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Old 04-05-2008, 17:31   #1
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March 7th - Making Bail, Equipment Failure and other fish stories

March 7th - Making Bail, Equipment Failure and other fish stories

We left you as we were in the Gulf Stream, heading north. We're
on our way to Tiger Point Marina, in Fernandina Beach, FL, to
pick up Lydia's son, who's coming to sail with us for a few days.
When he leaves the boat, he'll then give us a ride back to the
area we left when we moved aboard Flying Pig. Flying Pig will be
grounded for a while, during our shoreside adventures - which I'm
sure you'll hear about in Lydia's log postings... When we've
finished, we'll return, and do some work before our next big

Before leaving Miami, in preparation for putting Flying Pig on
the ground, I used our hookah rig (like a scuba dive without the
tank, but instead, a long hose) connected to our compressor both
for inspection and cleaning of our hull. When I dove the bottom
to clean off the accumulated grunge which is the inevitable
result of staying in one place for a while in the marine
environment, and to clean up the impellers which tell us how fast
we're going, I discovered that there were some places on the hull
which apparently had no bottom paint on them. As that's what
prevents the critters which, if they make the bottom of your boat
their home, causes your boat from going as fast as it can, from
gaining a foothold, that's very important to us. Given that we
did it ourselves, we're quite sure those places had an ample
amount applied. However, it may be that they are among the areas
repaired during our wreck rehab, and the surfaces needed
different preparation than we had done. Either way, when it comes
out of the water, we'll see what's needed there.

The other things we have to do are pretty minor, too, and I'm
thrilled to report that I'd bet I now have a lifetime supply of
alternator belts, as the one put on when we changed the pulley on
the alternator is still going strong. Little by little, our
shakedown's shaking out. Like any boat that's 30 years old, ours
will require constant attention, but there's nothing we can't

However, back to our story.

So, it was a dark and stormy night, as the saying goes, and Lydia
wasn't feeling all that well, what with the rock and roll,
pitching and the like. You'll recall that we had all the
steadying we could manage, with all the sails pulled blade-tight.
Still, the motion was considerable. She hung in there, though,
until, as was frequently the case, all night long, there was one
of those tiny jibes. Those happen when you have a steadying sail
up and the wind at your back, but it shifts, flopping the sail
over to the other side.

That sudden movement is very forceful. It's for just that reason,
with a longer movement as would be the case with the boom way
out, in a run, that we use the preventer. And, you may recall
from a prior log entry, we'd already broken a shackle on one end
of the preventer, and, in the same day, later, broke off the
attachment point on the boom where the preventer mounted. Both of
these occurred just as the sail started the other way, without
the momentum that a full switch from one side to the other would
provide. That gives some indication of the power of a crash jibe!

On the impact of that mini-jibe, the welded piece of stainless
steel which attached the sheet (the line that controls how far
out the boom goes) to the boom broke. That allowed the mainsail
to fly out to a point where the boom was resting on one of the
standing rigging wires. Ironically, at that particular point,
the sail was relatively stable, but having the boom pushed up
against the shroud (the wire holding the lower part of the mast
in position) wasn't a good thing.

That's because in addition to the pressure on the shroud, it
would be entirely possible that another roll of the boat would
produce another crash jibe. This time, however, it would be from
one far side to the other, gaining considerable momentum and
quite possibly dismasting us as it hit the opposite shroud. So,
despite the additional drive (the speed went up by a couple of
knots with the sail out), we needed to resolve the instability of
the mainsail. So, of course, Lydia came and woke me, only a
couple of hours into my sleep. The noise of the failure had
already raised my consciousness level, and I was topsides in a
jiffy (well, and some sweats and my foul weather gear).

After assessing the situation, we rehearsed what we'd do in order
to make this a stable environment. Aside from the current
weather, which meant very lumpy water and high winds, the
solution wasn't markedly different than would be the case in
lowering the sail as we prepared to anchor. The key difference
would be that we would not have the main sheet to control the
boom's swinging once we had the sail lowered. So, I turned on the
spreader and foredeck lights, got into my harness, latched onto
the jackline, and went forward to the mast while Lydia turned
Flying Pig into the wind.

Even my going forward would not have been needed to drop the
sail, due to our new sail hardware and lazy jacks setup, and our
already having our lines led aft, into the cockpit. Those allow
us to release the halyard (the line hoisting the sail to the top
of the mast), and the sail merely falls into place. However, the
topping lift, which controls how high the boom is, would need to
be played carefully as the boom swung back and forth in the
rocking due to the waves. I'd have to time its swing just right
to lower it into the boom crutch. Fortunately, that proved no
great difficulty, and I unclipped my harness from the mast,
reclipping it to the jackline, and went aft.

