|To: ALL Interested Parties
SMELLIN da ROSES, Part 2-Learnings.
We have learned many more things during the second year of our cruise, namely:
MAKING MARINA RESERVATIONS: When making advanced transient reservations, you need to write down your needs/requirements and be very specific about what you would like or need. For example, if you require electricity for a specific need (i.e. dryer) aboard, be sure to tell the marina that you need 50 AMP / 220 Volt power and not just 125 Volt. If you can operate your boat on either a 50 AMP or twin 30 AMP service, let them know - in some cases it is less expensive to take a 50 AMP vs. twin 30 AMP. Also, let them know you have your own splitter. If you can operate everything with a single 30 AMP service many marinas will love you.
Be specific about how much draft you need and always give yourself at least a 6 inch safety factor. Likewise, add 6 inches of Beam to what your boat really is so you do not have to spread pilings in order to get into a slip and can still put out a fender or fender board to protect your boat gunnels. Most importantly, measure your overall length and be willing to pay a little more to get a better (longer) slip. Your boat may be only 36 feet according to the manufacturer, but with a bow pulpit and anchors extended out beyond that and a swim platform with a dinghy hanging aft of that, you may actually be 41 or 42 feet overall. Michigan and other states have laws that a boat may not extend beyond the end of the finger pier OR only by a specific amount.
BATTERIES: While most boaters will carry an assortment of AAA, AA, C and/or D cell batteries aboard, most do not consider ALL their battery needs. One should consider the purchase of spare batteries for their computer (particularly if it will be used for computer navigation charts). Likewise, spare batteries for the GPS are a good idea if the cigarette lighter cord goes bad. Another important battery is the one in your Cell Phone - do not expect to find one to fit your phone everywhere - we had to have one sent FedEx. from home! Also, don't forget watch and camera batteries.
LIGHT BULBS: Light bulbs sound innocent enough, but you may not be able to easily find special ones like those used for your favorite high intensity reading lamp, your 12 volt halogen cabin lights or baseboard courtesy lights unless you find a really well stocked marina. Take an assortment of spares with you or you may find yourself having them sent to you or doing without!
FENDERS AND FENDER BOARDS: We found that many of the docks on the Americas Great Loop Cruise were very high, some as high as 6 to 7 foot off the water and equipped with long vertical posts from near the water level to about 4 feet above the dock level. Consequently, vertical fenders which are meant to keep the boat away from a fixed or floating dock do not work well. Boats should be equipped with at least two or three HORIZONTAL Fenders and/or Fender Boards which can be positioned anywhere from the water line up to the gunnel of the boat along the vertical posts. These should be about 6 to 8 inches in diameter to allow the boat to rest close to the dock for easy boarding.
DOCK SAFETY: We encountered several marinas where the electric and water hook up stantions were across the dock from the slip or on the opposite side of a shared finger pier. This presented a safety hazard with the possibility of someone tripping on the cords and hose. We recommend that boaters either plan to tie the cords or take with them a rubber mat (like a heavy door mat - not a throw rug) to lay over the electric cords and water hose to create a safe walkway ramp over them. With many floating docks, the trick of putting the lines and hose between dock boards does not work.
GETTING OFF AND ONTO YOUR BOAT: Getting off and onto your boat is not something that most will consider an item to prepare for, but you will encounter everything from very low floating docks (less than a foot high) to some as high as 6 to 7 feet above the water. It is a good idea to check ahead before doing the Americas Great Loop Cruise to check if a step stool, a 3 or 4 step folding ladder or even having an opening made in the topside railings on both sides of your boat. Make sure you can get off and on from a lower or higher level than your aft deck, safety rail opening or swim platform. Also we found marinas with very short (10 ft.) finger piers -- you need to find a way to get on and off your boat from the stern versus a mid ship area, if possible.
HATCH COVER: Have your canvas person make you a cover for your forward hatch - we had a 4 ft. by 4 ft. piece made with grommets at the four corners and the middle of each side. We stretch it over our opened hatch and secure it with bungee cords to the railings. The cover helps direct any breeze into the cabin and also provides protection against dew and a light rain.
ELECTRIC CORD AND WATER HOSE: Several times on the trip, we have had the need to use more than our normal 75 feet of duel 30 amp electric cord. At one point we had 150 feet out to bring the available single 30 amp service, and the other boat cruising with us needed 200 feet. Several times we have had one cord out 125 feet and the other going 75 feet in a different direction to get two 30 amp services. We have also used as much as 125 feet of water hose to be hooked up and/or to fill the water tank.
BINOCULARS: We purchased 10 by 50 Auto Focus binoculars for our first summer on the Great Loop and decided that both the helmsman and navigator should have their own for our second summer cruising. It was a very good decision because we found out that the buoys on the middle rivers (Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, Cumberland, etc.) are NOT Numbered - there are day markers with mile markers posted (in small numbers) along the shore which require a strong set of binoculars to read easily and verify where you are on the chart.
SMALL RECHARGEABLE BATTERY VACUUM: A good thing to take with you on the Great Loop Cruise is a small rechargeable battery vacuum such as a Dust Buster. It will make fast work of debugging your helm or outside bridge area. We experienced several instances of massive invasion of flies, May flies, and other bugs which were difficult to clean up with a damp paper towel or rag. A broom is also handy for the walkways.
BRIDGE FANS: One of the things that every long range cruiser should have on their bridge is a good FAN. There will be numerous times, on hot afternoons when you are cruising along at 8 to 10 mph or knots that there is little or no breeze and the humidity is high. On those occasions you will truly appreciate a good fan to cool the helmsman and/or navigator.
Another good idea for the bridge is an inverter (400 - 800 watts or more) which will allow you to run a 110V fan or other electrical appliance and provide a 110V outlet for your computer if you elect to use a Computer/GPS Navigation System.
BIKES AND MOPEDS: Unless you are avid bicycle riders skip buying them just for the Great Loop. We bought great motorized folding bikes, helmets, waterproof bags and found that when we needed them, we could not lift them off the boat onto the dock and then up to a street very easily (easier if you have a boom and winch which we didn't). We also learned that even with baskets, one could not really grocery shop for more than a few items. The bottom line is that you can rent a car (Enterprise or local car dealer) or take a taxi and be money ahead of a motorized bike or moped purchase. However, if you are by nature an avid biker - take them.
GREAT LOOP CRUISE LEARNINGS Part 1 If you have not seen or read our Great Loop Cruise LEARNINGS Part 1, published in the November /December 2002 issue of The GREAT LOOP LINK (newsletter of the Americas Great Loop Cruisers Association), please send us an Email and we will send it to you. Learnings Part 1 deals with: Traveling with another boat; Electric service - reducers and adapters; Water hookups; Bread machine; Charts; Extra maintenance; Communications with home; Food supplies; Laundry; Drinks in coolers; Spare parts; Mail from home; Bedding.
John and Judy Gill TWO J'S V -- a 36 ft. Carver Mariner
Home Port: Sassafras Harbor Marina, Georgetown, MD