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Old 27-09-2010, 20:48   #1
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First Post - Need Advice !

Hey Everyone,

My name is Michael, I am a 18 year old college student from Sarasota, Fl. I came across this forum and it is quite an amazing resource, so I couldn't help but join.

I have a 1976 30' Santana that I will post some pictures of later when I get time. But for right now I need some advice for my first crusing trip.

I am planning on leaving October 8th for the Dry Tortugas from Sarasota, Fl.

My main question is, has anyone else made this trip? How long did it take you? How difficult was it to navigate into the anchorage? Any tips/advice? With taking this trip during fall, is there any precedent regarding wind direction or currents for this time, etc?

Also, I need some help with interfacing my computer to my Garmin GPS 168 so that I can use SeaClear as an alternative navigation system (Paper as primary, of course).

Any additional short-period cruising advice you may have is welcome, this will be my first trip since bringing the boat back from the Caloosahatchee in August.

One last thing, I would like to have an epirb for this trip just to be safe, but being a college student, funds are limited. Any suggestions? What are the rules when it comes to borrowing one from another vessel? I know it has to be registered specifically to the vessel. But if it came down to it and I did not have the resources to purchase one prior to the trip, would anyone suggest borrowing one from a friend's boat or would the USCG come down hard on me for something like that?
- Michael
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Old 27-09-2010, 21:06   #2
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Your 18 have your own 30' boat and you can afford to take off for the Tortuga's?

I hate you already Mate...
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Old 27-09-2010, 21:08   #3
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I think you can switch the registrations at will. Online even. They'll send out a new sticker even. Wouldn't want to do it monthly, but a few times a year is okay.
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Old 27-09-2010, 22:12   #4
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You can rent an EPIRB from BoatUS BoatUS Foundation If you call them on the phone maybe you can get a student discount or some other break, for your age.

I'm not familiar with the area but what help do you need with interfacing the GPS?

BTW it's great that you have a cruising boat at your age, and the interest to use it. Don't know how you got it but I applaud you and wish you all the best in using it and keeping it maintained. It's not easy even for older folks who've had time to build an income and nest egg.
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Old 28-09-2010, 07:31   #5
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Thanks everyone, I can see why you'd be curious about such a young individual owning a boat, but its fairly simple - I worked my ass off. I spent my senior year of high school and the summer thereafter working almost 40 hours and 70 hours a week respectively. Saved money up, bought a boat that needed some work, did the work, now it's time to sail her.

Sailfast - Can't thank you enough for referring me to this, I will be renting one from them for the trip.

Still looking for some suggestions and or first-hand experience from anyone who has made the Tortugas trip.

Thanks!
Michael
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Old 28-09-2010, 07:36   #6
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As far as the GPS, what kind of interface cable is needed to hook up my GPS unit to my laptop so that I can run seaclear as an additional navigation tool. I know there are 7 bare wires coming from the back of my garmin(Blue,Green,Yellow,White,Brown,Red,Black) that I need to connect to an interface cable, and then the cable to a USB port on my computer. I know someone out there has done this, can some one provide me with some advice on where to get the cable and whether it connects to a USB port or another port?
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Old 28-09-2010, 08:08   #7
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Michael--

Use the "Search" Function, above, for "Tortugas". There are many posts covering the trip. The most unpleasant part will be the run south from Cape Romano as there tend to be a lot of squalls coming off the Everglades and they can be a pip. If the prevailing winds continue to be northwesterly by the 8th, the ride down should be pretty easy and the anchorage on the southeast side of the Fort reasonably protected. I suggest you run down to Boca Grand and then make the off-shore jump from there, timing your departure for an arrival at Garden Key near mid-day so you have favorable light for the reefs. The holding in the area isn't great so ensure you have adaquate grond tackle. (The other threads you will find with the Search function discuss this at great length so I shall not repeat it here.) Hope that the winds go east during your visit or the beat back up the coast will be tough. If they do not, however, you can reach up to Naples, take a break, and then scoot inside at Sanibel and come up the ICW, stopping at Cabbage Key/Useppa, then Lemon Bay (or Venice although anchoring out there can be problem some) and finally back to Sarasota.

