got my private license in 1973 and my instrument ticket a year later.  During my flying career I flew Cessnas (150, 172, 177), a Mooney (m64e), a Beechcraft M35, a 1965 Beechcraft Debonair C33 (owned for 3 years 1977-1980), a Rockwell 112TC, a Piper Cherokee Arrow Piper and finally a 1969 Beechcraft V35A (owned for 2 years 1982-1984).  I ultimately racked up over 1,300 hours including 300 hours of actual instrument time and flew all over the United States. To this day I credit my knowledge of weather and navigation to the years that I flew.

My actual 1965 Beechcraft Debonair N885T (repainted)
225 Continental engine capable of 185 MPH
1969 Beechcraft Bonanza (sistership)
285 HP Continental engine capable of 200 MPH
The 1969 Beechcraft Bonanza (N3463X) which I bought in 1982 was sold in 1984.  My plan was to buy a boat and rent airplanes.  I bought the boat but never flew again.

Lesley's Toy: My first boat was a 1977 38 foot Hatteras Flybridge Double Cabin (FBDC) bought shortly after the airplane was sold.  I owned her from 1984 to 1986 and used her to cruise Lake Michigan including a two week trip to Mackinac Island in 1983.  The boat was berthed in Michigan City.  A divorce ended this short boating segment.

1977 38 Hattera Flybridge Double Cabin
This is almost exactly what I owned.
The Hatteras had the following specifications:
  • Overall length: 38' 4' 
  • Beam: 13' 7
  • Displacement: 33,000 lbs
  • Engines: Twin 300 HP gasoline
  • Fuel capacity: 300 gallons.  
  • Water capacity: 150 gallons
  • Holding Tank: 35 gallons
  • Heads: 1 
  • Cabins: 2 (V-Bert and Aft Master)
  • Sleeps: 6 (using the convertible sofa)
  • Cruise speed 15 MPH
  • Top Speed: 18 MPH 
  • Fuel Consumption at Cruise: 30 GPH 
  • Efficiency at Cruise: .5 GPM
  • Equipment: Dual stations, Radar, VHF, Full flybridge enclosure, 8KW generator
This was a heavy slow boat and it was not stabilized.  That said, I had her out on 10 foot seas in Lake Michigan and she handled it quite well.   We thought it was a bit scary.

Fast story: I took delivery in late June 1984 and soon after departed Chicago on a beautiful day with my wife (Gracie) and daughter (Lesley, age 1) for our slip in Michigan City's Trail Creek.  About 5 miles out we encountered flies and as we proceeded southeast the flies got worse (as in the whole boat was covered with them).  They were biting and we were forced to abandon the flybridge for the lower station in the salon.  Unfortunately we had left the cabin door open and the cabin was full of flies.  We had a difficult 45 mile trip.  About 5 miles from Michigan City the flies mysteriously disappeared. My thought was if this was typical of Lake Michigan then boating was not going to be much fun. Fortunately, it never happened again.

Soon after getting the 38 Hatteras I purchased a 10 ft Zodiac 310 inflatable with a Sears 9.9 HP.  This particular model had wooden floorboards along with an inflatable keel.  When deflated fit in a carrying bag.  This allowed me to store it in the cabin when we were away from the boat.  The 9.9 Sears outboard was also small enough to lift onto the boat.  The Zodiac could be assembled and inflated in about 20 minutes.  Alone, the little boat would cruise at close to 20 MPH.  It was a blast and like all the dingies to follow became my favorite toy.

Not the exact boat but very close.  Mine was orange.
Another fast story.  The Zodiac almost got me killed.  While lifting the 9.9 Sears from the boarding ladder to the aft deck I somehow lost my footing and fell into Trail Creek.  The Sears followed me into the water narrowly missing my head.  Had it hit me I probably would have drowned.  Still more luck. Trail Creek was very polluted and I did take on water.  Again I was lucky and did not get sick. Still more luck.  After drying out the 9.9 it started up and remained reliable.

Fast forward to 1996.  Diana and I moved into a townhome at 1030 W. Wrightwood.  We were exactly one mile from the lake and Wrightwood ended at Diversey Harbor.  I decided it would be fun to have a 25 foot runabout at Diversey Harbor and put my name on the waiting list. Three years passed and I did not have a slip.  So I called the Chicago Park District and asked when I might get one.  The lady said "never."  After a little discussion I learned that the only way to get into Diversey Harbor was from the transfer list, which meant you had to have a slip at another Chicago harbor in order to transfer.  So I agreed to take a slip in either Belmont or Montrose Harbor.  A few months went by and in early May I got a call saying they had a 35 foot slip in Montrose.  They gave me 24 hours to decide.  I called my good friend Jim and asked if he wanted to go partners with me on a boat. He said yes and asked how big a boat could be put in the slip.  I though this was the equivalent of who is burried in Grant's tomb but called the Park District for the official word.  Thirty seven feet they said.  I quick conversation with Jim and we were ready to go.

