The Chula Rodhog was officially launched November 20th, 2004. Although she didn't have her final paint job it was imperative that we get her in the water so the motor could be broken in before leaving for Baja the day after Thanksgiving. She'll get her full paint job after the trip.
Except for initially having the priming bulb reversed she fired right up and we spent the next six hours running her in Mission Bay and then outside about 15 miles up the coast. While the conditions were for the most part good, it got a little snotty coming back in and we were able to really see the differences between the Jumbo and the Standard.
I was impressed. The added length seemed to dampen the pitch and we took swells at speeds that would have launched the Madelisa and slapped the hull. The new boat just seemed to roll right over them and keep going. When we did hit a wave and the spray flew up onto the windshield I just laughed thinking that that would have hit me right in the face on the other boat.
She is very stable at rest. With the added beam and the chine flats you don't have the side to side roll found in the Standard. It really is a completely different boat and so far I am very impressed with how she handles.
The Suzuki 140 pushed the boat with a top speed of 34mph. That was turning a 17" prop and topping out at 6000 RPM- which is about right. If I had run a 19" I would have probably gotten another 3 mph at the top end but the 17" prop will be better for the added weight of all my gear, fuel and FISH!
On plane and at speed
The Chula Rodhog
Shakedown Cruise to Baja
Six days after launching, my buddy Johnny Ray and I headed to Baja with the new boat for the official shakedown cruise. Fourteen days, 2460 trailering miles and 90 hours on the water later, the Chula Rodhog is now officially "broken in".
Except for a washdown pump that stopped working on the last day of fishing, everything worked great. The Suzuki 140 never missed a beat and my radar and fishfinder worked as advertised. I need to relocate my fluxgate compass for the autopilot as it kept steering to the right due to interference with, (I suspect), the seats. But that's no big deal. The boat performed beyond my expectations and we had the opportunity to operate it in conditions I would not have normally subjected myself to.
Thirty MPH+ winds and 4 to 6 foot seas were the norm for most of the trip. Because of this the fishing was terrible by Baja standards, but we did manage to land the Chula's first Marlin, a 170lb class Striper on our first day at the East Cape. We also got some Dorado.
We fished five different locations on this trip- Mag Bay, The East Cape, Loreto, La Bocanna/Abreojos and San Quintin. While we caught fish at each location, our best fishing was had closest to home- San Quintin. There we caught Ling Cod, Yellowtail, Bonito and various bottom fish and we were able to load up the ice chests for the trip home. All in all, the trip was dissapointing from a fishing standpoint but from a shakedown standpoint, I could not have asked for a better testing environment.
The sea conditions we encountered totally validated the design and construction of the new boat. The pilothouse kept us warm and dry and the spring loaded seats paid for themselves in spades. Even though we were getting our butts kicked by the sea conditions we were nowhere near as tired as we would have been had we been out in the wind and spray.
In fact, my baseline for conditions I will now fish in has changed dramatically with the Chula Rodhog. If there is a forecast for 20 to 25 mph winds and the fish are biting, we will now go. Before there was no way. The longer length and higher sides along with the enclosed transom really handled the conditions well. I am really pleased with not only the design but the construction- she's a strong, solid boat.
Hunkered down behind the glass while spray coats the windows- sitting in my spring loaded seat with my feet up - the stereo blasting out the "Best of the Doors"...it just doesn't get much better than this. Here are some pictures from the trip-enjoy.