Is Vessel Management for You
Although our primary role in the maritime industry is to provide charters and boating education we have expanded our operations to include vessel management. Many boaters enjoy the benefits of owning their vessel, whether it be a 30' sailboat or a 60' yacht, but do not have the time to manage it. That brings up the question, what does the term "manage" really mean?
Let's begin in the spring (if your boating season is limited to the summers). It is necessary to start the commissioning process Many boat yards even start to "put on the pressure " of getting your boat in the water and out of the way of others still on the hard. You have some choices: contact someone to prepare your vessel for launch. This involves removing the winter cover draining the water systems of anti-freeze, flushing systems, washing and perhaps waxing, checking all electronic systems, etc. You must then arrange a launch date and make sure all goes well and your vessel is on her slip for the season.
During the season it is prudent to check her on a weekly basis (preferred ) to make sure all is well and when you do want to take her out she is fully operational. Then as fall approaches it is time to plan hauling and winterization (most importantly, measures must be taken to prevent freezing).
The owner has options: arrange and pay for each of the operations that must be performed during the coarse of the year, including cleaning, engine maintenance , systems operation and vessel readiness and there is also the important evaluation of all safety equipment
on a regular basis.
Osprey Marine Ltd. currently has customers who have requested we "manage" the vessel. This includes all the above mentioned procedures (spring commissioning , fall hauling and winterization, routine maintenance and cleaning, trouble shooting of any problems that should arise, arranging any service or repair that we cannot handle and doing a weekly check of the vessel and all systems). It allows the owner to enjoy the benefits of owning a vessel knowing she is "ready to go" when wanted. We also provide captain services when requested. Many owners would prefer having a captain on board to operate their vessel when they are entertaining guests or family .
If you are one of the many that enjoys working on their own vessel you not only have the benefit of getting to "know" you boat but also the satisfaction and pride in boat ownership to a higher level. That has been my experience with many boats I have owned over the years and what drove me to start my own business. However, if you would like to enjoy your vessel without the hassles of maintenance and repair and know she is ready to go on a moments notice, perhaps with a captain, then perhaps a management program is for you.
by Capt. Peter Kane
" Feel the wind", he said, as we moved across the lake. I finally go it! You need to not only feel the wind, but also know the wind. We have all felt the gentle breeze as it touches our face or the driven wind on a cold day that makes life a bit uncomfortable to say the least. But that day ,sailing my 16' Hobie Cat with my friend, a very experienced sailor, I set a foundation for my future sailing experiences.
I was new to sailing having just purchased the "Cat"and was anxious to get on it and sail - but my skills were limited and I invited my friend and neighbor to join me. The air was still as we drifted out on the lake. Mountains around the lakes perimeter caused any wind to shift and change locations . You could see ripples on the water ahead which gave notice to what might be coming. Within seconds the sails filled and we were off like a shot. I made note of the "tell tales" on the jib and main and tried to point the catamaran in a heading that would give us optimum speed. My friend wanted me to initially feel the winds direction; to get a sense of what the wind and boat were doing and then look at the "telltales".
To this day I think of that experience many years ago. Now we have instruments that "tell us about the wind" but you still need to develop that sense. It is almost like comparing "dead reckoning" to GPS. A good mariner needs to know the fundamental principals of navigating and sailing. I can think of no better way to do so than by experience; by feeling the wind, the boat and reacting to what they are telling you.
For many years I operated a fishing charter vessel. It was a twin screw boat and after a short period of time I came to know what that boat wanted to do under specific circumstances. When operating in close quarters (docking for example) I could judge the wind speed and direction and maneuver the vessel accordingly to allow for an approach to the dock. Sailboats are different. They behave differently. The deep displacement hull, single prop. and a relatively large "sail area" without the sails up all add to the challenges of "putting her on the dock" - then add to it all with a turning prop that wants to "walk" the boat exactly where you to not want it to go.
"Feel the wind" and know your boat. How does she handle in close quarters? How can you control the boat with all factors considered. Practice, practice, practice - it is like going to Carnegie Hall! Go SLOW. Anticipate where the wind will put you. It all comes together with experience and that fundamental ability to "feel the wind" and your boat.
But when all is said and done there is that love of sailing that comes out. Peaceful, quiet (unless you are sailing with a storm jib in a full gale; but that's another story for another time)and the feeling of just enjoying the moment with no rush to go anywhere.
by Capt. Peter Kane
More years ago than I lke to think I sailed our 27' Hunter out of Stamford Harbor in Connecticut into Long Island Sound on a beautiful morning heading towards the East River.
