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Old 14-09-2009, 18:26   #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
Posts: 1,477
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St. Augustine Passage, Friday September 11 2009

Well, we're back on the water again, very happily, but not without the usual

Friday - September 11 - finally arrives, after we've been delayed time and
again (see prior two posts for examples of why!), including parts which
arrive overnighted from one vendor who screwed up the order, and another
second day, ditto. Names excluded to protect the semi-innocent, in one case
it was a matter of their policies and the left hand not knowing what the
right hand was doing, and in the other, a surprise that I had something very
old, and since they'd not updated either the web site or instructions, I
didn't know to alert them to that.

All worked out well in the end, however, and we fueled and watered
uneventfully, other than that we took rather more diesel than I'd have
thought for the hours since we last fueled. That's probably due to our
having had to motor hard and into the seas on our trip back in from the
Bahamas, but it's the highest usage we've ever recorded. We also filled our
new diesel jugs, and the 20 gallons of it and the 5 of gasoline on the
starboard side seems to have cured our since-bought port list, as well as
helped cure our chronic stern squat somewhat. Unfortunately, the 10 cases
each of beer and Coke we stored in our aft head's bathtub contributed to our
stern squat, so we didn't quite get the improvement we'd hoped. As we go
through our stores, however, that will change :{))

We also moved our Angel Saint Michael's boat back into his slip after we'd
anchored nearby. That move was also uneventful (Mike, the engine ran like a
top, and it was totally maneuverable, so I was able do drive it right into
the slip so the lines were handed off rather than thrown, and secured), .
The entire family, was involved in the move. My son, his wife and I were on
the boat to toss lines, and Lydia and the girls had stayed on the dock to
handle the lines.

Once the girls had said their goodbyes, we dinghied back to our boat.
Despite the old-sailors' admonition never to leave on a passage on a Friday,
the weather was clement and very favorable to the passage, which would only
be about 90 miles, anyway, so we proceeded. We got all secured and under
way, finally, at about 4:30PM, still able to take advantage of the ebb tide
helping us get out of the Saint Simons Sound area.

Unfortunately, while the wind was nearly due north at the dock, it was, as
forecast by Chris, our weather guru, right at 070-090 degrees when we got
out to the inlet. That made for a very extremely close beat on the way out.
As we were trying to prove out our remedy and reinstallation of the
temperature gauge, we were motorsailing, hard, so we were taking waves over
the bow with the wind against the tide.

The girls (my granddaughters Madison and Quindlyn) were having a great time
on the amusement park ride, bouncing around in the Vee, but it was very wet
topsides. Our newly waterproofed, rezippered, polished-the-windows improved
bimini and enclosure kept us dry on the way out, but it was frustrating to
see the salt accumulate, obscuring our view from the brilliant windows done
by our canvas folks. Ah, well, they also gave us some miracle goop for
cleaning them in the future, which will not only make them brilliant but
fill in the little scratches which have accumulated over the years, along
the way, improving future visibility.

Good news all around, the new hatches look marvelous and also don't leak,
the creeping crack cure applications seem to have stopped the leaks we found
in the refit, and, apparently, our vinegar flush seems to have improved the
cooling performance of the engine heat exchanger, as the temperature gauge
never moved off 180. And, therefore, we also presume that the relocation
and rewiring of the brain for the temperature gauge worked, as its prior
performance was to, at some point, peg or go to zero. So, we have a NIB,
not even opened from shipping, ISSPRO gauge, sender and brain that we'll be
able to return.

Unfortunately for our planning, all the various excitements in St.
Augustine, on which more later, caused us to forget to give that to my son
as he left (we forgot it entirely during our time here, so it wasn't a slip
of the mind of the moment); we'll have to get somewhere we can ship it off
back to the supplier while we're here. We were also so frazzled that we
forgot to turn on our SPOT personal tracker so that folks could follow us on
our passage. We'll try not to do that again on our passage to the Bahamas!

