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Old 30-09-2008, 07:41   #1
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Dragon Lady, Ruff Times and High Times

Dragon Lady, Ruff Times and High Times - posted September 30

When we left you on September 7th, we were sleeping blissfully in
Mattituck Harbor, a hugely protected, tiny anchorage next to
Mattituck, Long Island. Because we expected to be doing short
hops, we left the dinghy on the painter (the line from the front
of the dink to tie up with), but brought the engine aboard, to
minimize towed weight. We eventually towed the dinghy all the
way to Atlantic Highlands over the course of the next few days.

Waking (early for us) in time to get to the opening of the fuel
and water dock at 8:30, we received no response to our several
hails as we approached, and then tied up at, the Matt-A-Mar
marina. Walking up the hill, we raised someone to come unlock
and turn on the pumps and we filled with diesel, gasoline and
water. It turned out that we were right under their VHF antenna,
and we'd created only noise on their office base station...

Backing smartly away from the dock on a favorable wind, we
promptly wrapped the painter in the prop. Oops. Hurry and throw
out the anchor, and hope we didn't permanently foul it. A bit of
forward rotation bumps on the prop to unwrap it, and a bunch of
passing the free end under the tight end attached to the boat,
and we were able to feed it out successfully. A close
inspection revealed that the line had not been damaged, and we
got under way at 10, taking advantage of the falling tide to get
a lift out to the entrance, and the currents on Long Island Sound
(it's a real nuisance to beat into a contrary current of a couple
of knots, and worth the falling-tide risks). Where we'd
previously seen more water, as we came in at nearly high tide, we
saw less, but never got to where we'd be nervous, let alone
touch, and the trip was uneventful. NOAA's forecast suggested
we'd have a great run down to Port Jefferson, arriving well
before dark, taking advantage of the current for a lift and the
expected winds.

As I wrote this, Kyle was on his way to Maine and northeastern
Canada, but that would have been a great hurricane hole. The
hardpan grass, once penetrated, was extremely secure holding.
Getting the anchor up was quite an exercise, having backed down
on it aggressively before deciding we could leave the boat.
Putting out a multiple anchor system would have been very
effective in a blow, so we'll remember this spot, along with our
two prior ones off Gardiner's bay, should we return to the area.

Once out, we headed due west at 270 degrees, in very light air.
By noon we'd set the spinnaker in 5-7 knots of wind, but by
12:30, the wind died entirely, so we dropped it on deck,
expecting to reset it with the NOAA forecasted 10-15. Instead,
the wind clocked, and we struggled to beat at 30 degrees apparent
wind in the howling gale of 2-5 knots. As we'd learned from
several sources, NOAA is notoriously inaccurate in Long Island
Sound, and the wind died entirely by 3PM. There was no way,
José, that we would make our destination of Port Jefferson, under
any circumstances.

As it would be dark soon, we elected to motor the 12 miles to New
Haven, just for an overnight. However, chatting up TowBoatUS for
local knowledge revealed that we'd be far better off going
slightly East, to Branford to anchor, as New Haven was heavily
commercial, without easy anchoring. Accordingly, we diverted,
and wound up anchoring off Indian Point in Branford at 6PM in
comfortable holding in a sandy area, with exposed rocks at low
tide all around us. We were in an area of mostly summer homes,
and thus most of them were unoccupied, as were most of the
private moorings. However, there were several great internet
connections, so we could check our weather and look forward.

Being exposed to Long Island sound made for a somewhat rolly
night, and the weather wasn't expected to be conducive to going
onward. That, combined with a very long dinghy ride to not get
to anywhere we could go ashore, Branford shoreline being entirely
residential, led us to decide to just hang out for a day. We
noticed a fishing boat setting his nets before we retired, as
well as seeing the massive rocks which were hidden at high tide.
Good thing for all our charting and paper and chartplotter
references, as that would not be nearly as comfortable an
encounter as we had on the way out of Three Mile Harbor!

The next morning, we saw the fishermen pulling in their nets,
with some sizeable fish noted, and I jumped in the dinghy and
rowed over to ask what they'd caught. Bluefish, just like we'd
caught, but they used bait and hooks - apparently the nets were
just to corral them on the current. They tossed a couple of very
sizeable fish (both much bigger than either of the ones we'd
caught) on the bottom of the dinghy, and the master instructed
his helper to toss me a couple of his bait fish as well, since
I'd replied that we did, indeed, have hooks aboard. All of $5
later, they towed me back to Flying Pig, and I set to fileting
them, cutting up the bait fish for later.

