When we did a bottom job on the boat in October, we decided that the props needed replacing. New props had to be manufactured, requiring 6 weeks. So we decided to replace the shafts, paint the bottom, and return to Xynides at the beginning of our trip.
The bottom was pressure washed. A boat with a displacement hull travels through the water with a large surface creating friction and resistance. The cleaner and smoother the hull, the less the resistance, and the greater the efficiency. When you are working with a boat that travels 7.5 to 8 miles an hour, small improvements make measurable differences. With a long trip planned, it made sense to leave with the bottom of the boat in the best shape possible.
The new props installed. We had applied PropSpeed a couple weeks earlier. The gold color is appropriate for this product, as the price is comparable. It is also claimed that the slick surface increases the efficiency of the props and our measurements indicated that we do pick up some speed with this coating. There are many components on boats and many considerations to be made in choosing products/systems and making sure the installation is correct.
Last Dance is a twin-engine vessel and has two sets of shafts and props. The new "wheels" installed and ready.
Since we will be traveling through areas filled with crab traps and other debris, we decided to purchase a bit of insurance. A line wrapped around a propeller/shaft can rip the shaft out of the boat or pull off the supporting struts. Either situation could result in a sunken boat. Forward of the props, we installed some line cutters, by a manufacturer calling them Shaft Sharks. There will be a bit efficiency lost in prop performance, but there is always a trade-off. An unintended aspect in this image is the framing of the shrimp boat, Apple Jack. Kenny, Apple Jack's captain, has provided many pounds of shrimp for our table.
Last Dance, cleaned and new props, ready to go back in the water. A two-hour stop on the first day of the voyage that should provide great improvement in performance for many 1000's of miles.
The chart plotter showing us heading north, with the 312 bridge behind us and downtown St. Augustine ahead. The speed of 9.4 mph was aided by the current created from an outgoing tide. Screaming north at a high rate of speed.
Our first night was spent at anchor in the Fort George River, just north of the St. Johns River. We anchored in front of the Kingsley Plantation house, built in 1795. It is now a state park and you can see that the house is receiving some renovations to correct termite damage.
As an ending note to this first day of a long journey, we wanted to add a few remarks from the previous Saturday when we shared an evening with family, friends and colleagues at the Creekside Restaurant. English professor, Allan Marcil, and artist wife, Jody, shared a gift guaranteed to lift our spirits, presented in a creative gift box along with a cute card. The photo on the card is below. You may see us someday in the shirts embroidered with "Ms. Captain" and "Mr. First Mate" which accompanied the spirit-lifting gifts from math professor, Ed McDonald, and wife Kelly. A special addition, and a bit of surprise, was the arrival of daughters Amanda, from Jacksonville, and Brittany, from Baton Rouge at Creekside. It was a great evening sharing dinner, drinks and conversation. Thanks much to Krista Ubbels for arranging this event.