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Old 20-06-2008, 07:26   #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: 2,285
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March 14 - On the road again...

March 14 - On the road again...

Well, as the song said, we hit the road again. As is sometimes
my custom, I'm working backward from the title to get to the
present, but it suffices to say that we're aground, so to speak,
for a while, and on the road...

As we left you, Samuel, Lydia's son, had joined us for a few
days, prior to our riding back to the most extreme NE part of GA
for some family business. He'd elected to go fishing and sailing
(smart move!) over a tour of Cumberland Island (GA/FL border).
As he lives in GA, but we're very rarely, and even more rarely to
come, in the GA area, sailing and fishing was more important than
a tour of an island rich in history, scenery, horses and ruins,
but one which he could reach in a few hours by car, if it became
important to him, later.

So, I did, in fact, raise the anchor, and, it seemed, the dead,
at dawn, because at least one of the crew joined me, only a
little hung over, on deck shortly afterwards, and we headed out
from Fernandina Beach to the Atlantic Ocean under what looked to
be great conditions. We caught the outgoing tide, which helped,
and winds were moderate and in the direction we wanted to go.

Unlike Lydia's other son Oliver's experience, we were not on top
of the Gulf Stream, nor between a rock and a hard place, so to
speak, with no meaningful reefs or Gulf Stream currents between
us and the deep blue sea. As a result, neither the wind
direction nor the weather conditions were of great consideration
to our planning.

Accordingly, we headed out into some very wonderful sailing
weather. Had we been in Miami, we'd have been stuck, again, as
we were during Oliver's visit, due to the very limited range of
favorable conditions necessary for a short sail, given our
mooring in the Miami Yacht Club basin, 2 hours from the Atlantic,
and hard on Biscayne Bay - with nearly all of it an invitation to
grounding for our over-6 foot draft - not the place to go for
unfettered sailing!.

Samuel got a taste of just about everything you could ask for,
more of which anon, in sailing on this very short journey. Our
first day started with moderate winds. We got a chance to try
out our new sails, and gave our guest a chance to learn a little
about sail handling and navigation, as well as pilotage.

Sure enough, our new sails proved what bags we'd been previously
laboring under, as we routinely were very close to the apparent
wind in speed over ground on beam and close reaches. Light airs
are a great test of the effectiveness of sails, and it appears we
have done well with our specifications and selections. They're
very heavy fabric, as we expect to spend the majority of our
lives (remaining and sails') in relatively
high-wind/high-ultraviolet (the major killer of sails) areas in
the Eastern Caribbean, but despite that, they made a great
showing in winds under 8 knots.

It was a journey to nowhere, as we had to be back in Fernandina
Beach for our haulout in a couple of days, so we just puttered
around north and east of the St. Marys River channel - but we had
a great time, trimming the sails to get the best out of the light
airs, and steering to various points just for the exercise of it,
with the accompanying sail handling/changes. We had a great,
no-stress day, and Samuel got to experience just about every
point of sail, tacking, gybing and otherwise skillfully
maneuvering our heavy home.

As he'd said he'd like nothing more than to just sit all day,
with a pole in his hand, and a line in the water, we tried to
accommodate him on that point, putting out the poles as soon as
we cleared the no-license line (we had FL licenses, but let them
lapse as we expected to be in deep water all the time when they
expired). Of course, it's a bit challenging to have a pole in
your hand and a wheel in the other, so we put them on the rail
mounts, showing him how the alert worked to get him to come
fetch, when it was time to pull in a fish. However...

Despite our having the lines out with a variety of lures, and
even sometimes with tuna for enrichment (we'd caught a bonito on
one of our prior trips, and cut him up and tossed him in the
freezer for just this sort of thing - no biting by anything) we
got no takers for our offerings. For all that, the lines got
retrieved fairly often, if for nothing other than to reload the
bonito, and check for weeds, and he seemed to enjoy both the
sailing and the "fishing" (what's it properly called when there
are no fish??).

As night approached, we thought to come back to the shoreline
area north of the channel, and anchor off Cumberland Island. I
don't know what the bottom is there, but it gave every indication
that it was relatively smooth rock, because nothing and/or no
place I tried managed to hook our 55# Delta - not even a little.
If it had tried to grab, but just wasn't holding well, I'd have
pitched out the secondary, a 75# CQR - but with no indication of
a hook, that would have been relying only on the weight of the
anchors and chains, something I was unwilling to accept. As we
were relatively close to the channel, and the wind had shifted to
the northwest, picking up very substantially, I made the decision
to, instead, heave to for the night. We should have gone pretty
much east while hove to...