No sooner did we finish, and sitting out on the aft deck enjoying
our coffee, but up paddles a guy in a kayak, who wants to know if
we anchored there every year. Seems there's some similar boat
which does - but, as we find out in conversation, it's really
just that he's enamored of our boat, and wanted to get a closer
look. We don't get swelled heads very easily, but we surely
could have as he went on about how he admired the boat and just
paddled out to get a closer look at it. Of course, we invited
him aboard, to his delight.

Without bragging any more than we always do about our fantastic
home, he was thrilled to have come aboard, and we had a lovely
chat with him after the tour. It started out with his revealing,
of course, immediately on arrival, his name, Willie Ruff (thus
the Ruff times). He teaches at Yale, and has rented a summer
house during the off-season for many years. More conversation
showed a common interest in music, and we heard a very little bit
about his travels which led him Yale, how he got involved in
music, and many other very interesting things. Lydia said, "You
should write a book!", to which he replied, "Well, I have,

He offered to paddle back to his digs and bring us one, but when
he returned, he apologized for having apparently run out of them,
save the one he'd autographed for his landlady, but brought back
a book *about* him, "Willie and Dwike." HOLY COW!! This man is
an absolute legend in Jazz, introduced both Russia and China to
Jazz, and a noted educator to boot. At 77, he looks younger than
I, obviously very fit, and so excited about what he does he
scarcely can stand to go to bed, for fear he'll miss something.

Like so many people we've met in the last few years, he's among
the ones we wish we'd known many years earlier. I'm humbled and
privileged to have been in his presence, and while I'd love to
send him one of very few the pieces which were recorded of my
playing (trombone, in this case), I'm sure it's pedestrian at
best compared to all the legends he's played with. Do a Google
on Willie Ruff and you'll get some flavor of what I mean.

The good news is that he's a sailor, which is what attracted him
to our home, and so's his lady, so we may have the pleasure of
having them aboard sometime in the future. Nothing would please
us more than to have this sprightly, brilliant, man as our guest.

That evening, we ate some of the bluefish we'd been marinating,
freezing or refrigerating the rest, and set out some hooks of our
own. This time, NOAA was pretty on-target as to direction, but
the fishermen were too optimistic, and our baits remained
unexplored, let alone taken. So, taking our lumps on the fish,
we sailed off our anchor the following morning at about 9AM,
tacking and beating our way to the southwest in 15-20SSW winds.

Because we were so tightly pinched (going nearly upwind), the
growing winds had us reefed after our level of heel (how far over
the boat leaned) reached a consistent 20-30 degrees. Flying Pig,
as do all Morgan 46 boats, prefers to remain - and goes faster in
the same amount of wind, but with less sail up - more upright,
and as the wind built, we reefed a second time at 1PM, rolling in
our genoa somewhat as well. The hard beats and strong winds made
our tacks less attractive this time, only 120-135 degrees instead
of the beautiful right angles or less we'd done before, and we
made slow progress. As time wore on, the current changed,
slowing us further, and we reluctantly motorsailed the last bits
to Port Jefferson, getting our anchor down at 5PM.

Port Jefferson was the least cruiser-friendly location we've
visited in our entire time aboard Flying Pig. We'll spare you
the details other than to say we remained aboard that night and
were plenty glad to get out of there on September 12, bound
either for Port Washington or Oyster Bay. Unfortunately, again,
NOAA got it wrong, and there was no wind to carry us. We
reluctantly motored, but the good news was that we made it all
the way to Little Neck, in a very protected anchorage. Our first
cedar plug catch ever, a bluefish honored us with his presence as
we approached Little Neck, and I quickly fileted him in our
stable seas, cleaning the platform before we'd made it halfway
down the entrance. We sailed onto our anchor at 5:30, letting
the tide do our setting for us, and enjoyed another bluefish
dinner with our salad, checked our internet for the weather and
our charts for planning the next day's run and retired early,
content and blessed with another day's meals from the sea.

