OK, lets deal with the easy stuff first. The limitations of the Pilot’s Discretion that will require us to have workarounds as opposed to taking the trip with the ideal long range cruiser. For starters, the Pilot’s Discretion is a planing hull boat. She is powered by two Cummins QSM11 diesel engines, each one putting out 660hp. That is good news if you want to go fast as she will cruise all day at 27 kts but that is bad news if you want to go far. At anything other than hull speed ( 7kts) she gets .5 nautical miles per gallon or less. Fuel will be a major concern. We should be able to get as far south as Aruba with careful planning but if we are going to go from there to Panama, we will need to get some auxiliary fuel tanks before making that leg of the trip. We have not made a decision yet on whether will will do that or not. In addition the Pilot’s Discretion is certified as a category B vessel meaning it has demonstrated adequate stability for operation in seas to 13ft and winds to 40kts. We have personally operated her in 10 ft seas and although she handled it very well, it is not something that was enjoyable. As a result we will be paying close attention to operating in appropriate weather windows that will ensure both a safe and enjoyable cruise. Our requirement for relatively benign weather conditions may force us to sit for extended periods waiting for favorable weather; not something that we are too concerned about, after all, this is going to be a “pleasure trip” and operating a boat on a tight schedule is inconsistent with that term.
Now the good stuff. We have outfitted our boat in a way that will give us greater flexibility than the typical Sea Ray. To ensure that we have clean fuel throughout our trip we have installed an ESI fuel polishing system. In addition, we have dual Racor fuel filters for each engine, each with a vacuum gauge to alert us of any impending filter clogs. We have replaced all of the boats lighting with LED lights reducing our electrical demand for lighting by 90 percent while at the same time virtually eliminating lighting failures common to incandescent bulbs. We have installed two Vitrifrigo freezers that should give us adequate capacity to provision for several weeks at a time. In addition, we have installed a Spectra Newport MKII watermaker to provide for our fresh water requirements. To address security concerns, our boat has a GOST Paradox alarm system to ensure that we do not have any surprise guests aboard. Our primary ground tackle consists of an 80lb Kodiak plow anchor with 250′ of high test chain rode. Our backup anchor is a Fortress FX37 with 50′ chain/250′ three strand rode. We have a Sealift hydraulic tender lift that we carry our A/B 11′ center console tender with.
For emergencies, we have a six man offshore liferaft, an ACR GlobalFix 406Mhz EPIRB, an ICOMM92D VHF/GPS/DSC handheld. Our ditchbag contains an appropriate supply of SOLAS parachute flares, smoke canisters as well as emergency rations of water and food for all of us.