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Tips for operating 100'+ motor yacht

Discussion in 'Yacht Captains' started by CaptaindeJong, Apr 29, 2017.

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  1. CaptaindeJong

    CaptaindeJong New Member

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    Fellow captains,

    I'm a delivery captain (also private instructor) out of Florida. I've had great success with my deliveries, even in tight quarters and over shallow banks. I seem to be able to identify unnecessary risks and avoid them.

    I've been boating for six years but licensed for about 14 months. When I started working as a licensed captain, it was all roughly 20 to 40 footers going around local waters that I would get calls about. Gradually I would work my way up in size, moving 49' sailboats over multiple days.

    Eventually I was hired by a client to drive his 58' twin diesel McKinna. Initially it was intimidating operating a boat that size, especially in Ft Lauderdale where the river is narrow and there are plenty of bridges you must idle at until they open (and with no stern thruster). I successfully moved it out of Ft Lauderdale around the Keys and to Tampa where I've been driving it on a weekly basis for several months. The McKinna which was once intimidating is very simple to operate now.

    The longest boat I have moved so far has been a 1978 Pacemaker 66' (no bow or stern thruster) from the east side of Florida through the Okeechobee WW and I had no issues. Now I have a client who is purchasing a 113' Hatteras with no stern thruster.

    HERE'S THE QUESTION:

    How have you handled driving bigger and bigger boats, especially going from the 60' range to the 100' range? Do you have any tips on specific techniques in operating these boats? How many deck hands do you have aboard? How do you communicate with them regarding line handling? How do you decide how much wind is too much to leave the dock? Do you often have nightmares about your 100'+ yacht losing power in a busy channel? Do you have a plan if that happens? What about techniques for sucking the stern into the dock without a stern thruster when the wind is blowing you off the dock?

    Thanks for your input.
  2. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    With two engines and a bow thruster you just need to practise. About communicating with crew, I have tried several systems and same with this, after some practise they all know what to do and when, without talking. I have actually docked a 170 meter ship without talking to the line handlers, but I had the real captain next to me on the wing station...
  3. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    A+

    You need a good mate or deck hand. If you the keeper Captain, you need a good mate with you.
    When I deliver larger boats, My wife is with me. We discus our maneuver on leaving / approaching a dock or anchorage. After 15 years, some hand signals but it's almost automatic (per discussed plan).
    If I find anything not going per plan, I stop or back out and re-plan. Mostly as easy as using the hailer and explaining to my mate a change of approach.
    After 15 years, she knows the new plan when I stop or change angles and she give me some hand signals.
    We operate up to 80' usually fine. Over that I plan to have our son with us as the extra mate.

    You are going to need a dependable mate and form a good bond / communication level. Maybe count on an engineer, stew or host to come up and help also.

    As far as maneuvering and operating a boat that size; How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
  4. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I m a little puzzled by your apparent need for a stern thruster. Honestly I ve never understood why builders even put them in on twin engine boats. The lazzara 84 I ve been running since last July doesn't have a stern thruster and I thought that was pretty smart.

    Using the gears you can move the stern as precisely as you would with a thruster.

    Way too many people rely on thrusters until that day where they have to come in and it's blowing 25kts and the thruster is useless.

    What license do you have ? I m pretty sure the 113 hatt will require a 200T ticket. Even with one I wonder if the insurers are going to accept a jump from 58 to 113 especially with only 14 months experience.

    How many deck hands are needed depends on the boat not the size. With side decks all around and if you dock from a stern station one is enough. I often single hand the 84 if my girlfriend (also a licensed captain) is busy with guests. No big deal. Bigger boats don't get blown around easily but the key is too realize that it's your job to put the boat where it needs to be. Over 60/65 you can't rely on crew pulling lines.

    We use numbers for the lines starting with the bow. 1 thru 4... before landing I tell her what the sequence will be depending on wind, current, etc... ex 3 1 4 2 Once a line is secure she confirms "2 secure" or if I m on the bridge shows me two fingers and a thumb up.

    I ve never felt the need for using radios but most people use them.
  5. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    More answers to your questions.

    Nightmares about loosing power ? No... very rare on boats that size unless you run out of fuel.

    As to your last question, how to suck the stern into the dock without a stern thruster.... pardon the sarcasm but coming from a professional and instructor I find it a little bizarre. That's where using the gears come in along with a spring line. That's boat handling 101.
  6. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Yep, Please search Y F for comments on thrusters. You may find good comments from many (Pascal & myself), on the over reliance & need for them.
    Real drivers don't need no stinking thrusters...
  7. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Are you licensed for a boat that size? If 58' was intimidating, are you ready for 113' without anything in the 80-90' range?

