A normal trip takes 9 days, weather permitting. The plan is to depart Hingham at 7:00 AM, cruise non-stop for three and a half days to Morehead City where we refuel, hopefully in two hours or less. Then it’s back on the road for three more days with a …
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|NOAA overview page showing dismal East Coast weather|
From there the weather story gets worse. As the week leading to departure progressed, NOAA was predicting a very deep (i.e., tropical storm deep) low forming southeast of New York. That low was predicted to track north slowly into northern New England and then into Canada. Powerful 25 to 30 knot southeast winds with gusts to 60 were forecasted for Sunday at Hingham.
|Jim grabbing a sunrise photo|
|One of 5 spectacular sunrises|
The weather forecast for the offshore waters between Montauk Point (Long Island New York) and Cape Hatteras showed 2 to 4 foot seas with a worst case of 3 to 5 footers and winds from a low to 5 knots to a high of 20 knots. Most important, no storms were in the forecast through Monday. Given that we would reach Morehead City on Saturday morning we had a two day margin of error. Our decision. Let’s go for it.
|Before Sunrise on Wednesday morning|
|We pass Minot’s Light, Cohasset, Massachusetts.
Minot’s sits in open water
|Speeding through the Cape Cod Canal on a favorable current (4 knots at times)|
We arrived at Cape Hatteras’ Diamond Shoal on flat water at 4:56 PM on Friday. That is a rare occurrence.
|Direct Cape Hatteras
Notice that we are off the continental shelf (deep water)
All is not gold that glitters. The time savings had a consequence. It resulted in our arriving into Morehead City at 3:00 AM. Fuel docks usually open at 8:00 AM. Hence, we would have “blown” our entire time savings sitting on their dock. Not efficient.
- Wednesday 05:41 depart Hingham
- Wednesday 11:09 arrive at the Cape Cod Canal – zip through canal at 12 knots
- Wednesday 14:40 arrive west end of Buzzards Bay – straight line to Cape Hatteras
- Friday 16:56 arrive at Cape Hatteras’s diamond Shoal – straight line to Cape Lookout
- Saturday 00:36 arrive at Cape Lookout – straight line to Cape Fear
- Saturday 09:49 arrive at Cape fear – straight line to Fernandina Beach
- Sunday 12:46 arrive at Fernandina Beach Inlet – straight line to St John’s River Inlet
|We make a straight line down the coast. A first
Approaching St Mary’s Inlet and the Fernandina Beach Municipal Marina
At 12:46 PM we turned southwest into the St Mary’s River and called the Fernandina Beach Municipal Marina to alert them of our intention to take on fuel and our arrival time. Oops. Big Surprise! The dockmaster informed me that they had “still” no fuel thanks to Hurricane Matthew (September 2016). The dockmaster stated that Port Consolidated had fuel but they were closed on Sunday. When I asked if we could stay the night he informed me the Matthew had destroyed their face dock and that besides being “no room at the inn” there was not enough depth for the 63’s five foot draft.
All trips should be so easy.
Written by Les.
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The 63’s need for maintenance and repairs has us in Gloucester again. The projects for this round fall into three categories:Normal maintenance of the engines, transmissions and generatorsCorrection of an oil leak on the port engine that manifested its…
|The deep low working its way north|
We are now predicting arrival in Hingham at 6:00 AM on Thursday morning May 11th using existing programmed routes. If the forecast holds, we will cover a record 813 nautical miles and, for the second time this voyage, run continuously for four days and three nights. This is truly exciting.
|Guy at the wheel|
|Good view of our pilot house instruments|
At 11:03 AM on Monday Cape Hatteras was “Cape Easy” with north winds at 10 knots and 2 to 3 foot head seas. Our speed had also picked up slightly owing to the Gulf Stream and our distance off shore. We noted in the log that the head sea we were experience might be standing wave action resulting from the opposing forces of the north wind fighting the Gulf’s northerly flow. Fortunately, the low 10 knot wind velocity only resulted in slight pitching. A stronger wind would have resulted in more violent pitching. We think the lesson is stay out of the Gulf Stream in a northerly wind.
