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Old 31-08-2008, 21:43   #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: 1,773
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Day 6 - Maine Passage

Day 6 - Maine Passage

Hello from the North Atlantic, at 39*48'N, 68*25'W, enroute to
CapeCod's channel...

Wow, what a start to Day 6! We got into the fish we'd frozen
after our barbecuing it, having finally exhausted the chicken
and steak we'd started with, and I had the most wonderful
enormous Mackerel sandwich, while Lydia had a salad with her
Mahi-Mahi. Channeling the Campbell's soup folks, Mm, Mm, Good!
Ahh, the bounty of the sea! We are so blessed...

Immediately after dinner, we were entertained by an enormous pod
of porpoises, including some very young ones - not more than 3'
long - who stuck directly to the side of what we presume was the
mother(s). There must have been 20 dolphins playing next to us,
for probably more than 15 minutes. What a treat, as they did
their leaps and dives, along with the usual playing around in
front of the bow. Not quite as satisfying as a cigarette right
after dinner for Lydia, but a good second choice, she being no
longer a smoker!

But, the best was yet to come, right after dark. Our right-on
forecaster had said that we'd have some squalls with gusts in the
30-50 range, probably continuing through the night. Our radar
pointed out the first of them as a couple of very large targets,
and as we got a sudden lull, we figured they were soon to arrive,
so I shortened sails a bit in anticipation. Sure enough, here
they came, and the wind clocked around to the north and built
swiftly. Not much in the way of lightning, and not even all that
much rain, but what a ride it was. I stood at the left of the
helm where I could see the wind gauge, and used the remote for
the autopilot to constantly adjust as the wind ranged between 25
and 40 knots. We were entirely surrounded by yellow for the
entire 6-mile range I had the radar set to. (I didn't see any
point in looking further out as we were already completely

I ran down a bit, to a broad reach - almost a run - in the gusts,
and back up to a beam reach when the winds dropped back to the
20s. Flying Pig was quite a lady, as, during the constant
mid-20s, when we stayed for minutes at a time on the beam reach,
she stood up to about 10 degrees of heel, other than when a wave
rocked her further, and we might as well have been out for a
relaxing daysail. Totally comfortable, and with our enclosure,
even dry. While it was a constant management of the angle of
attack, it was otherwise a very lovely time, and the most fun
sailing I've had for probably a year. Not at all "Mr. Toad's
Wild Ride" but very entertaining, none the less :{))

Radar soon showed the largest of the activity to have left us,
but the winds didn't die (well, they never "died") as the rain
departed. The stars were out, but so was Aeolus, and we were
quickly in the classic "15-20, with gusts to 25" set. By this
time, I'd rolled out the canvas again, and managed to find the
balance point which had her self-correcting, going down in the
lulls and pointing up in the gusts.

The oddity on this period - which lasted for hours - was that the
wind constantly cycled between 15 and 20 knots. Up and down and
back up again. Our relative wind went from 140 to 100 and back
again as Flying Pig self-corrected, pretty as you please, and for
the most part, again, Flying Pig stood up, rarely exceeding 10
degrees of heel other than wave-induced leanings (which also
brought her upright in equal measure, of course). Throughout it
all, we maintained a high-6 to mid-7 knot speed. Overall,
however, as the wind backed around a bit, we worked our way back
to just shy of 70 degrees west while charging ahead north. Chris
had suggested we be very close-hauled, anyway, as we'd need the
westerly set a bit later on, so that wasn't of import. However,
our track on the chartplotter looks a bit drunken :{)) I took
consolation in seeing the tracks during the America's Cup races
which showed the best helmspeople in the world making a very
wiggly track as they sought out the best wind. We're not racing
here, and have the luxury of lots of sea room, which allowed us
to run with it in the early stages. Those of you following
along on the SPOT share page (but it only shows a 24 hour period,
so if you see this more than that much later, you'll not see this
bit of entertainment!) will see a big bubble to the east, later
running back to the west...

I'm still figuring out sailmail, with frequent occurrences of
dozens of attempts to find a persistent connection being the
norm. However, at 3AM today, I managed to find a goodie,
receiving and sending and replying to incoming mails, all in the
same session. However, to get there, I had a half-dozen
connections which failed before the first bits of data arrived or
were sent. My speeds are typically in the same range as the
oldest of the modems, whereas mine is the most current software.
I'm presuming that this is a product of the lousy propagation of
high-frequency communications present worldwide, but it's still
frustrating. My attempts to communicate over the net each
morning with Chris Parker rarely even hear him, let alone he my
calls, so I'm grateful that he's accommodated me in this
particular leg by emailing me what we'd otherwise have spoken of
(my subscription being SSB, not either stand-alone or combined
email). However, at the rate we're going, this passage will be
over soon, and perhaps I can get some professional help (YES, I
KNOW - I've needed professional help for a very long time,and not
just on SSB matters!) with my rig once we arrive in Portland...

