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Old 08-24-2018, 10:13 AM   #1
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Seeking motor cruising experience

Not a Trawler - 1999 Maxum 4100 SCA, twin Cummins 330B 6BTA 5.9 M-3s.

I've been a lurker on the forum for over a year and finally registered so I could interact (ask questions/pick your brains) about motor cruising. While there are plenty of blow boat cruising forums, there are significantly fewer good power boat cruising sites and this one is certainly the most informative I've found.

Purchased the new to us boat in March 2017 while still working and living in the midwest - but with a retirement home in Florida that we built in 2011. Had already researched marinas and got into the one we wanted - Harbortown Marina, Merritt Island - when we bought the boat. We were able to 'visit' and practice being retired every couple of months, but didn't fully retire and move to Florida until October 2017.

I'm retired NAVY - submarines - and was a qualified Officer of the Deck and hold the Craftmaster qualification also. So the navigation/rules of the road/comms and basic ship handling issues are nothing new to me. My wife was a big boat newbee, having previously lived in only the land of the bass boat, traveling as a passenger/out for fishing. Still to add to the boat will be (hopefully soon) an inverter and another house battery and (sometime pre-2020) a watermaker.

We've dedicated this first year to learning the boat systems (me to a level of working on them, her to the level of using them). Underways and landings at our slip, fueling/pump outs, transiting locks and anchoring are becoming more of a routine vice learning events now. Next on the agenda is mooring ball practice.

The long term plan is to cruise the ICW to Key West in spring 2019 - return leg still not decided, but if all goes well heading south we'll come back up the Gulf side and then back across Lake O. 2020 is planned for a cruise to the Bahamas. 2021 will hopefully be up to Cape Cod.

I'm at, say a rudimentary, comfortable level with the engines, but would really like to take some 'professional' classes to I can deal with problems myself. I have a good mechanic in the area, but he's in high demand.

Well, that's my story - I'm going to be a hound in the marinas, anchorage, harbors, slips and storage forum and the Cruising and Events section for voyage planning information and will no doubt do a lot of reading and ask questions in the Maintenance and Systems section.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:26 AM   #2
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Greetings,
Welcome aboard.
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Old 08-24-2018, 12:52 PM   #3
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PJ, welcome aboard. I'm another who isn't a trawler owner but these guys are nice enough to let me be on here.


You're right about the amount of good info on here but the main reason I'm on here is to read RTF's replies and enjoy his photos he posts.
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Old 08-24-2018, 01:23 PM   #4
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You have a good boat with good engines add a good set of marriage saver headphones and go cruising. Life doesn't wait until we are ready. The cummins engine manuals are great, get them if you dont have them.
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Old 08-24-2018, 01:25 PM   #5
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I dont like water makers inshore. too much silt.
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Old 08-24-2018, 01:40 PM   #6
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Old 08-24-2018, 02:05 PM   #7
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Hello PJ,

I'm in a very similar position to yours, and I have had success getting invited on boats to watch and learn from experienced motor yacht owners and learn techniques unique to them and learn the local waters.

My seatime is not as extensive as yours (!), but I was an experienced sailor on a regular racing crew in Annapolis and did bare-boat sail charters, deliveries, etc. on the East Coast in the past. Sudden life changes then happened, and I have been out of boating since the 90s. I need to refresh old skills, learn new ones, etc. before getting my own trawler in the Seattle area. Two things have worked for me:

a) I posted an ad in the "activities" section of Craigslist stating who I was and what I was trying to do. I have had responses that worked well. One pointed me to a boating club that actively matched non-boat owners to boat owners for weekend social cruises ("Seattle Singles YC"). There is very likely something similar in your area. Another response is in the works but is helping deliver a large motoryacht from Seattle to Portland with a licensed, experienced delivery captain. That's gold. Another was a little different; a newbie sailor asked me to come skipper their boat on an overnight to help them get knowledge. It gained for me some local water knowledge and let me dust off old skills.

b) Look on a website called "meet-up" for boating groups. This is the way most others found the SSYC, for example. On one outing with that group, for example, we had a TOTE merchant marine licensed master as a "newbie:" skipper of container ship quietly watching and learning handling small boats. Great group of people and experiences shared. There are going to be parallel groups anywhere lots of yachts co-habitate...

I'm still trying to get a lot more experience, but these on-line connections can yield results quickly and start getting you what they want. Good luck!
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Old 08-24-2018, 02:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
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You have a good boat with good engines add a good set of marriage saver headphones and go cruising. Life doesn't wait until we are ready. The cummins engine manuals are great, get them if you dont have them.
While I'm up on the helm, my 'line monkey' (what she likes to call herself - I call her Admiral) and I communicate with a pair of Midland FRS radios. They have hands free earpieces, but we haven't tried them.