|Current sea conditions as we make our decision to go direct Buzzards Bay|
|Current location of fronts and pressure as we are make our decision to bot direct Buzzards Bay|
|Conditions 24 hours later. We have a weather window|
Decision Time: Earlier this morning Bob, Guy and myself performed our morning weather review. The forecast noted in the overview (above) for 3 to 5 foot waves at Cape Hatteras with an improving trend to two footers both near shore and offshore as we progressed north was still valid. The forecast for calm seas stretch several days. We had a weather window. This resulted in yet another strategic route decision and another all-time first. We decided to head direct to Buzzards Bay Massachusetts from the tip of Diamond Shoal at Cape Hatteras North Carolina (429 NMs). This route takes us 85 miles offshore when we are adjacent to the New York Harbor. By taking this route we shave off 71 nautical miles and 90 gallons of fuel.
|Bob and Guy|
The combined saving in distance, fuel and time from going in a straight line from Georgetown to Cape Hatteras and then to Buzzards Bay is 135 miles, 142 gallons and 16 hours. The distance from Cape Hatteras to Buzzards Bay is 429 nautical miles. At 8.4 knots we will cover the distance in approximately 51 hours.
|A flying fish landed on the flybridge|
- · the entrance to Buzzards Bay: 3:00 PM on Wednesday
- · the south end Cape Cod Canal: 5:00 PM on Wednesday
- · Hingham Shipyard Marina: 1:00 AM on Thursday.
We also noted that the current in the Cape Cod Canal will become favorable at 4:30 PM. It will be fun to see how these estimates play out.
|This photo shows we are outside of the Continental Shelf|
As we progressed further north into the evening and early morning on Tuesday the winds and seas decreased to the point where we riding on a beautiful calm sea. When I took 1 to 4 watch there was very little to do but enjoy the serenity of a moonlit night and listen to James Taylor. Most important, the marine forecasts for our route continued to predict optimum conditions.
|Calm waters way offshore|
At 4:00 AM, when my watch ended, we were 106 NMs south southeast of Cape May New Jersey (at the north side of the Delaware Bay) and 100 NMs east of Cape Henry (at the south side of the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay) in placid waters with no traffic within 24 NMs (according to the radar).
Explanatory Note: Running almost 100 miles from shore and more than 100 miles from a navigable inlet and shelter of a marina or anchorage is serious business. One should not undertake such a voyage without a weather window that covers the enroute period and even beyond. A “surprise” change in the weather does not leave many options when your boat’s cruising speed is 8.4 knots and its top speed is 13 knots with a 50 GPH fuel burn. Heading for shore/shelter is an 8 hour 400 gallon proposition at top speed (assuming you have enough fuel). Bottom line. A trawler like the 63 cannot out-run the weather. The “good news” (sort of) is that the 63 is rated “Ocean A – Unlimited.” She can handle anything – but why. The other consideration is mechanical reliability. Alongside of aggressive maintenance, we visit the engine room every 4 to 6 hours to verify the working of our machinery.
|Dolphins swimming in the bow wave|
On Wednesday, May 10, 2017, when my 1 to 4 watch began, we were 90 NMs southeast of New York City and 119 NMs from the entrance to Buzzards Bay. Still way offshore in perfect conditions. Our ETA to Buzzards Bay was now 4:25 PM (Wednesday). When my watch ended at 4 AM it had improved further to 3:41 AM.
|Bob watching a pusher tow overtake Guided Discovery|
|Tide Turning Positive just as we enter Buzzards Bay|
By 6:40 we had reached the Hogs Island Channel, which mareks the beginning of the Cape Cod Canal. We saw a 4 knot increase in speed to 12.5 knots and a top speed of 13.5. Note: The 63 can barely reach 13 knots and when it does it is burning 50 gallons an hour. The current was pushing us at our top speed while are fule burn remained 9.1 GPH. Life is good.
|Railroad lift bridge at south end of the Cape Cod Canal|
|12.8 knots current speed and 13.4 top speed in the Cape Cod Canal|
|3.2 knot current at the Sagamore Bridge
Current moving toward 92 degrees (a northerly flow)
|The Sagamore Bridge as viewed on FLIR night vision|
At the east end of the Cape Cod Canal we turned north and headed for Hingham. Five and a half hours later at 1:00 AM on Thursday Guided Discovery was sitting at the dock. We had hit the predicted arrival time that we predicted three days earlier to the minute.
