Cruising the Seven Seas……

…I’ve decided to go off the deep end and indulge in some dreaming here.  A friend and I have had some hypothetical discussions on and off about taking a boat and drifting down the ‘Muddy Mo’ (Missouri River) into the Gulf Of Mexico, out into the Atlantic…..yadda, yadda, yadda.  Basically taking a boat and just cruising the days away……*(this assumes money is NO object, through some crazy stroke of fate….)

The Boat:  Chaparral’s 370 Signature Cruiser

(Link Here)

If money is no object, why limit oneself to a boat so seemingly small?  The answer is simple – even with some options and a full load of fuel, this is the largest boat able to be towed with conventional vehicles – i.e. ones you can buy from major manufacturers (GM/Chrysler-Dodge/Ford etc)…….scroll down to the ‘Where Ye Be Sailing’ section for more on this.

If you could guess by the Class/Title of the boat…..this is a roughly 37′ Cabin Cruiser – sorta like the Cadillac DTS or Buick Lucerne of boats.  The main deck layout is typical of most sport boats/cruisers with the cockpit & a small 2-3 person settee forward and a spacious ‘J’ shaped lounge & granite-covered wetbar aft.

Down below is where this beauty shines.  The interior can be separated into three separate sections-the forward cabin, the salon and aft cabin.

The forward cabin is the ‘master bedroom’ of sorts with a bed that looks to be somewhere between twin + queen in size, a small skylight and subdued lighting with a cedar lined closet and 1 of 2 included flat screen TV’s.

The main cabin/’salon’ is the main living space, with the galley on the port (left) side and dinette to starboard (right).  The galley is par for the course in this class–with a granite countertop, two-burner stove, mini-fridge and microwave.  The dinette is also par for the course, with a filler cushion that allows the dinette to transform to a third bed (or ‘berth’).

The aft cabin (directly under the cockpit) takes the form of a spacious ‘U’ shaped lounge with a table in the center.  Like the dinette, a filler cushion transforms this into a second bed, however on this particular model, it’s optional.

Speaking of options….this is the part where it gets good.  Here are the added options I’m going with.

-Twin Mercury 8.2L 380HP Engines

-Cockpit Gas Grill

-Premium Speaker Upgrade w/Amp & Subwoofer

-Garmin 5212 GPS w/4ft Open Array Radar

-Flat Screen TV/DVD Player in Aft Cabin

-Electric Table *(in the main cabin, push a button and it will raise/lower automatically)

-Fiberglass Hardtop

Throw in another $8500 or so for a trailer and you’re looking at a total of roughly $425,634 not including licensing and other such fees.  About the only bone I have to pick with this is the fact that the cockpit is not completely enclosed.  To do that, you’d have to step up to Chaparral’s 420 (42-Ft) Sport Yacht…….the dry weight (weight w/o fuel) of which far exceeds the towing limits of even the stoutest trucks.

Where Ye Be Sailing

Roughly put–the pacific, gulf of mexico, atlantic & caribbean.

Obviously though, we’re not going to be circumscribing the globe in the boat……it’s too small, with too little fuel capacity to make a cruise of that magnitude – so, given that I deliberately picked this boat based on its size, driving cross-country would be the only option.  Why not too?  If money’s no option, that who gives a damn about gas prices.

Soooooo……it comes down to tow vehicles.  Hell, why limit the fun to the open water when you can toss a cross country road trip or two in the mix as well??  Originally, I had picked out GMC’s Sierra 3500HD Denali……..a hardcore, down-N-dirty Heavy Duty (dual rear wheel) Sierra with an interior ripped out of a Buick (where the ‘Denali’ moniker comes from).  However, after doing some research into towing capacities, technology et al……I actually discovered, of the Big 3 auto manufacturers (GM/Ford/Chrysler-Dodge), Ford goes the extra distance (and so does their web site).

You see, the above noted manufacturers have their passenger trucks separated into light (GM-1500, Ford-F150, Dodge/Ram-1500) and medium (GM-2500, 3500; Ford-F250, F350; Dodge/Ram-2500, 3500) duty lines.  Big-bore V8′s of between 4.7 and 6.0L displacement are standard, with even bigger, stouter diesels of between 6.6-6.7L displacement and axle ratios ranging between 3.42 and 4.30 on the larger ranges.  Like I said, Ford goes the extra distance.  Whereas GM/Dodge-Ram top off their passenger trucks at the ’3500′ series…..Ford continues one more step with the F450.

