Cruising with Playpen
Leg 2 - The Captains Notes

Installment 5  - Captain's Notes


INSURANCE! I feel as though our insurance company thinks we wonít make it. On the east coast and west coast we were insured by Boat US. The rate for the west coast was .8%; east coast 1.2%, Chesapeake .5%. The normal insurance companies would not insure us going through the canal. Apparently Lloyds has a number of brokers in London representing them. Two of the quotes would only insure Playpen fro $250,000. Jack Martin & Associates in Annapolis could get insurance up to $400,000 at a rate of 1.8%. I opted to self-insure a bit and insured for $350,000, or $6350óa sizable sum, I thought. When the Lloyds policy arrived I was disappointed in some of the policy language, but Iíll cover that after we are home. Besides being expensive I donít feel the coverage is as broad as Boat US, and any litigation with Lloyds must be in London. 


Two years ago I re-routed the starboard exhaust to give better access to the outboard side of the engine. The engine started to run a little warmer. The further south we got the warmer it got. Upon looking at the heat exchanger core it was quite clogged including an accumulation of vanes from old impellers. In taking things apart I tapped the thermostat housing to break it loose. Wrong move! That little tap apparently cracked the housing. Leak time! Joe Conti at Covington Diesel is over-nighting it to San Diego where "Moon and the Stars" will forward it to Puerto Vallarta. The import and freight will be more than the part costs. The part: $160.00, the anticipated duty and freight the same. Plus 3 days air freight to P.V. The whole thing of clearance fees/duties is whole subject in itself. Port clearance is nothing but a tax. They donít ask or care about whatís on your boat. No one has ever asked us if we carry a gun. We were told in San Diego by John Rainsí office that no guns were allowed. We have been told in P.V. by "Paperman" that itís up to your 1st port of clearance. If the Port Captain is convinced the gun is only for self-protection he will give you permission to carry it through Mexico. We did a temporary Import of the vessel and possibly could avoid duty on parts by paying "Paperman" to file with the Port Capitan. Papermanís charge is about equal to the duty in this case. Paperman would also have to certify that the old parts were returned or destroyed. 

Meanwhile at home in Maryland they are experiencing the coldest winter in a hundred years, and we are "stuck an extra week in Paradiseó"Paradise Village". Iím not complaining, but I am concerned about the ice lifting my pier at home. Guess thereís always something to worry about!


A wrong zip code from the importer caused our part a 2-day delay in getting to San Diego. It arrived there yesterday; now weíll see how long it takes to get here.

More CAPTAIN FREDíS THOUGHTS 2/10/03 Papanoa, Mexico, 35nm south of Zihuatanejo

We used Masonís cord attached to a yellow gallon jug to mark the anchor. Line and jug are small enough not to bother the props if fowled. It didnít fowl; the Mexican Navy, when they came out to board us, ran over the float. They spoke no English. We showed them all our papers and gave them cold Pepsis. Showing them the papers and passports seemed to make them happy, and I figured it gave them a purpose. Marking the anchor is a good ideaóespecially in tight anchorages. I had used Ĺ " polypropylene line and a fender last time. When the boat floated to the fender I realized the importance of smaller line and float.

The last couple of days have been about 95 degrees in the shade. I run mostly from the pilothouse because it is the most comfortable seat. Stretching my legs I wander from the sunny side of the deck to the shady side. Sitting on the port bow box was wonderful. My feet on the gunnels, my elbows on the handrail, the warm sun on my back, the cool breeze in my armpits, and the dolphin swimming in the bow wave. We passed a pair of turtles today. They are about the size of trashcan lids. They were similar to the pairs of whales. She was on her back, flippers waving. Real biology lessons. Two days ago I saw a huge whale. It was gray with white spots or visa versa. I canít recall. A gray whale I supposeó1st one seen of that color. Cruising 3 to 4 miles offshore lets you enjoy the beautiful coast, miss the fish long lines, and be inside the shipping lanes.


Iíll tell you a little about Playpenís main mechanical, safety, and navigation equipment. I guess a lot of my equipment is outdated, but it works well. The twin engines are Detroit 4-53, 112hp each. The gensets are 7.7 and 15kw Westerbekes, none of which have turbos or computers. To date we have traveled 3659 nautical miles from Anacortes to Papanoa. From Anacortes to San Diego we covered 1849nm, and from San Diego to Barra Navidad, 1549nm. Our fuel stops were: Bodega Bay, CA 866 gal. @$1.43

Newport Beach, CA 653 gal @ $1.32

Shelter Island, CA 68 gal @ $1.40

Bahia Navidad, Mex 1166 gal @ $2.02

That totals 2753 gallons so far; Anacortes to Barra Navidad= 3398nm/2753gal=1.23nm/gal

2753gal/482hours=5.7gph average including 267 hrs generator time.

Because of the time and distance I just pulled a distance out of the air of 7000nm for this odyssey. Now Iím guesstimating trip is Ĺ done.

Our Navigation and safety equipment:

48 mi Furuno radar in pilothouse

26 mile Raytheon radar on fly bridge

Magnavox MX100 GPS

Garmin III+ GPS

2 Motorola VHF

1 Standard Horizon handheld VHF

2 Data Marine International depth sounders

I-Com M-820 SSB

KVH Tracphone 50 Sat-phone

2 406 EPIRBs

8-man Zodiac offshore raft

Lots of flares, life jackets, strobes, whistles, throwables, water jugs and life sling

13í Boston Whaler w/ Honda

11í Zodiac w/ Honda

Gyro-Gayle air stabilizers

Lots of good handholds

Lots of spare parts

Electronic and paper charts the whole way

Lots of cruising guides

Wood Freeman Autopilot

Water maker

Engine room CO2 and 4 10lb CO2

Aside from charts, Iíve always felt the radar was the most valuable nav aid followed by the GPS, followed by the Sat phone. I value the sat phone above SSB and VHF because I can call anyone, anywhere from anywhere, and they can easily call me. I wouldnít go ANYWHERE without a 406 EPIRB. If that fateful moment came I would launch everything that would float including all seat cushions and all life jackets. I know Bruce Kessler would say there wouldnít be time, but weíd sure try. Although environmentally incorrect Iíd take the fuel caps off so the slick may be seen and stage deployment of the EPIRBs. The EPIRBs are registered with NOAA and USCG giving boat description, boat phone numbers and 2 land contactsóeach with alternate phone numbers. I personally believe any vessel that goes 10 miles from the dock should have a 406 EPIRB.

We have put on life jackets in daylight in Long Island Sound, and met others in theirs on a 60í vessel when we arrived at Norwalk Cove Marina. We donít go out the door after dark without the life jacket /strobe/whistle. My parents infected me with the disease called boating 50 years ago. Thatís one Hell of a lot of fun experience with family, friends, and strangers on the waterways. My children wore "boat coats" (life jackets) from the parking lot, thru the cruise, and back to the parking lot until they were good swimmers. A couple of years ago at a July 4th celebration a child drowned near home while watching fireworks without a boat coat on. That would devastate a lifetime of good memories.

Lots of Pictures



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