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Old 18-10-2009, 17:57   #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: 1,143
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Cruising is... 9-11 to 9-22-09 SSI-St.Augustine

Hi, again,

No, we didn't fall off the face of the earth, this time, either :{)) We
were just so busy sailing and otherwise that it's taken me this long to be
able to sit a spell and catch up.

So, after a grueling refit, during which time we accomplished all the stuff
you heard about during my prior major posts, we moved ourselves out to the
anchorage, got St. Michael's boat into the slip without incident, helped a
friend dock his boat after his voyaging, and got under way at 4:30 in the
afternoon on the anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers.

Aboard with us were my two oldest grandchildren. We'd had to, as you saw in
our refit report, delay their joining us, many times, including the last
couple of days in Saint Simons Island as we finished up our
last-minute-Louie chores and parts-runnings. My son and daughter-in-law had
been able to receive a couple of shipments we'd had at the last minute, so
our having stayed those couple of days meant that they didn't have to haul
them to Saint Augustine, our next stop.

Weather was fine for our trip, but it was pretty much on our nose as we were
leaving, so we motorsailed on a very close reach/beat to the bend in the
channel, where we were able to become a sailboat on a close reach to the end
of the channel. Once out, a fairly long trip from Saint Simons Sound, we
set our course for 180 on a beam reach at 6PM. However, the wind shifted,
with 11-15 and gusts to 17-18 knots, and we were making a pretty consistent
7.4 knots.

By 8PM, the wind dropped a bit, and the swell increased, but we still
managed 6.8-7.1 knots through 2AM. What a great start to the girls'
offshore (well, technically, of course, coastal, but we were well out)
experience, especially as that 2AM marker also marked the passage of a
front. The wind shifted 60* in just a few minutes, the air got warmer, we
saw smaller seas, but we had to beat into them. The wind dropped to 8-12
knots, and our speed dropped to only 4-5 knots. Yet, it was a much more
comfortable ride, with the smaller seas resulting in both less pounding, and
as it shifted, less wallowing.

All along, we'd forecast arrival at the Saint Augustine inlet at about
5:30-6AM, which is a bit scary in the dark. Our internet correspondents had
suggested we not do that in less than full daylight, and, if possible, to
follow a large fishing boat in to see where the channel really was.
Accordingly, when we arrived at the inlet at 5:45, I hove the boat to, and
turned it over to Lydia while I got a nap. The wind direction, and the tack
on which we hove to meant that we were going both away from the inlet and a
bit back North, both very good for safety in the event of any unforeseen
(and, as it turned out, none occurred) anxieties for traffic or weather.

I woke at 8 and we turned the boat back downwind and headed in. In the end,
it turned out to be a non-event, with the channel very clearly marked, deep
water all the way, and we had our anchor down north of the Lions Bridge
(currently under reconstruction) in about 10' of water. Our internet
connection there was stellar, to the degree that I called my son to let him
know that we were on the way in as we entered the inlet. Because there's a
6' tide there, I put out well over 100' of chain remaining after I retrieved
the gross excess we let out to allow us more than 75' on our secondary
anchor, a recommendation from yet other of our internet correspondents,
cautious of the tidal current there..

While we were getting the dinghy down and set up to go ashore, my son was
arranging our arrival at the dinghy dock so we could pick them up, so when
we went in, all was in order before we got there. A lovely tourist-y day
ensued, with our taking the tour bus around the old city, learning the
sights. We finished with a nice sandwich supper in one of the local
eateries, and came back to the boat for the night.

I'd thought to move the boat to the south anchorage, but on Sunday morning,
September 13, when I started up Perky, our trusty Perkins 4-154, despite the
shrill sounder, which I'd installed to replace the dead one in Saint Simons
Island, havng stopped screaming at me, reassuring me that I had oil
pressure, as I always do, I checked the gauge. WHAT?!?!? No oil pressure
showing on the gauge! I immediately shut it down, and went to investigate.

YUCK! The engine pan over the bilge was full of oil. Worse, there was none
on the dipstick! So, where did it come from?? My first thought was the oil
pressure alarm sender or the pipe leading from the engine, or its connecting
coupling, especially as there were some drops of oil on them, seen as David
held the flashlight and I manipulated the mirror. As carefully as I looked,
however, I couldn't see any fractures in the pipe leading out from the
engine, nor in the coupling into which the sender was screwed. Nonetheless,
I took out the sender, and, instead of relying on the goop which came on the
threads when it was bought, cleaned them out and put on a liberal
application of plumber's pipe dope. I then screwed it back on, very

Then I refilled the engine. It took far more than I could have imagined,
but, as it turned out, that was just a matter of how long it took for the
oil to reach the pan, as I poured, and David manned the dipstick. In the
end, it was overfilled, but not so much as to allow the crankshaft to splash
and foam the oil. All that meant was that, like every old diesel (have you
seen Captain Ron??), because it uses oil, it would be longer before I first
had to add oil.

