On the Water with All Hanz On Deck

This blog will offer an account of the voyage of two couples and a dog aboard a 33' express cruiser from Occoquan, VA, outside Washington, DC to Palmetto, FL on the Gulf Coast. This journey is due to start June 17, 2011.

26 September 2011
03 July 2011 | Palmetto, FL
01 July 2011 | Rialto Harbor, Alva, Florida
30 June 2011 | Stuart to Clewiston, FL
29 June 2011 | Cocoa to Stuart, FL
28 June 2011 | Daytona Beach to Cocoa
27 June 2011 | Jacksonville to Daytona Beach
26 June 2011 | Isle of Palms, SC
26 June 2011 | Hilton Head Island, SC
23 June 2011 | South Carolina - FINALLY
23 June 2011 | the ICW North Carolina
21 June 2011 | Southport, NC
20 June 2011 | The ICW Great Dismal Swamp Route
20 June 2011 | Belmont Bay Harbor, VA
20 June 2011 | Elizabeth City to Bellhaven, NC
20 June 2011 | Morehead City, NC
13 June 2011 | Belmont Bay Harbor, VA
09 June 2011 | Belmont Bay Harbor, VA
09 June 2011 | Belmont Bay Harbor, VA

Trip Photos

26 September 2011










Captain's Log

03 July 2011 | Palmetto, FL
This is a bittersweet day for Don & Judi. They have arrived at their new home in Palmetto to await delivery of their household goods. But All Hanz On Deck remains at Rialto Harbor, a fresh water hurricane haven in Alva. Personal items were loaded into a rented mini-van for the 2-1/2 hour drive north on I-75. The new paint, carpet and stairs really make the new place feel like home. Chloe immediately took to the coolness of the tile floor on the main level. She seems intrigued with the sights, sounds and smells of the area. As for the boat, a diver was able to remove the props and sure enough, there was considerable damage to both starboard wheels from hitting an underwater obstruction. The port side DuoProps looked to be in good shape. All four units were sent off to a shop for evaluation and repair, if possible. After the holiday, AHOD will be towed to a haul-out facility to have the outdrives inspected. The diver reported a minimal amount of "play" in the starboard unit compared to the port. But until the boat is out of the water, everything is a guess. It's hard to imagine, but it's already time for another 50-hour engine maintenance (last done in Charleston a little more than a week ago). The annual gen-set maintenance will be taken care of at the same time. After all the work is completed Don & Judi will take on the final leg of AHOD's relocation to The Sunshine State, a 175-mile trek along the Caloosahatchie River to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and ultimately Riviera Dunes Marina on the Manatee River. But for now, it's time to make this house look like a home! Pix to come for our FB friends!

That one particular harbor is so near and yet so far

01 July 2011 | Rialto Harbor, Alva, Florida
There is a reason we have checklists. Running through the daily routine of fluid levels, etc., Don discovered the housing to the port battery was cracked AND one of the cell caps was MISSING! The guys at Martin's Marina had a replacement on the shelf and we were underway within an hour. Earlier, a mechanic checked out AHOD and could find no apparent damage from the clunk and thunk on our approach to Clewiston. He said the only real test would come when getting the boat on plane. That would have to wait a while as the first leg involved a shallow canal to the first of three locks that would lead us to Florida's Gulf Coast. Remember the blog where we said we were having trouble locating alligators. The canal must have had them all! Everywhere you looked eyes were glaring at you. But once the beast was abeam it would sink below the surface. Once past the first lock we had 20-feet of water under us. All Hanz On Deck! The boat was struggling to get past 15 mph but by keeping the trim tabs down a bit longer than usual AHOD leveled out and cruised comfortably at 30 mph. A half hour later we encountered a sailboat and slowed so as not to swamp him in our wake. Then the first sign of trouble. Port engine starts vibrating as we throttle up. It's taking even longer to get on plane... but we get there and have another smooth run until we reach the second lock. While slowly bumping forward/reverse to keep the boat in position to enter the lock we hear a grinding noise. After passing through the lock, we try to get on plane, but AHOD would have none of it. Port engine would not rev above 3000 forcing starboard to do all the work just to get us to 10 mph with heavy cavitation. Checking the Waterway Guide we find a small marina that has one slip available. Hey, it's all we need! We reach Rialto Harbor, truly an "old Florida" marina. We are in with the Big Boys - 67' Hatteras, a Trumpy, a 57' Hatteras, a big old work tug converted to a cruising vessel... and then there are the amenities - laundry room with Bosch appliances, shower room you would expect to find in a stately mansion, tennis court, heated pool, horses, goats, chickens, bull frogs, limpkins, turtles and GATORS! Bus Hamilton, his wife Nifty, daughter Jan Jan and Nifty's mother have a 12-acre Garden of Eden. And you do not have to have a boat to visit here. A quaint 2BR 2BA Guest House awaits those arriving by car. As for the boat, Mark, who works on all the big boats at Rialto Harbor suggests hiring a diver to check things out. But it's 4th of July weekend and locating one is futile. We contact the on-call tech at the nearest Volvo-Penta repair facility and upon hearing our story she advises to not drive the boat until the drives can be thoroughly inspected. With that in mind, we decide that Saturday we will rent a car to make the 2-1/2 hour drive to Palmetto so we can meet the movers on Sunday. But first things first, Bus tells us about a bar-b-q place called Mississippi Matt's. Pulled pork, chicken, beef and ribs, plus cole slaw, potato salad and beans. Add in a couple of gin and tonics and... what boat problems?


