Friday, May 28, 2010

I want to periodically discuss the equipment/electronics I'm using so first I'll discuss the boat itself. It is a Premier Pontoons S-Series 235 with the PTX, rough water, and 85-gallon gas tank options, and a Yamaha 6 cylinder 250 HP engine for power. The boat has 3 pontoons and can plane on the middle toon above 15 mph. Its top speed at sea level is 40 mph and I often cruise between 20 to 35 mph. The engineering allows the boat to turn and maneuver like a V-hull. The flat deck space is nice to move around on versus the mostly sloping deck of a V-hull. I can lop off big days with this boat when necessary and the bimini top and custom seats make the day comfortable. Not sure if anyone has done the "loop" in a pontoon boat but I think this one is capable. It is definitely not your grampa's pontoon boat at the summer house. So far it's gotten me 900 miles. I installed eye hooks on the deck in front of the engine to carry two 6-gallon gas cans and 5 gallons of water. So far the 3 pontoons cut through chop and waves better than a conventional boat but I'm sure greater tests await. By the way, I always wear my Mustang Survival inflatable life vest - very comfortable to wear but becomes a Coast Guard Type II after 4 seconds in the water. Solo trips demand risk reduction wherever possible. More on the demands of being solo later.

Yesterday I left Fairhope on the east side of Mobile Bay (a very nice community) and arrived in Panama City, FL. Didn't intend to make it this far but weather still holds and it was a chance for a day off today prior to departing for Carrabelle tomorrow (Sat) with Fred Martin. We will leave for the open water crossing of the Gulf from there to Tarpon Springs area on Sunday. Due to the holiday and after spending all morning on the phone there is no lodging available anywhere after leaving here. So, we may camp out tomorrow night on Dog Island and leave at first light. Winds predicted to be less than 15 knots and the thunderstorms have been forming mid- to late-day leaving us a morning window, hopefully. It is 150 miles total, 50 miles off shore at one point, and if we can cruise at least 25 mph we could be across by noon; and I've heard there is some swampland for sale in FL.

It will probably be several days before another post but the SPOT will keep track of us. Hope I don't need to use the "911" button as it will summon national and local help wherever you are (it uses a satellite connection, not cell towers). My portable VHF marine radio only reaches 5 miles but there often are other boats in the neighborhood. By the way, I hope all of you use the SPOT locator on the blog site. If you zoom in on Google Maps you can actually see the terrain features I'm traveling through. My location is indicated whenever I click that button; and I do that several times a day. Leaving the FL panhandle and see you on the west coast of central FL in a couple of days. Here's to you!!
Photos: Top - Jimmy Buffet’s sister, Lulu’s, home; US Air Force practicing ditching.


  1. Yahoo Ranchhouse! With savvy Marine training, 250 HP, satellite connection, and Fred as your co-navigator, you are set for an exciting journey across the open waters.

  2. As Memorial Day honors those who have given their lives to protect our freedom, we also remember those who have served and continue to serve.
    As we fly our flag this weekend and you look at the Ranch House flag, know that we especially honor you for your service in the Marines while in Viet Nam.
    God Bless America and God Bless your trip!
    Brenda and Jerry