Thursday, April 30, 2020

Three 'Toons in Perfect Harmony--Tritoon Trip Report With Chance and Leo

If comfort is your thing, this boat will make you sing. It's the perfect 'toon. 

Chance: Hey again, it's me; Water Dog number one with another story to tell about my day on the water! Jump on! Let's go!

Leo: Yeah, right. You forget that I was there too no-nuts!

Chance: Oh geez, are you sensitive much? Why don't you go stare at your person for five minutes and drive him crazy trying to figure out what you want. Let's talk about the boat ride!

Dan: There's an old saying about boats. "The two happiest days in a boat-owner's life are..." As a member of Freedom Boat Club, there is only one type of happiest day, and it get's repeated over and over each year. It's the day a new boat shows up for us to enjoy. With around 35 boats in Thunderbolt and the Richmond Hill fleet growing steadily, and all of them being replaced every two or three years, that new boat smell is a regular pleasure.

Want to ride through paradise with a licensed captain
and crew? We do that! Special family-group pricing for limited time
Call 912 657-5222

Like any new love, a new boat starts out being pure pleasure. It's only later that you learn how much work is involved in the relationship. Cleaning, storing, transporting, maintaining--not to mention launch and recovery. The list is long and the chores don't go away until you sell her or sink her. After a while you begin to wonder if you are the owner or if you're getting owned. Eventually a labor of love turns into straight-up labor.

With Freedom Boat Club? It ain't like that! It's just fun!

Get on the boat. Go have an adventure. Return to the dock. Step off and leave. That's it.

While the COVID 19 Pandemic has required enhanced safety and social distancing procedures; now more than ever, Freedom is the easiest and least complicated way get out on the water.

Not that she needs enlarging, but tap or click on picture to enlarge.

Leo: Any day on the water is better than being stuck inside four walls! You never know what you will see!

Dan; "Leo! Chance! Look at this beauty coming up the Wilmington River. She is (reportedly) the second largest privately owned sailboat in the world! She is visiting Thunderbolt Marine. Boys, I am glad we got to see her!"

Chance: Bow Wow! That's a BIG boat! Wonder if they are looking for a dog? Hey Leo, you are always looking for a better deal, right?

Leo: Nope, that's all an act to keep my person on his paws. I am happy right here on this shiny new boat. And doggone! Is it ever comfortable. There are seats everywhere; some in the sun, some in the shade. Hey, that sun is warm! Glad we got to do this today! Have you noticed that our people are around a lot more these days. I like this new way of living. I hope it lasts a long time!

Need more room? There you have it! Chance (L) and Leo (R) are happy!

Leo: You know, this feels like a good time to take a nap. And this boat is perfect for that. I hope we got to do this again and again and again. 

Dan: Me too Leo. Sweet dreams buddy. I love you and I'm glad you and Chance are here today. You both look pretty good for ten year old dogs. 

Chance: Later Leo. Don't worry. I'll wake you up when the biscuits get handed out. Yeppers! You can trust me.

Dan: So, while our club acquired several new pontoons a couple of years ago, and while we have enjoyed them many times, they didn't go very fast with any kind of load on them. It seemed like a power problem, and Tommy began replacing the 115 horsepower motors with 150's. That helped big time.
Now, any of them are fine for a slow cruise on the river with lots of friends and cargo. And the "150" powered boats will run noticeably faster. But it always felt like we were missing something on these 

And now I know what was missing! A third pontoon running right down the middle! The tritoon offers all the benefits of a pontoon with none of the sluggishness. She comes up on plane, thanks to 33 percent more lifting surface, and as she does her bow drops down just like a runabout--albeit a BIG runabout. These boats are going to be very popular for members with lots of kids, or groups headed to Daufuskie. With two adults and two mutts we ran about 25 miles per hour at 4000 RPM. The motor was turning quiet and easy, and that speed feels pretty good and gets you there in good time. A color GPS with depth sounder and a Bluetooth stereo pushing four speakers work well and make for more fun.

Ain't nothin' like that "new boat" smell. 
As the motor is new, we didn't push it hard or leave it at one power setting for too long. We treat all these boats as if they were our own personal boat--out of respect for the machinery, the club, and the other members. We try to "be gentle to man and machine" (And dogs). 

Chance: I like how nice it is to sit up front in the breeze. The river is full of good smells and I get them first. This is fun! Let's keep doing this!


Leo: Really dude? Really? You spazz out every freakin' time! Okay, lemme look! Move! Gimme some room to look!

Chance: You know! I wish we could spend more time with dolphins. They seem pretty cool. 

Dan: As wonderful as it is to see dolphins in our midst, please don't attempt to attract them to your boat. Don't bang on the sides, and for their sake, never, ever feed them. As a tour boat captain, I see the aftermath of dolphins getting prop-struck. It's tragic. They have a natural shyness around us and our boats unless we feed them. A fed dolphin turns into a beggar, exhibits beggar behavior, and won't teach the babies to catch food. Feeding a dolphin is akin to killing one. 

Love them, look at them, enjoy them. But do it from a distance. Please! (It's the law, yo!)

Leo: Hey! What's that big thing over there! DOG! That's BIG!

Chance: I could have been a dolphin you know. I can swim, and I can go under water. And I love the water.
And I want to swim with a dolphin. Do you think they would like me? Would they play "you can't catch me!?!" I could have been a dolphin!

