July 1, 2013
When The Water Calls ... We Follow


June 20, 2013
New Adventures


May 31, 2013
Storing Our Shiny Red Tug


May 13, 2013
Viva La Difference


May 6, 2013
Swinging Free & Easy


April 15, 2013
In The Middle


March 29, 2013
On The Hook


March 18, 2013
Tinker Time


February 28, 2013
Jumping Into the Mix


February 15, 2013
Time Travel


February 6, 2013
Charlevoix - A Small Town With A World-Class Reputation


January 15, 2013
The Perfect Ending


January 1, 2013
Magical Weather & Mysterious Ports


December 15, 2012
Collins Inlet, Killarney, & Little Current


December 1, 2012
New Neighbors


November 16, 2012
What Makes a Perfect Anchorage?


November 1, 2012
Are We There Yet?


October 15, 2012
CHANGE OF LATITUDE


October 1, 2012
Womens Roundtable


September 15, 2012
Freedom to Discover a Southern Gem


September 1, 2012
Promises


August 15, 2012
Nice to Have Options


August 1, 2012
Go West!


July 15, 2012
The Perfect Boating Vacation Destination


July 1, 2012
Propane


June 15, 2012
Flagler’s Folly


June 1, 2012
Everglades Detour


May 15, 2012
Making New Friends


May 1, 2012
Something Old and Something New


April 15, 2012
Florida’s Wide Open West Coast


April 1, 2012
Life On the Water in a Trailerable Trawler


March 15, 2012
Becoming Second Nature


March 1, 2012
Last Dance


February 15, 2012
Call it Romance or Mystique


February 1, 2012
Natural Wonders Abound


January 15, 2012
Hardly a Care in the World


January 1, 2012
Wide-Eyed Anticipation


December 15, 2011
Winding Our Way to Lake Powell


December 1, 2011
On to New Cruising Grounds


November 15, 2011
Sharing the Love


November 1, 2011
On the Water Again


October 14, 2011
First Impressions


October 3, 2011
Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Fun


September 15, 2011
Getting the Show on the Road


September 1, 2011
Lets Dance!


August 15, 2011
Getting Our Ducks in a Row


August 1, 2011
Summer Without a Boat


July 15, 2011
The Water and The Boater Home


July 1, 2011
One Step Closer


June 15, 2011
Time Keeps on slippin’ Into the Future


June 1, 2011
Made in the USA


May 15, 2011
Making the Right Truck Choice


May 1, 2011
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


April 15, 2011
What Goes Around Comes Around


April 1, 2011
Wishing Star Interlude


March 15, 2011
Helping Hands


March 1, 2011
THE PERFECT BOAT!


February 15, 2011
Weighing the Options


February 1, 2011
Making a List, Checking it Twice!


January 14, 2011
The Science of Towing


December 30, 2010
The Upside of Downsizing


December 15, 2010
The New Plan!


December 1, 2010
Homeward Bound-The Final Leg


November 15, 2010
Somethings In The Water


November 1, 2010
Our Turn to Relax & Smile


October 15, 2010
Gem in the Rough


October 1, 2010
Whats Your Favorite Place on the Loop?


September 15, 2010
Reflecting Pool


September 1, 2010
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder


August 15, 2010
Canadian Wonderland


August 1, 2010
"Low Bridge, Everybody Down"


July 15, 2010
One Day At A Time


July 1, 2010
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


June 15, 2010
Lets All Do the Rendezvous


June 1, 2010
On the Hard


May 15, 2010
Falling in Love With Key West


May 1, 2010
Helping Women Get On Board


April 15, 2010
Key West - A Repeat Performance


April 1, 2010
Unexpected Pleasures


March 15, 2010
Mom Cruise


March 1, 2010
Okeechobee Bound


February 15, 2010
Chance Encounters


February 1, 2010
Three Nights in Paradise


January 15, 2010
New Frontiers


January 1, 2010
First Time Experiences


December 15, 2009
A Friend In Every Port


December 1, 2009
Dealing With A Temperamental Lady


November 18, 2009
You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello


November 13, 2009
A Cult Following


October 15, 2009
Somewhere in Time


October 1, 2009
Unlocking Our Minds Eye


September 18, 2009
Its In My Nature


August 15, 2009
The RBS Antidote


August 1, 2009
Crab Crazy


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


July 15, 2009
Sights And Sounds Of The Bay


June 15, 2009
Our Last Leg North


June 1, 2009
Northern Migration


May 15, 2009
Priceless


May 1, 2009
Hello Goodbye


April 15, 2009
Let The Sun Shine In!