Unfortunately for us, the direction in which we traveled while
hove to had us going right over one of the very big markers in
the channel, as we traveled quite southeast - or, worse, on the
other tack, in to the breakwater. This in addition to that the
wind had not only picked up, but gotten very wet (it started
raining on our first anchoring attempts, and then got very
serious about it in short order). So, Samuel got a taste of
nasty weather, contingency planning, heaving to, and, also,
positioning. On the subject of heaving to, while it never came
to that, he shortly became uncomfortable with the motion, and so
took some Stugeron (the British - and pretty much the rest of the
world's - wonder drug for motion sickness, available over the
counter everywhere but the US) and laid out for the night just
before we hove to for the night...

Given the realities, I made the decision to get well clear of any
potential involvement with hard points. We sailed east in lumpy
water for quite a bit in order to insure that our heaving to on
the port tack would not result in our potentially encountering
the massive light at the end of the channel. Eventually, about
midnight, in a very stiff and wet breeze, we hove to. Very
comfortably, we sat there, nearly motionless (other than our
slide to leeward), comfortable and dry, and slept soundly with
the anchor and cockpit lights ablaze.

When we arose to a brilliant day, later, we saw that we'd drifted
nearly 20 miles while hove to. That very stiff breeze had
managed more than 2 knots to leeward. Our contingency planning
turned out to be slight overkill, as we missed the light by about
10 miles, but I was very much happier about that than I would
have been to have found it in the middle of the night! So, we set
about to making our return.

Fortunately, by then, the wind was shifting again, and as we
worked our way through the compass points, despite all the best
that NOAA had to offer in the way of forecasts, it got lighter
and more to the East. Super! A chance to break out the
asymmetrical spinnaker and give it a try. Well, not a try, but a
chance for Samuel to learn about that sail, too, as we've become
very fond of it when the conditions are right.

Up she went, but not for long, as the wind continued to moderate.
It was pushing us closer to shore, though, generally the right
way for us, so we just let it go along as it would, and threw out
the lines again, hoping to entice some fish to join us for lunch
or dinner.

Eventually, however, it mostly just hung there, or flapped
against the rigging, so we doused it and stowed it below. Perky,
our "Iron Genny," came on, and we left the poles out as we headed
to the channel entrance at a relatively stately pace.

Fortunately for us, our route led right over a fish haven, and
the breeze had picked up a bit, but from the north. That allowed
us to take a brief diversion to zigzag across a very large piece
of real estate in hopes of improving on yesterday's luck. Samuel
and I plotted out our course to give us the largest coverage over
the haven while still working toward our objective, and proceeded
to work the wind and the sails for all they were worth, keeping
our speed to a fish-friendly 5 knots or so.

Sure enough, just when we thought we'd struck out again, just as
we were about to exit the fish haven, it became apparent that we
had something very big on our port reel. Samuel jumped to
attention and grabbed the reel. Whatever was on the other end
was running line out at a great rate, and he had to tighten the
drag to keep it from unspooling entirely. We quickly dropped
sails and did some turning to take the stress off the line while
he reeled vigorously.

About 2/3 of the way in, however, whatever it was jerked, and
suddenly the line was slack. Retrieving the remainder revealed
that the line itself had been broken, taking the leader and the
lure together with whatever had hit it. Given that this was only
20# test, it may have been something huge, or not so big - but I
can't break this stuff, at least not without a tool, so I imagine
that whatever took the lure was fairly sizeable. Ah, well - the
one that got away. It's as well, anyway, as we only had another
night. We really weren't in a position to deal with a great deal
of fish over and above what we could eat that night - but it sure
gave us a thrill to play whatever it was for a while!

So, wind on our nose, and not much of it, with the end of the day
approaching, we motored in, traversing the channel and anchoring
in a very handy spot quite a bit north of where we were when we
last were hooked, to be closer to our haulout at Tiger Point
Marina. As we were due for a 1PM lift, the tides in the area of
Tiger Point Marina being such that slack water is the best way to
deal with the lift basin and 1PM being slack water, we slept in,
had a late and supplies-using (we're getting off the boat,
recall, so don't want to pack out any more than necessary
perishables) pig-out breakfast while we prepared the boat for the

Once we managed to haul our overstuffed selves out of our cockpit
seats, we set about making Flying Pig ready for a layup,
including potential high winds. As it turned out, St. Steven,
who you'll recall from a prior log, suffered some damage - but
much less than others in his marina! - when a tornado went right
through his marina about a hundred miles north, upending docks
and boats galore. Fortunately, at least at this writing, some
time later, we've had no issues with wind. However, all the
sails were tightly wrapped and counter-wrapped, dinghy
extra-tightly bound, but with the bunghole down to allow for the
inevitable rain accumulation to exit, and the like. I also did
an oil change and other engine service items at this time, so
we'd be ready to go on our return.

