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Swift Pacific Adventure - Captain's Log

FOLLOW THE ADVENTURE!

With a 14:30 departure from the dock at Denison Yachts, Swift Trawler 47, flanked by her escort squadron of sister ships Beneteau Swift Trawler 35 and 44, headed into Portage Bay and made a crowd pleasing formation fly-by before peeling off to point her nose up the channel towards the Ballard Locks.

After clearing the locks and passing the lateral marks for the transition into Puget sound, Swift 47 cracked the throttles to 2700 rpms drawing a few appreciative looks as she accelerated past her fellow lock transients to an economical cruise speed of 20 knots.

Leaving snowcapped Mt Rainer dead astern Swift 47 merged into the northbound traffic lane and 2.5 hours later arrived at Port Townsend with the light of the setting sun. After securing the vessel at the linear dock, captain and crew headed into town for a well-deserved meal and a good night’s rest.

Captain Jackson Willett

Blocs :

5-2-2019 - First Stop | Port Townsend

5-2-2019 - Ready To Embark

WE'RE MAKING PREPARATIONS TO EMBARK ON OUR SWIFT PACIFIC ADVENTURE

Our Swift Trawler 47 is in Seattle, and the team at Denison Yachting is making all the preparations for her big adventure. Check back here to read about her adventures, plus view photos and videos captured by her captain and crew along the Pacific Coast.

For more on this story, visit:

POWER & MOTOR YACHT ARTICLE

5-3-2019 - Leaving Port Townsend

After a hearty breakfast at the Blue Moon Cafe in Port Townsend the captain and crew said farewell to fellow crew member and new friend Byron Shirley of Denison Yachts and cast off lines for the Strait of Juan de Fuca. After reentering the northbound shipping lane the Swift Trawler 47 accelerated smoothly to 20kts  and settled in for the run up to Neah Bay. As the early morning fog lifted to  reveal a bluebird day the miles rolled by under sunny skies and moderate seas.

After pulling into the fuel dock at Neah Bay the crew topped off the tanks under the austere watch of a pair of bald eagles.

The mood on the boat was anticipatory as ST47 headed into the open swell of the Pacific and the rounding of Cape Flattery. With 10-12’ rollers on the nose the Swift Trawler unflinchingly climbed and descended with the interval until rounding the lateral mark and starting the downhill run.

As sun began to set the crew was treated on several occasions by grey whales breaching within 100 yards of the vessel and then spy hopping to get a second look as the Swift breezed by.

As the sun dropped below the horizon the crew prepared for night operations and set the watch schedule. Current route plan has us scheduled to cross the Newport bar on the flood tide Monday late morning.

Captain Jackson Willett

5-6-2019 - Washington/Oregon Crossing

At 0120 Swift Trawler 47 crossed the Washington/Oregon border approximately 15nm from the mouth of the Columbia River. Shortly thereafter the night watch began to see increased commercial fishing traffic on the radar and AIS. With standing orders to track all contacts and apply course corrections for any vessel within a CPA of less than 2 miles the night watch effectively zig-zagged their way through the commercial fleet and motored throughout the night. The smell of brewing coffee and the sounds of Power & Motoryacht Magazine Executive Editor Jeff Moser’s cool jazz tracks offered a cosmopolitan ambiance to the oncoming watch, juxtaposing the somber, overcast, grey morning outside with 4 miles of limited visibility.

Riding the flood into Newport, OR, Swift Trawler 47 sailed into port for fuel and change of crew.  Jeff  and PMY’s Digital Editor John Turner disembarked for the long journey back to NYC.  Norris Come, Managing Editor for Northwest Yachting Magazine arrived right on time and hopped on for the anticipated long leg to San Francisco.

Based on weather routing from Commander’s Weather and other sources, the decision was made to touch-and-go in Newport and continue on to Coos Bay, OR to wait out a low pressure system and place the boat in better position for a forecasted weather window Thursday morning.

As with all offshore passages, the best laid plans are consistently subject to change and such was the case for Swift Trawler 47. 

At approximately 1424 at 43 39’.0 N ; 124 19’.9 W, 5 miles SW of the mouth of the Umpqua River mouth ST47 was traveling at 18.9 knots when it struck a submerged log or in Pacific Northwest speak, a deadhead.  After an initial damage assessment it was determined the integrity of the hull was uncompromised but significant vibration indicated the vessel has sustained damage to the port prop.  ST47 would have to make the bar crossing at Coos Bay on one prop. 