Good luck...
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Old 28-09-2010, 08:48   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santana30 View Post
As far as the GPS, what kind of interface cable is needed to hook up my GPS unit to my laptop so that I can run seaclear as an additional navigation tool. I know there are 7 bare wires coming from the back of my garmin(Blue,Green,Yellow,White,Brown,Red,Black) that I need to connect to an interface cable, and then the cable to a USB port on my computer. I know someone out there has done this, can some one provide me with some advice on where to get the cable and whether it connects to a USB port or another port?
First you will need a USB-Serial adapter. I currently use a Cables To Go adapter (available from Amazon for $9 Amazon.com: Cables To Go 26886 USB To DB9 Male Serial Adapter, Blue (0.45 Meters/1.5 Feet): Electronics) and have had no problems with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit.

Next you will need to get a (type DB-9 female) 9-pin female serial cable connector from Radio Shack or another electronics supply and wire the appropriate pins to the cable coming from your GPS. If you're not experienced with soldering tiny parts I suggest you try to buy a connector that uses crimp pins along with the right tool to crimp. Here is a link to the connector pin assignments for a 9-pin RS-232 connector Serial (RS232) port connectors. Pinout and signals for the serial port connector .

The ONLY pins you need to worry about are pins 2, 3, and 5. Pin 5 is signal ground and that gets wired to the "ground" as defined in your GPS manual (it will tell you what color wire carries each signal). Pins 2 and 3 ... is where it gets tricky:

In the GPS manual you will see terms like NMEA "data in" or NMEA "data out". The RS-232 serial interface refers to data "out" from the computer as "send (transmit) data" and data in to the computer as "receive data" but the GPS maker has a different perspective. You see the issue? You need to pay very close attention to the documentation to determine which way to wire pins 2 and 3 so you have the talkers and listeners connected (two talkers or two listeners don't communicate very well).

If you make a mistake it is unlikely you will damage the electronics but it's frustrating, especially because it's a PITA to re-wire the connector to swap pins.

Please let me know if this is clear or if you need more explanation.
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Old 28-09-2010, 08:52   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Santana30 View Post
Thanks everyone, I can see why you'd be curious about such a young individual owning a boat, but its fairly simple - I worked my ass off. I spent my senior year of high school and the summer thereafter working almost 40 hours and 70 hours a week respectively. Saved money up, bought a boat that needed some work, did the work, now it's time to sail her.



Thanks!
Michael
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:24   #10
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If you cannot get your GPS to interface with your computer- I do the "human interface". I take the coordinates out of the GPS and plot them on the paper charts. I know that is old hat- but it works good! Next I actually do running fixes from landmarks I can shoot with a hand compass!
Have fun- I love that section of Florida.
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:37   #11
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I'm planning on making that trip in the Spring for the first time. Don't forget to come back and tell us all about it. Thanks.
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Old 28-09-2010, 09:38   #12
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One more thing -- I looked up the GPS 168 manual here http://www8.garmin.com/manuals/GPSMA...nersManual.pdf and found the wiring diagram for the power/data cable on page 106.
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Old 29-09-2010, 19:46   #13
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I'm from Ft.Myers and have sailed to the Dry Tortugas very many times.You should pick your weather as there are quite a feu storms in the northern caribbean at this time of the year.Going directly from Sarasota you won't have any trouble from Florida bay or any noticable currents.It should be an easy trip (barring bad weather) and you should make it in about 48 hours or so.Enter the park between markers "I" and "H" (closer to I is better) and head 180 degrees. This will bring you safely to the n.w. corner of Garden key where you will pick up the channal that takes you around the fort (on the west side) to the anchorage. It's a shell bottom so be carefull in your ahchoring and put out extra scope. Have a good time,be sure to skin dive "Little Africa" and take a lot of pictures of fort Jefferson on account-a it's crumbling and you'll want to remember it.
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Old 29-09-2010, 20:18   #14
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Check out the adventures section of ths site, lots of info ln the south Florida Keys area Welcome to s/v September Sea - "Life's a Gift... Unwrap It!" - Charmaine & Bill
Good luck
Steve
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