Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Danger of Ocean Inlets

Umatilla, FL

A headline in today's news, prompted this post. It was,
7 dead, 1 missing in New Zealand fishing boat disappearance.   It was a story about a charter fishing boat that sank while trying to come in the inlet of a very big harbor.

As you know, Libby and I had 30 years of sailing expierience before setting out on Tarwathie.  We did mostly lake sailing, but I also sailed a lot in the Baltic Sea, and we chartered boats in the British Virgin Islands three times.  One would think that is plenty of experience.  Wrong.

One of the many things we learned the hard way in our first few years, was how dangerous ocean inlets are for boaters.  In most cases, we advice newbie cruisers to, "Just get out there and do it."  Inlets are an exception.  We advise them to avoid almost all inlets except in the mildest possible conditions.   No amount of inland sailing experience can ever prepare you for what happens at inlets.

The biggest and most destructive danger at inlets is the waves.  Waves build up at inlets because the water is becoming more shallow.  That is magnified greatly by sandbars which preferentially form exactly at the inlet where ocean waters meet harbor waters.  It is doubly magnified when strong tital currents are funneled in/out through narrow inlet openings and the wind is in the opposite direction.   That combination creates huge standing waves.

It sounds as if today's report from New Zealand was a case of the boat being swamped by a wave as it tried to cross the sandbar. 

In the Bahamas, when the waves at the inlets are big, the locals call it "the rage."  Almost any vessel and any crew experienced or not are in danger of being destroyed or killed by defying the rage.  

Tarwathie is a Westsail 32, one of the most rugged and seaworthy boats ever made.  She has been tested to the limit by conditions we encountered at inlets.  There have been several other occasions when I reversed course and refused to challenge conditions at an inlet.

So what do you do if you are out at sea, and you want to enter a harbor?  You must pass the inlet to enter the harbor.  First choice, is to choose one of the safer inlets.  In the USA we call them class A inlets.  They are wide enough, and deep enough, and many have jetties, to mitigate the worst effects.   New York City's outer harbor is the best example I know of a safe inlet.  For years, we used only Class A inlets.  In later years, we used lesser inlets, but only in the right conditions.  Read here about one of the times I chickened out.

When you travel up/down the ICW, every inlet you pass is a source of shoaling, and shoals that change a lot from week to week.  The Corps of Engineers dredges the shoals ceaselessly, but it can't keep up.

A contributing factor is that GPS chart plotters and paper charts, usually don't show any details at the inlets.  It is a blank area on the chart.  They do that because the details change so fast.  An outdated chart is worse than no chart.  We found one book, 
Inlet Chartbook to Southeastern United States, that is an enormous help for the SE. We have not seen similar books for other areas.  But even that book appears to not be updated since 2005.

Advice to cruising sailors.  The seamanship of your vessel and crew will likely meet their maximum challenge at inlets.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Touring Central Florida

Umatilla, FL

Yesterday, Libby and I did some touring of the surrounding areas.
  • Central Florida is a jewel.
  • Ocala National Forest is a jewel.  I think we'll do a lot more exploring there in the next few months.
  • Most of the 200 mile trip, was on rural or wilderness roads.  The amount of non-swamp wilderness areas in Central Florida are mind boggling.  Unlike the vast stretches in the West, this land has lots of fresh water available.
  • Large scale agriculture here is also impressive.  It reminds us of California's Central Valley.
  • We also passed through Palatka and Deland, FL.  Both of those are urban as heck, resembling the overcrowded coastal cities.
  • Our "goal" for the day was Blue Springs State Park.  We are very glad we went there.  There were 101 manatees there yesterday.  I think our friends Jeff & Wendy brought their Westsail 32 up there one year.  That would be a marvelous adventure for Tarwathie if only we could get under one 45 foot bridge.
  • Below are some pictures from the park.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Single Handed but Tweeting, Part 2

Umatilla, Florida

I'll offer some 5 cent observations on Peter's tweets.

  • It is my theory that blue water sailors are subject to roller coaster emotional swings, with hills in good weather, and valleys in bad weather.  Single-handed sailing amplifies it. When Libby and I are offshore, one of us is always on watch while the other tries to sleep.  We barely have a chance to talk to each other.  The effect is that it seems very lonely to me, when it is just two of us.  Three or more crew are needed for social interaction.

    Peter mentioned hallucinations at one point.  Joshua Slocumb did the same.  Just thinking about that is a sign of depression. Reading the tweet's you can see Peter's mood shift toward the darker as bad weather caused fatigue, then rebound again after the weather improved and he caught up on rest.

Many people like to describe "heaving to" as an oasis. A picnic on a white sandy beach. It is not. You are in the soup. Ok it is a lot better but it is noisy.

  • Fatigue robs you of good judgement.   Peter seemed to hold up well in this respect.  No major mistakes were reported.

  • Note that in the first two days, the posts mostly anticipated that to come.  In the last two days, the posts mostly reflect on what happened.  To me, that indicates a profound life experience that Peter will never forget.  Libby and I experience that anticipation/reflection swing every time we put to sea.  Departure is marked by exhilaration, and arrival by relief.  Rarely, the reverse happens; departure is marked by dread, and arrival by disappointment that it will end.

  • Things break and you repair them on the fly.  I think that happens on almost any passage.  That is one of the major differences between offshore passages and day sailing in protected waters.