We decided to buy a 35 to 37 foot boat, set a budget of $50,000 each and started searching.  We looked at a number of boats including a 1993 Sea Ray 440 Sundancer (for $210,000). Notwithstanding the fact that it would not fit in the slip (it was 51' overall), Jim went and bought it without consulting with me.  Hello!  We are over budget and over sized.  No problem.  Jim goes to the Park District and just like that we have a 45 foot slip in Diversey Harbor.  We named her "Magic." (Lesley and David, Jim's son, were Magic The Gathering enthusiasts.)

Explanatory Note: The Park District waived the 2 foot limit as our slip was on an extra wide fairway that led to the launch ramp.

Our 1993 Sea Ray 440 Sundancer named Magic in Charlevoix, MI
Well a 440 Sundancer is not exactly the runabout that I had imagined.  Here are the specifications:
  • Overall length: 51'
  • Beam: 13' 11'
  • Displacement: 25,000 lbs
  • Engines: Twin Cummins 300 HP diesels
  • Fuel capacity: 400 gallons.  
  • Water capacity: 100 gallons
  • Holding Tank: 20 gallons
  • Heads: 1
  • Cabins: 1 (V-berth)
  • Sleeps: 4 (using the convertible salon settee)
  • Cruise speed 25 MPH
  • Top Speed: 28 MPH 
  • Fuel Consumption at Cruise: 27 GPH 
  • Efficiency at Cruise: .90 GPM
  • Equipment: Radar, 2 GPS and Chartplotter, depth sounder, VHF, Full camper enclosure, 8KW generator
One has to adapt.  So, Diana and I became cruisers and from 1999 to 2006, when we replaced Magic with a new 48 Sundancer, we cruised to almost every port on Lake Michigan.

The 48 Sundancer was my idea.  The boat had been introduced in 2005 and I thought we might pick up a used one.  I called Jim and asked him if he wanted to upgrade.  The answer was "Yes!"

So on a wintery day in February I took Diana to Skipper Buds to look at a new 48 on their showroom floor.  She fell in love with the boat and requested that we buy it ourselves.  Oops.  That's a lot of money.  Jim agreed to end the partnership, sold me his interest in the 440 and we bought the 48. Oops.  The 48 was almost too tall to fit under the bridge at Diversey.  (Note: Diversey is west of Lake Shore Drive and the bridge under the harbor entrance does not open).  No problem.  I made a slip in Belmont Harbor an unwritten condition of the sale and Skipper Buds used their influence to get me into Belmont.  Oops.  The 48 had an overall length of 51' feet.  This proved to be a big problem in two ways even though the Park District had waived the 2 foot limit.  We were next to a very wide sailboat (less than 3 feet of clearance) and our anchor obstructed the dock creating a hazard if you were not paying attention.  The Harbor Manager required that the anchor be lowered to the dock (a pain) and I told Diana that it was not a case of if we would hit the sailboat it was merely how many times.  Well we never hit the sailboat and wound up making many good friends in Belmont.  We loved it there (and it was only 2 miles from the our townhome).

Sea Ray 48 Sundancer Stock Photo
The 48 docked on H-dock the day after we bought her

2006 48 Sea Ray Sundancer off Streeterville in Chicago
Note the full camper enclosure
Here are the 48's specifications:
  • Overall length: 51'
  • Beam: 14' 8'
  • Displacement: 34,000 lbs empty
  • Engines: Twin Cummins QSC 540 HP diesels
  • Fuel capacity: 400 gallons.  
  • Water capacity: 100 gallons
  • Holding Tank: 60 gallons
  • Heads: 2
  • Cabins: 2 (V-berth master and aft stateroom)
  • Sleeps: 6 (using convertible salon settee)
  • Cruise speed 30 MPH
  • Top Speed: 33 MPH 
  • Fuel Consumption at Cruise: 44 GPH 
  • Efficiency at Cruise: .70 GPM
  • Equipment: Radar, 2 GPS and Chartplotters, AIS, Fishfinder, Sirius Satellite Weather, VHF, Full camper enclosure, Onan 11.5 KW generator, Satellite TV, Hydraulic Swim Platform
We cruised Lake Michigan from 2006 to 2010 when, in October, we departed for our one and a half year 6,150 mile Great Loop adventure.  See blog articles for further details.

Time for another dingy.  In 2007, I purchased a Caribe DL11 RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with a 30 HP Tohatsu engine. We named it Kodi's (which got misspelled by the signmaker as"Kodies."). The decision to purchase this particular rig was based on the 800 pound weight capacity of the hydraulic swim platform.  Boat and motor weighed in at exactly 800 pounds and fit perfectly on the platform.  I knew it would work when I saw it on a neighbor's 2005 48.  Cost in 2007 was about $13,000.  This boat had a top speed of 30 MPH with myself aboard and would still plane and hold 24 with Diana and Kodi. However, getting the boat on plane required shifting weight around.  Note: She would not get up on plane with 3 or 4 adults on board.

