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post #40 of Old 05-07-2013
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Re: Delaware River May 2013

Originally Posted by Ulladh View Post
...The last 4 hours to the Cohansey were by motor sail arriving just as the sun set about 7:30 PM, a long hard almost 12 hours at the tiller...
I was genuinely worried that you would not make it in before dark. I relaxed once I saw this:

Originally Posted by Ulladh View Post
...Saturday morning promised a light 10 to 15 kn breeze out of the NE and clear skies for a sail with the ebb tidal current to Miah Maull Shoal Light and return with the flood current, about 40 nm round trip. The sail to Miah Maull was relatively uneventful but the wind started to die before Cross Ledge Shoal abandoned light house. Take Five tacked to the Jersey side then made good time with a wind shift out of the east to Miah Maull, I stayed near the shipping channel and made slow but steady progress to Miah Maull, rounding the light house as Take Five charged across the bay rounding the light as wind and sea state began building.
I heard 5-10 on WX, with breeze dying in the afternoon. Based on this, I shook out the reef when we hit the lull. That proved to be short-lived, as things picked up significantly before I even made it down to Miah Maull. I had to pull the reef back in pretty rough chop.

Originally Posted by Ulladh View Post
As Take Five was hit by building seas and wind off Miah Maull, I was in 15 to 20 knot winds on the starboard beam with 3 to 4 ft short period breaking waves also off the starboard beam shifting to a following sea then alternating between beam and stern.

Winds and sea state kept building, jib was rolled up but I had no time or desire to go to the mast to set a reef. Set the mainsail in a fisherman's reef, a point of sail I had seen a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack restored oyster schooner use.
I can't do the fisherman's reef on a reach or run because of the swept-back spraeders. After I rounded Miah Maull I had two planned jibes, and as the swells kept pushing my stern around I had two unplanned jibes. I had rigged a preventer but never used it before and was not going to trust it in conditions like this. I also was worried that the preventer might backwind the main and spin the boat out of control, so I decided to eliminate the jibe risk by dropping the mainsail. I had my heart in my throat going forward with the boat heaving like it was, and was clipped in at two different places to ensure I could not get anywhere near the side of the boat.

The boat handled much better downwind with genoa alone, and was completely stable if I headed exactly downwind. The swells pushed directly behind the boat with no tendency to go broach. Only one problem - this bearing was taking me quickly toward the channel, which is a very bad place to be if you can't control your direction. So I had to bear off the tailwind by a few degrees, which meant I had to muscle the wheel to port every time a swell pushed my stern to port. Say what you want about how bad it is to have a wheel on a 25' boat, I was glad to have the mechanical advantage it provided. And there was certainly no shortage of weather helm. Somewhere else (can't remember where) I mentioned that I did some things to tighten up the steering system last year, and I am very glad I did because the chain would have been jumping off the sprocket without that improvement.

Originally Posted by Ulladh View Post
...As I approached the Cohansey green entrance pylon Take Five was closing to within a few hundred feet. I shot through the river entrance within about 50ft of the pylon and made a sharp 45 deg turn to starboard to center the boat on the river...
The day before the wind was blowing off the starboard beam and heeled my boat over on bare poles enough to cavitate the prop. This time I left the genoa up and sailed further in until facing into the wind, where the boat leveled out and I could use the motor into the wind.

Originally Posted by Ulladh View Post
Sunday came with a promise of 15 kn winds and a choppy sea state for our 25 nm trip up to Delaware City, leaving about 10:00 AM to sail; against about 3 or 4 hours of an ebb current then ride a flood current past Artificial Island to Delaware City.

Take Five took a course close to the Jersey shore line and made slow but steady speed in winds that had dropped to 5 to 10 kn in a calm sea state, I stayed close to the shipping lane hoping for more breeze in open water but could only manage progress of 1 to 2 knots against the current. Take Five passed Artificial Island at least 3 miles ahead of me
I actually managed to make 4-5 knots against the current for about an hour. I think the current must have been much weaker over in the shallows than it was near the channel.

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
USCG Certified Captain, 50 Ton Master and OUPV
ASA Certified 101/103/104/105/106

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2001 Catalina 34MkII Tall Rig Breakin' Away, Universal Diesel M35B, Mantus 35 lb. anchor, sailing out of Rock Hall Landing Marina
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