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Old 21-10-2009, 18:13   #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
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St. Augustine to Lake Worth, 9-23 to9-34-09

My humble apologies to the administrators if this is a duplicate - I believe the upload of this log failed on my first attempt:

Hello again...

When we left you, we were comfortably anchored in more than 10' of water at
low tide, the better to avoid our slight delay on our first attempt at
departure from St. Augustine. We were also only on one anchor, our having
determined from our looking at the neighbors and our experience to date in
that locale, that we'd be fine, particularly with my usual 7-10
depth-to-length of scope out.

Sure enough, we were awake at first light, and got the anchor in quickly to
begin our voyage to Lake Worth, our jumping-off point for the Bahamas. We
were under way by 7:30 and had cleared the entrance light by 8. Part of our
eagerness to go the prior night had been the favorable wind conditions, so
when the wind was very light, and right on our nose, we motored with the
main only up, sheeted tight in the center, to help with the inevitable roll
which accompanies a sailboat under power in the swells.

Fortunately, with our roach (24% more sail area than a straight line from
the top of the mast to the end of the boom), tight battens providing some
airfoil in whichever direction they were flopped and loose footed setup,
every shift from one side or the other of literally dead ahead gave us some
lift as we motorsailed.

By 9AM, the wind filled in just a bit, so we turned off the engine and
played sailboat, rather than trawler-with-stick, for a while. However, the
air was so light and variable that we had to do several tacks, found
ourselves in irons (hove to unintentionally as the genoa was backwinded) on
a couple of occasions, and, the resulting "penalty 360* turns" (in racing,
if you do a foul, you have to make a 360* turn - allowing your competitiors
to move ahead while you're doing so - or sometimes, more than one, to
compensate) needed to clear the irons without rolling in the genoa, as we
attempted to beat into the very light winds.

On our port tack (wind from the left side of the boat), the swells were such
that our sails flapped and flopped as we beat at 30* apparent wind, and our
penalty turns continued. With only 4-7 knots, we were making only 2.5-3.5
knots of way, and by 3PM had managed all of 15 miles southing from St.
Augustine's entrance. This was enhanced by our having done 2 tacks due to
Lydia being nervous about being closer than 4 miles to shore, despite the
area, at least according to all the charts we had available, being clear to
within a few hundred yards of the beach. Indeed, in the Fort Lauderdale
area, if you're heading south, you MUST stay that close to avoid the Gulf
Stream. The saying is, sail until you're close enough to see the swimmers'
smiles :{))

The wind filled a bit by 4PM to 10-15 knots. However, it was still
southeast to south-southeast, and our forward motion made it even tighter,
and we continued to pinch and beat, making only 3-4 knots. By 5PM, 9 hours
from our departure, we'd managed only 22 miles southing. There's a funny
sign you see in marine stores to the effect that sailing is getting wet
while going nowhere, very slowly, at great cost. We weren't spending much,
and weren't getting wet, but we sure weren't going much of anywhere, and it
certainly was slow :{))

From 6-8PM we had a wind shift to the north (from the mostly south, not that
it came from the north, unfortunately!) which gave us much better sailing
angles and increased our speed. Unfortunately, the wind backed again, and
we saw our speed drop from the low 5 knot range to the high 3-low 4 knot
range. Still, it's a voyage, and we're not under any schedule constraints,
the weather is benign (what you be after you be eight?), and the girls are
soaking up knowledge about sailing, geometry, navigation and other
home-schooling pursuits without really being aware of it.

That's because our guests are home-schooled, and their parents want them to
have as much of a learning experience as possible while they're away. As
most cruisers can tell you, voyaging isn't all about sitting idly, so
there's not a lot of time we could devote strictly to learning, but we did
manage to infiltrate their brains to a degree, and required them to keep
their notes in their logbooks in order that their parents, on return, could
use those to continue their more formal education.

