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Old 04-06-2016, 11:17 PM   #21
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Conall,
I had to smile when you wrote that you backed into your slip. It sounds like you are having a great trip. You have built a very nice boat.
Cheers,
Henry
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:33 AM   #22
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Hi Henry,

Do you remember the anchor conversation we were having while I was rigging my new anchor? There's a picture of the new anchor lashed to my aft deck in that last batch of pictures I posted. In defense of Danforth, I had purchased the non high tensile model.

Are you pointed North yet?

You're slip's still open.

Cheers,

Conall
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:45 AM   #23
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Like most things in Key West, real estate is at a premium, and they like to put 3 lbs of stuff in 2 lbs buckets. The harbor where A@B is located is not much different, and while a great facility, the fairways are a bit tight. All the slips require you to be tied by the stern. Our beam is 15'4", and the width between our piers was 16'... kind of tight.

The other good thing about A@B is the size of the yachts tend to block some wind. Here's a picture of my 46'... the green boat with the mast and flag. My starboard neighbor was a 26' Contender. My port neighbor was 85', and his neighbor was 97'.

Cheers

Conall
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:06 AM   #24
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Your boat looks better than those big plastic ones IMO.

Nice writeup. Looks like the boys had a good time. When I took my HS age boys to Key West they spent most of the time sleeping while underway.
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:42 AM   #25
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We had five days booked at A@B Marina, and as soon as everyone was settled and the boat ready for harbor life, the older kids wasted no time getting up to Duval street to see what there is to see.

As I said before, Key West harbor is a great spot. The water is clear with much to see. Our neighbor had underwater lights on his boat which he had lit every night. Once the sun went down, our younger boys spent their free time on the swim platform or dock looking at fish. Schools of Tarpon, with some five and six feet long, live in the harbor and seem to be attracted to the lights. There's also a few Nurse Sharks that call the harbor home, and we would see them, along with the big tarpon, every night.

Because we only had five days, we split our time between the tourist type stuff on Duval street and a couple of days on the water doing some trips.

Watching the weather, we had two decent opportunity's for day trips so for one trip, we headed out to Sand Key reef where we grabbed a mooring ball and snorkeled all day. On that particular day, the winds and seas were almost non existent, and the visibility was about 30'. The snorkeling was what I'd call good for this part of Florida, and we saw quite a variety of different fish with a few larger Baracuda and some quite a few sea turtles. The reef is marked with buoys on the corners, and all the mooring balls are outside that charted perimeter. A stark reminder on how vigilant we need to be occurred when a charter sailboat decided the fastest way to the mooring balls was through the middle of the reef where everyone was snorkeling and scuba diving. Probably one of the most interesting parts of this snorkel trip was how fascinated the younger kids were to watch the scuba divers 20' below them.

Our other day trip was to Boca Grande Key which is due west between Marquesas Key and Key West. The winds were a little stronger that day and we had some seas on the beam, so the 12 mile ride to the Key was a little lively. Once out to the key, we anchored in the lee of the island, so the water was dead flat. When we first arrived, there were two other boats anchored. By the middle of the day, eight or ten other boats showed up and the place proved to be a popular spot. The water was as clear as anyone could ask for, with the natural beach sand clean and white. A mile north of the key lays an old navy boat in about 10' of water so I took four of the kids to the site and we snorkeled around the boat a few times. There were lots of Snapper, Sheep head, and Barracuda for everyone to see. The site is on the edge of a large flat and I was noticing a two guide boats with clients working the flat. On the few occasions I watched the guide boats, at least one client was hooked up with a fish. This area is all in a marine sanctuary area, and it really is beautiful with lots of wild life, great looking water, and families enjoying this part of the world. My wife and I both noticed how free the beach was of litter, so it's nice to see that people for the most part respecting these areas.

