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Old 04-25-2010
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Long Island, Exumas to Water Cay, Jumentos 4-2-10

Long Island, Exumas to Water Cay, Jumentos 4-2-10

Greetings, y'all,

You've perhaps not been seeing these logs for a while; you could get them in
real time by subscribing to the Yahoogroup in my sig line, if that bothers
you...

This will be the first of many daily posts catching up those venues not
available to me in the middle of nowhere...

When we left you, we'd had a great stay in Long Island, punctuated by the
usual boat work. Grateful to have experienced that, and thankful to have
accomplished our chores, we headed to bed with visions of forecasted great
weather dancing in our heads.

We weren't disappointed. As we were finishing up breakfast, we were hailed
by a boat which had been in Georgetown, offering to bring us a chip with a
recording of the seminar I'd done on Honda 2000 portable generators. The
contact he was using for posting that to Cruiseheimers had been in the
Jumentos, and would remain there for the next few days, so, in fact, that
recording hadn't made it to the web yet. As I'd had several requests for it,
I was glad to have it, so that I could send it off to my requesters once
we're back in WiFi range.

This log is being sent in real time by my son, after I send it along via the
Ham radio link we use for reports under way, but forum and other email lists
won't see it until we're back on line. Those of you receiving this in my
log list mailing (see the yahoo group link in my signature, if you're not on
the list; you can subscribe, there, if you like) can also see our track on
our SPOT tracking page, tinyurl.com/flyingpigspot. We turn the unit off
when we're at anchor, and, sometimes, we forget to turn it on, so don't be
alarmed if we seem to have disappeared at some point!

The day broke with very light winds, and we floated off our previously
slightly aground position as we put up the sails and sailed off our
anchorage at 9:30. Recall that our position aground was by choice, allowing
me an easier time of scrubbing our bottom, in the hopes of achieving better
speeds under way.

We set out across the charted area which showed that we should have been
unable to cross it, directly to our waypoint at the entrance to Thompson
Bay, making 5-6 knots against the incoming tide in 8-10 knots of apparent
wind. As expected by our searching for low water, we never had less than a
foot under us as we reached the chart's area showing confidence in our
draft's not finding the bottom. We quickly reached the waypoint at the
mouth of the harbor, and turned toward the east side of Comer Channel, the
only really nervous-making part of our anticipated tour of the Jumentos.

By that time, I'd gotten the lines out in the hopes we'd catch some dinner.
However, there were no "bleeps" from our fishfinder, indicating that there
likely wasn't anyone interested in our lures. I'd switched out the long
orange worm of which we'd bought several in our last trip to the
northeastern US, being a favorite of the fisherfolk up there, but on which
we have yet to catch our first fish of any description using that lure.
Instead, I chose a feathered and skirted blue lure with a stout wire leader,
leaving the second pole with its cedar plug.

I have never figured out the attraction to fish of a simple wooden,
unpainted, tapered plug with a hook on the end of it, but it's been the most
reliable lure of any we've used. However, we'd had good luck in the past
catching Mahi-Mahi on the skirted lure of the type on the other rod, so,
ever hopeful, we streamed both of them behind us.

The seas were benign, with 6-12" ripples, and the wind was lighter than
forecast, so we weren't going to set any speed records (not that we would,
anyway - Flying Pig is built for comfort, not speed!). The sun was shining
brightly in the gentle breeze, so I went starkers (you've perhaps seen the
bumber stickers "Sail Naked" - it's great) by 10AM. We were making our
targeted average of over 5 knots, and reached the entrance to Comer Channel
by 11:45. The water was a comfortable 9-ish feet deep, and we made a broad
reach (apparent wind about 150* on our starboard side) on the first leg,
resulting in 4.4 knots with only 4 knots of apparent wind.

The sun was in the wrong position for our strangely angled solar panels,
courtesy of a fabricator's error during our arch construction, but we were
still making 15-20A of power, enough that our net usage showed a positive
credit going into our batteries. Our new navigation suite is a great deal
more diet-conscious than our prior was, merely sipping at the electrons
which kept us located and on track. We're very happy with it, and, following
our planned refit sometime about a year from now, we will have to start to
find ways to burn power, sometimes!

