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Old 26-11-2008, 06:34   #1
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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 10, November 19

Miami Passage - Day 10, November 19

Hello from the basin opposite the Miami Yacht Club. My
apologies for not making this timely - we settled in
immediately and wound up doing other things, so it's been
nearly a week we've been here, already.

As we left you, we were booming along with a following
wind, and the genoa poled out to port with the main
prevented to starboard.

I'd learned something I'd thought I'd learned, but
oppositely, before. That is, when the wind bounces around
to slightly less than dead astern, it's best to have the
poled-out genoa to windward, rather than the main. It
keeps the genoa fuller, and prevents the opportunity for a
roll-induced jibe of the main (well, prevents it better;
it's still possible with a combined roll and wind shift).

Of course, with a main prevented, it can't really jibe, but
it CAN backwind (fill from the side toward the front).
With the force of the winds we've had, that makes the stern
immediately try to shove over in the direction of the
genoa, and it's strong enough that Otto can't overcome it.
The solution to that is to immediately disengage the
autopilot and throw the wheel hard over to the opposite
side. Once the sail refills, bring it back on course, and
reset Otto to resume his chores.

I had a couple of such instances, and recovered without
incident. By the time we started "downhill," near Jupiter,
the wind was showing signs of moving to the forecasted
North, and our course put us well west of south. At about
9PM when she got up,Lydia and I discussed the situation and
decided that it would be better to put the main back over
on Port, for a very broad reach. With her available to
help, I was able to get the preventer in and stowed easily,
instead of the several-step process I'd gone through
before, and we jibed the main. Once done, I turned the
wheel over to Lydia and went to bed.

She woke me at about 10 to say that the wind seemed to have
shifted. She'd had to continually inch closer to shore to
keep the main from backwinding - she thought we should
again put the main over to starboard to prevent us from
having to continue on a course which would put us well
inside of our line to the Miami channel entrance.

Again, with someone else to handle the line, that went
easily, and I went to sleep. I heard and felt some
excitement sometime after midnight, but all appeared well
and I went back to sleep. Lydia came to fetch me for
relief at about 1, telling me that the wind seemed to have
shifted, and that she'd experienced one of those
backwinding jibes, but got it back on course.
I looked at our track on the plotter, and we were about
where we wanted to be, so I kissed her goodnight and took
over with a cup of coffee.

Earlier, you may recall, our wind instrument went on
vacation, with neither direction nor speed showing. NOAA's
electronic man was calling for 25-30 knots from the north,
and we were making 7 knots or so, very comfortably, as the
seas seemed to have settled a bit. We were still in very
deep water, as the depth gauge was continuing to show its
blinking "2.5," which is what happens once it goes over
200'. Very disconcerting, however, when you see that for
the first time, as our traveling companions, who have the
same gauge, didn't recognize that characteristic, and made
an emergency turn out to sea when there was a reef on the
chart (despite its being hundreds of feet down), fearing an
imminent collision with something hard!

However, back to the wind, that meant that in order to
check our wind direction, we relied on our Windex atop the
mast. Lit up brilliantly by our stern light of the
tricolor, it very reliably showed what was going on at that
level. So, after a bit of travel, I looked up to check.
Imagine my horror when I saw that the main was fully under
the shrouds, with the battens holding it there! Once I got
over thinking we'd destroyed our sail, I realized that the
force had been hard enough when the sail flopped back on
Lydia's recovery that it had buckled the battens, allowing
them to go under, but, held by the force of the wind, there
was no way they were coming out.

Hmmmm. I can't lower it - the top's over the spreader, and
would catch on the shroud. Meanwhile, we're booming along,
and our rate of travel, using dead reckoning, would put us
at the Miami entrance long before dawn. I had visions of
us not being able to deal with this before Key West or some
other such overreaction :{))

Once I got over the shock and started into troubleshooting
mode, I expected (and fervently hoped) that bringing the
boat into the wind would allow it to pop the battens back
out, with, I trusted, no damage to the sail.
Unfortunately for that plan, the genoa was still poled out,
and turning into the wind would have put us into irons, or,
by another name, we would be hove to with full sails out,
not a great prospect. Being on deck in a pitching sea, in
heavy wind, to deal with the pole and the genoa, wasn't
something I looked forward to doing.

Yet, ultimately, if we were to resolve this sail foul,
which, in addition, pretty well limited what we could do in
the steering area, it would have to be done. I had visions
of doing a Securité call to announce, as we flew across the
channel, that we had restricted ability to maneuver, not
something a sailboat would normally do. As we'd had a
conversation with a tugboat with broken thrusters earlier,
I knew that other boats would likely give that one more
room than us!

I was faced with trying to slow the boat, of which it was
having no part. Of all the times to want not to get there
faster! Even with the fouled main, and the wind not in the
right place for best efficiency, we were making well over 6
knots, frequently into 7 knots.

