After our last adventure “Cruising the Hudson” I’ve decided to start planing the real trip of a life time. I guess the last trip was just a warmup for whats to come… I’ve had this dream since my first year in college to sail around the world with my dear friend Steve Casperite, and at the time things were moving forward. Unfortunately for me, but good for him, he met the woman of his dreams. I guess I forgot about it or just put it on hold for over 20 some-odd-years, but after “The Man’s Trip,” I felt I’m ready to really step it up.
I’ve been taking quite a few classes though the Balboa Sail & Power Squadron over the last 4 years, and this organization advocates boating safety and all sorts of maritime classes. Also, since it’s an amazing organization/club, I have taken on the Secretarial role for the last 3-years. Some of my courses have been, Basic Boating, Engine Maintenance, Seamanship, Instructor’s Training, Piloting, Advanced Piloting and I’m currently taking Weather. I still have several other courses that are important for our next voyage and those 2 are called JN (Junior Navigation) and Navigation, which utilizes the sextant (navigation by the stars).
Okay, so I was talking with our Education Officer Peter Barbour about my thoughts and it was amazing that he had similar ideas about a major voyage and after several in depth conversations, we were on the same page. The only difference is he’s a mono hull sailor and me being the novice, I’m a bit more into the comforts of home. So my thoughts are geared more towards a catamaran. We’re currently looking at a Leopard 46, which is 46′ in overal length with a 24′ beat (width). In order to get this ready for Blue Water sailing, the nut on this is going to be somewhere around 700K for a new one. I guess it’s time to really step up my sales…
Okay, so here’s what are preliminary plans are:
We’d take off on October 3, 2014, right after my son graduates from HS, and we’d head south from NB Beach, CA down through Baja, CA and into the Sea of Cortez. From there we’d head south to Mazatlan, Cancun, and all the way down through Nicaragua. Our next leg would be down into the Panama Canal and across to the Caribbean for a month. After that we’d head southwest about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands. I think all we’d be able to stay in the Galapagos would be no more than 7-days since the cost for a mooring there is $500.00 per day–yikes. From this point, we’d head to the French Polynesian Islands and to Bora Bora. There was a thought of heading out to New Zealand to escape the hurricane season, but that is still up in the air. We have to make sure we’re not in this type of area during the hurricane season, because I understand the insurance company won’t insure us! From hear we’d head up to the Hawaiian Islands an possibly up to Alaska. After Alaska, it’s time to head back down the Pacific Rim home.
It’s the last two days of “The Man’s Trip—Cruising the Hudson,” and Tom and I just woke up in the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The smell of pines and river running ramped behind us really set the tone for the days travel through this majestic mountainous playground. It’s my first experience seeing the sheer mountain scrape with reds, browns and a full cornucopia of color hues. Everywhere I look is a photo op, but being at the helm and pulling 8,000 pounds of boat make it difficult to get good shots in.
Throughout the day we stopped to stretch our legs to admire the surroundings and even getting an opportunity to visit some of the “view” turnouts. It’s amazing that a glacier once carved its path through these mountains, and for a split moment in time, we’re able to experience something so magnificent. I told Tom that next year on the way back I’m going to find a good trail and have a fun day mountain biking through the terrain. Maybe I’ll even get a chance to take a gondola up a ski lift and downhill it…
After the long steady decline out of the Rockies we entered into the low lands where the river winds through the canyon with the train tracks running alongside. Every so often we’d get a small glimpse of white-water-rafters enjoying Colorado’s finest rapids, which is also added to my future adventures. It was amazing that after all the years of snowboarding and never visiting Colorado, I’ve finally made it. Hopefully I can come during the winter months and have a go of the slopes from a different perspective.
We now entered Utah on the 70 and talk about landscape, this is definitely a photographers dream. The juxtaposition from the deep blue skies and scattered clouds against the red carved mountains really is a site to see. There is one suggestion that I’d like to make is, MAKE SURE TO HAVE A FULL TANK OF GAS. Yes, it’s about a 100 mile drive without any gas stations in this section of Utah. We had half a tank and the only way we were able to make the crossing was to siphon gas out of the boat. We had taken about 40 gallons or so out from the last couple of days just to lighten up the trailer load, which really makes a difference on the gas mileage—8.5 gal. with a full tank on the boat verses 10 with half a tank. It may not seem like much, but when it’s costing about $1,000 just to get home, every bit helps. Getting back to siphoning gas; we had less than an eighth of a tank left and there were no signs letting us know where the next station would be, so we had to siphon 5 more gallons with the anticipation of making it to the nearest station.
