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Old 25-04-2015, 05:42   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Shake and Break, part 5

Shake and Break, part 5 - Saturday, April 19, 2015

When we left you on Wednesday, we were wondering about what we'd see for

While we maintained vigilance, we did our usual boat chores. As wed been
keeping up with them, they were quickly dispatched. The first of them,
however, was preventative. One of the common failures on a sailboat during
a severe blow is that a furled genoa, wrapped up by turning the sail on the
foil which goes over the forestay (the wire that holds the mast from the
bow), can catch air in a rolled edge and start flailing. That's hard on the
boat, but worse on the sail. There's a simple cure, however, if you have,
as we do, a spare halyard.

In our case, it's the spinnaker halyard, which runs through a turning block
(pulley) at the top of the mast. I take one side, and then the other, of
the halyard, and wrap it around the furled sail, making diamond-shaped
crosses of the halyard. That's pretty severe containment compared to just a
rolled-up edge, and is good up to hurricane strength.

We read all afternoon, just enjoying the smells and sounds of being back in
the Bahamas. Before dinner, I let out another hundred feet of scope on the
chain; that would be sufficient weight to dampen hobby horsing in what would
be pretty big waves should we get such a blow; it would also considerably
extend the ability of the chain to lay on the bottom as it's subjected to
4-9 times as much force as is usual (the pull on the anchor line is
exponential - a square of the difference in wind speed).

After dinner, we watched a movie. We do our movies on our computer, with
over 500G of compressed DVD movies as well as a pretty large assortment of
cased DVDs. We run the sound through our cabin sound system, which is
basically the same as you'd have in a car, other than that the speakers are
different - Bose, mounted below in the saloon (what passes for a living and
dining room on a boat), for movies (opposite where you'd sit) and bulkhead
(a wall, on a boat) for general listening. The ones in the bulkhead are
pretty neat, in that, with the bulkhead tied into the hull of the boat,
they're also subwoofers. We choose between those, and the ones in the aft
cabin and cockpit, via two-way switches.

Overnight was a non-event, in weather terms. The day dawned bright and
breezy. One of our to-do list items was to prove our 15HP motor, not used
for over a year, as I'd had to replace the recoil starter spring, and Lydia
found the other outboard, a 6HP, much easier to start. As we were in a
harbor where we couldnt plane (other boats get our wake, and it's a Manatee
zone), using the smaller motor was not a hardship.

Unstrapping the bracing ratchets on the dinghy, lowering it enough to be
able to get to the other ends of the straps, lowering the stern to allow the
accumulated rainwater to drain, and then replacing the drain plug, we
lowered the dinghy into the water. We have a short stern line we use to
keep the dinghy close to the platform so I can lower the 90# 15 HP engine
onto the dinghy transom. I also put the now-nearly-overfilled fuel can in
the stern, and got in to start it.

However, the way things have gone for us for more than 2 years, we held our
breath. I couldn't remember if I'd run the engine dry (no fuel to gum up
the carburetor), but if I had, there was a good likelihood that it would run
just fine.

Sure enough, after lots of pumping on the bulb to fill the carburetor, a
couple of pulls and she was off. So, we loaded up the scrubbies and
spatulae and headed off to the shallows. As mentioned in an earlier log,
Vero Beach is a very foul place to leave a boat in the water. More than a
few days, and the bottom starts growing stuff. So, the bottom of the dinghy
was pretty grungy, neither looking good or providing slippery passage under

We both got a great workout scrubbing, and most of it came off readily. The
few barnacles I found I took off with a spatula, and followed up with
plastic wool. It's sort of like the stuff that's on the back of kitchen
sponges on steroids, without the sponge. That plastic wool is like steel
wool in how it works, but it's plastic, so it doesn't rust or leave any
other metal residue behind. The dinghy bottom now shines :{))

Another afternoon of relaxing, and another few boat chores. I installed the
rebuilt raw water pump, and we repaired some minor damage to the lid of the
raw water filter as we cleaned it. We also changed the oil in our small
gasoline generator - the one we use to charge up our batteries when we're
not running the blipping diesel to motor into the headwinds!

