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Old 26-11-2008, 06:24   #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 8, November 17

Miami Passage - Day 8, November 17

Hello from the Atlantic Ocean, 29*15.85'N, 80*38.86'W

When we last saw you were pulling into St. Simons Island, GA. We stayed here for nearly 6 weeks, and took care of many shore and boatside chores.

Louise, Lydia's 83 year old mother, was scheduled to come with us to the Keys, arriving from the North GA mountains, where she'd been visiting her granddaughter and great grandson, on October 29th, landing in Miami. However, the weather window didn't cooperate, so we went to pick her up instead. Visiting ensued instead of departures, so I came back to the boat to

continue working on various chores, and to help our two Angels here, Saints Steven and


After I went up to fetch Lydia and her mother last weekend, I continued to do minor chores while we waited for the next weather window. Without the gory details, Lydia asked, "What WOULD you do without all your tools?" Had I not had what most folks would consider overkill for tools and supplies, I'd have been stuck with either risking a very noisy spinnaker pole failure by letting it go, or hiring it out (the repair was occasioned by the LAST time I hired out the work on it, in Annapolis, to Atlantic Spar and Rigging, who mucked up both my rig tuning [the mast alignment process] and the mast-end replacement of the pole). Instead, I just went into the shelves and pulled out the necessary tools and supplies and went at it. The redo of the end is massively more secure than what was provided to me by ASR, and unlikely to loosen, let alone fail, in the boat's lifetime.

Today (well, yesterday, as you read this), I pulled all three of our speed impellers and cleaned off the barnacles and other growth. That will teach me not to be lazy about pulling them and replacing with plugs when we pull into Miami, a process (take out the impellers as soon as you're going to be anchored for more than a night) most full time cruisers would normally do. It opens a serious hole in the boat when you pull them out, but with some practice, only a cup or two gets in (each time, both ways), and that is in the bilge, anyway,

so of little moment. The two in the workshop area, however, spray onto the sole in the walkthrough, and require a bit of cleanup. Beats having to scrub them with acids, though, so that's what I'll do from now on.

For those wondering why in the world we need 3 sensors, particularly when we have GPS speed, they came with the boat. One is for the fishfinder, one is for the chartplotter log, and the other is a racing-quality unit. All measure speeds through the water, not over the ground. When there's a current, which affects the speed over ground, it's useful to know how you're doing in absolute terms, as well as to be able to calculate the current based on the difference between water and ground speeds. Knowing the usual speed of the boat either under motor or sail, at differing conditions, would alert us to any anamolies. As noted in our trip to Maine, the Gulf Stream current had us "going" at unusually fast speeds on the GPS, but our speed through the water was the same as would be expected from the wind speed and direction. The racing unit shows hundredths of a knot, and also whether we're slowing or speeding up from a second ago. Being the geek I am, I appreciate that sort of input.

It's also the reason we have three depth sensors :{)) The one at the Nav station and the one next to the racing speed indicator reflect distance under the keel. They are adjustable only in positive offset (reduce the depth by how far the sensor is from the keel), and only in full foot-change increments. As such, they are only approximations of the amount of water under

the keel. However, the one for the fishfinder has both positive and negative offsets available, in tenths of a foot, so we use that for true depth, which is very accurate. Those following me for any length of time know I like redundancy, as well as demanding full and complete information about our condition in all regards :{))

Life aboard any full-time cruising boat is "boat repair in exotic locations" - along with the ever present, and usually growing, "to-do" list. However, we're extremely pleased to note that our to-do list is nearly empty, and none of it has to do with mechanical effectiveness or safety any more. Rather, the very few items left are "this would be nice" sort of things, such as a flashlight holder, or replacing the remaining gaskets in the few ports which have not already been replaced, "just because" - not because they leaked (though some did; early on in our refit I ordered a complete set of gaskets and screens, and one each sized replacement "glass" [they're plastic]). We keep looking around, and finding nothing to do, and then, time and time again, commenting to each other about how happy we are with the condition of the boat. Those interested may like to see some current pix of her, taken by my pro photog brother, when we were in his neighborhood in Atlantic Highlands NJ, at

I've been horribly remiss about putting up any new pictures in our gallery, shown in the sig line; too busy cruising! However, we're working on trying to get familiarized with Picasa, by Google, in order to allow us more space at much more affordable rates. My inclination, as those who have visited the site know, is for great levels of detail. That leads to (in total) thousands of pictures, and gigabytes of memory. My current storage location isn't suited to that sort of use, being designed to offer web-novices a place to showcase their wares, such as real estate or other photo-sensitive trades.