  • Peter's $379 Inreach gadget certainly proved itself useful.  I can see that if we used it, that the message conveyed would be subtly different than a daily blog post.  It is certainly more fun for people like me who followed Peter on the map, and who sent and received messages from Peter during the passage.  I should note that Peter also used his SSB.

  • I was very impressed by the following.  My limited passage planning skills would never have led me to a tactical plan anywhere as good as Chris'.

    Day 7 , 1.6 knots: I just spent the last 2 hours slowing the boat down by pulling most of the sails down and heaving to. Chris Parker, the infamous weather guru sent me an email. He explained that x slowing right down,i should be able2 sail2the BVI but if I kept going I will get stuck in Puerto Rico because of the direction of the wind
  • Peter's AIS receive and transmit did not provide as much protection as anticipated.  There is a good reasons why maritime laws everywhere require a sharp watch at all times.  Single-handed vessels can not comply, and electronic aids will never completely compensate for that.

  • When we are at sea, Libby always provides me with hot meals.  I underappreciated that until I read about Peter's diet   Thank you once again Libby.

  • Peter mentioned nausea, but he never got violently sea sick.  If he had, he would have been in much more peril IMO, because of the added fatigue and decreases in good judgement.
Below is a screen shot from the Inreach page tracking Peter's passage.  It also shows Peter's passage last year from Florida to Bermuda to Maine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Single Handed, but Tweeting, Part 1

Umatilla, FL

My friend Peter Ryan on his Westsail Onapua, just completed an 11 day single-handed passage from Hampton, VA to Virgin Gorda in the BVIs.  He had a modern gadget called Inreach that allowed him to "tweet" during the voyage.  I think that Peter's tweets are very interesting.  The dynamics of tweeting are subtly different thatn blogging.

Peter gave me permission to post his tweets here.  I'll comment on them in my next post.  For now, let Peter's words speak for themselves.

Day 1 , 4.9 knots: Am heading out of the Chesapeake in 25 knots with Mystic which is an Allergy 35 and doing 6 knots. Woohoo!

Day 1 : Snacking on flat bread crackers just so my stomach stays settled in this rough weather

Day 1 : I have so much good food on board the boat it is hard to decide what to eat. Am picking at the moment and just had a tomato. I need to eat food that will rot

Day 1 : I hadn't realized that my tracking wasn't turned on and I don't know where all those messages went

Day 1 , 4.9 knots: Books fruit and bits and pieces are littering the sole. I thought I had buttoned up everything well but I was mistaken. Wave height is starting to subside

Day 1 : It's turning chilly and I have had to put on some extra layers. Sun is no longer shining

Day 1 : So far today, I have completed 57 nautical miles at an average of 5.7 knots in 8 hours with just less than 300 to go. Whew!

Day 1 : I started out with Mystic, an Alberg35 and I was really hoping that we could stay together during this voyage, but unfortunately they are going a lot slower

Day 1 : This trip has a couple of serious consequences in that not only do I not have internet access for 2 weeks but also I will miss the presidential election

Day 1 : Because I left a day ahead of most of the boats in the Rally, I am going to be missing the Halloween party but having this great wind to sail is worth it

Day 1 : It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep because it is so exhilarating watching the boat tear along at 6 knots in complete darkness cutting the waves

Day 2 : I finally got some sleep. Even though it was only an hour at least it will help my sanity. It's still blowing 15 knots and boat is doing 6.5 knots

Day 2 : Even though it is still mostly dark I had a yogurt. I don't feel that I can get back to sleep at this point even though I only had 2 hours of sleep

Day 2 : I have my sails up and my engine full on and I am still only making 3 knots speed over ground. I have a log measuring speed through water and it says 6.5 knot

Day 2 : Tried to sleep but the boat keeps on wandering. Have been going over in my mind of how to deal with the storm that is due Friday

Day 2 : The water temperature here in the middle of the gulf stream is 77 compared to yesterday in Hampton of just 61. I am hot today and was shivering yesterday.

Day 3 : Slept very well last night with my last one for 2 hours. A little dawn is just starting to appear and so the magic of sunrise begins

Day 3 : Well it turns out that my second day wasn't so bad after all with 110 miles. I thought that the gulf stream would slow me down a lot more.

Day 3 : I just transferred one of my 6 five gallon diesel jugs into the fuel tank using my new syphon hose. Much easier than using my Baja filter.

Day 3 , 6.6 knots: I have 1000 miles to go and I have already sailed 260 miles. if I get good winds like I have had it would be feasible to assume I could make it in 8 days.

Day 3 : My sail repair tape didn't hold the tear so I have resorted to using guerilla tape. Lots of it. I have another genoa if this one gives out.

Day 3 : Both my solar panels were caked in salt so I gave them a good clean. Because I do not have the motor running, I rely on them 4 my radio, autopilot and fridge

Day 3 : Often safety on a boat is a matter of keeping yr eyes open. The end of my autopilot was sticking out a little and when I looked closely it was about 2 fall of

Day 3 : I think I was a bit overzealous in the fruits and vegetables provisioning department and so to help I had tomatoes, celery, carrots and an Apple for lunch

Day 3 : Except when I am down below in the cabin, I always wear my life jacket. If I go forward I also clip on to my jacklines.

Day 3 : Just had a very refreshing nap but got woken up by my AIS alarm from a ship 8 miles south of me

Day 3 : I am trying to decide what to eat tonight. I've had enough of salads & have a hankering 4 some beans & rice and some brussel sprouts that I could roast. Mmmm!