The charts showed that we'd have a slack tide on our approach to
the infamous Hell Gate if we were to leave by 9AM, so that's what
we did. Sure enough, we had very little current all the way
there, what current there was helping us, and instead of the
up-to 7 knots of current in Hell Gate, we were aided by about 3
knots. We were the first of a long train of boats transiting,
and we'd seen several very large boats which had taken advantage
of the lift going the other way a while before we headed down the

Our lift stayed with us all the way to Sandy Hook, as we sailed
on a beam reach over Lower Bay after passing the Statue of
Liberty and Staten and Coney Islands. The lift was strong enough
that we had to be careful of avoiding buoys and the lighthouse,
as it was fast enough that if we didn't give it sufficient
room, the current would have carried us into them.

Unfortunately, the wind died just as we were crossing the channel
north of Sandy Hook, right in front of a massive freighter and a
tug under tow. Oops. On comes Perky, and we boogie out of the
way. The wind revived, but had shifted significantly by the time
we got inside the hook, so we tacked our way to our anchorage in
Atlantic Highlands, where we'd spend a couple of weeks. High
times ahead in the Highlands, home of my brother, Paul :{))

Well, actually, just enjoyable times in Highlands. Atlantic
Highlands, our anchorage in the lovely municipal harbor, was
varied, ranging from friends, relatives and neighboring boats'
visits, and our "1-2-3's" - boat chores... We had several sets of
visitors aboard, some of them providing sensory alterations (thus
the High Times), others rollicking good memories and revelations
(more High Times), and still more visual treats (see below)...

It's where my brother lives (Highlands, NJ), and we were
privileged to have the use of Mary's car for our time here. We
got to do lots of running around for boat chores' stuff. We took
advantage of our time to address many things aboard. Early on,
the best of them was the redo of our lazy jacks (the lines which
guide the sail to stay on top of the boom when you lower it), and
restitching and (required by the redo of the lazy jacks)
regrommeting of the MackPack sail cover.

While the cover was off, I took advantage of the improved access
to redo our battens to help reduce the @#$%^&* botch that was
inflicted on our new sails by our US outfitter. They were
delivered to him as ordered from the factory/loft in Hong Kong,
but in the course of luff (the part of the sail toward the mast)
finishing made necessary by our purchase from him of a new track
system for the mast, he made changes to both the battens and luff
without our instruction or permission (and charging us for them,
of course, but we didn't learn about the unauthorized changes -
and resultant charges already put on our credit card - until the
sails were delivered later).

The changes in the battens caused them to catch on the lazy jacks virtually every hoist, and the luff change from our specifications makes lowering the sail greatly more difficult, beginning with a 20 and slowly tapering to about a 15" fold as it flakes (only one intermediate slide between battens, instead of the 2-3 I'd ordered) and. I'm thrilled to say that the alterations were very successful. My changes to the battens minimized the catching of the battens on the way up, and the changes to the lazy jacks also made lowering and covering the sail much more effective.

While she had the sewing machine out, Lydia repaired everything
else which we could think of, as well as sewing a line bag to
corral the main sheet excesses as well as store it when the boom
was parked in the crutch. A great improvement, it also adds
color-coordinated accent to the cockpit. We may make others for
various other lines which are in the cockpit, but this one was
the most vexing, and we're well pleased.

During our time here, there have been a couple of blows. The
anchoring here, perhaps similar to in Annapolis, where the
Harbormaster hands out info packs which include that Annapolis
anchorages are so highly used that all the bottoms are very
churned up and not very good holding, combined with the glue-y
mud bottom, is a bit suspect. So, we put out more than 100' of
all-chain rode on our 55# Delta anchor.

On our first night here, we woke at 1:30 to the realization that
we were moving, in 20+ knots of wind. Yikes! Dragging Lady
(boats are conventionally thought of in the female, thus Flying
Pig became the Dragon Lady for a few minutes!); on with Perky, up
with the anchor, and off to a more roomy spot to re-anchor, this
time with 150' out. There we stayed, but we were rather more
exposed than in our prior location.

Thus, when folks started leaving after the weekend, we moved back
in closer to the mooring field, and behind the breakwater's reach. First, though, we had to get up all that chain. YUCK. A few inches at a time, constant running of the salt water washdown hose, and the chain was clean enough to go back in the locker, albeit not yet free of all the mud. As the excitement had died down, we only put out 100', having chosen a shallower spot, with only a couple of feet under our keel.

As we watched the weather over the intervening nearly-two weeks,
and planned our jump to Charleston, a nor'wester moved in, and
the wind was continually higher every day. Unfortunately, I'd
been gradually shortening the chain, letting the bobbing in the
water, off the bottom, clean a few feet at a time. With all the
other boat work going on, I'd neglected to let more chain back
out, and at about 1:30AM (what is it about that time, anyway??),
we awoke to slight bumps on our keel.

