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Whole lotta shakin' goin' on, revisited - Part 4...

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  • Flying Pig
    Whole lotta shakin goin on, revisited - Part 4... My apologies for the late posting - we, among other excitements you ll have to wait to hear about, had a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 15, 2013
      Whole lotta shakin' goin' on, revisited - Part 4...

      My apologies for the late posting - we, among other excitements you'll have
      to wait to hear about, had a computer failure just before I would have sent
      this. Now that it's back, here we are with the next installment...

      As a reminder, or for those just joining us, we finished a massive refit a
      while ago, and, prudent mariners as we tried to be, felt that shaking the
      boat and the crew out before heading across oceans would be a good idea.
      The usual name for this exercise is a shakedown cruise. The previous 3
      segments of this saga revealed the many reasons that had turned out to be a
      good idea, as, at each anchorage, another set of problems was found, and,
      eventually, resolved, but not before a lot of sitting and waiting as the
      needed parts arrived and were installed.

      Of course, we took advantage of those waiting times to do local
      explorations, and found, in a forehead-slap moment, that we very much
      enjoyed doing here in the good old U-S-of-A the same thing as we'd done in
      foreign waters, to wit, exploring and enjoying the locales next to which we
      were parked. So, we committed ourselves to taking advantage of the local
      attractions as we moved up the US East Coast, the proximity to which would,
      we felt, allow us the luxury (comparative, when held against that of foreign
      shores) of TowBoatUS, the national towing/emergency service company with
      whom we renewed our unlimited towing agreement, and the proliferation of
      places to get parts when we found something for we didn't have a replacement
      aboard. So far, that has proven to be an excellent decision as, while we've
      never needed a tow, there have been LOTS of opportunities to be grateful we
      were where we were.

      When we left you, we had come to Vero Beach to take a mooring ball, an
      anomaly for us, as we rarely do that, preferring to anchor out. However,
      Lydia's mother was literally less than two blocks away, in the home of her
      two dearest high school chums, now deceased, helping out with their
      high-functioning, slightly autistic and mentally retarded son. She likely
      will remain there for the rest of her life, as both a helpmate and roomate
      to that son, but also helping massively to cover some of the expenses which
      had fallen to his sister and brother-in-law following his parents' deaths.
      Not insignificantly, our time on the ball, while we dealt with the several
      shakedown issues we'd uncovered, would allow Lydia to gently disengage from
      the very intense 20 months she'd enjoyed with her mother who'd lived in
      England for the last 50 years.

      At the same time, we had a few chores to do. Among those, arranged before
      we left to go visit kids, grandkids, and help out with a wedding, was the
      removal and sending off of our Mack Pack - the self-organizing cover for our
      main sail - for restitching. It came back in due time, but they'd not
      restitched our boat name, Flying Pig, which 18" tall letters showed many
      places of stitch failure. Not to worry; we have a sail-capable sewing
      machine, and Lydia restitched and then washed and waterproofed the assembly.
      Reinstallation with the hundred-pound-plus sail was a bit of a wrestling
      match, but it, too, was accomplished successfully. Along the way, I
      resolved the twists of the lazy jacks (the lines which guide the sail onto
      the boom when lowering), and all is better than before.

      One day, when Lydia was off resewing our Mack Pack letters, I lifted the
      dinghy and used straps to angle it toward me to attempt cleaning of the
      grass and barnacles which had accumulated. That would explain the majority
      of boats with their dinghies lifted aside on a spinnaker or other halyard -
      this water was intensely fecund. Fortunately, I was able to scrape a goodly
      bit off; some time in the future, we'll beach it and do a proper cleaning.
      In the meantime, it STILL wouldn't plane with only me aboard and the 6HP
      pushing. When we lifted everything out for our departure, the reason became
      clear - the propellor was seriously fouled with barnacles! We'd previously
      spent an afternoon scrubbing the sides of our boat (well, Lydia did...) and,
      at the same time, I used a scrub brush on a long handle to clean as far as I
      could reach under the hull. I'd felt nothing other than some grass, and the
      waterline, where the largest accumulation would be, was clean, so I presume
      that our anti-fouling bottom paint is working as it should.

