Almost biting off more than we could chew!

Petra sits on Starboard side of Fly Bridge
Petra sits on Starboard side of Fly Bridge with Mali

Map of our route from Washington DC around point lookout and North to Annapolis

We were feeling pretty impressed with ourselves after our training. After all, we trained for 30 hours on a 57’, 53,000 lb vessel. What could go wrong if we took it on an overly long trip from Washington DC down the Potomac River, around Point Lookout in Southern Maryland and up the Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis Maryland? In short, this would be a 155 Nautical Mile trip one way. In theory, the trip should take approximately 13 hours one way at 1850 RPM.

Mom and dad used to use an old term “cocksure” for someone strutting around like an old rooster in charge of the hen house. Merriam-Webster defines it as “feeling perfect assurance sometimes on inadequate grounds” which pretty much summed up our pre-trip attitude.

Heading out on our trip to Annapolis... wx was crisp.
Heading out on our trip to Annapolis… wx was crisp.

As Thursday drew near, we became less cocksure and a bit more apprehensive. After all, this would be the first time we would be navigating the Potomac on our own. We left at approximately 10:00 am (much later than planned) and headed south. The day was overcast but no rain. It was in the 40’s. The day was pretty uneventful and we pulled into Solomon’s Island about seven hours later. The trip is normally 8-9 hours but feeling frisky we pushed the envelope and ran the engines at 2400 RPM for several hours. They purred like brand new kittens after a hearty dinner.

Docked at Solomon's Island
Docked at Solomon’s Island

The next morning we met our Captain and his wife who traveled with us to Annapolis. That portion of the trip was about 4.5 hours up the Chesapeake. The ride was a bit intimidating but having the Captain with us gave us more confidence than if we had traversed it alone. We went to Annapolis because this was the last boat show before the end of the season and a good excuse to exercise our new skills.

Maneuvering through other tankers, sailboats were normal on the Chesapeake
Maneuvering through other tankers, sailboats were normal on the Chesapeake

We spent two nights moored at the Marina next to the boat show. Friends met us there and we enjoyed a couple of days looking at all the beautiful, over priced boats.

Moored at Annapolis. We might have been a little large for the area we were moored at.
Moored at Annapolis. We might have been a little large for the area we were moored at.

We also bought ourselves two nifty life jackets which you can wear for long periods of time without being cumbersome to wear. They inflate when you hit the water if you should end up falling overboard. As it were, we were glad to have them on the ride home.

Our Capt's Dingy gets us into the Marina
Our Capt’s Dingy gets us into the Marina

As we were getting ready to head home from Annapolis we reflected back on what our marina friends had told us “be careful near point lookout.” This is the southern most point in Maryland where the mouth of the Potomac intersects with the Chesapeake Bay. We were warned that it could be extremely dangerous.

South on the Chesapeake about to turn North on the Potomac, starts getting rough.
South on the Chesapeake about to turn North on the Potomac, starts getting rough.

We left Annapolis later than we wanted at about 8:00am on Sunday. The weather was overcast, wind 15-20 knots at our backs, we were traveling south with the current leaving with us. Even though it was a bit choppy, we made good time and saw the worst of the clouds blowing away from us as we moved along. The storm and winds that day was a by-product of Tropical Storm Hanna a few hundred miles east of us. As the morning progressed so did the winds. Gusts of up to 20-25 knots were not unusual. Again since they were mostly coming from the north and we were heading south, it was manageable—until we got close to point lookout.

It starts getting rough (Video click here)

Arriving at point lookout, as we were just about to turn North to head up the Potomac, our Starboard became cross wise with a large swell (6’+) which tipped Someday Came sideways pretty dramatically. Petra, while holding on to Mali (our dog), lost footing, flew across the boat and landed behind Denver on the ground—pretty scary moment for everyone, thank goodness no one was hurt. Thus began the 4-hour trek up the mouth of the Potomac in some of the worst seas Denver and Petra have ever been in, let alone maneuvering a 25+-ton vessel.