The rest of our time in Key West was spent wandering around town doing the tourist thing and some shopping. While my wife and the two girls focused on shopping, I entertained the younger boys with dinghy rides around the harbor and anchorages. In the harbor, towards the end of the day, the fishing charter boat mates cleaned the clients catch and tossed the scraps in the harbor where schools of large tarpon would be waiting for a meal.

The anchorage area around Key West is large and filled with quite a few boats. There seems to be a fair amount of live aboard mixed in with travelers from various areas from around the world. There also is a decent amount of what I'd call derelict boats that need to me made to go away.

As the week began to wind down, I started paying a little more attention to the buoy forecast for the passage back to Ft. Myers. I really never stopped looking at the forecasts, and three days before we were going to leave things were looking good at 2' or less with winds behind us. My neighbor was flying his captain down and planned on leaving for Naples the same day as us. He was liking the forecast too, and while three days is a pretty close window, as we all know, things can change quickly.

Cheers,

Conall
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Old 04-11-2016, 08:33 AM   #26
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Great Fun!
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Old 04-11-2016, 08:56 AM   #27
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Our time in Key West went by quickly and I soon found myself doing the math for the cruise home and looking at the buoy reports.

The route home was a course line from Key West to Marco Island. My preference would have been to go straight to Ft. Myers, but because of the number of crab pots, I didn't feel comfortable running at night. From Key West to Marco is about 90 miles, and Key West to Ft Myers is about 112 miles. I don't know if adding line cutters to my shaft would make running at night safer, but for right now I'm sticking to day time running.

The plan for getting home was to leave the harbor about 0630 Saturday morning, anchor at Marco Saturday night, then 45 miles to Ft. Myers Yacht basin on Sunday.

My wife, step daughter and step daughters friend would be leaving Saturday morning to drive back home, so that meant they had to be off the boat by 0600 Saturday so I could be pulling out when I wanted. I'm not going to say anymore than I'm sure all of you can appreciate getting three woman who love long showers on their way at this early hour on a Saturday. The same crew of 7 my year old, 12 year old, and 16 year old boy along with the 16 year old boy's girlfriend would be with me.

The weather forecast on Friday had changed a bit and the seas were forecast to be 2-3' on Saturday and 5-7' on Sunday. When I stepped on to the dock Saturday morning, I was greeted by the sound of wind singing through the halyards that surrounded us. Back in the wheel house looking at the anemometer I saw it was a steady 18 and there had been a 28 within the last hour. I guess the good news was the weather was basically going to be behind us coming out of the SW.

Things went surprisingly smooth that morning, and by 0630 we were idling out of the harbor heading home. Heading up the channel to the gulf, things were rolling around a bit as the seas were pretty lumpy. We'd pretty much stowed everything away the night before, with only cabinet drawers and doors to secure this morning. By sunrise, we'd cleared the last channel marker and made the turn to Marco Island.

Now clear of the channel and in the open gulf headed towards Marco, we started rolling as the short steep seas were behind us. My first and only thought was how long of a day this was going to be. The wind was blowing a solid 25, and the weather was for sure coming from behind. The good news was we were making over 7.5 and I was seeing numbers close to 9 as we were pushed by the sea.

A few hours in to the day, the wind seemed to die a bit, the seas got less fast and steep, and things started looking pretty good. The sea state went from a steep high paced mess to a big long roller that hit us about every six or eight seconds. The big swell would come from behind, lift the boat giving us a nice push, we'd wiggle/roll a bit, and be back on our way. The sky's were bright and sunny, the wind was blowing through the wheel house keeping the boat cool, and the motion was soon gotten use to. It turned out to be a good day.

Once we had Marco on the radar screen, the weather as forecast, started to begin it's turn more from the North. The closer we got to Marco, the larger the swell became and more on beam. Coming in to the well marked channel for Marco island things were breaking nicely on both sides of us as the sun was just starting below the horizon. Anchoring in the dark is one of my least favorite things to do, and while we had cut this passage a bit too close for my comfort, we did get the hook set before sundown in a good spot right across from Snook Inn restaurant. With the hook firmly set, we all cleaned things up a bit before we took the dinghy over to the Snook Inn for a excellent, well deserved meal.

