AT­LANTIC AD­VEN­TURE

With a moth­er­ship along­side, a Hat­teras 63 makes a non­stop cross­ing to the Azores

Soundings - - Contents - By Jeanne Craig

Along­side her moth­er­ship, a Hat­teras GT63 con­vert­ible crosses the At­lantic to the Azores on her own bot­tom in pur­suit of ex­otic ports and bill­fish.

Zane Grey is of­ten cred­ited with pi­o­neer­ing the con­cept of cruis­ing to far- flung fish­ing holes on a big ship. He pushed off from a Cal­i­for­nia dock in the 1920s aboard a 190-foot schooner with sev­eral small craft on deck. Since then, own­ers and crew have con­tin­u­ously evolved the moth­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence, go­ing to great lengths to bat­tle game­fish in re­mote places. Some of the most au­da­cious have chased ex­otic crea­tures from moth­er­ships built solely to reach the edges of weed lines that ev­ery­day an­glers rarely prowl, ei­ther haul­ing, tow­ing or run­ning fish­boats in tan­dem. Re­cently, one crew took the con­cept to the next level. They em­braced the idea that when it comes to trolling the globe, you can take a lot with you, in­clud­ing a ten­der that is noth­ing short of a lux­ury yacht. And in the process, they com­pleted what’s be­ing called an epic, and pos­si­bly his­toric, voy­age.

Steve and Dorothea Green have been cruis­ing and fish­ing the world aboard moth­er­ships for 18 years, trav­el­ing to more than 75 coun­tries and log­ging more than 140,000 nau­ti­cal miles. Along for ev­ery one of those miles has been Capt. John Crupi, charged with the care of their fleet and pi­lot­ing their moth­er­ship. Since 2011, that moth­er­ship has been Dorothea III, a 147-foot Cheoy Lee.

Dorothea III’s ten­der? The first was a 35foot Cabo; a few years later, the Greens up­graded to a 45-footer from the same builder. The moth­er­ship towed both, and ate up the ocean miles. In 2016, it was time again for a new ten­der, and Green and his cap­tain were ready to try some­thing dif­fer­ent. “The tow­ing had just be­come too fa­tigu­ing, for ev­ery­one,” Crupi said. “So, we de­cided to look for a side­kick that could run along­side the moth­er­ship. We needed a boat with the sea-keep­ing abil­ity to do long-dis­tance trips on its own bot­tom, and it had to be com­fort­able for Steve, too.”

Those cri­te­ria don’t seem too de­mand­ing— un­til you re­al­ize how this crew de­fines a long-dis­tance trip. The ten­der would join the moth­er­ship on a world tour with lengthy, non­stop runs. One of the most chal­leng­ing runs would be a nine- day, 1,985- nau­ti­calmile push across the At­lantic from Ber­muda to the Azores, re­quir­ing fuel trans­fers from

Dorothea III while un­der­way. At Hat­teras Yachts in North Carolina, Green and Crupi found the GT63. The con­vert­ible, named Post One, is a pro­duc­tion boat, but Crupi worked with Hat­teras to cus­tom­ize the ves­sel. Some things were mod­i­fied for the sake of com­fort and con­ve­nience, oth­ers were changed for pure op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to Crupi.

“We up­graded a lot of ma­chin­ery to make it more ro­bust and al­low for con­tin­u­ous use,” he says. “We in­creased the boat’s ca­pac­ity to pump fuel, for in­stance, and en­hanced fuel pu­rifi­ca­tion sys­tems. Cleats and deck equip­ment were up­graded to al­low for moor­ing in ar­eas with more surge. Wa­ter-mak­ing ca­pac­ity was in­creased, and the elec­tron­ics suite at the helm was de­signed to re­sem­ble what you see on an ex­pe­di­tion yacht. We did a few things just for fish­ing, too, like adding more re­frig­er­a­tion in the cock­pit for bait. We even took one of the state­rooms and turned it into a tackle room. If you put this boat be­side a con­ven­tional GT63, the two would look sim­i­lar on the out­side, but the dif­fer­ences are in the de­tails. Post One is sort of su­per­sized from a me­chan­i­cal stand­point.”

Post One launched in early 2018 and left Flor­ida in Jan­uary, run­ning gun­wale- to­gun­wale with Dorothea III. At the helm of the Hat­teras was Capt. Josh Heater, a 26-year-old from St. Au­gus­tine, Flor­ida, who had ob­tained his 1,600-ton USCG li­cense while work­ing on com­mer­cial ships in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

The shake­down cruise was from Flor­ida to Mex­ico, where the crew put in sev­eral days of sail­fish­ing off Isla Mu­jeres. (While there, Post

One made easy work of the head seas on the daily 50-plus-mile run home from the fish­ing grounds.) The boats then trav­eled through the Panama Canal and chased mar­lin in the Gulf of Chiriquí be­fore head­ing north along

the Pa­cific coast of Cen­tral Amer­ica to Costa Rica. In May, the boats came back through the canal and pre­pared for an At­lantic ad­ven­ture.