With 90 minutes until slack tide at Coos Bay the ST47 would have to average 11kts on a single prop to cross the bar before it was likely closed for transit.

I contacted the Coast Guard Station Coos Bay issued a Securite warning and made known our intent to cross the Coos Bay bar. The Swift Trawler 47 put her head down and powered towards the entrance.

Swift Trawler 47 crossed the bar into Coos Bay in the early stages of an ebb tide and with her bow steady on the range markers, despite a 6’ swell on the beam, eased into the channel and safe haven. After tying up dockside and signing off on the VHF, with thanks to the Coast Guard watch commander, captain and crew sent an enthusiastic thumbs-up text to Beneteau for building a boat that delivered the speed and handling required to bring all ashore safely and unaided.

Captain Jackson Willett

5-9-2019 - Haul Out Planned

After a 2-day layover in Charleston Marina awaiting haul out, Swift Trawler 47 was lifted out of the water and Captain and crew got their first look below the waterline. Upon visual inspection there was evident damage to three of the four blades on the port prop but no apparent damage to strut, shaft rudder or transmission.  The decision was made to order both a port and starboard propeller and to block the Swift Trawler 47 out of the water to wait for the arrival of the replacement propellers from overseas.  The starboard propeller arrived on Friday May 10th however the Port prop, the side with the damage, was still en-route.   

After a more detailed assessment by owner Ray Cox at Gidding’s Boat Works, it was confirmed the damage sustained was limited to the port prop.  With a new prop enroute from France, we left Coos Bay for with an anticipated return on Tuesday May 14th. 

5-15-2019 - Coos Bay Departure

Upon the return of the Captain and arrival of new crew member Jim Tull from the Beneteau sales team at Passage Nautical Enterprises in San Francisco and installation of the new prop from Beneteau, ST47 launched with smiles all around. With a grateful farewell to the mechanics and operators at Charleston Shipyard and Giddings Boat Works ST47 return to the transient dock in Coos Bay to provision and refuel in preparation for the long leg to San Francisco.

The Swift Trawler 47 is returned back to the water, refueled, provisioned and prepared for a May 16th departure for a straight shot run to San Francisco.  We have to give a warm thank you to Ray Cox at Giddings Boat Works for bumping us to the front of the line to get us operational in time to beat a weather front closing in on the West Coast.  The weather reports were not favorable with Gale wind forecast and a large storm front to pass. This weather will certainly test the capabilities of the Swift Trawler 47.  Departure is planned for slack tide around 12:00.   

5-16-2019 - Underway to San Francisco

As dawn broke there was ominous news of a significant low pressure system sitting off of Cape Mendocino with NOAA reporting hazardous and chaotic seas.  With the help of weather routing service, Commander’s Weather, ST47 found a small window of opportunity to chase the low pressure system south as it moved inland and before another system filled in from the north.

With a rising tide and barometer ST47 crossed the Coos Bay Bar at 1145 and headed due West to gain a favorable angle on the NW swell once turning South. At 1400, approximately 15 miles offshore, ST47 turned her bow south and settled in at 10kts for the long haul. With a burn rate of 5 gallons per hour on each engine this leg of the adventure was going to be about rage and timing. Based on the weather systems both ahead and behind ST47 would motor an average of 10kts for 200 miles in order to round Cape Mendocino between the two low pressure systems.

With mixed swell of 2-4 feet and deceptively sunny skies overhead the captain and crew could see dark clouds to the South but as the forecast predicted moving SSE and inshore.

With a 42 hour transit time into San Francisco the boat settled into normal watch routine and over light supper enjoyed another beautiful offshore sunset.

 

0015 LAT 41 43’.7 N LON 12 44’.2 W BRG 180T SPD 10.5kts

ST47 crossed the border into California and passed 22miles offshore from Crescent City.  With 6-8’ following seas, clear skies and relatively benign 15-20 kt winds ST47 continued her measured pace south as a large low pressure system ahead continued to move inland and opening a brief weather window for a early morning Saturday arrival in San Francisco.

