Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
34 55.98 N 076 38.85 W
Contemporaneous writing is amazing. Each of the past two blog posts were written at a point of emotional high and low. In both cases, conditions changed within an hour. If I had written either of those posts earlier or later, the content would have been different. As they are, they form an instantaneous snapshot into my thoughts at that moment. That's why in criminal law, contemporaneous witness statements weigh heavier than anything they might say later.
After getting beat up and pounded and discouraged yesterday on a seemingly unstoppable tack toward Iceland, conditions changed rapidly. The wind dropped in speed, it veered to NW and then W then NW again. The sea settled down to nearly flat. We were able to stop the engine and sail along just fine. For the next 20 hours, wind waxed and waned. We mostly sailed, but also used the motor from time to time.
The only distraction was a warship, that would only identify herself as Warship III. She appeared to be an aircraft carrier similar to the Iwo Jima that I saw on display last year in NYC. Warship III hailed us on the radio and asked us to stay 5 miles away from her. OK. I maintained course and speed which carried us away from her. However, throughout the night Warship III maneuvered here and there and crossed our path twice more. She kept asking us and other vessels to stay 5 miles away. At night, she was lit up like an airport with green lights marking the landing deck. Planes and copters practiced take offs and landings. I presume that in a war zone she does no show those lights at night.
We were sailing so good that we threatened to arrive in Beaufort before dawn. We didn't want to do that. Therefore we kept reducing sail area to slow down. I computed that the optimum arrival at the Beaufort channel would be 0600. Dawn was at 0618 and the tidal flood current would peak at 0630. We timed it pretty good, actually arriving at that point at 0610. That's extraordinarily precise for a sailboat. Anyhow, it all worked fine and by 1000 we were anchored here in Adams Creek ready to catch up on sleep and food for a day.
Tomorrow we'll go to Oriental. Saturday our daughter in law Cathy is coming for a visit. Early next week we'll head for New Bern for a few days. We are reminded that we don't want to go too far north too soon. Yesterday they had a foot of snow in Vermont. The weather is such that we could have stayed on the outside maybe all the way to New York. However, arrival in NYC by May 2 would be far too early. Even today it feels chilly here in NC.
By the way, I think we need to expand our sailing expertise to include heaving to as a remedy. We've never done that for more than a few minutes. However yesterday would have been the perfect case where it should apply. Nice sailing was interrupted by 13 hours of hell following passage of a front. Rather than battle the bad weather we could have heaved to, abandoned the watch and gone below to eat, sleep and relax until the weather passed. Yesterday however, we were near a shoal and a shipping lane. Both of those made heaving to inappropriate. We need to incorporate that into our bag of tricks.
Stats for this passage: 68 hours at sea, 5.6 knots average speed, 380 nautical miles traveled, 560 statue miles of ICW avoided, probably 11 days of ICW traveling avoided. The first 24 hours we went 180 miles, for an average speed of 7.5 knots -- WOW!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
33 77.35 N 077 34.23 W
Soon after posting yesterday's blog, the wind changed. It was as if Murphy didn't like me bragging about how nice it was.
I took down the mainsail. I took down the stay sail. I reefed the jib 50%. That seemed to have things under control. That is until I went to bed at 2000 leaving Libby at the helm. A front passed and shifted the wind 45 degrees in direction, and increased the speed to 25 knots. We were still OK with that wind. It was very bumpy and wet, but we made progress.
Then, at 0700 we approached the East end of Frying Pan shoals. As soon as we rounded the shoal we could alter course 10 degrees to port and make the 80 mile final run to Beaufort. Just then, at the worst possible time, the wind shifted another 80 degrees. Now is was blowing directly from the direction to Beaufort. Oh no! That's the worst possible direction.
I tried to sail with this new wind for 4 hours. It was no good. We were heading for Iceland, not Beaufort, NC. If we came about to starboard tack, it would carry us back toward Frying Pan Shoals. That would be a big mistake. Right now the sails are down and we are motoring at 3 knots toward Beaufort,NC. IT will take us 30 hours if nothing changes.
I spend much of my watch time at night contemplating fatigue and how it affects my judgment. I found myself thinking of comfortable safe anchorages, and a warm bed. I began to doubt if we are meant to be offshore sailors. More things are breaking with the pounding the boat it taking. The radar reflector line broke and the reflector fell on deck. Several things began to wear out on the Monitor, jeopardizing the only self steering we can use out here. My decision to continue on last night rather than putting in to land was a bad one. It is understandable that all crewmen will feel some euphoria in good weather and depression in bad weather. The question is how much mood swing is too much?
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
32 50.80 N 079 29.60 W
We are making excellent time. This morning at 1000 we passed Charleston, SC. That is 180 miles of progress in 24 hours. For a boat that is supposed to do only 100 miles per day, that's amazing. For Tarwathie it ties our previous record of 180 miles. However, the first time we did that we had a current boost from the Gulf Stream the whole way. This time is is purely due to favorable winds.
