Thursday, January 21, 2010

And we are off!!

We timed our departure from Brunswick Ga to work with the tide. There is a 5-6 ft tide and we need the extra water to turn the boat around to face the correct way. We also needed to time our departure while considering when we wanted to arrive at our destination in Cape Canaveral Fla. It is, as I have currently configured it, about 193 nautical miles (a nm is 1.15 of a statute mile). We will travel at an average of 8.5kts/hr. Practically speaking, we will travel faster during the day and then slower at night. I like to back off a bit when traveling at night and I also wanted to manage our fuel burn. By doing it this way we can save about 25% of our fuel used. So the plan was to travel 7.50kts at night. I have a program as part of my navigation software which can build tables on different speeds and fuel burns that help compute the fuel need for the trip.

We left and the weather was wonderful. Clear cool but not cold and very little marine traffic. It felt great to be back on the water and headed to Fla., after our wait. It is a 12nm trip from the marina to the outside marker of the St Simon's  ocean inlet and time went by comfortably fast. The seas were as predicted. a calm 1-2' and winds in the gentle 5-10 knots range. Interestingly the water temp when we left was a chilly 47 degrees in Ga and an expected 60 in Cape Canaveral. We rode most from the fly bridge where it was comfortable and very pleasant. As it became dark we retreated to the pilot house for the remainder of the trip.

  Traveling over night for a day or more is quite different than day trips or marina hopping. During the day we are fairly relaxed about watches and who has the helm. Running over night,however, we take turns with a bit more structure. Usually after dinner we spell each other in 2 hour shifts. I took the 8-10, Jeannie slept, them she took the  10-12,I slept then  I did a 3 hr 12-3, Jeannie picked up the 4-6 and so on. We do this to spread the workload and not make either one of us too tired. We also will both be up if there is a lot of traffic because  two sets of eyes are always better than one.  That was the case last year when we ran up the coast and went by Charleston SC at 3 in the morning and had a slug of cargo ships coming into the shipping lanes. It was not necessary on this trip, in fact once past Jacksonville we hardly saw any boats and once it was dark we saw none until the morning and we were close to Cape Canaveral.

We always maintain an active watch at the helm,always always!
But we do not actively steer the boat. Before departing I working out the route and programmed the computer and we use an auto pilot which steers the boat. From the Ga inlet to the Cape Canaveral inlet I had a total of 4 way points that the auto pilot used to steer to. Sometimes there is quite a distance between the points. So standing watch amounts to monitoring the course and if need to, making adjustments while monitoring all of the other instruments;a lot less tiring than actively steering. You can stand up and walk around and still keep a close eye on things in the pilot house. We have an AIS system, which broadcasts our name and navigation data ( name, course,speed type of vessel etc) via a radio frequency to other boats or ships. It has a range as any other radio would have but usually about 10nm. All commercial ships are required to have this and some pleasure boats have it, but it is optional. I like the larger ships to see me as well as being able to see them .The information is displayed on both our radar monitors and the navigation chart plotter.  We use two radars one close in and one farther out to give us the best geographic coverage. Each unit is equipped with ARP that will acquire a target and give it a number and a predictor line of it's course to help keep track of traffic. During this trip we had no AIS or ARP targets once past Jacksonville and at night. Our evening was very quiet and pleasant  with a very beautiful sunset. Jeannie fixed a great dinner with meatloaf and Israeli couscous,yum. We ate before it was dark so we kept our lights off  to preserve our night vision.

We arrived at Cape Canaveral right on time at 10:30 am and had an uneventful entry into the canal. We saw a Navy Submarine leaving and passed a cargo ship in the canal as well. This is also a big port for the cruise ships leaving this time of year for trips to the Bahamas and other warm water destination.

A Carnival Cruise ship was in port and getting ready to leave. This was across the canal from us.

The cruise ships typically arrive in the morning an passenger disembark while in the afternoon the new passengers arrive. The ships then will depart in the early evening while everyone is at the first dinner and cruise to a destination arriving in the morning. Here is the view from the bow as this one departed at 7pm.

Tomorrow we are off again, we will travel through the remainder of the canal, bridges and one lock to rejoin the ICW. The weather in the ocean is much worse than it was these past two days as another front comes in. We will go to Vero Beach Fla  and meet up with some neighbors and then on to Stuart Fla to visit other friends for a few days before heading further south.

But the really big news is it is warm, I washed the boat wearing shorts; oh how I hate cold weather.


  1. GREAT post! very informative.
    great to hear you had such a seamless trip down!

  2. It was fun and most importantly it is warmer. hurray. You should be off son if I recall correctly?


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