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Greg Kiser

First time out - couple of surprises

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Virgin voyage through Clearwater Pass in my new Chap Suncoast 250.  I have never owned a boat before, never driven one.  But prior to my first trip out, completed my Florida Boating Safety course, got my card, read through hours and hours on this newbie forum, watched many youtube videos, etc.  I have to rank among the most knowledgeable know-nothings among new boaters.  Certainly easier to prepare today than it would have been years ago.

I was on the water 5 solid hours.  I would've stayed even longer but I had to get to the airport to pick up my wife and son from a trip.  I tooled around the islands (Honeymoon, 3 rooker, etc).  I stopped and soaked in the views.  I made a run down to John's pass at 35 mph then a dead run back to Clearwater Pass at 48 mph.  It was all so beautiful.  The Gulf was calm since we'd had Tropical Storm Emily roll through the day before.  Was I a bit nervous about having plopped down cash for a new boat without ever owning one or driving one?  Nah, I knew I would love it.  What's not to love?  Having your own boat, being out on that beautiful water.  Alone.  Just spectacular.

Couple of things I learned.  With the motor trimmed up a bit, I need about 2 feet depth.  At one point I was doing a fast idle around an island and my engine stopped.  I realized that although the charts showed my depth at 3 feet, there was all this sea grass that wasn't on the charts and that had bogged my engine.  I restarted and crawled out of there very slowly. Mental note - if there are not any other boats in the area around an island, there's probably a reason.

The other thing I learned is how fast a boat can drift even doing 5 mph in min wake mode.  I was coming in at the end of the day at 1000 rpm and had a few min to my marina.  I was in the middle of the ICW channel and no other boats around.  So I started hanging my bumpers.  I kept a watch fore as I attached the first bumper and the boat was staying on track.  

I looked up halfway through positioning the 2nd bumper and to my horror the boat had drifted way starboard and was heading right into someone's dock!

I did a Homer Simpson scream and jumped to the help and threw her into reverse, hard.  Too hard at first - I think it cavitated and didn't seem to slow at all. I went into neutral and back into reverse and the boat stopped within inches of the dock.  Also threw up a lot of water into the back of the boat but I didn't care.  Happened so fast I didn't really have time to get scared.  If my wife had been on the boat she would have freaked out.

Live and learn!  Next time I go boating alone, I'll stop before I have to get in the channel and position them stationary.

I appreciate all the posts, can't tell everyone how much I've learned.

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Funny stuff Greg :lol: Lots to learn from experience with boating for sure.  

Your boat surely has a depth gauge, I would keep an eye on that as opposed to charts when it gets that shallow, not uncommon at all for charts to be off by a couple feet and when your only in 3 ft that can be a big difference as you found out.  

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Clark - when I say 'Charts', I mean of the electonic variety. I kept the Garmin in split screen.  Nav on one side, depth gauge on the other.  But neither side said anything about sea grass.  When I first looked down at the water, I thought I was going through a huge school of little fish. Then I realized they were the tops of the sea grass waving around.

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Sounds like you had fun!!!

I don't know Fl. but up here there are rocks. I sent my fish-finder for 8 feet. I will not, unless my wife is in the bow and doing headway go less than that. With the drives down we draft about 3ft. and the rock and you just don't know!!  The other thing, you don't want to suck up sand. That will destroy your impeller and its housing. Remember too that you have tides. Up here there 12 to 13 feet swings. Were you are I am thinking that there 1 to 2 feet. So were you went yesterday you may run aground today depending on the time of day. 

Being in open waters, you do have a VHF? Monitor the marine weather too. You are looking for wave height and how close they are. Along with wing speed and direction.  

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I had the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Yes, the tides here are only about a two foot delta. Gulf is very shallow compared with the Atlantic.  I am not aware of any rocks in the area but you raise a good point. I was only doing a fast idle but like I said there are other parts of these islands that have boats around all the time.  So much for the idea of cruising around the islands, giving a close up.  