The wind has been about 20, varying from 15 to 25 the whole time. It appears that we will complete this entire 400 mile passage on port tack, and by making only minor adjustments in sail trim. I wish I could have all my previous sailing companions with us. They would all be so impressed by what an ocean cruiser can do in the right conditions.
The best part came in the dark of night. We had a clear sky and a nearly full moon last night so visibility was good. As we flew along averaging almost 8 knots, combinations of wind and wave would sometimes make the speed surge to 10. When that happened, Tarwathie would throw a huge white wake behind her as spray flew off the hull. The roar of the water and the flying white spray illuminated by the moonlight made quite an impression. I was so entertained by that I hardly noticed that I was getting cold and wet. Every hour or so, a wave would slap on the side in such a way that it threw a wall of cold water high in the air and then crash down on my poor body. I was wearing my foul weather jacket but not the pants. Soon I was wet from the waist down and shivering. Never mind. I was having too much fun to care.
Around 0200 we passed what I'll call point SR. What is that? It is the point, about 12 miles from the entrance to the Savannah River where ships anchor and wait for their turn to enter the river. The first time we came across point SR at night 4 years ago I was really spooked. I saw numerous lights from ships ahead but which way were they moving. There were so many and they were so spread out that they were impossible to avoid. It wasn't until we were in the midst of these ships that I realized that they were anchored. Last night it was the same. However, this time I was expecting to see them so I wasn't quite so spooked. Nevertheless, being less than 1 mile away from huge ships while at sea makes me exceedingly nervous. I was very glad to leave them behind.
The forecast for Wednesday has changed, so we decided to go for Beaufort, NC rather than Cape Fear. We'll cross Frying Pan shoals, the most dangerous place on the whole East Coast, tomorrow morning. We did 180 miles in the past 24 hours, but I think it will take 48 hours to do the next 200.
Life is good.
p.s. Almost never can we complete an offshore passage without something breaking or getting lost. Last night it was a solar powered garden light. We bought those lights in Vero to help illuminate the decks at night. I forgot to stow one of them away before putting out to see. This morning at 0500 I noticed that the light had lost its top overboard. How? I have no idea, but it's gone.
Monday, April 26, 2010
30 53 N 081 19 W
I'm happy. Libby is beaming. Tarwathie seems to breath a sigh of relief. For the first time since last November we are at sea and back in our natural element. And what a splendid day it is to be out here -- warm, sunny, and breezy. We have a west wind at 20 knots right on our beam. We're running with a double reefed main, a 50% reefed jib and a staysail. Mr. Monitor (the self-steering vane) is steering. Tarwathie is gliding trough the water 6.5-8.5 knots. Man oh man, this is the cruising life as the promo videos depict it.
The wind is coming in the off-shore direction and we are staying in no more than 10 miles from shore. Therefore, the wind can blow all it wants and the waves won't get overly large. That makes for great sailing. This weather window should last Monday and Tuesday before dissipating. That's not quite enough to get us to Beaufort, NC, but we may be able to reach Cape Fear before the wind dies off. Not bad.
By the way, the rendezvous was great fun. Over the course of three days, we progressed from meeting some fellow sailors, to having fun with real friends, to having to say good bye to dear friends. What an outstanding flock of nice people there. We really hope that we get to meet up with them again.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
|Vero anchorage seen from the Tarwathie's masthead|
|Tarwathie seen from Tarwathie's masthead|
|This guy appears to be paddling all the way to Canada|
|Libby with Mike touring the cemetery in St. Marys|
|Relaxing on a Cumberland Island Trail|
|Road to Dungenes Mansion, Cumberland Island|
|Libby crosses the barrier dunes, Cumberland|
|Shells on Cumberland's beach, carry lot of life with them.g|
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
It is always such a pleasure to make new friends. Blogging as a way of finding new friends is so bizarre.
Friday, April 16, 2010
30 00.14 N 081 20.30 W
Well, we made it past the severly shoaled shallow point near Matanzas Inlet. We arrived there at the peak of high tide. The least depth we saw was 7.2 feet. No problem. However, considering the fact that tide was 4.6 feet above low, that spot was really dangerous.
The cost of doing that was getting up at 0300. We were underway at 0345. We have never traveled on the ICW before in the dark. It was much harder than I thought. The channel we traveled in is only 75 feet wide. The big danger is not leaving the channel and running aground. It is colliding with one of the red or green day markers. Four out of five of the day markers are not lit.
Here's how we did it. Basic navigation was to follow the blinking lights of the one of five daymarkers that were lit. Since the channel was basicly straight, not curvy, that part was easy. We also used the GPS chart plotter as the secondary navigation device. It showed us to be in the channel and pointing in the right direction. However, the GPS and the charts are not nearly accurate enough to avoid straying 50 feet from the center line. For that we used our hand-held spot-light. With that, we were able to spot the unlit markers from about one quarter mile away. We used the chart plotter to alert us when the next marker was 0.25 miles away, then the spot light to actually find it.