0611 LAT 40 45’.6N LON 124 40’6 W BRG 175T SPD 10.2kts

With the sun rising ST47 crossed 40 degrees of latitude and began to feel the rising wind and swell as she approached Cape Mendocino. With a 6-8’ southwesterly swell and 15-20kts of wind from the west ST47 handily managed the moderate conditions and made ready to round Cape Mendocino at 0800

1800 LAT 38 56’.5N LON 124 00’.6 W BRG155T SPD 10kts

Passing 6 miles offshore of Point Arena ST47 enjoyed mild conditions running inside the 10nm mark. As darkness fell she moved offshore to avoid crab pots and other commercial hazards to navigation.

2046 LAT 38 40’.2 N LON 123 41’.0 W BRG 166T SPD 9.5kts

Under a full moon ST47 lined up on her final waypoints around Point Arena and Point Reyes for a early morning arrival into San Francisco Bay.

5-17-2019 - Sailed under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge

On a rising tide and moderate conditions, the Swift Trawler 47 sailed under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and with a smart blast of the horn Team BENETEAU arrived in high spirits to early onlookers overhead.

After demonstrating her speed in Puget Sound and the straits of Juan de Fuca, the Coos Bay to San Francisco leg showcased ST47’s range and seaworthiness on this 400+ mile, 42 hour transit and arriving with 25% reserve in the tanks. After refueling at Gashouse Cove marina, the Swift Trawler 47 made her way to the BENETEAU dealership dock at Passage Nautical Enterprise in Brickyard Cove and after tying up to the dock and securing the vessel, Captain and crew departed with memories for a lifetime!

5-19-2019 - San Francisco to Monterey Bay CA

When we left the dock in San Francisco, we had the obligatory photo shoot of the ST47 passing under the Golden Gate Bridge.  Once that was completed, it was time for a little sightseeing.  So 180-degrees about and we headed back into the Bay and straight for Alcatraz Prison.  There was of course no way we were going to set foot in the island, since it takes reservations made weeks in advance.  But circling it up close and viewing through a pair of 7x50 binoculars was certainly intriguing enough. 

From there it was back through the Golden Gate and onto open water.  We started taking spray over the bow immediately so we transferred control to the lower helm and continued on.  At this point the intermittent wipers became our best friend as their timing coincided with the spray of our 15 knot progress southward.  Otherwise, the ST47 handled the conditions extremely well.  The autopilot had failed the day before but my experience has shown that hand steering in adverse conditions proved more beneficial. We won’t know as there was no chance to compare but hand steering did prove to be to our benefit as we could act before the waves would alter our course, rather than correct afterwards as the autopilot does. 

Of course there’s no way this trip could begin until after we made the trip around Alcatraz Island. 

1230 5/19

Temp 59-degrees/Winds W 15-18/Seas 4-6’ Ocean Swells/Visibility clear

With winds backing to the west and increasing, the swells grew significantly.  From the lower helm we were buried in the trough with visibility limited to the distance between wave back to wave front.  Then we would climb back up to unlimited visibility to the horizon until dropping back down into the next trough.  Radar remained useful and showed scattered showers off to the west, and more moving in just south of west, heading right for us.  So we increased speed to 20 knots to attempt to dodge the squall, but unsure how the 47 could handle the seas with the increased speed.  As it turned out, she handed it even better.  Whether it was the increased wash against the props, or the keel allowing better tracking, she rose to the occasion like a lady.  So much so that we broke out lunch and started in on it.  Birds were all around during the voyage, but no whales, no dolphins. 

1430 5/19

Temp 57-degrees/Winds NW 20 knots/ Seas 6-8’ ocean swells/visibility clear

LOCATION: PIGEON POINT

Ok well, thing just got interesting.  Now with building, and quartering seas, it was a total surf fest.  All of the concerns of running down seas… broaching, pitch-poling, none of it manifested.  There was the usual alternating the helm from keeping the stern from swinging to port as we went down the wave, to the opposite correction as we went back up the next.  The bow kept its buoyancy as we came down the waves and plunged into the trough, water flying off like a snowplow, but never wanting to stuff under, so we were easily able to keep that 20 knot speed up.  Then we saw the birds working the surface and the water boiling. 