There I lashed the boom to the crutch, effectively making it
impossible to jump out of place. The lashing took the place of
the normal down pressure we would have exerted with the sheet.
With all secured, I turned off the lights, kissed Lydia
goodnight, again, and returned to my berth. Despite the increased
motion due to not having the steadying influence of the main, I
was asleep again in moments. Flying Pig continued to motorsail
under nearly bare poles, entirely safely.

As dawn approached, Lydia again woke me, as she'd been battling
seasickness her entire watch, and the accompanying sleepiness was
beginning to overcome her. I got up and settled in to enjoy the
ride, which was becoming more adventuresome by the mile. The
waves built, and the wind howled, as we saw over 20 knots astern,
to go with our 7-8 knots of forward motion. Better yet (heh -
euphemistically stated), we were in the counter-current (the
reverse flow next to the Gulf Stream). That meant that our boat
speed (as compared to ground speed) was over 10 knots, into the
square chop produced by the wind against the current. That
produced a very wide range of motion, and some of the following
waves would roll us 30 degrees or so, then fling the stern over
90 degrees in the opposite direction as the wave passed beneath
us, at the same time as it rolled the same 30 or so degrees in
the opposite direction. Hooray for our fuel polishing system, as
the usual response to such motion is one of the failures we have
yet to experience.

That is, most sailors whose boats have auxiliary diesel engines
will eventually experience those engines stopping due to fouled
filters restricted so much that fuel can't get to the engine. The
nature of diesel fuel in a marine environment with low turnover
is to grow critters and accumulate grunge as they die, along with
the dead-dinosaur-stuff nature of sludge formation along the
sides and bottom of most fuel tanks. Rough seas lead to stirring
all that stuff up, and typically, eventually, a clog making its
way into the system, usually resulting in the need for a filter
change. Of course, the time those instances occur is usually
about the worst time you could choose to have to replace a
filter - rough seas making it even more uncomfortable than it
already is, in a hot engine room. Worse, if your engine was
running in those conditions, you might be in a position where you
were dependent on it to keep you out of trouble, such as going
aground on the rocks!

So, having religiously run our fuel polishing system whenever
in lumpy water, and especially so when sailing but with the
engine off, the better to avoid sucking grunge into our supply
filters, we believe we have the cleanest possible fuel for Perky.
I'm sure, having made that statement, that our comeuppance will
arrive sometime in the near future, engine hours-wise, but so
far, we've escaped that experience! When we return to Flying Pig
after our time ashore, I'll change out the polisher filters and
the Racor (the ones which are before the engine in the fuel
flow), even though the vacuum gauges don't indicate the need.
They'll have been in for a year, and I'll change them on a
preventive basis.

Fortunately, those are the only equipment failures we've had this
trip. Everything I read suggests that every passage will have
equipment failures, and of course, those failures usually will
occur under stress. That is to say, when you'd least like to
discover them! More will arrive, no doubt about it, but we'll
continue to address each in its turn. Lydia's cabin fever aside
(she really and aggressively needs to get off the boat as soon as
we anchor, each passage), we continue to be reminded of how
perfect this home is for us. Time and again, we'll say to each
other, "I really love our home." So, what about the fish

You may recall that we've had notable failure in our attempts to
make fish a major portion of our diet. Aside from the couple of
catches in the Gulf of Mexico under the experienced hand of a
professional fisherman, on the first leg of our journey, our only
success had come on our brief trip to Rodriguez Key, and those
were pretty small. However, hope springs eternal, and we set out
our lines on the beginning of this passage. Many hours passed,
with no more results than that the lures got thoroughly wet. We
reeled them in as night fell on Wednesday, not being comfortable
with dealing with a pitching deck, rain and darkness, should we
manage to catch something.

Thursday morning, I put them out again, with about the same
results. That is to say, for many hours, the only result was a
bit of grass on the tuna plug. However, as the day wore on, and
the weather forecasts continued to indicate some heavy stuff
coming up, we eased out of the main part of the Gulf Stream, and
into the side edges. That also led us to slightly shallower
water, which was apparently home to more (or at least, hungrier)
fish, because we noticed that our starboard line, the one with
the skirted lure, was tight and the pole bent.