      Those of you who have followed us for a while may recall that we came into
      possession of a new-to-us aluminum propane bottle of the size we use on our
      cooking system - two 10# bottles in a proper propane locker, vented
      overboard. All that was required to make this bottle legal was an
      inspection, which I did in the process of refilling our other 10# can. To
      shorten the story, we were given one of the two such bottles which I'd taken
      to help out another cruiser, as we had a car, on which more, later.

      We still had one can which was being used to cook, plus the one I'd had
      filled. As such, we now had a spare, and Lydia didn't want to have it on
      deck. I'd told our benefactor, when he asked what we'd do if we had a spare
      tank, that we'd sell it. It was then he demanded I take his second can (I'd
      taken the two, which he'd intended tossing, based on the advice of someone
      at a gas-fill place, for recertification and refilling for him, when I took
      ours), as he, having bought a new, unreturnable, one from Amazon, would ALSO
      now have a spare. My protests were overcome as I tried to give him back his
      tanks at the dinghy dock, and I accepted it. However, we now had that

      As was the case in our last instance of having a spare tank, it sold nearly
      immediately when I posted it on the various cruising places I visit on the
      net. The purchaser wasn't local, and it couldn't be shipped, as it was
      still in use, and had propane in it. An arrangement was made for pickup on
      our purchaser's way from North Carolina to his boat in Miami, and all was
      well. But, back to the new tank...

      When we put it in the locker and connected it up, our stove worked as
      expected. However, on our return from dinner with Lydia's mother, Lydia
      smelled propane as we dinghied up to our stern. Tracking it down revealed
      that this new-to-us (much better condition than our prior cans, which were
      20+ years old) can had vented nearly all of its contents. The can itself
      was icy, and covered in condensation, the product of the continuous release
      of gas, expanding from the liquid state in which it was stored. YIKES!

      The good news was that there was no fault in any of our lines. The bad news
      was that there was a worn O-ring fitting inside the valve which had caused
      the venting/emptying of our tank. Our refill place, which is also a service
      outfit and which had recertified both of our fellow sailor's tanks,
      explained that parts for this had been promised to be available 5 years
      after the new valves were introduced. That was 13 years ago, and there are
      STILL no repair parts for the output portion of the valve, by some
      bureaucratic annoyance which has not allowed that to happen, to this day.
      The good news is that there is a hand-tightened version of the old POL "Put
      On Left" bullet-nosed fitting which goes INSIDE (rather than the
      now-ubiquitous plastic hand-tightened outside plastic shell), and it, rather
      than being solid, has a small O-ring on the end. So, while I bought another
      refill, I bought one of those and a spare O-ring, installed it, and solved
      THAT problem.


      The next day, as we were leaving the boat to go to supper with Lydia's
      mother, in a panic, still, about all that propane, we checked and rechecked
      our propane locker and the new valve. All is well, phew, and off we went.
      Unfortunately, we had been so paranoid and focused on the propane locker at
      the stern, we'd forgotten to slide our 24x36" hatch closed, over our bed.

      You guessed it. A frog-strangler rain, perhaps as much as 3 inches, based on
      the amount of water in the dinghy, which stopped just before we returned.
      Unfortunately, with no impediment, all that rain had landed on our bed,
      soaking it through, along with the just-cleaned laundry bag sitting on top
      of it. I'll spare you the details other than to say, aside from the
      nuisance of drying everything out (we considered what it would have been
      like had all that been SALT water!), and rewashing everything along with the
      cushion covers, re-ScotchGuarding them as well, there was no lasting ill

