Dear TMCA Trawler Owners and Future Trawler Owners,
I am writing to you to relate a very satisfying experience: being tutored in the art of trawler cruising (and being roundly entertained and well fed) by Capt. Bob Hamilton, aboard the Miami Mermaid, during a 4-day Trawler School Charter.
In May of 2010 my wife Matilde and I decided to buy a small trawler for cruising in retirement. We believed that it would take us a year to find the perfect boat, so we reserved the first available slot on the calendar of Trawler School Charters, namely November 15-19, 2010. We wanted to get some professional instruction in our new cruising environment prior to setting sail on our own. Well, it only took two months to find our 1994 Island Gypsy 32 Europa “Awesome 1”, and we were then in a dilemma about whether or not to cancel our Charter.
Am I glad we did NOT cancel? And How!
We concluded that there is always more to learn, and we needed some vacation in clear waters. We proceeded with the refurbishment of our boat and took part in several very enjoyable TMCA cruises. When the time came to fly to Ft. Lauderdale for the Charter, we were pretty cocky about our abilities and did not expect to learn a great deal at the School.
Indeed! We learned a TON. Capt. Bob took into account our level of knowledge, and he poured on the coals, testing us to the limit and greatly adding to our stores of know-how. He did this all with good humor, care, and all the patience an ex-Marine can muster. Matilde and I came away from the School with a much, much higher level of confidence, savvy, and skills.
There were daily, morning, hands on classes in engine care, maintenance and repair, electronic navigation, seamanship, anchoring, piloting, docking practice, Intracoastal Waterway tips and guidelines, how to find and use sources of valuable cruising information, boat care, Rules of the Road, etc., etc. This was followed by full days of Matilde and I conning the boat from Dania Beach, just south of Ft. Lauderdale to Boca Chita Key and back. We also anchored in Hurricane Harbor, Marine Stadium cove, and No Name Harbor, where we had a sensational Cuban style lunch and a dip in the Atlantic.
Capt. Bob even went over the details of our boat with us and made many valuable suggestions. Here are two examples: our generator is started by the house batteries – not good, because if the house batteries are drawn down neither the propulsion engine nor the generator will start!! Recommendation: install a small generator starting battery, maintained by the genset’s alternator; another: instead of bothering with anchor line/chain markers, measure the length of chain set out per second by the windlass, and count off the seconds of windlass operation to provide the anchoring scope you need for the depth you are anchoring in. Very practical stuff, and much, much more.
Docking practice was terrific, and by the time we merited Capt. Bob’s blessing we could horse that 40 foot Miami Mermaid around like a runabout. It is a single engine, sundeck style trawler, and we are perfectly comfortable, now, with the effective use of prop walk. One engine or two? Our boat has one, and this worried me until Capt. Bob related the following statistics: over 98% of all professional commercial boats are single engine; 90% of all diesel engine failures are due to water or dirt/algae in the fuel (easily avoidable, and the second engine would stop, also, if the fuel is dirty); 9% are due to hoses, belts, water pump impellers, and plugged filters (easily avoidable with preventative maintenance); 1% are due to catastrophic failure (extremely rare in marine diesels.) My mind is at rest with my single engine, and I am dedicated to preventive maintenance – the key to single engine reliability. I am all for the ample engine accessibility and low cost provided by a single propulsion engine in the engine room.
If you are thinking of the purchase of a trawler or a similar craft, a Trawler School Charter can verify that it will be good for you or help you avoid a costly mistake.
Personally, I would recommend Capt. Bob’s services highly enough. If more information would be of interest please visit Capt. Bob’s website at www.trawlerschoolcharters.com, or send me a message.
Phil & Matilde Geren, satisfied customer
m/v Awesome 1