Pulling back the throttles to idle, and heading topside for a better view showed a sea lion (identified by the ear flaps that seals don’t have, so there!) eating a half fish.  Actually playing with it would be more accurate.  He’d (ok this time it’s a guess since we saw nothing to differentiate between male and female) take a bite, and then toss it in the air, is if to taunt the seagulls that didn’t stand a chance of catching it before the seal had it again.  It was hysterical to watch, and all this right in front of the bow.  Then as we looked further away, there was another… then another… and suddenly we realized they were all around us.  This little food fest was almost more like a food fight between a gang of kids rather than a pod (school, herd, flock, pride…???) of sea lions.  So we watched for a bit and then got back underway, with them scurrying ahead of the bow in a parting show. 

1630 5/19

Temp 57-degrees/Winds SW 15-20/Seas 4-6’ Ocean Swells/Vis clear

ARRIVAL BREAKWATER COVE MARINA

Winds had come back around to the starboard bow and with it returns the spray.  But our old intermittent friends were back working it like a champ.  Once we got into Monterey Bay we started to finally pick up some lee and lose the heavy swells.  We tried calling the Breakwater Cove Marina from about 5 miles out but got no response.  In fact, we hadn’t heard anything on the VHF all day.  A look at the log book showed a squawk list with the VHF on it saying the previous crew could not raise another vessel outside of 2 miles.  This may because the dual antennas were mounted low, on the fly bridge deck trailing edge rather than atop the hardtop.  But cell service was fine so we called to announce our impending arrival.  Pulling in past the breakwater (which the cove and marina are cleverly named after) showed the most amphibious life of our trip.  Sea Lions, seals, and otters all mingled together with thousands of cormorants all along the length of the breakwater.  All talking to one another, or to us… who can say?  But it was a sight that this east coast captain doesn’t get to see. 

Tied to the fuel dock we were met by Rafael, who gave us our first hint of California hospitality with a warm welcome.  And a fuel hose.  We topped of with 150-gals of diesel and moved into position for the next three days.  A remarkably uneventful, but highly rewarding trip. 

With the rain squalls remaining off shore, the Swift Trawler 47 sits at the dock at Breakwater Cove Marina, joining us in watching the rainbows.

5-22-2019 - Weather Hold in Monterey

After consulting National Weather Service WX reports (https://marine.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=PZZ673#.XOV6JohKjIU) and the weather routing team at Commander’s Weather (https://www.commandersweather.com/) the ST47 delivery team determined the diminishing seas and release from a gale warning opened a weather window for a Thursday 5/23 afternoon departure for the 300nm run south from Monterey, around Pt. Conception and into Marina Del Rey. With a planned cruise speed of 15kts and 20 hours transit time, captain and crew are busy checking systems, refueling, provisioning and outfitting the boat for the leg south.

Captain Jackson Willett

5-23-2019 - Underway from Monterey Bay

Under the reproachful gaze of a family of sea otters that had decided to make our slipway their buffet table and were forced to relocate, ST47 exited the sanctuary of Monterey Bay and quickly found herself facing the remnants of a gale warning that had passed through less than 12 hours earlier. As ST47 turned south she easily tracked down the face of the 12-15 ft quartering NW swell on her stern and made turns for 10 knots to time our arrival off Pt. Conception.  Despite forecast assurances of diminishing winds and seas the crew took quiet notice of the current 20-25’ seas and 30-40kt winds off Pt. Conception.  Although weather routing had not yet steered us wrong, the weather patterns off the headland at Lompoc was notoriously fickle for creating its own weather systems and defying forecasts. Time would tell as the miles continued to slip beneath the keel.

0145 LAT 34 23’.5 N LON 120 32’ .2W BRG 146T Speed: 15kts

Under broken cirrus clouds, which portend fair weather for the day ahead, ST47 rounded Pt Conception in a 4-6’ swell directly astern, 10kts of wind out of the West and tracked Eastward down a moonlit path lit by the 79% waning gibbous moon.  As the 30sec interval lighthouse beacon of Pt Conception fell astern captain and crew fired up the galley and celebrated with an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink breakfast scramble which was promptly dubbed the “Pt. Conception Scramble”.   However, in keeping with the poultry reference, remember the one about “counting chickens until they’re hatched”?