However, on restart and checking, it became evident that the oil pressure
sender was what was failing, as it was pouring oil. Immediate shutdown,
again, and David pulled out his cell phone and we started calling automotive
places to find a replacement. None of the discount places had one, but Napa
had the proper replacement. Off we went (thank goodness for their being
here, our finding it early enough that Napa was open, and that they had a
car we could use!), purchasing a replacement. Napa didn't have two, or I'd
have laid in a spare, as is my custom any time a critical part breaks. If I
don't already have a spare, I get one. No such luck this time, though!

Once installed, we verified that the sender didn't leak, and it did, in
fact, register the proper level of pressure. That I replaced that sender
and gauge on our refit in St. Petersburg, before we left, just as a good
thing to do on general principal, as recommended by my surveyor, made the
failure more disappointing, but, certainly, having the failure happen here,
instead of in the third world, was a blessing.

Another afternoon ashore ensued, as David and I were able to pick up their
car where they'd parked it, courtesy of the three-day-pass on the local tour
bus, and parked it in one of the tour bus free spots close by to the harbor,
rather than the city facility a very long walk away. After all the laundry
and showers and other stuff was done, and we determined that there were no
real ways they could help us, particlularly since both David and Laura had
scheduled responsibilities at home on Monday, they left late that afternoon.

So, Monday dawned and we got up and tended to boat chores. In my mail was a
note from a Seven Seas Cruising Association fellow member who'd seen our
posts about our trip to St. Augustine, offering us rides if we needed it.
Our fantastic internet connection allowed us to make Vonage calls just like
you would from your home, and so I chatted him up for a bit. We eventually
took advantage of his offer on a couple of occasions, for provisioning-type
shopping, a trip to the local salvage house, Sailor's Exchange (not to be
missed when in St. Augustine), where I bought a new stern anchor rode and
chain, a stop in the local auto supply house to pick up some Sea Foam (a
miracle additive for fuels), and, the day before we left, a trip to Napa
again to get the second oil pressure sender I'd had them lay in for us. All
in all, it reinforced our firm assertions that the cruising community is the
tighest in the world. If you need help (or, even, don't, but someone sees
that you might be able to use some), there's no shortage of volunteers.

Tuesday, 9-15, with all engine systems seemingly resolved, we made ready to
leave for our trip south. Oops. I tried to undo the tangling which had
occurred as we swung around our anchors, twisting the two chains. To do
that required us to do a lot of chain length adjustments, as the tide was
too stiff to overcome with the dinghy being used as a tugboat to try to turn
it around. In the course of letting out extra chain, we'd drifted into the
area which, at low tide, allowed us to touch the sand bar running out from
the little island. No big deal; we waited until the tide rose to get off.

However, all the exercise with the chain allowed me to see that we'd had
some failures in the anchor roller cage assembly. This is a common failure
point on Morgan 46s, and most boats wind up either replacing or extensively
repairing the original, so it wasn't entirely a surprise, though it
certainly was disappointing in light of our having had some welding done in
Saint Simons. The failures must have come during our time in St. Augustine,
as they certainly would have been noticed during the work at the dock during
our refit..

So, off we go, eventually, having gotten the anchors sorted out and our
bottom off the sand, through the bridge to our new anchorage in the south of
St. Augustine's "parking spaces" - and, seeing that very few had two anchors
out, we didn't put out two this time, but just a very substantial amount of
rode, with our snubber, this time, out the side chock rather than over the
bow roller, to minimize pressure on the roller assembly. We also put out
two stern anchors and rodes - one the same as we'd used on Saint Steven's
boat in Miami, augmented by another 50 feet of line, and the other being the
new rode I'd bought at Sailor's Exchange. With two stern anchors, albeit
only 22 pound Danforths, our stern stayed in line with the bow, regardless
of the current.

Fortunately, the connection on the south side was even better than on the
north, and I set to finding welders who might be able to address our
problem. Referrals led us to the Capo Welding folks, who agreed to meet us
on the municipal marina dock the following morning. As hard as the boat was
pulling in the current and wind, I expected to find it very difficult to get
the Danforths out. However, I was able to unhook the rode from Flying Pig,
pull it into the dinghy hand-over-hand, and, at the end, drive the dinghy
forward (backward relative to our home) and the flukes came out readily.
Once back aboard, we got the main anchor up without incident and met the
Capo folks at the Municipal Marina on Wednesday the 16th. They, like
others, such as the one in Charleston, allow hourly dockage, so our repairs
would be relatively simple and short and the dock stay inexpensive.

Unfortunately for us, Capo's inspection showed that their portable gear
would not be up to the challenge, and we'd have to go to their shop, on the
river on the back side of St. Augustine, to make it happen. Also
unfortunately for us, there was a 65' boat in the place they'd have to put
us, so they couldn't get us in for several days - the earliest wouldn't be
for nearly a week. We took advantage of having committed to the dockage to
do laundry and take the fresh water showers so precious on the boat, and
settled in to wait out our time to go up the river.

