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Old 03-11-2014, 15:11   #1
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Snow Birds By Boat

My wife and I are a couple of years from retirement, and keep our boat in the Upper Chesapeake Bay. We have a 1988 38' Chris-Craft Catalina that's in good shape. We have used the boat mostly as our weekend house on the water, with an occasional short trip. When we retire our plan is to point that boat south and go down the ditch to somewhere that it won't snow. No rush to be anywhere, and with big gas engines I hope to travel slow, enjoy the scenery, and stop when we want to for as long as we want to, and then move on. I've been reading several threads on this site and realize that I have to use the next couple of years to get better at handling the boat. Haven't had much practice while we were at the dock or the swimming pool. Have to get my wife some time at the helm too. I also need to prepare the boat for that kind of trip.

What things should I be thinking of that will probably come up on a trip like that. I don't know if I should plan to mix some nights at anchor along the way to save a little money. We don't have a dinghy, but I suspect that might be on the to do list.

I enjoy this site very much and the experience level of the people who post here is impressive. All suggestions are appreciated.
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Old 03-11-2014, 15:52   #2
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

I would start by buying some books on the AICW. Start here:
http://www.waterwayguide.com/shipsto...x.php?cPath=21

This DVD set is pretty interesting and helpful:
Snowbirders Home Page

There are many more books on cruising the AICW. Each will have something the others missed. Many are available from amazon.com

BTW: My wife and I recently completed a 76 day cruise from Charleston, SC to the head of the Chesapeake Bay and back with a side trip to Washington, DC.

If you've only taken short trips I suggest taking some longer ones just to get the feel of what you need to have on your boat and what you don't need. You'll also get good practice anchoring and docking. Being on the Chesapeake Bay there are hundreds of good places to cruise to. We could have spent a lot more time there but doctors appointments and other obligations got in the way.
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Old 03-11-2014, 16:20   #3
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

SgtJoe,

If you're up for it, you could make yourself a "practice berth" out on the bay where there is plenty of space. You need a minimum of 4 floats, some light line, and 4 weights. These you set to mark the berth, then practice driving into and out of it from all four sides till you feel more comfortable, then tell your wife what you learned so she can try it, too, knowing what to look out for. Naturally, the wind will affect you on some of the points, and so will set, if you have that to contend with as well.

Good luck with it. Practice is the key to comfortable docking skills.

Ann
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Old 03-11-2014, 18:07   #4
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

re: the dinghy, we never anchor or take a mooring off a town or marina and dinghy in for supplies or dining, we take a slip but we do use our dinghy to explore interesting side creeks and such or visit nearby beaches.

Of course, many folks do anchor and dinghy to marinas to use the facilities. That's one reason I suggested longer cruises in your home area so you can get a feel for how you like to cruise.
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Old 04-11-2014, 05:50   #5
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

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Originally Posted by SgtJoe View Post

When we retire our plan is to point that boat south and go down the ditch to somewhere that it won't snow. No rush to be anywhere, and with big gas engines I hope to travel slow, enjoy the scenery, and stop when we want to for as long as we want to, and then move on. I've been reading several threads on this site and realize that I have to use the next couple of years to get better at handling the boat. Haven't had much practice while we were at the dock or the swimming pool. Have to get my wife some time at the helm too. I also need to prepare the boat for that kind of trip.

What things should I be thinking of that will probably come up on a trip like that. I don't know if I should plan to mix some nights at anchor along the way to save a little money. We don't have a dinghy, but I suspect that might be on the to do list.
Slow and easy makes a nice trip. We brough tor previous (gas) boat up from Dania Beach, slowly, relatively economical (fuel-wise), decent sightseeing.

In the meantime, travel to destination marinas in your area is a pretty good way to practice. Can't tell how far "Upper" you might be in the Chesapeake, but places like Rock Hall, St. Michaels, Bal'mer, Georgetown, Annapolis, Deale, etc etc etc can present you with different situations to learn from... in a mostly benign way... and with some decent stuff to do/see while you're there.

