CSR Bahamas Rendezvous (Spring Break 2015)

Discussion in 'Sea Ray Lifestyle & Cruising' started by Alex F, Nov 19, 2014.

  1. cod

    cod Member GOLD Sponsor

    664
    Nov 25, 2010
    Naples, Fl.
    2005 500 Sedan Bridge/
    Cummins QSM 11's/
    Hey Mark,

    The trip is amazing so far. Having a great time with lots of laughs .....The locals are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet as well as the other cruisers. We are in Hopetown now. A must do for you. I'm seriously considering leaving the boat here for several months in the future. It makes sense if you are going to return more than once when you consider the fuel cost(and we know we are definitely coming back). We had flat seas for the crossing and the weather has been perfect. Today is the first breezy day.
    I'm sure Alex will have plenty of pictures to post. It would have been great if you were able to join us.
     
  2. nautic_32

    nautic_32 New Member

    7
    Sep 9, 2014
    Tampa,Fl.
    2005 28' Aquasport explorer, 10' fiberglass bottom dinghy with 9.9hp engine
    dual yamaha's 4 strokes
    Hi there that's good news to see, you guys deserve better im guessing all the time for preparation and $$. Hoping the rest of the trip will be better, keep us posted and plz take tons of pics.

    john
     
  3. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    Thank you for the update Steve.... Living vicariously through you guys. Wish I was there rather than the grind of the work week.

    Looking forward to the debrief postings. Have a great time - be safe - and enjoy it for all of us on the mainland...

    Mark
     
  4. Woody

    Woody Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Nov 20, 2007
    N. Wisconsin/Lk Superior
    2005 420DA
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    No pics? :smt089
     
  5. mistercomputerman

    mistercomputerman Active Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Jan 6, 2008
    Virginia Beach, VA
    410 Sundancer - 2001
    Twin 8.1L Mercruisers - 2009
    They didn't really go to the Bahamas. The trip was just made up to tease everyone.
     
  6. cod

    cod Member GOLD Sponsor

    664
    Nov 25, 2010
    Naples, Fl.
    2005 500 Sedan Bridge/
    Cummins QSM 11's/
    Well..... here are some photos of the trip that never happened. :) Alex is the official photographer of the trip so his photos will certainly put mine to shame......
    The photo of our boats anchored was at Manjack Cay. Then the photo of me cruising was when we were heading to Marsh Harbor from Manjack to pick up some friends that flew in and stayed on the boat with us for the week. The next photo is of the Atlantic side on a breezy day at the Abaco Inn. The photo to the right of that is Double Breasted. The rest of the photos are in Hopetown and Green Turtle Cay.
     

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  7. Havana Shamrock

    Havana Shamrock Active Member

    Sep 9, 2008
    Long Island.
    2005 500DB
    QSM11's,
    Honda 30HP
    Now im really jealous! Looks like a fantastic time glad everyone enjoyed it. Can't wait for the write up. The boats look at home in those waters. Thanks Steve
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  8. h_gerry

    h_gerry Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 19, 2013
    Oceanside, NY
    400 Express Cruiser - 1994 with
    Raytheon 41xx Radar, Northstar 6000i GPS
    Kohler 5E
    454 Mercruiser Inboards
    Nice pictures! Looks like it was a great trip.
     
  9. Alex F

    Alex F Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.
    Let me start by thanking everyone who provided all kind of info helping to make this successful and unforgettable journey.

    We started off planning the rendezvous with potential group of 6+ boats, but as we got closer to the date, majority had to back out for various reasons. I’m sorry for all who tried, but couldn’t make the trip. I wish you were there to share the experience.

    It’s all about choices and taking the opportunity while it’s still present. As we were only couple days away from the departure date, Randy was still hoping for the weather window to cooperate and have decent conditions for going and returning. Steve, Randy and I were glued to the weather reports, as we had to make the final decision. We saw that there was a storm passing at the beginning of the week, but once it passed, there was some nice opening (light wind and calm seas) starting from Tue.

    Our flight was on Wed 8:30pm. As each day was passing the weather window was closing. By around late Mon early Tue we could see that Thu was the best day, Fri was doable, Sat looked great. But then, they’ve predicted some weather to roll in Sun/Mon, which turned out to be a show stopper for Randy, as he had to return back to FL on Monday. By Tue eve, it became clear that Inspiration and Retreat will be the only two boats making this journey.