Day 3 : 1 neat thing about this trip is that I have sailed all the way with a little motor sailing across the GS What cruisers never let on is how much they motor.

Day 3 : I have been having problems with Bluetooth connectivity between my satellite device and my smartphone and I think I have narrowed it down to the refrigerator

Day 3 : I decided to trim my beard while I was cooking the brussel sprouts and nearly burnt them. You'd think I'd learn. Never ever leave a propane stove cooking. Grr

Day 3 : Does anybody know what time it is? I am supposed to listen to the evening chat for the SDR at 8pm AST but I don't know if it changes with daylight savings.

Day 3 : Listening to the band "Lady Hawke" while I am eating dinner. One thing about single handing is that crew or neighbors never complain about my music selection

Day 3 : Just listened to the SDR SSB net on 8107 and heard a couple of boat reports just north of me where they reported little wind. am still getting NE at 10 knot

Day 4 : I have been sleeping in the quarter berth so far on this trip. Normally if the boat is rocking a lot, I will put a Cushion on the sole and sleep there.

Day 4 : The wind lightened up considerably and started coming from my Port stern quarter so I turned the engine on. I want to be as far SE away from tomorrow's storm

Day 4 : I woke after a hour sleep and the wind had got back up so I switched the motor off and now I am making a healthy 5.5 knots. It is cold away from the GS

Day 4 : Boat is making a steady 5 knots and when the boat is happy, I am happy. It is amazing how noisy the way is in the dark especially sitting in the cockpit.

Day 4 : I saw another ship, just the 2nd one on this voyage. I haven't read any books yet cos I have been focusing on getting the boat working well but I will today

Day 4 : So far today I have averaged 5.2 knots so I should have a healthy 130 mile day which will bring me up to near 400 miles for the first 3 days of the voyage.

Day 4 : Even though I have not felt seasick, I have not felt like eating after dark & I have 2 make an extra effort. U do seem 2 need very strong sea legs 4 this trip

Day 4 : When I left VA I didn't change my clocks for daylight saving so now I am automatically on AST. It's not like I have to be anywhere at a certain time.

Day 4 : Just had a small squall come over the boat with wind on the nose and rain. Thank goodness I was awake.

Day 4 : Feeling nauseous so I ate yogurt and muesli. It could be to do with my sleep routine being out of whack.

Day 4 : Am motoring into a light ESE breeze. Have pulled the genoa off completely to sew it even though the guerilla tape held it just fine.

Day 4 : Am trying to prepare myself mentally for what is going to be coming tomorrow night and Saturday. The most important thing is safety. Making headway comes 2nd

Day 4 : Another small sparrow hitched a ride and tried to eat my mainsheet. I fell asleep in the cockpit and missed listening to the cruiser's SSB net this morning.

Day 4 , 3.8 knots: Been motoring all day into slight headwinds. Blue sky and hot. Definitely T-shirt and Short weather. Been sleeping off and on most of the day to catch up

Day 4 : Wo fishing. I very rarely throw a lure overboard because it is too much to manage the boat and fish at the same time. Plus a fish is usually too much to eat.

Day 4 : I have a problem with my refrigerator stopping my Inreach satellite device from working. Not sure how to solve the problem.

Day 4 : I had my daily statutory ration of salad for lunch today and I am about to make zucchini, onion and Mac and cheese for dinner.

Day 4 : A ship! A ship! I see another boat. Just the 3rd boat I have see in 3 days

Day 4 : Just had a long chat with the ship nav officer and he said that he picked up my AIS signal from 10 miles away. He also said 2 expect 25knot westerlies tomorro

Day 4 : I heard that the boats that left yesterday are having bad weather and 2 had to divert. I am counting my lucky stars with fabulous sailing conditions.

Day 4 : The chocolate rations are going well. One piece a day sort of like the rum rations in the Navy for morale however the odd piece may disappear like things do.

Day 4 : I actually ate dinner tonight in the formal dining room which meant I had to put on a new T-shirt & change out of the 1 that I have been wearing since Hampton

Day 5 : I have Lee cloths for constraining u while sleeping but I never use them. I like to get up&look around the boat&get back 2 sleep with minimal interruption.

Day 5 , 3.3 knots: A nice little breeze has sprung up. Is it the real deal or is it just a passing phase? Do I raise my sails and head off in a new direction or do I wait and see what comes of it? I waited and half an hour later it died. Frustrating.

Day 5 : Clear starry sky tonight from horizon2horizon. There is no moon so it is pitch black but you can see a slight mist all the way around the boat. Quite magical.

Day 5 : There is a counter current of about half a knot that I have been fighting for a few hours now. I have a speed log on the hull that measures my speed  through the water and I can compare it to the GPS SOG (speed over ground)

Day 5 : Even though it is not cold, i like to use a heavy wool blanket to sleep under because it is comfortable and cosy. Sleeping on a boat is difficult anyway so  you need as much help as you can get.

Day 5 : I have 100 gallons of diesel on board which can get me 600 miles or about 5 days of motoring. I have probably used about 15 gallons so far and have come a third of the way so I am in good shape

Day 5 : I slept well last night in preparation4the forecast bad weather. I got up a half dozen times&each time slept for about an hour or two. I don't set an alarm.

Day 5 : The ocean is huge. You would think that with 83 other boats out here that I would see at least one! But no.& don't get me started on all those stars up there.

Day 5 : I am about to go up on deck and video record the sunrise. I plan on putting all the sunrises and sunsets for this voyage into a video to show how calm it is.