We got the anchor up in good order, and proceded, early, to our
rendezvous point. They were ready for us as quickly as they got
another boat launched, and cautioned us on the breeze and
current. Many owners have castigated Morgan 46 backing
characteristics, but I've never found Flying Pig difficult. I've
backed upwind through a winding channel full of boats on each
side (carefully!!), so this didn't look to be too difficult.
However, the current was still pretty strong, so I had to take a
couple of go-rounds to get my line to my liking. Once I had the
position like I liked it, I proceded to stick her butt in the
well. I have to confess a very warm feeling remembering the
shouts of "YAH!" and "AWRRIGHT!! from the nervous dockhands when
Lydia handed off (not threw) the bow lines to the guys whose
fend-off poles never left vertical despite their manic pacing. I
didn't think anything of it, but I guess some of the other
entrances to that well have been more - shall we say -

All that warm glow faded quickly, however, when it was realized
that we were far too tall for the travel lift to get off over our
arch. Before we'd arrived at that conclusion we'd offloaded all
our stuff, hoisted, traveled a bit, and evaluated how far down we
could put the keel. That took quite a while and in the
meantime, the tide had changed and the current was in the other
direction. However, back in the water we went, and I headed out,
turned around, and got ready to go in forward. More backing and
filling and lining up - it was actually a bit more difficult
going in forward, due to what was now a strong current. Still,
we arrived without incident and prepared to hoist.


Still too much boat. We wound up removing the forestay, with its
attached furler and genoa, as well as the inner stay, in order
that the lift have the required clearance on the ground. Once
that was in order, all went well, and Flying Pig found a new home
for several months, on a cradle, secure through hurricanes, as it
would be into hurricane season before we returned.


We made our departure much later than we expected to, but arrived
in the very far Northeastern corner of GA, less than a mile south
of NC, that evening. We're house- and pet-sitting for some dear
friends who left for 3 weeks when we arrived, and have just left
for another couple of weeks. In between, they also went to China
for 5 weeks, and a few other side trips, so our need for
someplace to stay was extremely timely for them. As those of you
who subscribe to Lydia's log know, being around the 2 dogs, 5
cats (and just recently 4 kittens) is quite a bit better than
nearly anything you could name, so it was heavenly for her.

We, on the other hand, came ashore to attend to many of our own
non-sailing diversions. Both my and Lydia's daughters have given
birth to grandchildren (well, THIER children, OUR grandchildren,
lest there be some confusion on the matter!), the beginning and
ending events to our stay. In the middle, we went to my father's
85th birthday celebration, and to Lydia's son's Air Force Basic
Training graduation, both about 1200 miles in opposite directions
from here! Marvelously, our hosts and our schedules intersected,
so the times we were gone, they were here, and vice versa, so no
pets went unsat, no garden unpicked, and all the rest which is so
important to our hosts in their marvelous home.

Lydia's finishing up helping her daughter make the transistion
into motherhood, as I finish up boat-related stuff prior to our
returning to Flying Pig. I have some items I need to put on
eBay, and others I need to order. Both of our USCG Captain's
paperwork minutiae have finally finished, and we've had our last
medical questions attended to. All that remains is for Lydia's
ear to sharpen, already hearing the plaintive squeals of Flying
Pig, and feel comfortable in leaving her darling grandson. For
my case, it's a little easier, as my daughter, grandson and
husband have just decamped for Michigan, thus taking them out of
our immediate vicinity.

For those mariners reading this, one of my projects, now nearly
finished, has been to transition from Sea-Tech's extremely
powerful and feature-rich Navigation laptop and Cap'n Navigator
Package to a 12V mini computer with separate screen. If you're
in the market for one of the Sea-Tech Navigation packages,
complete with the Cap'n package and the many other programs they
load (as well as MaxSea and the entire NOAA chart catalog, along
with everything down to Venezuela in the Cap'n charts, which I've
loaded, plus other enormous amounts of bells and whistles related
to the laptop and other programs), drop me a line, cuz it will go
on eBay shortly if not.

So, our time ashore draws to a close. We're very anxious (well,
excited? might be a better word, as there's no anxiety) to get
back aboard and do the minor boatyard chores we will finish
before putting her back in the water. Once there, we'll do some
sea trialing to make sure all is well, and, timing, weather and
those sea trials permitting, will go directly to Maine, with the
guidance of some forecasting professionals and perhaps crew as

As schedules are very problematic, particularly when we have yet
to set a date to leave here, we won't know for a while exactly
when we'll be back aboard, let alone in the water or ready to
leave. However, it looks from here, in the almost-summer part of
June, like late June or early July. Once we're aboard, we'll be
quite deliberate about our water time, as it's a very long way to
Maine, and not much of it very close to shore. We'll take
advantage of all the help we can before we leave and under way.
Prudence will be with us, so to speak :{))

I'm assuming we'll find an internet connection before we leave,
and will put out another log posting on the way out the door.
We'll have Single Side Band and Ham Radio voice and data
communications, as well as our satellite communication device
called "SPOT" on which more in the next post, but those
interested will be able to follow us as we go.

So, as usual, stay tuned...



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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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 hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in The Reluctant Messiah)
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