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Old 14-10-2008, 08:48   #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 7 - October 14

Miami Passage - Day 7 - October 14

When we left you, we were making preparations for rolling up the
anchor in our departure for Saint Simons Island. Conversation
with our weather forecaster showed that we'd be facing some very
stiff conditions on our way down, at least initially. The buoy
offshore from Charleston showed 20-25 knots, gusting to 30, with
9' waves in a 6-9 second period (the time between wave crests).
Still that was no worse than we faced when we first sailed our
boat, with no experience whatsoever with her, when we took
possession, and we did fine, then. We'd started out, then, with
a single reef and staysail, and as the reefs in the original sail
were much shorter (the third reef in that sail was about where
our second reef is in our new sail), and eventually added more
sail. So, we'd planned to start with a single reef and staysail.

In the anchorage, the wind was relatively calm, and we wondered
if we'd actually see all the wind forecast out on the open water.
As is our practice, we started the engine before leaving, about
10:15. That would allow us to deal with any emergency without
scrambling to get it started. I'd already done all the
checkouts, beforehand...

So, folks, please take your seats and fasten your seat belts and
return the trays to the upright and locked position. Our
departure this morning will be on time, at 10:30, as soon as the
crew returns from the patio. We're number one for departure.
Oops! Our mechanic has discovered a part failure in the engine
room. There will be a slight delay while this is addressed :{/)

We'd noted a great deal of salt on the starboard side of the
engine, and couldn't figure out where it had come from. The best
we could figure was that in the prior passage, during our radical
heel to port, with all the waves, that water must have gotten in,
falling to that location. However, just on the possibility that
it was, in fact, somehow coming from the engine or related stuff,
I started to go in the engine room on startup. Yikes! Water
everywhere. Shut her down, and go in to see if I can discover
the source. A cracked fitting! Dang!

So, off it came and into Dad's Hardware Store to see if we had a
replacement. The fitting in question was not in stock, but two
other parts which, combined, would do the job, and, instead of
nylon, this time, it was brass. Now to replace the hose I had to
cut off to get to it. Hm. Nope. None seen. So, I scavenged
one from a fitting designed to redirect smoke, and set about
replacing the damaged or cut parts.

When I get to a hardware store again shortly, I'll purchase the
right brass fitting to replace the broken one, return the other
two parts to stock, and use some of the leftover fuel hose to
replace the entire length of the hose which had seen a short
section inserted, making a better end result, anyway. A test
start revealed that the cobbled-up solution held, and we
prepared, again, to get under way, this time at about noon.

The anchorage is very muddy, particularly where we'd come to
rest. As I pulled in short sections of the anchor chain, it
bobbed to taut, then sagged, effectively washing it off as I did
so. However, we weren't moving. Hm. Apparently we were
stuck-in-the-muds, but a small amount of forward power overcame
the strong outgoing tidal current, and we shortly had the anchor
back in the roller, and under way.

By the time we got to the first marker in the channel about
12:30, we were glad we'd reefed and had only the staysail out,
because we were beating against a 20-25 knot wind all the way out
to the main channel. However, with all that wind, and the
current aiding, we were also making 8+ knots, and by the time we
reached the main channel, and were able to turn 30 degrees
downwind to a close reach, we exceeded 9 knots out to our turn at
the first buoy outside the breakwater.

We received a hint of things to come as the waves built, but when
we turned downwind, the apparent wind let up, and we were doing
8+ knots. Since we had to avoid a spot of shallows, we continued
due south for a while before turning onto our rhumb line of about
222 degrees. Still with a single reef and staysail, I prevented
the main. However, the waves were as promised, and we rocked and
rolled rather much, and the staysail, a self-tending one on a
boom with a traveler, went from starboard to port and then back
again, gaining enough momentum on the return to fling the
traveler sliding stop, and the end stop, overboard. RATS!

Well, that limited the future utility of the staysail, but we
left it up, sheeted tight amidships, to help act as a
flopper-stopper. In the meantime, the apparent wind dropped, as
we were now going in the same general direction as it was, rather
than into it, and it was only 13-18 knots. It looked like the
wind might be far enough inboard to put out the genoa, but it
flopped enough that I shortened it up to about a 90% size and
sheeted it relatively tight, adding to the flopperstopper action,
but also adding some drive.

Accordingly, our speed went up slightly, but more importantly, it
helped limit the range of the rolls. We still rolled a lot, but
only in an arc of about 15-20 degrees to each side. And, despite
the very impressive waves, since we were going in the same
general direction as they were, their motion under us was a
gentle lift and fall rather than crashing as was the case in our
beat. Once again, we admired the view as they rolled up, over
our heads, then lifted the stern and passed under us, from our
break on the patio.