Day 5 : I broke down this morning and made myself a cup of coffee. Now I am sitting in the cockpit, watching a glorious start to the day and sipping my cup of joe

Day 5 , 2.7 knots: Let's just debunk this nonsense about the Westsail being as slow as a wet snail. It just ain't so. Period. Full stop. The 5th day out in the Rally and I am second in the pack of 83 boats. Ok so I did leave a little early, but so did half of the pack. Anyway time will tell. Let's see when we get to the BVI.

Day 5 : My 4th day was not a good day distance wise. Just 90 miles with most motoring against a one knot current and light breezes. 500Nm down and 800Nm to go

Day 5 : Yet another one of those small birds has come to keep me company. And I mean really close. Like inches away from me. The thing is, I am 500 miles from land

Day 5 : I'm having to sail at 170 degrees to overcome this current to get me on the rhumb line at 150 degrees. Plus it is a one knot drag. Frustrating!

Day 5 : I think I have solved my problem with the refrigerator causing interference with my satellite device. I relocated it outside in a Ziploc bag. Here's hoping.

Day 5 : I spent the last few hours getting ready for the rain and gales that are supposed to hit early tomorrow morning. I stored everything loose from the cockpit

Day 5 : I spent the last few hours getting ready for the rain and gales that are supposed to hit early tomorrow morning. I stored everything loose from the cockpit I spent the last few hours getting ready for the rain and gales that are supposed to hit early tomorrow morning. I stored everything loose from the cockpit of 25 knots from behind is a reefed main and staysail. Now if it all goes south, then I will dump the main and run with just  the staysail. If it is lighter than that, then I will raise my smaller genoa and after that, shake out the reef.

Day 6 : The wind clocked around overnight and now it is blowing from the north at about 10 knots. The glassy seas that we had yesterday are now starting to chop up

Day 6 : I got lots of sleep last night from about 9pm until 5 pm in half a dozen one to two hour intervals. I figured I will not be getting any sleep tonight.

Day 6 : I started reading a "Michael Palmer" thriller last night and immediately got hooked. There are some writers who can make mundane stuff so interesting.

Day 6 : This morning I have decided to have a cooked breakfast. Porridge& an egg with my coffee outside in the cockpit watching the sunrise. It doesn't get any better

Day 6 : I have the boat all buttoned up with a very conservative sail plan. I could be going a lot faster but with squalls about I'd rather take it safely

Day 6 : Sometime today I will pass our halfway mark with 700Nm to go and 600 down. We had a 100 mile day yesterday motoring, but today it will be pure sailing.

Day 6 : The SSB net this morning was a bit of a mess with multiple people all talking over the top of others. It sounds like quite a few rally boats have dropped out

Day 6 : Just transferred one of my 5 gallon jugs of diesel into my fuel tank to get the weight down lower. I have 2 left now which means so far I have used 20 gallons

Day 6 : Going into my 6th day, my ship's stores are in good shape. I had2 throw out half a bag of lemons but all the other fruits and vegetables are in good condition

Day 6 : I just realized I had not mounted my running backstays. I even put the leeward one up. The rigging will need all the help it can get for tonight's blow.

Day 6 , 4.3 knots: I'm going all out4lunch because it mightBthe last decent meal I get4 a while. Herring fillets in curry pineapple sauce, couscous, roasted garlic&brusselSprout

Day 6 : I just saw a flying fish. Often times they will fly onto the deck at night and in the morning u use them 4 bait. It's the same as birds flying into glass. Sad

Day 6 : It is a beautiful day with puffy white clouds skipping across the sky, but there is a big black bad looking squall that is behind me that I hope will go away.

Day 6 : Well you never know how these things are going to go and it looked like it would pass me by so I grabbed my jacket. Well big mistake! That squall hit me hard.

Day 6 : Wind starting to build. Grabbed a can of cold tomato soup for dinner. All hands on deck!

Day 6 : Well I am still waiting for some serious wind. Friends on a boat just north of me have 25 knots so it is on its way shortly. This message may b the last 2day

Day 6 : Slept for an hour or so and weather still not bad. Getting along at 5 knots in 15 knots of wind. Very nice ride and warm out. No rain or squalls.

Day 6 : If it was daylight, I would be adding canvas, but I am in no hurry and this way, the ride is smooth and the crew gets plenty of sleep. Will reconsider at dawn

Day 7 : Slept for 2 hours and woke up just in time for a squall. Lots of rain and wind and the windvane handled it with ease. Now the boat is back on track doing 5Kn

Day 7 : I was dozing when my AIS alarm went off&outside was a huge ship 0.5Nm off my stern. My AIS should have warned me sooner&he said he saw no AIS from me. Weird!

Day 7 : Even though it is windy and nasty outside, it is cosy & warm inside the cabin of my boat and the boat has a very gentle motion as it slices through the water

Day 7 : I was told that I could trade with some of the residents of the Caribbean islands so I did bring some items including eyeglasses, DVD's, and kids books

Day 7 : I changed the AIS alarm setup 2 warn me of any ships coming within a 10 mile radius. Usually I have it setup 4 1 mile. Still not sure if that was the problem.

Day 7 : I still haven't seen any gale force winds and right now they are about 15 knots. All the boats 40 Nm to the east of me have been getting 20 knots all night.

