• All at sea - Flying Pig's return to cruising

    From Flying Pig@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jun 26 08:27:21 2017
    All at sea - Flying Pig's return to cruising

    Well, I suspect some of you thought we'd either died or became CLODs -
    Cruisers Living On Dirt.

    Neither is true, though the latter sort of was simulated.

    There's lots to tell in the middle of where we are now and where we were the last time you looked, but I'm not going to do that. Because most of it had nothing to do with the boat, even though you heard about Matthew and Me.
    (Well, I *think* you did; I've been running so hard since then I can't
    really be sure - but the fact that we're here tells you it was OK.)

    Lots of landside traveling, and some very significant upgrades (the story of which you couldn't make up, and which I'll save for a later time after I
    have the pictures edited and uploaded to my gallery) later, we're back at

    So, here's the first 'Modern Era' installment:

    We left Vero Beach, where we'd been variously on a mooring ball or on the
    dock (the latter having to do with upgrades as above), since we got back
    from our ride with Hurricane Matthew, on June 8th.

    As we were in Vero Beach, and the inlet to the sea is in Ft. Pierce, 15
    miles away, on the Intra-Coastal Waterway, we had to be careful about
    choosing our departure. The current is notable here, so timing was crucial.

    Of course, nothing goes perfectly - we'd somehow missed coffee in our provisioning, and were about to run out. Aside from the nuisance value of having to go ashore and hoof it somewhere, it's radically more expensive in
    the Bahamas than at Publix or WalMart.

    So, as we had time within our ideal departure window, we jumped in the
    dinghy and went off to get the last few things. Returning, I removed our pennant from the mooring, put up the dinghy after stowing its motor, and we cast off our marina-provided mooring pennant.

    Off to the fuel dock in a stiff headwind blowing us onto the dock made for a perfect sidle-sideways onto the dock. Fuel for the dinghies, a bit for the Honda generator, filling our water tanks and filling our 4 jerry jugs which live on the rail with diesel completed our departure prep.

    Getting off the dock was a bit challenging, as the wind pressed us on, but judicious use of throttle and rudder had our nose out eventually and we set
    off at noon.

    Most of the way down was in the slack portion of the outgoing tide, but as
    we got close to Ft. Pierce, we got a lift as we caught up with the outflow.
    Our weather guru Chris Parker had forecast stiff winds, dying later, with opportunities for later squalls and thunderstorms.

    We set up for heavy weather by using the turning basin in Ft. Pierce to put
    up a single-reefed main, and a partially furled genoa (about equivalent to a 110% jib). By 2PM we were out the door and headed southeast. As forecast, winds were 25-35 knots at a close reach - 60° apparent wind - but our setup was perfect. We trucked along at 6-8 knots, at between 10 and 15 degrees of heel, ideal for our keel and hull (too much lean and you go sideways too
    much). Seas were 4-6' due to our being relatively close to shore - they
    didn't have much fetch (ability to build over a distance), but still, with
    the wind relatively on our nose, we had lots of white water over the bow.
    If we'd had that offshore, it would have been more like 6-8' or maybe 10' waves, and taking green water (nose completely buried) over the bow,
    instead. But the waves were not tall enough to totally stop our forward motion, and we bashed on ahead.

    Additionally, the wind was so high that it was overpowering our KISS wind generator. I turned it off, as our solar and wind generation had put our batteries at 100% charge. However, the wind was strong enough that it continued to spin rapidly, despite not putting out any power.

    I went down for a nap at 3, as all was stable, and came back up at 6PM.
    Wind by that time had dropped to 15-20 knots; we kept pointed at the same
    angle of wind to maximize our getting south in preparation for crossing the fast-north-moving Gulf Stream on our way to meet up with our friends on Flyingfish.

    They'd had a piece of luggage not come with them on the plane before they
    had to leave some weeks earlier, but knew we'd be over to deliver it. They took advantage of our container ship and ordered in a bunch of stuff to pick
    up at the marina office, so we were bringing goodies for them!

    Now that the wind had dropped, we rolled out the genoa to it's 135% full
    size. However, as I prepared to shake out our mainsail's reef (make it full sized again) I saw that our topping lift (the thing that holds the boom up
    if you want it not to hit something as it crosses the crutch in which it
    sits when lowered) had spat its shackle, and was no longer able to support
    the boom.