By 4PM, the apparent windspeed had dropped to 12-15, forecast to
drop as the day wore on, and continuing to drop through tomorrow,
along with gradually diminishing seas. So, we shook out the reef
and continued on our way. Our speed picked up slightly as we did
so, but the rock and roll continued. Eventually, it looked as
though we could put out the genoa again, and run wing-and wing,
as the wind appeared to have shifted slightly more to the stern,
and the Windex at the top of the mast showed that we rarely
rolled to more than about 20 degrees to what would be windward,
still, if we were to pull the main over.

So, I got back into my harness and went out to remove the
preventer. Sheet in the main tight, turn slightly downwind to
flop it over, and prevent it on the other side, and we turned
upwind, returning to our original course again to put out the
genoa. No luck, unfortunately, as the genoa luffed and filled
and crashed as it filled, repeatedly. Still too much rock and
roll, and with dark coming on, in rough seas, I was loathe to
deal with putting out the spinnaker pole (serving as a whisker
pole in this case). We reluctantly rolled the genoa back to
flopper-stopper position and reversed our jibing of the main.
There we remained, all night.

I went down for a nap around 6, coming up at 8:30 PM to a
brilliantly lit full moon under clear skies. We snacked on some
hummus that Lydia had made on our trip into Charleston, and Lydia
went down for her sleep at 9. By 10, we were seeing ship
traffic - perhaps from Savannah? - but, only intermittently.
It's impressive, from my eye height of about 8' off the water, to
see ships of 50' height or more disappear for seconds at a time.
The seas were still easily 9' but, still, mostly from the rear,
and it's been a dry ride despite the impressive sight of the
waves as they advance on us. The moonlight makes a huge
difference in how you can see and read the water...

Around 10:30, I had two close encounters with ships crossing our
path. Neither responded to my hails on 16 and 13, but one,
crossing fairly close to us (but nothing like Captain Star, the
fishing boat on our way to Charleston), shot me a light signal as
he passed, acknowledging our presence. Having a multi-hundred
foot ship heading at you focuses your attention, for sure, but
there was no real concern as with the fishing boat, as they were
not making any sudden moves.

By 1 AM, it appeared that the wind might be shifting. NOAA has
been saying, on the VHF forecasts, and offshore buoy readings
seem to agree, that the wind is from the ENE, but based on our
course and apparent wind, it's at best NE, on the order of
040-050 degrees. That's too bad, because another 10 or 20
degrees would allow us to put out the genoa and stiffen up the
ride considerably. As it is, however, we're making between 6 and
7 knots consistently.

I did some calculations, and despite the luxury to come, assuming
the wind stays in the same quarter, of a beam reach up the Saint
Simons channel this morning, to head up into the wind enough to
stiffen the boat, even assuming we gained an entire knot of
speed, would cost us at least another two hours based on how far
out that would place us as we made our turn, jibing into our
heading for the channel.

So, it's grin and bear it time, and I left it alone and we
continued rocking and rolling along. I did, however, move the
preventer further aft in order to put some downhaul pressure on
the main, which stiffened it up considerably, and lessened the
spillage loss at the top of the sail, speeding us up by a couple
of tenths of a knot. Our wind continues to be 18-23 knots, with
12-17 knots apparent wind as we go mostly downwind at 222 degrees

We're crossing an area thick with artificial reefs, with numerous
private, unlit, buoys, so we're paying very close attention to
where we are, despite the otherwise straight line course we are
able to make. So far I have yet to see any of them, but since
our updated charts, as well as the older ones in MaxSea, say
they're out there, we're giving them a wide berth. If they're
anything like the usual navigation buoys, hitting one of them
could ruin our day (not to mention grievously injure Flying Pig)!

That was the story all night; we turned the corner by jibing
about 100 degrees to starboard, having made more than 6 knots for
virtually all of the straight-line, nearly downwind, rolly run
from the channel in Charleston to the channel in Saint Simons
Island. Even the runs in and out of the channel were great.

We proceeded at flank speed, up the Saint Simons Channel, at
about 8:30, and had the hook down and engine off by 10:30. We
sailed the entire channel other than the anchorage, including
swinging by for a close run on a beam reach so that our Angels
could see us up close and get some pictures on the pier. We had
a great run, covering 143 miles from anchor up to anchor down, in
23 hours. Run's the word, too, as 120 miles of that was
literally a run. It was too rolly to use the pole, or we'd have
gotten here quicker :{))

Our friends have biscuits waiting for us at their home, so we'll
drop the dinghy, pick up their car they've left us in the parking
lot, and see you next time. We'll be here for a few days, and
then head out to Miami, when Day 8 will show up...

Stay tuned :{))



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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