The sunrise to our East was promising a great morning and I gave little thought to what might be ahead of us. Within a short period of time we were facing a fog bank! There was no avoiding it and my first thought was to make a 180 and return to the clear air. However, better judgement told me to get a fix! Good move. I at least had an idea where we were when we lost visibility.
From then on it was GO SLOW and maintain my heading. My wife took position on the bow as a look out and sounded our horn as required by the "rules". With nothing but a compass and chart it was stressful to say the least - adding to the fact we had our two young children on board.
I made a decision to set a course out of the main channel into shallower waters where I knew there would be no commercial traffic. We were lucky enough to have the fog lift a bit and got a visual fix on the light at "stepping stones". From there our heading changed and the course brought us out of the channel near the Throgs' Neck bridge. Another sail boat was at anchor there and the captain was kind enough to allow us to raft up.
I will never forget my wife shouting to me from the bow as we approached the bridge; "we are going to get hit by a truck!" An indication of the stress level she was experiencing.
Years go by - I am running a charter on my Luhrs Sportfish out to Block Island. It is a nasty morning; a cold easterly wind lifting the seas to three feet or better and very poor visibility. I am watching my Garmin GPS chartmap and my Furuno radar. Every few miles I go below to set a "fix" on my paper chart. Radar shows me a vessel on close approach, we make radio contact (it is the Block Island Ferry out of Point Judith) , share our cordialities and pass port to port. What would we do without the wonders of electronic navigation? Well, you had better start thinking about it , because it can happen. Electronics can fail. Your ability to deal with it will be based on your fundamental navigational skills. Maintain a "fix" of your position on a paper chart, know how to use the compass correctly in correlation with your charts and the course you have laid out. Be knowledgable of correct use of the VHF radio. If needed, be able to give your position using Lat./Long. numbers - NOT "I am somewhere near that big island".
Any prudent boater will be familier with these skills. You can easily learn basic navigation.Courses are offered all the time by your local "power squadron", boating safety instructors and private individuals. Do not rely on GPS and radar; be confident in your ability to be a safe boater!
Electronic Navigation is Great........BUT
How it all Started
Bareboat Chartering in the BVI
Having just returned from a bareboat charter in the British Virgin Islands I thought, perhaps it might be of interest to some of our followers to learn a bit more about what is involved in a "bareboat" charter and what the BVI has to offer. This is not the first time we have traveled to the islands to sail. All total we have been down there a number of time over the years. Why choose the BVI over the U.S. Virgin Islands? Simply put there are so many more charter companies to choose from. If your choice is a newer boat with all the upgrades there is the Moorings on Tortolla or Voyager on the West end in Sopers Hole. We found a small charter company this time in Road Town known as Conch Charters. They have been in business over 25 years and offer a fleet of vessels that are older but less expensive. Some of their boats show a bit of age but are well taken care of and if there is a problem the company will respond rapidly to address it. I spoke with one of the owners, Andrew, about the vessel we had (Beneteau 343) and he was on top of an issue immediatly. Keep in mind even new boats can have a problem.
Even if you were to charter a boat in St. Thomas, the best sailing is in the BVI and you would have to sail there anyway. Clearing customs is a lot easier when traveling by ferry to Tortolla rather than having to sail there and do so. You have options when traveling to the BVI. Many flights are direct from the states to St.Thomas or you can choose to fly to San Juan, PR and then get a flight (20 min) to St. Thomas. I am a fan of Jet Blue and they only offer an indirect flight from JFK in New York to San Juan and then on to St. Thomas, Once in St. Thomas you can get the fast ferry to Tortolla (60 min) and pick up your charter.
Most charterers choose to spend the first night on the boat at the dock, do their own provisioning the next morning and then get checked out. From there the itinerary is up to you. On this trip we sailed a broad reach over to Norman Island. When I first started sailing in the BVI, Norman Island was desolate. It was a quiet anchorage (still is quiet) with good snorkeling at the Caves. It now offers a fine restaurant, Pirates Bight, located on a pristine beach and some nice hiking around the island. There is a steel hulled vessel moored there as well with a great "happy hour" (the Willy T).
The followng morning we sailed East to Cooper Island. Once again this was also non-inhabited back in the 70's and 80's but now is the home of the Cooper Island Beach Club and Sail Carribean Divers. We loved this mooring so much we spent two days there. This also gave me a chance to do a dive on the wreck of the RMS Rhone - made famous by the movie The Deep. I swam through the same opening in the hull that Jacqueline Bisset did, although, she looked a lot better in the wet T-shirt than I did!! Carribean Divers did a great job briefing us on the history of the Rhone and Salt Island. If you ever get there make sure to do a dive with them.
