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Five Days Of Fun Learning Aboard Our Trawler In Florida

Captain Chris Yacht Services
Five Days Of Fun Learning Aboard Our Trawler In Florida
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Like so many of our clients, Jerry and Pauline have been bitten by the cruising bug but they aren’t quite sure they can handle a larger trawler. So, this couple joins us aboard our boat SANDY HOOK for five days of fun and they learn that yes, they can do this!

(NOTE: We no longer charter our boat but are pleased to come aboard YOUR boat anywhere for personal training with you and your mate)

With five days of training and Lake Okeechobee at high water levels we are able to do so many “firsts” with them on a boat of this size- anchoring, locking, mooring balls, docking, engine room basics just to name a few. Jerry was certain of his goal, Pauline not so much. But by the last day Pauline was such a pro that I feel certain this couple is well on their way to finding the perfect cruising boat that can tuck behind their house right on the ICW. Here is why I am so sure:

On our last day, last hour on the water we headed out toward the inlet channel to run a set of range markers. Pauline is comfortably at the wheel managing a 3+ knot current against our bow. Perfectly aligned with the range and the VHF radio blasts, “SANDY HOOK. SANDY HOOK. SANDY HOOK. This is the US Coast Guard on your stern” Uh-oh. “Could you tell us where your last port of call was and your next port of call?” We let them know we had just come from Faber Cover in Fort Pierce and would be returning to home port in just a few minutes. After an eternity of dead air they asked if they could board us and check for safety equipment. Naturally we agreed since Homeland security can do it anyway! They described how they planned to approach us from the starboard side and board from our midship. They also asked us to maintain course and speed of about 5 knots. Chris asked them if we could take photos of their visit and they agreed.

Opening the side handrail, they asked Chris and Jerry to stand back as the patrol boat approached our midship. Two boarding officers stepped aboard our boat and headed to the aft deck while they asked the proverbial 20 questions.

First question, “Are there any weapons aboard, if so, what type and location?” They want to locate the weapon and disable it and don’t appreciate any help from the owner who must remain above deck while they locate it. They also copy the weapon information and serial number to call into the local sheriff’s department checking on status. Next they ask for vessel papers to review documentation and registration while the second officer checks the bilges for leaks and inspects firefighting equipment and life jackets. After the inspection was completed they called the patrol back to pick them up, we all shook hands and they stepped aboard their boat and departed.

Painless and interesting, the entire event took less than 15 minutes from initial boarding to departing.

Did I mention that at no time did they come up to the flybridge where Pauline was at the helm. She remained calm, cool and collected throughout the entire process and held a course that any skipper would be proud of. Alyse did radio the patrol boat and let them know that we would be performing a 180 as we had no intentions of going out into the ocean with 20knot east winds. Pauline maintained her RPMs throughout the turn so she could see the effect that this ripping current from an incoming tide had on our speed. After all, this was a training trip and school was still in session! Pauline, you get an A+.

Every day starts in the engine room to check fluids and monitor all below deck systems. Make sure there is enough space in your engine room as you will spend some time down there doing basic maintenance.
Learning how to tie cleat knots and other important line handling tricks before we leave the dock.
Let's go cruising!
Many eyes help find the next marker. Basic navigation is essential even if you stay in the inland waterway.
Never know who you will meet in the channel.
Anchoring before dark is key especially with day light savings. Many opportunities to practice setting the anchor as well as one night on a mooring ball.
Maneuvering skills are practiced as we tied up side-to at this fixed dock.
Walking through a boatyard helps when understanding hull forms and equipment like this stabilizer. This couple was very interested in learning about storing a boat in a shed when they are not in Florida.
Locking through the Okeechobee waterway as we raised then dropped 14 feet.
15 miles from the Atlantic ICW.
The lockmaster hands us our lines. Not all locks are so convenient, even within the same waterway. Sometimes you must grab wet and mossy lines with a boat pole as they are hanging down from the top of the lock wall. Gross!
Bert and Pauline are watching every move from the flybridge. Pauline is at the helm this time.
Jerry at the bow ready to toss the lines.
All hands on deck. Our reflection in the window of the lockmaster's office.
Day four and more smiles as we leave Stuart mooring field and head back toward home port. Anchoring one last night in Faber Cove.
Through the Roosevelt Bascule and railroad is the 65 foot bridge. Lots of currents at this choke point in the St. Lucie River.
Jensen Beach here we come!
A genuine paddle wheeler sharing the ICW with us. One of the few boats we can overtake at trawler speed.
The US Coast Guard is on patrol and today we get to help them practice boarding procedures. We maintain course and speed as they pull along side our trawler.
Pretty impressive that they never touched our boat as we both maneuvered against an incoming tide near Fort Pierce Inlet. Two members of the boarding team step onto our side deck as we look from the flybridge. Pauline is at the wheel, cool as a cucumber.
Our inspection is finished and we passed with flying colors. Notice the Coast Guard boat in the background at the ready in the event we were trouble makers...but we behaved!
Where will we cruise to next? Come join us and learn all about living the dream of a cruiser.

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