April 1, 2009
Dont Worry, Be Happy


March 15, 2009
Bahama Bound


March 1, 2009
What Do You Do All Day?


February 15, 2009
Slow Motion


February 1, 2009
On The Hook With A Million-Dollar View


January 15, 2009
High Anxiety


January 1, 2009
A String Of One-Night Stands


December 15, 2008
Pushing Into New Tennessee River, Upstream To Adventure


December 1, 2008
All Together Now


November 15, 2008
Kismet in the Aftermath of Hurricane Ike


October 31, 2008
Our Love Affair With The River


October 16, 2008
Big City Lights


October 1, 2008
The Adventure Begins


September 15, 2008
Prepping For The Loop


September 1, 2008
The Space Ship


August 15, 2008
Jumping Aboard In Seattle


August 1, 2008
If We Knew Then What We Know Now!


July 10, 2008
The Second Time Around


July 1, 2008
Our Turn For The Great American Loop

   

Getting the Show on the Road
By Kismet, Thursday, September 15, 2011

  In the American comedy movie classic, Animal House, John Belushi and company take Flounder’s brothers 1964 Lincoln on a road trip. By the end of the trip the formerly pristine car laid in ruins, smoke billowing from the engine compartment, as it skidded to its final resting place in front of their decrepit fraternity house. Just like in Animal House our road trip has a mission, a purpose if you will, ours being to get back to cruising and not to terrorize the college community or any other. With a little bit of luck and good planning we think the outcome of the first part of our road trip (although not as funny) will be kinder on our truck, with only some splattered grasshoppers and road dirt. We hope our trip will end with a purpose when we take possession of our recently completed R27 Ranger Tug in Kent, Washington.

My pile of clothes.

After 1.5 years of preparation, research, boat shows, selling, exchanging and buying belongings (boats, trucks and houses) we’re embarking on our maiden trailer trawlering expedition – we’re ready!

We live in Michigan and chose to drive the 2,400 miles to Kent, Washington to take possession of our new R27 and trailer up at the factory. Once there our master plan is to cruise Puget Sound and San Juan Islands in Washington State, something we did three years ago when we took possession of our Fathom 40. We could have had the boat shipped to Michigan but with winter just around the corner it seemed to make more sense to us to take a two month road trip and enjoy some more boating in the Pacific Northwest, a few lakes in the south west and the Tennessee River before returning home for the holidays.

Like any road trip there is a tremendous amount of prep work to make it all come together. So before we could even pull out of the driveway to head west we had to put our home cable, garbage pickup on vacation service, make arrangements to have our mail held, yard maintenance done in our absence, clear out the refrigerator, make a list of how to open the house up when friends use it while we’re gone. The list goes on and on and we haven’t even started in on packing the truck.

I had to pack and repack the bed of our GMC to make it all come together and this doesn’t even show the back seat.

 

In the final few days, we had simultaneous projects going on. The washing machine and dryer ran non-stop during the week before our departure. Once the clothes packing starts for me, and I think for most guys, the procedure is pretty simple. All I need is three pairs of pants, four pairs of shorts, a couple sweatshirts, socks, underwear, two pairs of shoes, a handful of t-shirts, a jacket and I’m ready to go. Lisa, on the other hand, has to go through all her clothes, decide what outfits will cover all the varied climate conditions we’ll encounter then, apparently, she’ll have to match the chosen outfits with other garments, shoes, etc. In the process she ends up with a pile of clothes that’s way more than she would ever need in a year (my opinion, not hers, and maybe a little bit of an exaggeration). I’m not saying this because her way is a bad thing; it’s just how she operates and she’ll be the first to admit the process is cumbersome. After the initial step, phase two kicks in when she has to cull through everything in order to downsize it all into a more manageable size. In the end we both end up with what we need but the roads taken are completely different for us. I guess that doesn’t really come as a big surprise.

