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Old 12-10-2008, 17:35   #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 5, October 6

Miami Passage - Day 5, October 6

Hello from the Atlantic Ocean, 32*51'N, 79*17'W.

We left you as we were about to cross the Frying Pan Shoals -
well, sorta, as the wind and waves weren't very cooperative and
we were rocking and rolling more than we were moving forward.
None the less, we continued dead downwind in 3-4 knots of
apparent wind, making somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 knots.

I went down for an early bedtime, to try to get Lydia off the
night shift, where she's landed by chance for the last couple of
nights. The wind and waves continued in pretty much the same
fashion other than that they clocked around a bit, back and
forth, making for some angular points on the SPOT track. Were it
not dead downwind, we'd just be making sailplan tweaks, but as it
is, to prevent (as much as possible - there's still plenty of it)
sail flogging, we're keeping the wind at our back.

On the subject of wind, NOAA's saying that it will remain light -
10-15 - for the next several days, but, unfortunately for us,
will clock around to the SE in a couple of days, just when we
need it to stay generally north. Of course, right now, as we
plod along trying to go nearly west, SE would be welcomed, but by
the time it arrives, we'd be getting ready to turn south. At
that, our speed is a bit better than when I started this log, now
more on the order of 4.5-5.5 as the wind slightly increases.
However, it's also shifted, which means we're headed much more
south at the moment than would be our needed direction for a
rhumb line run.

The good news is that our course of travel is taking us roughly
parallel to the Gulf Stream edge, about 15 miles or so off, so
we're not having to adjust our course to miss it. And, if we
continue along this course for another 50 miles or so, the angle
of attack for our changed rhumb line (more below) will be
better - perhaps a broad reach. We'll see what Chris has to say
about where the wind is really going today; it may well be quite
different than NOAA's expectations (usually is! - and exactly on
target), but for the moment, unless it clocks further East, we'll
have a better point of sail.

We're making reasonably good progress, with CMG (course made
good) of 121 and 132 nautical miles the last couple of days.
Unfortunately, a goodly portion of that is due to having
motorsailed, and it will cost us a visit to Charleston, more on
which later. Today's very light winds, aft, will make for a much
shorter run, I expect, but after dawn we should be able to reset
the sailplan to be on a broad reach. That should increase our
speed slightly, as well as damp some of the rock-and-roll.

We crossed the Frying Pan Shoals, offshore of Cape Fear, at about
2 this morning. Lydia came to wake me at about 1:30, having
gotten to her limit for attentiveness for the day. My nap
refreshed me, and when she gets up on her own steam (I'll not
wake her), I'll go down for another nap, or longer, depending on

The early morning was relatively uneventful - except for one
thing. I'd been watching a light way off in the distance for
several hours, and suddenly, it seemed to turn my way. I got out
the binoculars and glassed him as well as I could with all the
rocking and saw that the port light was prominently visible.

Then it got very obviously closer, and appeared to be on a
crossing course with me. I hailed on both 16 and 13, getting no
answer. I hailed again, asking if they saw me. Still no answer.
I dashed down to the circuit panel and threw on the foredeck,
spreader and aft spotlights, then hailed again. Still no answer.
In all of the excitement, I can't be sure, but it appeared that
he sped up as he got closer. In the end, he passed not 50 feet
in front of me, close enough that I could read the transom
without aid, and very clearly see his radar going around.

I hailed him again, by name, several times, on 16 and 13, and
still got no response. So, if any of you know a (presumed - the
aft was all lit up, but they weren't dragging anything) fishing
boat named Captain Star, black (looks like in the dark - coulda
been dark green or navy blue, too) transom, round cabin like a
tugboat but not nearly that high, nor shaped nor dressed like a
tug, in the area near the south of Frying Pan Shoal, give him
Hell for me and high marks for rudeness at the very least.

I have no idea if anyone was at the helm - but as far off as I
started my hailing, he could very easily have diverted two
degrees and gone behind me, or slowed, or any other simple
change. Instead, his beam was right in my face, no further, I'd
bet, than 50 feet. There was no incident, but if I'd been 10
seconds faster, he'd have T-boned me.

This morning (5AM as I write) has been very warm, generally
speaking. I've been in shorts, with a light sweatshirt jacket
left open, in the cockpit with all the windows rolled up, very
comfortably. Weather in general is forecast (at least by the
NOAA broadcasts we can hear - and I've learned to look out the
window to see what's happening rather than actually *rely* on
NOAA) to be much the same for the next couple of days, so it will
be comfortable, reasonably good sailing, and we'll continue to
press on.

Our stop in Charleston is prompted by the concern for our fuel
level, but also because of a very good internet buddy who also
happens to be a component-level electronics repair guy as well as
a battery guru. Our wind indicator's light is out in the
cockpit, and it's not such a big deal right now, with light
winds, but having a relatively accurate assessment of the current
wind speed is very useful to us in contemplating our sailplan.