    Fortunately, we were able to sheet it in tight (pulling the boom to the center); the wind kept the boom off the crutch, and I was able to loosen the topping lift in order to stand on a storage container and eventually get
    hold of the snap shackle which had opened. It was a bit of a wrestling
    match, as I had to do it one-handed, the other being clamped around the boom crutch, but we got the topping lift reattached, and made it so the bail on
    the boom used for attaching the preventer (which holds the boom with a
    second line, making it so it couldn't move) no longer hit as it went by the crutch as we rolled from the waves.

    With the wind now down to 'normal' sailing levels, and our continuing to
    point relatively high at 60° apparent wind, our speed dropped to 4.5-5.5 knots. As well, our KISS wind generator had finally stopped turning; our
    solar panels had kept us fully charged. As night arrived, I'd re-energize
    it to gain those amps.

    At 6:45 PM the wind both clocked and dropped further. To keep our sails
    full, we turned to put the wind at 90° apparent at 10 knots or less,
    yielding a slow 3.4-3.6 knots.

    By this time we were being affected by the Gulf Stream, as our heading was 140° but our COG (course over ground) was 85° - close to the ideal 90° heading which would get us out of the north-moving stream in the shortest amount of time - but that was our course. Our heading had us pointed into
    the stream. Not very effective at getting across... The wind by this time
    had dropped further, and clocked significantly, at only 8-12 knots apparent.

    Lydia went below for a nap at 8:30 PM as the wind continued to clock and
    behave very erratically as well as squalls appeared on the horizon and
    radar. Because there both was not enough wind to keep it full at the angle
    of attack the NW-NNW winds were arriving now, and if we got a squall we'd be very overpowered, I rolled in the genoa and gave up and started the engine.

    We motorsailed in winds which were light enough, and new enough, to not make the wind-against-current heavy chop which is usually present in the Gulf
    Stream during a north wind. If it had gone on for many more hours, or at higher speeds, or both, the water would have been very lumpy. With the main alone, however, motorsailing, we were making over 7 knots at 10:45PM in relatively small seas.

    Continuous watching of squalls proved an exercise, as we never saw one get
    near us. Our weather guy said that we were lucky, as the ones which HAD hit others were violent. There was lots of rain all around us, but nearly no
    wind. Despite being North, it was only 2-5 knots, and thus the sea was calm
    as we motorsailed onward. The fluky wind made for a wildly varying track; looking at it one might wonder if we were drunk. During the time in which
    we corralled the topping lift, for example, and took out the reef, our
    course doubled back on itself as the Gulf Stream pushed us north!

    Well, all that nothingness went with a bang as, at midnight, our main sheet shackle gave way. It was all the more exciting as we'd been paying close attention to a cruise ship not too many miles off which looked like it might
    be on a direct collision course with us. Our radar's "closest point of approach" feature had us at a minimum of over a mile open at closest, but seeing it get bigger and bigger, and still always about the same place ahead
    of us, made us nervous.

    All that nervous energy immediately was now focused on corralling the
    swinging boom (nothing holding it in check due to the sheet no longer being attached). The first thing to do was to head into the wind at as slow a
    speed as possible in order to make the sail and boom not hit the shrouds
    (the wires which keep the mast vertical). Additionally, I rolled up the
    genoa so it wouldn't be flapping as I worked on getting things stabilized.

    As Lydia concentrated on keeping us slowly into the wind, I went below to excavate the spare shackles - buried among several types of fasteners - we
    had. Once I had one in hand, I quickly removed the remainder of the snap shackle which had failed and installed the new one on the main sheet block. Corralling the boom, swinging freely, was another matter however. So, still headed into the wind, we did a "dirty drop" - that is, we merely released
    the mainsail's halyard, allowing it to drop messily into our lazy jacks (the lines leading from high up on the mast to the boom to keep the sail more-or-less confined to the boom), rather than controlling it as I lowered
    and flaked (put in neat layers) it into our Mack Pack, the self-closing
    cover for the mainsail.

    That reduced the windage of the boom substantially. With all the reefing
    lines (the lines which pull back on the grommets in the sail at the levels where shortening [reefing] the sail would need to have the leech {rear} of
    the sail tightened) now slack, they fell out of the sail cover and were accessible to grab. Holding on for dear life, Lydia controlled the boom sufficiently for me to attach the new snap shackle.

    Once again secure, we headed up into the wind and raised the main again.
    Whew! That was exciting, and the next day we'd both be very sore. With
    wind now at only 2-5 knots, we were nearly exclusively motoring.

    But wait!!! Why isn't the chartplotter showing the boat moving? And why
    isn't it showing speed over ground? ACK! The GPS has stopped working!

