I can't help with that route, but having done quite a bit of cruising on a similar-size boat with a similar propulsion
, I'll offer some tips from that angle.
Merc outdrives are known for galvanic corrosion
. Make sure you have all the required anodes, and that they're the right ones for salt water
. Don't take the salesman's word for it, look it up in the manual or on the Merc site and get the right ones. If you don't have a galvanic isolator
already, install one now. Don't allow any copper bottom paint
within one inch of the outdrive.
You can buy an MFD with a radome that will give you a dedicated chartplotter and radar
. Good option for a smaller helm
. Garmin is probably the most bang for the buck, but check out comparable brands and pick the one that works best for you. You won't like the price
of the radar
option, but if you need it just once, you'll be glad you have it.
You can link your radio and MFD so that your location shows up at the receiving end if you ever have to hit the distress
button. I strongly urge you to hook this up, and to register for an MMSI number. If your radio is showing its age, you can buy some really nice radios with all kinds of features built in fairly cheaply nowadays. Plus having a backup VHF is a good thing. Buy one with an AIS receiver and you can see commercial
shipping right on your MFD.
is probably a must-have for any long-distance cruising, but today you might want to look at a DeLorme InReach as a viable alternative, especially if you're not sure you'll be going off shore a lot.
In these waters, you will want a good bottom paint
. I won't open that can of worms here, but seek advice from locals and take differing opinions with a grain of salt
There's absolutely no reason that boat won't be plenty big enough for a couple. I assume it's already rigged the way you like, in other words, sufficient sun shade if that's what you like, open cockpit
or sunpad if that's your thing, etc. Remember though that on a cruise, you can't pick the weather. There will be "indoor" days that can make an open boat feel VERY small.
Both the Power Squadron and USCG Auxiliary have some very good classes
on navigation. They're harder to find than the general boater safety class. I'd strongly recommend that you try to find the "long version" class, which usually runs one night a week for 2-3 months, and covers a ton of material in some depth
. The short 8-hour version is just a safety primer. Helpful, but woefully incomplete.
To me it sounds like your biggest challenge is navigation. Learn all you can about paper charts
and piloting; it makes understanding all the things your chartplotter can tell you so much easier. This isn't like a car GPS
where you can get in and have it tell you what to do every step of the way. Your primary navigation instrument is your brain. The electronics are all just inputs.
Buy a few cruising guides
, browse through ActiveCaptain, and think about what you like to do. Marinas? Night life? Quiet anchorages
Understand that you won't be going full-throttle most of the time time. Narrow channels, crowded shipping lanes and sea conditions will have you running at what will seem like a painfully slow speed after being on a lake. But those few days when you can open it up and make 100 or more miles are nice. Just don't count on them.
There are a ton of apps. On Android, I've found my go-to app is MX Mariner. Full nautical charts, I can load all my routes and waypoints to it, as well as off-line ActiveCaptain data. There are others, but this (or the iOS equivalent) is the must-have. There are a few good anchor alarm
apps, and a ton of crummy ones. I've been using one called Sailsafe with good results. You probably want a good weather app and tide table app, too.