30 June 2011 | Stuart to Clewiston, FL
The day began with one purpose: get across Lake Okeechobee and, if possible, make it beyond the Moore Haven Lock and into the Caloosahatchie River. Our first obstacle would be the St. Lucie Lock. Due to drought conditions, it - and the Moore Haven Lock - open only twice a day - at 9am and 4pm. We got to the St. Lucie Lock about a half-hour before opening so we dropped an anchor in the channel. Make that nearly an hour before opening, because it took nearly 30 minutes for the eastbound traffic to be lowered to the canal below... and a similar amount of time for us to be raised to the next level. Once in the upper canal our GPS began to flinch. Fortunately, an Army Corps of Engineers mini-tug was surveying the canal and said we could follow them to Lake Okeechobee. Unfortunately, this added about an hour to what should have been a 20 minute trip. Once on the Lake we cruised at 25-30 mph with the Eastern Rim Canal (just 1.5' deep right now) to one side and nothing but water to our west. Okee is the second largest fresh water lake in the US after Lake Michigan! All was good until we reached the approach to the Clewiston Lock. We slowed to idle speed as the latest advisories indicated depths in the area were around 3.5 feet. We were following the magenta line on our chartplotter indicating the route we were to follow, but moments after making the turn into the approach we saw the depth finder drop to 1 foot under the keel... then heard a slight "thunk". It took nearly an hour to complete the six-mile approach as we observed water depths changing from as much as 6 feet to as little as 2-feet in a matter of seconds. Upon reaching Clewiston Lock we realized we would not be able to make the 4 pm lock opening at Moore haven so we opted to overnight at Martin's Marina. This place has everything... RV park, camping, condos, motel, tiki bar, ships store... but the marina itself has seen better days... max boat length to stop here is 35' feet... in fact, we are the only boat here this evening... although the tiki bar is packed as it is karaoke night. Back to the "thunk" we heard... we are having a mechanic stop by first thing in the morning to check the props... just in case. Time to head back upstairs, sip a glass of wine or two and take in the karaoke - gotta tell ya, Clewiston's Got Talent!


29 June 2011 | Cocoa to Stuart, FL
So, we get an earlier start on the day to avoid late afternoon storms and what do we get??? late morning storms!!! We pulled into Fort Pierce City Marina around 11:30 am just as 25 knot winds were blowing. Judi was able to wrap a line around a piling as I, at the helm, grabbed a line thankfully already on a dock cleat and was able to pull us snug against the dock. A couple of liveaboards saw us and helped finish the job. Just as we put up the canvas the skies opened and the rain poured for nearly an hour. In a light mist, we departed Fort Pierce to continue the uninspiring ride along the Indian River to Stuart. Condos here and there to the East fronted the ocean... homes of varying degrees to the West with a river view. The river is three+ miles wide at times, but depths are relatively shallow... 10-13 feet in the main channel... with as little as one-foot immediately outside... nothing like the Potomac where most areas are very forgiving when you stray outside the lines. We did pass through a small community where oyster beds were in evidence, and there were a few zigs and zags around some shoals. But for the most part, AHOD was able to perform at optimum efficiency with cruising speeds of 25-30 mph. The exit from the Intracoastal Waterway to the Saint Lucie River proved a bit challenging as the actual markers did not line up with our charts. A family in a small Boston Whaler helped get us on track and a few minutes later a Coast Guard vessel passed us to to lead the way to the Roosevelt Bridge and our marina for the night. Thursday we take on Lake Okeechobee.


28 June 2011 | Daytona Beach to Cocoa
After a slow start due to extensive Manatee No Wake Zones leaving Daytona Beach and through New Smyrna, the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River - think grapefruit and oranges - gave AHOD a chance to stretch her legs - comfortably cruising at 25 - 30 mph inside a 50-foot wide channel. We were not alone, and we quickly learned power boats do not reduce speed when meeting another vessel head-on. The coastal landscape was ever-changing... marshland... a smattering of dunes... tiny communities exhibiting characteristics of Old and New Florida. After passing Oak Hill we could barely see NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center through the haze. That haze soon turned to billowing white clouds hanging low to the ground and towering into the sky. And after passing under the NASA Causeway Twin Highway Bridges darker clouds loomed on the horizon. The boat's radar picked up two large cells to the south heading right at us... perhaps 10 miles away. We decided to seek temporary harborage at Cocoa Village Marina. A couple of hours later and after a discussion with the harbormaster about the forecast we opted to make Cocoa Village an overnight stay -- 67 mile run on the day - leaving us a 110 mile voyage tomorrow starting at sunrise to get us back on schedule. Before heading to Wal-Mart to restock provisions we had a quick lunch on board. With no warning, Chloe leaps across the transom seat and perches on the gunwail to ward off a lazy manatee that was lolling around the boat. To hear Chloe's grunts and whines one would think she was trying to communicate with the sea cow. But the best was yet to come, as we caught a glimpse - and a pic - of a manatee using our air conditioner discharge as a water fountain!!!
Vessel Name: All Hanz On Deck
Vessel Make/Model: Chaparral Signature 310
Hailing Port: Chicago, IL
Crew: Don, Judi, Jack & Susanne (and Commander Chloe)
After nearly 21 years in Fairfax, VA, vessel owners Don & Judi are making a pre-retirement move to Palmetto, FL. This also involves the relocation of All Hanz On Deck, a Chaparral Signature 310 Express Cruiser. [...]
MMSI - 338087931 LOA - 33' 4.5" Beam 10' 7.5" Bridge Clearance - 15' Deadrise - 18 Degrees Fuel Capacity - 147 Gallons Twin 275HP Volvo-Penta Gas Engines Draft-Up - 25" Draft-Down - 33" Water Capacity - 29 Gal Holding Tank - 28 Gal Cabin Headroom - 6' 6" Sleeping Capacity - 5 Passenger [...]
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All Hanz On Deck's Photos -


Who: Don, Judi, Jack & Susanne (and Commander Chloe)
Port: Chicago, IL