What a great trip – ideally suited for a Krogen Express 52′! Yesterday morning we were berthed in our home port in Fort Pierce, Florida. Tonight we’re enjoying a comfortable slip in Morehead City, North Carolina.
On Saturday, just before 7:15 a.m., we cast the lines off of Joy, our Flag Blue KE52′ show boat, in Fort Pierce, and cleared the inlet about 45 minutes later. Just past the first sea buoy, we made a hard turn to port, set our Raymarine SmartPilot to 23 degrees and ran the rhumb line all the way to the Beaufort Inlet. We found ourselves in the channel a little before 5 o’clock this evening and were securely tied up at Morehead City Yacht Basin by 5:30. From slip to slip we covered just under 500 nautical miles.
Our ultimate destination is Rhode Island’s Narraganset Bay for the 40th Annual Newport Boat Show in mid-September. As has been their tradition, John and Betsie Tegtmeyer, owners of Krogen Express Yachts, plan to enjoy a somewhat leisurely trip north. Not only does this provide the obvious enjoyment we boaters treasure, it also gives them valuable perspective as they continue to improve the brand.
Schedules being what they are, and wanting to be in NYC for Labor Day, John decided that they needed to shave several days off the total trip. Thus the plan was hatched to make the subject voyage.
Having logged nearly 30,000 miles at the helm of the KE52′, John has a keen sense of her capabilities and vast experience for estimating travel times. Betsie would be driving up from Florida to meet us at the marina and John suggested she arrive in Morehead around 6:00 or so. Clearly, that worked out well.
Because our itinerary necessitated round the clock operation, John and I decided on 3 hours shifts. Both of us caught a little rest during our off hours on Saturday so we’d be better rested for the night portion. I think this arrangement worked out well as, at least for one night, this proved reasonably comfortable.
We weren’t sure how long we’d have cell coverage, but we lost contact before 10 o’clock on Saturday morning. Our route took us about 150 miles offshore so we were out of touch until just before our arrival in Beaufort. John’s T-Mobile phone kicked in about 10 miles out but I couldn’t call home on my Sprint phone for another mile or two.
During the day we ran our 480 Yanmars at 2550 rpms, which is usually good for 14.5 knots or so. Given the northerly flow of the Gulf Stream, however, we enjoyed a 2 to 3 knot boost for about one half of the journey, even seeing occasional bursts to 18 knots. For those unfamiliar with these diesels, 80% of rated rpm is 2700, so this is a leisurely speed for them.
Overnight, we throttled back to around 1600, which normally yields just below hull speed at 9.5 knots or so. The additional encouragement from the Stream allowed us to average closer to 12 knots and we sometimes saw better than 13. Given that we’re only burning about 6 to 7 gallons of diesel an hour at these engine speeds, I’d say we were seeing some rather exceptional efficiency.
As good radio stations are a little hard to reach this far offshore, we relied on our MP3 players to keep us entertained through the night. I can’t speak for John’s tastes, but mine’s pretty “eclectic.” I enjoyed the opportunity to get reacquainted with everything from Country (Toby, Taylor, Carrie, Sugarland) to Oldies (Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Styx, Supertramp, Eagles, and more) to some current faves like Cold Play, Daughtry, and fittingly, local Carolina boy Dave Matthews. I even dialed up a little Jazz and some Opera. Sorry, no rap and definitely no disco, though! I had to draw the line somewhere.
For me, aside from comfortably and uneventfully (which is always the idea when boating) accomplishing our objective, the highlight was being buzzed by a Navy fighter plane somewhere off the north Florida coast. We assume he was flying out of the naval air station in Jacksonville (NAS-Jax). John and I differ as to his intentions, however. You make the call on this. As our route was a little bit unusual for a pleasure vessel and given a previous close encounter with a nuclear submarine in the area (we were hailed and told to alter our course, thank you), I’m thinking he was dispatched specifically to check us out. John’s view is that he didn’t have anything better to do than to scare the bej… (heck) out of us. At any rate, he made three close passes, each time at low altitude and with his canopy tilted toward us for maximum visibility. I’m sure he could easily make out the whites of our eyes and gaping jaws as he coasted by. An awesome experience, for sure!
For the most part, the weather was excellent. Despite mid-90 temperatures, the ocean breezes and the shade of the big bimini top made flybridge cruising downright comfortable. We did get hit with some rain, but never enough to chase us into the pilot house. At one point today, the benefit of the precipitation was a very complete, end-to-end rainbow of the kind you’ll only see at sea. Fascinating, but, alas, no pot of gold to be found.
As to wild life, we did see some flying fish along the way. Amazing to see how they glide forever just inches about the wave tops, only to crash back in the water with Kamikaze-like abandon. I wish we’d seen more. A small gathering of sea gulls caught our attention at one point. Turns out they were escorting a pod of a half dozen gargantuan dolphins. We were going too fast for them to catch our wave, but they did simultaneously breach the water in formation to check us out. Later this afternoon we saw some ominous looking fins breaking the surface. Were they sharks or just more dolphins? Can’t say for sure.
All in all, while I can’t say that I’d choose this type of cruising on a regular basis, I’m grateful for the speed and range capabilities of the Krogen Express which frankly made this particular adventure realistic for a two person team. A typical full-displacement trawler could easily cover the distance but would require at least one additional overnight. For most, this would require a third crew member to share the helm. And faster boats tend to lack the range and often the seakeeping capabilities as well.
To learn more about the KE52′, visit us at www.krogenexpress.com or call 1-866-4KROGEN. Krogen Express – Cruising Without Compromise.