|Heading north from the east end of the Cape Cod Canal to Hingham|
- Total Segment Distance: 745 NMs
- Average Speed: 8.4 Knots
- Top Speed: 13.5 Knots
- Engine Hours: 91
- Engine Fuel Consumed: 872 gallons
- Fuel Efficiency: .85 GPNM
- Generator Fuel Consumed: 93 Gallons
- Total Fuel Consumed: 964 Gallons
- Fuel Remaining: 336 Gallons (186 usable)
- Total Distance: 1,513 NMs
- Engine Hours: 174
- Engine Fuel Consumed: 1,667 Gallons
- Overall Engine Fuel Efficiency: .91 GPNM
- Generator Fuel Consumed: 211 Gallons
- Total Fuel Consumed: 1,878 Gallons
PLACEHOLDER – STAY TUNEDWell it’s the Great Loop all over again. Well, at least in terms of activity. During our Great Loop adventure we visited 135 cities as part of the experience. Our visit to Georgetown on this trip was necessitated by the need to …
|Deep low pressure over Alabama drifting east with high pressure over New York slowly lifting into the Atlantic|
|Cold front approaching the coast in 48 hour|
- At 9:22 AM we were sitting on 220 gallons of fuel as measured by the site glasses on the fuel tanks. The tank tender’s “worst case” measurement was 126 gallons (see Explanatory Note below).
- The additional distance to Georgetown was 65 nautical miles. That translates into approximately 75 more gallons of fuel consumption.
- A forecast for 4 to 6 foot seas in the late afternoon between Charleston and Georgetown.
- Current wind conditions were southeast at 22 knots. This would produce a sea on the starboard forward quarter and a relatively stable ride owing to the stabilizers.
- The 13 NM run up Winyah Bay would be on calm water reducing the risk of an engine stoppage from unporting a fuel line
- The marinas in Georgetown are in protected waters – critical as storms were approcing from the west.
- Heading to Charleston City Marina (aka the Mega Dock) would add 13 nautical miles from our arrival point at the inlet (and another 13 nautical miles to return to sea)
- Diesel fuel price at Georgetown was $2.27 versus Charleston at $2.74.
At 9:50 AM we changed course for Georgetown just south of Charleston channel. We had covered 705 nautical miles since leaving Sarasota four days earlier. Our current speed was 8.0 knots (as we were out of the Gulf Stream). The engine monitors showed 720 gallons of fuel consumed. Add to that approximately 72 gallons of generator use and we have a total fuel burn of 794 gallons.
Five hours later, we arrived at the Winyah Bay inlet and headed north up the bay to Georgetown.
|Approaching Harborwalk Marine in Georgetown
You ban barely see the Phillips 66 sign
Finally, at 5:23 PM we arrived at the Harborwalk Marina fuel dock. We were greeted by Larry and promptly started the process of refueling. Note: Larry gave me a $2.17 fuel price based on an expectation of over 1,000 gallons.
|Guided Discovery at Harborwalk Marina|
Summary: This trip established a many new records:
- The longest distance traveled (766 nautical miles)
- The first trip around the Florida keys (with the 63)
- The most fuel purchased at any one time (1,205 gallons)
- A fuel price within 4 cents of the lowest price we’ve paid since acquiring the 63.
- The first “ride” in the Gulf Stream
- The fastest enroute speeds
- The shortest time enroute. We were 19 hours ahead of schedule when we arrived at Georgetown inlet.
- The first trip in three years with with down time (2 days) due to weather
Total Distance: 766.1 nautical miles (740 since the Venice Inlet)
Average Speed: 9.4 knots
Maximum Speed: 14.9 knots
Engine Hours: 83
Engine Fuel Burned: 795 gallons
Generator Fuel Burned: 100 gallons
Total Fuel Burned: 895 gallons
Fuel Needed: 1,164 gallons (895 + 269 gallons to fill the auxilliary tanks)
Fuel Purchased: 1,205 gallons
Fuel Cost (at $2.17 per gallon): $2,614.85
Written by Les.