As to "while we're here," it will be a while. I'll cover that in a bit, but
I wanted to tell you something that didn't have to do with problem
resolution on Flying Pig! first...

So, we beat into the waves for a while, and we're making more than 7 knots.
We do that most of the way down, too, with varying conditions I'll tell you
about shortly, but apparently my initial "reading" of our bottom paint
situation was right, as, if we had anything remotely resembling the forest
under our dinghy on Flying Pig, it wouldn't have been able to get out her
own way :{))

With the headwind and our speed, we were seeing winds in the mid to high
teens, and we were sharply heeled under full main and Genoa. However, once
we turned the corner, making a dead-South heading for the St. Augustine
inlet, things got a lot drier. The apparent wind went to our beam where it
stayed for most of the trip, and was mostly 11-15 knots, with very
infrequent gusts to 17-18 knots.

That would normally make for a very comfortable heel on Flying Pig, but with
the slightly following 4-6' seas at that heading, we wallowed, hobby-horsed
and rolled a lot. There was always enough wind that the sails didn't bang
around, but it was an uncomfortable ride, going not only from -15 to +20 or
so degrees to starboard, but with, usually, quite a heading variation as we
yawed. Most folks would find that the most uncomfortable motion of the
variety of ones available to a cruiser...

Lydia always takes a few days to regain her sea legs, and had forgotten to
take her Stugeron until we were well under way. Stugeron is a wonder drug
for seasickness, available over the counter in England, but not so much
anywhere else. Fortunately, we have a great supply aboard, having stocked
up with her English mom's visits, one of Saint Steven's trips to Ireland
(he's a pilot who flies internationally for NetJets), and prior English
visitors, so we had plenty available. However, if you haven't gotten it
into your system before discomfort, it takes a while to take effect, so,
while she took a couple on the way out, she was still uncomfortable. As a
result, she went below to lie down immediately after we made our turn.

As it turned out, as you've seen from our prior couple of logs, we didn't
get the downtime we had expected in our last week in Saint Simons Island.
Indeed, we were fully stressed and working hard right up to the end,
including the couple of days' delay. While those delays allowed my son to
visit with us on the boat a few times, and to deliver directly, rather than
in St. Augustine, the packages which had been sent to the home they were
enjoying in Saint Simons Island, both good things, we didn't get much rest,
and left a bit frazzled. That led to Lydia's being out cold immediately on
hitting the hay, and I stood watch for most of the trip.

Last minute Louie tricks included our being able to replace the alarm
switch; being as cheap as they were (slightly more than $6) I bought an
extra to put into stores, and went about making the installation of the
bilge and engine alarm sounders, which, of course, hadn't arrived until the
last minute. The bilge alarm sounder, while ear-piercing in hand, is only
notable, not alarming, while hidden inside the helm tower. We'll have to
consider remoting one of them into the aft cabin, as I'm quite sure we'd not
hear it if we were asleep at anchor. Of course, the electronics in the
little NEMA (waterproof) box, are tiny, and I wound up making a splice of
the new sounder with the old, and connecting it to the power line singly so
that the wire we attached to the screw-down connection wasn't so big as to
not fit under it!

While he was here, my son, while Lydia was attending to other stuff, mostly
the cleaning of the boat which she feels is necessary before starting a
voyage, took me up the backstay in my bosun's chair, and I installed the
tube into which the MOB (man overboard) pole's flag slid, keeping it not
only out of the wind but out of the sun. The alarm sounders, the switches,
and the pole tube were the last items on my to-do list. It certainly felt
good to cross off the last of the highlighted items!