Eating dinner that Saturday night, and looking at the weather for the 45 mile run from Marco to Ft. Myers, I looked as if things would be a bit rougher on Sunday. A small craft advisory had been issued with weather coming out of the North, 25-30 kt of wind and seas 5-7'. The small craft advisory would be lifted by noon the next day, so the whole day wouldn't be so bleak.

Sunday morning had the wind steady and strong at 30 on the anemometer as we pulled the anchor and headed back to the gulf. Making the last turn out of the river passing the now gone Coconut island, the swell hitting us was quickly getting larger and the breakers on both sides of us were substantially more powerful as we passed the last marker and made the turn to Ft. Myers.

Our heading was now almost due north, and pretty much as forecast the 5' seas were hitting us head on. Windshield wipers have now made the "to do list" as water was making it's way to the wheel house windows every so often. The boat has a hard chine on the bow, which helps push water away. The motion was not not violent or threatening, but it was lively. On a few occasions, we'd be heading down a large swell, and when we'd bottom out, the bulwark did it 's job and pushed the water away from the boat. I"m 100% confident that if there was no bulwark on our boat, we'd have buried the bow on a few occasions.

The little kids were having a blast with the action, and were describing to me how the front cabin port lights were under water. Thinking I should probably go check out what they're talking about, I had my stepson take the helm so I could do an ER check and look at the forward cabin port lights. The port lights are 3/4" tempered glass and are fixed. Just as the youngsters had described, those lights were going under water as we plowed our way up the coast. When I built the boat, I'd talked to the naval architect about how to size the port lights, and who's lights to use. He was totally opposed to opening lights in this area, and strongly suggested I build the lights myself out of 3/4" tempered glass and seal them tighter than a bulls ass using bolts and heavy gaskets. I'm glad I listened to him and finally realized what he was talking about when he used the terms "grief and problems" when describing loosing a port light while under way.

Three or four hours later as forecast, things quickly died down, we were able to open some windows, and Ft Myers Beach was on the plotter screen. The rest of the day was sunny and pleasant, and as we made the turn up the river, life got back to normal inside the boat. Outside the boat, we looked more like a snow globe as we had a heavy coating of salt on everything.

Backing into our slip, packing up belongings, and taking an hour to give a quick fresh water wash down of the exterior, our trip quickly came to a stop. Everyone pitches in, so the d-commissioning goes quickly. All things have to end somewhere, but the starkness of ending these trips always makes me appreciate what the trips are worth.

Cheers,

Conall
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Old 04-11-2016, 09:23 AM   #28
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Thanks Jim
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Old 04-11-2016, 09:37 AM   #29
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Greetings,
Mr. C. Excellent report! Thanks.
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Old 04-11-2016, 11:00 AM   #30
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Awesome write up. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:38 PM   #31
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So you actually went out in a small craft warning?
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Old 04-11-2016, 01:38 PM   #32
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Hi barnacles,

We did go out during a small craft warning.

I don't think small craft applies to our boat as she weighs almost 70,000 lbs. I do pay attention to the warning in that the Coast Gaurd recommends that operators should excersise caution, which we did.

Always being cautious and not wanting to put my kids or anyone else in danger, I for sure would have headed back in if I felt threatened. There's still initial doubt in my mind, but each time we go out in less than perfect conditions, we learn more about what we can handle and what the boat can handle and respond to. I do trust my equipment.

In the same thought, I'm getting a few longer passages under my belt, and have had to deal with a little weather. At first the rolling freaked me out, but as I got use to the boat it's not so intimidating. On some severe rolls, I would have estimated us rolling 20 or 30 degrees. Wanting to know what was actually happening, I installed a digital clinometer on my phone to measure the roll. The worst roll we ever saw, when stuff was really moving around, was 12 degrees. I don't know if 12 degrees is severe or not, but I fairly confident it feels worse than it actually is. I also shoot videos to show friends how nasty things can get, but when I look at the videos a day later, they never look as animated as things felt on board, so I just delete them as nothing I've filmed seems worth showing.