It was then off to Virgin Gorda. Having been in Spanish Town and the "Baths" many times on prior trips we decided to go to North Sound and the Bitter End Yacht Club. Once again we were having a great time so spent two nights. Saba Rock is a very small island in the Sound just North of the yacht club. They have a great restaurant and BAR - a great bar. Very friendly people; both locals and visitors alike. Richard Branson owns Necker Island and frequents Saba Rock and the Bitter End - we did not get to see him.
I am perhaps remiss in not mentioning the sailing. One would start to think our only interests are the restaurants and bars. Not the case. One goes to the island to sail and sailing is optimum. Winds were averaging around 20 knots out of the South East with some slight variations. Seas were about two feet but a bit more when exposed to windward as the fetch was greater between the islands. Sailing is line of sight as you are always viewing the islands. Most of the time you sail in Francis Drake Channel but may be in the Atlantic or Carribean depending upon your course. A trip to Anegada Island, for example, is open ocean for several miles and you need to plan this trip according to weather and time of day. Our past excursions included sails to Jost VanDyke, east end of Tortolla ( Trellis Bay, Monkey Point and Cane Garden Bay) and dives on Jost VanDyke and out of Virgin Gorda. Interestingly, the Beneteau 343 sailed well under just the head sail (a 140 Geneoa) and we only used the main when needed. Almost all main sailes are traditional with easy jacks. On our own boat, a 40' Beneteau we have roller furling main. At first I was not sure I liked it. At my age some accuse me of being too traditional! But, it would have been nice to have it in the islands.
I could write forever about sailing in the BVI and all the wonderful experiences I have had over the years and perhaps will do so in coming articles. Until then, remember, the sun is always under the yardarms somewhere in the world. Cheers - Capt. Pete
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Last week I started the the task of refinishsing the teak on "osprey". There are choices: you can just leave it alone and let it develop that gray hue. It will, however, over time take on a darker and dirty look. Someone once told me to wash it with salt water and it will stay clean. I would rather have the look of wood - there is something about boats and wood. Wooden boats have been replaced by plastic boats; that has its' good points without a doubt, but I like the look of real wood. So, what do I do. Well, let's start by cleaning the teak with a good teak cleaner. Choose one that will not harm or stain the gelcoat. Soak the teak well and brush it with a brass brush and then use copious amounts of water to wash it off. My choice was to let it dry for 24 hours and then use a teak brightener. This will bleach it and return it to its' natural color.
I was fortunate enough to have a few days of bright sun and low humidity with no rain in the forecast. This allowed the teak to dry prior to a light hand sanding. Sanding will remove any fibers that arise from the water and brushing and open the grain a bit.
The choice to be made was now what to use? Teak oil - no. I have used it before and it seems to attract dirt and within a short period of time the wood starts to return to the graying phase. How about a good spar varnish - nope, once you start varnishing you are always varnishing. I did find a product made by Sikkins call Cetol. With some research on the internet I found Cetol to be my choice. My friend, Jim Vallone at Great Hudson Sailing Center recommended it as well and I really value his opinion. He is an extremely knowledgable sailor with many years experience.
I used the Cetol Light rather than Natural Teak and was very pleased with the results. It does require 3 coats and they do not recommend sanding between coats (I used a Scotch pad very lightly). the end results were very pleasing . In order to maintain the look it is necessary to keep an eye on the finish on an annual basis. If you see areas of wear or change in surface look you need only to sand lightly and touch up the region.
Time will tell if I made the correct choice.
Down the Hudson to the "Big Apple"
Transiting the Hudson River can be a great trip for any boater - especially if you have never done it before. The Hudson River, more correctly, an estuary, offers a great deal of history from lighthouses to mansions of times past. It gives the boater tranquility as well as the hustle and bustle of New York Harbor. Recently, the construction of the nw Tappan Zee Bridge provides the view of some of the worlds' largest cranes and the massive undertaking of building a bridge of this size - and you are passing by with a "first row seat".
Osprey started its' trip from Kingston, New York located on the Rondout Creek, a deep water, protected creek about 90 nautical miles north of Manhattan. Since the Hudson is an estuary it has both an outgoing and incoming current which can have a rather dramatic effect on your travel time.