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Old 12-10-2008, 15:07   #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 4, October 5

Miami Passage - Day 4, October 5 - Happy 60th Birthday, Amy!

Hello from the Atlantic Ocean, 33*54'N, 77*20'W.

We left you as we were about to enter the Hatteras Passage - the
marks outside the Hatteras Shoals - with porpoises playing
astern. Maybe they weren't just playing - maybe they were

Well, I presume so, because about 5:30, something took the lure
on our 80# line, and reeled off several hundred feet before I
could tighten up the drag. Judging from the amount of line out,
and the angle at which it entered the water behind the boat,
whatever it was had not only run, but run deep. At the point I
got it out of the holder and tightened the drag, the rod bent
severely (built for the job, so no problem - but I'm sure glad it
was that pole, and not the one built for, and loaded with, 20#
line - it would never have taken the strain!), and I commenced
fighting it.

Lydia was afraid that it was one of the porpoises, but I assured
her that they were too smart to fall for a painted tuna plug, and
I assured her there was no way, had it been a 600 pound porpoise,
that the line would be intact, let alone not pulling me in as I
tried to fight it.

We slowed the boat down, to help reduce the pressure, and the
fish dove, deep, keeping the pressure on the line. So, we turned
and I was able to gain some line on whatever was out there.
Eventually, I got it close to the boat and could see that it was
pretty big, and full of fight, still.

As I got it within range of the gaff, it became apparent that it
was a bluefin tuna. Another thing on our wish list is a scale,
because it couldn't be less than 30 pounds, but it would be
interesting to know just what it is when we catch something.. I
got her hooked and held her up to where I could spray rubbing
alcohol in the gills, which subdued her in due time. It saves
bashing them on the head, and minimizes blood, if it's a bloody
fish; best yet, it can be done before the fish is even in the
boat. I learned this trick from other cruisers, but they use
cheap rum or other intoxicants, pouring it into the gills.
Rubbing alcohol is dirt cheap, and the spray bottle makes it go a
very long way...

In the meantime, the porpoises came along the stern, while we
were still barely moving, as if to say, "See what we chased into
your hook for you?" They hung around, about 8 of them, blowing
and talking under water (I could hear them, and see their mouths
moving), probably discussing what a poor host I was for not
throwing it in for them, while I continued to hold the tuna on
the gaff.

They were with us until Lydia got my fileting gear and my cleanup
bucket, but when we headed back on our course and picked up speed
again, they left us. It's always a treat to be visited by
porpoises, but this was extra special, as we were going very
slowly, and they weren't charging back and forth under the boat.

By 6PM, preparation was in full swing - must be feeding time, as
the last several fish we've caught have all been about the same
time of day - and we'll have 8 very sumptuous meals from her.
The tiny scraps - generated from my as-yet unskilled fileting -
that I scoffed as I was cutting were absolutely delicious, even
though they weren't prepared like sushi or the like. I can't
wait to see how the cooked version is :{))

If I'd thought about it more, I might have cut her up
differently, but this was perfect sized steak stuff. However, I
think I would need something much more substantial than just my
fileting knife to cut through the backbone. As it was, as Lydia
was portioning out the filets, there were many steak-sized and
shaped pieces - just not the characteristic horsehoe shaped
ones - and these were boneless! Perhaps the next one...

I thanked the lady fish (she had a very full roe sac) and God for
our bounty as I scrubbed the platform (where I do my fileting) -
we've caught more fish than we'll likely have time to eat, before
we make Miami. We brought the poles in for a good wash, as they,
along with everything else on the outside of the boat, were caked
with salt from our bashing along, and even later, in the less
tumultuous seas, as we plunged into the waves and the spray hit
us from all angles.

In the meantime, while I fileted, we rounded Hatteras in glassy
seas, and pointed toward Frying Pan Shoals at 230 degrees,
exactly downwind of the expected Northeasterly breeze forecast
for tomorrow. Based on the lack of apparent wind, it's already
there, but only about 5-6 knots (our forward motion exactly
offset the existing wind).

Glassy seas or not, however, there was a considerable set toward
shore, and we had to make continual adjustments to Otto's
instructions to stay on course. In the meantime, the heavens
were putting on a great show. Lydia and I went out to the patio
before dinner, and admired the quarter moon which had just risen,
and was about to set in a couple of hours, along with the
stunning display of stars and planets, with the Milky Way
providing accompaniment.

In our abundance, we were forced to finish the steak I'd cooked
for my brother and wife when he came to shoot the interiors,
instead of starting on the fish, as it's been in the refrigerator
for several days. We had sandwiches, instead of a "full" dinner,
as we were both pretty well laid out by all the excitement, and
they were absolutely delicious. So, *tomorrow* (well, today as
you see it) we'll start on the fish :{)) After marinating for
about an hour, we put the tuna in the freezer. Based on our
experience with the bluefish, they'll come out as fresh as they
went in. We'll be starting on the Mahi I boated the day before,
still in the refrigerator. It's a tough job, but somebody's got
to do it!