We don't know how long that had been like that, but it was
obvious that we had either a substantial grass catch or some
reasonably large fish on the other end of the line. Throttling
back and turning to starboard to release some of the pressure, I
started reeling. Whatever was on the other end wasn't grass,
though, as it moved first behind the boat, and then in front. As
Lydia played the throttle and wheel, I continued to reel. Soon,
it became apparent that we had a dolphin. That's not a porpoise,
but instead that blunt-headed fish with the iridescent skin (not

Being towed for however long it was had tired our gal (a female,
as determined at first glance by the shape of the head, and
later, preparing her, by the roe sac), and we soon got her in a
position to gaff and bring aboard. Following the taking of
pictures of our first "real" catch, I dispatched her with a
hammer, put her into a bucket, head down, and we resumed our

Once back under way and on course, Lydia filleted the 33"
dolphin, discarding the very full roe sac, head and tail. Of
great interest to us was what was in the stomach, however, as it
was apparent she'd been eating actively. We have no idea where
they may have come from, but there were many worms wriggling in
among the several sardine-sized fish in her stomach. Are there
marine worms readily available for eating? Was she infested with
some sort of gastric parasite? In any event, she resulted in
several very sizeable chunks of meat, along with some small
scraps saved for Portia. Even those, entirely raw, with no
seasoning or other alterations such as would be the case with
sushi, were delicious.

Gluttons that we are, after having caught no fish for us, all
this time, this bounty lasted us only two meals. The first was
simply marinated and immediately grilled, mostly rare. Delicious
as it was, we decided that the following night, which we did at
anchor in the rain in Fernandina (to the accompaniment of the
paper mills' aromas of, alternately, sawdust and sulphur), we'd
make some changes. Those changes were mostly in the seasoning and
marinating, along with a longer cooking time. The results were
very satisfying, and we'll use that recipe again.

For those interested, in the fashion of one of our favorite
books, An Embarrasment of Mangoes, a recipe follows this chapter:

Dolphin on the barbie.

Marinade: Crush 5 fresh garlic cloves, add dashes of key west
spice and cilantro, to combined fresh lime juice from 3 limes,
olive oil and a splash of paisano (red wine from Gallo). Use
Braggs amino instead of salt. Marinade in ziplock bag for 30
minutes, turning frequently. Cook over very hot grill, turning
only once. Do skin side down first, time to suit for doneness.
Season with Cajun spices from shaker on both sides as the other
side is cooking. Rewet first cooked side with remaining marinade
before seasoning. Serve over rice or other side dish to



Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"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 hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in The Reluctant Messiah)
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Old 04-05-2008, 17:51   #2
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All right!
You got one!
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Old 11-05-2008, 04:41   #3

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Happy birthday, Skip.
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Old 11-05-2008, 14:13   #4
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Originally Posted by ssullivan View Post
Now, I thought you folks were not well off and needed donations. By the list of shiny new stuff in this little post alone, I have to say that I hope you returned those donations and didn't spend them on hookas and other expensive toys that most of us can't afford.
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Happy birthday, Skip.
Thanks, Gord, for a positive reaction (if automated) to this post.

I debated responding to Sean, and I apologize for not being able to figure out how to include his quotation from my post, but as it's not far above, I figure y'all can see it easily enough. This note brought Sean back to the surface.

What is it with you and our circumstance, Sean? And, by what measure do you make the presumption that "most of us can't afford" (insert anything other than a bare hull) - and for that matter that our hookah is either expensive or a toy?

FYI, with the exception of the sails, which were blown out in our wreck, everything on our boat was present at the time of the wreck. I'd have expected you to figure that a Morgan 461 would have a fair amount of equipment aboard, particularly if it were for full-time cruising, our only home. If you'd bothered to read earlier posts (in other venues, my introduction to this forum being immediately post-wreck) without knee-jerk reactions to someone (FWIW, without my knowledge, much less, encouragement) offering to help us out after the wreck, you'd have known that our fuel polisher was not only constructed and installed by me, inexpensively, but was also in place before we left. The wreck gave it a good workout, as between that and the trip back to the yard for rehab, I expect that any and all grunge on the walls of the fuel tank was removed, and cleaned, in the process. Lemonade from lemons, so to speak.

Meanwhile, do you have a harness for you and any passengers you take out? If not, I presume you never leave anything larger than a bay in your travels. (Wait - don't I remember an offshore delivery recently? Did you have a harness with you? Did you use it every time you went topsides???) The harnesses, and jacklines, were in place when we bought the boat. Yes, we spent the grand sum of under $100 to upgrade the jacklines before we left, the old ones being rusty and suspect, in my mind. I also made the frivolous expenditure of nearly $30 to buy 4 pad eyes at a flea market and install them in the cockpit, in order that we could be hooked in from the time we left the companionway, and at the helm. Luxury and shameless use of donation money, I agree, and am thoroughly embarrased to have done so, but having installed them, I'll leave them there. One day I may be profligate enough to buy new harnesses. There might be enough left from the donations to fund that, too.