We slowed Someday Came down to 700-800 rpm and just kept the bow semi-square into the waves which by now were steady at 6’-8’ with winds gusting 30-35 knots. Water coming over the bow was now common and were getting steady water spray over the total height of the vessel. If there was a silver lining, there were minimal clouds so no thunder, lightning, or rain… just unrelenting winds and heavy seas. By this point we both put on our brand new life vests. As a rule, Mali always has a life vest on anytime we are underway.

Everyone got ready for this ride
Everyone got ready for this ride

As we were battling the wind and waves, Petra was continually going below to check on what the latest item was that broke—inside was a mess. After a short time below Petra came running up to the helm and screamed we were taking on water. This is where this adventure of ours went from serious to dangerous. The port and starboard portholes forward were under heavy water pressure with the bow of the boat constantly low on the waves. The water was just flowing through them as if there were no seals or windows stopping them. Petra stuffed towel after towel below them to help soak up the excess water and after they soaked she would throw them into the guest shower and replaced them with dry towels. It didn’t take long for her to go through all of our towels. Being below deck in those seas would make anyone sick and Petra was no exception. After a little Dramamine, and hanging out on the deck for a while with fresh air she started feeling better.

During all of this time, we called Captain Jim to let him know what was happening. He asked for our Latitude and Longitude and went right to work finding us a marina we could duck into to wait out the rest of the storm for the evening. Denver had the great idea to muscle through and continue up the Potomac through the evening to get home… after all, the seas had to get better the higher up the Potomac we went. Petra would have none of that. She (the smarter of the crew) wanted to pull out of the mess we were in and fix what was broke, clean up, get rest, and get on with it the next morning after the weather broke.

We were all exhausted after that day
We were all exhausted after that day

We ended up docking that evening at Colonial Beach Marina. We spent the rest of the evening cleaning up, had some grilled cheese sandwiches, and went to bed. We were exhausted… good call Petra.

The next morning was windy but not as bad, as expected the water was much less troublesome the further up the Potomac we traveled. We experienced white caps with waves at 1’-3’, and we were just fine with that. The rest of the trip was uneventful and beautiful.

Driving home from our trip to Annapolis
Driving home from our trip to Annapolis

We learned quite a bit about our vessel and ourselves this trip.

Next time we pull into a marina at first sign of bad weather.

Our First $1000 Mistake

The Prop 30" X 36"
The Prop 30″ X 36″

We were told that owning a boat is expensive. Oh my!

Like the saying goes… Life is hard (expensive), it’s harder (more expensive) if you’re STUPID!

BOAT = Bring On Another Thousand

After finalizing the deal for Someday Came, we went to Solomon’s Island to pick her up and head home. The previous owner took her to Solomon’s Island, in Southern Maryland, because we had to “short haul” her out for inspection. There are not many marina’s on the Potomac River that have the ability to haul a 53,000 lb vessel out of the water. Imagine our excitement as we boarded and headed out.

Almost immediately after we started home we came across out first issue. She started to cough black smoke. Our Captain’s initial plan was to cruise about 1800 RPM down around Lookout Point (Southern Maryland where the Chesapeake and Potomac river meet ,one of the most dangerous spots on the water we are told, and learned this first had, but that’s for another blog) then up the Potomac to Washington DC. This would normally have taken approximately 8-9 hours of travel. Because the engines were performing so badly we cruised at around 1400 RPM. Keeping in mind that normal cruising speed for this vessel is approximately 2400RPM. The adventure took us around 12hrs.

IMG_2788

After several weeks and several thousand dollars in fuel polishing, mechanic tinkering etc. our mechanic brought in a Volvo Penta Technician to calibrate the computer on the engines. (We have two 480 hp Volva Penta Diesels on board) After the Technician did his magic, the engines ran perfectly… thus the cause for our $1000 mistake.

Soon after the engines were fixed we started training in earnest. One of the first lessons we learned was that after a storm, or rain fall, the upper Potomac becomes a soup of floating debris. We are not just talking trash… we are talking huge floating projectiles.

As we were training, the engines were running so good that we decided to increase the speed enough to get the vessel on plane and do some maneuvers. At 2550 RPM (23 knots) we were completely  mesmerized by the consol and the high numbers of RPM, Knots etc. I took my eye off the road (water), only to look up and see a huge aforementioned debris (big damn log)  dead in front of us. No time to slow down or stop we drove directly over it. With a loud thud we knew some damage just occurred but wasn’t sure what. We limped back to the marina to further inspect.