5-24-2019 - Marina del Rey

With the intermittent autopilot acting up again, the crew assumed manual steering, which, accompanied by a dense fog that reduced visibility to zero, cut short the celebration as holding course required intense concentration during the pre-dawn hours of the night.  With a lack of any stationary terra or celestial objects to guide on for reference, captain and crew were subject to frequent moments of vertigo in the pre-dawn darkness, until the welcome glow of sunrise lifted the grey veil and a bluebird day unfolded in front of us.

1000 LAT 34 00’.5N LON 118 30’ .7W BRG 100T SPD 22kts

With dolphins trailing in the stern wake ST47 was met by an escort vessel led by Bob Denison, President and Founder of Denison Yacht Sales.  Cruising at a smart 22kts both vessels entered Marina del Rey and made their way to the Denison dealership docks. After introductions and a warm dockside welcome, captain and crew secured their leg of the Swift Pacific Adventure while cleaning crews boarded in preparation for her Memorial Weekend cruise to the Channel Islands with world famous photographer Doc White, his wife Ceci and Barrett Canfield, owner of the South Coast Yachts Beneteau dealership located in San Diego.

Stay tuned shipmates!!

5-25-2019 - 42 Miles to Catalina

Change of Captain and Crew to take her on her last and exciting leg from Los Angeles to Catalina and the Channel Islands for a diving expedition with Doc White and then on to San Diego.  Thank you to Capt Jackson Willett for your professionalism and care for the boat!

 

New Captain Barrett Canfield of South Coast Yachts and his daughter Grace arrived at the boat in Marina Del Rey with Doc & Ceci White and the film crew at 10am.  Thank you to Denison Yachts & Naos Yachts in Marina del Rey (MDR) for cleaning her and prepping her for this final leg.  After over 1000 miles, the ST47 was found to be in excellent working order with all systems running properly.

 

The new crew departed MDR at 12:15pm and motored back out of the channel at 5 knots into the Pacific.  Leaving the MDR breakwater at 12:30, we lifted her to 2100 rpms giving 15 knots of boat speed and a course of 150 degrees toward the Isthmus at Santa Catalina Island.  The seas were lightly rolling at 2-3’ and winds were light out of the northwest at 7 knots (Ideal).  The Swift Trawler 47 showed her grace with a comfortable ride taking 2.5 hours on the 42 mile journey.

 

A pod of Risso Dolphins greeted us a mile off of Ship Rock, so we slowed to 6 knots to prepare the camera equipment.  Doc White was able to shoot stills and video while the pod surfaced within 15 feet of the Swift Trawler 47.  Seeing these beautiful creatures watching our moves was the start to what we will remember as an incredible Memorial Day Weekend.   The sight of a baby Risso imitating a Ramora on his mother’s side made our day. It is amazing to get away from land and witness the abundance of life in the Pacific.  Having the vast knowledge of Doc White aboard was an education for all of us. (I never heard of a Risso!)

 

Now with the ST47 safely on the hook at Two Harbors, the crew headed in to the Harbor Reef restaurant for a hearty meal.  Catalina Island, a boating paradise just 24 miles off the Southern California coast is a gift if you choose to venture out.  We are grateful to be anchored peacefully in one of our favorite coves.

5-26-2019 - Isthmus Cove Santa Catalina Island

We have seven crew aboard and all slept comfortably on the hook through the night.  Barrett and daughter Grace used the convertible salon for their stateroom and were impressed with the comfort and space.  We woke at 5:30am to prepare for a 7am departure to the West to Emerald Bay for a photo and video shoot.  We ran the generator for hot coffee and enjoyed that in the cockpit.  The weather was overcast with a light drizzle, but the comfort at the lower helm and also on the hard top covered fly bridge was perfect.  This boat is built for cruising in any weather, so this morning was a chance for us to feel her underway in less than perfect conditions.  We had a short 10 knot cruise over to Emerald and proceeded beyond while Doc drove and the film crew shot footage from the photo boat (Wellcraft 290 Coastal generously volunteered and captained by Rick Day of South Coast Yachts).  We will post the pictures soon of this powerful photo shoot.  We promise you that they won’t be of an ST47 sitting in some beautiful tropical setting.  She’s easily capable of that, but these pictures will show a sturdy cruising yacht, plowing through   some challenging seas, under an ominous sky.  We’ve found that she is very trustworthy and created a secure feeling for the whole crew.  All systems are functioning properly.  We find the cockpit and submersible swim platform very spacious. 

