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Old 19-08-2008, 19:18   #1
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Maine Passage - Successes and failures, Moving On...

Maine Passage - Successes and failures, Moving On...


Written mostly a week ago; current stuff at the end...

We left you as we had thrown out the hook in Portland. We've
spent the last week enjoying the hospitality of our hosts, my
sister and brother-in-law, who live in the Portland area. We've
also been the beneficiaries of their watching a mooring at the
Portland Yacht Club, currently vacant and sufficient for Flying
Pig at the owner's suggestion, thus our parking spot while we've
been ashore. We've found the area's unusual weather this
summer...

Unusual because at this time of year, Maine is usually beautiful
and wreathed in sunshine and warm weather, followed by
crystal-clear nights at great sleeping temperatures. It's why we
came all this way, hoping to enjoy the bounty of the Maine coast,
cruising to all the wonderful places cited to us on various
mailing lists to which I subscribe, and then moving down-coast.

Instead, we've had nearly unrelenting rain. Today is overcast and
foggy, with chances of thunderstorms later today. The area has
had many weeks of constant rain, causing lots of high-water
warnings and traffic reminders not to drive through standing
water, as it may disable the vehicle, etc...

This weather is forecast to be with us for the next several
days... Last weekend and yesterday were the only clear days
we've had, and we were fortunate enough to take advantage of both
of them.

Saturday we had a marvelous daysail on our hosts' Ericson sloop,
"racing" - at different times - several boats where friends from
the Portland Yacht Club were on the same path as we, and beating
them handily. Sunday we took a ride in their powerboat to an
island where he spent his summers in his youth, a marvelous
re-introduction to all that I found charming about Maine from my
prior visits to the area. Those were our only times on the
water, other than trips on the tender from the club to Flying
Pig.

And, Wednesday, we got to go over to Concord, NH, to visit my
85-year old father, in a "CCRC" - continuing care retirement
facility - during another clear day, enjoying our time there. It
seemed rather a waste to sail all the way to Maine and not drive
the 2 hours over to see him, and in retrospect, I wish we'd
budgeted a couple of days, as he clearly didn't want us to leave,
and there's an excellent possibility that we'll not be back in
the area until his funeral.

Of course, we have had many "maybe last visits" with him,
beginning with Lydia and my wedding celebration, now several
years ago, and he's in marvelous shape and spirits, despite his
rapidly failing (macular degeneration induced) eyesight which
leaves him, for the last couple of years, legally blind, though
he does manage to get around very well with the limited,
peripheral vision, remaining sight he has, though even that is
fading fast.

So, back to the title...

We had many successes, mostly revolving around our initial "blue
water" voyage. We were as far offshore as 250 miles for quite a
while, and as our earlier postings have revealed, were very
blessed to have had ideal conditions for the first week or so of
our trip.

We succeeded in an extended (well, brief, really, given the great
successes in utilizing our forecaster's information, and the
initially ideal weather) voyage together, just the two of us. We
learned a lot...

Our watch "schedule" wasn't really - that is, there was no set
time of watch rotation, but it worked well for us. We'd come off
watch either because the other relieved, or because we rousted
the other from sleep, because we were failing in our ability to
remain sharp. The off-watch would go immediately to bed, in
order to gain the sleep available, and thus, we were both
remarkably rested despite having maintained a 24-hour watch, at
the end of the voyage. So, that was a success in that we're now
confident that we should be able to maintain our rest but still
stand effective watches, for extended periods.

We got a great deal more familiar with our new sails, occasioned
by the originals with the boat's being torn to shreds in our
weather incident which ultimately ended on the rocks 18 months
ago. We're very pleased with the performance; we'd never have
achieved what we did on the passage with the old ones...

We sailed on every point of sail other than spinnaker run, from
poled-out wing-and-wing through a very tight beat, in widely
varying weather. We had anywhere from ghosting zephyrs to small
gales (well, perhaps full gales, if that's what 45+ amounts to -
I forget...), and I got to do a bit of hand-steering in the early
stages of a storm, which was not only exhilarating but good
practice for the time when it might be very much more than that
in both sea state and wind. We also hove to during one
particularly nasty set of weather, doing just what the exercise
was designed to do, which was get some rest and relaxation while
the storm raged outside.

We caught two large fish in succession, making it so that we had
to suspend fishing activities in order to finish them off before
we landed. And, in fact, those, along with the remains of the
chicken and steak chunks we'd prepared before leaving, fed us for
the entire voyage. We look forward to throwing out the gear
again on our way south, of which more, anon. Meanwhile, I got
much more experienced at, and even fairly successful in, fileting
our catches. What bounty the sea provides - and we are hopeful
to utilize it for the majority of our animal protein. Whether we
succeed will remain to be seen, of course, and we're not the
least bit overconfident; just the reverse, we were very
pleasantly surprised at our results, as prior efforts have not
been nearly so successful.

