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Here's a few images from a "day trip" I've just completed, a run from Brielle, NJ to Morehead City, NC, 401 nautical miles in 18.5 hours running time.


The Renegade, a 54 foot Hatteras sportfisherman, left Brielle, NJ at 0630 Saturday, November 24, with owner John Magno accompanied by Captain Orlando "Ahab" Caprio, running the first leg of the trip.


The original plan was that John's brother Chris and I would drive down and meet them at Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland around noon-time, where we'd top off the fuel tanks and take on freshwater (they turn the taps off in Brielle just after November 1 to prevent the dockside water lines from freezing). Then, Chris and I would run the second, 280 nautical mile offshore leg to Morehead City, hopefully arriving before 1500 Sunday afternoon. John and Orlando would meet us there, taking Chris home, and I would stay to make the necessary arrangements for our Winter layover in North Carolina.


The first leg from Brielle to Ocean City was run in a fairly brisk North West wind, with air temperatures just above freezing (before factoring in windchill). John had elected to don an insulated Stearns anti-exposure flotation "work suit" for the run down, a wise move, as it kept him warm despite the wind chill.


Chris and I left my home in New Jersey about an hour later, at 0730. Our estimated driving time to Sunset Marina was approximately 4 hours, so we figured on getting there just before 1130.


At 1100, Chris established communication with John and Orlando, via cell phone. They were a few miles off the beach, and almost parallel with us...although we were stopped at one of the many traffic lights on Route 1 in Ocean City at the time. Chris decided to make a left turn and drive down to the beach, hoping to catch a glimpse of the boat as it passed us. We pulled to the end of the street, walked over the berm, and there she was, a lonely white speck out on the eastern horizon, making its way south towards the inlet.


Both boat and truck arrived simultaneously at Sunset Marina, just before 1130 (don't you just love when things go as planned?). Chris and I helped John and Orlando tie up, and then fueled up the boat. The latter was a sobering activity, as we discovered that the Renegade had sucked down a cool 436 gallons of number two fuel oil during the 5-hour, 121 nautical mile run from marina to marina, at an average speed over ground of 24.2 knots, translating to a fuel mileage of 0.28 nmpg (nautical miles per-gallon).


Topping off the fuel and filling the twin 100-gallon water tanks took the better part of two hours, and John suggested that we enjoy a leisurely meal before settling in for the night and pressing on the next day....or so I had been led to believe.


John pulled me aside; "Ed, I've got either good or bad news for you, depending on your frame of mind. "Ahab" needs to get back home by Sunday night, because he's got an early shift on Monday. So, he wants to shove off now and run all night, so you can get there by 0800 tomorrow. Besides, the wind's died down to almost nothing, and you'll have a full moon to help light the way for you." "I thought your brother and I would run the boat down, while you and Orlando stayed warm in the truck on your way down to meet us in Morehead." "Change of plans, Ed....I want Orlando to go with you, instead."


Now, Orlando gets up every day at 0430, and it was now past 1700, and he'd been out in the cold on the whole way on run down from Brielle, wearing nothing more than sweat pants, a watch cap, and a "hoody". A bit much for most, especially when you consider that he's pushing the big six-oh. Now you know why we've nicknamed him Ahab.


We shoved off at 1730, with me guiding the boat out of the slip and into the channel. Orlando then took over as we headed out the inlet. "I'll run the boat for the first two hours, then we'll switch watch every two hours. If you want, go warm up in the cabin...." Thank God and Cruisair for reverse-cycle heat.


At precisely 1930, I donned my Stearns suit and took the next watch, while Orlando went below to warm up and take a much-needed head break. The seas were calm, the winds were light and variable, and visibility was great under the light of a full moon. The water temp was 50 degrees, and the air temp was in the low 40s. Both engines were purring along at 1700 RPMs, pushing us along at a ground speed of just over 20 knots......


John had told me prior to shoving off that the starboard engine had stalled once on the way down. He did not seemed too concerned at the time, and attributed it to either dirty fuel, or on it coming up on the hours for a scheduled service interval.


My first watch was uneventful, mostly spent watching the sweep of the radar, keeping the boat centered on course, and watching the slow progression of the position indicator down the face of the track plotter's display. I kept myself amused by logging the change in water temperature as we made our way south. It was just starting to creep above 50 degrees when I took the second watch, and was now up to 52 just as Orlando relieved me.


By the way, Ahab had only spent a few minutes in the warmth of the salon, and had otherwise spent the duration of my watch stretched out on the bench seat in front of the helm console, in the cold!


After making myself a hot roast beef sandwich in the microwave (and devouring it in the warmth of the salon/galley), I joined Orlando at the helm. I spied the distant running lights of a ship a few miles offshore, keeping pace with us at just a skosh over 21 knots. I placed a cursor on it's radar blip, in order to keep tabs on it, as it appeared to be making for Cape Henry and the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. The radar target "tag" that appeared under its return confirmed my suspicions as to its speed and heading, and verified that it would pass safely astern of us.


When I took the next watch at 2330, we were just south of Rudee inlet in Virginia Beach, VA. There were clouds building, occasionally blocking the moonlight. A front appeared to be moving in, but the seas were thankfully still calm. The sea water surface temp was now up to 54 degrees, and the air temp was approaching 50.


