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December, 2012

As we head into the cooler months, this is a good time of year to catch up on small projects, check out the boat shows and find a class or two to keep your boating skills sharp.

2012 was a funny year in that we lost some spring boating due to river conditions, then had record heat, making for a really hot summer. We've been blessed with a nice fall that has made up for so much of the lost boating earlier in the year.

Trip Down the Tenn-Tom Waterway

With the colder weather moving in, this is the time of year that a lot of boat owners look to Alabama and Florida for better boating weather. I recently had the chance to help a friend move his 42' Grand Banks Trawler from Pickwick Lake, TN to Clearwater, FL via the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and then the Gulf of Mexico.

The trip featured generally fantastic weather conditions, making for lots of good photo ops. There was so much to see over the week-long, 800-mile trip that included 12 locks heading toward Mobile, then 350 miles of open water.

Check out the full write-up, chock-full of details and pictures, and I hope you'll enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed the trip!: link


Above, a scene from the white cliffs at Jones Creek in Epes, AL.

Speaking of Trip Opportunities

Ever since people found out about my trip down the Tenn-Tom, I've had them asking how they can go along or what they can do to get on a list. In the case of that trip, I didn't go as a paid captain, but rather as an invited guest, friend and qualified helper. I've found that most people who find success are willing to share their secrets, and in this case I'll share mine.

Specifically, several years ago, travels from the Erie Canal to the Canadian border and across the Great Lakes, then down to Florida and across the Gulf were beyond my reach. By using my prior experience as a stepping-stone, I attended an OUPV and Masters Captain Class, where I met other boaters who were also expanding their horizons. It is through the contacts made in that class and subsequent classes that I have found new opportunities. I would encourage everybody to take advantage of some down-time in the spring to try something new.

Since 2009, True Courses has trained 30-some local captains right here at the St. Matthews fire station. I can say from experience that I never thought I'd use half of the information from the class, but most of it came into play again during my last trip down the Tenn-Tom and across the open waters to Clearwater.

Look for posters in the area that detail the March class, or contact Captain Ron Getter of True Courses for more information: link

...And one more thing on the Captain's Class

Reason #682 why I think it's a good idea for experienced boaters:

A friend was recently getting fuel in Florida. Calling ahead, he was quoted diesel prices of $4.12 per gallon, or $3.80 commercial. When he mentioned that sometimes he runs deliveries, he was given the lower price upon presenting his credentials. At about 400 gallons a pop, about 10 more of those will just about cover the cost of his OUPV class.

Other Learning Opportunities:

Louisville Sail and Power Squadron Courses

Mark your calendars! The Louisville Sail and Power Squadron is hosting the following upcoming classes:

America's Boating Course

A fun, in-depth boating safety course. The United States Power Squadron's ABC course meets Kentucky and Indiana boating license requirements. Many boat insurance companies will offer discounts for boaters who complete this course.

Where: Harrods Creek Fire Department 8905 US Hwy 42 in Prospect.
Details: Price includes 244 page textbook, student CD, digital charting DVD including all US charts, and a 6 month USPS membership in the United States Power Squadron.
Price: $50. Families may share materials
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our site: link

When: (2 classes to choose from)

Winter, Mondays in February 4, 11, 18, 25. 7-9 PM
Spring, two Saturdays in March 9 & 16. 9 AM- 1 PM

Advanced Piloting

(Classes are already underway)

Engine Maintenance

Course covers the operating principles and beginning care and maintenance of inboards, outboards and diesels. Course will help you to "Know Your Boat".

Where: Middletown Christian Church, 500 Watterson Trail, Louisville, 40243
Price: $40 Members $70 non-members
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our site: link

When: Spring, Eight sessions on Tuesday nights 7-9 PM March and April.


Covers basic deck seamanship, marlinspike, anchoring, rafting, basic boat care and maintenance, and nautical and USPS etiquette.

Where: Harrods Creek Fire Department 8905 US Hwy 42 in Prospect.
Price: $50 Members $80 non-members
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our site: link

When: Spring, Eight sessions on Tuesday nights 7-9 PM April and May

River Forum Update

I'm happy to report that the new forum appears to be well-received. The forum stats now show some 83 registered users, 56 of whom are currently active.

There has been some confusion in the login process. Even if you belonged to the old forum, you'll need to re-register for the new one. Also, your username becomes your login, so if you use "John T. Smith," be aware that you'll appear a little more formal than some of our other members.

