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Old 05-07-2013, 08:50 PM   #1
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First voyage

Last year I bought my first trawler, in Boston and I want to head south to Florida via the ICW. I have very little coastal experience and no trawler experience. Our plan is a conservative 50 to 60 miles per day, spending the nights in marinas for the trip down. My boat is a 43 foot Marine Trader that is 30 years old and in reasonably good condition, just had a thorough survey and having issues and problems repaired and addressed. I have 20 years of boating experience (sail & motor boat) but all inland lakes. It will be just me & my girlfriend (who has little boating experience). I have been studying nautical charts and making preparations for several weeks, we are equipped with GPS, Plotter, sounder and radar My question is, should we hire a captain to travel with us or with our conservative travel plan is it realistic for us newbies to attempt this on our own? Any insights or suggestions offered would be very helpful.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:06 PM   #2
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Take a look at Primer For First Timers Heading South
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:27 PM   #3
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Ok first off I haven't boated out there. But from your description if your experience you have as much or more than most people I meet so I don't see why you would need a captain. I hope you have a great time.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:32 PM   #4
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A boat is a boat: water is water. half the fun is in the learning & experience; the other half is in getting away with it. By all means hire a captain to help learn systems, etc.; at least for a small part of the trip, or until you feel comfortable with your new boat. For the rest of it; go slow & enjoy. Some days, 50 miles will be pushing things; so what, you'll be having one heck of an adventure. Don't miss some of the gorgeous anchorages along the way. There are, as I am sure you already know, lots of available resources i.e. Active Captain, etc to help as you go. Enjoy!
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:50 PM   #5
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Next Chapter, welcome aboard. You are in for a great trip. You asked for advice, so you will just have to sift through the differing opinions for what is best for you.

It's great that you are starting out with a great deal of boating experience. However, you are right to be a little concerned. Lake and river boating is a different animal from coastal navigation and boat handling. Since you will have an inexperienced partner along if things go wrong it could complicate things. I think it would be a good idea to hire a captain to go along on the first part of the trip. Probably at least to Delaware Bay.

You will probably be going from Boston through the canal to Buzzards Bay. From there to Long Island Sound and into the East River can present some challenges. Off the Jersey coast is no good place to have problems. From there you should have the feel and confidence to take a really nice cruise. I hope you have some time for the Chesapeake Bay.

It may seem overly cautious to some here to hire a captain, but to me cruising is supposed to be an adventure. The first cruise is not the one for a huge adventure. It could turn your partner off boating forever.

I hope you will let us tag along via posting pictures, happenings and impressions of the cruise. Have a great one!
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:08 PM   #6
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Thanks you I will check it out!

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Old 05-07-2013, 10:27 PM   #7
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Next Chapter, welcome aboard. You are in for a great trip. You asked for advice, so you will just have to sift through the differing opinions for what is best for you.

It's great that you are starting out with a great deal of boating experience. However, you are right to be a little concerned. Lake and river boating is a different animal from coastal navigation and boat handling. Since you will have an inexperienced partner along if things go wrong it could complicate things. I think it would be a good idea to hire a captain to go along on the first part of the trip. Probably at least to Delaware Bay.

You will probably be going from Boston through the canal to Buzzards Bay. From there to Long Island Sound and into the East River can present some challenges. Off the Jersey coast is no good place to have problems. From there you should have the feel and confidence to take a really nice cruise. I hope you have some time for the Chesapeake Bay.

It may seem overly cautious to some here to hire a captain, but to me cruising is supposed to be an adventure. The first cruise is not the one for a huge adventure. It could turn your partner off boating forever.

I hope you will let us tag along via posting pictures, happenings and impressions of the cruise. Have a great one!
We will be leaving around the 18 or 19 of May if everything on the boat is done. The route you described is the way I was thinking . I have been watching other
Trawlers on Marine Traffic(great site) and plan to register my boat (Terrapin) on there. We will be doing our trip in one two week shots at a time throughout the summer and fall we both still have Careers for time being .
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:09 PM   #8
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There are, as I am sure you already know, lots of available resources i.e. Active Captain, etc to help as you go.
I don't know anything about boating the east/southeast coast other than people apparently do it. But I can certainly second Scooter's advice on Active Captain. We'd heard about it years ago but figured it was an east coast thing and didn't really apply to us out here.

Then last year we got an iPad and installed the Navimatics app. This is NOT a navigation system but a charting-only application. We got the West Coast/Canada version which has the charts from the Mexican border all the way up through all of Alaska.

If you have a cellular iPad (the models with wifi and 3G or 4G) it has a stand alone GPS/GLONAS reciever and so can show your position and track it with no connectivity at all anywhere on the planet as long as it can recieve GPS and/or GLONAS signals. The wifi-only iPads cannot do this.

(GLONAS is Russia's version of GPS.)

So we use Navimatics much as we use paper charts and chartbooks--- zoom out for the big picture of what's around or ahead of us or zoom in for a detailed view, all with just a couple of finger swipes. Much faster than turning pages in a big chartbook or juggling full size paper charts or zooming in and out on a chart plotter.

