A terminally boring post on the minutiae of a long boat trip

Technically it was a delivery run and not intended as a vacation, which would require an even longer and more boring post (want to see some holiday snaps?).
For those of you who missed the whole thing you can read all about it here or not as you wish.
The trip started at mile 803 of the ICW at Palm Coast, Florida and ended 199 miles north of mile zero (Norfolk, VA) at the boat’s new home. Total distance from the charts 1002 nautical miles, and allowing another 40 nm for deviations to find overnight anchorages the distance traveled was around 1040 nm or 1200 statute miles. (well I did warn you this would be boring).
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Elapsed time, 24 days of which we traveled 19 days, (we had five two-day halts, mostly for weather reasons, both good and bad).
We averaged 7 hours travel each of the 19 days and totaled 134.5 engine hours and 80 generator hours. Between the engine and the generator we consumed 435 US gallons of diesel fuel (about $1700 worth at marina prices) an average of 1.7 gallons per hour of operation. Not too bad considering we were moving the equivalent of a small house.
Average distance traveled per day was 55nm (63 statute) at a trip average speed of 7.75 knots (9 mph), our best days speed was 10.8 knots (12.5 mph) on day 5 and our best days run was 89 nm (102 statute) on day 10.
Well, enough of that, now a word or six in praise of our prime mover, the engine on this boat is one of those indestructible pieces of British mid 20th century engineering, it’s a Ford Lehman six cylinder diesel, designed as a tractor and truck engine (Fordson Major tractors, and Thames Trader trucks, remember them?) and built at that sink of iniquity the Ford plant at Dagenham, Essex. The beast weighs in at about 1200 lbs. and like much of that vintage is massively overbuilt. It was not much good as truck and tractor motor, not coping well with variable loads but made an ideal boat motor when marinised (lovely American expression that) in the mid seventies. With a cruising throttle of 1800 rpm and a red line at 2500rpm there is negligible wear and tear on the various bits and this particular motor has a solid 9,000 hours on it since 1979 and has never been rebuilt. It runs like a Swiss watch would run if the watch weighed half a ton, quiet economical and clean, asking nothing but a regular oil and filter change. Of course they quit building them in the eighties, too good I guess, nobody could wear them out. Parts for these engines are still readily available and because many are common with truck parts they are as one owner said encouragingly “Cheap as chips” provided one does not ask a MARINE supplier to provide them.
I did look at other boats with other engines, Caterpillar, Cummings, Detroit Diesel, Daimler Benz, and MAN, almost all modern lightweight, high revving, turbocharged rigs,(rebuild recommended after 5,000 hours). This boat and motor are well traveled, 9,000 hours at 9mph means about 80,000 miles under the keel in thirty years, quite a few tall tales there I’m sure.
As something for you to look forward to I am planning a post about the various operating gear ratios used on marine transmissions so please stay tuned.

Author: Low Wattage

Expat Welshman, educated (somewhat) in UK, left before it became fashionable to do so. Now a U.S. Citizen, and recent widower, playing with retirement and house remodeling, living in Delaware and rural Maryland (weekends).

8 thoughts on “A terminally boring post on the minutiae of a long boat trip”

  1. You’re right, it’s boring. Have I mentioned that I used to work for DDAD? 🙂

    I enjoyed every minute of your trip up the ‘shaft’,thanks.

  2. Boring, boring…and yet I keep coming back for more ???

    134.5 engine hours – that#s a lot more than most (leisure-type) boat owners clock up in a year, isn’t it?

  3. Bravo: In my limited experience, yes, most non commercial boat owners don’t run up 100 hours in a year even in a state like Florida. One or two extended trips and weekend use do not build engine hours that fast. This old boat has averaged 300 hours a year for 30 years to get to 9,000 engine hours, those continuous hours are like highway miles on a car or flying hours on a plane, much easier on the mechanicals than the equivalent in short trips.

  4. Bearsy: More piccies, next post, was planning some this post but currently we have a tornado warning, gale force winds and driving rain, I am not venturing out, maybe tomorrow.

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