As to the "shiny new toy" (the hookah rig), while it was relatively new in terms of the age of the boat, it's a tool. Do you own a home? This boat is our only home. Do you have a grassy space, of whatever size around it? Do you pay someone to mow it, or do you own a shiny new toy others refer to as a lawnmower, and use it to keep your property in relatively presentable condition? Or, better yet, do you have a small garden, and a garden tractor which can not only mow, but allow you to till or otherwise create a planting environment for some veggies for your enjoyment?

So far the only personal-benefit use the hookah has had has been to clean our bottom or resolve a friend's mooring foul (where we were moored in Miami during our final medical stuff under COBRA). However, paying it forward, I helped unfoul a fellow cruiser's prop (that is, I went under with knife, and later, hammer and chisel, due to it having heated the nylon into a solid donut), installing a new zinc while I was down there, and loan it to another fellow cruiser who was PADI certified, 5 minutes after meeting him, in order that he could change his own zinc while he waited for a weather window to leave for the Bahamas.

Along the way, while I have yet to put it to that use, I hope to make a major portion of our sustenance come from food harvested from the sea - much of which will be a great deal easier with the hookah, rather than free diving (you could hand-till a veggie patch, for example, in the comparison for tool usage). If you think that's extravagant and wealthy, I'm wide open to suggestions on how we might otherwise get our animal protein at no (further) cost.

FWIW, NIB, this hookah rig costs less than even the most basic riding lawnmowers, and several self-propelled lawnmowers, that I've ever seen. Yet, barring catastrophic failure, it will be a tool which will allow me to maintain our boat (read, only home)'s bottom, in the water virtually 365 days a year, without engaging divers or worse, a haulout, and help in feeding us, for 20 or more years. At less than $50 a year - call it under a buck a week - I don't consider that a luxury, extravagant, or unaffordable to most here.

And, assuming you have a home, if the roof wore out after 20 years, I presume you'd replace it. If the current technology, with application of some slightly different hardware (say, gutter guards, for example), would allow the new roof to be relatively inexpensively enhanced, but which would have to happen at the time you redid the roof, likely you, too, would do it at the same time. Thus it was with our sails and hardware.

Finally, for what it's worth, our lazy jacks were in place, also, before we bought the boat. If you look at pictures we've posted in the past (the link to the gallery), you'll see that the cover is patched and worn. When we redid the sails, we also redid the location of the jacks. That involved regrommeting and yet more patching, to cover the simple age failure of some spots. Some day it will give up the ghost - but for now, even the expense of just the sunbrella, which would be all we'd have to buy to start over, was one we couldn't make. If you'll look closely at the staysail cover, you'll see it looks much the same (no grommets, but lots of patches). We even considered, as stupid as it looks now, with all the patches, putting contrasting colors on the main cover, just to make fun of ourselves and our necessary pennypinching.

And, finally, no, we didn't give any of the donations back. With the exception of the guy in this forum who set you off the first time, who stuck a bill in my pocket in Key West, every one has been anonymous, done through the Admiralty lawyer who set up the trust via the Morgan sailnet mailing list. We have, however, spread it around, and continue to pay it forward. Because we do that as a matter of course, we don't keep track of that, and if we did, I wouldn't share it here. Just two cases in point, though, as it's been previously exposed - when we left the first time (36 hours prior to our wreck), we gave away - as in, handed the keys and the title to - our van, to someone who could really use it. After the wreck, we passed along (the same way) the Suburban which had been given to us in the Keys, giving it to a fellow cruiser in similar straits (needing something to haul stuff in a rehab, thence to give it away as well). You may recall the "Not Queen for a Day, but similar" post I made at the time. Not quite the Jag in "Pay It Forward" but you get the picture...

It suffices to say that we are the kindness of strangers folks talk about, and have been the recipients of the same measures. Coincidentally to the discussion here, one of my prior posts' titles, done before I was so rudely introduced to this forum, was "What goes around comes around" - a story of a pulley. Since that happened before my introduction here, if you wanted to read it, you'd need to find it on, or several Sailnet mailing lists. In any event, that's not new behavior - just an example I shared with those on my log list (the yahoo one below) - oh, ya, you could find it there.

My apologies for going on like this in a public space, but as far as I know I have no means of reaching Sean directly. We now return you to your regular programming...



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 hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts."
(Richard Bach, in The Reluctant Messiah)
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Old 11-05-2008, 15:12   #5
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Skip and Sean,

Let's consider this a draw, OK? The Forum is not a place for this sort of dialogue.

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Old 11-05-2008, 16:10   #6
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Skip, in future, lets not get into debate. Let the team know if you have a reply that is not acceptable and let us deal with it. Sean if you have a problem, bring it to the attention of a team member and we can discuss it. No one here should post allegations when you have no idea of circumstances.
I do not expect this discussion to go any further here, lets get back to normal viewing folks.

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