The first time Crupi and his crew trans­ferred fuel from the moth­er­ship’s diesel re­serves to Post One at sea was on a run from Panama to the Ba­hamas. “Plan­ning for that was a huge de­lib­er­a­tion,” Crupi said. “The chief en­gi­neer, Josh and I were all in­volved. We talked about it, drew di­a­grams and tried to do it mul­ti­ple ways un­til we came up with some­thing that worked. I mean, you can’t just Google it. Once we fig­ured it out, we made the parts and pieces we needed, which in­cluded a spe­cially adapted fuel fill on the Hat­teras.” The crew also de­ter­mined they would need to re­fuel with the bow of the Hat­teras off the ship’s stern. They had tried the process run­ning side by side, but there was too much wake mo­tion be­tween the two boats, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for the cap­tains to keep them steady.

The pro­ce­dure was a suc­cess, but the real test would oc­cur dur­ing the long run from Ber­muda to the Azores, dur­ing which they would have to re­fuel three times, trans­fer­ring close to 1,500 gal­lons of diesel each time be­tween the two boats. For­tu­nately, the weather was with them. Thanks to savvy rout­ing, the crew en­joyed a high-pres­sure sys­tem with light winds and rel­a­tively calm

seas. The con­di­tions made it a bit less tricky to pass fuel hoses via mes­sen­ger line from

Dorothea III over to the Hat­teras, but even so, the pro­ce­dure was a nail-biter.

On the Hat­teras, Josh had three crew, in­clud­ing his fa­ther, Jay Heater, who is a U. S. Coast Guard Mas­ter Un­lim­ited and re­tired con­tainer ship cap­tain. Jay— who took Josh off­shore for the first time when he was 18 months old, cradling his in­fant son in a cooler—was on the bridge to help with com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“It’s not easy to run along­side a ship while you’re fu­el­ing,” Josh said. “For me, it re­quired a lot of con­cen­tra­tion. I had to come up 20 feet from Dorothea’s stern, run­ning off her star­board quar­ter, while mak­ing 8 knots. That was as slow as we could go since we needed both en­gines in gear to steer. But it looked like I was driv­ing into her tran­som, and Dorothea’s prop wash was push­ing me all over the place. I couldn’t take my hands off the wheel. Dad was there to give me the dis­tance and com­mu­ni­cate with the rest of the crew. The long­est fill we did was over an hour. In six-foot seas.”

When Dorothea III and Post One ar­rived at Fa­ial Is­land in the Azores, both yachts were in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, need­ing only a wash­down and in­te­rior clean­ing at the dock. The crew was even able to prep fish­ing gear en route, so the Hat­teras would be ready to troll for blue mar­lin on the Azores Bank.

Once the boats were tied up at Horta Ma­rina in Fa­ial, Crupi and crew learned they had just made his­tory. At least that’s what port agent Dun­can Sweet told them. He said their Hat­teras GT63 was the first pro­duc­tion-built fiber­glass yacht to make that par­tic­u­lar transat­lantic cross­ing on its own bot­tom.

“A lot of things could have gone wrong, and we had put a lot of con­tin­gency plans in place,” Crupi said. “I mean, you’re talk­ing to a guy who has been struck by light­ning twice and burned by an en­gine that ex­ploded when we were un­der­way. A bad day for me is end­ing up in a life raft. None of that hap­pened on this trip, so we’re pretty stoked.”

The boats re­mained in the Azores for a few weeks. But soon it was time to cast off lines again. In Au­gust, Crupi was at the helm of

Dorothea III, run­ning be­side Post One with Heater on the bridge of the Hat­teras. The boats were head­ing east from the Azores. Their next stop was Madeira. From there? They’ll make a cou­ple of stops, in­clud­ing a run from Cape Verde to Brazil. “That one is about a thou­sand miles longer than the cross­ing we just fin­ished,” said Crupi. “So we’ll just see how that goes.”

Post One and her moth­er­ship (right) trav­eled 1,985 nau­ti­cal miles from Ber­muda to Fa­ial Is­land (above).

All hands are on deck as a fuel trans­fer gets un­der­way.

HAT­TERAS GT63 LOA 63’10 Beam: 20’0” Power: Twin 1,622-hp 32A Cater­pil­lar diesels Fuel: 1,900 gals. Dis­place­ment: 102,000 lbs.

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