Cheers

Conall

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Old 04-11-2016, 03:23 PM   #33
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Excellent read, thanks for posting

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Old 04-11-2016, 04:11 PM   #34
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If you only saw 12, you're about half way to "lively", and about a third of the way to "Wow! What the heck am I doing out here".

Which is about a quarter of the way to "OMG! This is really not good!!"

Sounds like a great trip and you got to test the crew and equipment in safe conditions.
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Old 04-11-2016, 04:16 PM   #35
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Greetings,
Mr. C. I think a "small craft" is considered as anything under 60'.
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Old 04-11-2016, 04:21 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conall63 View Post
...

In the same thought, I'm getting a few longer passages under my belt, and have had to deal with a little weather. At first the rolling freaked me out, but as I got use to the boat it's not so intimidating. On some severe rolls, I would have estimated us rolling 20 or 30 degrees. Wanting to know what was actually happening, I installed a digital clinometer on my phone to measure the roll. The worst roll we ever saw, when stuff was really moving around, was 12 degrees. I don't know if 12 degrees is severe or not, but I fairly confident it feels worse than it actually is. I also shoot videos to show friends how nasty things can get, but when I look at the videos a day later, they never look as animated as things felt on board, so I just delete them as nothing I've filmed seems worth showing.
...
The MV Dirona blog has a few posts showing their instruments and describes the weather conditions.

http://mvdirona.com/Trips/atlanticoc...%3A+Conditions

The boats pitch and roll is shown middle of the instrument panel.



Quote:
...the wind picked up to NE 20-30 earler today and the waves tightened to about 7-8ft on 7-8 seconds. Max roll and pitch over the past hour was 12.7 and 11.2 respectively. (The screenshot shows this data graphically for the past 24 hours in the third row). We've learned from experience that Jennifer will get seasick if we pitch steadliy over 10, so she's wearing a scopolamine patch now. As the waves picked up, our speed fell and we were doing less than 5 knots to meet the fuel economy goal.
They have other posts about conditions where they document their roll and pitch rate. One, was pretty bad going over a bar and getting caught by high waves.

Later,
Dan
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Old 04-11-2016, 06:24 PM   #37
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So you heard about the El Faro right? She was a big ship too

Just saying. Glad you made it and puhleeze dont go out in advisories again. Your boat aint no match for big water.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:07 PM   #38
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Greetings RT,

When I first started to pay attention to small craft advisories, I had to find out what the definition was, and how it applied to us.

The size of the vessel is not talked of in the definition, rather NOAA speaks of any vessel that is going to be adversely effected by the warning. NOAA qualifies their warning, in my opinion, by recommending all operators are to use caution.

I don't think there's a set rule for action on how we deal with a warning other than use caution and be aware there's a warning. Its up to the operator to make the decision as to how safe things are. The operator of a pontoon boat treats a warning different than an operator of a 45' ocean going trawler as does the operator of a 160' freighter.

I guess what I'm getting at is I don't feel there's a "stay or go" rule to follow once we here the small craft advisory.

Conall
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Old 04-12-2016, 09:00 AM   #39
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While not the greatest expense of running a boat, I watch our fuel closely so here are a few particulars of our trip.

We have four fuel tanks on board. Three tanks are used for storage, and one tank feeds the machinery. There are two 400 gallon storage tanks, one 150 gallon storage tank, and a 150 gallon operating tank.

Fuel use is tracked with a ruler, a chart of burn for RPM, and a flow meter. Every morning I look at the engine hour meter and generator hour meter so I can begin to guess how much fuel to transfer. I also keep a log while the boat is running and make notes on a fairly regular basis of what RPM we are turning and speed.