If you're not already there, it's a great place to see what's new and keep up to date. If you have any login issues, we're here to help. Forum Home: link

Local Prop Scan Propeller Shop

I recently had the opportunity to tour Pap's Props in Henderson, KY. In case you haven't heard of them, they are not only a local Kentucky propeller shop, but also feature the patented "Prop Scan" marine propeller technology.


Until the advent of computers, most propeller repair shops would use "pitch blocks" to form and verify the shape of their propellers. They would typically have a hundred or so of these blocks on hand to lay against, shape and verify the propeller surface. Prop Scan's technology was founded in Queensland, Australia, and is available in the U.S. by trained and authorized franchisees. Capt. Gary Carson purchased the repair operation and moved it from Lake Genevieve, Missouri, to Henderson, and was nice enough to spend an hour showing me around his facility.

I was traveling with a local customer who had dinged his props on some rocks. Shipping by ground to Pap's ran approximately $45, and the propellers were packaged in homemade wooden crates for protection. In his case, his twin 28"x29" propellers from his Grand Banks 42 needed significant repairs using TIG welding, and the repair was not inexpensive at $1,600. Having said that, it ran only about 15% the cost of new Nibral propellers in that configuration.

Gary states, "The customers should know there is a difference in equipment and procedures that sets us apart from other scan equipped shops...Which explains our higher prices. Quality and attention to performance while repairing a propeller is what we strive to promote."

After running the boat for over 500 miles on a set of props tuned at another shop using blocks, we swapped sets to the Prop-Scanned props from Gary's shop. The difference was readily apparent. That is, there was no vibration from his newly-repaired and tuned propellers. We ran that set for over 200 miles over the next few days, and they were awesome.

According to their materials, "an accurate 'Prop Scan' propeller with the correct section form and pitch will always out-perform a standard propeller. You will get fuel savings, increased boat speed, reduced vibration, correct engine RPM and correct engine loading." For more information, I would suggest you contact Gary directly at 270-827-7768, or visit his website: link


Above, Capt. Gary Carson of Pap's Props in Henderson, KY

Slips for Sale

Still our Most Popular Newsletter Link!

As we head into the cooler months, there are still some slips for sale and for lease. There were recently four slips that sold as a direct result of the Port KY site, and the "Slips" page has been one of the most popular destinations: link

PC-Based Charting and a Stocking Stuffer Suggestion

While preparing for the above-mentioned trip down the Tenn-Tom, I was looking for a PC-based charting solution to supplement paper charts. In my case, I have a 2010 MacBook Air, and had already downloaded the USACE's Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENCs) along with raster-based NOAA coastal charts. I was testing a demo version of MacENC, as well as GPSNavX for the raster charts. I had a problem, however, getting mile marker information to display on the ENCs.

I checked out the "On the Water Chart Guides" linked above, and purchased a $24 DVD set that included all the NOAA and USACE charts, as well as just about any navigation publication you can think of to complete your ship's library. While not pertinent to river navigation, they are handy for anybody planning to venture into bigger waters. Included are "American Practical Navigator - Bowditch," Atlas of Pilot Charts, USCG "Chart No, 1," "Federal Meteorological Handbook," Nautical Calculators, Nav Rules, NOAA Coast Pillots, USCG Light Lists, and the "CIA World Factbook." These guys have gone to the trouble of taking just about anything you'd need to launch on a voyage, and packed it into 2 DVDs.

I ordered the DVD set for $24.95 plus shipping. In the mail, I received the DVDs and a free copy of their book "Get Onboard with E-Charting." This is a 200+ page reference that contains just about everything needed to get started with electronic charting, from the services available to required equipment and software. I wish I had found that book sooner, as they described in one place what I had combed the internet looking for in terms of how to get the charts and make them work on my MacBook. The book is normally $34.95, but they shipped it for free as a special that is currently listed on their website. If you've ever wanted to get started with E-charting, this is the best $24 you'll spend on boating!


As for my set-up, I purchased a BU-353 USB GPS receiver for $35. It feeds my MacENC Demo software, so I now have the charts and mile markers available for the river system. I purchased GPSNavX for the Mac for $59 from the Apple App Store, enabling the raster charts for the coastal areas. With a GPS feed, both programs automatically diplay charts for your current area, a nice feature. As mentioned above, the raster and ENC charts are available for free download, but it is much easier to simply purchase the $24 DVD set and copy what you need.

I hope you've found this useful. If nothing else, the special from On the Water Chart Guides would be a great $24 stocking stuffer. If you order a set, please tell them you heard about it here.

Link: http://www.onthewaterchartguides.com/order

That's it for now--Stay safe, and we'll see you on the water!

Eric Grubb
USCG Licensed Master
Webmaster, PortKY.com

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