Our thanks to Ken Ferguson for giving us permission to share his "first Krogen experience" with all!
Just as a little background info first, Ken and Gail set up this trip and then asked on the trawler-world-list for a "volunteer couple" with trawler experience to join them. Peter and Linda gratiously stepped up to the challenge, (Hey, it's tough work, but somebody's gotta do it!) All worked out well, Peter was able to wrangle some plane tickets and sneak off work, Linda loves to cook (which Gail doesn't), and Linda is a a vegetarian (which Gail is too).
From: "Ken Ferguson" <email@example.com>
To: "TrawlerWorld List" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Florida Trawler Trip
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 1998
This is a recap of our first trawler adventure.
As many of you will recall we requested advice from the list in January regarding the booking and planning of our first trawler charter. This trip grew out of a great weekend at TrawlerFest in October 1997 and the advice of many there to get some hands-on experience via a bareboat charter. Based on some great input from several of you we booked "Toucan" a Kadey-Krogen 42 through Southwest Florida Yachts in Ft. Myers for $1800 for 4 days over the Valentine weekend.
We then set about poring over our the Claiborne guide SWFY sent us (free!), Chapman's, reviewing the USPS video and even playing with Chapman's interactive CD-ROM. We had many questions and concerns not the least of which were docking and handling our biggest vessel ever and received many helpful hints from listees. Still feeling somewhat intimated we offered a free cruise for any experienced cruising couple on the list who wanted to come along in return for showing us the ropes. We were very lucky to have Peter and Linda Narbus reply from Huntsville AL and join us for the weekend.
After getting up at 4:30 am and an uneventful flight from Atlanta, we were greeted at the baggage carousel at Ft. Myers airport by Peter and Linda whom we had never met before. Linda quickly became fast friends with our 9 year old son Scott, while Peter and I exchanged boating experiences while my First Mate (Gail) retrieved the luggage by herself..(isn't that what First Mates are for?). They had arrived the night before and rented a van. We loaded up in the pouring rain and headed off to the shopping mall for food, beverages, fishing licenses, bait, ginger snaps, wrist bands, dramamine etc. By the time we arrived at Marinatown in North Ft. Myers the skies had cleared and the Krogen was waiting for us to board. While the ladies got us unpacked, Scott looked for a perch for our mascot Kiwi, his Beanie Baby Toucan, and Peter and I went over the Krogen's systems with one of the SWFY staff, Mark. We also met Barb Hansen, who with her husband Vic, has been running SWFY since 1984. Toucan is a 1984 KK42 with the 2 head layout, single Lehman 120 and electric bowthruster. She's in "average" condition cosmetically considering her age but all her systems are in excellent shape.
With the sun shining and a moderate breeze abeam we untied the lines, and from my perch at the flybridge helm I put her into forward gear and nudged the throttle to pull out of the slip. BIG PROBLEM! We went backwards! What the hell!! After much yelling from bystanders, gnashing of teeth, grinding of gears, near collisions with the dock and general mayhem, Mark , who was standing on the finger dock figured out the control of the transmission was still at the lower helm and whatever I was doing on the flybridge was not getting translated as I expected to the transmission. (I later found a file folder in the pilothouse marked "owners operating notes" which described this particular tricky little quirk and a procedure for handling the problem). Once that was figured out and we were moving out of the slip our next problem was executing a 90 degree turn INTO the wind in a narrow channel about 2 boat lengths wide (at least it seemed that narrow). After a couple of attempts, I turned the wheel over to Peter who did a nice 8 point turn and we were underway.
We headed out of the marina and into the Calatsahoochee (sp?) River heading west towards the mouth of the river and San Carlos Bay 15 miles downstream from Marinatown. The river is shallow but the channel is very well marked. It was a beautiful afternoon and we immensely enjoyed the sparkling waters, rock solid Krogen and getting to know our new friends. As we entered the "miserable mile" heading towards our overnight anchorage off Ding Darling Nat'l Park on Sanibel Island, we found ourselves the center of attention for a pod of playful dolphins on our bow ...Scott was ecstatic and his high pitched squeals of delight seemed to be a language they understood.
First Night on the Hook!
So far so good...we anchored solidly in the sand bottom in about 8 feet of water (KK42 draft is 4' 7") and the tide was running about 1 foot.). With a full moon shining we ate a wonderful meal prepared by Linda who insisted on serving as ship's cook for the trip, toasted our good fortune and wondered what the poor people were doing that night. A gentle breeze rocking the boat and the golden sound of silence contributed to a sound sleep for all that night.
Day 2 - Friday 2/13/98
After a very peaceful night on the hook we awoke Friday morning to gorgeous Florida sunshine and a gentle breeze coming down Pine Island Sound. Of course, I just had to get some videotape of myself standing on the bowsprit and making a cellular call back to the office.