But the great thing about Navimatics is that it interfaces with Active Captain. And Active Captain is a fabulous resource for finding out about marinas, anchorages, navigation hazards to watch out for, all sorts of information that is constantly being added to by boaters. We use it a lot and so far as I'm concerned it is a must-have for cruising these days.

So with regards to the OP's query for advice about the run he is making down the east coast, I would strongly advise he obtain a means of accessing Active Captain. The iPad with Navimatics is terrific for this but you can access and use Active Captain with a computer-- laptop or desktop-- as well.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:02 AM   #9
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Spend a day on the water in an open area, toss a fender over board and practice bringing your boat up to it form all different directions and touching it with your bow, stern etc. This is a great way to get familiar with your particular boat.

Preperation is key, one of the best sites to check for shoaling and marinas and anchorages etc is activecaptain.com also buy loacal charts and take time each day to plan your next days travel so that you are not quite as surprised when things turn ugly.

Your draft is pretty shallow but there are parts of the ICW that are pretty skinny especially through GA.

Have fun
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:15 AM   #10
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Looking at active captain now. Thank you!
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:31 AM   #11
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Looking at active captain now. Thank you!

The value of Active Captain is that besides the actual information about marinas, anchorages, etc. you get the reviews that are submitted by boaters who have used the marina or anchorage. Now everybody is different so what one sees as a less-than-ideal experience may be viewed as a great experience by someone else.

But what this does is give you information to consider as you plan and then carry out your cruise. And it gives you the opportunity to submit your own reviews of the places you visit, thus adding even more to the data base.
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:27 AM   #12
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A couple of months ago, I added Garmin Bluechart Mobile to my iPad. It also interfaces with Active Captain and mimics my chart plotter very accurately. I have been using it more than Navimatics lately.
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Old 05-08-2013, 02:39 AM   #13
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I would second Moonstruck's suggestion of using a Captain as far as the Delaware Bay. That will get you some days of good experience, in-shore and a bit off-shore with some help and advice right at hand. Tell the captain you want to learn as much as you can while he is onboard. Once in Delaware Bay, you should do just fine, there are plenty of boats you will come across on that trip with far less experience than you already have. It is a great trip and you should really enjoy it. Once you are in the ICW proper at Norfolk, you will find that 50-60 miles will make for a very good day's cruising. 60 miles will end up being something in the neighborhood of 9 hours cruising a day.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 05-08-2013, 06:06 AM   #14
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If you are inclined and can afford to hire a captain then I would think that's a good suggestion. However spending some time in a protected area getting use to the boat would in my opinion be sufficient as long as you watch the weather very carefully. That's probably what I would do.

Get the book Honey, Let's Get a Boat by Ron and Eva Stob. They did pretty much what your going to do. By the time they got to open areas of water they were use to the boat. However like you they bought a boat and immediately set out for the loop. They had lots of problems with the boat because of a poor survey and not being familiar with the boat.

I've flown over the New Jersey coast many many times and I've seen sea conditions that would sink most pleasure boats and I've also seen it as smooth as a lake.

So, send lots of pictures, carefully watch the weather, and don't be too disappointed if you don't average 50 miles a day. And, since this is probably an adventure you convinced your girl friend to take with you, keep that in the back of your mind.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:01 AM   #15
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Rather than hiring a captain, it might be more useful to engage a good instructor for a few days. I've seen many excellent captains who couldn't teach a thing. In the time before you leave, have him/her teach you three fundamentals, some of which you may have already mastered: boat handling, seamanship, navigation. Once you feel confident with those three things you're set. Bon Voyage.
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:40 AM   #16
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Big question is what is it you want the captain to teach you/help you with, should you hire one? Are you looking for help understanding your boat's systems and how they function? Are you looking for assistance with local knowledge of local waters so you don't run aground? Are you looking for help with learning how to dock your new boat? Or all the above? I would ask yourself what you feel you need the most assistance on and/or want the most assistance on and then come up with a good plan to figure out how to do it. If learning the boat is your goal and you have lots of previous boat experience and if that experience is in similar boats (i.e. diesels, twin screws, etc.) then maybe stick around your initial port of call for a week or two and play with the boat and practice docking and anchoring out, etc. and making sure you understand the systems. Perhaps a captain hired for a day or two in order to help you get oriented on the boat, show you how to properly and safely anchor, how to dock, basic systems orientation, etc. would be helpful and after that time together you both may have a good idea whether you are prepared to take the boat down the coast without a captain. Ultimately only you and your partner know what you all need to do for your particular situation but you can never go wrong being over prepared.
Either way, welcome to the forums and congrats on the boat and have a great time cruising. Sounds like a wonderful season ahead of you!
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:25 AM   #17
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If you are inclined and can afford to hire a captain then I would think that's a good suggestion. However spending some time in a protected area getting use to the boat would in my opinion be sufficient as long as you watch the weather very carefully. That's probably what I would do.

Get the book Honey, Let's Get a Boat by Ron and Eva Stob. They did pretty much what your going to do. By the time they got to open areas of water they were use to the boat. However like you they bought a boat and immediately set out for the loop. They had lots of problems with the boat because of a poor survey and not being familiar with the boat.