      We still had provisioning to do - a very much less intensive process this
      time, as we'd be in reasonable reach, as we traveled the East Coast, of
      refreshing our stock - and a wait for the weather window. We'd elected to
      "go outside" - sail up the Gulf Stream, taking advantage of its northerly
      lift, turning in when Fernandina Beach/St. Marys/Cumberland Island was 45°
      from our position - rather than go up the "ditch" - the Intra-Coastal

      That was mostly because we really hate running our engine, both for cost and
      noise issues. However, that meant that we'd have to wait for the right
      winds, and, as well, we'd be sailing right by some very interesting places.
      Going up the ditch would mean motoring the entire way, and in daylight hours
      only, as, while it's clearly marked, the channel has no night markings and,
      once out of the channel (assuming we didn't hit one of the day mark posts,
      as could happen in the dark), we'd be quite aground.

      So, we did a daily check of the grib files (a grib file shows the forecasted
      winds, and other weather things, in an area, for up to 7 days) before
      consulting our weather oracle, Chris Parker. We didn't want to have
      provisioned too early, as we'd just be using it up while we waited, so we
      left that for last. The gribs suggested that Wednesday and Thursday might
      be OK, but that Saturday and Sunday or perhaps Monday looked better. We

      All around us, people were leaving the mooring field, but they mostly were
      going up the ditch. Anxious to get on, we enviously watched their wakes as
      the balls around us emptied. In the meantime, the gribs looked less
      promising - the wind was in the right place, but there wasn't much of it,
      and it got less the further out we looked. We spoke with Chris on Saturday
      morning, and he confirmed that Sunday afternoon looked like an ideal

      OOPS! Hurry and provision, make the last arrangements for our giving away
      the car we'd bought ("cheaper than a rental car" in our gallery link below),
      have the last supper over the grill with Lydia's mother, and get back to the
      boat, nearly dark. Dark enough that I didn't want to deal with lifting the
      dinghy right then, we got up early the next morning, May 19th and secured
      the dinghy and engine. We'd refueled and rewatered earlier, so all we had to
      do was top off our water tank and refill our gasoline jugs which we'd partly
      emptied in running our Honda eu2000i "suitcase" generator, topping off our
      batteries when there wasn't enough wind and solar energy to keep up with all
      the things we did aboard.

      We were off the dock at 10:55AM, and headed down to Ft. Pierce, our exit to
      the ocean. We were motoring, as the wind was right in our nose, so I took
      advantage of that to check out our new packing gland - the thing which
      allows the propshaft to turn, without letting in so much water as would sink
      the boat. Marvelous. 10 degrees warmer than the outside water, and making
      the approved drop of water every couple of seconds, keeping it both
      lubricated and cool. Given that we were running the engine and making lots
      of amps, I did as we always do when Perky, our diesel, is running, and
      turned on our fuel polisher. The fuel polisher has saved us from having to
      change our normal fuel filters, particularly exciting when it happens in the
      middle of nasty weather, for more than one thousand hours of operation - for
      the first and only, so far, change of our primary, Racor filter. We have a
      dual system, which makes switching to another filter before breaking the
      seal on the first one. That normally would save us having to prime and
      bleed the engine, should we ever be forced to do it in a hurry. In any

      Our engine was really happy, too, with the temperature rock-solid at 195°
      and the oil pressure, even, slightly higher than we'd seen in extended
      running. The batteries were full, and all systems were "GO" as we motoerd
      south. By 1:25PM we were in the turning basin and prepared to get all our
      canvas out, as the winds were forecasted to be relatively light. The main
      went up without complaint, and we commenced sailing out the inlet. As I
      prepared the genoa, I did as I always do, which is to cast a critical eye on
      all the components.

      WHAT'S THAT!?!? Something's sticking out of the top of the furled genoa.
      Can't be good... Out come the stabilized binoculars, and I see something
      white, rectangular, looking to be about 1x8" or so. ???? Well, whatever it
      is, it can't be good. We have two choices, maybe three. We can turn
      around, go back to the basin, and drop the genoa to see what it is. Or, we
      can leave our largest sail in place and continue on staysail (the equivalent
      of a 100% jib on a fractional rig, so not a really small sail, but probably
      only half to a third the size of the genoa) and main. We chose the latter,
      and raised the staysail and soldiered on, unhappy about the light winds and
      no big sail...

