what course Peter plotted. Although
I’ve cruised between Lauderdale and
the Caribbean more than 20 times,
right at that moment I was useless to
Bob and Peter since we didn’t bother to
communicate before we departed.
I’m a fan of just driving the boat,
especially at the beginning of a leg, in
order to acclimate to the environment and
sea state. I allow the boat to settle down
under me, and by steering, I can help her
find her groove a lot quicker. By pulling
the throttles back, turning off the pilot and
placing a waypoint above Bimini’s North
Rock, we’re able to take away some of the
electronic inputs for a bit and ease into
our passage with a little more grace.
The next morning we begin our run
across the Great Bahama Bank. I love
this leg, especially if the sun is shining to
illuminate the clear water right down to
the starfish on the white sand bottom.
This day it was not. We shake off the
cobwebs from the night before and
enjoy another gourmet meal from Bob’s
My hosts and Peter all hail from
Canada. While on the bridge with a
cup of coffee the conversation steers
toward politics and the United States.
I pride myself on my current affairs
knowledge, yet I admit I’m unprepared
for Bob’s pop quiz on Canadian politics
and culture. He dresses me down like
a disappointed college professor before
changing the subject with a roll of his
eyes. Next time I’ll be prepared to cruise
with our friends from the north. (See
“Ten Things You Didn’t Know About
Canada But Should” on page 46.)
I’m at the helm reciting the 10
Canadian provinces when Bob suggests
we change our course for Chub Cay.
I admit I’m reluctant at first. My plan
calls for another night on the ocean
and a more southerly course down
the Tongue of the Ocean to arrive at
Farmer’s Cay Cut at sunrise. It soon
occurs to me that I’m in delivery mode
while Bob and Carrie are in cruising
mode. And they should be! They’re
planning to cruise in the Virgin Islands
for the next six months and more. Why
should they beat the hell out of the boat
and themselves to shave off a day?
Kevin Althoff from Burr Yacht Sales
concurs. “It seems like in every marina,
there’s some guy swaggering down the
The entrance into Turtle Cove looks daunting, but deep. Don’t be a hero and take the
marina’s offer to send out a guide to meet you at the reef.
Passagemaking TiPs From CaPTain kevin
> if you’re leaving before dark, spend the night before turning down the instrument lighting to night settings. it saves time in
the morning and it’s too tempting to try to do it under way in a time crunch to get off the dock.
> most people will scoff at spending the money for a 72-mile radar, saying that they don’t need to see that far, curvature of the
earth, height off the water and other reasons. What they miss is that it’s like a high-end stereo amplifier; you notice the quality
at low ranges even if you don’t crank it up to full power all the time.
> Watch-change should involve an engine room check and briefing of how things are going (are the weather conditions worsening up or getting better?) and a discussion of any marine traffic. You might be approaching a busier area or an area with local,
poorly lit fishing boats. i always review how to use the radar and how to turn on the spotlight controls with each crew. This
watch-standing routine needs to start when the boat is under way, not at 9 p.m. when the sun has dropped. Let everyone play
with the radar during the day, tracking targets, tuning ranges, gain, sea clutter, etc. going into the first night with everyone following similar procedures gives your crew confidence in standing watch and lets the captain rest easier.
> Before a long passage, you need to be mentally ready for long periods of boredom wondering what is going to happen next.
Will it be a mechanical failure, bad weather or a loony crew member who wants to be ashore? But the beauty of a mid-ocean
sunrise, pods of greyhounding dolphins or just the amazing feeling of landfall in a place where you have to clear customs will be
worth all the preparations.
> i’ll set another screen up for the chart, usually in north up because it’s what i’m used to seeing, but that’s not critical, orient
it the way you like. Then i’ll have a third screen for chart overlay. it all can be done with one screen, but it’s easier for your brain
to put the puzzle pieces together when you scan over with your eyes. most new radars can also do multiple ranges at the same
time, so with those, there is no more zooming in and out—you just scan from one screen to another to see if there are freighters
at 20 miles and small boats at 1 mile. —kevin althoff