However, troubleshooting mode won out, and I slowly reefed
the genoa, bringing it to a tight wrap, hoping to slow the
boat adequately. We'd had it set up where we could do that
with the pole still out there, so, despite the heavy work
(30 knots on even a slacked genoa puts a lot of pressure on
it), I eventually got the genoa stowed. Unfortunately,
that was not enough to slow the boat sufficiently to have
it be dawn at the channel.

More headscratching ensued, and I decided that there was
nothing else to do but go for it. Running the mainsheet
out all the way to where the boom was hitting the shroud,
and more, to allow it to lift, taking the pressure off the
leech in order to allow the battens the most possible
flexibility, but leaving the preventer tightened as far as
possible (to prevent it crash jibing), I gave Otto a break
and threw the wheel hard over to starboard.

Sure enough, as soon as the wind was in the port bow
quarter, the sail flopped out and backwinded. I brought it
far enough upwind that it luffed, pulled the mainsheet in
hard again, and set it to a beam reach to port.

That, of course, had us flying out to sea. With the Gulf
Stream nearby, I needed to head back in as soon as possible
in order not to both be carried North (well, set by the
current - we'd not have actually gone North), but to avoid
the NOAA-announced very big seas (which, due to the wind
against the current, were also very "square" - which is to
say, very choppy, rather than just rolling as they were on
our stern). Accordingly, I released the preventer and, over
a couple of steps, sheeted in the main, moving the
preventer further aft to where I could reach the boom to
remove the preventer, but keeping it on a beam reach so as
to avoid the crash jibe which had been attempted by the
main the prior night (held by the preventer, it just bent
the railings, and I recovered, in that instance, with
little more than noise and the bent railings, which I
straightened today).

Uneventfully, I made that change. Real-time SPOT watchers
may have wondered at the course alteration to sea just
south of Ft. Lauderdale; that's what it was. Once the
preventer was secured and stowed, I did a bit of
calculation and realized that our new line to the channel
with us further out from shore was actually improved due to
the wind having shifted back to the NNW, so I pulled the
main in tight, jibed it over, and set out on a broad reach
for our mark.

Having the sail out to a very secure broad reach (rather
than the run we'd been having) stiffened the boat up very
nicely, and as there was no traffic in the area, I took
advantage of the steadiness to get harnessed up and out,
clipping on the mast. I learned that I could much more
effectively get the pole in than we'd been doing it (which
was in several steps, with two involved in handling it) by
raising it all the way, pulling the trip line to free the
genoa sheet (recall the genoa's stowed, but the sheet's
still run through the pole jaw at the end), pulling the
pole over to center it, and lowering it to put the jaw into
its receiver on deck. I left the stowing of the control
lines and the pole lift for calmer conditions.

Hm. Things are going very nicely now. Let's put out the
genoa and get back in gear. The wind was in the right
direction to allow us to continue on this course, since
sharpened from my jog out to sea, and we rumbled along at 6
knots or so, very comfortably.

Soon enough, with lot of looking, as, to my surprise, the
markers were not very well lit, I found my first one, and
then the others. However, with the updating delay on the
chartplotter, at our speed, I found myself through the
channel by the time I'd spotted more than one navigation
aid's lights, and rounded up to get back inside, or, at
least, near it, as I saw some ships which I presumed were
coming in, based on their lights.

Sure enough, we were on a beat up the channel, with ships
bearing down on us. Unfortunately for me and our time, we
were also in the middle of a strong outflow. I hugged the
north breakwater to allow a container ship to pass - though
very closely, even so - and continued up the empty ship
channel. I'd earlier called the USCG to determine that my
presumption of no cruise ships in the channel on a
Wednesday morning would be accurate, so we were allowed to
transit that area. I have no idea why Homeland Security
considers it a bigger risk to have passing traffic if there
are 2 or more ships there, but, for whatever reason, if
there's only one in port, you can pass. In our case, there
were none, and after the container ship, only a single
Fisher's Island ferry presented any traffic.

As I was going up the channel, I rolled in the genoa again,
knowing that we'd soon have sails stowed for anchoring, but
we still made pretty good time against the current, about 4

By the time I reached the cruise ship area, traffic on the
MacArthur Causeway, going to Miami Beach, was in full
swing. It took me a moment to realize that the noise I
heard in the otherwise quiet boat was the wind generator
and the traffic, but all was well. We reached the end of
the channel, to the turnaround basin south of the
ICW-height bridge, and I turned on Perky to take us upwind.

Curiously, just about at that moment, the wind sharply
died, and the water got flat. As we were still in a very
strong outgoing current, I knew it couldn't be very close
to low tide, for which I was very thankful. On a prior
entrance to our anchoring area, we discovered that there
was literally no place in the channel next to the Venetian
Causeway (another route out to Miami Beach) which would
allow us to pass at low tide. With the wind on my nose,
and light, at that, I did a "dirty drop" of the main.

