Our Great Loop boat is a 2003 Carver 460 Voyager with twin 480 HP Volvo Penta diesel engines, bow thruster and stern thruster.
Many boats that travel the Great Loop are trawlers, typically with single diesel-sipping engines, sturdy liveaboard boats for leisurely (8 knots) travel. In our boat search we prepared and revised “must have” lists over more than six months. Our goal was to find a boat roomy enough for longer cruising with captain, first mate, and guests, with a cockpit (outside rear area) for safer docking and locking, able to go faster than 8 kts if needed/wanted, older (so we viewed it as a good value), in good condition, and with low engine hours. Basically, a big 15 year old car in great condition with 10,000 miles on it. Our Holland, MI boat broker and friend Eric Robinson introduced us to Navigators, Mainships, Cruisers, Sea Rays, and others. We made two offers that did not pan out. In January 2019 we found and bought this 2003 Carver Voyager 460 with only 400 hours on her twin 480 HP Volvo Penta diesel engines.
During the week-long contract negotiation and inspection process, John Chilton of Southwind Marine Service near Nashville performed a marine survey and gave us a list of small items we might want to fix; and Gary Sago of Diesel Works in Bowling Green KY did an engine survey that showed all was well except a turbo gasket issue that Diesel Works fixed while doing a complete engine room service including oil changes belts, hoses and filters on engines, transmissions and generator.
R&R has two Volvo Penta 480 HP turbo-diesel engines, bow and stern thrusters, a diesel generator, two 277 gallon fuel tanks, two 75 gallon fresh water tanks, two 40 gallon waste tanks, and four HVAC systems. Her electrical systems include AC power, DC power, an AC-to-DC inverter, AC shore power, and generator-provided AC power.
Her battery banks include a large port engine starting battery, large starboard engine starting battery, generator starting battery, bow and stern thruster batteries, and large house battery.
When her engines are running, the engine alternators charge the batteries. When she is connected to shore power, it charges the batteries. When we are not connected to shore power and the engines are not running, we sometimes need to run the generator to charge the batteries.
The learning curve has been steep!
Our first experience docking and leaving the dock were memorable – a 15 foot wide boat in a 16 foot wide slip requires a gentle hand on the throttles and thrusters. We were reminded of mariners’s rule not to approach a dock any faster that you want to hit it. So far, so good.
We have heard many Loopers repeat the adage that “a boat is a series of compromises.” Even though you can’t always get what you want, we feel that R&R was a good choice for the Great Loop. Even so, living aboard for months at a time has led us to identify and complete many “boat projects” to make R&R safer, more comfortable, and more liveable.