All too soon, we were coming up on Oregon inlet, on North Carolina's outer banks. Our plan, when we left Ocean City, was to bypass it and run outside all the way down to Cape Lookout, giving both Diamond and Lookout shoals a wide berth. But now, Ahab was having second thoughts.... "Ya know, I can contact the Coast Guard and inquire about conditions at the inlet, or we can get TowBoat US to meet us out there and guide us through. Doing that should save us as much as 30 miles...." I was about to say, "Hey, Orlando, check the tide stage at Oregon on the plotter before you go any further", but we must have been on the same wavelength, as he was already doing so. "Damn....it's almost dead low right now. I guess we're sticking to our original plan..." "You mean, original plan, revision 2.0", I quipped.


Since I was still feeling alright, and because Ahab had been up all night, I decided to extend my watch until we'd passed Diamond Shoals.


Diamond shoals are one of the many reasons that has helped earn Cape Hatteras the sobriquet of, "Graveyard of the Atlantic". Another reason, is the confluence of two, powerful currents. The cold, southward flowing Labrador current meets (and opposes) the northward flowing warm waters of Gulf Stream.


The water temperature was now up to 57 degrees, the air temp was now well into the 50s, and I was starting to sweat in my Stearns suit. As I came up on the outside of Diamond shoals, I noticed that the light tower there was not illuminated. It was nothing more than a lone, dark sentinel standing watch, with a lighted buoy anchored nearby to warn the unwary of its presence. Once we'd rounded Diamond shoals, the Gulf Stream made its presence known with a vengeance, as the water temperature jumped into the 70s, and the air suddenly became warm enough to allow me to peel off my Stearns suit, and run the boat comfortably wearing nothing more than sweat pants and a light sweater. By the time I'd reached the final resting place of the ironclad USS Monitor, the water temp had spiked at 72, and it was now time for Orlando's watch, which allowed me to retreat to the comfort of the salon and catch a few winks. I was sound asleep almost as soon as I lay down on the settee.


I awoke a few hours later to a change in the boat's motion. It had been almost dead flat calm all the way down, and it now felt as if the hull was plowing through a nasty chop. I could also hear spray hitting the starboard side of the superstructure. The wind must have come up fast, I thought. I then checked the clock on the microwave in the galley. It accusingly read 0550. I had overslept, and strongly suspected that Ahab was not going to be too amused.


I received a thorough soaking from flying spray as I made my way up to the fly bridge, and noticed that the seas had built to 5 to 6 feet. A glance over Orlando's shoulder at the plotter showed that we were just to the north and outside of Lookout shoals, our last hurdle before turning westward towards the Beaufort inlet sea buoy. "Sorry, Orlando. I guess I overslept. You should have called me when your watch was up." "Nah, that's OK", Ahab replied, "I kinda like running a boat through this stuff".


By now, we'd burned off so much fuel, that the boat was making almost 23 knots, at an RPM that normally yielded just shy of 21 (with full tanks). "Ed, why don't you go and switch tanks. I'm starting to show empty on the aft one." I ran down into the engine room, and carefully made my way between the twin, 1300 horsepower Caterpillar diesels and their hot, inboard-mounted turbochargers, finally reaching the fuel tank selector manifold located on the forward bulkhead. I set both engines to draw and return fuel to the forward tank, and once more picked my way back past the gauntlet of screaming engines, hot turbos, and exhaust plumbing.


When I returned topside, Ahab still refused to relinquish the wheel. "I'm feeling fine. You can take over when we reach the harbor." No argument from me....


As we rounded Lookout shoal, we left the Gulf Stream behind us. I watched the sea temp reading on the MFD plummet into the upper 50s, taking the balmy, warm air with it. It was as if Winter had just returned, announcing itself with a howling wind that moaned ominously as it blew past the rigging and transformed our bow wave into sheets of spray that shot over the Renegade's hardtop. Adding to our misery, the zipper anchoring the port spray curtain decided to let go, allowing the cold wind-driven sea to reach us at the helm. Just another lovely day in paradise.


We finally transited Beaufort inlet (the entrance to Morehead City's harbor) at 0710, and Ahab turned the helm over to me. "Ya didn't think I was going to take responsibility for docking her, did ya?"


Here are average speed/distances/fuel burn for our trip to Morehead City. They are based on plotted distances, including navigation through the Manasquan River, Ocean City, and Beaufort inlet/Morehead City channels, and are rounded to the nearest nautical mile.


Legs = 121nm + 280nm = 401 nm / 18.5 hrs = average SOG = 22.2 knots

First Leg Fuel Burn total = 436 Gallons in 5 hrs.

First Leg AVG SOG (121 nm covered in 5 hrs) = 24.2 knots @ 87 GPH = 0.28 nmpg

Second Leg AVG SOG (280 nm covered in 13.5 hrs) = 20.7 knots


Chris Magno fueling the Renegade at Sunset Marina in Ocean City....I hope he wiped the windshield and remembered to check the tires...



The Renegade, lookin' pretty in Ocean City.



The Renegade (at center) in her berth at the Morehead City Yacht Basin. The blue-hulled boat to her starboard side is a beautiful 54-foot Jarrett Bay, the "Chainlink".



The Renegade is a hero! A story of one of her earlier adventures: http://www.maximonline.com/articles/index.aspx?a_id=6645

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Great story Ed. Sound like it was a pretty good trip.

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