I've flown over the New Jersey coast many many times and I've seen sea conditions that would sink most pleasure boats and I've also seen it as smooth as a lake.

So, send lots of pictures, carefully watch the weather, and don't be too disappointed if you don't average 50 miles a day. And, since this is probably an adventure you convinced your girl friend to take with you, keep that in the back of your mind.
I will get that book (love to read any book on this subject) and I pretty sure this boat will have her issues even with the survey and repairs. I think my girlfriend is more excited about this adventure than me. I showed her my 36ft sailboat and she is hooked on the boating thing. I agree that getting used to the boat and how she handles will help, it's been 10 years since I have driven a twin screw when I owned a Caver and that was only a 28ft Rivera.
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Old 05-09-2013, 06:19 PM   #18
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Scott,

Welcome to TF and congrats. Last year was also my first year with our PT41 Trawler and it is our first boat...period. I have sailed for years on my dads 31' sailboat, but wanted a trawler and am very glad on our decision. I live in not far from you Newburyport, MA and keep the boat on the Merrimack river which is notorious for strong currents and nasty conditions at the mouth. I highly recommend contacting Rick at Boatwise.com. They are based in Mass and have a large source of Captains that can come on board for an hour, day, week... After attending their Basic Boating and Advanced Navigation classes, I hired Rick to come on board for a few hours of boat handling and docking instruction. It was not expensive and was money very well spent.

Best of luck and keep us informed as you go.

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Old 05-09-2013, 09:44 PM   #19
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Rather than hiring a captain, it might be more useful to engage a good instructor for a few days. .
I think that is a really smart suggestion if you are concerned about your abilities to maneuver the boat right now.

This whole boating thing is not rocket science. I suspect that the majority of participants on this forum did not hire instructors or captains, they simply "got into boating." Many of us started with smaller boats and worked up. For me the progression was a 12-foot Sears aluminum skiff with a 6hp outboard, then a 17' Arima fishing boat with a 90hp outboard and 6hp trolling motor, and then the 36' Grand Banks.

The only formal instruction I and my wife had was when we chartered a GB36 prior to buying one. The charter company's checkout skipper spent a couple of hours with us reviewing docking procedures and he gave us some tips and techniques on docking and undocking and picking up a mooring buoy that were invaluable and that we still use today. Other than that, we just went boating.

Perhaps as a result of a lot of years flying planes (and my wife owned a couple of planes, too, before we got married) both of us are very good at recognizing our limitations and taking baby steps to advance them instead of jumping in over our heads.

You're not new to boating so this trip you're planning should be no big deal. Sure, you haven't been down the route before (I assume) but a boat's a boat so the only real new stuff to you will be what you encounter along the way.

Others have mentioned a number of resources to help you get familiar with what you'll encounter. Everything from Google Earth to the charts to Active Captain to guidebooks (I assume there are good guidebooks for your route) will help.

My wife and I were lucky in that for over ten years prior to our buying the GB we had flown many times at low altitude (usually less than 1000') the entire inside waters region between Seattle and Juneau and so at least knew what everything looked like between here and there, the relationships between all the islands and the mainland, and the water conditions.

That didn't help when docking at some harbor for the first time in an adverse wind but it did help to know exactly where the harbor was in relation to everything else and what we'd be likely to encounter getting in and out of it.

So I'd say get a bit of instruction on your boat if you really think you need it and then head out, taking it easy and using all the information you have on hand. The experience you have every day will become part of the next day's data base and before long you will be wondering what it was you were worried about.

We'd never driven a twin-engine boat before we got our GB (the GB we chartered was a single). So we were both pretty concerned about maneuvering and what to do entering and leaving a slip and so on. To the point where I asked a good friend who had a twin engine deFever if he'd give us some lessons in Lake Washington. He said sure but we were never able to put this together so in the end we took his advice and just went out and did it, taking it easy and using as much common sense and logic as we could muster

And it proved to be no big deal at all. In fact manipulating twin engines and drives proved to be so intuitive that we soon wondered why we'd been so concerned about it or had even thought about lessons.

I will not be surprised if your experience is the same.

Just don't get cocky because that's when Bad Things will happen.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:40 PM   #20
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I agree with the others on active captain, it's a must. I just bought my 43 Bayliner last August in Va. I brought it to Marathon Fl. The first thing I think is critical is knowing how to clean your strainers and keep those engines cool, including changing an impeller. Then there's the fuel we all have to change a filter or two. You might want try priming your engines to make sure you know how. Reading or being told can be different then actually doing it. I learn to tell by the sound of my little hand pump when it was ready to go. The next thing you need to study is weather weather weather. There are times it's better to stay in port. Also learning to plan your days with the tide and currents. Another little piece of advice is to stay between the markers. I saw so many people stuck on shoals because they either weren't paying attention or they tried to cut a corner. As far as weather there are a lot of good apps. Don't rely on one use two or three and you'll find some are better at some things then others. I have windfinder,intellicast,my radar,weather underground, like I said there are a lot out there you can't have to many I also have a single sideband receiver which has some good weather. Good luck this is a great forum with a lot of knowledgable people so stay in touch..
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