The last time I was in Charleston was my 2016 trip from Annapolis to Fort Lauderdale on the Sabre. During that visit I noted the very strong currents here, but since I was visiting in the fall I didn’t take particular note of the climate.
Now I’m here in July and …
Much more humid than Fort Lauderdale in July but without Lauderdale’s wind, palm trees, and pretty girls in bikinis on the beach. The locals tell me many people leave for July and August.
Working from the boat every day, I hide down below with all of the shades drawn like a hermit until my evening sunset walk. When the squalls don’t keep me hiding through the evening too, the sunsets are the biggest payoff for being here – they’re amazing every day. But man. It’s time to get north!
If you own a first – or second-generation (ie 1970s or 1980s era) Sabre like we did, you may be a docking ninja on just about any other sailboat and not even knowing it. We loved our Sabre 42 desperately but she was … uh … slightly challenging to handle under power in tight quarters when docking unless the conditions were totally calm.
I have only docked a Hylas 54 twice – once during the sea trial of a candidate for Rover in Fort Lauderdale, and once weekend before last docking Rover here in Charleston for the first time. On both occasions I have been amazed at how much more relaxed the experience was. Here are the differences:
- The Hylas (like most newer boats) has a single engine control that combines the throttle with the gear lever. That means you can switch from being in gear, to neutral, to reverse while keeping one hand on the wheel and without concentrating on making sure the engine speed is down to idle before engaging a gear. By contrast, on the Sabre these two controls were separate, which meant (i) bracing the wheel with one’s chest to keep it from turning, and (ii) becoming distracted by the need to verify the engine speeds were down to idle before a gear change. It might sound like a trivial distinction but in practice it makes a huge difference in the docking or anchoring experience.
- The Hylas’ prop is in line with its rudder. This means that from a dead stop you can engage forward and immediately kick the stern out using the wash over the rudder. By contrast, the first two generations of Sabres had the prop designed to be offset from the rudder. So these generations of boats (and any contemporary boats with twin rudders!) can’t be steered before they are moving through the water fast enough to get flow over the rudder. This is a major difference that meant careful planning of maneuvers on the Sabre, whereas we can turn the Hylas around in a much shorter radius even before we consider…..
- …..the bow thruster. Having this basically feels like cheating after several seasons docking and anchoring Le Saberage. Interestingly, I had a working thruster on the Lauderdale sea trial but I didn’t when docking Rover for the first time. Meh. Everything was so much easier to begin with that we’re going to feel like spoiled brats the first time we use our new one.
So here’s the rub: if you’re a Sabre owner and you’re not constantly plowing into things and bending pulpits, congratulations: you’re a Jedi Knight at docking whether you knew it or not.
More pre delivery safety checks!
- Dump fresh water into the bilge until bilge pump #1 comes on and voids the bilge. Check!
- Pull fuse for pump #1 and dump water into bilge until pump #2 comes on. Check!
- Disable pump #2 and dump bunch of water into the bilge. Test manual Whale pump by nav station. Does it work? Check!
- Return fuse to pump #1 and manually trigger float switch for high water alarm. Does it sound? Check!
- Use soapy water for all tests to get quickie bilge cleaning done. Check!
Aka how to earn a Malibu Tonic with this view before dinner:
- Change generator Racor filter and inspect Racor bowl for hateful contamination found in main engine Racor.
- Main engine and generator run test to expel air from fuel systems. Learn generator will self bleed after a few stalls
- Locate all seacocks. Can you reach them and do they open and close?
- Are there through hull plugs aboard in case one fails?
- Clean Sea water strainers for engine and generator
- Test all electronics including navigation and VHF radio check (don’t do this on 16! Use free Tow Boat US)
- Ensure AIS is receiving and set to transmit
- Generator full load test for one hour: all three AC zones cranking!
- Check sea strainers and Racors for leaks
Finally test ice maker for the first time!
Since our new baby has not been sailed a ton lately I decided to fly down a week or two before our planned delivery from Charleston to Annapolis. The first thing I wanted to do was change the fuel filters and polish the fuel by running it through the Racors from one tank to another. So far I’m finding about what I expected to since the fuel is a year old!
(Below) Ummmm yeah time to replace:
As polishing has started I’ve quickly found growth stirred up in the Racor bowl and I’m endeavoring to flush it out. It was so bad it clogged the quarter inch drain bolt hole! Very glad we checked this before going out into the ocean…..
After 4-5 bowls of flushing it’s looking better:
Now the question is how many of these am I going to cook while polishing today!
Meet “Rover,” our newly purchased 2006 Hylas 54! She’s currently lying in Charleston with a delivery home to Annapolis scheduled for mid July.
We have a boat!
And we may have found Rover…