Day 7 : 

Day 7 : My experience so far with satellite communications is not good. I tried calling on my spot global phone with out luck because of spotty service and my Delorme Inreach keeps needing to be restarted to connect to the satellite. Grrr!

Day 7 : Ok. Winds have finally picked up. It is definitely blowing gale force winds now. All I can do at this stage is hope that all my preparations are enough

Day 7 , 4.9 knots: Finally! I finally got some wind! At long last. Doing 6 knots under staysail and reefed main. No rain. Boat in it's prime. This is what it was built for.

Day 7 : I worked out why my satellite phone wasn't working. You need to put a 011 before the one (USA) and the area code and then the number. Whew! Technology!

Day 7 : My 6th day was just another mediocre 100 mile day with 600 miles2go and 700 down. I have only just got gale force winds and the boat is in its element

Day 7 : I'm still trying to figure out what the problem is with my Inreach. At first I thought it was the refrigerator, then the fact it was inside the cabin and now I'm still trying to figure out what the problem is with my Inreach. At first I thought it was the refrigerator, then the fact it was inside the cabin and now

Day 7 : Ok another big ship just appeared off my stern 5 miles away and she(yes it was a "she" with an American accent, which is double unusual) told me that her AIS had picked me up 12 miles away

Day 7 : I have never seen a rogue wave and I hope i never do. Today there are some 15 footers but they r not breaking, their period is 8 secs and they are harmless.

Day 7 , 6. knots: I do not like having green water down inside my cabin so I have a rule to put one of the washboards in the companionway when a reef goes in the main sail

Day 7 , 6.6 knots: Been blowing 30 for most of the day and had 4 squalls coming from the North so I have been on a broad reach and sometimes running before the winds.

Day 7 : Above all else, it is the noise that is the scariest part of a storm at sea. You get used to the large waves but the howling winds are frightening.

Day 7 , 6.6 knots: It was a tough day today and it looks like it will continue through the night and into tomorrow. Boat is definitely being pushed hard and so far all is well.

Day 7 : I have steered the boat off the rhumb line in more of a broad reach and southerly direction to ease the pressure on the rig and to have the most gentle ride.

Day 7 : As bad as the weather is outside, I never at anytime feel unsafe on board. The boat heels easily, but once there it is rock solid and always stays upright.

Day 7 : Dinner tonight was a can of potato soup, some crackers and apple for dessert. It's going to be a long night.

Day 7 , 1.6 knots: I just spent the last 2 hours slowing the boat down by pulling most of the sails down and heaving to. Chris Parker, the infamous weather guru sent me an email

Day 7 : He explained that x slowing right down,i should be able2 sail2the BVI but if I kept going I will get stuck in Puerto Rico because of the direction of the wind

Day 7 : Up at midnight to check on everything and all seems to be well. I am slowly drifting south at 2 knots which should keep me between 25N and 26N Monday.

Day 7 : The idea of staying between these latitudes is that the wind there on Tuesday will allow me to sail to BVI. Will take another look tomorrow.

Day 8 : Many people like to describe "heaving to" as an oasis. A picnic on a white sandy beach. It is not. You are in the soup. Ok it is a lot better but it is noisy.

Day 8 , 2.2 knots: Winds have reduced considerably down to 20 knots but waves are confused albeit lower. Today I am going 2 relax, do some cleaning & wait until the winds change

Day 8 : Decisions, decisions. What 2 do. The problem is that the wind is going to clock and I don't want to go 2 Puerto Rico. So now I'm aiming as east as possible

Day 8 : I am still glad I took the more westerly course compared to all the others. And that is because they got hammered pretty hard compared to my one day yesterday

Day 8 : The first clue that something was amiss was that my reef points were squeaky. The 2nd was my reefing line was on my foredeck. You guessed chafed thru

Day 8 : Winds out of the north at 20 knots, sailing due east @ 6 knots with a reef in the main, my staysail and my smaller genoa. I've been on port tack all this trip

Day 8 : I went out on my foredeck2take some GoPro shots because it is a gorgeous day & the boat is smoking, and had a wave drench me. I won't be needing a shower 2day

Day 8 : So tired of reading and feeling like a bit of activity, I stuck my fishing line out for hour. I'm glad I didn't catch anything because it would be too much

Day 8 , 7.1 knots: I have had hallucinations in the past from sleep deprivation which can be so unsettling so on this trip I have been getting lots of rest.

Day 8 : I am trying to figure out what to eat tonight. I have a yearning for pumpkin and I have a zucchini that I need to eat. Where is the internet when I need it?

Day 8 : "Are we there yet?" Ok I am so ready to get to where I am going, lowering my sails and sleeping for a week in a boat that doesn't feel like a washing machine.

Day 8 : Cooking on a lurching boat can be a little challenging. I just cut up an onion and garlic and it all turned into a projectile landing on the galley sole.

Day 9 : It's 3am and pitch black outside except for the twinkling stars. I feel the warm wind on my face and listen to the rushing water and thank God I am alive.

Day 9 , 6.6 knots: I shook a reef out of the main because the wind had moderated somewhat. I'm still doing 6 knots and aiming north of the BVI knowing that the wind will clock

Day 9 : Broaching in a sailboat is an experience that is hard2forget. Careening down the face of a wave at full tilt with confidence is the reason to have a full keel

Day 9 : After being a week at sea, everything has salt on it. The dodger sparkles with the crystallized NaCl and your hands constantly feel like they need washing

Day 9 : Just 400 miles 2 go & with this wind moderating it probably means a Friday landfall. That will mean just an 11 day trip which in theory should have taken 14

Day 9 : I'm mindful of the fact that today is election day in the USA and I pray that whoever wins, they make Peace their top priority

Day 9 : I decided to get serious about fishing and put three lures out. A cedar plug & 2 squids but came up empty. I've always had good luck before sunset but no time

Day 9 : The wind is slowly moderating and I need to swap out my genoa for a larger one but every time I decide I will go get it, the wind pipes up.

