Friday, April 23, 2010

Back to Business

Spring is fully in bloom and the temperatures are averaging in the mid-80s during the day and mid 60s at night. The nice part is the humidity is very reasonable. They are calling for a day in the 90s later this week! Back home, in Kilmarnock Va., the temps appears to be averaging about 10 degrees cooler.

Our thoughts are beginning to turn to the trip home. When we traveled south last year we decided to go south through the FL Keys which added about 350nm to the trip, an interesting route with some very unique features. Check out our earlier blogs.

Going home we will travel south, a bit over 95nm, to Ft Myers and enter the Lake Okeechobee Waterway ( ), which cuts across the central section of FL at Stuart. It is about 150 statute miles from the gulf coast ICW to the east coast ICW.  The lake is connected by two waterways and six locks. The lake is above sea level, the locks raise you going to the lake and lower you going away. The water depths have been an issue in the past, but while still shallow, it is navigable for us to travel ( This is a link from the Army Corps of Engineers with daily lake levels. Check out the navigational depths of route 1.
Our trip home will be approximately 1100nm or so depending on a number of factors that will be decided later.

That pushes to the front  three big things: early trip planning and routine maintenance items that need to be done as well as what else do we want to do before we head out.

This morning I began the first step of mapping out our trip home. Ultimately looking to have a clear schedule of how far each day we will travel and where we might anchor or go into a marina. We are now traveling with more sunlight than we did when we headed south which helps us to go further each day as well.  Since our average speed 8.5 kts ( 9.8mph), on a good day we can travel 50-70nm. We will travel via the ICW ( )   for the most part but will also look to jump offshore for a while. If we can do this, we generally travel for 24 hrs or more at a time. As a result of being able to travel more efficiently, we can cover greater distances. But the weather is always the deciding factor, we will determine this later, looking for a weather window ( ).

Second is to look at navigational hazards we might encounter with channel markers or shoaling problems. We keep a notebook of these arranged by mile marker for easy reference as we travel. The internet is a great tool for keeping current!  We will also mark on both the paper chart and electronic chart these problem areas

I just finished changing the oil on the two John Deere 6181 AFM engines. It is not a difficult chore for the most part. The hardest part is lugging in 16gal of new oil and lugging out 16gal of old oil and filters and taking it to disposal facility.

Because a boat sits in salt water it it subject to many corrosive forces of which stray electrical current is always a worry. I changed all of the sacrificial zincs on various pieces of equipment and sea strainers totaling 16. Since we have been sitting still I "polished" our fuel. This is a process of running all the fuel through different filter systems to ensure it is clean and does not having any water or contaminates.   I have on board about  85% of our 2000 gal capacity. This took about 2 days to accomplish. I tend to over polish but feel it is safe to have clean fuel. Our system, seen on the bulkhead, will polish about 180-200 gal/hr. I will do the entire tankage plus another 50-60%.
There are approximately another couple dozen routine maintenance chores yet to be done and I will spend a part of each day or so doing some.  

We have 2-3 weeks before heading out and time to also get to all the places we want to, before leaving. The list of things to do and see in Longboat Key and Sarasota is quite long a few busy weeks ahead of us.

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