We got reasonably familiar with, and nominally successful at (the
challenges being blamed on worldwide lousy HF radio signal
propagation, but perhaps an issue with our rig??) sailmail, the
radio-based email program which allowed us to send and receive
email from the middle of the coastal Atlantic.

Despite our having to reset the mast collar due to a prior
rigger's having loosened the rig so much that the mast moved in
the deck opening (the deck didn't move due to a vertical
stabilizing rod standard in the Morgan 461s), even with our
overtightening of the rig as seen below, we were able to stiffen
the rig as well as successfully reattach the mast boot which had
come out from under the clamp holding the top to the mast, and
there has been no movement since that fix.

While we were under way, of course we couldn't access the links
to the current charts (that is, the forecasting charts showing
the direction and strength of the currents flowing in real time),
our forecaster's recommendations made it so we were able to
either avoid adverse, or take advantage of positive, currents.
Still, those links were invaluable to our initial planning, and
will figure, again, in our planning when we actually leave here.

Regrets, I've had a few... A riff on Ol' Blue Eyes, not really
regrets, but failures along the way, some avoidable, some just
overcome as they arose:

Our spinnaker pole's bail, used to hold it up in use, failed from
age. I did a workaround, and it will suffice until such time as
we are able to take it somewhere to have a new wire bail
installed.

However, and I really don't see any way around it, if one is to
maintain the ability to reef the genoa with the pole in place,
our expensive new running rigging (the lines controlling the
sails) had chafe on both of the genoa sheets where the spinnaker
pole jaw rode, and, with the flexing of the sail, the sheet moved
in the jaw. The sheets aren't yet damaged, but will be, soon, if
we were to continue. I have not yet figured out a workaround for
that problem.

In the course of trying to mitigate the amount of movement the
mast has (had, I fervently hope!), I overtightened the shrouds
(the stainless steel wires holding the mast in place) on the
sides of the boat. That caused the hull to flex, pulling inward
slightly, which caused the plates which lift out of the sole (the
cabin flooring) to bind, aft of the mast. We've loosened those
shrouds since, and have the flooring almost completely free, but
we'll wait until we sail a bit to twiddle any more, as I
certainly don't want to return to the state of the previously
floppy mast!

In the course of the heavy weather, when we had to use
extraordinary effort to reef our genoa prior to heaving to that
morning, the tube connecting the bottom to the top had a weld
fail. That is a simple age issue, and better to have discovered
it in a marine center, where we were able (albeit expensively!)
to have it removed and rewelded. Given that a new one is in the
mid 4-figures, we're very glad that Harken said it would be
perfectly sound to reweld it, which Handy Boat Services did for
us at a contractor. Just a heads-up for any interested parties -
the invoice for their work was the most uninformative piece of
paper I've ever seen: "Tube on drum of furler needs to be welded"
Labor......XXXX Environmental Charge....YYY Total Amount
Due.....ZZZZ - no rate, no hours, nothing but a dollar amount
along with some environmental padding...

As seen in one of the daily passage notes, we ran out of fuel.
That was just laziness, not checking the engine hours against our
last fill. However, it allowed us to further mark our dip stick,
showing, now, the exact 5 and 10 gallon levels remaining in the
tank - as well as learn, for dead certain, the exact capacity of
the fuel tank. As our surveyor (the quality control manager at
Morgan during the entire production run of these boats) had
observed, the tank sizes are nominal by calculation, and as
they're laid up fiberglass, usually are smaller than the nominal
amount. That was true in our case, but we now know that we have
a true 83 gallons when full.

Our spreader, foredeck, and mast lights became inoperative
between Fernandina Beach and Maine, somewhere along the way. A
trip up the mast, after first checking for power at the panel,
was fruitless, if educational. Sparing you the gory details, it
was a ground in the panel, overlooked as I was expecting power
difficulties, when I was in there. In the end, merely reattaching
the unattached ground cured all those problems. Sometimes the
simplest solutions are overlooked...

Our hailer on our VHF radio has not worked since installation.
More up-the-mast work, and replacing the new horn installed when
the storm and wreck 18 months ago caused the other new horn to
take flight, and the new horn (the third new one) doesn't work.
In the end, there's some fault in the cable, as the horn works at
the mast base connection point. Because we're anxious to leave
on a lovely weather window, I'll wait for the replacement of the
cable, already in hand for another day. I like it up the mast,
anyway, and will do the last of my electronics stuff while I'm up
there - changing out the power supply for the wifi unit at the
top of the mast, making the only remaining AC device the monitor
on our computer system (well, and Lydia's laptop)...

In the course of chasing leaks which have plagued the forward
cabin, it was noted that the berth base was suffering from rot in
the very front, and as that's part of the support system for the
stay (the stainless steel wire partway up the mast) on the inner
staysail, that was a critical event. Interesting and
contortionist activities on my part got the old rot cut out and
as it was just 1/2" plywood, the 8x3/4" solid birch I replaced
that segment with will be massively stronger. Any time I've found
rot aboard, I've replaced the old with something much stronger...

