Thursday, November 30, 2006

Out and In

Blount Island, St. Johns River,FL N 30 23.830 W 81 30.392

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We got a lot of business done on Monday. We tried (and failed) to make a reservation for a mooring in Marathon for January. We tried (and succeeded) to reserve some time with a diesel mechanic in mid December. I contacted Dave Hackett near Melbourne. Dave told me that the next space shuttle launch is scheduled for December 7. That might work out just perfect for us to see it. Oh boy! I went to the post office and got some presents in the mail, and mailed my broken Acer computer back to Acer for repair. I also picked up the stanchion that Bud Taplin made for us. We ordered that last August. That's how long it takes for snail mail to catch up to us.

But our big project for the day was to go over to Tiger Point Boatyard and have Tarwathie hauled out for one hour and a fee of $140. You remember Tiger Point. In June 2005 that was the place where I painted the bottom. In December 2005 that was the place where we had the cabin heater installed. It is also the home marina for our conflict resolution specialist friend Baird.

While she was out I replaced the propeller zinc (remember when I tried before and dropped it?), and the propeller shaft zinc. I also greased the Maxprop with a grease gun. That prop is supposed to feather when we are under sail, but lately it hasn't feathered and the propeller shaft turned all the time when sailing. That costs us 0.25-0.50 knots. It might have been possible to hire a diver for $50 to do the zincs, but the grease job could never have been accomplished under water.

Today we got fooled by the weather report. We were supposed to have NE 10-15 knots so we set out to sail to St. Augustine, 55 miles away. After getting out past the jetty, we raised the sails, but it was a no go. There was only enough wind to make one knot. Worse, there were close-spaced swells coming from the east that made us roll violently. The sails and the boom just thrashed back and forth, so I had to take the sails back down and motor. Then the choice was to reverse course back in to Fernandina, and then down the ICW, or to stay outside and motor 18 miles to the St. Johns river.

I've never been suspicious, but almost exactly a year ago in almost exactly the same spot, we were faced with a decision of whether to continue or to turn back. A year ago, the problem was that the control line for the monitor self-steering broke and I couldn't repair it in the rough seas. Last year we chose to go back, this year we chose to go forward.

A very uncomfortable 5 hours later we entered the St. Johns river. We're anchoring here for the night rather than pressing south on the ICW. This is the fifth time we anchored in this spot behind Blount Island. It was never our goal any of those 5 times, but rather a matter of convenience. Should we be superstitious?

I have a new criterion for sailing at sea. Suppose we are rolling in the swells plus/minus 30 degrees with a period of 12 seconds. Then the midpoint of the sails about 30 feet over the water, is swinging about 50 feet in 6 seconds, or about 9 feet per second, which is an average speed of about 5.3 knots. Therefore it will take a wind of 10 knots or more to prevent the sails from being backwinded on each roll of the boat. Therefore, my new rule of thumb is that if winds are less than 10 knots in a rolling sea, we should not raise the sails.

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