I also did my usual high-frequency radio routine. Check for email, and send
any I had waiting. If you're old enough to remember dialup internet, think
of that as being light years ahead of what we see. If we get 400 baud, it's
great. So, that process not only means I have to find a station that I can
connect to, I have to wait for the handshaking and then transmission of any
messages, followed by the sign-off process.

I'm also part of a variety of ham (amateur radio) and SSB (single side band)
"nets" - open-mike calls handled under a net controller, dealing with
(sometimes) emergencies, or, usually, just where we are, if we have "traffic
for the net" (something to say to someone else, as a means of establishing
contact, usually to go to a different frequency for your conversation), and
to listen to the various messages - weather, events, and the like.

One of the things about HF radio is that you can be heard for thousands of
miles. I routinely talk to California and Washington State, as well as
Maine, from the Bahamas. However, someone else might be right in the middle
and unable to hear someone trying to get in. On several such occasions,
I've been able to act as a relay.

The point on all this was not only are we very much not alone, but one of
the gamestoppers a couple of months ago (we've been trying to leave since
the middle of January) was that I wasn't getting out - people couldn't hear
me. We solved that problem (new tuner - the thing that matches antenna
length with frequency), and improved our system at the same time. I'll save
you the technical details, but I'm very pleased.

We also watched squalls go near us, but not close. The following morning
(Friday), my conversation with our weather guru included dire warnings to
seek shelter, and get behind the eastern side of an island. Normally in the
Bahamas, weather threats come from the north or the west, but standard
weather makes anchorages which are protected from the east preferable.

Thus, it was with some trepidation that we decided to move on. Great Sale
Cay, where we'd been for several days, was idyllic - but wide open to the
west. And, of course, where we were going, the wind was right on our nose -
so, again, darnit! - we motorsailed. We elected to go over the top of Great
Sale Cay, then head down to the NW side of Great Abaco. The effort I'd
taken to wrap the genoa would be repeated - as well, I'd have to take it
off - if we used it to run. So, instead, it was the staysail, the smaller
jib lower on the mast and several feet back from the bow.

In Vero Beach, in the summer, it's a bug palace. That includes mud daubers,
who build homes in our sails. We thought we'd removed the nests in the
staysail, but there were a couple of them which were all the way to the
middle of the sail that we'd overlooked. Of course, the moment we raised
the sail, off they popped - all over Lydia's sparkling deck!

But I get ahead of myself...

Friday morning, we got up early, making breakfast under way after we'd
raised the anchor at 8AM. We had the main and the staysail rigged and
trimmed (never mind the dried mud on the deck!) by 8:15. We headed out at
320T, motorsailing at 4.1 knots. The wind was with us at this point, coming
from 120 on our port side, with only 4 knots of wind apparent. Of course,
we were stealing from the wind, going in the same direction. But, by 8:40,
we'd turned the corner and headed 45T, which, due to the slide caused by
the wind pushing on the boat, led to us actually only making 37T COG. Wind
was now "up" to 5 knots (! where's the wind when you want it??) at 110 on
our starboard beam. We were fighting a counter-current, too, as our STW was
6.5 knots, but the SOG was only 4.6 knots.

Soon we were over the top of the island, and at 9:30 we again altered our
heading to 97T, with the course at 78T COG. We still had a bit of a
current, with STW being 5.0 knots but the now-aided SOG improving to 5.3
knots, produced by an 11 knot breeze seen at 80 apparent wind. Happily,
one of the two non-working speed impellers freed itself and started
reporting to the helm. The two didn't agree, usually, but that's a matter
for calibration. The new one was midships as compared to the
nearly-at-the-bow fishfinder's impeller. As such, it wasn't subject to the
changing flow of water present when we bumped into waves and hobby-horsed.
Our boat was pulling just fine on the main and staysail, and all was well
in the world.

This was to be a morning of many turns, so the next one came at 10AM.
Turning into the wind, we headed up (closer to the wind) to 122T, and a 97
COG, right where we'd been headed, earlier, ironically. The wind diminished
slightly, and, as well, we were heading such that the apparent 9 knots came
from 60 - a close reach .