That is, with our lazy jacks corralling it, and our
strongtrack and lugs speeding it, I just laid out the
halyard so it could free-fly, and released the line clutch.
In about 2 seconds the sail had landed in its cradle, out
of the wind, and I snugged the sheet so that it would stay
centered over the boom crutch.

By this time, the sun had just come up and I could rely on
visual clues rather than just the chartplotter for my
entrance. So, I motored in, bumping a couple of times, but
never slowing (the bumps were just felt, not impeding), and
explored the anchorage/mooring field. Things have changed
since we were last here, with the local authorities
cracking down on moored boats without proper anchor
lighting, and, from scuttlebutt, therein attempting to run
off the homeless who have (rumor has it - I've not seen any
evidence to that effect) taken over some of the
(apparently) abandoned boats. There was one sunken
sailboat in the middle of the field, but I just went around
it. It was pretty crowded, more so than I recalled, so I
searched for someplace which would allow us ample swing
room among the moored boats...

I chose a location near the entrance to the field, right
off the channel, put the shift in neutral, and let Flying
Pig slow to a stop into the wind. When it appeared that my
forward motion had stopped, I ran forward and unshackled
the anchor from the stopper and let it down. This area is
very shallow, so it didn't take much chain to reach the
bottom. A couple more feet, and I waited for the dying
breeze to blow us back until it was tight. With my hand on
the chain, it felt as though it was set, so I put out 10
feet at a time, having the bow fall off as the breeze blew
it, and seeing it jerk the bow back into the wind. Once I
had a ratio of about 6-1, ample in this protected area, I
backed down on the anchor and was rewarded with a
satisfying clunk as the chain tightened on the roller and
the bow dipped due to the tight chain.

Once secure at anchor, with the wind nearly calm, I let out
the mainsheet to allow the boom to flop freely, and raised
the main in order to properly stow it by flaking and then
covering it.

Off with Perky, at exactly 63 hours into our journey, from
dockside to snugged up and secure in the anchorage, we were
home ("Home is where you drop your anchor" - a sign in our
galley) for the while. All told, including leaving the
first channel, transiting the ship channel against the
tide, entering the anchorage and buttoning up, we averaged
6.16 knots, with which I was well pleased. Lydia woke
about the time I turned off the engine, thinking she was
going to help me anchor, but it was all finished :{)) She
helped, instead, by stowing the control lines for the pole
while I fouled (intentionally, by throwing them over the
spreader, which keeps them from clanging on the mast when
it blows with them right next to it) and secured the pole's
hoist line.

We found the internet there to be a bit flaky, so after
breakfast, we moved around to more in the middle of the
basin and reanchored. Unfortunately, and, surprisingly, as
this area has generally very good holding, with the wind
picking up again as we were moving camp, we were not
successful in getting well set, sliding backward with the
wind, so we reanchored further in, in very good holding.

Later, we'll move to our friends' mooring after his
placeholder (recall the mooring cleanup effort, including
removing unoccupied ones - a bit extreme, it seems to me! -
he's had someone on his mooring ever since they started,
protecting his spot) takes his boat from it, but for now,
we're enjoying being in the middle of an international
gathering of boats. There are sailors here from Canada,
Sweden, England, Mauritius, France, South Africa, and many
other places I've surely not yet discovered...

Our traveling companions arrived wet, cold, exhausted,
somewhat beat up, but exhilarated from their ride, about 13
hours later, anchoring in the same spot we had first. I'll
have a guest post from their captain later so you can get
their perspective on the trip. We agreed to take a day to
get rested and sorted out, and went to bed.

Thursday, arising early, I researched rental cars to drive
them back. We found a reasonable deal for pickup on
Thursday afternoon, went to West Marine for some supplies
to remedy a blown bilge pump for them, and went to dinner
at a marvelous Cuban place they knew from when they'd lived
here, Early the next day we did some work on his boat, and
headed north.

As always with them, "mi casa es su casa" - to the degree
that we have a key to their home in St. Simons - and our
trip north with them was to not only deliver them but fetch
one of their cars for our use here, as well as for them to
use when they return. Not for nothing have I labeled him
"St. Steven" :{)) SPOT watchers may have wondered at the
very fast track, ashore, north, and then south, as we
returned the rental on Saturday afternoon...

This will be the last for a while. We have some medical
stuff to attend to, some friends on a boat in Lake Worth to
visit, and the general touristy bit. All told, this trip
from New York to Miami took a little less than 10 days,
side trips excepted. From here, we'll go down the Keys,
and eventually over to Georgetown (well, the Exumas) for
the winter, moving north as the weather warms and the
fronts die down...

Stay tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the
things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the
bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your
sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain
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