As we started our gas quest I told Tom we really need it to be flat or downhill from here on out to make sure we have enough gas, but no sooner than I made the statement we were on a uphill assent for 10 miles. This really consumed our fuel and within no time we were back at an eighth of a tank.
Finally we made it to the top of the grade and from here on down it was using the gears to take advantage of the downward momentum. I had to engage the transmission into neutral as much as possible so that the “Tow Haul” wouldn’t engage. This slows down the vehicle without using the brakes, but it also wouldn’t allow us to coast downward without consuming fuel. No sooner than we thought, the “Low Fuel” light came on about 8 miles before the nearest station and at that point I had no choice but to coast her in all the way. Yes! The off ramp was in sight and we knew that we could make it to a station providing it was right off the off ramp.
One thing to remember when traveling these long distances without periodic fuel station is to pay close attention to the pricing. Even at a MAJOR provider they advertise one price and the pump says another. This is base on “CASH” verses Credit Cards. In this particular instance it was 16 cents difference. There’s nothing more that really crawls under my skin is gas price gouging! I made a mental note not to ever stop here again and I will absolutely fill up prior to entering this stretch again.
I decided that I could make a good run of it all the way to Primm, which is the border of Nevada and California, if I was well rested. I knew if we pulled this off it would be close to an eighteen hour drive, and my thought was to cross over Nevada’s hot spot first thing in the morning before the barometer pushed into the 3 digit level. If we did this Thursday’s drive would be roughly 250 miles on the last stretch and we could possibly be home by 1:00 or there about.
After arriving to our destination in Primm about 12:00 AM, we pulled into “Terrible’s Resort and Casino” where we were able to get a good night’s rest even in the 90 degree heat. I guess we were so tired that the heat had no significance on us and we slept all through the night.
It was roughly 7:00 AM Thursday and I wanted to make sure we were on the road by 8:00 to beat the extreme heat. It was a pleasant morning with light traffic and all I could think about was my 2 year dream was in its final hours of coming to an end. I couldn’t help but reminisce of all the people I encountered and the logistical nightmare that I overcame to pull the trip of my lifetime off. The whole experience was something that gave me a perspective that there really is life outside of CA. And all the generous people that helped us on our journey bring a deep sadness to me knowing for a brief moment in my life I was fortunate to have met them.
We did arrive at 1:15 PM Thursday afternoon and I remember the last 55 miles of the trip when I was telling Tom, I only have 1-hour left before it was all over. It came and passed in a split second so it seemed and all that I could think about was how many days until I get to visit, Kingston with Larry Hallstead from Rondout Marina, Catskills, Captain Kirk on Chances Aargh, Jimmy Gogats from TZ Marine Service– Sturgeon Point, and maybe even run into Dave & Carol on their 36 Passport, Adele Jones and her husband, but most of all my newest lifelong friend Dave (Bogie) Bouquart and his good friend Eddie Murray.
Thanks to all of you that helped us along our journey and to those of you that fallowed us during those trying days, we appreciate all your encouraging comments on our blog. But most off all, both Brandon and I hope we’ve given all of you a chance to travel alongside the 800 mile passage up and down the Hudson and though the Erie Canal with us as we experienced it.
Until our next journey…
Singing off @ 23:27 hours, Sunday, August 1, 2010
Skipper “Bad Striper.
Brandon R. Lopez
Last night was a long night for both of us since we came to grips that our trip we had planned for the last 2 years was over and we weren’t going to make our final destination—Sturgeon Point on Lake Erie, but I managed to turn a negative situation into something positive with the plan to do this all over again next year. There’s going to be a couple of changes such as leaving from Buffalo and up to Niagara and Eastward on the Erie Canal. This will give us the opportunity to see the areas we fell short of this year. Also, we’ve out grown “Bad Striper,” and I’m already looking into a 26’ Skipjack. This boat has 160 gal. Fuel tank, Volvo Inboard/outboard with a diesel engine with a range of 460 miles, which is 1 extra mile per gallon. Also it has lot’s more cabin space with a small galley and head. Oh and we need a 2 hrs power Honda generator to run the small air conditioner for the extreme heat waves that we experienced this trip.
The next morning Eddie Murray took us to pick out our truck and trailer so that we could head back to Winter Marine Service. It was a long day and unfortunately we didn’t arrive until after 7:00 PM after they had already closed. So we new we’d have to spend the night there until they opened up in the morning.