Not like the Gilbert O'Sullivan "Alone Again, Naturally," we were
"aground, again" - but not so naturally. The increasing waves
had caused the chain to tighten and raise, loosening the anchor,
and we'd slid back to the sand shelf we'd nestled up to earlier.
Here we go again, Dragon Lady! The winds continued to build,
eventually reaching nearly 30 knots, so our reanchoring took two
times trying before the Delta set well enough to make me happy,
and blew us around enough that it took twice before I was happy
with the 75# CQR's location as well. With over 200' of primary
chain on the Delta and 100' of secondary chain on the CQR, while
we could sail around on our anchor with wind to starboard a bit,
when it went back the other way, it was brought up short by the
CQR, and we didn't move an inch. There we remained until we

However, we didn't leave as expected, or even a day later, as the
weather picture on our route got worse instead of better. 25-35
knot winds, gusts to 50 knots, and 18-25' seas, while certainly
within the capabilities of crew and boat, aren't stuff we'd do if
we didn't have to. Since we didn't have to, we didn't. Instead,
my brother came out to shoot interiors, and also a few exterior
shots, of Flying Pig, and made it look just gorgeous. It's a
fairly big file, but for those interested or curious enough to
pull it, you can fetch the zip file he created for me at
Flying Pig and you'll get a very good
view of Flying Pig, and even a few of us.

Our major boat chores ended with my engine room excursion to
change the oil and top off the battery water, and to clean up the
engine room a bit. We relaxed a couple more days waiting for the
right weather window, making new friends at our anchorage,
sharing breakfasts aboard each other's boats, and visiting the
last couple of times with Paul and Mary.

Final boat chores included inspecting and resolving an annoying rudder clunk - all the attachment points for the hydraulic ram assemblies had worked loose, as well as the part which attaches to the rudder post, so I tightened that and centered our electronic rudder indicator as well - and tightening up the packing gland.

Future chores when we're on the hard again will include my trying to do something about the pitting which has resulted in the shaft over its 30 years, as that provides not only a better path for the water to seep by, but abrades the packing material, shortening its life. I finished my 1-2-3's today with a trip up the mast to replace the wiring for the hailer (the thing which makes a foghorn, or a loudspeaker) and the burgees (the small flags we fly to let folks know of our affiliations) halyard, refilling one of our cooking propane tanks, relashing a turning block for the dinghy, and making the boat shipshape for passage.

I'll leave you as we head south - our delays have made it such that we'll try to do a jump all the way to Miami, as our "window" for family in Charleston has closed. We finally made sufficient SSB radio contact with our weather guru, Chris Parker, to get good information about our trip. It looks very good all the way around Hatteras, naturally of concern in general, but of particular concern to the Admiral. Lydia's very nervous about Hatteras in any event, but especially in the case of nasty weather!

Of course, we may well stop in Charleston, or in any of many other safe havens, if weather doesn't suit on the way down; the Gulf Stream is pretty close to shore in southern FL, and to the rhumb line (the straight point between two points at sea) on the way to Miami south of Hatteras, but we may well be able to do a two-line trip for that leg.

We'll have to stick very close to shore once we get to about West Palm Beach, making our maneuverability for tacking while staying out of the Gulf Stream, our previous benefactor, with its 2-4 knots north progression, somewhat suspect. Because we're going all the way to Miami, even though we're starting from the NY area, it's only 100 miles shorter than the trip to Maine - but we won't have the Gulf Stream's lift to help us. We're figuring 10 days, best, to as much as 3 weeks, for the trip.

As I send this, we're expecting to depart either Wednesday afternoon/evening, or Thursday morning. The next log entries will come via sailmail, meaning that only the log and the newsgroup will see them until we've again achieved normal internet connectivity, where those en-route postings will be put up after we arrive, wherever it is we land :{)) You can also follow us at our SPOT shared page, which puts up 10-minute intervals of where we are, at SPOT Shared Page

Stay tuned!



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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skipgundlach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-09-2008, 09:13   #2
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Skip...nice post! Since you are headed around Hatteras just wanted to give you a local knowledge heads up. Since last weeks storms, Oregon Inlet has some severe shoaling. Should you need to bail out on Hatteras...make the decision to come in at Norfolk rather than Oregon. Weather looks good...but ya never know. Fair winds...

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