    As I took a step back and reviewed our itinerary, I had idea of making a change to our Plan A. Those who were following the thread, probably saw that Randy was mostly interested on going to Double Breasted for few nights, with stops in West End for fuel. But, after I’ve learned that Randy wasn’t going, I thought that in the interest of distance and maximizing our South Abacos experience, we should skip Double Breasted and head to S. Abocos right after West End. When I proposed the idea to Steve, he was 100% on board.

    Here’s where it started to get interesting. This was a classic example of crews being 100% committed and truly flexible to make things work. We’re 1.5 days from the trip and now we’re literally making last minute changes to the entire itinerary. Another look at the weather and we have Thu calm wind with seas 1-2’, Fri E wind 12-15kts, seas 3-4’ occasional 5’ers. I knew this was the time to have a discussion with admiral and propose to “really push it” and move the departure date to Thu in exchange for smooth crossing. Having great communication was the key between both crews. By about Tue eve, Steve and I had new dates and modified float plan. By Wed am, all marina reservations have been changed to reflect new dates. Here’s what the new float plan looked like:

    Final Float Plan.jpg

    By now, most of you probably understand what Steve meant in his post when he said “…Hopefully Alex can get his provisioning done early enough tomorrow to make the crossing tomorrow as well...”. My crew is now in a truly “New York minute” mode. Having our flight scheduled for 8:30pm on Wed from NJ to FL, I had no idea how is it going to work out for us to make the crossing Thu am. We haven’t been on the boat for a while. So, leaving all technical and navigational items aside, at the bare minimum, we had to get all provisioning done for our 10-11 days trip. It’s not like we’re going on vacation to an all-inclusive resort. Having boat properly stocked with provisions is essential for us. So, I figured if we land around 12am and get to the boat by 1am or so, we should be ok. Another challenge I’ve learned was that we’re under time limit in regards to clearing customs. The customs office in West End closes at 5pm, so I knew that whatever we do, we have to get there at least by 4pm to clear customs and get fuel. Steve and I were constantly in touch and I told him that even though we’d love to make the run for it on Thu, worst case scenario, we’ll do the crossing early on Fri.

    Game on, it’s Wed. Steve is crossing the state via Lake O. heading toward Stuart. We’re all excited and getting last minute prep items ready. By around 6pm we get notification that our flight is delayed by 1.5hrs. That’s just great, exactly what I need! …LOL…between 7pm and 9pm, we received about 10-15 texts from United (flight is now scheduled at 9, then, no it’s now at 9:30, no it’s now at 9:10…and on and on…). WTF, make up your mind. To make long and boring story short, we ended up on the boat by 3am.

    BZZZ….BZZZ…BZZZ…..It’s 7am in a beautiful sunny FTL. Admiral and I are jumping out of bed and spearheading to the stores. By 11am we’re back at the boat packing everything fast and getting ready to cast the lines. Holly Luya, it’s 12pm and we’re out of Port Everglades inlet. The hammer is down and we’re cruising……..Let me pinch myself, is this for real? Am I awake? Is this really happening?......
    Phweeooo, it’s finally time to relax and take it all in.

    I guess now is a good time to ask ourselves “why did we have to do all this crazy running around”? This is why….This is what people call ideal conditions in the Gulf Stream.


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    Surprisingly enough the marine traffic was very light. We were cruising on our own most of the time and only came across couple of recreational and commercial vessels. For the most part I had the commercial traffic on the screen rather than eye sight.

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    About 50NM in to the trip, we’re in crossing situation with something you don’t see every day. I check the AIS stats and it’s Disney Magic heading to Port Canaveral at 8.5kts. It was really cool site. From nothing in site but deep blue water, to this beautiful ship right in front of us. As we were getting closer I had decent distance and time, but knowing that their margin of alert is 1.5NM, I did want to make anyone uncomfortable. So, I change the course by 20 degrees to pass her on the stern.

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    West End

    West End, here we come.

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    Here comes the customs building. OMG,…. what we do?... run, hide, get the flags, do something….OMG….