All in all a great day aboard listening to Doc White’s stories of far off islands, unusual sea creatures, and fascinating people.  9:07 pm and secure on the hook and in our comfortable bunks. 

5-27-2019 - Dive Day

We awoke before sunrise to a sudden change in wind and Swell direction at the Isthmus.  The motion of the ST47 swung around to rolling swells from the North and a strong breeze.  This crushed our plans for our photo shoot and diving video shoot against the cliffs at Emerald Bay, which was now awash with breaking waves.  We watched as families dropped their moorings early after a rough night at Two Harbors and headed back to the mainland.  We decided to head in and hike to the West to scout out a good dive spot, while the ST47 rode confidently on the hook in the harbor.  We were looking for a calm cove with access to the kelp fields where Doc White could dive and photograph the sea life. We found a headland west of our anchorage that was protected from the blowing northerly and then returned to the boat to lift anchor and     head to our new anchorage.    Before departing we opened the engine room hatch to check fluids and give a visual inspection.  All systems were in order. Upon arrival at our new location, we realized that this was the perfect spot for our underwater diving shoot.  The dive team (Doc and Demi)  and videographers were pleased with the ST47's submersible swim platform making it a breeze to dive from the boat.  After three days with 7 people aboard, we are at 63% fresh water capacity.  We are finding the standard tankage sufficient.  The crew enjoyed a cocktail on the fly bridge at sunset and discussed today's diving experience before heading in to the Harbor Reef restaurant for our final dinner of this leg.  We plan to rise at 5am for a run to Avalon for a drone shoot off of Descanso beach at sunrise.  Good night from the grateful crew of the #SwiftPacificAdventure

5-28-2019 - The Final Leg

Looking at the last day of our 1000 mile adventure aboard the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 47, we set our alarms early for a 5am engine start (4:30 coffee in her spacious galley).  Sitting on the hook up against a cliff in Cherry Cove, we fired up the twin 425hp Cummins diesels that have run flawlessly from Seattle.  Since we were tucked into a protected small cove, we used the bow and stern thrusters to push us sideways away from the rock cliff and then spun her with the engines to point us toward the sunrise over the mainland.  The film crew wanted perfect light to capture the rising sun on the coast of Catalina, so they positioned themselves on deck as Doc White lifted her up to 12 knots which is a steadfast and efficient cruise.  We ran down the north side of the island to Long Point where we launched the drone for footage of this beautiful boat running along the barren coast in the golden hour of morning.  The iconic Descanso Beach and then the Casino at Avalon were the last points of interest to photograph for Doc and Cici before we set a waypoint 70 miles away across open ocean to Point Loma and the entrance to San Diego Bay.  We lifted the Swift 47 to 17 knots and 2550 rpms for a faster run.  The following seas rose up to meet our stern at 5-6 feet, giving the ST47 and crew a fun ride with bursts to 22 knots down the face of the waves.  A few surfers on board were “hootin’ and hollerin’ as the boat seemed to trim itself as she surfed.  This went on for four hours until we were off of Sunset Cliffs and had to back her down to be aware of, and avoid the thick kelp beds off Point Loma.  We backed her to 12 knots to round the point into San Diego.  On this last leg today we were at most, 60 miles from the coast, but we were out of sight of land.  Seeing a 360 degree horizon on any boat reminds you of how small you are on the vast ocean.  Trusting what is keeping you on the surface is a thought that comes to mind at sea and the confidence of the Swift Trawler 47 and the way she rides calms your nerves.  Doc & Cici White had a mostly young crew aboard that they were responsible for.  Getting them safely to the next port, while educating them about the wonders of the life in the Pacific was their goal and the new boat delivered as they expected she would.  The Swift Pacific Adventure was all that she promised.  A stately and efficient cruising yacht.  An accomplished and adventurous couple who love to educate the young and old on the vast life below and above the surface of the great Pacific Ocean.

The boat now lies securely at the docks of South Coast Yachts in San Diego, being detailed and awaiting her debut at the San Diego International Boat Show, June 6th-9th.

Note: Just so we could account for the top speed, we put the hammer down on the flat SD Bay and she rode confidently at 25.6 knots.