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Monday, October 2, 2017

One Motor Away



My lovely wife has always said our Oday 19 is too small to make the jump from Florida to the Bahamas. Plenty of boats that size and smaller have made the trip. What she really meant was that it was too small for her.

It's not like she needs a mega yacht to feel comfortable. She was willing to make the crossing in our Ranger 23. Of course, we were going to haul it out first and really go over everything. As luck would have it, we lost the boat and never got the chance.

Then yesterday she surprised me and said that if we had a strong gas outboard on the Oday 19, she'd be willing to make the crossing. That's a huge change for her. It almost made me want to go to the marine store and pick up an outboard.

So what changed her mind? I'm just guessing here, but I've got an idea. We watch a lot of videos of people sailing the Bahamas. An old Distant Shores video featured a boat with a lift keel. I think, with the keel raised, they drew less than two feet. Now this was a full sized cruising boat, not a glorified dinghy like our Oday. However, the Oday, with keel raised, only draws about a foot of water.
She may have reached the point where having a shallow draft is more important than having a larger boat.

So why would she want a good outboard? One of the strategies for crossing the Gulf Stream involves waiting for a perfectly calm day. While there's no wind to sail with, there's no wind to churn up the waves. Northerly winds blowing against the current is especially bad. With a good motor one can just power across.

Right now the only motor on that boat is a 55lb thrust electric trolling motor. It can push the boat around at about half speed. That's fine for most things -it is a sailboat, after all. The electric motor is not a good choice for a longer passage in a strong current.

As for myself, I was thinking that next year we could get a slighter bigger lift keel boat and go to the Bahamas then. Of course, once we are down to Florida this winter, it wouldn't be that hard to pick up an outboard and scoot over to the Bahamas. It would not be the craziest thing we've ever done.

-Sixbears

18 comments:

  1. Weigh your options carefully, be safe, but have fun.

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  2. Crossing the gulf stream can be rough, even with a power boat. Hope you can do it safely and have fair winds and following seas.

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    1. The trick is to pick your weather window and to not be in a hurry.

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  3. Should be OK, It is just a matter of watching the weather and timing it right. It has been done in Mat Leiden's Paradox, and I believe he himself did it in his even tinier Enigma.

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    1. Mat's done some amazing trips in boats not much bigger than a casket.

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  4. Two very important drawbacks to an outboard.
    #1- Make sure it has a remote gas tank !
    Have a quick change spare one.
    #2- When it is perfectly calm, with a flat
    Sea or moderate swell. An outboard
    Works well. However, when you have
    Waves over three feet, the outboard
    Will pop out at the crest and cavitate.

    So, with an outboard powered craft, timing is everything !! Going to the Bahamas is easy, because of excellent forecasts and you can plan the crossing.Coming back to Florida is the tricky part, when getting a good forecast can be troublesome.
    One time , it took us thirty six hours from the Bahamas Bank to Fort Pierce ! Like only seventy miles, and this with an inboard diesal engine...Weather is everything !
    That time , we got caught with 52 knots of wind out of the north ,in the Gulf Stream !
    Not something you wanna experience in a 19 foot boat lol. Especially with an outboard.

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    1. You are right about the remote tanks. Much easier than trying to fill an outboat tank from a gas can while getting tossed in the waves. I've done it both ways over the years.

      Also did the cavitate thing in 8 foot waves. Was able to get a scrap of sail out and came back on that.

      52 knots out of the north! Holy crap! 36 hours of hell, I'm sure. I got my lovely wife back into sailboats after the wreck. Don't want to push it with a horrific Gulf Stream crossing.

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  5. We only go around once in this world, so grab hold and take the ride doing what pleases you.

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  6. I may get a coastal cruiser build up yet. But a crossing is not in my foreseeable future.

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    1. Hey Dragon! Good to see you are still with us. Good luck on your boat build.

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  7. Hey buddy...whatever floats your boat, I say. If it feels right, go for it!

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    1. Thant's Hermit Jim! It really is about what floats the boat. :)

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  8. Having been to the Bahama's myself, I must advise you that you are going to a slum with Palm Trees. Stick to the intercoastal neighborhoods.

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    1. Naw , not f he comes see me before going. I can show him some super secret places that are unpopulated and out of the tourist paths.
      You are absolutely correct about going to the popular destinations Phil. You might just as well stay in the keys. However, in the out islands, yes the people are poor, but you'll find them to be good folk. You'll also find excellent fishing and unlimited unspoiled beaches.

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    2. Been to Nassau Phil? That's what it sounds like.

      Well Spud, I just might take you up on that. The idea with using a shallow draft boat is to get into those remote areas off the beaten path.

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    3. You should big buddy !
      Just bring charts, I'd have to dig deep to find mine lol.
      Tho truthfully my wife likely knows where all that stuff is lol

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