      Out the inlet, finally, having made that decision, and raised the staysail
      in the protection of the sheltered inlet, at 2PM, we headed north at 047°T
      (True, vs Magnetic). We were on a broad reach with the easterly breeze to
      our starboard quarter at about 45° to the stern. Unfortunately, the winds
      were very light, at only about 7-10 apparent. Given our stately speed we
      continued to motorsail, and I estimated our arrival at the edge of the Gulf
      Stream around 6 this evening.

      Ever the optimists, and hopeful of fish for dinner, at 3PM I set out a pole
      with a white cedar plug. However, our fish finder's sonar wasn't making
      many chirps at us, so it didn't look promising. However, the winds were
      dropping, with an apparent 1-3 knots, and very few "horses" (white spray off
      the waves). If it weren't getting late in the day, we would have flown our
      asymmetrical spinnaker, but even then, it was a bit of rock-and-roll for
      that. On the other hand, perhaps it would have stabilized the boat. We
      instead continued to motorsail toward the northeast, and I went down for a
      nap at 4:30.

      I awoke after a couple of slap jibes, and came up at 7:30. We had, indeed,
      entered the western portion of the Gulf stream, and its forward motion was
      minimizing the already very light winds, and the rolling of the relatively
      large swells was causing the booms (the staysail has a boom as well) to
      crash over to the starboard side occasionally. Unfortunately, the apparent
      winds were now from the ENE, our forward motion being sufficent as compared
      to the very light winds, to move it forward, making it even more
      challenging, but stiffening the boat a bit in the now-9-12 knots breeze. Of
      course, as we were now on a close reach, our speed was dropping a bit, and
      we continued to get a boost from Perky. We were making 6.5 knots STW (speed
      through the water) but the Gulf Stream had us moving at more than 10 knots
      SOG (speed over ground).

      We were still within range of the NOAA VHF weather forecasts, and the
      mechanical man insisted that we were seeing southeast winds. Perhaps we
      were, and they were so light as to have moved forward by 45°, as we were now
      on a beam reach with apparent winds in the 10-15 knot range. Out in the
      middle of the Gulf Stream, the swells were 4-6' and with no genoa, we rocked
      a goodly amount. That actually, at least for our fuel system, was a good
      thing, as it sloshed the fuel tank around and would loosen any grunge which
      might have accumulated. With our fuel polisher still humming away, it would
      remove any of the small particles which might otherwise clog a primary

      By 11PM, we'd been in the Gulf Stream 5 hours, consistently heading 000°T,
      and the wind had clocked and died some more, coming over our starboard
      shoulder at only 6-8 knots, but we continued to make ~7.2 knotsSTW and in
      the mid 10 knots rangeSOG. Of course, nothing stays the same in cruising,
      so the wind clocked some more, and died, some more, to the point that by 3AM
      we were seeing that light wind nearly at our stern. That resulted in our
      SOG dropping to only the mid-9s, and the staysail mostly blanketed by the
      main, rendering it useless, and our forward assist reliant on the relatively
      small mainsail. At 120 miles left to go to St. Marys, we'd not be there
      before dark on Monday at this rate. I pondered using the spinnaker and
      turning downwind to about 300°T, but not, at the very earliest, before dawn.

      Lydia got up around 4AM and we discussed leaving the Gulf Stream a bit
      earlier than expected/planned. We thought we'd best talk to Chris before we
      did, and get the current information about the remainder of our trip, too.
      As well, we were reaching the point where we'd have to turn inland or waste
      even more motorsailed miles getting to Fernandina Beach/St. Marys Entrance.

