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Author Topic:   Going down the California Coast in Whalers
Les Long posted 04-13-2007 05:53 PM ET (US)   Profile for Les Long   Send Email to Les Long  

In March of 1965 three of us Coast Guard Auxiliarists, volunteer members of the Santa Cruz, California Flotilla 47, decided to go by water in our three 17 foot Boston Whalers from Santa Cruz to Morro Bay to attend the Coast Guard Districts Eleven and Twelve Interdistrict Conference at Morro Bay. This was before GPS and VHF. We were advised that running 17 foot boats on this trip was "not in the interest of boating safety". We had both the old AM marine radios and CB.

Anticipating this trip, a distance of 126 nautical miles, along one the greatest, hostile meetings of land and sea on earth, where there are no ports of refuge, we spent 6 months of planning and practice.

We planned to leave Santa Cruz early enough in the morning so that when we reached half way, if a main engine breakdown occurred, we would have enough daylight to tow to Morrow Bay, or in the event the weather turned against us, tow back to Monterey. We discovered that towing from high on the bow pulled the bow down to create plowing by the towed boat. Towing speed was 5 knots and very punishing on the tow boat's engine which would be lugging. We rigged each boat with a pennant from the bow eye, where the trailer winch attached.
Towing from this lower point helped, but it was still slow and punishing.

We found that by starting the kicker on the boat being towed and having someone tiller steer it to catch the tow boat's stern wave, that both boats came up on plane and towing was now at a comfortable 15 knots.

This fact altered the time of departure to reach the half way point with enough daylight to tow to the desired port of refuge. We carried 50 gallons of gasoline
and arrived exactly on our ETA of 1400 with a 25 gallon reserve.

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