    We never did find out what was happening; it wobbled around between working
    and not working, and eventually seemed to have recovered from whatever
    hiccup was happening. Fortunately, our autopilot didn't entirely rely on
    the GPS signal, using its electronic compass to maintain the heading. As we were in the middle of nowhere hazard-wise, it wasn't too terrible. Additionally, I have my computer set up with a navigation program and a separate USB GPS for backup, so we never were really, other than being
    nervous and inconvenienced, in trouble.

    By 3AM on Friday June 9th, we were on the Little Bahamas Banks, with no wind
    at all. We left the main up for stabilization, and motored onward toward
    Grand Cay. By 7:30 AM, when I talked with our weather guy, there was no
    wind, or seas, either. We reached Great Sale Cay, a common stopping/intermittent point for cruisers going to and from the US, by 1PM,
    but kept on going, over the top.

    That's because, rather than check in at Grand Cay, and play there, we headed directly to our friends, who were off Manjack Cay, anxiously awaiting our delivery, and eager to feed us dinner.

    Well, this hadn't been a notable crossing in terms of speed, and we started
    in the middle of the day, unlike our usual night-time departure. Thus, we weren't going to get there for dinner, so we prepared to make our own. But wait - more excitement, albeit minor. We had a leaking dinghy fuel can.
    That put a 50/1 mix of gas and oil on our deck and cabin house. Some work
    with some paper towels, soap and water, and copious rinsing took care of
    that. We enjoyed a stir-fry dinner at 5PM.

    Continuing with our motorsailing, we threw out the anchor in a no-traffic
    sort of area shortly before dark. It was apparently close enough to some
    cell tower or towers as we had marginal reception but were able to get email and updates. A restful night ensued, blissfully back on the water again.

    Saturday June 10th dawned but we stayed in bed, having not had much sleep in the last couple of days. By noon, however, we were off to Manjack where our friends awaited. In nearly ideal conditions, we saw 10-12 knots at 100° apparent on our port side. That led to our making 5.8 knots SOG on a
    heading of 125° - but our COG was only 106°. The difference was our side-slide as the boat had a small heel, reducing the effectiveness of the keel.

    In cruising everything is subject to change, however, and at 12:30 the wind died a bit, and clocked such that our apparent wind moved up to 80°. That moved us closer to the wind, which had dropped. Despite our being slightly closer hauled, meaning that the wind would move forward and because of our
    own forward speed, appear to increase, it was still only 8-10 knots. We nonetheless managed 5.4 knots, heading at 142° but actually making good 128° COG. By 3:30, we had our anchor down and prepared to go off to meet our friends.

    But wait! So excited to see us, Janet jumped in her dinghy and sped over to where we were anchored. Hugs and exchanges of shipped goods and a present she'd brought for us later, she returned to make dinner; we'd meet them at
    5PM. We still had to get our dinghy in the water, and as we'd decided to
    put together our PortaBote - for the first time in about 18 months, in a
    stiff breeze, hanging upright from our spinnaker pole hoist line and thus flailing around a bit - we hadn't finished by 5PM.

    Fortunately, they'd anticipated that and invited us to call for a ride. We lowered the PortaBote, partly assembled, to the deck, and called Abaco
    Marine Uber. They were expecting our call and arrived at our stern platform
    in very short order, delivering us to Flyingfish soon after.

    As Janet not only LIKES to cook, but is very good at it, a marvelous multi-course dinner ensued. Of course, since no dinner aboard a moving platform is complete without red wine being spilled, we got to see how effectively Sam's cockpit layout dealt with the small river. All was well
    and our reunion continued into the wee hours - Cruisers' Midnight is at
    8PM - when AMU finally returned us to our home awaiting us on the other side
    of the anchorage.

    That's a good place to stop for now. Unlike so many of our previous sagas, this one has no big suspenseful anticipations., other than bonhomie between fast friends, and additional travels, on which more, anon.

    You can see our travels by going to tinyurl.com/flyingpigspotwalla - and
    once there, clicking on our name in the upper left. That will bring a drop-down menu. Select "Adjustments" and use a number which would take you
    back to the departure date. For most of you reading this, a month would
    work well. You can zoom in or out in your usual preferred mode of either
    mouse wheel, finger pinch/expand or clicking the icon at the bottom right
    +/- and drag by left click and hold, wherever you want.

    So, until next time, 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

    When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not
    fit to live on land.
    - Dr. Samuel Johnson

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