      As little wind as there was, turning the boat with a jibe, and trying for a
      preventer secured-main and staysail (with its own boom) to go wing-and-wing
      proved not to work, and, as we discovered, wasn't really necessary, as we
      turned to 315°T COG. The current was still in our favor, and would remain
      so, all the way in, such that in order to not overshoot, we had to point the
      boat about 30° south of the direction we wanted to go. That put enough wind
      in the sails to allow us to sail without fear of a crash jibe.

      Dawn broke just before I spoke to Chris Parker. NOAA had been calling for
      thunderstorms inland of the coast, but it was very light, a nearly
      nonexistant 4-8 knots, at 120° apparent, at the moment. We were making only
      2 knots STW, but still about 8 knots COG. I think our impellers for the
      speed registers probably aren't very accurate at low speeds, because I'm
      pretty sure there wasn't a 6 knot lift! Back to Chris Parker...

      Winds would continue to be very light, but there were thunderstorms forecast
      for the entire north Florida coast beginning in the afternoon. As dead
      reckoning had us not into shore before midnight, this became of concern. A
      followup with Chris revealed that we'd likely see one or more 30-40-knot
      squalls before we got in.

      Some thinking and considering led to our decision to press on, as we would
      easily see storms and could reef both the main and staysail if it became
      necessary. However, there now was so little wind that we hard-centered our
      sails (made them very tight directly amidship), solely for the purpose of
      slowing our rate of roll in the now-glassy swells.

      We were rewarded for that decision with a pod of dolphins playing with us.
      Shortly after that, I had a hard hit on the fishing pole. I didn't get to
      it right away, but to prove how rusty we were, I didn't even ask Lydia to
      slow the boat, let alone turn around. The fish reeled off a great deal as I
      continued to tighten the drag. Suddenly, POP, the line broke. I presume
      that was a relatively large fish :{))

      The day passed uneventfully nautically, but over the course of a couple of
      hours in the afternoon, about 45 miles offshore, we were visited by a very
      small bird which we didn't recognize and couldn't find in our FL birds book.
      It was obviously very tired, but, as seems to be the case in our offshore
      encounters, essentially unconcerned about us. At one point, while I was
      reclined, reading, he hopped up on my knee, and then to my toe. During my
      nap, the second bird came to visit, and IT sat on first one, then the other,
      hand, and then up to the top of the laptop screen where Lydia was typing
      away. It too flew into the aft cabin, and essentially ignored me when I
      stood up right next to him. Capping the afternoon, another pod of dolphins
      called us to play and to admire them as they played in the bow wave.

      The balance of the trip was the same - dead calm, large swells, and not much
      traffic. As well, there were no storms visible, let alone near us, so we
      didn't have to do anything other than to sail up to a relatively high spot
      in the river, directly across from the paper mill, and throw out the hook in
      front of Fernandina Beach at 10:30PM.

      Once awake, we looked around at what had happened on THIS trip. A leak in
      the pressure pump on the diesel fuel system has bugged us for some time.
      Now I know where, exactly (it's actually 2 places) it leaks, I'll remove the
      banjo bolt and get replacement washers, and remove the big cap and figure
      out why IT leaks!

      The genoa will have to come off the furler and have the hoist repaired.
      Until we get a dead calm day, we'll not attempt dropping it, but we know for
      sure that we have to do some heavy restitching.

      That's about it for this passage's squawk list; we're starting to get fewer
      per trip!

      So, here we are, in Fernandina Beach, this time just outside of the mooring
      field, where we'll be for several days. We're in about 15 feet of water, so
      to cope with the 6' tides and our 5' bow rise, I set our Rocna 150 ahead of
      our home, and did the usual snubber-stretch/rebound to dig it in securely.
      One day, our new in-laws will come in for dinner, and bring Lydia the case
      to her new-to-us iPhone, and, later, we'll visit Cumberland Island.

      Until then, Stay Tuned!



      Morgan 461 #2
      SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
      See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
      Follow us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheFlyingPigLog
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      When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.
      - Dr. Samuel Johnson
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