Get Radar??? by Karl Sydor
Skipper of the trawler "Tropical Pleasure".
My two buddies, Joe Fezio and Dick Rauber, and I do a 'man-cruise' once or twice a year. Joe and Dick are boaters and make a great crew. We have known each other for over 20 years. We decided to take Tropical Pleasure ( my 34 Californian Trawler ) to Lucaya on Grand Bahamas island in May of last year; we were concerned about the tricky weather that can be experience at that time of year. Due to business reasons, the trip had to be planned for the middle of May. Humorously, now that I look back, our back-up plan was to go to Bimini.
As it turned out, when the guys came into Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday afternoon (Joe from New Orleans and Dick from Tampa) the weather was rainy and the Gulf Stream was kicking up at 10 to 12 feet. After some deliberation, we decided against going to Lucaya; our back-up plan to Bimini was in jeopardy since we would also have to cross the Stream to get there. What to do? We called Marina Del Mar in Key Largo, FL where I had spent the prior July 4th weekend; after several phone calls, we found a slip. With a light rain and windy conditions, Thursday morning we loaded our provisions and ventured out of the Hillsboro Inlet (Pompano Beach, FL.) headed south to Key Largo. The weather was rocky and wet until we were off Cape Florida. Once we reached Hawks Channel, the weather began to clear and cruising became a smooth and pleasant ride all the way down to Marina Del Mar.
Entering Largo Canal was a snap compared to my fiasco the prior year when I went aground. But having learned my lessons and owning a new chart plotter GPS, we knew exactly where we were at all the way. No mistakes this time.
Joe and Dick are near-gourmet
cooks, so I let them take over the galley. This voyage was not going to be any
ordinary cuisine. Breakfasts included such things as pancakes with strawberries
and dinners with prime rib cooked on the grill. The guys did take a break one
night and we ate out.
Being a six-hour cruise, the
rest of Thursday was spent in port eating, drinking and telling wild tales.
Fishing was a bust for us. We went out on the ocean Friday, but in four-to-five
foot seas it was too rough and very uncomfortable. I have the trawler rigged for
trolling two flat lines, but it rocked too much. We went out about five or six
miles and then tried fishing off the shelf close to the reefs, but no dice. We
did witness the attempted sinking off Key Largo of the 510 foot Navy ship USS
Spiegel Grove as a dive site and saw it with its keel up out of the water; what
a sight. Saturday we explored some of the shallow waters around the reefs, but
couldn’t find any fish worth keeping. Regardless, the evenings were filled
with good fun, food, drink and relaxation. The weather was great in the Keys
while up north in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area we heard it had been
unpleasant. Saturday night all we could
think about was staying another day, but the guys had to get back to business
(I'm retired). On Sunday morning,
sadly , we untied our dock lines and
set course back to Hillsboro Inlet. The cruise up Hawks Channel was even more
pleasant then the cruise down. However, after we left the Channel and continued
We didn't have to wait long; we
could see bad weather coming off the land and a squall closing in around us from
all sides. It started to rain and the wind picked up. The weather channel had
predicted up to 30-knot winds. Essentially we went from ideal weather directly
into a storm. The three of us were up on the bridge with the three-sided
enclosures closed. Joe was piloting the boat following the route on the GPS
chart and Dick and I were acting as lookouts on each side. We reduced our speed.
Visibility was less than a quarter of a mile and the wind was blowing so hard
that my two radio antennas were bent at 90-degree angles.
I thought they were going to break off!
The boat held its course very well though, and the only reason I could
think of was the ballast the twin 3208 Cat diesel engines provided. Those babies
kept the depth sounder running and fish were showing up everywhere. We did have a few boats pass us closely and one big sailboat went across
our bow. In Joe's own words, "We were on constant watch, running 8 knots,
with 150 feet visibility, when we spotted a very large sailboat bearing down on
us from the NE.
We determined that we had room to avoid a problem but it
scared us because we couldn't spot it until the last minute. Moral to the story: GET RADAR."
Thank goodness the bridge
enclosures kept us, and the instruments, dry.
Joe and Dick continued to harass me about not having radar on my boat
like Joe has on his boat in
I must admit that after the
trip, my conscience bothered me about the accusations Joe and Dick made about
not having radar. I visited a couple of boat stores to find out what I would
need and what the cost would be. I found out that the one I thought was priced
just right at about $1,000 was just a 1 KW system and would not be adequate.
Lower power is OK in clear weather, but not for rain. I was told that you
need good power to see into a rainstorm. A 2 KW system would be better, but a 4
KW would be the best for me. The price would be in the $3,000 to $4,000 range
and that did not include a radar arch or something to hold the radar antennae.
Well, now I started thinking about the overall cost of radar.
I finally reasoned that in
So, …what do you