As to the engine alarm, it's outside the helm tower, and it truly is painful
to listen to, much more alarming, if you'll pardon the expression, than the
previous buzzer alarm, which physically was inside the helm tower. However,
when I did the installation, I also included an indicator light and a
noise-cancelling switch. The indicator light is an LED one I had left over
from stores I bought from our electrical guy, John, at, for
replacing the incandescent indicator lights in the nav station breaker
panel, and lights whenever the alarm circuit is energized. The switch was
one I got at Home Depot, and I covered it with one of the 10 rubber boots
for such switches that I got over the internet for, including shipping
(which was more than the boots!), less than 3 such boots would have cost
from West Marine. Of course, I returned the one I'd bought at West before I
found them on the internet :{)) While I was at it, I replaced the boot on
our 3-way switch which controls our red rope lighting and/or (one at a time)
white incandescent table light, as it had torn along the way. I'll have 8
spares for other duties should I need them :{))

So, back to the passage. We made the turn about 6PM, and turned off the
engine which had refused to overheat, nor have any temperature gauge
misbehavior. In our 11-15 knots on the beam, despite our wallowing, we were
making a steady 7.4 knots. By 8PM, however, the wallowing and increasing
seas dropped our speed to 6.8-7.1 knots, which persisted through 2:30AM. As
it was, my dead reckoning had us arriving well before dawn (I calculated
5:30) at the inlet entrance in Saint Augustine, and all the responses I'd
had to internet inquiries from other cruisers suggested that it was tricky
enough that one should not attempt it in the dark. Some went so far as to
recommend following some big fishing boat in, they were so nervous about

At 2:30AM, though, we must have gone through a frontal boundary, as the wind
suddenly shifted 60* to the south and dropped into the 8-12 knot range, the
seas calmed notably, and it got lots warmer. I'd thought I'd missed the
autopilot falling off into standby, something which happens occasionally,
because the sails were suddenly luffing. I jumped up to spin the wheel to
the right. Nothing happened - What's THIS??? Well, turned out the
autopilot was still engaged, and in our hydraulic steering, nothing happens
when it's engaged; you can spin the wheel all you want :{))

So, I just tightened sail to full beat mode, and, with the much flatter
seas, we not only slowed down, but the boat's motion was a lot more
comfortable. However, the wind had moved far enough south that I had to
alter course to 185* in order to keep the sails full. I got a bit nervous
about that in that we weren't very far offshore the entire time, and I was
concerned that if things persisted, I'd have to tack out, eventually. Our
speed dropped to more like 4-5 knots, and, at times, as little as 2 to 3
knots, and I started to worry that we'd not get there until well into
daylight, instead of being too early.

Fortunately, the wind came around a little bit at a time, and I was able to
head back out, also a little bit at a time, eventually getting to 175* for a
couple of hours. That proved sufficient to get us far enough out so that
we'd be pointing at the safe-water light when we arrived. However, along
the way, we picked up a little more speed, after all, and we did, in fact,
arrive at the inlet at 5:45AM.

Well, that's good - I pulled the main into the center, sheeted it very hard,
and turned hard to port. The genoa backwinded, and I turned the wheel hard
to starboard, putting Flying Pig into irons. At the angle of the wind, our
heaving to would carry us north and slightly east, allowing a bit more
wiggle room on the safe-water tower, and some more time to get in. Going
below, I got Lydia up for hove-to watch, and hit the sack after my many
short-houred prior nights, and being up virtually all night on this trip.

Lydia, however, still wasn't very recovered, so rather than handle the entry
by herself, she got me up at 8 and went below again for a short nap. When
she came up again, we made the turn into the inlet, and while the markers
were a bit hard to spot, our entry was uneventful, arriving at the anchorage
by 9AM . We wandered around the anchorage until we found a spot we liked,
and we had our dual anchors secure at 9:15 in 10' of water. Because there's
a 6' tide here, and we have, at the bow, a 5' freeboard, we put out over 100
feet on both all-chain rodes.

On the way in, I tested the WiFi setup, and had actually gotten usable
offshore connections before we hove to. Being that we were moving right
along, however, they were short-lived, and it wasn't until we were headed
into the entrance that we got more stable connections. As we were making
the corner into the anchorage area, I called my son, who'd driven down and
stayed in a hotel locally, on our Vonage internet connection, and they
started making ready to come to the dock to meet us.