The top-shelf ‘King Ranch’ edition F-450 comes in a singular body style/powertrain configuration–Crew Cab (4DR) with an 8ft bed/box powered by a 6.7L ‘PowerStroke’ V8 TurboDiesel mated to a Heavy Duty ‘TorqShift’ 6-speed automatic transmission.  It comes with a standard 4×4 drivetrain layout and a 4.30 Axle Ratio*

*(Axle Ratio = Ratio between revolutions per minute of the driveshaft and rear axle.  Higher numbers are generally indicative of greater towing power, while lower numbers point towards better engine/fuel efficiency)

The maximum rated 5th-wheel towing capacity for an F-450 with the aforementioned engine (6.7L TurboDiesel) and axle ratio (4.30) is 24,500lbs.

(5th Wheel Trailering Guide–http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/towing/vehicle-towing/trailer/fifth-wheel-towing.htm)

Now, starting off with the top-shelf ‘King Ranch’ edition F-450 and tossing in a few niceities that enhance the capabilities (Camper Pkg/5th Wheel-Gooseneck Hitch Prep Pkg/5th Wheel Hitch Kit) and appearance (King Ranch w/Chrome Pkg/Power Moonroof), we come to a grand total of $68,525 for this leviathan–excluding tax, title and license naturally.

Okay, okay…….so after finding and outfitting a certified ‘Prius-Killer’ to tow our boat, back to the subject at hand–’Where Ye Be Sailing’.

For our first adventure, I had a leisurely cruise down the Missouri in mind–from somewhere around Sioux City, down to the Gulf of Mexico, go in a circle there around the Gulf and come on back up, getting off as close to Omaha as possible.

Beyond that….a road trip to Seattle or Portland looks to be in order, followed by another leisurely cruise down the Pacific Coast to San Diego or LA and another road trip back to our home base here for maintenance, refueling and restocking.

I pegged our journey in the Atlantic as a two-stage adventure beginning with a road trip east and north ending and launching at somewhere near Boston.  A cruise south down the Atlantic Coast to Miami would be the order of the day, Miami being where we’d restock, refuel and do maintenance before heading out on the second stage.

That would take us on a rough circuit, from Miami east to Nassau in the Bahamas, down around the main Bahamian Island and then back west/northwest to Key West and back over to Miami.  More maintenance work would be performed before heading back home to recoup.

Other Stuff

On a trip such as this, with the journey lengths such as they are, a minimum of at least 1 additional person is going to be needed to drive the truck to-from the mainland launch & recovery destinations.  That’s assuming both my friend and I have enough endurance to take turns helming the boat ourselves–which probably wouldn’t be likely.  So we’re looking at a safe minimum of two additional people to join us–1 to drive the truck to/from various destinations as I said and then another to give us some help and also some company on the boat.

As far as food and consumables go–beer will be of the canned variety, a combination of Budweiser & PBR, stored in the wet bar fridge on deck (bottles take up too much space).  Omaha Steaks, Ball Park Hot Dogs & Johsonville Brats will occupy the rest of the room since there will be a gas/propane grill up top as well.

Now given that space is a premium, we’re working with a basic galley instead of a full kitchen and the fridge down below is only marginally bigger than the one up top…….bottled water, fruit (apples, oranges, limes), a carton or two of eggs, some ‘higher end’ beer–Corona & Woodchuck–and a little Dr. Pepper and/or Coke would be the items occupying fridge #2.  Canned goods (soup, baked beans, a veggie or two), easy mac, ramen, a canister or two of Folgers and a bottle or two of bourbon and there you have it—we’re set on foodstuffs.

Oh–can’t forget a good zippo (2-3 of these right here) along with a box of premium cigars (some of these) to help enhance the sunny, somewhat cloudy summer days as we cruise.

As far as entertainment and killing time goes……..movies are where its at.  2/3′rds of my massive collection consists of actual DVD’s.  That’s not a problem since there are 3 flatscreen TV/DVD players already–1 in the forward cabin, 1 in the salon/main cabin and 1 in the aft cabin.  The other 1/3rd of my collection is digitally stored–downloaded, ripped or otherwise.  So, to play *those* I’d bring along the lil hard drive they’re stored on and hook it up to a 17-inch MacBook Pro, maxed out naturally (for a total of $3,049).

Music is not a problem.  The Mac can act as jukebox down below, while up top, the audio setup has a total of 4 ‘AUX’ jacks for MP3 players, phones or other such devices.

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