So, at about 10PM, we went out to the patio (what I thought was)
one last time, and I retired to the shower to scrub not only
myself but my two best friends, the salt-encrusted poles and
lines who'd had far too much salt water to drink lately. They
said that they were anxious to get back out there, though, so
tomorrow, if conditions warrant, we'll put them back to work. If
our luck holds, we'll have ample for our friends and family
meeting us in Miami :{))

Well, boring is how our "sailing" (a generous term, given
that we've been motoring for what seems forever - cruising is a
better term, likely) is at the moment, but there was some
excitement tonight. Lydia came to me as I was toweling off, and
said I needed to get out a message right away, so that folks
wouldn't panic.

Turns out she'd forgotten to reset SPOT (it requires resetting
every day, a real PITA) earlier today, and accidentally hit the
"help" button instead of the "on/off" button during the nuisance
value sequence one must go through to send an "OK" message, turn
it off, and then turn on the tracking again, not seeing it
correctly in the dark. So, our list of acute watchers was,
probably (we have no way of knowing for sure) sent a message
that we needed help. There are lots who claim we need all the
help we can get, but not in this case :{))

And, just to add to the excitement, she's not sure it actually
transmitted the "help" message - so our lifeliners may have
gotten a "relax" message unnecessarily, sent over sailmail. And,
those watching us in real time must have wondered about the lack
of signal, just about the time we got to Hatteras... Ah, well -
the exciting life of a full time cruiser!

As to SPOT, those seeing this in real time know to look at
SPOT Shared Page
to follow us. Unfortunately, SPOT doesn't have a long
persistence on the daily pages, so if you're not looking at it
during the time it happens, you'll only see a blank page or
perhaps a map showing the area where their offices are :{/)

Subscribing to the Yahoogroup log shown in my signature line will
get you real-time reports, in the event you're not on the only
place my son posts the daily reports, sent from sea over sailmail
on the SSB radio, or on the log list already. Of course, like
other Yahoogroups, you can always check it on the web, rather
than having emails sent to you, if you're interested, but then
you'd have to know when we were on the move in order to see our
track :{))

Given all the prior excitement, I didn't get to go to sleep right
away, and we paid another visit to the patio where we marveled at
the display in the heavens. A totally clear night, offshore from
any light clutter, it was just fantastic. I wish I knew more
about the constellations - cruising is sure a good way to go

I eventually went to bed about 1AM, and Lydia kept watch on the
occasional traffic, none of which came anywhere near. One
curiosity was a tug and tow which paralleled us at 5 miles on our
port stern quarter, for quite a while. Then it suddenly turned
and headed into/across the Gulf Stream. Bermuda bound, maybe?
If it was Charleston or anywhere south of there, unless they
didn't mind fighting the adverse current *twice*, they'd have
stayed on our line. Our attempts to chat them up were
unanswered, so we don't know.

Our rhumb line takes us about 12 miles away from the edge of the
Gulf Stream, and we may be benefiting from a slight lift in an
eddy current. However, the wind was dead all night, so we
motored on, making great progress, clearing the Cape Lookout
Shoals shortly after dawn. Thus, we were in the place where we'd
have exited the ICW, 4 days later. Hatteras is overrated :{))
(Yes, Yes, I know. That's why we took the fuel to make sure we
got there in a good weather window. Don't start...)

About 6:30 I was awakened to a blast of music from our aft cabin
speakers. Lydia apparently hadn't realized that when I wake her
with music, I set the controls to all forward, and then gradually
work it back to all rear, maintaining bare listen-ability in the
saloon speakers, which, particularly with the engine running,
means that the aft cabin hears nothing initially, but by the time
it's all to the rear, the front is listenable while the aft is
loud. I start it inaudibly, and work it up to audible over about
5 minutes, then to normal listening levels over another 5
minutes, and then "loud" (not "deafening!") over another 10 or so
minutes, which gives her a chance to get conscious. I was
conscious in about 3 seconds :{))

Another treat of eggs on toast (we normally just have a banana or
cereal, but we're out of bananas, and almost out of prepared
milk) spoiled me this morning, as it's a rare indulgence. We
make our milk from "dry" (which apparently has had a technology
radicalization since when I was a kid, because, now, if anything,
it tastes better than what comes in the bottle from the store,
whereas in my childhood, even mixed half and half with "real"
milk, it was only barely tolerable, even ice cold), minimizing
any storage issues beyond the liter at a time we make. We'll
never buy bottled milk again, if we have dry available.

The day turned brilliantly sunny and we retired to the patio to
evaluate our next moves. From when we left, our engine has run
51 hours, definitely not sustainable, given our minimum of about
60 to maximum of about 100 hours of runtime on a full tank. As
this is Sunday, Chris takes the day off, so we listened to NOAA's
local broadcast. It pretty much mirrored Chris', which is to say
that we'd have winds dead astern, or thereabouts, for the next
couple of days.