Before we go, however, we've had the usual overnight passage, with radar up
the entire time (YAY!! - but power hungry), Otto (the autopilot) working
overtime to try to stay on course with all the yawing, the computer running
a navigation program as backup due to the very fiddly depths in some areas
of the passage, and all the other little power suckers going. That's
resulted in our batteries being low enough that we went to get our Honda
genset hooked up to our shore power input so we could recharge. No go,
however on attempting to start. Much troubleshooting results, but the end
is that we can't make it go due to an apparent no-spark condition. As it's
all electronic, there's no fiddling with stuff to try to remedy it, and
we'll have to get it looked at while we're here. We'll also have to run the
engine while we're here until that point, in order to bring the battery up
to anything reasonably charged, not an efficient means of restoration - but
not the end of the world, either. We can't leave it running, however, while
we're ashore.

So, here we are, secure, if low on amps, and my son is trying to figure out
parking and my dinghy dockage or landing or whatever while I'm
troubleshooting the Honda, but eventually we get it sorted out that we'll
pay for the dinghy dock, he'll put their overnight luggage into storage at
the marina, prepay my dockage, and we'll go touring. We do that, but I'll
let Lydia tell that story, and we come back after dinner to a luxurious (to
cruisers!) shower, included in our dinghy dockage fee. However, it's been
raining cats and dogs for our entire dinner, and we expect to get thoroughly
soaked on the way back to the boat. Instead, it lets off to a small
sprinkle and we retire for the evening after much catching up and stories of
the passage from the girls' viewpoints, all the while running Perky, our
propulsion engine, to gain back some of the amps we've spent..

Sunday arrives, and we've slept in until nearly 9, unusual for us, but very
restorative. We consider going sailing and start the engine. Oops! Low
oil pressure (not such that it alarms) and I dive below to check it out
after shutting down. My bad, I normally would have checked the oil and
cooling water levels along with the alternator belt tension, but because
we'd just been running the engine for charging, I hadn't. No doubt I'd have
immediately seen the big puddle under the engine in the catch pan, and the
almost-off-the-stick level of the oil!

OY! Where's it coming from?? Not the front of the engine; it's still clean
after my having pressure washed it in Saint Simons Island, and,
particularly, the battery box has no oil which would have slung from the
belts. Is it the new alarm sender?? There's some oil on it, but only a
drop. Mirror inspection suggests the fitting and the adapter are both
sound. Ok, start the engine after I put a copious amount of oil in it, and
look. The pressure sender is dripping, lots. Well, that's it. Just like
my tag line, this is happening now, so that we can actually address it while
still in reasonable distance of solutions, rather than in the third world,
where shipping of parts can triple the cost, never mind the delays.

On comes the computer, and NAPA has one in stock. Off we go in my son's car
(which wouldn't have been here had we not discovered it until later, thus
saving me the extra cost of a taxi to go fetch it), and not long after, it's
installed. Just for insurance against any possible leak (why would the
fitting have so much as a drop of oil on it??), I remove the alarm sensor
and apply teflon plumber's pipe dope on it as well as the new pressure
sender. That done, we again start the engine. Sure enough, pressure's
right up there, no leaks below, and charging continues uneventfully until I
return from taking my son and daughter-in-law to the dock.

So, as usual, some excitements, some 1-2-3s (daily boat chores which need
doing, and, as one of my sister-ship owner calls them, sometimes, the daily
panic attack), and a great visit with my family. I'm left with resolution of
the Honda, finding suggestions as to how to make the 6HP outboard throttle
plate not stick any more, find a replacement for stores in my 15HP impeller
after I (I'm hopeful) uneventfully change it out and regain my cooling, and
checking what the current realities of that time (perhaps more than a week,
maybe only a day or two) are with regard to our passage to Walker's Cay.