Before we left, we rafted up, briefly, to our benefactor's boat on the mooring while I attached the dinghy in a hip-tow position, as his engine is without critical components at the moment (and so, can't be run), and prepared to tow in. We had an outgoing tide, and a rip-snorter of an opposing wind, so I thought we'd be well balanced. However, the tide was considerably more effective on the boat than the wind, and I had to go around once before we

got her comfortably and uneventfully settled back in her berth. I then pulled the dinghy out so that Lydia could clean off the forest which had attached itself under the dinghy in the weeks we'd been there, and went off to do some last minute shopping.

Yesterday, we packed Louise off to dog-and-house-sit for Steve and Vicki, who were going to flotilla down with us. It's his mooring in Miami we used last year. Up with the dinghy and strapping down with the gear, and we're ready to go. Oops...

Our departure was delayed by a few hours while our traveling companions made some last minute adjustments to their steering, but we got off at 3PM. Weather on the way out was very nice. The howling winds abated to moderate, and we were on a beam reach for much of the day (what was left of it). Lydia went down for her sleep at 6:30, and I settled in for the night.

Unfortunately for us, the wind got very fluky, ranging from 10-20 and back again in the space of a couple of minutes, save a few minutes at a time of 25 or so, and shifted more toward the expected NW instead of the nearly due W we had at the start. Those 25 knot short periods were the best, as we were with the wind nearly directly at our backs, with the waves causing the now-familiar rock and roll, accompanied by explosive filling of the genoa. The higher wind periods kept the boat more stable, but they were few and far between. Reluctantly, I jibed it enough to minimize the effect, but that put us more beam-to on the waves, and made the boat roll more, which had the effect, if there wasn't enough wind (apparent wind has to subtract our speed, which was in the mid-5 to mid-6 range, so at the 10 knot periods, it looks like 4 - no pressure on the sails to keep it steady) of both sloshing around and banging sails. Still, we were making good progress, not too far off our rhumb line.

Complicating that was the proximity of the Gulf Stream, which, in any event, due to its northward movement, we'd want to avoid, but in particular, with a heavy north wind, because of its high, short waves produced by the clash of wind and current opposed. That limited our movement somewhat, so SPOT watchers will see our zigzag course as we made sure to miss the Stream.

The night was crystal clear, with a brilliant moon. It also allowed me to see traffic more readily, and aside from a couple of instances, the traffic wasn't notable. However, there was one instance of a very large boat/small ship (some sort of cargo vessel) which refused to answer my hails on 16 and 13. I expect he saw me, and, had I done nothing, likely would have cleared me. However, as I could not ascertain his intent, and it looked close, I turned right. Fortunately for me, that stiffened up the boat, a nice break from the rock-and-roll and, in fact, we cleared handily.

The other one, though, was a real head-scratcher. First, he's crossing my bow to starboard, at a leisurely pace. Ditto the no-response. Then he heads off at a high rate of speed in the same direction as we're going. Next, he's turned back across my bow, still no response. No sooner does he get a mile or so off, than he's headed back north. Then across my stern. Rinse, repeat.

A little while later I heard a vessel hailing a commercial ship which said he was waiting for the port pilot. After their conversation, which I monitored, I hailed that boat, just to chat, and our conversation revealed that he was talking to the same ship, for the same reasons. He'd just moved camp to his neighborhood. The difference was that my contact had AIS, which provides not only the ship name, but other valuable data. If you call them by name they're more likely to respond. So, AIS is on our maybe-someday wishlist. One of the other even-better features of AIS is that they provide a specific, private, number. We have one, too, 367164840, and if you were to call us by number, we'd get a ring aboard, and we'd have a private conversation over either SSB or VHF, direct between two MMSI numbers. The difference, as told to me by our supplier, is that the MMSI will get a response from the Captain, who is required to speak English, while the helm may be manned by some Panamanian or other non-English speaker, who not only likely doesn't understand your hail, but couldn't respond to it if they wanted. Another reason for that consideration.