Many frustrations at our delay ensued, but in the end, swimming off the
boat, excursions ashore, and the recognition that, despite this being
another illustration that Cruising Is Boat Repair In Exotic Locations,
having it happen here, rather than in the third world, was quite a blessing.
In the time of delay, our local ride helped me pick up a replacement roller
for the starboard chain, more Sea Foam, and the second oil pressure sender,
so even that worked out well for us.

I also took advantage of the forced delay to go up the mast and finish out
the WiFi improvement and VHF antenna extensions. After my first trip up,
which was to get the lay of the land, mark my extension bracket, and
generally make sure of what I could expect during my time aloft on the
installation, we also took the girls aloft, where they got a very different
view of the harbor. In the end, I was able to remove the old waterproof
housing for my WiFi electronics, extend both antennas well away from other
metal atop the mast, firmly attach the bracket to the top of the mast, and
secure all the wiring after I'd caulked all the places I'd opened up.

The WiFi gear I took down will remain aboard as potential spares until such
time as I sell it inexpensively to another cruiser. I have everything other
than the antenna that I used in the original installation which has served
us so well so far, other than that the cable and the power unit are new, my
using the cable which was already in the mast, and the power unit I'd used
with it originally, in the current installation. It even includes the
original lightning protector in the waterproof housing, as I bought another
to go on the new bracket I installed.

Also, I've finally gotten some of the pictures of the work we did in Saint
Simons Island up on my gallery. If you click the gallery link in my
signature, and follow the refit gallery, you'll see some of what happened
there. Those galleries which are empty are just those I've not yet sorted
and uploaded the pictures for; currently there's the "new stuff" and, in the
'repairs and upgrades' gallery, the electronics (which includes the WiFi)
and exterior. Other galleries will be populated as soon as I can do my
sorting and uploading on the others. Eventually, I'll have an entirely
separate gallery for WiFi, showing the progression from our original,
pathetic, attempts to achieve what we have today (done during our original
refit, before we set off on our voyage nearly 3 years ago), the interim
which has served us so well so far, and the upgrade to what we have now,
including, as above, the later mounting on an extension bracket and removal
of our original successful gear. I'll make note of those additions in
future log postings as they occur.

Of course, I also took advantage of that time to clean up the engine room
and engine pan, and, yet another cruising-is story, no engine alarm when I
go to start the engine. ?!?!?!? Don't tell me it's failed already???
Nope, fortunately, it's much simpler than that. The connection point on this
alarm unit is a push-on spade connector, rather than the screw-on terminal
connector of the previous unit. The mating part just needed a bit of
tightening, and it is very firmly attached now, having come off, thus
yielding no connection for the alarm. It will wake the dead, now :{))

Finally, on Monday afternoon, we were confirmed for Tuesday, September 22nd,
and, after, again, fetching out our stern anchors and getting under way, we
pulled up at the Capo Welding dock about 10AM. HOLY COW!!! I had to
parallel park our 50' air-length boat, three deep into their dock.

Fortunately, the tide and wind made that possible without any heroics, and
after getting the nose pushed up next to the boat ahead, we backed our arch
and dinghy (in the straps, of course, as we were leaving immediately when we
were finished) between two other boats astern, having the middle one deep
enough to allow our length snugged up to his stern, with the others next to
our stern. Once in place and the lines secured to their fixed dock, they
used a floating dock to stand right under the anchor roller assembly, and
commenced their work.

Once we got sorted out how to address some problems, like the 5/8" bolt
which sheared off when being removed and the drilling out and tapping of the
same, the alignment of both roller cages to squarely accept the new bolts,
and, of course, the welding up of all the cracked and broken parts, all went
relatively smoothly. Wouldn'tcha know, despite their very impressive tool
inventory, the single item which turned out to be critical but they didn't
have in theirs, I had in MINE, and, once the drilled-out hole was tapped, it
all went back together like we'd have expected. By 2 PM, we were finished
and cast off. PHEW!

Not so fast. The tide has changed, and so has the wind. Fortunately, we were
placed such that I could take advantage of the prop walk (the tendency of a
boat to move sideways when reversing) to inch our way out backwards, and our
trip back downstream was relatively uneventful. Only 8 days late, we headed
for the fuel docks to take on diesel, gasoline and water, last laundry and
showers and my last runnings-around for provisioning and supplies.

Of course, all of that took longer than expected, and we didn't get off the
dock until 6PM. By the time we'd made it through the bridge and to the
first marker (the rest of them unlit), it was close to full dark. So, given
all the alarums which had been raised about the difficulty of this channel,
compounded by the unlit markers until you reached the outside, as those who
were following our SPOT trail (Please wait for redirect) saw, we
reversed course and headed back in to about the same place as we'd been
anchored before. Taking care not to get too close to the sand bar, we
nestled in between a large catamaran, another sailboat, and the red pier
lights marking the anchorage area entry, and settled in for bed.

So, as this is long enough already, we'll leave you here, safely anchored
and ready to head south again.

Until next time, Stay Tuned :{))


Skip and crew, augmented by two grandkids...

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web !
Follow us at TheFlyingPigLog : Morgan 461 Hull #2, Flying Pig
and/or Flying Pig Log | Google Groups

"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 hand
(Richard Bach)
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