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Old 01-19-2020, 03:35 PM   #1
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Prairie 36 travels & projects

Hey all... I'm John. My wife, Michelle, and I purchased a famous Prairie 36 back in August. The PO was Fog and examples his excellent workmanship can be found in the "Prairie 36 improvements" thread here on TF. We were very fortunate to buy a boat that had it's recent upfit chronicled on this forum. It's been an awesome reference as we familiarize ourselves with her.
As for us, we are totally new to boating. 100% green! We have rented a condo in the Keys for 5 months each winter and decided we should try it on a boat this year. So, the adventure begins....
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Old 01-19-2020, 04:07 PM   #2
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Our business is seasonal, so we pretty much have November 1st until April 1st off. We work super hard all summer so we can play all winter! This year, it's gonna be by boat.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to take off until November 24th. Even more unfortunate, was the fact that we were only able to make two trips down to the boat from Ohio before that date. Those trips were for a couple of days each time and we're spent familiarizing ourselves with the systems and operation of the boat. As far as driving her, we literally went to the fuel dock and back to the slip before we got underway. Maybe it's a little irresponsible to start a trip like this with zero boating experience, but hey.... it was getting seriously cold and we needed to get hammer down southbound!
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Old 01-19-2020, 04:18 PM   #3
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Well, congrats on your new boat. I canít say that I recommend what you are doing with no experience but I certainly hope it goes well for you and that you have a great time doing it. As you go take your free time and read as much as you can about boating. Maybe take an online course or two. Whatever you do do it slowly and carefully. Talk to everyone you can and suck up all the info you are able to. You have a nice boat, have fun with it!
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Old 01-19-2020, 04:35 PM   #4
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Well, congrats on your new boat. I canít say that I recommend what you are doing with no experience but I certainly hope it goes well for you and that you have a great time doing it. As you go take your free time and read as much as you can about boating. Maybe take an online course or two. Whatever you do do it slowly and carefully. Talk to everyone you can and suck up all the info you are able to. You have a nice boat, have fun with it!
I can either fast forward to today or kinda tell the story as it happened. Either way, we get to the current time and place that finds us safe, happy and healthy.
Does watching YouTube videos count as an online course? 😂😂
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Old 01-20-2020, 04:41 PM   #5
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KonaGuy!

Welcome aboard
You indeed bought a mighty fine and strong vessel.

Now make it all your as you escape the cold and enjoy warmth in Florida.

You have much to learn (as we all do) but you made it, learned much, I'm sure made some mistakes, but found out you can overcome the errors and move onward.

Youtube vids might teach some; but actually courses, talking to people who've done trips, and just getting out there and cruising will teach you much.

When you have issues, ask this forum, have folks around to ask, read,a nd google works wonders.

Welcome. have fun. tell us all about things.

Tim
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Old 01-20-2020, 05:43 PM   #6
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You didn't say from where you started your trip south and where you are now. But it sounds like a successful trip and you have now learned 80% of what you need to know. That last 20% usually is slow and comes with a few hard knocks

Maybe you are well beyond this now, but here are some thoughts about living in the keys for the winter months:


I would first make it to Marathon and take a mooring on a month to month basis. Then you can venture out from there. Head up to Key West for a week and anchor out off of Fleming Key or take one of the moorings to the east of Fleming. Then head to the Dry Tortugas and anchor off of Fort Jefferson. The fort is worth a visit and there is great snorkling in the area.

Then reprovision and regroup in Marathon and head east. You may want to go inside for these legs as there are more protected anchorages or cheaper marinas on that side than on the Atlantic side. You might want to even give up your mooring in Marathon to continue up to Key Biscayne where you can anchor (tightly) in No Name Harbor, a state park for several nights and see the park, fish and swim on the beach at the end of KB.

Then cross the bay and take a mooring off of Dinner Key at Coconut Grove and enjoy how the other half lives in CG. Then head up to Miami and anchor out east of Belle Isle (one of the Venetian Islands) and walk over to the buzz of South Beach.

Have you decided where to keep your boat during the summer? Many head up to Stewart and haul it out for the summer at one of the storage yards on the waterway west of Stewart. Much, much cheaper than any yard south of there.

David
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Old 01-20-2020, 06:55 PM   #7
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Learning to drive a boat is not rocket science. Watch other boats come and go, ask questions and maybe ask a fellow boater to show you the basics. I can't speak for all boat owners but I, personally would be honored to take a little trip around the harbor with you. Either on my boat or yours, maybe both in turn. I suspect others would also.

The internet and Youtube are full of "Idiot Boaters" videos and stories. The name says it all. Put an idiot on a boat and bad things may happen.

You look to be around middle age. You own a business and can afford a vacation every year. I would have to guess you are not idiots. Find someone who has a nice looking boat which leaves your marina once in a while, find the captain and invite him or her on board. Stay sober and enjoy the learning experience.

I would bet that most "idiot boaters" incidents have alcohol involved.

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Old 01-21-2020, 10:02 PM   #8
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You are right Tim, we did make it to our destination and it wasn't without a few issues, most of which were total rookie moves. You are also correct about this being a capable vessel. I would have never taken off on a journey like this on an unknown quantity.

After reading Fog's posts about his upfit, speaking with Fog, a recent survey, successful sea trial, and a knowledgeable broker, I felt pretty confident about the systems onboard. If anything was lacking, it would be the electronics package. I'm pretty sure the bulk of it is original to the boat. Our first issue came in that department. Although it seemed fine during the sea trial, the depth finder was on the fritz immediately. It constantly flashed random numbers and rarely displayed a reading that I felt was plausible. We never really got into trouble with it, but it certainly caused a lot of anxiety that I could have done without. It actually got better as the trip progressed and actually became usable around 50% of the time once we hit salt water.