After our oatmeal breakfast they loaded the boat on the trailer and we were on our journey back to Albany to have the lower unit fixed, which was about 180 miles east of us. We arrived mid day and Eric was able to open her up and readjust the linkage for us. It was amazing that when I turned her over the started engage with no hesitation. Also, I think there must have been a loose connection of the “Check Oil” light since it didn’t turn on. I’m not certain on this one, but when I get back home I’ll run her for 20 minutes to see if the problem was solved.
Now we were back on the road again heading back towards Buffalo for another long day of driving, but we still managed to have fun talking about what we had accomplished and the things we want to do next year.
One think I didn’t want to miss out on was getting the opportunity to see the George Eastman House in Rochester. It would have been a shame being a photographer and not seeing the museum. I had no idea what to expect in the Rochester, and I was quite surprised to see such a beautiful town with so much history. I wish we had a couple of days to visit all the museums and just hang around downtown. Also, if you ever in this neck of the woods, make sure to spend time here—sorry MS that I never took you up on visiting your home town…
It was getting late and we still had a bit of a drive to Buffalo where we stayed at my old buddy Dave’s house again—I owe him big time!
Our designation for the day is to get somewhere around Lock 24, but our first order of business was to get the boat in order so that we can start our preliminary checks and also figure out this “Check Oil” light, which has been bothering me throughout the night.
After we tidied up and ate breakfast—oatmeal, I pulled off the engine cover and first tried to clear the 2 CODES that popped up. I was able to delete the #35 CODE, but that was secondary to #22, which was the Oil CODE. So I decided to head over to Brewerton Marina to see if they worked on Evinrudes and unfortunately they didn’t, but I was told there was a company about 4 miles up next to one of the locks. I knew by keeping the rpm’s down to about 1500 we could still travel about 5 nm, which I roughly 5.5 mph.
Before we started heading up I was told there’s a self-serve gas pump on the starboard side of the river called Winter Marine Service that had fairly reasonable gas prices. They were only ¾’s of a mile up and we were there within 10 minutes. While we were turning the bow into the dock the forward shifting froze up and we were limited on our maneuverability—fortunately we still had forward momentum to pull up to the dock. I asked if they had a mechanic that new anything about Evinrudes, unfortunately they didn’t work on outboards, but the mechanic said that he would take a look to see if he could figure anything out.
When I went to start her up all I could here and see was the starter spinning and not engaging into the flywheel. Now the starter is out, “Check Oil” light is on and the forward or reverse on the shifter isn’t working. At this point I knew we were going to have to call it quits. I thought about it for 10 or so minutes and decided this was going to be our best option. I even called the repair service that installed the lower unit last week, but the only way I could get them to fix it was to bring it back. Now being under warranty I definitely needed to take advantage of it. I had Winter Marine hoist the boat out of the water onto a rack while we headed 200 miles west to pick up the truck and trailer.
We looked up the Amtrak times and found a perfect departure around 7:23 PM from Syracuse, NY to Buffalo Exchange. We were able to get a ride into town, which was about 11 miles to the station and I made a call to my buddy Dave Bouquart in Buffalo if he could pick us up and drop us off at Sturgeon Point Marina—20 miles southwest of Buffalo. Dave came through for us again and we were able to spend the night at his house.
Since Dave had to work in the morning he asked his buddy Eddie Murray, a race car driver, if he could give us a ride into Sturgeon Point, since he lived in the town right next to it called Angola. Again, the people on the east coast really are great people and really go out of their way to help out. This is something that is very rare in our neck of the woods to experience.
Today is going to be a long day for us since we’re planning on heading from Lock #20 all the way to the West end of Lake Oneida where the canal continues. It should be about a 45-50 mile cruise if all goes well.
From where we’re at today the speed is 10 miles per hour and it’s going to take a bit longer than I thought since we’ve been able to hit 22 knots most of the time. The reason for this is the canal is much narrower in this region, but the landscape is amazing with lush trees almost like the jungle cruise at Disneyland.
We did have a check oil light come on first 5 minutes of the day’s cruise, but when I brought the RPM’s up to 2800 it turned off—a bit concerned about this and I’ll have to check it out on the east end of the lake before we make the 25 mile crossing.
