To Hel and beyond
I have just got back from Poland where I have spent the last week handing over some Parker 650 ribs to a UK client. The ribs are fitted with the very latest Cummins QSD 2.0 170 HP with the Alpha one leg. Having had three Parker 630 with the CMD 1.7 (120HP) I was very impatient to see how the upgraded 650 with the 170 HP stern drive engine will compare. I was most impressed bearing in mind that the purpose of this weekend cruise was to run in the engines so the 20 hour service could be done prior to shipment.
We fitted the ribs with a 24” stainless steel propeller as the idea was to get top speed but not necessary with fast acceleration.
The cruise was planned for Saturday 17th to head for Leba via Hel and return Sunday 18th a total distance of about 65Nm each way. Saturday was very hot and with a sea state of 2 we enjoyed the cruise across the bay of Gdansk to the port of Hel. The Hel peninsula is a narrow strip of land of about 34 Km long. Hel is a fishing port but also a very good holiday destination. There are no tides in the Baltic and from the tip of the Hel peninsula for the next 300 or so miles you have one long and sandy beach. Having had an enjoyable lunch at the Nelson pub we headed for Leba escorted by my nephew Chris in his Parker 750RS.
During the first day we stuck to max 2800/3000 revs trying not to exceed 30 knots. We never did use WOT but it is my belief that once the engine has been run in a speed of 40knots is achievable.
The Polish coast is now booming with seasafari ribs offering thrill and “white knuckle” rides. The Baltic has very little sea life to offer so rather difficult to call these ribs seasafari ribs . There are two 9 mtr Parkers in Hel and in Leba which after season is more or less a dead place there were four 9 mtr Parkers and one 12 mtr Interceptor with two from other manufactures. It just shows how many tourists visit the coast to justify so many thrill riding ribs.
On Sunday the weather changed and once out of the harbour we were faced with 8’ waves and a F6 to 7. We had no choice but to keep going and with the wind from behind we headed for Hel. If we were going the other way then for sure that would be like “heading for HELL” . We had no dry suits just wind breakers an shorts – an outfit for sure not suitable for any cruise in the Solent in similar conditions. We were blessed however with warm wind and a warm spray. The Baltic Sea has very little salt content so it just felt like a semi warm power shower. We were however soaked but not cold. Should the conditions have however gone from bad to worse then we always had the option of beaching the ribs and awaiting improvement of the weather conditions.
We got to Hel OK and the weather improved on route. Having enjoyed another good lunch at the Nelson pub we boarded our ribs and headed for east of Gdansk to Gorki Zachodnie to recover the ribs.
I was quite pleased the weather had gone bad as this only gave us an opportunity to fully test the ribs as on the flat there is not much one can prove. The client left knowing he had bought a good commercial craft capable of operating in rough conditions. Sadly, I was not going to damage my camera so no photos taken that day.
I can now comfortably say that the Cummins QSD 2.0 150 or the 170 HP is a very good power pack for a 650 rib whether that be a Parker or any other make
During that weekend 54 persons drowned in Poland and Chris who on Saturday was only escorting us part of the way picked up on the way back a swimmer from the sea about 0.5 Nm from the shore. The poor chap was heading out to sea and first said he was OK and only 100 meters from the shore. By then he had lost it and hypothermia was getting to him. Chris promptly with the help of his crewman dragged him on board and headed as fast as he could to the shore informing the rescue station by radio of the situation. The poor chap survived and was very lucky that Chris was there cos nothing else was on the water and he would not have been spotted from the shore.