The sun sparkled brightly off the small wavetops, marching along at
only 2-3' high on our beam. It's been a while, so I'd forgotten to set the
running backstay - a moveable, for times when needed, wire which
counteracted the pull of the wire (baby stay or inner forestay) supporting
the staysail by attaching to a point near the stern of the boat, and
tightening with special blocks (pulleys stacked to allow mechanical
advantage). What a great day for a sail!

Another waypoint (turning or arrival place) occurred at 11:30. This one, if
you'd like to play cartographer, was at 27-01.4/78-01.4. Our heading out of
that waypoint was 124T, resulting in a 103 COG. That turn would see 10
knots at an apparent angle of 60 and 5.4SOG with a speed of 5.95STW - the
tide was still hurting us slightly. We were still motorsailing, puttering
along at 2100 RPM, and our thermometer showing a very comfortable 190.
Those of you who have been with us for a few years may recall our
excitements with regular overheat events. These present conditions warm the
cockles of my heart!

The Little Bahama Bank is filled with areas of shallow water. As we draw
7', we tend to get nervous when a shoal is indicated. So, when, again, our
depth sounder(s) didn't agree with what we saw on our charts OR
chartplotter, we made a panic diversion to avoid Carter's Banks. If you've
been following us on, you may have wondered
what that little jog was about. Now you know :{)) By the time this edition
appeared, you'd have to adjust the date range to a month to see all of our
trip, or a couple of weeks to see this particular segment. That adjustment
is at the center top of the page, next to the "home" icon, with a little
drop-down arrow. Click the arrow, and click "adjustments" to go back as far
as you care to.

A half hour later we'd cleared the banks, putting our nose closer to the
wind, again. At 12:10, with winds of 10 knots appearing at 70 - still a
close reach - we headed off at 124T, yielding our some-what crabbed 101
COG. Those breezes favored us with 5.8 knots COG and 5.2 STW - so the
current gave back some of what it took before.

The balance of the trip was much more of the same - benign conditions, all
the way to our anchorage, about 3 miles southwest of the top of Great Abaco,
where we were hooked in 20' of crystal clear water by 5PM. By 5:15, we had
the sails flaked (stacked so as to be most space efficient on the boom) and
covered. We were directly opposite Spanish Cay, where there MIGHT be WiFi,
and was a port of entry - so we might go there tomorrow to check in, despite
the extortionate price of $50 to land a dinghy to walk to the customs


Chris (our weather guru's) admonitions, and a huge squall system north of
us, made us think it might be better to be further down the coast.
Accordingly, we pulled up all that chain, and anchor, complete with
concreted fine sand and shells which finally washed off as we headed SW
under motor. We had our anchor down, in 15' of water, opposite Cooperstown,
a significant village on the NW coast of Great Abaco, by 7:15PM. The
massive storm we'd been tracking on the radar was going to miss us entirely,
and, as we watched, dissipate into mere clouds.

Indeed, there was very little wind where we were - and the current was such
that the wind was coming from our side. In cruising, there are lots of
gadgets to direct air into the cabin. Most boats will have a Windscoop, a
3-paneled affair that directs air into a hatch if you secure the top
somewhere tall enough to be about 4' over the hatch. In our case, we've
rigged a small turning block to our backstay, and hoist our scoop with that.

However, while we also own Windscoops, our previous owner had left a
ForeSquare scoop. It's got panels under a square support top which make it
so that wherever the wind is coming from, it will catch it. As it as nearly
breathless here, the windscoop helped enormously. Relieved at our better
shelter (much further down the coast from the top of the island), we climbed
into our berths and luxuriated in the tropical air wafting through our
cabin. It was so effective that by about 4AM, Lydia was chilled enough to
pull on a quilt. Who needs AC, in the tropics? (Well, technically, we're
not in the tropics by a couple of hundred miles - but it feels like it!)