    When you say operate, do you mean just do a delivery or more? Long or short? What waters?

    I would never operate a boat that size without walkie-talkies for crew. Now, Ralph points out how he and his wife communicate but that's after a lot of years and experience with each other. Are you responsible for getting a crew?

    Size of crew is dependent on the distance and time. If it was just moving around a yard, then two total (you plus one) is fine. With your lack of experience in that size boat, I would want two additional crew members, total of three. Normally a full crew for that size boat is in the range of 5 people, but that includes chef and stew.

    Your too much wind question, are you asking because of low speed maneuvering or sea condition? Either way, it's dependent on the captain and crew. If you've never operated a boat that size, I'd say very little wind. The boat will actually hold in the wind pretty well, but you don't have experience making it do so.

    No, I don't have nightmares. The key to avoiding nightmares is being trained and prepared. I don't mean this in an ugly way but I must say it. If you've never operated greater than 66', I'd have nightmares of you operating my 113' boat. Really your first time operating a boat that size, particular such a big jump, should be with a more experienced captain aboard. If you get the job to move it, you should engage an experienced captain with larger boats for one of your two additional crew members. I first operated 63', next was 85', then 130'. I can't imagine jumping up to the 130' completely on my own and I consider myself very good and a good learner. Just a huge difference in the 113' vs anything you've ever operated. Is the owner of the boat even insured for you to operate it? I'm sure his insurance will have to sign off on you.

    As to losing power in a channel, I'd hope you check the boat out thoroughly before going to make sure it's in good condition and not likely to. Then if a long trip, do engine checks and especially check your fuel filters as fuel is the most common culprit that would impact both engines. Then if you lose all power, be prepared to anchor very quickly. If in the middle of the channel, let it drift toward one side. If the problem isn't quickly determinable then call for a tow. Do make sure he has tow membership. Do not get yourself into more of a bind to protect your pride. I know great delivery captains who have had to be towed.

    Have you operated the other boats without using the stern thruster? That's the way to practice. It will dock in principle much the same as smaller and you should be able to move it to the dock with the engines and the bow thruster. Now, back to your losing engines, if you lost a single engine, then I'd definitely recommend against you trying to dock it with the remaining engine and bow thruster. Docking with a single engine of a twin boat without thrusters is something you'd need practice on and still would be difficult.

    There are appropriate times for saying "no", turning down business. Make a referral to someone you know who delivers larger. Perhaps even crew for them and gain experience. Some time they'll send a customer with a smaller boat to you. It's good to build relationships.

    I have no doubt that at some time you'll look back thinking how easy a boat that size is. However, today, you aren't prepared to operate it without a more expeerienced captain with you. Does the owner know that you've never operated greater than 66'?
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Well, as you didn't answer some of the key questions and now choose to approach it so flippantly I'll step out of this. I'll just leave it as a firm, "in my opinion, you're not qualified to make the delivery."
  9. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I see he deleted his post.
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    So, he did. The memory still lingers though. Well, I tried to offer him constructive advice, just I guess not what he wanted to hear.
  11. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Did not see the deleted reply.
    Starting out in the Yacht Business, or any business, one should be humble and listen carefully to advice.
    Same guy came on a sailboat forum asking for same advice and got plenty responses over there as well.
  12. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    So, he's going to different forums with different scenarios? Would hardly seem like the scenario he posted here would fit a sailboat forum.
  13. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    It doesn't but he's hoping that they might give him the answer he's looking for I guess.....LOLOLOL. I know of a Captain or two that will do long international trips on a 75' with nobody else on the boat except himself. That is absolutely crazy.
  14. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    There are some large boat operators and Yacht Captains on the sailboat forums as well, but not as densely packed as here:)
  15. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I don't doubt that but just thought one would not take an issue like this on powerboats to a sailboat forum.
  16. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    True, but the sailboat Forum also has a stinkpotter section.;)
  17. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Which is ironic because 90% of the time I see sailboats under motor, even on the banks in the Bahamas with favorable winds.......along with blue smoke coming out of the exhaust.
  18. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    True, I motored my sailboat all the time, at 0.65 gallons per hour while charging the batteries for the fridge and freezer. Sailing across the banks with an Easterly wind would take forever:(
  19. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Unfortunately, what I've often seen from sailboating forums is "go for it, you can do it, ignore naysayers."
  20. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Aha, you hang out on sailboat forums?
    Like being bi-curious? :)