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Old 29-08-2008, 16:05   #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
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Day 4 - Maine Passage

A reminder - these were originally sent via sailmail, and posted to my log as well, by my son. Those interested in seeing our postings in real time can sign on by clicking the links below my signature...

Day 4 - Maine Passage

Hello from the Gulf Stream at 30*4'N, 71*51' W, charging along
toward our turning point where we leave the Gulf Stream

The radical political parties (left wing and right wing) did
their jobs very well initially, but the wind conspired against
us. Lydia got up from her long nap at 5 and we enjoyed our
dinner before I went down for a nap at 10 as a soft rain fell,
helping to clean off all the salt from all the excitement earlier
in the day.

Lydia came to fetch me at 2, saying that she thought the
Stugeron, previously apparently marvelously symptom-free, must be
making her groggy, as she can't stay focused. As I got up to
speed on what was happening, the radar showed a couple of very
large targets about 17 miles out.

That turned out to be rain, but fortunately, they stayed in the
same relative position for the couple of hours it took to
disappate. Unfortunately, back to the beginning, the wind had
been clocking around such that our heading required to keep the
sails full was now 90 degrees. That's the slight northerly
component to the wind which Chris had forecast a couple of days
ago. If we were about a hundred miles further, it would be
perfect, as the Gulf Stream turns east later today, and that
angle of attack would have been perfect to stay in it at that
point. But we're a good half-day away from there, still...

The good news is that we're still within the Gulf Stream, as
we're receiving a 20 degree push north, making our actual course
only 70 degrees. However, that's 20 degrees to the south of where
we'd need to be if we were to have kept on course. As long as the
speeds hold up and the set (the change in direction to our
benefit) remains as good as it is, we'll not worry about it
before daylight.

At daylight, we would have a chance to see if we could actually
leave our pole in position and still use the genoa on a close
reach. My question had to do with whether or not our sheet (the
line which controls the sail attitude) was long enough to go all
the way to the other side from that far out...

However, despite our good speed, like the old ethnic joke, "we're
getting awfully far from the truck" at this rate. So,at about 3,
I rolled in the genoa, removed the preventer from the main,
sheeted it in tightly, and commenced a very close reach to put us
back into the main portion of the Gulf Stream.. Once again, we
were climbing north to catch up with our target, in benign (what
be after 8?) seas, albeit still 6-8' but long-period, making for
a smooth motion.

Radar remains blank, as we're in a part of the world where
there's not much commercial traffic, and even fewer nuts like us.
Most of the transatlantic folks have already made their passages,
and, in fairness, we're setting out a bit late in the season.
Despite all that, it's great being out here, and we're making
fabulous time, despite the occasional soaking with salt water.

We've concluded that the major waves and washing-machine effect
was the fabled Cape Hatteras Syndrome. Weather in that area is
always dicey, and looking at the flow maps of the area always
showed wild variances from one place to another. That makes for
some interesting waves, particularly when the flow suddenly
reverses, hits the other direction, with sometimes heavy wind to

In any event, we seem to have left that behind, and the sailing
is relatively smooth. With any luck we'll be able to return to
the "political parties" mode of transport. Then there's the
expected calms in a day or two. Those will be valuable as I have
to go up the mast to secure our hailer horn, apparently about to
give way (that would be number 3!), as well as figure out why it
is that it doesn't talk when the hailer does. And, of course, no
voyage would be "normal" without some equipment failures. Our
current "crisis of the day" as our good friends on the sistership
"Cyrano" called it is that the spreader and masthead lights are
not operating. If we get the expected calm, we'll take advantage
of it!

At 9, the rains came, in earnest. A gully washer and toad
strangler, we now have clean decks, sails and everything else,
topsides. Wind died to nearly nothing, so we sit and drift with
the current, Lydia writes her log, and I go back for the rest of
my rest period...

By 11, I'm refreshed, and we set sail into the very small wind,
on a hard beat - except it was a zephyr. Unfortunately, it
wasn't consistent in direction, so we couldn't stay pinched.
Accordingly, we bore off to a very close reach or a very broad
beat, depending on how you looked at it so the minor shifts in
direction wouldn't result in a 360 while we recovered. (The
water speed was slow enough once we got backwinded that we had to
pirouette with a jibe, not having enough momentum to tack through
the shift.) Eventually the wind came up to consistently over 5.
Once returned to the beat, the water speed picked up.
Fortunately, the wind picked up to 7-10 knots, and once we bore
off, we've not had to adjust anything. These new sails draw
wonderfully, and in 8 knots of wind, we make over 5 knots of
water speed. The best part, however, is that we're still in the
effects of the Gulf Stream, and our speed over ground is
consistently above 9, and frequently close to 11, again/still.
Even bettter is that the change in wind direction to nearly north
(PM to KCL: North in the Gulf Stream sometimes is fun!) has
settled the seas, despite the leftover SW persistent swell, which
pushes us along.

We start turning the corner with the wind still moderate, about
200 miles due East of Norfolk. Except that it's very dicey
practice for other than fully crewed racers, the temptation would
be to run the spinnaker once we actually make our turn fully.
At this point we're not yet fully there, so while we're making 70
degrees, the wind is very close. If it continues to clock
around, though, we'll be on a beam or broad reach.

Our forecaster has said, on Wednesday, the one time I was able to
raise him, that the wind would die tomorrow, so we want to make
the most of it while we can. On the other hand, we're further
than was expected, so perhaps further offshore there will be more
wind. At this point we're evaluating whether we should stay with
the stream or make the triangle run to Cape Cod, as it would be
rather shorter - 258nm vs 334nm total - but not if we continue to
gain 1/4-1/3 of our speed by being in the Stream! Lessee...
Gulf Stream leg of 162 @ 10knots = 16, north leg of 162 miles at
7knots = 23 (total ~39 hours, assuming good conditions), vs 258 @
7knots = ~37 hours. A tossup, which may be very dependent on
weather. If there's no wind, the current will take us along the
Gulf Stream leg anyway. I sure wish the radio contact was
better!! However, we sure can't complain, as, not counting
times where we were other than straight line, which, of course,
would add slightly to the distance in the knot log, we've gone
more than 650 miles in 4 days, over 150 miles per day, on
average. We're very pleased...

So, despite this not quite being the full 4 days time, I'll sign
off here and let David get this one out in a more timely fashion.
Sorry I've not been able to directly mail you all, but the
propagation out here is absolutely abominable currently, and
there's no way the entire message would go. As it is, it takes
several tries for 2-paragraph segments to make it through, and
dozens of attempts to find any connection which will stay up for
more than the handshake (remember the old dial-up days? We're
lucky to see 200 baud...). Conditions all over are the same, as
every net we hear (we've not succeeded much in making contacts),
through the trash over the air, includes calls for relays -
someone who can hear a caller where either net control can't be
heard, or vice versa, in order that traffic make it through.

Tomorrow or Sunday will begin the more conventional portion of
our passage, as we leave the Gulf Stream, and behave like most
sailors, perhaps tacking or jibing our way through the second
half of our journey.



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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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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