We do have the operation and maintenance manual for the B&C series Cummins marine engines and it's been a big help for doing 'standard' maintenance. Of course it's always a tight squeeze working on anything and I'd like a classroom environment where I could really 'see' the whole engine, walk around it, that type of thing.

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I dont like water makers inshore. too much silt.
Agreed, it's a future purchase. The watermaker is for when we make the Bahamas run in a few years. Planning on more time on the hook then inport (to save money), and with the heat, I'm sure we'll be drinking plenty of water. While we're just coastal cruising filling up with water when we do pump outs/fuel will be the plan.
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Old 08-24-2018, 02:58 PM   #9
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Greetings,
Re: Post #3...


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Old 08-24-2018, 05:06 PM   #10
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I'd suggest looking up your local US Power Squadron niw aka Amerixas Boating Club and join and take a few courses.
USPS / ABC offers everything from basic boating intro to engibe mechanics marine electronics piloting cruise planning weather and on and on.
You will not only get access to some fine training at reasonable cost ( basically materials as instructors are volunteers) but you will meet many knowledgable resources with similar interests.
Good luck with the adventures.
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Old 08-24-2018, 05:25 PM   #11
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Look into the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You can get a lot of time and training on the water in the boat crew program.
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Old 08-24-2018, 09:17 PM   #12
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I was navy in destroyers and patrol boats, but probably long before your time. An OD compared to most yachties is way ahead of the game. Subs have single screws now and you have twins, that should make handling easy. I'd get to know the boat. Don't just dock at your slip, but practice at empty municipal docks and so on. Try to avoid docking in heavy wind for awhile. Teach your wife handling, too. It will make it more interesting for her and when you knock yourself out, she can get you home.
What I do with each new-to-me boat is trace out all the plumbing and major wiring so I know where to start in a problem. There's no Chief of the Boat. Also you're used to line handling crews. You'll probably drop that on your wife. It would be good to teach the mechanics of tying up, spring lines and so on before hand. Have your lines out before docking so tying up is easier for her and resist the need to yell when things get tense. Maybe work out a comm method before hand.

If you want to really learn your diesels, buy a service manual. Sometimes cheaper on ebay. Cummins may have courses available. OEM would be better than a general class on typical yacht engines. ebay is also a good place to find spare pumps, etc.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:24 PM   #13
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Mooring balls do take a bit of practice and even those of us well practiced look like morons from time to time. We live on one in Boot Key Harbor right now and if you visit, you will find the group here very happy to help if you are having issues. Normally, we don’t laugh... we remember THAT time we had issues. Taking a second or third pass at it is pretty normal. Slow, slow, slow some more. That said, actually tying to the pennant is a great thing to know before dealing with it. I’m pretty sure there is a section in Chapman’s covering it.

As “the Admiral” of our fleet, I also HIGHLY recommend making sure the Admiral is as capable as the Captain at steering to the ball or to the dock. Learning while someone is having a medical emergency onboard (yeah, the Captain) is not a good, safe plan. Besides, as I have found, it’s WAY easier than being a line monkey.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Look into the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You can get a lot of time and training on the water in the boat crew program.
That was a valuable comment (to me at least). I was unaware of this; I just did some hunting and here is the website to sort your locale and then contact them:

USCGAUX: Organizational Units

I did so and will follow up, maybe the OP can benefit, too.

Useless trivia/Funny coincidence: I did actually attend the USCGA in the summer of '85 for their AIM program. Got to sail on their training barque "Eagle" (ex Horst Wessel if any history buff actually knows that connection - the USCG certainly plays it down, but understandably.)
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Old 08-25-2018, 09:39 AM   #15
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Picking up a mooring. This little idea was given to me by a friend and a boater just a couple of days ago.
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Old 08-25-2018, 09:48 AM   #16
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Picking up a mooring. This little idea was given to me by a friend and a boater just a couple of days ago.


He said, keep a length of line that is long enough to make a loop big enough to go from hawse to hawse to form a loop. Have someone stand on pulpit as you pull up, and drop loop over entire buoy. Then you are moored and can go about hooking up in your normal way. Then just remove looped line.
Also use line that you are not to worried about getting dirty or frayed.
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Old 08-25-2018, 03:12 PM   #17
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He said, keep a length of line that is long enough to make a loop big enough to go from hawse to hawse to form a loop. Have someone stand on pulpit as you pull up, and drop loop over entire buoy. Then you are moored and can go about hooking up in your normal way. Then just remove looped line.
Also use line that you are not to worried about getting dirty or frayed.