Update, as I had to put this to bed when I was originally typing it, on the
Honda. I'd put out my usual call for assistance on the internet, and got a
variety of responses, one of which included a local cruiser who volunteered
as a taxi service if we should need to run somewhere for parts. The
resolution of the Honda, something I posted to the places I was seeking
advice and help on the internet, below, is also a bit of what our lives will
be like aboard with the kids:

We have two girls aboard who are homeschooled. In Loco Parentis, we are
charged with giving them at least one new concept every day.

So, in prep for some of the input I'd received WRT the Honda generator, and
pursuing my unwillingness to give up so easily, I set to additional
troubleshooting today before calling any of the leads I'd developed for

I called the girls out and gave them a seminar on internal combustion
engines, including troubleshooting. We checked the oil (full), so if there
were an interrupt it would have been the oil level sensor. While I'd
determined how to bypass it, I wanted to isolate the problem, so I didn't
address that directly.

As the only thing which prevents an IC (internal combustion) engine from
running is ignition, fuel or air, I started at the top (literally) and
pulled the spark plug, having discovered the correct gap in the manual
(always, I RTFM [read the freakin' manual!] when I'm stymied; usually I do
it first, but the spark plug had looked great, so I didn't start there in my
first explorations). It was within tolerance, but at the wide end, so I
showed them how to read and gap it to the short end, and how to reinstall it
with the proper level of torque.

Still no joy. On to the second: I disconnected the fuel line at the
carburetor (they learned about fuel injection and carbs in the introduction)
and was rewarded with a steady flow. Put it back on and tried to drain the
carburetor. No joy in getting the screw to move, so I couldn't prove that
there was fuel there. Also, while I'd spritzed it repeatedly with WD40,
trying to get ignition in my earlier attempts, I theorized that it wasn't
volatile enough, and had been wrestling with how to get gasoline into the

I settled on a paper towel, held under the fuel line while I pulled it off.
Saturated, I wadded it up and stuck it into the opening with the choke
opened, and pulled the starter.

It ran :{)) - and I let it run for a bit, presuming it was getting its fuel
from the towel, but also, fully choked by virtue of the paper towel, may
have been pulling fuel through the carb. So, I stopped it after a bit, and
extracted all the little bits of paper towel stuck to the choke plate,
choked it, and started it again.

Still running, I ran it rich for a time, and turned off the eco-switch,
which when on forces it to run full throttle all the time. Still runs.

Switched the eco back on and it purred like a kitten. I presume it was the
same sort of problem I'd met in both the outboards, which weren't very happy
starting initially, either - crummy Bahamas fuel, which had been in each.
So, the lesson also included information about varnish formation, and the
importance of adding fuel stabilizer if the engine is going to be left for
some time. Of course, our initial expectation had been that we'd be there
for a very brief time, so I hadn't done that. Lesson for me, too, and,
likely, being in teaching mode helped me more efficiently arrive at the
solution, so it was very helpful to have been put in the position of teacher
for the girls...

Lesson ended, I shut it down, buttoned up the various things like the filter
housing (I'd taken it off to get to the carburetor), spark plug cover and
main housing access), moved it over to the shore power input, and, as I
type, the Xantrex inverter charger is putting 70 amps continuously into the

Now, on to sourcing another 15HP impeller, as long as we're stuck here for a
bit, it being afternoon already, and my wanting to have fully charged (and
also equalized, which I'll do after it's all the way up) batteries.

So, thanks to all respondents public and private. I really like the Honda
eu2000i, despite my own stupid pet tricks (not stabilizing the fuel is my
expectation on the problem but adjusting the spark plug no doubt helps)
causing the problem in the first place. The more I cruise, the more I find
that's usually the reason for some problem (my stupid pet tricks) :{/)

Lydia also took advantage of the time to write her log, and now that we
have the power available, I'll try to get some of our refit pictures up on
the gallery.

So, until then, stay tuned!


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web !
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 hand
(Richard Bach)
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