At night, currently, that requires a flashlight. For the
direction, we can look at the Windex on the mast, and also turn
on the red LED rope lighting which confused the tugboat captain a
few nights ago; it's more than sufficient to illuminate the face.
But the bulb in the cockpit unit is internal, and a stable work
surface, with good lighting, would be much more effective than
doing it on a rocking boat! Thanks, Larry - another one of our

So, once we get the sails back into a conventional rig after
dawn, we'll set sail to Charleston, rather than the GA/FL border,
our expected next waypoint. We're under no pressure timewise,
other than to get together with another of our Saints in Miami,
so a couple of days in Charleston will allow us to accomplish
some chores, maybe even get in some sightseeing, and refresh for
our next leg.

Back when I was doing sales and management training, I used a
Vince Lombardi film featuring Jerry somebody, a recently (at the
time - that was a very long time ago) retired famous player for
the GBP. He used one of the signs Lombardi put up in the locker
room to help coach the sales guy in the film. "Fatigue makes
cowards of us all." I expect that was at work with Lydia's
discontent a couple of days ago, having just spent the previous
day seasick with the dry heaves, not even being able to hold down
water. So, a couple of days of R&R may help :{))

The morning dawned clear and bright, warm enough that I had to
ditch the sweatshirt jacket, and I'll soon be back to starkers,
it looks like, given that I'm already warm in just shorts and a
tee shirt. After I make contact with Chris, I'll reset our
sails. Our setup allows us to furl the genny with the pole out;
once it's secured, I'll come upwind and remove the preventer from
the main, allowing me to tighten up the sail, and, I fervently
hope, damp all this rock and roll. Once it's stabilized on the
new point of sail, I'll deal with the pole and then run the genoa
out the other side.

That done, about 9AM, we turned onto the course for Charleston,
and it was a broad reach, almost a run. Chris' report called for
building winds, moving to the ENE, which we were afraid would be
right on our stern again, but it worked out that our course was
fair, and, as promised, the winds built, along with the seas.

However, we were going in the same direction, this time, and the
resultant period was about 9-10 seconds. With the relatively
constant pressure on the sails, the boat rocked considerably
less, and our speed picked up dramatically. As we threw off an
impressive bow wave at 6.5-7 knots, we were joined by a pod of
porpoises, including a couple of what I presume to be mother and
child, as they stuck together in every maneuver, at 11 AM. For
more than half an hour they leaped out of the water, doing
acrobatics for us, charging the boat and then looking up at us as
if to laugh at those simple humans who couldn't even swim, let
alone do what they were doing. What a marvelous creature, and so

If our wind speed and direction holds, we'll be in Charleston
before midnight, as we're on a perfect course, and exceeding 6
knots. I'm going down for another rest at noon, but will finish
up around dinnertime.

The wind and the seas cooperated, mostly, for the last few hours
of this report. I got up after a couple of hours of very sound
sleep - nothing like the rocking of the boat, and the soft
sunshine coming through the hatch to promote sleeping! - and we
retired to the patio to become more acquainted with each other,
having had little time together due to all the watchstanding
which caused Lydia to be asleep during the days of late.
Marvelous sunshine, gentle breeze (12 knots apparent) and the
comfy cushioned adjustable chairs obtained during a West Marine
two-fer sale enhanced our pleasure.

Finally we tore ourselves away, and I did my 1-2-3's (boat
maintenance chores). Today's were to put up the hanging basket
which supporting eye hook had come loose during the storm,
adjusting the port shroud which I'd overtightened slightly a
couple of days ago, occasioned by it's working loose due to my
overaggressive lubing of the threads during my tuning of the rig
before, putting a new lure on a leader and feeding it with the
line on the pole which had the line cut by the fighting tuna,
putting it out to join the same tuna plug which had caught our
first bluefin, and securing the Ragasco fiberglass propane tank
which had broken loose during the stormy section early on in this

We sat back down on the patio and enjoyed our fizzies, and just
as I was about to stand up, I saw that we'd caught another fish.
This one was a bit early for dinner, being only 4:30, and it had
little enough resistance that I wasn't sure it wasn't just grass.
However, I've never known grass to cut behind the boat or dive,
so I continued to reel it in. We were disappointed to see that
it was what we think to be an adolescent billfish, about 30"
long, very slim, with the distinctive sail dorsal fin.

Disappointed, only because we immediately wanted to release it,
but the hook had gone in right at the front of his right eye. He
was still very full of fight, though, so we took a couple of
quick pictures and extracted the hook and let him go. He
appeared to swim off freely. I surely hope so - he was a
beautiful specimen which, if allowed another 10 years or so,
should make a wonderful fight for some other fisherman.

As great as we're doing on time, we're not *exactly* on course to
make the Charleston inlet's breakwater, so at 5:30, to take
advantage of the remaining light in what might become difficult
conditions, we turned downwind, prevented the main, and went wing
and wing, about 25 degrees south of our prior line. When the
mark we've got on the chartplotter gets to about 260 degrees to
make it, we'll come back upwind on a slightly harder point of
sail than was the case before.

All signs point to our being able to sail up the channel in a
beam or close reach, make the corner on a broad reach, turn up
the creek and drop our sails and nestle into the fuel dock at
slack water near midnight. So, we'll leave you as we head
downwind wing and wing. Sorry I don't have another fish tale to
tell, but the night is yet young :{))

Today's lovely conditions resulted in 123 miles course made good,
and, at this writing, rocking and rolling once again, but with
sufficient winds that it's much more tolerable than when the day
began. Once again, we've been blessed with a great passage...

Stay tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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