100 miles into our road trip we make the five-mile trip across the Mackinaw Bridge to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

    When we sold our last boat, a 40-foot trawler, we brought our entire galley of eating utensils, plates, cooking equipment, coffee maker, toaster, etc. home. So this time out we whittled the existing galley stuff down to what we think are essentials. We aren’t going to be living long-term on this boat as we did before so we have to keep this thought in mind when packing. In addition, we packed an assortment of boat necessities, for instance, a spare anchor line, a boat hook, a 30 amp power cord, tools, binoculars, chart books, folding chairs and table – it all went into our GMC Sierra. Once we take possession of the R27, we’ll have a head start in our provisioning chores – We hope to get right into enjoying our new boat. I keep telling Lisa we only have room for three more containers, but somehow she doesn’t seem concerned. In my mind I’m thinking, that because we’ve got so much stuff, our truck is going to resemble the overflowing Beverly Hillbillies truck as depicted when they moved cross country to California. I’m sure it will all work out but I’m getting more concerned it will not all fit.

Lake Superior is home to the Pictured Rocks and Apostle Islands, both places we plan to return to with our Ranger Tug.

Sure I’m probably over dramatizing a little, well OK a lot, to make the point that a lot of work is required to organize and pack to provision a boat and have enough personal belongings to make a 2.5 month excursion comfortable. To make sure we don’t forget essentials Lisa has developed a checklist of items we should always pack. I tease Lisa that I can pack in 15 minutes whereas her process seems to take forever. She reminds me that I’ll probably forget a few things and I guess that’s the beauty of Lisa’s checklist, as long as it’s on the list it will be packed.

All rivers start somewhere; this is what the Mississippi River looks like in Grand Rapids, Minnesota - Judy Garland’s hometown.

 

As we continued our departure preparations I thought I’d make contact with Andrew at Ranger Tugs to see how close our boat was to being completed. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that not only did it float appropriately during the sea trial but the factory had our R27 finished, sitting on our trailer and ready to become ours. This was great news and I guess I should not have expected anything less from the crew in Kent, Washington. Everything we agreed on has happened as promised and on time – they made it an easy process.

Our road trip retraces parts of the 1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition, shown here on Route 2 in Montana.

While talking with Andrew, I asked him about the final steps taken before they release a completed boat. Andrew explained to me that in order to ensure that each of their products meets with high ownership satisfaction they perform both on land and in water tests. He continued by saying that Ranger Tugs wants to not only make sure everything works but that things are performing up to specs. In my mind there is nothing more frustrating than when you bring a new product home and it doesn’t work properly. So Ranger Tugs is reducing that chance a great deal – not only do their suppliers make their own tests before they’ve released their components to Ranger Tugs, but they then go through their own two-stage testing. Maybe this is one of the reasons why Ranger Tug owners are such a happy, proud bunch!

Once a Ranger Tug is built out it’s ready for its test stage. According to Andrew this means that all the ordered options, standard equipment and electronics have been installed onto the boat. At this stage the boat is wheeled outside of the building, where the first test stage is performed. With water hooked up the shop technicians run the engine, generator, air conditioning to check for proper operations and make any adjustments as needed. The water tank is partially filled so all water lines can be ran and checked for proper water flow, leaks or lack of same. Anything electrical, such as horn, running lights, windlass are all checked to make sure they’re powered up and functional. Once stage one is complete the real fun begins.

Lake Washington is a 22-mile long fresh water lake that sits just to the north of Kent and directly east of Seattle. The factory crew trailers the boat up to Lake Washington so they can run the boat through its sea trial paces. During this phase they’re more interested in hull and engine performance, making sure the engine and drive line are harmonious, that the through hull fittings are providing a leak free connection and that the electronics are receiving a GPS signal, tracking the boat’s position and more.

Our R27 sitting in the yard going through stage one quality testing.

While on Lake Washington a fix list is created to resolve any issues that didn’t meet with the Ranger Tug technician’s satisfaction. Any driveline issues are addressed and any remaining punch list items are taken care of back at the Kent location. I think it’s important to recognize that anything mechanical by nature will develop problems, however, in my opinion, it’s quality control steps such as the ones Ranger Tugs takes that will head off most problems before ownership takes place.

The truck is now packed and as I write this log Lisa and I have just completed our first road trip day, a 600-mile road trip that ended in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Although we’re anxious to take possession of our Ranger Tug we’d decided to take a semi-leisurely trip across the USA. Route 2 is the northern most route across America and on our first day we’ve absorbed a unique slice of Americana that cannot be achieved on the more popular mode of monotonous freeway travel.