Practice at your own slip can be very useful too. Go out, come back, repeat 5 times every time you're at the boat.

Anchoring out can be inexpensive, but you have to do it right. That takes practice, too... and you can do that around here as well.

Think of dinghies as one part of a system. Other parts are mounts (davits, cranes, whatever), inflators (maybe), motors, techniques to attach motor to boat (and vice versa), etc. IOW, think not just about a dinghy but also a whole bunch of related stuff that you'll want to solve before you decide.

Anchoring out without a dinghy can be very pleasant, assuming you do your shopping and so forth from marinas when you're there.

-Chris
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:10   #6
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

Two schools of though on a dinghy
1. buy something cheap to use until you know what your likes and dislikes needs and wants are in a dinghy. Who knows, you might just get lucky and get what you want, cheap.
2. buy a 3m+ Hypalon RIB, with at least a 9.9 on it.
You may not need that big a dink or one that planes, but most want one if not need it.

Big gas motors do burn more fuel than Diesels, but they are much quieter, smoother and don't stink, nothing like a 2 kt tailwind in a Diesel boat
Just remember if you look behind you and your making a wave, the energy that makes that wave comes from your gas tank, slow down and save lots of gas. At the end of the day, bring her up o plane or cruising RPM if she doesn't plane for 5 min just to warm it up and clean it out.
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:52   #7
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

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Originally Posted by SgtJoe View Post
...............
I hope to travel slow, enjoy the scenery, and stop when we want to for as long as we want to, and then move on.
.....................................
Most cruisers we've encountered are not travelling this casually, but they are more destination bound; however, this does describe our cruising. From our first AICW cruise in 1972 we've tallied over two dozen transits from as far as Maine to the Bahamas averaging from ten to twenty miles per day.

We do take advantage of many secure peaceful anchorages or moorings, some in the wilderness and some near dinghy docks that allow provisioning. We do best with a dinghy that is large enough to carry two small folding bikes, groceries or laundry with the pair of us. My wife particularly likes the stability of the RIB which allows her take the smaller stable step from the dock to the dinghy edge.

The bikes increase our range ashore, but we also rent a car sometimes or use the courtesy cars availble at some marinas.

I appreciatethe rcommendation of an outboard with enough hp to allow planing and we have had more powerful dinghy engines in the past, but we choose a 6hp 4-cycle for all our needs.

Add a pair of robust fender boards to match a pair of dockside vertical pilings and an assortment of fenders.
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Old 04-11-2014, 09:01   #8
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

Here's a link to our cruise of the Chesapeake Bay and part of the ICW:

http://www.widman.biz/indigo/HIGH_COTTON_IV.pdf
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Old 04-11-2014, 19:02   #9
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

Get a dinghy big enough to be comfortable in for both of you and practice using it. Your boat should be big enough I think that you could bring it aboard somehow. My boat is not so the dinghy stays at the mooring, however my boat can land almost anywhere with its flat bottom except rocks.

Always wear your PFD's while using the dinghy. Get something that is stable. I have had a boat on a mooring in a well protected harbor in Maine for decades but do to harbor changes we no longer have launch service to moorings -- have had to go to using a dinghy and it has almost halted my boating -- tipped the darn thing stepping into it and sure am glad I had the PFD on.

Good luck!! I think it will be enjoyable going slow and seeing the sights. Of course my powerboat has a top speed of about 10, consequently since the kids are grown and the wife is a speed demon (she hates the fact that many sailboats can pass us) I gunkhole around the bay by myself content to just drift with the tide even in the right places.
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Old 12-11-2014, 16:51   #10
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Re: Snow Birds By Boat

Thanks to everyone for the great advice. We plan to take some trips and learn more about our boat next season. I'm going to practice docking during the short time we have left before winter, and take Ann's suggestion next season, when the marina is full.
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