We decided to hold out until after 7:00 PM when the wind dies down, since its not worth the pounding of the swells going across at the windiest part of the day and besides, it was a good opportunity to walk around Sylvan Beach. This area is like one of those movies that have a freshwater beach with sand simulating an ocean beach with a small amusement park and rollercoaster to boot. It was pretty much laid back since it’s Monday and I’m sure during the weekend it’s like hitting Laguna Beach or even Newport but on a much smaller scale.
It was time to make the run and the wind settle down a couple of knots so we headed out next to a small 19’ runabout. At first he was in front of us, but then he got wise and fallowed us behind our wake since we pretty much smoothed out his ride. Our Striper is meant for heavy seas and can take a good swell any day and Lake Oneida was almost like doing the crossing to Catalina around 1100 AM–if anyone has made the crossing at this time you know what I mean. What’s nice about the crossing is there are day marker buoys for us to fallow and even though we have GPS it makes it much easier for anyone to cross the lake.
After an hour or so making the crossing we headed to Brewerton at the east end and docked for the night, but right before we pulled in the “Check Oil” light came on. It seems when we’re running at 2000 rpms it comes on. I guess I’ll have to check it out first thing in the morning
The day after the big storm… Our destination for the day is Lock #20 and from what I hear the areas we’re traveling through today is suppose to be quite spectacular, and from what we’ve seen up to this point I’m sure we won’t be disappointed.
As we passed through Lock #17 the operator said we should spend a little time in Little Falls since there are some really cool places to see. One of which is the rock climbing that goes on to our starboard side as we pass through the narrow passage.
We stopped off and headed back to the climbing area to check out the locals climb the small cliffs and we were even asked it we’d like to try it. I knew I wasn’t interested since I did this before and I remember the feeling of rubber band legs and the arms giving out. It’s one of those sports that take practice and getting the muscles use to it. Never the less it was a cool place to hang out and watch them.
We headed back up to the main village and they’ve done a great job restoring the old downtown buildings and there are quite a few art galleries to see. Unfortunately we only could spend a short amount to time since we had a long day a head of us. I’m sure next time this will be a whole day visit.
Before heading out today we did our daily checks and NOAA’s web site said that the temperature is going to be 91 with chance of thunderstorms into the evening. Our designation is to make it to Lock #15 by 4:00 PM or so.
As we were headed out of lock #9 the operator mentioned we should be careful between Lock #9 and 10 since they were having their annual canoe race. This brought back memories when I use to paddle for Off Shore. The only difference is we had a 6-man crew and an outrigger to stabilize the canoe. Nonetheless, it was still paddling. The main race was an iron man, which took them to lock #10 and back—roughly 7 miles. There were 1-man and 2-man boats in this race and it was fun watching them as we headed westward up the river.
As we continued up the river we stopped off at one of the historical dilapidated locks and decided to take a leisurely hike to stretch out our legs. We came across a cornfield and took a picture of Brandon in the field—Children of the Corn…J Unfortunately we had to cut our walk short since I saw 3 boats waiting to use the launch ramp and we were taking one side of the dock.
We finally arrive at Lock #15 and this one only had vertical lines coming down the wall to hold onto, which is no big deal. However, a sudden squall just came in as we were being lifted. I had to take over Brandon’s position (up on the bow) to try and keep the bow close to the wall, since the wind was 25 miles going through the lock. I could barely hold on and almost lost the line, but a 3-second gap allowed me to reposition myself with the boat up against the wall. If I had lost her we would have slammed up against the other side of the wall. Again, the wind picked up and through us all over the port sidewall of the lock and then the rain started coming down in buckets.
Finally we were at the top of the lock and the operator came out to help us secure ourselves. Within 15 minutes the squall had past and I was completely drenched and an experience I’ll never forget. We moved the boat out of the lock and side-tied to the river wall where boaters could spend the evening.
After securing the boat we told that there was a nice bike trail running along the river and we decided this would be a great opportunity to get a nice ride in and the view was well worth every bit of the ride. The only bad part about it was all the small insects chasing us along the trail. This small green bug even bit Brandon that we’ve never seen before and decided to hightail it to the boat.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is there are hundreds of geese around these areas since the grass is so lush it’s a great feeding ground. The only problem is they crap all over the place. It’s like little dog size everywhere you walk! Also, these guys make a lot of noise all day long and even early in the morning—who needs a rooster around here!