Now that I know how many hours the engine ran for, I look at my RPM chart for fuel burn and take a guess at consumption.

I don't know the exact generator burn but have been using 1/2 gallon per hour.

Now, with a pretty good idea of how much I'm going to transfer, I go to the ER, and measure the liquid level of the operating tank with a ruler and record in my fuel log. I then decide which tank I'm going to transfer from, move the appropriate valve, zero out my flow meter, transfer "X" amount of gallons to the operating tank, then measure the liquid level again. For my operating tank, a measurement of 26" gives me 90 gallons and that's my benchmark for the tank.

This is a low tech, simple way for me to track fuel and has proven to be very accurate. When transferring from storage tanks to the operating tank, fuel passes through a large Racor filter/separator. From the operating tank to the engine or generator, the fuel goes through another Racor filter/separator before passing through the generator or engine filters. I feel 100% confident of the quality of the fuel.

Over the course of a few months some of my numbers start to get a little jumbled. I might not transfer enough fuel to get exactly to the bench mark, or possibly transfer over the bench mark a bit. Also, my ruler is black on one side to make reading it easier, but you never really get dead nut reading, so there's always a bit of error and guessing. So after few months or so, I'll take some time to total the fuel on the boat. Totaling the fuel on board is done by pumping one tank empty into tank "X", and record the flow meter total, then pump that same amount of fuel form tank "X" back into the just emptied tank. I repeat that for all four tanks to get the exact amount of fuel on board.

Some of the numbers from the Key West Trip are:

359 Miles
174 gallons of fuel
Engine hours 57.7
Generator hours 81.4
Moving average 6.5 kt
Max speed 11.4 kt
Generator fuel used 40.7
Engine fuel used 133.3
Engine fuel efficiency 2.69 NM/Gallon
Boat fuel efficiency ( includes generator) 2.06 NM/Gallon

The boat was mostly ran at 1600 RPM with favoring 1700 quite a bit. I'd prefer to run at 1500, but I was having to maintain speed to get to where we wanted by dark, so I ran a fuzz harder than I'd prefer. I think if I'd stuck with 1500 I could have hit 3 NM/Gallon on engine efficiency.

A@B Marina charged us $132 per night for a five night total of $660. I think our electric bill with A@B was $25.00. We did one pump out at A@B, so with tax and the pump out, our total was about $725.00.

We had enough fuel on board to do this trip, but with my pre-trip guesstimate of burning 200 gallons, we added that amount of fuel prior to leaving Ft. Myers. The fuel cost for this trip @ $2.00 per gallon was about $350.00

I don't pay much attention to food on board as a cost because we have to eat no matter where we are. As all of our other trips, we loaded way more food on board than we needed, and ended up bringing much of it back home.

The trip was ten days, and for whole duration of the trip there were five of us on board. Once in Key West, we had eight on board. We have two heads, two showers, and three sinks. The cabins, all below deck, consists of the master cabin with a walk around queen, and the forward cabin with four permanent bunks. Above, salon table folds down for a blow up queen, we also have a reclining love seat that some of the kids favor to sleep in. The wheel house table can fold down for a blow up full size mattress, but I don't let anyone sleep up there as that's my space. With six kids, we have large family, so we have to make due how we can. Oh yeah, we also have a lap dog that comes with my wife!!

This spring break trip was a big success for us. The reason I have this, among many reasons, is for trips like these as they're affordable, unique, fun, and challenging. This lifestyle defines me on a certain level, and I'm glad the rest of my family enjoys it and embraces it. I missed not having my two college age kids with us as they're up north going to school, but we're planning a summer trip with them to the Dry Tortugas via Key West.

Cheers,

Conall
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Old 04-12-2016, 11:38 AM   #40
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Conall,

Another great read while taking lunch. Your fuel numbers look pretty darn good for a boat that size. And a fairly reasonable vacation minus the time and expensive of the build.

Well Worth It,

Jim
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