Dan: This is what keeps the Savannah River deep enough for Post Panamax ships to get to the port. This is also what brings the shark teeth up for collectors to find as they stroll the beach of Shark Tooth Island (in the background). 

The crew is working to clear the dredge head. It looks gnarly, aye?

Okay captains. Where in "the pecking order" (rules of the road) does a dredging
vessel lay. By virtue of what characteristic? (answer at the end). You can see
a big electric motor used to turn the dredge-head. The Dredge Vessel Savannah!
Dan: I wrote a bit on the Facebook page that goes with this blog about collecting specimens at Savannah's Shark Tooth Island. This sits adjacent to the Savannah River, and it is one of the locations where the spoil from dredging the river goes. As bottom that has lain undisturbed for hundreds of thousands of years is sucked up and deposited in a pile; lots of shark teeth see the light of day. Even megalodon teeth that are as big as your hand. If you go, take care that your boat doesn't get swamped or even flipped when a ship motors by in the river. The water goes out. Then it comes back--hard. It's a thing. Be careful.

The dredge barge gets pushed around. Charleston style.
If you have flown low over these spoil areas, you have seen the berm or dike that
surrounds the perimeter. Here you can see the pipe emerging from the river to
take the spoil up and over.

If you ever approach a dredging operation, slow down and see what's happening before proceeding. A dredging vessel displays day marks and special lights at night. Black diamonds or green lights indicate the clear side for passage. Black balls or red lights indicate the side that is not clear.

 Dredging operations are detailed in the Notices to Mariners Publication, along with any restrictions to boating activity. The pipe is lit at night and marked with buoys. According to NAVCEN, a dredge must maintain a listening watch on channel 13. Don't hesitate to coordinate passage if you are unsure of what to do.

Back in business! Floating pipe marked with white buoys.

Leo: I just want to say that I love this boat. Today was so much fun, and I love Maggie and Billy for having this wonderful new boat ready for our ride.

Chance: You cheeser.

Dan: We had a fantastic day, and rode the tritoon much further that we normally do. It just felt good to be back on the water after being cooped up for a while. Thanks to Freedom Boat Club for putting procedures in place to get folks back out on the water. If you decide to check them out, tell them sent you, and most importantly;

Have fun and stay healthy!

Jeanne approved.

P.S. A vessel "restricted in her ability to maneuver" (RAM) is second on the "pecking order" list. She must give way to a vessel "not under command" (NUC).  All other vessels must give way (alter course and speed so as to avoid a collision) to a RAM vessel - such as the working dredge vessel in the pictures above. 

The End of the Road

Are you familiar with "The Fall Line?"

When Europeans came to America, they used the rivers of the eastern seaboard as highways and lines of communication for people and goods. Moving overland was difficult and dangerous. There were few roads until the early 1900s, and what roads there were became muddy slogs when it rained. Most often, any cargo was limited to what a pack-horse could carry. Boats, on the other hand, could float tons of cargo with relative ease, even upriver as long as the downstream current wasn't too extreme.

By Unknown author - - originally Pittsburgh History & Landmarks, Public Domain,

The picture above shows two types of riverboats using three different forms of propulsion. In the foreground, we have a Flatboat or "flat." These were built upriver to carry many tons of cargo and a crew. Flats used the current for primary propulsion, with sweeps and a long rudder for maintaining position. They were built to float downriver to a port city like Savannah, where their cargo would be trans-loaded to oceangoing ships. Having served its purpose, this Flat would be sold for its lumber. There are probably some old wooden structures in Savannah incorporating planks that floated down the river in the form of a flat; carrying cotton, rice, or lumber.

Next to the Flat is a Keelboat or Poleboat. These boats were designed to go upriver against the current. This was hard work and required strong men wielding long poles and searching for a bottom to push against. When the rearmost man reached the stern, he lifted his pole and walked back toward the bow to repeat the push. The gent sitting on top of the cabin appears to be playing the fiddle, for entertainment perhaps, or to keep a rhythm to the work being done.These boats were narrower than Flats, so as to present less drag against the current. When poles could find no bottom, the boat could be pulled by the men on the bank hauling on lines. Hard, slow, work. Cargo pushed or pulled upriver would be much more expensive than that floated down. In the distance, a Keelboat with a square-rigged sail is shown.

So that's how cargo got moved on the water highway, but the highway had its limit. Up each river, there is a spot where the Atlantic coastal plain rises up and becomes the piedmont (literally "foot of the mountain"). At that place, there are waterfalls, and the river is no longer navigable by larger vessels like the ones pictured above.

On all the big rivers, a city sprang up at this "end of the road." In the case of the Savannah, that city is Augusta.

So-called Petersburg Boat, a pole boat of ten tons carrying capacity used on the upper Savannah River between Augusta and Petersburg, Georgia. From Harper's Weekly, February 26, 1887, 159. (accessed at Wikipedia)

River travel beyond Augusta was possible in purpose-built boats from Petersburg, a town situated at the confluence of the Savannah and the Broad rivers. These were called "Petersburg Boats" and their width was determined by a narrow gap in the rocks upstream. They transported a tremendous amount of cargo in their time. Petersburg is now underwater.
Do you know any other Fall Line cities? Do you know the number of the US highway that joined them together in a line, north to south, almost a century ago?

When Fog Forms...

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