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Old 04-08-2007, 16:02   #1
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skipgundlach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
Posts: 1,826
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August 3 - Sailing in Steerage

Well, not quite - our home is still our home, and very lovely, indeed, with
views from our cabin, on both sides, of the sea, as well as the privilege of
not only taking meals, but, indeed, as well, sleeping with, the owner!

So, not steerage accommodations. However...

We left in fine order - well, other than the minor steering excitements to
follow, thus the title. First, as we left the dock, it felt like we had no
steering. With wheel flying and arms working the throttle for directional
control, I managed to bring Flying Pig back to the dock against the strong
current. A controlled crash, sort of, in that it wasn't pretty, but there
was no damage to our or any other boats nor the docks.

After securing the boat, we tested the steering and - ironically - found it
to be operating normally. So, with my heart still racing, we gingerly set
out again, and all appeared well. I set Otto (Otto Pilot, the electrical
guy who does all the work on most cruises where keeping the boat pointed in
a certain direction is concerned), and all appeared normal. Sloooowly I

Well, not the boat, but the mystery teaser. The boat seemed to respond
slowly, but made it each time I adjusted the direction with Otto. The way
out of Charleston takes us past Ft. Sumter, and the shoals around it, and,
even more exciting, the jetties which are either submerged all the time, or
the (other) jetties which, at high tide, which was the time we passed, are
barely visible.

The weather service notwithstanding, despite the forecast of variable and
extremely light winds, we had a crosswind of about 15 knots which, had the
steering failed, would have blown us on to the rocks. So, I was
hypervigilant about our course, and relieved to find that it seemed to be
keeping up. However, it wasn't very good, and we set about dealing with
contingencies, expecting failure at any moment.

One of the potential contingencies was to drop the anchor and call for help.
However, being in the middle of the channel is not a good place to do that
at all, not to mention that it's pretty deep.

Another was to call for a tow, but the same situation applied - being in the
middle of an active shipping channel was not a good place to be for that

So, we held on by our fingernails and made it outside the jetties.
Meanwhile, we had a container ship bearing down on us. They'd seen our
erratic behavior and wanted to make sure we saw them. We advised them that
we'd had a bit of a steering issue but would be sure to be out of their way.

After a failed attempt to go upwind, we managed to get out of the channel to
the downwind side and advised the container ship that we were no longer a
threat. Using the throttle and the locked-to-starboard rudder to keep us
pointed relatively into the wind and waves, we called TowBoatUS, where I
have an unlimited towing policy.

They showed up in due course, and, the various excitements of being under
tow in a shipping lane, the narrow cuts we had to traverse, and the lift
bridge, all of which were helped by a vigorous current and wind, aside, it
was very uneventful as we made our way to, and were tied up aside, Ross
Marine in the extreme backwaters of the Intra-Coastal Waterway. Larry, our
electrical buddy, had referred us to them, as that's where the boat he's
mostly on gets all their work done.

I'll spare you the gory details, but we'd had a hydraulic leak which caused
all the excitement. Repairing that was a very simple matter in the end.
Also, as is always the case, once we get to digging into some problem
aboard, others surface.

Thus, we discovered that there were some loose parts in the steering
assemblies (again sparing you the gory details) which were, we feel, on
correcting them, responsible for our difficulties in making the water stay
out of the boat in the location in which the rudder post entered.

So, in the end, we got a trip up the creek, seeing some beautiful
countryside along the way, and the opportunity to stop and relax, and Joe
got a ride back to City Marina with the tow operator, thus to get on his way
back to his home. We had the longest and best night's sleep we've had in a
great long while, because not only did we go to bed early, we had rain which
started at 5AM, allowing it to remain dark until well after 9AM. I've not
slept in to that degree in weeks.

All the spilled hydraulic fluid is cleaned up, the steering is tightened to
a degree I'm sure it's not been in months, perhaps longer, and our autopilot
motor and pump are again secure.

Cruising is boat repair in exotic locations... It's exotic here in that
it's in the boonies both water and land-wise, but the people are marvelous,
and despite the official policy of owners not being allowed to work on their
boats, we were allowed to do the lion's share of the time-consuming items
aboard, resulting in a professional oversight of the repair, but a
relatively light bill.

So, we're sitting tight for the moment, waiting for the rain to end and
another weather window to open, and then we'll be on our way again. Here in
the boonies, there's no internet access, but we discovered a couple of
places along the way while being towed, and likely we'll anchor in
Charleston so as to be ready early when we head out again, so whenever this
shows up, you'll know that we found the internet!

A postscript, rather than the new post:

We left at 2:30 PM on the slack tide, beginning to fall as we made our way
back down the way we'd come. We're now anchored off the City Marina,
enjoying the free internet access all over this town, and posting and
catching up. We'll leave in the same fashion, absent, we hope, any
excitements, as before, but just a couple of days late.

We'll again be without internet access for a couple of days but will try to
check in with the Maritime Mobile net as we go tomorrow night.



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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TheFlyingPigLog : Morgan 461 Hull #2, Flying Pig

"You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it
come true. You may have to work for it however."
"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands.
You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in The Reluctant Messiah)
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