I have a vhf on order thru the marina.

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On 8/2/2017 at 11:44 AM, Iggy said:

Sounds like you had fun!!!

I don't know Fl. but up here there are rocks. I sent my fish-finder for 8 feet. I will not, unless my wife is in the bow and doing headway go less than that. With the drives down we draft about 3ft. and the rock and you just don't know!!  The other thing, you don't want to suck up sand. That will destroy your impeller and its housing. Remember too that you have tides. Up here there 12 to 13 feet swings. Were you are I am thinking that there 1 to 2 feet. So were you went yesterday you may run aground today depending on the time of day. 

Being in open waters, you do have a VHF? Monitor the marine weather too. You are looking for wave height and how close they are. Along with wing speed and direction.  

Hahaha! If I set my depth alarm to 8ft. I wouldn't be able to boat within 6 miles of shore ocean side and 20 on the bay side!

 

OP, glad you had a good day on the water. It is an awesome feeling, however I have a few comments.

1) why were you going about 50 mph in a brand new boat? You're supposed to break the motor in, no?

2) Be careful around seagrass beds as they are a vital part of our Florida ecosystem and are in decline due to a number of factors including salinity problems, excess nutrients, and also boat groundings. They do not grow back quickly. If you run aground the best thing to do is stop and drift off with the motor trimmed up or walk your boat off. Motoring through with speed causes the most damage. Check this out:

seagrass_prop_scars_lge.jpg

3) Fenders are pretty much useless on small boats in Florida as our docks are usually floating docks with rubber padding. Because of this I've never felt the need to use them here. Definitely don't feel that they are a requisite to docking, more a luxury, but to each his own. On concrete docks or old wood docks with nails of course use them. You will determine what you're comfortable with as you gain more experience.

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The dealer said re break in that during the first 20 hours avoid wot and vary the rpm.  50 was not wot. In truth, I could've varied more.  Probably should've. But it was only about ten min.  

 

Re the sea grass - duly noted.  I'm not sure why my alarm didn't go off, it's set for 3 ft.  

 

Good point re bumpers.   I know the floating marina dock has padding so maybe I shouldn't worry about the bumpers.  Certainly not when alone!

 

thank you for sharing your perspective. That's how I learn!

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I always use fenders when docking. Never know when you'll catch a bare piece of metal or wood that can scratch or gouge your boat.  The fenders will rise and fall with your boat, the dock won't.  I would encourage you to use them liberally, especially around unfamiliar docks.  Better to have them set ahead of time than to realize you need them at the last moment. 

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41 minutes ago, Greg Kiser said:

The dealer said re break in that during the first 20 hours avoid wot and vary the rpm.  50 was not wot. In truth, I could've varied more.  Probably should've. But it was only about ten min.  

 

Re the sea grass - duly noted.  I'm not sure why my alarm didn't go off, it's set for 3 ft.  

 

Good point re bumpers.   I know the floating marina dock has padding so maybe I shouldn't worry about the bumpers.  Certainly not when alone!

 

thank you for sharing your perspective. That's how I learn!

Constructive criticism is how we learn. You'll be an expert soon enough! That's a sweet looking (and fast) boat, congrats! 

 

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39 minutes ago, Futzin' said:

I always use fenders when docking. Never know when you'll catch a bare piece of metal or wood that can scratch or gouge your boat.  The fenders will rise and fall with your boat, the dock won't.  I would encourage you to use them liberally, especially around unfamiliar docks.  Better to have them set ahead of time than to realize you need them at the last moment. 

This is a typical Florida dock, lots of padding and it does rise and fall with the tide and boat. I agree to use them around sketchy or unfamiliar docks, but most of our docks have built in fenders.

bahamas-concrete-docks.jpg

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14 minutes ago, Greg Kiser said:

I did not clip the lanyard.  Is that standard op procedure for you?  