During all this, we being relatively close to shore, we maintained internet
connectivity, as, being far enough out, our speed being very slow, the
connection points persisted for a fair amount of time, allowing up and down
traffic in email, if not allowing web surfing. Hooray for technology!
However, BOOO for technology, our chartplotter seems to have some problems
developing. The jury's still out as of this writing nearly 3 weeks later,
but we had constant resets (spontaneous reboots) of the chartplotter, not a
great confidence builder.

We have two chart chips in at this point, one covering from Jacksonville to
the Lake Worth inlet, and the Bahamas chart which also includes from Lake
Worth inlet through Miami. As we didn't need the Bahamas chart at this
point, we experimented and found that if we removed it, the problems went
away. Hmm. Well, that will have to get some examination in the future. We
made provisions, over email while we are underway, for Jeppesen to send us
another Bahamas chip to one of their client stores in Lake Worth, having
already had some similar problems when we first got it, presuming it to be
defective, after all, despite those problems seeming disppearing on our
first encounter. Later challenges suggest otherwise than that first chip
being defective, as you'll see in a future log; our chartplotter may be on
the way out. OY!

However, we do have other navigation programs in the computer, and, for that
matter, until we got it, the chartplotter wasn't a given, and we navigated
by GPS location and paper charts. That still works, but we sure are
spoiled, as are literally every other cruiser with whom we've compared notes
about their lives before and after plotter(s). However, our radar continues
to work flawlessly, at all levels of battery, so we seem to have slain that
dragon, with our installation of the proper cable from the plotter to the
radar scanner, for which we are enormously grateful, even if it was three
years late in coming and I had to do the installation myself :{))

We changed watch at 10 PM and I went below to sleep, but with no wind and
the accompanying rock-and-roll/sail flop, I got no sleep so got up and we
motored at 1AM on the 24th. By 5AM, as we approached Daytona, the wind
picked up a bit, showing 7-8 knots apparent, so we became a sailboat again
(turned off the engine) and made a pretty steady 5.2 knots. Meanwhile, our
internet was stupendous. Scans of the available signals in the area took
well over the screen length to display, and, using the SNAP screen capture
utility (allows you to capture a screen and turn it into a jpg image), we
counted over 70 available stations! When I get up the new WiFi gallery,
I'll be including screen shots of where we've been, showing how many
stations we have available to us on our IslandTimePC WiFi rig (for those
actively out "doing it", who may wish to have the same benefits aboard, drop
Bob Stewart, a line, and for the curious, see his
website for what we have), in all the areas we cruise.

Of course, in cruising, all things are subject to change, and by the
Canaveral turn, about 10:30AM, the wind died, and what there was found us
heading directly into the wind, again. In the meantime, I've been on with
Chris Parker, our weather guru, over HF radio, listening to his SSB weather
information. Talking to him about our location, he suggests we get a lot
closer to shore in order to take advantage of the soon-to-develop sea

On with the iron genny, Perky propels us around the corner and by noon,
sticking very close to shore, we pick up the promised sea breeze and again
become a sailboat, maintaining a lovely beam reach through 5PM when we do a
shift change and I go below for some sleep. Oops. The wind dies as the
land mass starts to cool, and again we're motorsailing by 6PM. The seas are
very slight, and I get a good rest, coming up for the shift change at 11PM.

By this time, we're at Vero Beach, and we're making 4.3 knots at 2300 RPM.
Hm. That doesn't seem like nearly enough. I'll have to have a look at the
bottom and prop when we get to Lake Worth, a great spot to do that, as it's
very nearly flat, and many areas will allow us to anchor in 8-9' of water,
ideal for doing bottom work, if I have to stand on the bottom with lots of
weights :{))

The wind is still light and variable, all the way from 60* broad reach (120*
from the nose) to on-our-nose apparent, with 0* apparent (on our nose) being
the great predominance, so we continue to motorsail, and by 8AM, it's calm.
Leaving the mainsail up for flopper-stopper, and the genoa furled, our ETA
for Lake Worth is about 11AM. Our radar has shown many squalls, and, being
in the daylight, we could watch them, but for the most part we avoid them
entirely, receiving only a few sprinkles along the way. However, this
affords a good homeschooling lesson in range and angle, as we watch the
storm systems going in directions not bringing them closer to us.