We pursued our usual slothful start on the day with coffee, HF radio nets, a
discussion about where to go to check in and breakfast. This morning's chat
with Chris Parker revealed that our immediate threat was gone, replaced by
the typical pattern at this time of year, which had light winds and
occasional squalls. That 40-50 knot threat removed, it having been degraded
to 30-40 knots on a squall, I unwrapped the genoa. Green Turtle Cay, a
short 12 miles away, was our decision about where to go to check in and
finally, at 11:05, we pulled up the usual masonry from our anchor. Shortly,
it had rinsed off and the 72# Rocna was secured in its rollers as we motored
out of our anchorage.

This time we used the just the genoa, as we'd not be going far, and rolling
it in and out was very simple. We also wanted to hurry to get to check in,
finally, so that we could legally go ashore in our new host country. The
sail pulled us along beautifully. At our heading of 124T, we'd arrive in
bit more than a couple of hours. We barely had to touch the wheel, she
balanced so beautifully. By 1:30, we had the anchor down in 8-9' of water.

Checking in was the primary immediate interest, so getting ready to bring
the required documentation (USCG registration, passports) and, as we'd seen
that the library had internet, our laptops, along with books to trade,
involved using the dinghy. Oops.

We use two lines to tow our dinghy. Thats not only to spread the load,
but to increase the likelihood that we'd notice a broken line before the
dinghy retreated in the distance. One of these has floats we've gleaned
from flotsam on remote beaches. It's nylon, and stretched slightly, a
benefit in waves as the dinghy jerks on the line; the floats also tend to
take up the shock with their weight. The second line, however, is just
salvaged running rigging (control lines for sails), and doesn't float.

Somehow, the second tow line had gone under the boat during our anchoring,
and had gotten fouled in the prop. Manipulation of the shaft from inside
the boat did not free it. I was going to have to dive to free it.

That to me was actually, aside from the time involved, a great idea. I'd
get to cool off, as well as take that opportunity for my bath. Diving was
second nature to me, so I got my flippers and mask/snorkel and went in over
the stern. Grabbing the second line, I used it to pull myself forward
against the current, and close to the end of the prop. The line had merely
looped over the top of the prop, and come down underneath. My attempts at
freeing it from the inside had made a few twists in the line, but getting
the loose end, and merely unwinding those turns had both sides free.

We have a feathering prop; when the blades turned back in to the hub, they
caught the line. However it was an easy lift and it came right out. Out I
come with the line in hand, and put it on the dive platform. Off with the
dive gear, too, and I have my shower. Cool, refreshed, and clean, I felt a
great deal better about going in to see the customs folk.

Off in my dinghy, alone (captain brings all the paperwork for anyone aboard,
and completes all the forms needed for them), the ride is bumpy with the
waves as I plane. However, soon I'm at the public dock, and hurry off to
the customs office. There was some question of whether they were open past
3, and I'd not gotten off until a bit after three due to the diving delay.

However, they're there until 5, 7 days a week, and my $300 was gratefully
exchanged for a 1-year cruising permit and fishing license, with spear
endorsement, and, disappointingly, only a 90 day visa. That's because it's
only a customs office, and is acting on Immigration's behalf; renewal is
free, but involves keeping careful track of the days, as they don't mean 3
months - they mean 90 days - and if you're late, they're unhappy about it,
you being in their country beyond your visa :{)) We've been there, done
that, and have gotten, at one point, the maximum of 8 consecutive months
in-country - after that, you have to apply for resident status.

So, the day winds down with our checking in with the Maritime Mobile
Cruisers Net, a Ham radio net. Their weather forecast for our immediate
area shows that we are well and truly "home" - winds are light, seas are
small, and squalls are only one of the daily possibilities of life.

And, Life is good. And, no, we didn't have to survive a 50 knot squall or
two. We'll start exploring tomorrow. Until next time, Stay Tuned.



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"And then again, when you sit at the helm of your little ship on a clear
night, and gaze at the countless stars overhead, and realize that you are
quite alone on a wide, wide sea, it is apt to occur to you that in the
general scheme of things you are merely an insignificant speck on the
surface of the ocean; and are not nearly so important or as self-sufficient
as you thought you were. Which is an exceedingly wholesome thought, and one
that may effect a permanent change in your deportment that will be greatly
appreciated by your friends."
- James S. Pitkin
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