From some of the videos/horror stories that have been coming out of late I am trying to remember to clip my lanyard on more and more.

It stretches pretty far and the clip is tight.  I can literally walk from bow to stern with the clip on my trunks.  I clip it to an elastic band in the pocket of my boardshorts.  It would detach the clip if I were to go overboard.

So, why not use it eh?  That's my take.  ;)

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When solo I've found for safety it is best to drift in neutral.  When I have guests, fender duty falls on them.

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9 hours ago, EricGT said:

From some of the videos/horror stories that have been coming out of late I am trying to remember to clip my lanyard on more and more.

It stretches pretty far and the clip is tight.  I can literally walk from bow to stern with the clip on my trunks.  I clip it to an elastic band in the pocket of my boardshorts.  It would detach the clip if I were to go overboard.

So, why not use it eh?  That's my take.  ;)

I had no idea it stretched that far.  Do you primarily try to use it when boating solo?

 

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4 hours ago, Duane2135 said:

When solo I've found for safety it is best to drift in neutral.  When I have guests, fender duty falls on them.

No drifting other than in neutral for me going forward.  I learned that lesson but good.  

 

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This is my first year also. After about a dozen times out, watching others, reading this forum and others, watching videos and some experience youll find it gets easier and easier. First time retrieving took me 4 tries, I was so careful. Now I can slip right up on the trailer no sweat and be out the water quick. Had a few compliments on how smooth I do it. Idk, it just clicked one day. Took a buddy out that's boated his whole life (sail and power) he complimented me and said I was a natural. Point being, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Get a routine and checklist in your head. Congrats on the new boat. Yes it's a wonderful thing. I have withdrawals when I don't go out on a weekend. 

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11 hours ago, Greg Kiser said:

I did not clip the lanyard.  Is that standard op procedure for you?  

When solo, absolutely. You get thrown from the boat and it takes off on you, you're in a heap of trouble, could be your life.

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14 hours ago, Greg Kiser said:

I had no idea it stretched that far.  Do you primarily try to use it when boating solo?

 

I've never gone out solo.  Not that I am opposed to it.  Just haven't had the chance.

I used to also walk away to make adjustments or grab a drink while the boat was still traveling.  Knowing how the wrong wave can slap the outdrive, I now ask someone else to do so while I have hands on the wheel.  FWIW

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It never occurred to me to walk away from helm while boat was in gear. Just a thought gives me shivers. Would not do this even while on autopilot. Case in point ... a few weeks back during a daytime a sailboat slammed into our circa 100' cable operated car ferry (vessel restricted in ability to maneuver). Apparently the sailboat helmsman went under the deck to get some coffee while the boat was going on autopilot. Why the ferry captain had not sounded five short to warn and get sailboat attention in time is another story.

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2 hours ago, Richard W said:

It never occurred to me to walk away from helm while boat was in gear. Just a thought gives me shivers. Would not do this even while on autopilot. Case in point ... a few weeks back during a daytime a sailboat slammed into our circa 100' cable operated car ferry (vessel restricted in ability to maneuver). Apparently the sailboat helmsman went under the deck to get some coffee while the boat was going on autopilot. Why the ferry captain had not sounded five short to warn and get sailboat attention in time is another story.

:o

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On 8/5/2017 at 7:15 PM, Toddavid said:

When solo, absolutely. You get thrown from the boat and it takes off on you, you're in a heap of trouble, could be your life.

When solo its a must.

I always put out fenders.

Put the boat in Neutral when you leave the helm.

 

.

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On 8/5/2017 at 8:29 AM, Greg Kiser said:

I did not clip the lanyard.  Is that standard op procedure for you?  

I would say that would depend on you and what type of boat you have. I am not that tall, and for me to get tossed out of the boat. I would first have to thrown about 5 feet straight up and out. Some boats the gunnel is much lower and if your tall its easier to get tossed out.  

Until you become more seasoned, its not a bad idea to use. Alone or not.............

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