FPB 78-1 Cochise Is In The Atlantic

FPB 781 Cochise Panama Canal 100

*Note: FPB 78-1 Cochise is currently just rounding Cuba, with an ETA at 17th Street bridge in Fort Lauderdale sometime Tuesday afternoon. The following post was written after transit last Tuesday.*

Cochise has just completed the Panama Canal transit and is in the Atlantic Ocean. Of all our transits this was…

…the most enjoyable. Uneventful in the what-can-go-wrong category, it was nonetheless a challenge, but in a rewarding fashion.

FPB 781 Cochise Panama Canal 101

We had two pilots. Our guide on the way up was extremely competent, willing to work with us in terms of handling Cochise in a fashion which took advantage of the unusual FPB 78 capabilities, and a very enjoyable conversationalist. We went up tied against the canal wall. A bow and stern line, each to an electric winch, made line handling simple and easy.

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Communication between the bridge and our two line handlers, Deon Ogden from Circa…

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…and FPB training guru Steve Parsons

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…was direct, clear, and critically important in avoiding the dreaded “Watson” maneuver (we did a Watson in 1983 when we were bringing Intermezzo II to the west coast of the US, and do not want a repeat).

Deon and Steve P. would call their distances from the seawall while going up and down, and we were able to keep Cochise dancing clear for the most part, without even her fenders touching, simply by using rudders and her twin screws. As wind and lock turbulence were constantly changing, this required precise communication which would have been impossible without these “wankerphones”, as they are called aboard Cochise. To be honest, we all hate wearing them, and dislike the image they represent to us. That said, they are absolutely essential (thanks John!).

Now a quick word on maneuvering. We could keep Cochise free of the wall by having the helm turned so the bow would rotate toward the wall, with the wall-side engine going ahead, and the center of chamber-side engine in reverse. RPMs were usually slightly higher in reverse. The amount of rudder, between two and 16 degrees, controlled whether bow or stern was adjusted more. It was actually quite simple.

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Having an experienced, competent crew aboard made this challenging process great fun.

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A priority at Circa is to have their team members understand what it is like in the real world of long distance voyaging. This helps them make better decisions on the thousands of details and tradeoffs that are part of a modern yacht. Deon Ogden, above, has overall day-to-day operational responsibility for the shop at Circa. He is extremely busy and constantly in demand by clients, management, and the boatbuilding staff. Yet Circa decided to send him out to spend some passaging time aboard FPB 78-1, to critique how things are working and find ways, along with what we have learned, to improve 78-2 and 78-3, as well as the FPB 70s just starting.

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There are always going to be interesting things to view during a transit. Wildlife is around, and the vessel viewing can be very rewarding.

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It is also interesting listening to the Canal pilots command the tugs, line handlers, and chat with the lock masters.

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We were excited to see a sub coming the opposite direction. The Peruvians must have a vibrant economy to afford this type of naval presence.

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Following the sub, we saw what at first appeared to be a leftover set from a George Lucas movie. How cool is this apparition?

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No ID, no name or hailing port, just that 1000 on the bow.

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Then there were the outriders.

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This vessel is moving at about 15 knots and look at the bow wave.

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Even more impressive, the wake and stern wave.

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And check out the stern corner gear.

FPB 781 Cochise Panama Canal 100 2

Very cool, indeed.

(*Note: For more info on the Zumwalt-class destroyer, check out the wikipedia page.)

FPB 781 Cochise Panama Canal 118

We will close with this shot of Deon and Steve. They are positioning a GoPro camera. Video to follow at some point.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 28, 2016)

5 Responses to “FPB 78-1 Cochise Is In The Atlantic”

  1. Ward Says:

    Apparently the Zumwalt had more problems going through the canal that you did:


    I guess it happened after you passed them.

  2. Torben DH Says:

    Thats a Zumwalt class destroyer


  3. PJ Says:

    Looks like the 1000 tore a page right out of the FPB HVAC manual of design.

    A question: Is it now legal to fly a plane or drive a ship without call signs or other letters of designation? …..guess they’re everybody’s friend, or….

  4. MichaelG Says:

    I’m a tad disappointed that the Zumwalt appears to not be flying the American ensign. Everybody knows that ship. I don’t know who they think they’re fooling.

  5. Howard Says:

    I used to use the side thrust like you describe on the Coast Guard’s old 82 foot Point Class cutters, but it took full rudder to counteract the twisting the screws applied. Congratulations on having such a well-ballenced design.

    That technique is also great for moving sideways off a dock without needing to spring off the lines. It can be really handy for doing touch-and-goes to put someone ashore without tying up.