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Old 11-10-2008, 14:51   #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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Miami Passage - Day 1, October 2

This is the beginning of a series of posts on our passage to
Miami from Sandy Hook, NJ. If you'd like to see them in real
time, you can subscribe to the yahoogroup log mailing list in my
signature line...

Miami Passage - Day 1, October 2

Hello from the Atlantic Ocean, 38*34'N, 74*10'W.

We started off our passage by heading to the fuel dock to take on
diesel, gasoline and water (not all in the same container!) and
empty the minimal amount of seawater and Portia's litter which
Lydia mistakenly put down the forward toilet, forgetting that it
had been secured for inshore use . Just as we were finishing,
the rain started, so, in case it turned into a blow, instead of
setting our sails immediately as we'd planned, we motored away
from the dock in 13 knots of wind.

Because our forecast for the night included winds which would
build to 20 or so, and gusts to 25, we set a single reef as we
turned the corner to go into the channel north of Sandy Hook,
raised the staysail and settled in for what we expected to be a
boisterous ride.

Unfortunately, the wind died almost immediately after we got to
the channel leading out from Atlantic Highlands, and on the line
we were taking, was nearly astern. It was light enough that I
wasn't comfortable with the possibilities for a forced jibe -
and, in fact, the main shifted sides several times - so we didn't
let the main run, instead keeping it on a relatively short leash.

It stayed that way so instead we turned a bit North, to put the
wind more abeam. It stayed light airs, so we continued,
motorsailing, much further out than we'd planned, but far enough
that we could turn for a direct run past Barnegat Light, and
onward to Hatteras, if the wind stayed in the direction forecast.
Our SPOT locations map shows a nearly right turn as we headed

For the first several hours, it remained light, other than the
very few instances of 6-8 knots, so I put out the genoa. At the
time, it picked up to 8-10, and the increased forward motion,
along with what I assume to have been a small wind shift, led us
to a very close reach, or even a beat. Tightening up all the
sails moved us right along in that breeze, but again it died, and
for the next several hours was more in the 1-3, with occasional
gusts to 4 knots, range. Occasional sprinkles of rain kept our
deck clean, and we continued to motorsail, much to my disgust.

Returning my phone call of earlier seeking advice about the
Wednesday PM departure, Chris Parker called a couple hours out,
and said that we were right on track for a great run, but that it
would be relatively light airs for a goodly portion of our trip.
However, tonight was still forecast to pick up dramatically, so
we may have to take in the genny some time later. Meanwhile, to
my amazement, more than 6 miles offshore, for several hours we
had reasonable internet connectivity, and I was able to tell the newsgroup what was happening aboard in real
time. As I type this, now, we're about 6 miles from the
Deal-Asbury Park area, and still connected!!

The wind stayed very light through most of the night, if you
qualify before midnight as "night" but by 11PM the wind had
started to rise to sailing quality. Unfortunately for us,
instead of the expected West winds, the wind was more on the
order of Southwest, and our direction of travel meant that we
were beating into the wind. We're thankful that the sea state
relatively matched the winds, and our passage was smooth.

However, as the wind rose, I took close note, as it had been
expected to rise. By the time it was consistently over 10 knots,
I thought in terms of pulling in the genoa. There's a saying in
sailing: The time to reef is when you first think about it, so
when it first hit 14 knots, about 11:30PM, I rolled in the genoa.
Flying Pig was still pretty upright when I did, only 8-10 degrees
of heel, but I knew that much more wind on a beat would have her
heeling more than was effective.

Sure enough, by midnight, the winds were consistently more than
15 knots, and moving up, and I was glad I rolled in the genoa.
Shortly after midnight, the gusts were approaching 20 knots, and
by 1AM steady winds were consistently over 18 knots. 2AM saw
many times in the low 20s, but we continued to be comfortable
with our single reef and staysail. Unfortunately, the wind
stayed from the same quarter, and we continued to beat our way

Along the way, we had a couple of close encounters with tugboats
with a long-line tow behind. The one at 1:30 was very close, and
crossing my bow. I hailed him and verified that he saw me, and
noted our course. I told him that if it became an issue, I'd
fall off and pass behind his tow, for which he was grateful.

As he passed me, he hailed me again, and we had a conversation on
channel 10. He wondered what my green over red light was.
Confused, I said I didn't think I had one, but it turned out our
red LED rope lighting in the cockpit was visible for further than
I thought, apparently, as it had confused *him*. I turned it
off, and he verified that it was what he'd seen. Looks like I'll
need to turn it off during close encounters, so as not to confuse
others. It's very effective lightng, without harming the night
vision we need, but if it is confusing to boats nearby, we'll
have to do without!

