Sunrise over the Everglades.We spent a wonderful day relaxing in the 10,000 Islands preserve, about 3 miles from Everglades city. Today we are going to sail 35 miles South to Cape Sable at the Southern tip of Florida. From there we will sail across to the keys tomorrow.
We sailed from Marco island to the 10,000 islands region of the Everglades. We are in a totally uninhabited anchorage. But we still have WiFi!
After a pleasant overnight in Naples we are headed to the 10,000 islands aquatic preserve offshore from Everglades city.
March 22, 2018, Naples
We sailed out in the Gulf due South from Fort Myers to Naples on a broad reach making 6-7 knots. We anchored near the Naples City Dock.
March 21, 2018, Fort Myers Beach
Yesterday our old Suzuki 2.5 hp outboard conked out on us when we were motoring in our dinghy to the Fort Myers beach dinghy dock. The dinghy has oars so I rowed the last few hundred yards. But how do we get back to our boat? It was way too far to try to row. Call Sea Tow! Last year I joined Sea Tow, kind of like the marine version of AAA. If you get stuck, Sea Tow will come and tow you back to your marina or safe port. So, we showered and had dinner and met Sea Tow at the dock and they towed us back to our boat in the mooring field. I started dismantling the Suzuki to repair it and quickly realized that it wasn’t worth repairing So I formulated a plan to go into town and buy a new Yamaha 6 hp outboard. The next day, we moved to Moss Marina, about a 1/4 mile away to tie up to their dock overnight. We rented a car for the day and drove to buy the new engine and also to pick up a new Navionics chart microSD card. The extra hp should get our dinghy “up on plane” allowing us to go faster and smoother.
March 20 2018, Fort Myers Beach
Batten down the hatches
We are on a mooring ball in Fort Myers Beach watching a powerful front pass by. This is the system that spawned tornadoes in the South. Luckily it’s passing just to the North of us but we are ready.
A nice 10 knot wind in Pelican Bay keeping our batteries charged. A solar panel charges the batteries when the sun is shining, and the wind generator charges all night as long as the wind is blowing.
Update March 19
We finally got away from the dock yesterday and motored 20 miles South to Pelican Bay, a great little anchorage next to Cayo Costa State Park, one of the barrier islands along the Gulf. We plan to head further South during the next 4 weeks and hopefully make it to the Keys. We’ll keep you posted.
Update March 17, 2018
We started our 6 week Spring sailing adventure about a week ago and spent the last week at Fisherman’s Village Marina. I finished a bunch of upgrades that have been ongoing on Terrapin since I bought her last May. The most important is the modernizing of the electronics and navigation systems. This includes a new chartplotter mounted at the helm. It is a so-called multifunction display which means it can process and display data from any device connected to it; wind direction, wind speed, AIS, compass heading, rudder angle, autopilot control, GPS position, and of course the chart showing where we are. This is all made possible by a new industry standard connectivity called NMEA 2000. There is a single cable (backbone) running down the mast from the wind speed/direction sensor all the way to the stern of the boat. Each device is then connected to the backbone with a T connector and a short “drop cable”. The result is that every device has access to all the data in the system. Laura calls it the spinal cord, a good analogy! Well, I spent about 5 days hooking it all up and surprise, surprise, it all worked! I also installed a new helm seat raised up about 5 inches so we have a better view, a new toilet pump, and a bunch of other minor items. We also had a visit from Mack Sails to adjust the rigging. The original head stay was supposed to be adjustable and somewhere along the line, a fixed length stay was installed. This meant you could not adjust the tension, and thus the angle of the mast. Mack Sails, who installed our new sails last November, came out and added a turnbuckle to the head stay and helped get the rigging adjusted properly. I can’t wait to sail her, there should be a big improvement.
Prop Pitch Matters
When you run a boat under power, the prop size and pitch needs to be matched to the maximum speed of the boat as well as the maximum rated RPM of the engine. In other words, at wide open throttle (WOT), the boat should reach its maximum (comfortable) cruising speed and the engine should be operating at its rated maximum RPM.
Our PDQ 32 LRC has two Yanmar 2GM20f Diesel engines, each rated at 18hp at a maximum RPM of 3600. So, at WOT, the engines should be able to operate at about 3600 RPM and the boat should reach a speed of about 7 knots.
When we bought the boat, she had upgraded 3 blade props (considered more efficient and smoother than the stock two bladed props). However, when motoring on smooth water, the engines would only achieve 2800 RPM at WOT. In addition, there was smoke in the exhaust indicating the engines were laboring too hard. The analogy would be driving a car up a hill in 4th gear. The car would go, but the engine would be lugging and operating at a suboptimal RPM. If you downshift, the RPM goes up, you have more horsepower, and the car runs more smoothly. The term for this in boats is being over-propped. This is due to the pitch of the prop being too steep.
Fortunately, there are propeller specialist shops that can re-pitch props and they have sophisticated computer programs to determine the optimum prop pitch based on your boat, transmission and engine. I used Coastal Props in Fort Meyers. The existing props were 15” in diameter with a pitch of 12. After consulting with Coastal Props they ran the info through their program and decided that the pitch needed to be reduced to 9. I removed the props when the boat was on the hard, sent them to Coastal Props and they re-pitched, balanced and polished the props for $135.00 each, a bargain.
The improvement in engine performance was dramatic. I can now get almost 3600 RPM at WOT and comfortably cruise at 3200 rpm, much closer to the peak HP of the engines. The engines run much more smoothly and no more smoke! Diesel engines also need to periodically be run at their max rated RPM to burn off carbon from the valves and exhaust. The re-pitched props now allow me to do this. Thus, for a small investment, I believe I have greatly increased the life of the diesels on Terrapin.