All this motoring has brought our batteries up to over 100% (slight positive
cumulative AmpHours showing on our meter), so I'll equalize the batteries
when we get to Lake Worth. As equalization (intentional slight overcharging
due to the impact of more voltage being a more effective mixing of the
acid inside, allowing a longer life of the lead plates) requires full
batteries to begin with, and our having little to no wind to allow our
combined solar and wind generation to keep them fully topped off for the
last many weeks, this is a welcomed development.

Sure enough, our dead reckoning is on the nose, and we make the entrance
turn at 10:30, and have the anchor down by 11AM on Thursday morning. Once
again, we have a stellar connection, and the girls use that opportunity to
call their parents while Lydia and I set to cleaning up the sailing portion
of the boat so we can enjoy our time at anchor. Once the girls are off the
phone, I reach my contact at Jeppesen and confirm our next-day-air arrival
of our replacement chip. We shortly have lunch, and discuss our options...

It's a beautiful day, and our chart chip won't be in until the following
morning, so the girls jump in the water while I get ready to go have a look
at our bottom and prop. I've also promised the girls to teach them how to
use the hookah and go underwater while still breathing. Unfortunately for
both sides of the equation, the water isn't very clear with the tidal run,
and we have to wait for the current to subside before I can go under.

However, that does happen shortly, and I'm shocked to see the level of
barnacle growth on the bottom of the keel, where it's been sitting in the
Saint Simons Island (Frederica River, technically) pluff mud, and on all the
exposed metal surfaces (those without bottom paint). I give some basic
instruction to both girls about how to used the hookah, not very much
different in application from a snorkel, which they already know how to use,
as both have the soft plastic mouthpiece you hold in your teeth, and let
them play around while I'm diving. Several times, I take one or the other
below with me to show them what I've been doing, but my instructions on
clearing their ears (making the water pressure the same as the pressure
inside your head) doesn't take very well, and both of them want to come up
immediately due to the pressure. However, while I was on the bottom,
working on the prop zincs, one came down independently to get me to come up
for something that the other needed, so, with additional exposure and
instruction, I'm sure they'd be able to stay down and enjoy the sights.

Back to the story, however, during our initial refit in St. Petersburg,
several years ago, we'd put a very expensive product for growth prevention
on the prop, Prop Speed. As long as it had been there, it did a very good
job, but like all bottom-paint equivalents, particularly in a propeller with
its very high speed through the water, it only lasts so long, and ours was
entirely gone. As a result, the prop was entirely encrusted with barnacles.
With a chisel in hand, they all came off readily, so it was of little
effect, but this means that I'll have to be a more regular visitor to the
prop until we can haul out and reapply that marvelous stuff. However, this
cleaning should mean that we have a great deal more efficiency on our
propulsion! I'd been wanting to go down for other reasons; the zinc items
one puts on the propshaft, and, in the case of our feathering and reversing
prop, MaxProp, being consumables which need replacement from time to time,
and it had been far too long for my comfort.

Indeed, then, I found that the shaft had literally nothing left on it, so I
chiseled off the barnacles in preparation for the two collars I'd put on
after that. While I was at it, I cleaned up our line cutter, and got all
the stray pieces of fishing line we'd accumulated along the way cut away.
The zinc on the end of the prop, though, was more encouraging, because,
while it was very substantially eaten away, the deterioration was very
uniform. Usually, the places we bolt them to the stern face of the prop
fail first, allowing it to sling off, sometimes taking with it, or damaging,
the bolt which held it in place. Fortunately, however, all were still
intact, and while there were substantial voids in the cone-shaped zinc, it
was still doing its job, that of deterioration due to the dissimilar metals
of the shaft (stainless steel) and the prop (bronze) causing electrolytic
transfer of ions (which would leach the bronze propellor, eventually, to
nothing, taking, instead, the zinc), sacrificing itself to preserve our
propellor :{))