BTW David, we started at Aqua Yacht Marina just a mile or so from the corner of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Pretty much the start of the TennTom. We made ~58 miles our first day and decided to anchor at Fulton, Mississippi. Talk about a cluster.... First, it got dark on us. Second, we had never anchored before. Third, we were reading anchoring recommendations from the 2005 Fred Myers book. Fourth, the generator overheated (raw water impeller), Fifth, it got down to the low 20's. The admiral was pretty sour and, admittedly, I wasn't much happier. Luckily, we made it through the night safely and the morning brought a warming trend and beautiful weather for the remainder of our trip.

Day two took us to Aberdeen Marina for a short day. This is where we found out how out of date the Myers book is ���� Needless to say, Aberdeen Marina is NOT as it was in 2005! Day three was uneventful as we anchored at mile 286.2 of the TTB and day four found us in the first class Marina in Demopolis, Alabama. The dock master said we looked like old pros as we, somehow, put it right into the slip in windy conditions.

My comfort and confidence level were pretty high at this point. The admiral was just happy to have shore power.... and heat! Although we had been doing well... our destination seemed to be in another world altogether.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:24 PM   #9
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Where are you now?

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Old 01-21-2020, 10:29 PM   #10
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Although I am certainly not a morning person, when we are cruising we start early in the morning and plan to stop mid afternoon so that we donít end up trying to anchor or dock in the dark. Keep at it, you will figure it all out.
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:23 AM   #11
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Keep us posted! I'm following along, being very familiar with that area AND that boat! I also feel your pain with the loss of heating at anchor. Had the same issue along that stretch on a delivery. Nothing like going to bed in your clothes AND coat! But as you say, a little sunshine goes a long way toward helping you forget all that.

As for the genset, my Onan MDJE 7.5KW was always giving me raw water cooling issues. At one point I'd removed the pump to do a total overhaul, and managed to damage part of the housing. For far less than the cost of a new pump, I put in a 120VAC air conditioner water pump. It's been 100% reliable so far. I used to dread going aft to see if there was any coolant coming out with the exhaust. Now I look forward to it, coming back into the cabin with a big grin every time.
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:15 PM   #12
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You should have stopped at Columbus Marina - would've bought you a cold one Nice folks at Demopolis - if still there tell Fred and Matt hello from the Mortimers. Safe travels.
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Old 01-23-2020, 04:13 PM   #13
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Congrats on you nice vessel. The fine folks at Captain's Choice let us tire kickers walk through your Prairie a few weeks before y'all purchased. Had we actually been in the market highly likely we would have beat you to her. :-)
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:36 PM   #14
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See.. I told you. Not rocket science. You are learning fast. Like Dave, we always drop the hook early. Always try to reach our destination mid afternoon. Gives us plenty of time to relax, shop, clean, cook, etc.

Did you replace the impeller yourself ? It is pretty simple.

When I first bought my boat we brought her up from Chicago to Marinette, through the Sturgeon Bay ship canal without a depth gauge. We only had a hand held GPS but plenty of charts. We learned to read lat and Long quickly and used the binoculars to find harbor entrances.

We had a "soft grounding" at the end of our trip. Within about 100 feet of our destination. Tons of fishing boats in the river to witness and we were being followed by a Coast Guard vessel (coincidence) . I got him on the radio and asked where the channel was and he said the bouys were confusing at that area due to some home made markers for a private channel. He told me to just back straight down, the bottom was sand. I was off in a Jiffy.

It was the only issue on our inaugural run.

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Old 01-23-2020, 11:19 PM   #15
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Hey Zebra.... That's pretty cool you got to check the boat out! We are very happy with it and feel like we pretty much hit a home run for the money we spent. And, you are right about the folks at Captains Choice. First class all the way. We really started figuring out how small the boating world is when found out the owner attends a riverboat festival in our home town of Marietta Ohio each year. Also, one of the brokers is from there too. Small world!
Pete.... Yes, we did fix the raw water impeller ourselves. I was able to diagnose the problem on our second day at Aberdeen Marina. We figured we would be to Bobby's Fish Camp in three days, so I had Amazon deliver a few things to us there. We actually got there a day early as we picked up a huge current push after leaving Demopolis and made just short of 100 miles that day. We ended up staying there for two full days working on the boat and watching The Ohio State University put the smack down on xichigan! We loved the place! We met some really cool people and had some scrumptious southern cooking. It was also there where we finally changed the name on the boat. Although we had officially changed the name on our documentation application, we just hadn't got around to changing the name on the transom. I believe we got most of the tradition correct when we raised glasses of our finest rum to the new "Island Rush". I gotta explain where that name came from because I know you are wondering. Our seasonal business at home is Kona Ice. We are part of a 1300 strong franchise system that sells shaved ice from a mobile platform. We operate 6 units all over SE Ohio and parts of West Virginia. Island Rush is the name of of signature flavor, so it references our business, yet it's still appropriate for a boat. Or at least we think so! Here is where our Appalachian foothill redneck roots start showing... I knew we were supposed to have the name and hailing port on the transom that matched our provisional documents. The ONLY thing that was available was sticky back Walmart shelf paper and a sharpie. It's not very attractive, but it made us legal and got us through the trip! Once we left Bobby's, it seemed like no time at all until we were pulling into Mobile bay. What a change of scenery that was!!
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:22 PM   #16
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For the name, we have had really good service form Boat/US. They have made the names for our last 6 or 7 boats.
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Old 02-27-2020, 03:35 PM   #17
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So Kona, Have you made it to the Keys yet? New fun adventures?
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