Interesting idea Dan. I can see that working in a lot of situations, at least for the WA State mooring balls.
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Old 08-28-2018, 11:31 AM   #18
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Lots of great info folks - thanks so much

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacchus View Post
I'd suggest looking up your local US Power Squadron niw aka Amerixas Boating Club and join and take a few courses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
Look into the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You can get a lot of time and training on the water in the boat crew program.
Thanks ... USPS & USCGA are both pretty active in the area, good on water safety training - not much on the 'hands on engine work' though. I find them useful for local knowledge items.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
I was navy in destroyers and patrol boats, but probably long before your time. An OD compared to most yachties is way ahead of the game. Subs have single screws now and you have twins, that should make handling easy.
Ahh, a target driver and YES ... twin screws are sooo much easier. My Craftmaster qualifications come from the time I was teaching at the USNA and I trained Mids on the 100' Yard Patrol Crafts (YPs). That's certainly where I got my love for twins.
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Teach your wife handling, too. It will make it more interesting for her and when you knock yourself out, she can get you home.
I've really been trying to impress her with the fact that she needs to do it for safety reasons. She replies that all she needs to know how to do it drop the anchor and use the VHF (I have a 'distress' card on the mic that has the buttonology and 'script' to read in case of trouble). I'm hoping my continued 'I need to go below, you have the helm' trips will help. I'd really like her to get out with some of the licenced Capt's we know on here own, without me, since my ability to teach doesn't seem to appeal to her.
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What I do with each new-to-me boat is trace out all the plumbing and major wiring so I know where to start in a problem. There's no Chief of the Boat.
As a Bubblehead I know all too well about the knowledge gained with hand over handing every system. Aside from some of the wiring from antennas and radar to the helm I've touched them all. I've even made piping and electrical tabs to supplement the limited info in the boat's owners manual. I had to take up yoga to become flexible enough to trace most systems.
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Also you're used to line handling crews. You'll probably drop that on your wife.It would be good to teach the mechanics of tying up, spring lines and so on beforehand. Have your lines out before docking so tying up is easier for her and resist the need to yell when things get tense. Maybe work out a comm method before hand.
She is the 'line monkey' (her words not mine) and while a bit slow, she's safe moving around the deck and follows commands well. We always talk through moorings/anchoring/lockage/underways before we begin and use FRS radios for comms. I bought a small cleat and some line before we got the boat so she could learn cleat hitches in her sleep and even a few other needed knots.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
If you want to really learn your diesels, buy a service manual. Sometimes cheaper on ebay. Cummins may have courses available. OEM would be better than a general class on typical yacht engines. ebay is also a good place to find spare pumps, etc.
I've got the Marine B&C Series Operation and Maintenance Manual which covers preventative/periodic maintenance really well - but I'd really like to work with a qualified mechanic to learn more of the art and of course the skill of really taking care of the babies. I'm always there over shouldering my guy when he works and understand that paying some $$ now on classes will save me way more $$ in the future doing my own repairs. West Marine's price matching has really helped with parts - as you suggested, I always look on line for the lowest price, but typically buy from WM with price matching. That way I know I'm getting 'real' and 'new' parts.
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... We live on one in Boot Key Harbor right now and if you visit, you will find the group here very happy to help if you are having issues.
We've driven past many times on trips to KW and we follow Carolyn Shearlock's adventures and tips (The Boat Galley) who's down there too.
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As “the Admiral” of our fleet, I also HIGHLY recommend making sure the Admiral is as capable as the Captain at steering to the ball or to the dock. Learning while someone is having a medical emergency onboard (yeah, the Captain) is not a good, safe plan. Besides, as I have found, it’s WAY easier than being a line monkey.
As I've mentioned above, I'm trying - in as low pressure of a way as I can, to get her more involved, but really haven't had much luck. We don't have many couple friends who are boaters, and none with the Admiral takes a very active role - so hopefully we can find a more 'balanced' pair and she'll see that it's really not too scary if you just relax and practice.
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He said, keep a length of line that is long enough to make a loop big enough to go from hawse to hawse to form a loop. Have someone stand on pulpit as you pull up, and drop loop over entire buoy. Then you are moored and can go about hooking up in your normal way. Then just remove looped line.
Also use line that you are not to worried about getting dirty or frayed.
Our 'walk through' and book learning study has us planning to have a line on each of the bow cleats with the leaward side line at the ready up on the bow rail and the windward line faked back towards the midship/boarding area (height at bow might be too much for the line handler to reach down with bow hook to grab pennant). Motor to bring ball amidship on windward side, snag pennant and feed bitter end of bow line through eye. Slowly back down off ball while line handler walks line back to bow and ties off line. Take bitter end of leaward bow line and pass through pennant eye and then tie off. Clean up/tend both bow lines to get a good V from bow cleats to the pennant.
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Old 08-28-2018, 12:51 PM   #19
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Carolyn and Dave are friends of ours. Her information through books and web made setting up and provisioning SO much easier!
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:41 PM   #20
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Join MTOA. Lots of very experienced power cruisers willing to offer up advice. Trawlerfest has some decent classes as well.
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