Day 9 : Listening to Louis Armstrong sing you r so beautiful while cooking courgettes, Lima beans, and quinoa with the last of my mangoes for dessert.

Day 10 , 4.9 knots: Well I still have good winds for sailing despite the fact that they were supposed to clock and moderate. I have averaged 5.5 knots for the last 70 miles

Day 10 : I have several different places I can sleep on Onapua but the best one by far for motion is the quarter berth in the main cabin deep in the center of the boat

Day 10 : I am always looking forward instead of enjoying the moment. Rather than thinking about the BVI I should be enjoying the sunshine, the wind and waves, nature.

Day 10 , 6. knots: Well another 130 mile day averaging 5.5 knots. All of my days have been 100+ days except for the one day motoring and the other day when I heaved to overnight

Day 10 : 1 of the noises when I am sailing is the prop shaft spinning. As I approach hull speed at about 7.5 knots the vibrations tell me that I am going fast as poss

Day 10 : I have been going full on with my fishing this morning. Different lures, all 3 lines out, baying to the moon...oh wait it's daylight...ok never luck

Day 10 : Looking back over the voyage so far, it has been so steady and relaxing. The motion of the boat slicing through even rough water is so steady that it has (con

Day 10 : Meant that I have been able to get great night's sleeps. The only time I felt a little quesy was when I was heaving 2 and that was because I was reading below

Day 10 : I have no salads, plenty of fruit but am running low on vegetables. A cabbage keeps looking at me and a whole big pineapple that I don't know what to do with.

Day 10 , 5.4 knots: U wouldn't think that there would be 1 right out here, but I am fighting a 1 knot current. I have a log that measures the h2o speed&I can compare it 2 my GPS.

Day 10 : There has been no blue sky 2day so my solar panels have not replenished the batteries from overnight&right now it is raining. Sailing weather is not all good

Day 10 : You fight for every half a knot when sailing so I don't like the idea of dragging fishing lures behind the boat slowing it down especially diving lures.

Day 10 : I have asked my friend who's an official 4 the Salty Dawg rally 2 please arrange a parade for me when I arrive at the Bitter End town. He said that the  

Day 10 : Bergameister was friends with the brass band conductor too but wasn't promising anything

Day 10 : Some scary looking squalls downwind of me. Too boisterous to do any cooking tonight so it will be a cold can of soup and peanut butter sandwiches for dinner.

Day 10 : Had a full suite of sails up today & with 20 knots it made things interesting. I reefed at Sunset & pulled my genoa down which was exciting to say the least

Day 10 , 4.9 knots: I noticed 2 casualties of today's very fast ride. A snap shackle had parted ways on my leeward running backstay. Secondly, the turnbuckle on the bow whisker

Day 10 : Had disappeared. I will fix both of them in the light of dawn. Until then I will stay cosy and warm down below in my cabin while the tempest rages outside.

Day 10 : Woke up after a short while to find it raining with the wind clocking and lightening so I did what any modern sailor does these days..raise the iron Genny

Day 10 : One of the first things I want to do when I get to the BVI's is to go for a run. The problem with being on a sailboat, is that you never get any exercise.

Day 11 : Nothing is certain yet but when I get2the BVI tomorrow, 25 rally boats will b there with 50 yet2 arrive Except4start&finish, I will not have seen 1 other boat

Day 11 : Like me, I suspect that a lot of crew in the SDR are in it for the challenge. For me it was to show that you could take a small old boat and cross an ocean

Day 11 : List of things to do when I get to the BVI'S. Give thanks Call kids Shower Have a cold beer&celebrate Shop 4 salads, yogurt, bananas Get on the internet SLEEP

Day 11 , 6. knots: Easterlies, 12 knots, clear blue sky, doing 5.8 knots SOG (speed over ground)at 160 degrees true. Full suite of sails with autopilot & batteries fully charged

Day 11 : This one bird that I don't recognize, has been flying off the stern of my boat all morning. It almost looks like a penguin and every now and then it rests.

Day 11 : Not catching fish continues. I'm justifying it by saying that I am here to fish, not to catch fish. Friends on another boat are hauling them in every day.

Day 11 : Beans, spinach and mashed potatoes with an Apple for dinner

Day 11 : I think I have finally found a solution to my Inreach satellite device crashing. Now I shut my smartphone app down after sending messages.

Day 11 : Now motoring directly into a 10 knot SE wind. Exactly the direction I want to go. Big squall to windward of me. I'm hoping that it will miss me.

Day 11 , 4.3 knots: This last 100 miles has really knocked the gloss off this voyage. Motoring into headwinds is like riding a bucking bronco and I just had a squall to deal with

Day 12 , 3.8 knots: I have bruises all over my body from banging into things on this trip. My chins hurt, my left shoulder and in particular my hands from holding on so tightly.