The night passed pretty much like that, other than that the forecasted drop in winds appeared, and the daytime, of which I slept the majority after I woke Lydia for her 9AM shift, was more rock-and-roll. With the next-to-no wind (and, of course, no sun) last night, combined with a heavy load as we got ready to leave, our batteries were in need of serious charging, so before I went to bed, I hooked up our Honda generator to the shore power plug, and by the time I sent

this, despite no wind, we were full again.

However, a prior annoyance persists: our radar won't come on with less than over 13 volts, a condition present only with either full batteries or very light loads. As it's supposed to run happily on 10.5 volts, our installation, which I'm sure didn't include new power sources other than from the breaker panel (without a new breaker, either), both of which (breaker and wiring to the battery) were from the prior radar installation. As it was a package price, all

materials and labor in the same price as quoted, this has been a thorn in my side ever since we bought it. When we're in Miami, as that's one of their offices, I'll try to raise that issue and see if they'll remedy it. If not, I'll have to run new cables myself, both a nuisance and unwarranted expense. That said, that's about the only mechanical annoyance we have at the moment, for which we are amply blessed.

Meanwhile, our traveling companions' boat, a Tartan 30, had recently been out of the water for some tornado damage repairs, and had a clean bottom. Unfortunately for us, the bottom of Flying Pig, I suspect, looked about like the bottom of the dinghy, which is to say, extremely non-hydrodynamic. Thus, they got a bit of a head start on us. We tried to raise each other on the VHF this morning, but only got snatches of voice in either direction. However, we did

learn that we'd made up most of the difference from when they sailed out of sight yesterday. I'm trusting that our ablative bottom paint, which is designed to slough, naturally, will have shed all that St. Simons Frederica River grunge before we get to Miami. However, I'll dive it, to confirm it, and also to scrub the presumed slime which will likely accrue in the Yacht Club basin.

Oh - I forgot. There's one more mechanical nuisance. None of the three speed sensors is sending information, despite my cleaning. I have to presume that's from the abovementioned forest blocking their having water run past them. I'll check that, too, when I dive the boat in Miami.

So, having slept the sleep of the dead, pulling an all-nighter from the prior morning's 7AM wakeup call, I got up at 2:30 and set to getting ready for the night shift. I'll go down first, and Lydia will get me early in the morning (midnight to 2-ish). The staysail proved ineffective in our early beam-reaching, blanketing the genoa, so I just dropped it and lashed it. This afternoon I properly stowed it, flaking, strapping and covering it, because from here on out, things will get interesting, but all from astern. The usual rock-and-roll and sail banging nuisances present earlier, we put out the pole to stabilze the genoa. Right now we're in the middle of the forecasted 5-10NW, which with our forward motion, means very little apparent wind, but it's either a beam or broad reach, and the seas have settled a bit due to the lesser wind, so it's a comfortable ride. Later tonight the wind is expected to pick up,

and by Wednesday, be honking at 20-25 knots, all still astern. Once we get past Caneveral, likely about dawn tomorrow, we'll be inside reefs, with small waves. We're hopeful of conditions appropriate for spinnaker, but we won't fly it in 20 or more knots.

Oh, yah, one other incident. As we were passing the St. Mary's entrance, I was reminded that this is home to the Kings Bay submarine base. if you've ever seen one arrive, you'll note all the crew standing at parade rest, seemingly unperturbed by either wind or rock-and-roll. I've often wondered how they do that, but Lydia said, no doubt, it was just a very controlled stance - not rigid, but very flexible. Just the thing for a sub. So, as we calmed down a bit this afternoon, I went out to the patio and practiced. Lydia noted I was doing very well in maintaining my position. She was very glad the Coast Guard didn't hear me say that of course I was weaving around, but still standing - I was getting good at using my controlled sub stance...

I'm off to dinner - Stay tuned...



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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