It all worked fine but it was very stressful. By the time first light came both Libby and I were pretty tired and stressed out. I don't recommend ICW travel at night unless there is a very good reason.
Anyhow, starting so early allowed us to pass the Bridge of Lions in Saint Augustine at 1230 and to anchor here at our favorite Tolomato River spot by 1500. We don't have a name for this anchorage. It's near marker 41. The only things visible are beautiful salt marshes, a very nice island, and far to the south, we see the top of the airport control tower.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
28 10.53 N 080 38.20 W
The package we were waiting for finally came. The waiting is over. We're on the move. Horray! Libby had a big ear-to-ear grin on her face as we left Vero.
It's a beautiful day. Mostly sunny. Breezy. In fact breezy enough that we're motor sailing with the jib. Tomorrow will also be breezy but from the East. We may be able to forgo the motor entirely.
I love it out here on a day like this. It's a weekday so there's not much boat traffic. The weather is nice. Anchorages are plentiful. To the East, we see the Gulf Stream out there. It's teasing us. "Come out and play," it's saying. However the Gulf Stream is covered with huge cumulus clouds. I think it must have been raining out there most of the day.
What is your most important instrument while sailing? Mine is my cheeks. I sense wind direction and wind speed by the feeling on my cheeks. My brain is able to rotate that sensation to line up with the boat direction and thus compensate for my head turning. My second most important instrument is the back of my neck and my forearms. I use them for the same purpose. Of course we have all sorts of electronic gadgets to report various measurements, but they are all tertiary. Check and neck/arms are primary and secondary.
Monday, April 12, 2010
We much prefer sailing on the outside (i.e. offshore). That's especially true when heading north. The Gulf Stream gives us an extra kick.
Alas the winds are not favorable; not today and not for the next week according to the forecasts. Still, we have the itch to be on the move so we'll work our way up the ICW until conditions are right.
Too bad for us, that will spoil the big kick from the Gulf Stream. As you can see in the picture, the Gulf Stream hugs the coast from about Stuart south. If we go offshore at Fernandina, we have to head so far out to sea to catch the Gulf Stream that we loose much of the advantage.
It takes three days to sail from Palm Beach to Beaufort NC with good wind. It takes three days to sail from Ferandina Beach (300 miles further north) to Beaufort with good wind.
Yet once we have the itch to travel, it's just too too hard to sit and wait for perfect weather. So we've never yet had the perfect Gulf Stream boosted passage.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I think we mentioned before that some people use old Crocs as fenders on their dinks. Therefore, I wasn't too surprised to see the dinghy in the picture below at the dock in Vero. I was surprised though to note that those Crocs were not old worn-out ones, but rather brand new. La-dee-dah.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Look at the nice job we did this morning making a new bail for our bucket. The new bail is made of a piece of #6AWG copper wire. It should be much more corrosion resistant than the steel bail was. I'm rather proud of it.
I finished the bilge project today and I also installed new hoses and hose clamps for the cockpit drains.
Last week, while working on the shaft, I noticed a bit of copper foil coming down from the Lazarette. It had corroded away where it ran through salt water under the engine pan. Uh oh.
The copper foil is used to create a ground plane for the SSB radio antenna and tuner. More than just grounding the tuner, the antenna (our backstay) should have a grounded plane underneath it. That is accomplished with copper foil. It comes in a roll, about 15 cm wide and 2mm thick. It is grounded to the dynaplate under the hull, but it is routed back and forth to make a ground plane.
I had replaced the copper foil a few years ago, so I was greatly disappointed to see it corrode away so fast. I bought some materials to replace it again. Today, we emptied out the lazarette to gain access. Lo and behold, there was the fresh copper foil ground plane.
I was wrong. The corroded fragment I found was a remnant of the original copper. I had forgotten that the new copper foil is routed elsewhere to keep it out of water. I also forgot that I left the stub of the old foil in place to let it extend the ground plane a little. Should I call that absent minded or feeble minded of me?
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
- I tried first to seal it with tub & tile sealer. It leaked.
- I tried again with a fresh tube of form-a-gasket. It leaked.
- I retried with form-a-gasket. It leaked.
- I retried with 3M 4200 bedding compount. It leaked.
- I retried with a sheet of cork used to make custom gaskets. It finally worked.
Monday, April 05, 2010
We got up early to watch the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. We're very glad that we did, the experience was wonderful.
Saturday, April 03, 2010
27 29.77 N 080 22.38 W
Below you see the moment of splash as Tarwathie touches the water once again. Hooray!
Here's a few details from the work projects.
Friday, April 02, 2010
Thursday, April 01, 2010
Well, everything is complete and put back together. We splash Friday morning at 9AM. Only then will we be able to tell for sure if the vibrations are fixed. However, we're pretty confident.
Can't wait to get back to our natural environment.