Day 12 , 4.3 knots: I have heard some very good things about the Caribbean and in particular the Virgin islands but I can't see myself doing this every year the many cruisers do

Day 12 : I just raised my yellow flag on my starboard stay 2 signal that when anchored tonight, my boat is in quarantine until I can visit the customs, health & I dept

Day 12 , 5.4 knots: Land Ahoy! Even though I am 20 miles away, I can see a big hill peeking through the haze. Anagada is closer 2 me than Virgin Gourda, but all I can see r rocks

Day 12 : Like this place already. Water has changed color from a deep blue to a green. Islands are all around, temperature is perfect & there is a nice breeze blowing

Day 12 : I just had my first hot fresh water shower in 11 days and boy oh boy, did it ever feel good!!!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

What's Not to Like?

Umatilla, FL

People keep asking us if we are giving up our cruising life.  No.  Not yet anyhow.  This is an experiment, and a backup living arrangement just in case of future medical problems.   On the other hand, we are finding this area and this life style extremely attractive.

I already raved about the RV park, so I won't repeat that.

This part of Florida is delightful, and so unlike either coast.  There are actual hills around here OMG!   There are also green fields of grass, and rolled up bales of hay.   Local agriculture seems to be mostly horse farms, and citrus groves.  In fact, this very RV park is built on the site of an orange grove.  I'll tell that story in a later post.

This stationary front stayed overhead all morning.
Yesterday we toured Ocala National Forest, which is only 5 miles away.   We ended up at Alexander Springs.  What a delightful place.  The spring water there is as clear as the famous Silver Springs, and the water temperature there is 72 F (same temperature at all the springs around here.)  We are in Lake County, a place with 1735 spring-fed lakes, and 20% of the county's area is water.  Our local lake, Pearl Lake has water that tests cleaner than any municipal water supply.

Alexander Springs
Last week we made an excursion to IKEA in Orlando.  To Libby and I, shopping is not entertainment, but a chore.  IKEA is the exception to that rule.  We love going there.  We bought not only household stuff, but Christmas presents, and Swedish food.  However, even the brief exposure to Orlando's holiday off-peak traffic and congestion was a reminder of how different most of Florida is.  We think places like Umatilla are a paradise and places like Orlando are a hell.

We also find the people here are friendly and welcoming, both inside the park and in the city (Umatilla is a city, population 2502).

Meanwhile, Libby is doing a binge on gardening.  I love to see her enjoying herself so much.   I'll post some pictures soon of her results.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Peter Ryan, Blue Water Sailor

Umatilla, FL

Last year we met Peter Ryan.  Peter owns the W32 Onapua.   He is a long-time reader of this blog.  We met Peter at the W rendezvous in Port Canaveral, and again down in Boot Key Harbor.

Peter sailed single-handed to Bermuda and Maine last year.  Right now he is sailing single-handed from The Chesapeake to the BVIs.  He has one of those very clever Insight gadgets that sends his position.  It also allows him to send and receive "tweet" like messages.  I think he also gets weather from it.

Anyhow, it is very interesting and instructive to read Peter's chronicle from the list of tweets.  He encountered gale conditions out there for his first time.   In the tweets you can sense the fatigue and depression that sets in under those conditions.  Today, happily the weather and Peter's spirits are revived.

Peter's Blog page is here.

Peter's Insight page is here.  On the page you can see his track on the map (both last year's Bermuda passage, and the current BVI passage).  Click the down triangle to the left of Peter's name in the left panel, and you'll see the history of his tweets and position reports.  Scroll down to October, 31 (the start of this passage) and read the tweets in order.  To me it is highly interesting and educational.

Congratulations Peter.  You are out there doing it while I amd back here writing about it, and others are back here reading about it.

Monday, November 07, 2016

RV Newbies

Umatilla, FL

We're OK with the flip in our roles.  Instead of go-to experienced cruisers, we are the newbies in this life style.

We spent the weekend getting settled, and learning.  So far, almost all the surprising new things we learned have been pleasant surprises.

  • The park owns a row boat that we can use on the lake.  It is a big heavy aluminum boat.  It won't go like our dinghy does, but we'll give it a try.
  • I found the perfect place for morning exercise.  My favorite kind of exercise was step aerobics, that I learned in the 80s.  I can do that here in the early morning.
  • The climate here last week and this week is idea.  75-80 F highs, and 60-65 lows.
  • Libby's head is spinning with ideas for gardens.
  • This location, and this RV park, are nearly ideal.  5 miles north of us is Ocala National Forest.   10 miles south of us is absolute hell.  There is a highway that stretches from the huge and famous retirement community of The Villages to Orlando.  It is all commercial business and heavy aggressive traffic for 50 miles.  Ugh.  But 10 miles is far enough away.
  • Everyone in this park is a snowbird.  I've noticed that the people tend to replicate their "normal" lives here in miniature.  For example, a was a man today with a huge leaf rake.  He was raking up about a dozen leaves on his 15x15 lawn.  Another man turned his 8x10 shed into what he calls a "man cave"  he has a workbench and tools in there.  His own TV on the wall.  And, I'll wager a beer cooler.   I'll keep my eye out for more such signs of old habits dying hard.  I wonder what we will do to make up for the routine of using the dinghy to.
  • A supermarket and a hardware store and a library are all within walking distance.  Hooray!  Our physical condition won't deteriorate as fast as it did the winter we spent in New Bern.

Hull Paint Project, Part 13

Umatilla, FL

Here is a picture of Tarwathie with the paint job finished.  Apologies for my photography skills.  You can't see much in the picture.