So, back to the leaks, Lydia has been aggressively applying
Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure everywhere on deck, and has
found many places where leaks might have occurred. The smallish
rain we had last night was not a good test, but there are no
leaks in the forward cabin at this writing. Every actual-user's
report on this stuff has raved, so we'll be sure to do so
ourselves if heavy weather proves it to have cured our persistent
leaks!

And, still in the bow cabin, we took off the cushion covers to
wash them - but the best we can tell, my sister tossed them with
the garbage in our rush to get out after our trip on the weekend,
as they'd been put in a plastic bag to protect against the spray
and rain in the tender on the ride back. By the time we
discovered their disappearance, the yacht club garbage was long
gone. New covers are on order from a local fabricator, and will
be far more robust, being of an ultrasuede clone, than the prior
ones. Eventually we'll have the entire boat done in the same
sort of stuff, but it's breathtakingly expensive, so it will have
to wait.

Finally, due to the fiddly construction needed for the flush
mounted handle on our freezer, the mounting point finally failed
due to a smallish material footprint available. When I defrosted
the refrigerator, I took advantage of the warm time to remove the
door entirely and Lydia epoxied up the failed area. On
reinstallation, voila, the refrigeration worked as expected,
rather than struggling to maintain proper temperatures as it had
in our journey. At this writing, I've not replaced the screws
but will instead drill and tap the epoxy for a machine screw
mount, which should be very superior to the original
screw-in-wood.

So, with our various boat chores finished, and our time available
for going down east having been rained out, tomorrow at first
light we'll head down the coast under the northwester which has
sprung up this afternoon, arriving in Cape Cod Bay some time on
Thursday, all other weather and boat stuff being as forecast.

I may not do an under-way posting; we'll have to see how that
turns out. However, Flying Pig is again aloft, heading to Cape
Cod, then the Canal and Nantucket, where Lydia will catch up with
her best buddy from her days in Sarasota many years ago.

All in all, the rainout aside, this has been a fantastic
voyage...

Stay tuned :{))

L8R

Skip

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
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"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."
(and)
"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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Old 20-08-2008, 08:53   #2
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Skip, you might want to get some help on tuning your rig. Over tightening the shrouds enough to distort the hull has serious consequences, (I would give the chainplates a good going over since you 'tweaked' them to be sure you have not bent or damaged them).
Tuning the rig is not quite as simple as loosening this and tightening that; one must sight the mast and have a 'feel' for what the effect of each adjustment is having on the entire rig. You may very well have done some damage in your over zealous approach to limiting your 'mast wobble', either to the hull or the chainplates.
You want to keep just the right amount of weather helm in your rig so that the boat rounds up slightly in a gust and doesn't veer off downwind. This can be a nightmare if the boat starts going 'fishy' on you just when you need control the most in nasty weather.
See if you can find a fellow sailor or pro to give you a hand with this.
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Old 20-08-2008, 09:20   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by little boat View Post
Skip, you might want to get some help on tuning your rig. Over tightening the shrouds enough to distort the hull has serious consequences, (I would give the chainplates a good going over since you 'tweaked' them to be sure you have not bent or damaged them).
Tuning the rig is not quite as simple as loosening this and tightening that; one must sight the mast and have a 'feel' for what the effect of each adjustment is having on the entire rig. You may very well have done some damage in your over zealous approach to limiting your 'mast wobble', either to the hull or the chainplates.
You want to keep just the right amount of weather helm in your rig so that the boat rounds up slightly in a gust and doesn't veer off downwind. This can be a nightmare if the boat starts going 'fishy' on you just when you need control the most in nasty weather.
See if you can find a fellow sailor or pro to give you a hand with this.
Hi, and thanks for the concern.

Fortunately, Morgan 461s are built like tanks; I'm sure I didn't damage her. If she stood up to 36 hours of pounding on the reef 18 months ago, this is very small potatoes.

Actually, I've had several fellow sailors chime in, including a couple who restep their mast each season; they agree I'm on the right track.

My modus has been to loosen as I go, and sight the mast. The sighting the mast allowed me to see that the staysail was far too tight, distorting the mast (the rigger in Annapolis didn't bother with that, significantly!). I'm confident in the current setup, and I'm writing this under way in somewhat rolly seas. The mast isn't moving :{))

I'm pretty sure we'll have it worked out by the time we get to Cape Cod. I'm thinking I'll invest in a Loos, as I'll have to unstep some of the stays in the future, I'm sure, due to too-small lifts' fits, and I'd like to not have to reinvent the wheel each time...

L8R

Skip

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
Follow us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheFlyingPigLog
and/or http://groups.google.com/group/flyingpiglog

"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."
(and)
"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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