    You’re in Bahamas man. Just chill and be cool. I have to tell you that we have arrived in the world of super friendly people. Whether it’s an official officer or dockmaster, or just a cruiser, everyone is very friendly and willing to help without hesitation. I thought our timing was perfect. We arrived at 3:30pm, which allowed enough time for clearing the customs and fueling. But, even though the place wasn’t too busy at the time (I was 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] in the line for customs and had to wait for midsize fishing boat to fuel up), it still took 2hrs before we got to our slip. The fact that we got necessary forms prefilled in advanced saved quite a bit of time. All I had to do is fill small declaration forms, pay $300 and we were done. BTW, the fishing permit is now part of the entry permit.

    Whahooooo……… it’s time to enjoy Bahamas.

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    West End (Old Bahama Bay Resort) is very convenient stop for those who’s doing Northern and Southern Abacos. Very easy in and out, reputable (high turnover) fuel, decent marina with cute Bahamian architecture resort with nice beach and various things to do.

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    We gladly took the opportunity to purchase some local treats.

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    Manjack Cay
    Good by West End, we’re off to Manjack Cay.

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    As you study the charts you can see that Indian Rock Passage is shallow and must be treated with caution, pass it preferably during mid/high tide. Since the rush was over, we simply took our time to trawl through the shallow spots and jumped on plane when we started seeing over 8’-9’ of water.

    As we arrived to Manjack Cay, we checked out the northern anchorage and saw that with easterly ocean swells it might get rocky in there. So, we moved on to the next spot, following the shore line. As we made the turn to port, we could clearly see that majority of boats were anchored in the Southern anchorage, which is ideal for SE winds.

    Here are couple of nice shots of Retreat approaching the anchorage.

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    Retreat is getting ready to drop the hook.


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    It’s amazing to see the whole chain and bridle just laying on bottom.

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    It’s time to explore and hit the beach.


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    How cool is this beach, it even has a tiny tiki-bar with swings and hammocks, for cruisers to use.


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    While we were playing in the water, all of a sudden couple of stingrays swim by. Now, that’s some beach.

    Heading to Marsh Harbor to fuel up and pickup additional crew (Steve’s friends). Conch, Inn Resort and Marina has high turnover on fuel, so we felt comfortable fueling up there.


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    Hopetown

    Heading to Hopetown (Hopetown Inn & marina)

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    It didn’t take too long before we felt welcomed in this wonderful boating community. As we were checking in with the dockmaster, couple people came over and said don’t forget dinghy raft at 6:30 tonight, there’s a full moon party at 7:30, for best beach go there …. We felt like we part of this community and knew these people for a long time. The marina was pretty tight (in the section I was in), but the amenities were great and it had very cozy feel. Since it’s very well protected, docking was easy. The marina is located across the harbor from the town, but there’s shuttle that takes you wherever you need to go. The place is very nice and clean, and well organized.


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    Heading out to explore on dinghies and spend some time on a beach.

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    The beach we found just a short walk from dinghy dock was awesome. There’s really fine sand, amazing water, but this beach also had its own reefs just few steps away. In the pic below you can see the dark spots in the water. That’s how close to the beach the chain of reefs starts here. It‘s full of marina life, corals, colorful fish, small caves, etc. It’s just one spectacular spot.

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    A pic of dinghies raft in the harbor. We didn’t have a chance to find what was going on there, since we chose to do a full moon party, which had a schedule conflict.

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    Next on the list was the trip to a nearby island for the full moon party. While on the ferry, we met a crew from 130’er Westport mega yacht. Obviously we had a lot of things to discuss, since their boat is from VA and is frequent visitor in the Northeast (Newport, Sag, Nantucket, etc.).

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    The following day we had dinner at Fire Fly. We discovered the place by water while taking a dinghy ride to explore the area.

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    Happy birthday, Steve!

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    After dinner, the waiter said, don’t worry about waiting for a ride. He grabs an 8 sitter gulf card from the resort and takes us back to the dock, where marina shuttle is picking us up. As we drive on the dark main road, we pass by a biker, he asked for a lift, grabs the gulf card’s bar and we’re now towing him toward the town. That’s how they roll in Bahamas….LOL

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    Next day we planned on having a group bike tour and head to Abaco Inn Resort. To our luck, just minute before Steve entered the bike rental shop, a group of boy scouts walked in and rented all of the remaining bikes. This world is too small. Guess where the group was from? Long Island NY….LOL…

    Since my crew had the bikes on board, we decided to meet up at the resort, while Retreat’s crew gets a cab or gulf card ride there.

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    We couldn’t pass the opportunity to tour the lighthouse, which was walking distance from our marina.

