Originally Posted by Curtinjulianna
My husband and I recently bought a boat
. It is located in Norfolk, VA and we are in charleston, SC. My husband has been on sailboats a handful of times and we both took the basic keelboating course. However, I dont feel that confident. My husband seems to think we should be perfectly fine motoring it down the ICW with the limited experience we have. Does this sound reasonable or would hiring a skipper
be a better idea? Thanks!
What size boat? I assume it is a sailboat?
First of all, KNOW the Rules of the Road. Know them well. Very well. My pet peeve is guys out on the water
who have only the sketchiest knowledge of the Rules. You really need an encyclopedic knowledge of Rules, both as written and as applied in real world situations. You need to be very comfortable with using navaids (bouys, daymarks, lit and unlit) to keep you out of trouble. You need to be quick to identify markers and immediately place yourself on a chart and assess your situation.
You also need to be very familiar with normal routine maintenance
and repair, particularly to your diesel
. Like half the other responders, I say you simply cannot have too many fuel
filters. If you have both a primary and a secondary, you need elements for both. One very good DIY
upgrade you can do is to install a duplex filter system so you can quickly switch to the offline filter and change the dirty one.
A paid skipper
? Sure, if you can afford it, go for it, at least for the first couple days runs. Or for a couple of day sails
before you start your ICW journey. I wouldn't say it is necessary, though. Main thing is knowing the Rules and knowing how to pilot the boat properly in a marked channel and how to keep the diesel running and keep most of the water
outside the boat and fires confined to your stove
The size of your boat makes a difference. Big difference between say a 35' boat drawing 5' and a 50' boat drawing 7 feet. There will be times when it would be a good thing to know you can safely run just outside the marked channel when meeting or being overtaken by a big tow, for instance. With a smaller boat I would lean toward not having a pro aboard. With a bigger boat, you have a slightly different learning
curve and you have room to spare. A paid skipper will be of more help and be less of a PITA in the bigger boat.
Your trip if I read it correctly is a bit less than 500 miles and depending on your speed and your typical day's run time probably 5 to 10 days. Provision for 15 days and a couple of extra jerry jugs of diesel would not be a bad idea. Some marinas
will likely not be offering fuel or services. Top up fuel at every opportunity even if you just bunkered the day before. Sail where you can and where you feel comfortable doing so, to save fuel and extend your range between fuel stops.
Normally I would say take the boat outside and sail her down but it is a new to you boat and you don't want breakdowns while you are outside bucking the gulf stream
. Also you would be passing some dangerous capes with disastrous grounding potential. I think all in all, a little more familiarity with offshore
cruising and with your new boat
would be a good thing.
Don't leave without checking your anchor
carefully. You really need two anchors for a small boat
and maybe three on a boat over 40' with one of the three being a smaller anchor
used for a "lunch hook", when someone will actually be on watch, on deck
, in case you start dragging. The smaller setup will be much easier to deploy. If you have a windlass
, check it in both powered and manual mode, and check your windlass battery
. Swivels, shackles, etc especially. Mouse all shackles so they can't come undone. If you ever have to anchor anywhere near the ICW or any other heavily trafficked channel, you want to be very sure of your anchor's holding power. Learn how to use a snubber or chafing gear
. The more chain you have, the better. Rope rode
and a short stinger chain is fine for a lunch hook but for overnight anchoring
you want plenty of chain. MINIMUM a boat length of heavy chain, and better to have a windlass and all chain rode, sized for the windlass. You could easily find yourself having to anchor in 30 or 40 feet of water and so you will hopefully have a couple hundred feet of chain on your primary anchor(s). You need to practice anchoring
and retrieving your anchor before your trip, and work
all the bugs out of your method. You don't want to have a 60lb anchor and 160lb of chain on the bottom and realize you haven't considered just exactly how you will bring it back aboard, or find that your method just isn't very practical. With a very small boat
, say 30' or less, you can get by just fine using the Armstrong method, AKA "Norwegian Steam" AKA manually hauling it up hand over hand. When you have the rode straight up and down and the anchor is still stuck in the bottom, just use the engine
to power ahead a little and she should break free.
Learn how to start your engine when it doesn't want to start. Learn how to short across the solenoid in case your starter switch or wire fails. Learn how to hand start if it is possible with your engine. Learn about your start circuit and any sensors or relays that could fail and prevent a start. Learn how to bleed your injectors. Sooner or later you will need to do that. Learn how to maintain your batteries
and configure them properly, and how to keep from running them down on anchor preventing a start. Got a generator
? Learn it inside and out, too. Got a dinghy
? Learn how to operate and maintain and troubleshoot. Store gasoline with care... fumes in the bilge
is bad news. How are you cooking
? Know what you are doing before you blow your boat up. Make sure you have a proper marine propane
system that is up to modern safety
standards. A backpacker type stove
that can burn diesel or kerosene is much safer, as long as it is mounted securely and you have good ventilation, and know how to start and adjust it. If you are in doubt, eat cold from cans. Stoves are potentially one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment
on the typical sailboat.
pumps. Check them. Should have more than one electric pump
that will run in auto. Should have a bilge alarm
. Should also have a manual pump
and sufficient length of discharge hose. I better stop here and tell you look for a list of safety equipment
you need to buy or have, and check over and familiarize yourself with.
Be serious about preparations and your trip has an excellent chance of being a safe and successful one.
Did I mention learning
Rules of the Road?