After performing the daily maintenance checks we weighed anchor and headed north following the the clearly marked ICW channel with Sanibel/Captiva to port and Pine Island to starboard. It occured to me that with the 5 foot draft and the average depth of the sound about 10 feet, if we sank, the water wouldn't even come up over the gunwales. This was a great comfort to Gail..a very nervous, non-swimming boater. It seems that the biggest business in the Sound is pulling boaters out of the mud. As we "trawled" along at 6.5 knots/1800 rpm we were passed by many express cruisers like our previous SeaRay and numerous sportsfisherman...it didn't bother us a bit. We liked the slow pace and comfort..the Krogen at 42,000 lbs. was hardly affected by the passing wake. We were beginning to appreciate why the KK42 is such a popular cruiser. Gail relaxed reading a book and Linda did her yoga workout on the saloon sole while Peter and I navigated from the pilothouse.
By the time we reached Redfish Pass, the skies had become overcast and the wind had picked up. As we passed Captiva Pass more dolphins were sighted and a fuel barge from Boca Grande passed heading south. Now came the tricky part...negotiating the shallows in Pelican Bay at the North end of Cayo Costa State Park. We slowed to idle speed and followed the wake of a couple of other boats. With the overcast skies it was difficult to judge water depth and there are no chanel markers once you leave the ICW. In a couple of spots the depth sounder read 3 feet! Fortunately the transponder was 2 feet below the waterline. There were 5 or 6 other boats in the Bay and we anchored between 2 other trawlers.
Now into the water with the dewey..(renamed because Scott's pet name for a part of the male anatomy is "ding" so he thought riding in a dinghy was gross). With Peter working the block and tackle and me guiding the operation we had no trouble lowering the dewey from the sundeck. Then it was lunch and off to the dock at Caya Costa for some heavy duty shelling on the Gulf side. Despite the grey weather we had a very relaxing afternoon walking the beach and found a zillion shells of all descriptions. After returning to Toucan it was time for Scott to learn how to captain the dewey. Round and round, zig and zag we went as he figured out the connection between his brain, his arm and the direction the dewey went. By the time he figured it out it was getting dark and time for another great dinner compliments of Linda followed by a showing of the perfect "newbie" video.."Captain Ron". When the husband character played by Martin Short took the helm and began waxing poetic about the joys of the open ocean all eyes turned to me accompanied by derisive laughter.
The wind really picked up just before bedtime but we felt quite secure because Peter and I had both read all Capt' Wil's anchoring posts and knew we had set the Bruce properly.
Day 3 - VALENTINE'S Day - 2/14/98
Bright sun with a brisk, chilly breeze from the Northeast greeted us Saturday morning. Claiborne raves about South Seas Plantation on North Captiva Is. so being the loving and smart husbands we are, Peter and I immediately made plans to take the girls for a fancy dinner that night. A call to the dockmaster at South Seas Plantation revealed that they were booked solid with a SeaRay Rendezvous. Disappointed, we called Tween Waters and were able to book a spot at the dock for the night. After the obligatory exchanging of mushy cards.. the "boys" headed off in the dewey with Admiral Dewey at the helm for some fishing in a secluded bayou on the island. The sun felt a whole lot warmer in the protected waters of the bayou surrounded by mangroves. A white egret watched us tentatively from shore and a couple of small sailboats came to anchor in the calm water. We puttered around the bayou for a couple of hours with only two bites. I almost managed to get a small trout into the dewey but he got away....
Back at Toucan for lunch we were pleasantly surprised to find that Gail had had the presence of mind to monitor channel 16 and upon hearing a 50 foot vessel hail South Seas she followed them to their working channel and heard them cancel their reservation at South Seas. She immediatly called and took the spot for Toucan.
So it was up with the dewey and the anchor and idle speed out of the Bay, watching the depth sounder, everything looking rosy from the flybridge until Peter says quietly "we're not moving"..sure enough forward progress had stopped..stuck in the mud! No problem..Peter once again takes charge..puts her in reverse..gives her some gas and backs out as we stir up copious amounts of muck. The rest of the trip South along the ICW to South Seas was fantastic...all hands on the sundeck, beautiful boats of all descriptions, dolphins, and the Krogen steady as a rock just purring along.
Next big test..the marina at South Seas. Of course the SeaRay Rendezvous with every slip taken but ours meant a big crowd of onlookers as we motored in (don't boaters have anything better to do than sit on their aft decks sipping cocktails and watching other boaters attempt to dock?).