By 3AM the winds were consistently over 20 knots, and the sea
state was building. Still, Flying Pig soldiered on, unperturbed.
Fortunately, the wind moved a bit aft, lessening our beating
attitude, and picking up our speed, even though we were a long
way from a close reach. Another benefit of our increased wind
was all the power KissyFace, our KISS wind generator, was making.
By daylight, when the solar panels kick in, we may even be in

The wind continued to build, as did the sea state. Waves were
short-period, making for a bumpy ride, and the 5-7 foot height
made for lots of water aboard. By 6AM, it was time for another
reef, so I clipped in and went forward to make the change. It
was a bit of a wrestling match, but I'd run off (headed downwind
a bit) on a broad reach to lessen the apparent wind, which also
helped with the wave angle, and made for a dramatic increase in
speed. Once the second reef was in, we turned upwind to see
about whether we'd also need to take in the staysail.

At 25-30 knots of wind, Flying Pig was heeled more than we
prefer, but we discovered that Hatteras was less acute an angle
than we'd thought was generated by our running off, so we were
able to go to a close reach, making her stand up better. It also
reduced the apparent wind by a few knots, but it still was a
lumpy, wet and windy ride. Later it would pick up even more,
despite our lessened angle of attack, and we were back into the
25-30, with higher gusts. I settled in to try to reach Chris
Parker during his regular morning broadcasts.

A couple of test mailings with Sailmail were very encouraging,
achieving speeds, while still only about 20% of the rated maximum
for the modem we have, right at ten times the speed we'd gotten
on the Maine passage. Chris, in his phone call, had said that
propagation would likely be much better today, and this supported
his theory. In his first broadcast, though, I could barely hear
him, so didn't bother trying to reach him. With all the bouncing
around, and making Lydia her coffee for her shift, unfortunately,
I mis-set the radio for his second broadcast, by one digit in the
middle. No wonder I didn't hear the 7AM broadcast! As the 8AM
broadcast was on the same frequency as the 6:30AM one, I wasn't
encouraged, but conditions change as the day goes on, so perhaps
this one would work.

While I waited, out of curiosity, I did another scan with my wifi
setup. Despite being 13 miles offshore, I was surprised to find
a station. Unfortunately, it was weak enough that I was not able
to connect, but it certainly proves the benefit of our setup.
We're on a starboard tack, and our antenna has a slight downtilt.
Apparently that aligns reasonably well with shore at our level of
heel, or we'd never have connected earlier, nearly 7 miles

As daylight arrived, I also saw that all the pressure on the mast
had made it pump, despite my careful tuning of it earlier, and
the internal collar has again migrated up. Another item for the
to-do list!

As feared, the 8AM broadcast was the same as the 6:30 one - Chris
was barely readable, mostly, and otherwise inaudible. The 8:30
broadcast, having been more careful with my setting this time,
worked. Our weather would continue for a good part of the day,
but we'd be rewarded with a wind shift which would allow us to
run off for a while, easing the pressure, being able to get more
West, later. We'd have to point as hard as we could when the
conditions eased, as even later, the wind would clock around to
the SW. Our efforts to get as far West as possible despite nasty
conditions would be rewarded when (presumed - we'll see!) we
wouldn't have to tack to continue to Hatteras.

With the reduced sail, and our bearing off, while we got higher
speed, it was at the price of more rolling as the seas built to
6-8'. I went down to bed with Portia, who hasn't gotten her sea
legs back again, yet, and was unhappy. Unfortunately for Lydia,
she's not got hers altogether, yet, either, and it was an
extremely uncomfortable day for her.

A couple of hours after I went down, Lydia came to get me to go
fetch a couple of serious items which had come unshipped and were
sliding on the deck. I clipped in, and manhandled them into the
cockpit until more clement weather would allow safe
reattachments. In the meantime, however, the wind had, indeed,
abated somewhat, so I stayed up for about an hour monitoring,
eventually pointing us a little higher before I went back to bed.

Unfortunately, I noticed on my trip outside, we had a couple of
casualties - one of our fenders, and a rod and reel, disappeared
into the maelstrom, before they could be secured. As annoying
(and expensive) as that is, it beats having something break!
Thus far, we've been very pleased with our equipment failure
rate, being very tolerable this time as compared to last summer.

As the wind died and the seas continued, our speed bled off to
the point where, when I came up again at 3:30, we were only
making slightly less than three knots. The wind had died to the
15-20 knot range (rather than 25-30, gusts to 35 of earlier - so
much for one correspondent who thought I'd have doldrums all
day!), so I shook out the second reef, returning us to our
starting point of a single reef and staysail. Despite that, our
speed remained low, as the waves made trying to point into a beat
very slow going. Reluctantly, then, we began motorsailing at
4PM, relieving Lydia who went to try to get some sleep and calm
her stomach.

So, we're now beating into a 15-20 knot westerly with 6-8' seas,
but doing very well in getting west, our course over ground being
222 degrees, and the loafing engine helping get the speed up to
the mid-5s.

So, we'll leave you, now, just south of the south end of the
Delaware Bay, about 40 miles offshore east of Fenwick Island, DE,
the easternmost part of the state.

Stay tuned :{))



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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