Kodi loved the Caribe and we used it extensively on Lake Michigan   The hydraulic platform made launching and retrieving very easy.  We could be in or out of the water less than 5 minutes.  We used the Caribe extensively on our Great Loop adventure.  It prove on many occasions to be our principal mode of transport to restaurants, stores and food markets along the water.

Caribe DL11 on the hydraulic swim platform
Upon returning in September 2012 we sold the 48 and contracted to build the Outer Reef 63.  This blog documents the entire build process building and our travels since taking delivery on February 10, 2014.  Full specifications and photos are found on the Outer Reef 63 tab at the top of this page.

Commentary on the 63's tender (aka the dingy): The AB DLX 13 with a 60 HP Yamaha was one of options available to us when building the 63.  We chose it as it was the biggest one that the boat deck and davit could handle.  It too is named Kodi's but this time spelled correctly.  The AB rig has exceeded my expectations.

Stock photo of AB DLX 13 underway
The AB DLX 13 can carry five passengers.  Storage is abundant
After re-propping with a stainless steel prop she has a top speed of 36 MPH with one person and can cruise at 30 with Diana, Kodi and I.  No problem getting on plane even with four normal size adults.
I recently tested her fully loaded weight carrying performance with four adults weighing about 840 pounds (25 pound over capacity).  A little tricky getting on plane but once their she literally flew at 25 MPH.  Launching and retrieval take about 20 minutes.

Guided Discovery (photo by Billy Back)
Note the tender on the boat deck



You can also read about her in the October issue of Passagemaker Magazine.


Written by Les.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cruising Plans: South to Sarasota

We will be part of the annual migration of boats that spend summers in the north and then head south in the fall.  For us it will be the mid fall with a planned departure date of November 4.

I will be joined by my friends Dick and Phil for the run to Sarasota while Diana drives with Kodi. Dick and Phil accompanied me on the run from Norfolk to Hingham last May.

My plan is to take advantage of a weather window, if we have one, and run direct to Stuart for a total distance of 1,217 NM.  This can be accomplished in 6 days (five overnights).  My thought is that if you are trying to "make tracks" it makes no sense to waste good weather sitting in port overnight.  You lose the weather and you add unnecessary time and expense to the trip.

To facilitate night running I am in the process of adding night vision equipment.  Night vision in combination with radar and AIS (vessel location, course, speed and collision potential) will give us the ability to operate with a reasonable degree of safety.

Raymarine T353 Thermal Imaging (same as FLIR M625XP)
Thermal Image
Explanatory Note:  Thermal, technically infrared, imaging (night vision) picks up the heat signature of objects on land and in the water and displays them on a screen.  In our case, we will use the Garmin 7215 multifunction screens in the pilothouse to display the data.  We chose the Raymarine T353 unit (which is the same as the FLIR M625XP).  This unit has a single thermal imaging camera that can pivot 360 degrees. It has 640 x 480 field of vision with 2X zoom capability.


FROMTOMILESCUMMARINAWATERHOURSCUMDAYS
HinghamVirginia Beach447447 Long Bay PointCoastal53.953.92.2
Virginia BckBeaufort191638 Beaufort DcksCoastal23.076.91.0
Beaufort, NCCharleston212850 CharlestonCoastal25.5102.41.1
CharlestonStuart3671217 Sunrise BayCoastal44.2146.71.8
Stuart Fort Meyers1171334 TBDICW14.12.0
Fort MeyersSarasota701404 Marina JackICW/Coastal8.41.0
9 days

Once we hit Stuart we head southwest on the Okeechobee Waterway to Fort Meyers.  No overnight runs on that segment.  The good news is the segment is more forgiving with regard to weather.  We could complete the Okeechobee in as little as two days.  Fort Meyers to Sarasota is a short 8 hour trip.  If all goes well we will complete the journey in 9 days.

Assuming good weather I will stop at either in Virginia Beach or Beaufort for fuel.  (FYI: The 63 is capable of running 1,638 NM at 8.3 knots with a 10% reserve)   We would refuel again in Stuart.

Of course all of this is weather dependent.  Weather will dictate whether we run along the coast or seek, as necessary, the protected waters of Long Island Sound, the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay or, once we reach the Virginia Beach / Norfolk area, the ICW.  

The good news is that sudden thunderstorms are less likely at this time of the year and we will be cruising south at the tail end of a hurricane season (that so far has proved to be mild).  By running along the coast we will always be in cell phone range thereby allowing internet connectivity via my Verizon Air Card.  This gives us access to 6 days of NOAA weather information and the ability to make weather decisions while underway.  We also have Sirius Satellite Weather with easy access to radar and wave height information along with forecasts for 48 hours.

For comparison, the run north last spring from Stuart to Hingham took 33 days (4/2 to 5/5). However, we were only on the water for 13 days.  The extra days were the result of bad weather (6 days), waiting for crew in Norfolk (6 days) and casual cruising with Darrel and Sue (Present Moment) from from Stuart to St Simons.  We also added over a 200 NM running the ICW from Stuart to St Simons and from Beaufort NC to Norfolk.

Written by Les.