It's hard to describe the setup as we came into view of K dock...Picture a 80' wide deadended setup with boats on both sides, and a 50' "parallel parking" spot on the port side between a brand new 57' Viking motor yacht and a brand new Ocean Alexander 54. NO PROBLEM...(although it looked like the Captain of the Ocean Alexander was a bit nervous as he stood on his bow with a huge fender). I pulled her in at 45 degrees bow first, Peter got a bow line on a piling then I just put her in reverse and let the combination of propwalk and the bow line swing the stern around. After the lines were made fast we stepped onto the dock to admire our handiwork and meet the folks. We couldn't help but notice what an ugly duckling the KK42 was next to those "yachts". But as they say beauty is only skin deep. The Ocean backed out to go for a run and must have burned more fuel getting out of the marina than we did the whole trip. I did get a chance to meet her owners, a couple from Indianapolis who spend 6 months running their business (he's a "headhunter" like me) from his boat at the dock while his teenage son works in the restaurant. Mmmm...so it possible to make a living and cruise too...wonder how my boss would take it?
After a stroll around the grounds to check out all the incredible facilities at this 5-star resort we headed for one of the best parts of cruising...the showers! All cleaned up and dressed in our best "yachty" duds we hopped on the trolley that ferries people the 3 miles or so to the front gate of the resort. A short walk later we arrived at a little "town" of gift shops and restaurants. Since we didn't have a reservation things didn't look too good...every place was packed with at least a 1 hour wait...the Mucky Duck was 2 hours. As we strolled along looking for a spot ... Italian preferably.. we came across Bellini's... only a 20 minute wait..we were in luck. The fantastic meal was followed by a little gift shopping and then back to Toucan for our last night aboard. Peter and I checked the weather channel for a forecast and heard that a major blow was coming in from the SouthEast by mid afternoon on Sunday so with 30 miles to cover before 1 pm Sunday we decided to hit the sack early to get an early start. Sleeping was a bit of a problem though...the Viking in front of us was having a MAJOR party and the music was really pumping which would have been fine if we'd been invited.
DAY 4 - Sunday 2/15/98
Sure enough we awoke the next morning to a slate sky and 25 knot winds directly off the stern. Once again Peter had the whole thing figured out...run a spring line from the bow to a piling amidship, go forward which would pull the stern away from the dock then let go the spring line and just back out. Sounded like a great plan as long as the wind didn't catch us and blow us ino the SeaRay on the opposite side of the fairway. So we decided to do a trial run first. GOOD IDEA! With a line paying out from the stern so we could pull ourselves back in, I put her in forward gear and as the spring line tightened sure enough the stern began to kick out. Just two problems... the anchor got hooked on the stern line running from the Viking to the piling and the bowsprit wasn't clearing the piling as it swung over the dock. So we pulled ourselves back and after a few adjustments we were ready to go. By now, of course, all those boaters were on their aftdecks having breakfast and those that weren't, were standing beside us on the dock examining the situation and giving us words of advice and encouragement. Once again the Krogen with her heavy displacement and full keel just backed right out of there paying no attention to the wind. As I got her squared away and heading in the right direction, a congratulatory cheer and much handclapping arose from the onlookers and we were on our way. I'm not sure if they were applauding our seamanship or were just really happy to see us go without damaging any of their pride and joys.
The trip back to Ft. Myers was uneventful. There were hardly any other boats on the water due to the inclement weather and the pending storm. Inside the pilothouse we were very comfortable as Toucan just plowed effortlessly through the water. A quick stop to replace the fuel ($40) we had used and it was back to Marinatown. Just as we were turning east from the canal into the fairway at Marinatown the wind started to really blow and was funnelling straight at us as we motored toward Toucan's slip on the port side. We were debating the options when our decision was made easier for us...standing on the finger dock at the end of the slip was Mark from SWFY signalling us to do the smart thing...just pull right in bow first. Safely secured we all had a nice nap as the wind blew and rain started.
Once unloaded we headed for the restaurant for our last meal together. Small world..the waitress used to live 2 doors away from Linda's family in New Jersey! As Peter and Linda drove us to the airport in a torrential downpour we made plans for our next cruise. They have booked a GB32 from SWFY for 10 days in June. We agreed that we'd find another couple to join us and we'd meet up with them aboard Toucan.
Then came the really scary part of the trip..the flight back to Atlanta with thunder, lightning and turbulence. Wish Krogen made planes!
Ken & Gail Ferguson
Landlocked but planning in Roswell GA
As a bit of a postscript, Ken says he's already planned their next cruise aboard Toucan -- this one will be 10 days! BTW, he recommends SW Florida Yachts. Their Web site (which includes a detailed description of Toucan and the rate sheet for various seasons and lengths of cruise) is http://www.swfyachts.com. In Ken's own words:
"The thing that makes them different is that they don't have a fleet of "all the same" boats. Each one is different because each one is owned by an individual who is just trying to make enough money to pay the maintenance and dockage. You feel like a friend has loaned you his yacht for the week because of all the personal touches on the boat..ie. shelves full of the kinds of books that you would have if you owned the vessel, family photos etc."