In all of the excitement of the squalls and yo-yo speeds of the
wind, which, finally, did abate a bit at 4AM, being more in the
area of 10-15, our charging through the water yielded a marvelous
phosphorescence. Aside from that you couldn't see very far into
the dark, it might as well have been daytime, there was so much
light coming from it. More of the glories of nature, more of the
bounty of the sea, which we're so very privileged to receive.
We're constantly reminded of why we did what most folks consider
to be entirely foolhardy - sell the house(s) - Lydia and I had
separate residences, our not being married until we bought the
boat, and I mostly lived aboard for the refit - and give
everything else away, moving aboard and making Flying Pig our

I'm currently reading "Gentlemen Never Sail To Weather" and while
I'm not very far into it, those folks were even crazier than we.
They, too, sold the house and took only what they needed (the
huge amount of spares being a notable exception; they felt, in
retrospect, to have overdone that part), albeit regretting all
the tin cans which quickly rusted (we had the advantage of having
read of the difficulties with those, and so brought very few
aboard). However, they made their first experience with their
boat the equivalent of the Caribbean 1500, sailing from Morehead
City to St. Thomas. His broken ribs earned during a storm aside,
I was pleased to note that he, too, drove his boat, full throttle
(we were sailing in a storm, but...) onto a rock outside St.
Thomas. Fortunately for him, it wasn't in 10' seas, on a
normally dry rock, and they floated off without much more than
embarrassment. Those adventures which you survive make you a
better mariner, in my book, despite the flogging we took for
admitting the events leading up to our wreck almost exactly 18
months ago...

So, there we are, merrily sailing along with the odd
configuration which allows us to run up in gusts, and I am
relieved at 6AM and climb gratefully into bed. I note that
there's a seeming lot of groaning from under the bed, where Otto
(our autopilot) keeps his muscle. Then, there seems to be an
awful lot of heel. Granted, when Flying Pig comes up in the
gusts, she leans a bit more, but as my feet hit the far wall I
decided that I might better go have a look and see what was up.

Turns out it was the sea, and the wind, both at the same time.
After many hours of relative calm, we were back in the soup.
Otto simply wasn't up to the task, and while we didn't take a
knockdown, we were heeled more than this boat had ever been
(sitting on the rock being a special case!). I gave him the
morning off and grabbed the wheel, sliding down the
very-much-larger waves, being careful not to bury the nose, and
at the same time making sure we didn't try for spreader immersion
on the alternate rolls!

I managed to get stabilized enough to minimize the rolling, and
while I played the wheel, Lydia let the mainsheet run out to
relieve the pressure, and did the same with the genoa. Still
keeping Flying Pig centered, she winched in most of the jib on
the furler, and we commenced to bring back the main as tightly as

We'd been rigged for 25-30 knots, but here were 45-50 of them,
all in one place, and the seas were building impressively as
well. I had no interest in going on deck to shorten sail, so
instead, we hove to. With too much main up, there's more heel
than I'd like, and a bit more forward motion, but at least things
are comfortable. We'll stay this way until things calm down, and
we can start restoring the mayhem which resulted below.
Meanwhile, we're giving up a bit of the northerly gains we made,
but earning back most of the westerly slide we endured, so,
perhaps after this small vacation, we'll be able to more directly
proceed to our entry to the channel.

Just as forecast, by noon, the sun was out, the wind had clocked
around to the west, and Lydia sailed Flying Pig off her mooring
so to speak, and we returned to our journey under lovely New
England summer skies. The tradeoff is that we're doing a stately
5.4 knots - not quite the speed to which we've become accustomed.
Ah well, at this rate, then, we'll be in whale-watching territory
during broad daylight, not full dark,as it would have been

Of course, those watching SPOT in real time must have been
scratching their heads over the very strange track this morning.
Not only did it have this weird belly in it, it goes off to the
NW, wiggles around a bit, and then takes off on a dead straight
line 45 degrees south of east before abruptly turning left,
again, over 100 degrees :{))

Also as forecast, by the end of the day, the wind had clocked
around to the NW,forcing us to pinch up to make our mark near the
Boston Ship Channel. Still a very fair day, once the front went
through, and moderate seas, has made for a very comfortable sail.
If the wind continues to clock, however, we'll have to fall off,
and tack, later. Even that won't be all that bad, as we'll have
to turn to the NW after we make that corner, anyway.

So,as our ship sinks slowly into the west,and the sun pulls away
from the shore,as Spike Jones used to say in his Hawaiian Love
Song, we'll leave you for today. The usual dance with dozens of
no-answers interspersed with, "Hello? can you hear me now??? ...
Click..." equivalents means that this may not actually reach you
before tomorrow anyway :{))



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at !
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 hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in The Reluctant Messiah)
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