Saturday, January 18, 2014

Towing J/88 Through Winter Storm Hercules- Inside Story!

J/88 sailboat being towed by Jeep Grand Cherokee
(Chicago, IL)- Richie Stearns recently drove a new J/88 behind a Jeep Grand Cherokee truck through winter storm Hercules, one of the worst so far this winter in America.
  Here’s his commentary on the experience:

“I have been looking forward to getting the new J/88 after I sailed it last Summer. I was excited to get a boat I was hoping could be trailed behind a normal size SUV and still sail in the Mackinac race.  But after looking at a bunch of cars I only found one that fit the bill. The new Jeep grand Cherokee diesel tows 7,400 pounds. But there were people that told me with a short wheelbase it wouldn't be able to pull the boat properly. So I was excited to see if my new car would actually pull this boat a 1,000 miles over mountains.

I spent Christmas in Montauk New York. I had a friend drive the car to Connecticut and pick me up. We spent the night near Providence Rhode Island and the weather forecast was horrible. By the time we got to CCF C they were already closing the schools in most of Rhode Island . Winter storm Hercules was bearing down on us. The boat was ready to go at 8;00 when we got to the factory and we hooked it up to the to the car and drove the Hall spars. No sway bars just a very nice Triad trailer with surge brakes slug low so we were at 12'5" clearance. Thank goodness everything went smooth at Hall Spars and we are on the road by 10:30.

J/88 sailboat- leaving Bristol, RI
It was snowing in Bristol but as you can see from the picture in front of Hall Spars (seen above) it hadn't snowed that much. And there was only an inch or 2 of accumulation. The roads were good going towards New York City . Five hours in the trip we were in the foothills of the Poconos Mountains . Now it did begin to see snow with a good wind. However the rig was just fine we could go 55 to 60 miles an hour without a problem and averaged 12 MPG. Around 3 o'clock in the afternoon the snow started to accumulate and we started seeing semi trucks that had gone over the guard rails. We stopped for about 30 minutes and got fuel and thought that maybe it let up a little bit. Back on the road it really was snowing, we drove at 45 MPH for over 2 hours but at that rate we were not getting to Chicago very fast. The salt trucks and plows were not out and the roads were now white, so we got off again, hoping the plows would come through.

Jeep Grand Cherokee parked after towing J/88 sailboat 1,000 milesAfter waiting about two hours we decided to go one more exit down the road and spend the night. The roads were not plowed or salted so it was time to stop. The next morning  the snow had stopped and we're on our way again no problems. It was cold and windy -2 degrees when we got up, but clear sky's. Coming over a bridge of Ford Ranger (which is very light in the backend) had spun out on black ice, but there appear to be no problem with our rig. For the rest of the way we saw very little snow and clear skies. When we got to Indiana the wind began to blow fairly hard. We had been thrilled that we were getting 12 miles a gallon. But with a big headwind we could only manage 10 miles a gallon. The boat was getting pushed around by the wind a bit in these conditions but nothing to slow us under 60 MPH except for our bad MPG. We slipped into Chicago before they close the roads to semi semi's due to high winds. The next day there was a ton of snow and then the deep chill came Chicago . We had threaded the needle, the Triad trailer and the Jeep was a great combination.”