IMG_2786

After making sure Someday Came was not taking on water our next plan was for Denver to Scuba Dive down under the vessel and inspect it. On short inspection, it was apparent that the Starboard Prop had been damaged but looked like it was repairable. No other damage was noted. We decided to hire a professional diver to go down and remove the prop while the vessel was still in the water. All in all, approximately $1200 for diver, prop removal, prop fix, and reinstall. Our first $1000 mistake. We are told it will not be our last–it wasn’t.

Video of the dive to be posted soon.

 

Training

Captain Jim at the helm.
Captain Jim at the helm.

As mentioned before, we are not new to boating but we are new to living on a boat and certainly never handled a boat of this size.

When applying for insurance to buy the vessel we were asked for a history of our boating experience and what other boats we had owned. Our insurance company was not amused when they found out that we had never really owned a boat before. It went somthing like this.

Ins Co. – So what is your boating experience?

Us – (Confidently) Quite extensive. Denver grew up with his mom and dad’s boat on Lake Mead. We owned two ski doo’s in the mid to late 90’s. Denver earned his skipper’s license while attending the Naval War College a few years ago.

Ins Co. – Really?

Ins. Co. – What other boats have you owned in the past?

Us – (A little less confident) Like we mentioned, we owned two really big Sea Doo’s in the mid to late 90’s.

Ins. Co. – (Very Unamused) We will require a Captain’s rider on your policy. You can not operate the vessel without a Captain on board. Once the Captain sign’s off that you are sea worthy then we will lift the rider.  This will be for no less than three months and/or 30+ hours of training. We were more than happy to accommodate.  Last thing we wanted to do is to “bump” into anything with a 53,000 lb floating projectile.

Denver training with Captain Jim keeping a close eye out.
Denver training with Captain Jim keeping a close eye out.

Devan called this the equivalent to having a learner’s permit.  He had a lot of fun with mom and dad with that. Below is an excerpt of the training the Captain put us through:

Initial Training: 23 July 2014: 7:00am – 7:00pm (12hrs), Maiden Voyage from Solomon Island to Washington DC, Sunny, calm seas, Training consisted of pre-operational inspection of vessel, initial starting of engines and checking gauges, review of proper radio procedures, proper fueling process, entering and exiting a marina, navigation techniques (charts as well as electronic systems), interacting with the coast guard, traversing small and large bodies of water, close quarter maneuvering within a marina, docking, tie-down procedures, proper shutting down of the vessel.

16 August 2014: 10:00am – 12:30pm (3.5hrs), Washington DC – National Harbor, Partly Sunny, winds SE 10-12kts, Training consisted of pre-operational inspection of vessel, initial starting of engines and checking gauges, entering and exiting a marina, navigation techniques, traversing small and large bodies of water, Anchoring techniques, close quarter maneuvering within a marina, backing in docking, tie-down procedures, proper shutting down of the vessel.

 

Petra Driving
Petra Driving

In all we had 32hrs of training. Petra drove and trained the last two 3hr training blocks. Captain Jim wanted to ensure Denver had a designated driver!

We are pleased to announce that we have graduated and are now off of the learners permit.

Let’s Start the fun!!!

 

A selfie at home
A selfie at home

 

Thank you for visiting our new blog site. We hope you come back now and again and watch as we experience what living on the water is all about.

What? – We have moved onto a 2002 57′ Carver 570 Voyager.

Why? – Because it is completely out of our comfort zone. A very close and dear person told us once that after his wife died, he regretted that he had not done what she wanted to do. She wanted to pick up and move south and do something very different. We decided to stop dreaming and start doing.

Where? Our home port is Washington DC. We live at a marina on the Potomac.

How? – After making the decision to do this we then pretty much sold almost everything that wasn’t family heirloom, including the house. We found the future Someday Came and moved onto it.

Next? We are not new to boating but we are new to living on a boat and operating a vessel of this size. We have goals but the first goal we have is to get trained by a USCG licensed Captain. After a little research we found Captain Jim.

We would love to hear from you. If you want to leave a comment or contact us please fill out the below form. We are interested in your ideas, insights, questions, or just thoughts.