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    Great Guana Cay
    It’s time to say good-by and head to GGC.

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    We found another great anchorage (right by Grabbers), which was close to most happening places. There was no shortage of beaches either.

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    Bunch of conch shells right on the beach.

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    There was what looked like 60 y/o fishing boat, but I thought it made a cool pic.

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    After strolling around the town it was time to chill and swim in the beautiful water right off the boats. That’s why we love staying on the hook.

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    As we walking the main street, we came to the sign for Nippers, so we went to check it out.

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    As we headed to town for some provisions from local stores, we bumped into boys scouts from LI, who were chartering big sailcat (anchored in the pic below).

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    Learning new phrases.

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    Green Turtle Cay
    Next port is GTC (Bluff House Resort & Marina). This is another great Bahamian style resort with excellent beach.

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    It was time to get gulf cards and explore the area on wheels.

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    New Plymouth, here we come.

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    I got bullied by some pool-sharks.

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    This one is a keeper.

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    We stopped at another cool marina/resort on the way back to our place.

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    Green Turtle Cay was the last port for our rendezvous. John and Janette were to head back to Marsh harbor airport, Steve wanted to pass by Double Breasted for one night, as it was more direct route for his return home. Since we managed to get early start, we gained at least one full day. So, we decided to treat ourselves with an extra stop in Miami. So, I set the course to Mangrove Cay for the night, with plan on fueling at West End in the morning and shoot over to Miami right after.

    Mangrove Cay Anchorage
    Cruise to this place was very enjoyable. In one spot we crossed over a fish-mud. The contrast of water color was stunning.

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    We arrived to the anchorage just on time to enjoy the swim in gin color water, and just relax for the rest of the night. As we were done with water activities, capturing the nature, all of a sudden I see something moving very slowly right next to the boat. We’re looking here at good 5’er fish, the kind I have no clue. It didn’t look like a tarpon to me. Then couple of its “friends” showed up and stayed with us for some time. This one had a yellowish belly. My son is all excited to see if he can catch one of these. But, they just look at the squid on the hook and slowly swim away. So, no fish for dinner tonight for us.

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    West End
    As planned, the following morning we made the run to West End to fuel up and then off to Miami.

    One of the challenges we came across was getting updated weather reports info. Back in the states, we don’t think too much about it. We pull put our smart phones, ipads, laptops, etc. If no internet available, we listen to the VHF broadcasts. Oh well, none of it is available when you’re at anchorage in secluded spot. No wifi, no VHF WX is available. So, right before we left GTC, I made sure to check latest reports and forecast was SSE winds at 10-15kts, seas 2-3’. This was similar for both, Sat or Sun. So, we decided going with the day that fits our schedule best.

    From the pics you could see that when we arrived to the anchorage spot in the afternoon, it was dead calm, despite the fact that this anchorage is not very well protected. However, later in the evening the wind picked up to about 12-15kts. It was a bit “bumpy night”. I wondered what the seas would be like tomorrow if this continues.

    Obviously, the cruise between Mangrove Cay and WE was a breeze, since we were in sheltered waters. Even when I came through the Indian Rock Passage, it was fine. But, after we left WE and were about 2-3NM out, we had a taste of the “real Gulf Stream”. For some reason predicted 2-3’ers were 4-5’ers, with occasional 6’ers close together. Since we were heading to Miami (not a straight across shortest run), we were headed in SW direction. With SSE at good 15kts and Gulf moving from S to N, we were feeling the affects. We lost good 2kts heading kind of against the Gulf and the wind. On the positive side, we had just enough angle and were taking the seas not directly on the nose or the beam, which helped big time. Looking at the speed, I said to myself that we might be in this for a while, it’s a good thing that I played safe and fueled up (I had just over ½ tank before fueling). As we cruising along, about 15NM out into the Gulf, the seas started to calm down and we eventually were in what they’ve predicted 2-3’ers. We picked up some speed and it was very different ride now.

    Miami
    We jumped in the Haulover Inlet (to my surprise, it had zero markers. I felt like we were still in Bahamas in regards to navigation).

    Passing popular sand bar frequently used by locals.

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    With snowbirds migration back north, finding a transient slips is becoming less of a hassle. But, some places were still full. We always wanted to check out William’s Island Marina and this was perfect time to do it, since they had an open slip for us.

