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Old 03-08-2007
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Valiente...here is his latest posting from last Saturday:
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Hello, all you lovely listers out there,

Thank you all for your concerns...

We are, indeed, back in Salt Creek Marina, but not yet on the ground. There's a bit of a space problem currently, so we hope we will get picked up on Monday. Already, we are back in the social swing of things, having just waddled back to the boat from a potluck on another cruiser's motoryacht, and renewing many acquaintances here.

Meanwhile, we are thrilled to report that, some equipment failures related to salt water intrusion, not discovered until under way, excepted, the trip back was entirely uneventful.

Well, technically, it was very eventful - just not of the same sort as recently experienced!

Because our driveline was apparently compromised in the wreck, we were not able, as expected, to motor our way home. We expected to motor, because we'd removed our two damaged primary sails to protect them from further damage on the trip home.

So, instead, we made do with our staysail (the very small one inside the area normally covered by a jib), and, in one of our very calm periods, I managed to persuade Lydia to let me drag out the spinnaker. This sail has been a bit of a challenge, as we haven't any really good place to keep it, and it's a bit daunting in its size with just the two of us, who literally have never been on a boat which flew one, let alone used it ourselves.

It was phantasmagoric,as you'll see in the "Restoration" gallery inside the first thumbnail on our gallery link below. I missed taking a picture of it reflected in the extremely glassy water during the first few hours we flew it, but the initial experience with the spinnaker was just awesome. Later, after we got comfortable with winds above 4 knots (about 5MPH), we let it stay up the following day, when winds eventually reached into the double digits.

A real thrill to be flying along at 8 knots, with the boat nearly vertical (no heel), we can tell you. Because this was our first experience with a spinnaker (technically what we have is either known as a Multi-Purpose Spinnaker, or, perhaps, sometimes might be called a Gennaker, after a genoa/spinnaker), we were very conservative in our use. Ours came with both a product known as an ATN (a brand name) Tacker, a sleeve which can go over a furled genoa, to hold the bottom of the sail in place, and a snuffer, a tube which holds the sail in a very small area.

The Tacker allows one to put the sail in the same approximate configuration as would be the case in a giant-sized jib, and use it somewhat the same. Because the shape is different, due to only the bottom of the sail being held in place, rather than also the entire front of it, it doesn't behave exactly the same, but we were able to sail very close (heading up) to the wind in light air. As the wind built, and the direction changed slightly, we bore off (let the wind go closer to our stern), and raised the tacker to make the shape more like that of a regular spinnaker.

Our boat has a spinnaker pole, with which we'll play the next time the conditions are perfect, but for this trip, we just used the tacker to hold the bottom of the sail. We put up the snuffer, which is a very long sleeve around most of the sail (the sail's in it), secured the bottom and the end of the sail, and raised the snuffer - sort of like pulling down a stocking, but in this case, up. That allowed the bottom of the sail to spread out, and suddenly, we were flying the spinnaker, and moving at very nearly the speed of the wind!

However, as the wind blew harder, we felt that we should take it down. The first time we didn't quite know what to do, and it was a wrestling match to pull down the sock again. The next time, we not only did it before it got too strong, but went straight downwind, which reduced the wind against the sail, and it came down pretty easily.

In between, and on the last of our journey, through the Skyway bridge near midnight and in light fog, we used our staysail. Earlier, it had been blowing pretty strongly, and while the sail was very small by comparison to the usual sail we'd have up, we still were able to make good progress toward our destination. The winds were nearly perfect for our purposes (other than we'd have enjoyed the forecasted, and never-appeariing stronger winds, which would have allowed more progress in any given time frame), being from the right direction. Had we not made it here when we did, when the wind reversed direction while we slept, at anchor, we'd have been stuck out there, still, for the next many days, as it would have been right on our nose - and tacking the last 50 miles might have taken us another week with just the staysail...

In the end, our not having an engine to rely on (other than for an emergency or maneuvering in tight spots) was just another preparation for the rest of our lives. One day, it was totally calm. So, we just floated along, read, swam, did some plumbing, and otherwise ignored the fact that we weren't going anywhere. Suddenly, Lydia "got it." It was entirely all right not to have an agenda, or a schedule. This was what cruising was all about. Then, right after dark, the wind picked up, we put up the spinnaker, sailed all night, and made more distance overnight than we'd made the entire two days before!

We continue to be grateful to have our boat, as she's proven yet again her worth. We were in some conditions yesterday which had us swinging through a 40*+ arc, which, as the pressure from the water shifted from one side to the other of the hull, created creaking below us in the cockpit. We assumed it was all the bulkheads which had become untabbed (fiberglass attachments to the hull). Instead, as I went hunting for the squeaks, creaks and groans, it turned out to be the cabin's inside liner, also fiberglass, on the tops of the bulkheads. Putting my hands around all the hull areas showed not only no movement, but not even any creaking, while, above my head, there was piteous moaning (just kidding!) - and I could feel the movement - which is not a structural issue, but better, likely can be relatively easily cured.

Tomorrow I go with one of our yard buddies who's off to Ft. Lauderdale to get a boat to deliver back to this yard, hitching a ride to the GMC we were given and which we left in the very cruiser-friendly bar/restaurant's parking lot, thence to drive back, and commence our refit.

Pictures of our trip back are up, and then we'll put up the pictures of our refit as we go along. We hope to be under way in a few (4-8?) weeks, but I continue to refuse to set deadlines, those being a contributing factor to our recent excitement. From here on out my posting should return to the usual infrequency, and for those whose mail systems were somewhat overwhelmed in the last few weeks, I encourage hanging in there, as it's not usually this active :**))

Finally, please note the new sig line, taken from Illusions. It pretty well sums up our thinking, and has been reinforced in the last several weeks. My next post will likely be along the lines of the blessings we have received as a result of our adventure - which, if I'd not mentioned it here, I've considered it to be, all along, and which I have noted to be an inconvenience reimagined. For not less than 40 years, I've looked at my many inconveniences in that light - that is, what a great story to tell, later...

Thanks again for all the love and support. We hope to prove ourselves worth it...

L8R
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