It would also be light through tomorrow night, when it was
forecast to pick up. That far out, of course, NOAA's usual
inaccuracies aside, things can certainly change, but at least for
the moment, we were definitely in light winds (recall that our
motoring made the apparent wind nil), but they were going to pick
up gradually through the day, to decent sailing speed by the

At dead downwind, we could run wing and wing with our asymmetric
spinnaker, so as we finished our coffee, we headed off to do just
that. Fortunately for me (I'm a slow learner, but I *am*
teachable!), I'd stowed the spinnaker the last time such that I
knew what orientation it would exit the bag, and setting it was
relatively quick, flying about 10 minutes after I headed into the
Vee to get the sailbag in position at 9AM. The weather
conditions were perfect for it as well, with a very light breeze.

After it was up, we pulled the main over and prevented it, and
proceeded under wing-and-wing. Pictures, maybe, later, if I ever
get around to adding to our gallery which has seen no new
activity for far too long! Anyway, what a glorious sight, and we
sat on the patio and enjoyed the view and the silence, other than
the water rushing by.

At the time, we were slightly slower than the speed of the waves,
and the boat rocked a bit much. Eventually, I took down the
main, as it was getting backwinded sometimes, and blanketing the
spinnaker at others. We even had one of the dreaded genoa wraps
during one such roll, but we turned downwind and the wind was
light enough that I was able to get it unfouled. That actually
was the stimulus for our lowering the main.

So, I experienced a relatively rare (maybe my first on this new
sail, with its huge battens in the lower sections - I'm not sure)
downwind drop of the main. With our battens, that was a bit
challenging, but I used the reefing lines to pull them
straight, flaked the luff portion carefully, and then went aft
and straightened out the flakes back there. Pull the reefing
lines back in, toss them in the sailcover, and it was over. I'd
not like to try that in 10 or more knots, but the apparent wind
of 2-4 was manageable. Lydia did have to jibe a bit a couple of
times to get the longer battens to flop back off the lazy jack,
and drop into the flaked position, but otherwise it was

So, by midday, we were fluffing along at 4-6 knots, with between
2 and 6 knots apparent wind. Assuming the forecast holds and it
freshens later in the day, we should be flying along, at a
perfect point of sail for our next waypoint, the Frying Pan
Shoals. Even at this lighter wind (apparent usually 2-4, but
fairly often lulls of 0), when the boat rolls, with the main out
of the way, the spinnaker stays full. What a glorious sight!

With the main stowed, I put out the starboard pole again, in
hopes that we might catch yet more fish for the larder. Given
that we're going to have company, and have ample freezer space
currently (only frozen veggies and some chicken and sausage in
there now), it will be ok to continue to "hunt" - but if we catch
another couple of tuna, we'll have to lay off, if for nothing
other than lack of space :{))

Lydia went down for her sleep and I settled in to enjoy the day.
Rejoicing in the conditions, I went to the other end of the boat
and reveled in the slow rise and fall of the bow as the waves
slowly advanced on us. During the puffs, we went slightly faster
than the waves, and the boat stiffened up, but even so, the
rolling was gentle, small and benign in the lulls.

We're saving on laundry this portion of the trip, abiding by the
dictum seen on some bumper stickers and tee shirts, sailing
naked. Why not, we're bare for insurance, both boat and health,
too :{)) The sun on me, with the gentle breeze, was just perfect
for my bow seat excursion. We'll enjoy it while we can, because
squalls are forecast in a day or two, and we'll have to get
dressed again. But, they'll be most welcome, as the salt crust
everywhere gets tracked below :{/)

As the afternoon wore on, the wind shifted a bit, to our
disadvantage, and I had to keep turning upwind to keep the
spinnaker stiff. Eventually I also pulled down the tack, and
tightened up the clew, but still had to keep moving more upwind.
In addition, unfortunately, the swells built and the wind died,
so the boat was rocking and rolling enough that we eventually
stowed the spinnaker and reevaluated our course. The course we'd
migrated to would have taken us directly over Frying Pan Shoals,
albeit at the rate we were moving, not before daylight tomorrow!

So, we looked to see what bearing would take us clear of the
shoals, and it was directly downwind. Knowing we'd be rocking
and rolling, anyway, but dead downwind, we put out the pole and
went wing and wing on the genoa and prevented main. Those
watching the SPOT will see the gradual turn to the right,
followed by the abrupt turn to the left as we ran before the
howling 3-4 knots.

If the wind doesn't build, we'll cross the outer limits of the
Frying Pan Shoals sometime just before dawn. At this point we're
considering making a stop in Charleston, after all, as there's
some relatively nasty weather coming about the time we'd get
there, and we have laundry, courtesy of Portia, who couldn't
manage her toilet trained litter during our storms and used other
less appropriate means to relieve herself :{/)

So, it's not Chuck Berry or Bill Haley, but we sure are rocking
and rolling. We'll leave you here, about 28 miles from Frying
Pan Shoals and about 28 miles due east of Cape Fear.

Stay tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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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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