    After we got settled, I called the CBP. Since we don’t have LBO, I was a bit concerned that it’ll be a hassle. So, I make the call and very nice officer said, no worries I’ll help you to make this an easy process. I felt that officials appreciate boaters who follow the rules and do it by the book, so they try to make it as painless as possible. I had all the info ready and after 15-20 min conversation (interview) I received “The Arrival number”. This is what will be used to find my records fast when I present my crew in to the local office. I was advised to find convenient for us location and bring the crew there within 24hrs of the phone call. We found one of their offices just few min away from where we dock our boat and it took just minutes to finalize the clearance. All in all, very simple process.

    This was some awesome trip, a truly a bucket list item, at least for my crew. I can’t wait for the next one.

    I hope this write-up was entertaining for some and possibly will help those who have never done this trip before.

    Cheers,
    Alex
     
  10. rondds

    rondds Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 3, 2006
    Jersey Shore
    2001 380DA
    Merc 8.1s (2008)...Hurth ZF 63 V-drives...WB 7.0 BCGD (2013), Garmin 8208 & 740 MFDs, GMR 24xHD dome
    Fantastic Alex. Definitely the trip of a lifetime. Glad you were able to do it all! Great story!
     
  11. LMBoat

    LMBoat Member

    409
    Oct 4, 2006
    Ft Lauderdale
    1999 450 EB
    Cummins 6CTA's
    Alex,

    Awsome write-up and pics! I've been following the posts and was anxious to hear about the trip. Glad all went great!
     
  12. Alex F

    Alex F Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.
    Thanks Ron.

    As you can imagine, there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scene. It would be a lot easier to just "release the pressure" by staying locally. But, kept beliveing that we can do it and couldn't justify the reason for backing off.
     
  13. Alex F

    Alex F Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Nov 14, 2006
    East Coast
    2005 420DB with AB 11 DLX Tender, Raymarine Dual E120 MFD/Radar/XMWeather, ST7001 A/P, AIS, SeaLift
    T-Cummins 450Cs Straight-Drives, 9KW Onan Generator, 40HP Yamaha for tender.
    Thanks Larry. Hopefully you can participate in the next trip, whether it's the Keys or Bahamas.
     
  14. MasterFab

    MasterFab Active Member TECHNICAL Contributor GOLD Sponsor

    Aug 17, 2010
    Wallkill, NY
    2002 340 Sundancer, Rescued, Restored, Modernized, and now Sold
    8.1L Horizons, ZF 63 V Drives
    Nice write-up, Alex - well done. Steve, you did OK too!

    Dale
     
  15. Xplicitlnck

    Xplicitlnck New Member

    Jan 2, 2012
    Long island ny
    330ec
    Twin 7.4 straight drive
    All I have to say Alex, is why did you come home? Stunning water, hot weather... just to come home to mucky water and ehhhhh weather. Its my dream to have my boat I the Bahamas and down in the keys so now I kinda know I'm really in for and I can't wait! Glad u made your voyage safe and sound. C ya in a few weeks!
     
  16. my3sons

    my3sons Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Feb 24, 2009
    Upstate NY (lake Erie)
    2004 400DB, Onan 9 kw Gen, Highfield RIB,
    Cummins 6CTA
    Great posts and photos. Thanks for sharing.
     
  17. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Mar 27, 2008
    North Jersey
    2003 480 Sedan Bridge
    QSM-11's
    Wow!
     
  18. cod

    cod Member GOLD Sponsor

    664
    Nov 25, 2010
    Naples, Fl.
    2005 500 Sedan Bridge/
    Cummins QSM 11's/
    Awesome write up Alex.... I'd expect nothing less.....I'm ready to do it all over again..... When you get a chance, please email some of the photos you have of my boat....I definately need to frame a couple of those with that water!
     
  19. ttmott

    ttmott Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    Looks like all smiles and great memories. Time to start planning again. Glad you had a great trip and great weather.
    Tom
     
  20. Havana Shamrock

    Havana Shamrock Active Member

    Sep 9, 2008
    Long Island.
    2005 500DB
    QSM11's,
    Honda 30HP
    Just wondering some things, was the shorepower the same as here ? Or did you need adaptor like Europe?
    did you need to purchase new chips for nav sysytems? And are they nav aids the same as the U.S.?
    what a spectacular trip I can't imagine boating in those waters good for you guys.M
     

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