By the way, the supplier said to wait two weeks before waxing the hull.  I plan a few trips down to the boat this winter to work on boat projects.  Waxing will be one item on the list.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 12 Summary

Umatilla, FL

Well, the project is done.  Tarwathie's hull is once again nearly pristine.  Hopefully, it will last 20 years, and hopefully our elevated experience level will let us avoid so many dings.   Here are the salient points that you may be interested in.

  • I lost track of detailed expenses, but total out-of-pocket expenses were $2000-$3000.
  • We worked on it 26 days.  Total labor about 400 hours.
  • Our screw up with the first coat, caused about 1 week extra work and increased total expenses about 25%..
  • We got advice on the project from many sources.
  1. About a dozen DIY YouTube videos.
  1. Our supplier, Jamestown Distributors and their expert RickW.
  1. Our cruising friend Greg.   Greg's advice proved to be the most accurate and useful of all.  Thank you Greg.
  • Our big screw up had to do with the roll-and-tip method.  None of the advisers gave in-depth descriptions of the tipping technique.  One of the videos mentioned thinner on the tipping brush.  That we misinterpreted, and used far too much thinner, which spoiled the whole job.
  • After the screw up, everyone (RickW, Greg, any every boat owner in the boat yard) said to put the paint on thin. Not just thin, but really THIN coats.  I'm an engineer, and I need numbers.  "Thin" is not a number.  We learned from experience that we were putting it on too thin, attempting to get 225 square feet of coverage with one quart of paint.  That allowed to roller cover to dry out.  When that happened, the foam part of the roller cover started peeling off.  We used up to 5 roller covers on half the boat.  Bits of foam cover also started coming off and sticking to the paint.  When we cut the coverage back to 180 square feet per quart, it went much better.  The roller cover stayed wet with paint all the time, and the peeling and shedding of foam stopped.  We could do half the boat with a single roller cover.  Here's the irony.  In my book that seemed like applying the paint thick.   That's why I hate non-numeric adjectives in this context.  How much is thin?  How much is thick?  10 people might give you 10 answers.
  • I learned that the rolling part of the roll-and-tip was most important to quality.
  • I learned that the tipping worked best if we frequently dip the tip of the brush in thinner, but then wipe off the thinner with a cotton cloth before the tipping.  I think that was the part of the video that I misinterpreted.
  • We also had personal limits.  We started work every day at first light, 0730.  But if we worked past noon, Libby and I would both get so tired that mistakes multiplied.
  • Libby and I both gained the best upper body workouts ever.  It even got to the point that my shoulders stopped aching after work.  I take that as a sign that I was getting in shape.  Libby seemed to do OK physically too.  She did fall backward once, and hurt her palm trying to stop the fall, but the bruise healed in a couple of days.
  • The professional painter at the boat yard does masterful work. I'm jealous every time I saw the quality of his paint jobs that I could never match.  But he is far too expensive for us, $300/foot, or about $10000-$12000 for the whole job.
  • On the last day of the project, I talked to Ron.   Ron is a handyman who hangs around the yard doing odd jobs.  Ron said, that he had done Awlgrip paint jobs 5 times.  "Oh no," I though suppose his price was reasonable and his quality better?  I avoided asking him his price, because I was afraid of the answer.  If only we had met Ron before the project.
  • Would we do it again?  I think Libby and I part opinions on this subject.  Libby wanted this job done for years.  Tarwathie's slightly banged up appearance bothered her.  I would have left it alone indefinitely.  I knew the job would be a big one, perhaps too big for people of our age.  I'm sure that Libby had no idea how much work it would be.  But in the end, I think we would not have changed our minds because of the amount of work.  So, would we do this paint project again?  I say, "probably not,"  Libby would say, "probably yes."
Here's a life tip and a secret to a long happy marriage. In the long run, Libby always gets what she wants. This hull paint project is a good example. In the long run, I always get what I want. Libby agreeing to abandoning our house in 2005 and living the cruising life is a good example. We do procrastinate, but we never whine to each other (or harbor internal resentments) about giving in to our partner's wishes. Procrastination helps filter short-term whimsical wants from deep-seated long term wants.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 11

I75 northbound
Whew. After a calender month of hard work, 7 days per week, with only 3 days off, we are done.Pictures will follow. Our work can not compare with that of the professional painter, but it is pretty damn good for pair of aging amateurs.
We are headed to the RV now for some much needed R&R. While there I'll write a wrap up post on the project.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Hull Paint Project, Part 10

Placida, FL


Compared to last week's increasing successes, Monday's first to coat on the starboard side was a setback. The cause was our failure to allow for the negative effects of direct sunlight as we painted. We began painting at 0730 but within 15 minutes, the rising sun shine directly on our work. It made things dry almost instantly and it hindered our ability to see three quality of the coat in the super brightness.

Despite the setback, I was able to sand out yesterday's flaws this morning. We will resume with coat two today, shifting our work schedule to paint in late afternoon when that side of the boat is in shade. We will have to deal with temperatures 20 degrees warmer in the afternoons, and the risk of evening dew arriving before the paint has dried enough. Sigh.

One reader wanted to know why we don't spray. For one thing, we have zero experience at spraying. For another, you can't spray paint in a boat yard unless you are in an enclosed shelter that stops spray from drifting to other boats. In this yard, the only shelter is owned by the professional painter.

I ordered sanding discs for the post paint polishing. 800, 1200, 1500, and 2000 grit. They should arrive today. Tomorrow, we can paint starboard while polishing port.