Installation of the new zincs was entirely straightforward once all the
mounting surfaces were cleaned up, but by the end, not only was the current
a challenge but visibility was deteriorating fast, so I was pleased to have
it finished while I could still see and hang on! Once finished, I took
advantage of having been in the water and soaped up, as is our custom
aboard, having my saltwater bath before dinner, and stowed the dive gear,
restoring our deck, which had all the stuff from the lazarette (the storage
compartment at the stern of the boat) which had been on top of it, to the
open space needed for good access and safety. All meals, but dinners, in
particular, were spectacular events aboard during our guests' time with us,
so we enjoyed the ususal dinnertime fireworks as much as possible and turned
in after a long day in and on the water.

Friday dawned beautifully, and after sleeping in for a while, we all got in
the dinghy and had some steering and control lessons for the girls. They
both did admirably in direction and control, using a bouy in the harbor as
their "docking" target, so Madi, the elder drove us to where I delivered the
ladies to the beach on Peanut Island. Peanut Island is the park in the
middle of Lake Worth (actually more a tidal area between some barrier
islands, in particular, in this case, Palm Beach) and, once delivered, I
went off to pick up the new, and return the exchange, chip. Unfortunately,
I missed the location initially, and stopping at an adjacent marina to ask
where it was got either blank looks (it was right next door, dummies!!) or,
in the only "informed" response, direction to go a couple of miles south
from there.

Well, off I went, but, seeing nothing, and not having it match up, at all,
with both the google maps and the satellite view of where it was supposed to
be, I pulled into Rybovich and asked someone with, obviously, much better
information. If I went back to where I was, RIGHT NEXT DOOR, just before
where I pulled in to get information, was where I wanted to be. So, I did,
and, sure enough, the chip was there, waiting for me. I'd brought along
postage to allow me to immediately return the other chip, in the exchange
envelope that Jeppesen had provided, kindly posted in their outgoing mail by
the marina who'd received the chip for us, and returned to Peanut Island.

The ladies had enjoyed a short day of shell finding and beachcombing, and
had several treasures to show me. Along we went, with Quin, the younger,
driving us home, and we had our usual lunches of PBJs for the girls and Zone
Bars for Lydia and me. More time in the water and other relaxation ensued;
Lydia cleaned and prepared for dinner while I made ready for our crossing,
checking the charts and laying our waypoints, and turned on our Honda
generator to equalize our batteries.

Unfortunately, all the charging and engine room heat has left our batteries
(lead being a huge mass, of course, being the great predominance of our
nearly 500 pounds of batteries), very hot, still, and our equalization,
having a temperature sensor which controlled the level of charge input,
shutting it down before success. Eventually, we'd succeed at it, but it
took a very long time for our battery bank to get under 100* F. In any
case, our batteries and charging system are very healthy, and we're well
pleased, overall, with our very significant investment in Miami last winter.

Our time with Chris Parker had suggested that tomorrow would be a good time
to go, so we were in full preparation mode for the Gulf Stream crossing,
including getting the engine off our dinghy and mounted on the side of the
rail, and the dinghy up and secured. For those not acquinted with it, the
Gulf Stream can be either a stunningly beautiful experience, or the worst
ride they've ever had, and no sailor, nor most power boaters, takes crossing
it lightly. However, it appeared that the coming couple of days would be
nearly ideal, so we were looking forward to the experience, our prior
experiences in it having been truly breathtakingly marvelous. Our new chart
chip functioned as expected, and since it was the only one we'd need for the
next year, at least, we stowed the other, Northern Florida, one for the
duration. Off to bed in benign conditions, we got ready for our departure.

As this has gotten long, again (surprise, right? No? Heh. You've
obviously not been reading my stuff very long, yet, then :{)) cuz I do tend
to go on...), we'll leave you here, again, snugly at anchor.

Until next time, Stay Tuned :{))


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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