After dinner we turned on Netflicks and was watching Year 2012, which was a perfect movie for what we experienced. Another squall came in and this one was full of lightning. The river’s waves just picked up out of know where and even started coming over the seawall right in front of us. The winds must have been over 30 mph with hail, rain and thunder–now this was a storm. T
The lightning continued throughout the night and from what we heard from the locals the next day, it did a lot of damage to the nearby town, and it was said that there were over 200 strikes of lightning ever minute, which we can verify since the whole ski was lit up while we were watching our movie.
Well hopefully after all the issues from the day before today may bring some good news on the boat. Bill Gates, the adjuster from the insurance company, showed up about 10:30 in the morning after the boat was hoisted out of the water and agreed the lower unit needed to be replaced along with the propeller. The bottom needed to be epoxy’d for now until I get home when the boat is completely dry. The only problem was the paperwork wouldn’t go through until sometime next week so I had to foot the whole bill on my credit card—ouch!
It was getting close to 5:00 PM and finally she was ready to be dropped back into the water for a test run. We fired her up with no problem and took her for a spin around the cove to the front side of the marina. There was no problem and the vibration definitely was gone from the old lower unit. We pulled her in and filled up the tank and made all the necessary checks for an evening run, roughly about 12 miles to lock #8. I think this was good enough miles to check her out just in case something wasn’t working right we could call the shop.
The run was perfect and there were no problems with the engine—purred at 4,000 RPM (21.4 knots). The only problem was I was gun shy every time I saw a trickle in the water thinking it was a log or rock. It’s like the first week after getting into a car accident every time you hear tires skidding and jumping. Well that’s the same feeling I had during the run and I’m sure it will be this way for at least a couple of days if not longer.
We finally made it out to Albany Marine Services were we met up the Larry, who handles the shop and both him and the mechanic came out to inspect the damage and I suspected the lower unit was toast. Not only was the propeller mangled, but also the shaft was bend and they think there’s a crack in it as well. In addition, there’s fluid coming out of the propeller, which means the seals are damaged as well. He said that let him look into the parts and prop and he’ll see the availability since he knew we were transient and had no trailer around to pull it out of the water.
After getting settled in at the dock while Larry did his research, I called the BOATUS again to file a claim. They said they had an adjuster up in Lake Champlain area that could possibly come down on Friday morning to inspect the damage, but it would still take time for all the paperwork etc. Well at least we were moving in a positive direction at this point.
Larry got back with us and told us he could have a whole new lower unit and a prop by tomorrow and possibly have us back on the water. Wow, I said to him, but the only catch was the cost is roughly $5,000. Well I knew the adjuster was coming in the morning and I told him go a head and have them ship it even though BOATUS said not to authorize any work until the adjuster arrived. I new that time was of the essence since the mechanic was going on vacation starting on Monday then we were really going to be in a pickle.
If was about 1:00 PM and I told Brandon lets go into town for lunch and go get some supplies at Wal-Mart up the road about 2 miles or so. This is pretty funny since we had 4 bags of groceries one on each side of the handlebars riding down the W-9. I’m sure people were thinking we’re homeless or something like that, and especially since it’s still pretty warm and humid out here. Who in their right mind would be riding bikes in this weather? Yep, those crazy two from CA…
Here’s what I sent to the claims adjuster
Attn: Claim Adjuster
Attached are pictures of the lower unit for my 2000 Evinrude Fitch 200 HP Outboard Engine.
We were heading southbound between locks 3 & 2 on the Hudson River. At this time I was on my VHF contacting the lock operator requesting permission to enter lock #2 when we hit a huge rock. We were in between RED buoys 52-50 when we hit. The lock operator saw the incident and I told him I would call him right back. I jumped into the water to assess the situation to get the boat out of the rocky bottom. At that point I was able to quickly inspect the damage.
We’re were able to roughly motor up to the lock where we tied off and I dove under the boat to do a better inspection. At that point I saw 2 8″ x 3/4 gouges in the keel of the boat showing fibers. Also there was two chucks taken out of the lower unit and the 4-blade Renegade Stainless Steel prop was completely damaged.
The lock operator told me that there was another boat within the last month that this happen to and he felt that those day marker buoys should be moved in at least 15′ or more.
We managed to get into Troy for the evening to dock and left first thing this morning to Albany Marine Services, who was highly recommended by many of the lock operators, and they have done an inspection. The assessment is: Replace the S.S Prop, New Lower unit, since the shaft is bent and fluid is coming out the unit. They also think the unit may have a crack since the fin is completely severed.
Albany Marine Services
Contact: Larry or Nick