The wind started to diminish an hour later, and our speed dropped into the
2-3 knot range so we struck the genoa and put up the asymmetrical spinnaker
at 12:45PM, going wing-and-wing, downwind. We were rewarded with 4.3 knots
in 0 knots of apparent wind, a real treat, given that we weren't in any
particular hurry, the seas were calm, and it was a glorious day.

When it came time to make our next turn, at 1PM, to 276* magnetic, we had to
bring the main over due to the apparent wind being at 135 - a position which
made the main want to jibe. We were rewarded with a slight increase in
wind, which gave us 4.9-5.2 knots over ground, still fighting the incoming
tide, however, so there was about 6 knots of apparent wind, nearly behind
us.

Fortunately, this was a relatively short leg, as we were able to turn a bit
upwind, allowing for a more efficient point of sail. By 1:30PM, we were
hustling along at 6.8 knots with 70-80* apparent wind. The spinnaker was
behaving like a giant genoa, and the main, aided by its slot created by the
spinnaker, was pulled further in than would normally be the case for that
point of sail. Indeed, there were only 5-8 knots of apparent wind, so we
were doing extremely well. Clean bottom helps!!

It was a truly marvelous sail, in only 8-9' of water, so the color was the
fantastic light green common in the Bahamas. As Lydia put it, like green
gin - totally clear, and, with it so close, it takes some getting used to to
be charging right along with the bottom looking like it can't possibly be
deep enough. However, all of the folks who'd transited the Comer Channel
reported never less than 8 feet, and so long as there's a few inches under
the keel, it doesn't matter HOW shallow it is :**))

Our next turn put us downwind on a different tack, so we had to jibe the
spinnaker. I confess to having not done it very well, and, especially,
although I'd taken in the pole with the blue skirted plug before we set the
spinnaker, I forgot to remove the pole on the other side before our jibe.

Oops. Over she went. It looked briefly like the hook might foul in the
sheet, allowing me to retrieve the rod and reel, but, just like an angry
fish, the sheet flopped around sufficiently to throw the hook - and with it,
another fishing rig. We have plenty of cedar plugs, and, too, this one's
hook was getting rusty, along with the ferrule which kept the tail end from
splitting having departed, it wasn't all that much of a loss - other than
the rig, of course.

Making lemonade from lemons, this was a reel vs spinner, something I've
never learned how to cast without ending up with a rat's nest, so the next
setup will have the spinners like our other rigs. However, that's now three
poles (one separating in Norman's Cay, being a compact rig of two pieces,
with the handle end going overboard during a boarding of the bag of conch
we'd left under the boat until a lower tide when I could dive to get them
up, and the other being ejected from the rod holder during our trip around
Cape Hatteras, when we were pinched so hard, and thus, heeled so far, that
the end of the tube was actually in the water!) and two reels we've lost.
I've got to get better at that!

Another offset to the disappointment was that our solar panels were now
facing in a favorable direction, and we were making a solid 20 amps or more,
further replenishing our batteries. While it's not much, it's always
gratifying to look at the ammeter and see 10 or more positive amps going
into the batteries with the refrigeration and all the navigation and
autopilot gear running!

We had come through the wind too quickly during our jibe, and didn't have
enough slack in the lazy sheet, so the spinnaker got fouled a bit on the
furled genoa. That wasn't all that difficult to remedy, but it did take a
couple of minutes. It was the flogging sheet which did us in on the pole...

Once the spinnaker was sorted out, we were rocking and rolling enough in the
building swells, along with changing wind directions, that, at 2:45, I
"dirty-dropped" the main, as it was not only blanketing the spinnaker, the
boom was flying around too much. The dirty drop is where we just release the
halyard, and, with our Strong Track system, an ultra-slick plastic with
stainless steel sliders, it just drops into the lazy jacks. As we were going
downwind, the first couple of battens sort of hung over the side, having
been pushed to the side by the stern wind, but a tug on the reefing lines
soon had them corralled in the cradle formed with the lazy jacks, and the
main no longer impeded the air flow to the spinnaker.

Thus free to really show its stuff, we were rewarded with 5.7-6.8 knots over
ground with only 4-6 knots of apparent wind. Once stabilized, I started to
put out the other pole, and discovered that the hook had been bitten off the
stainless steel braided wire leader! No wonder there was a brief jerk on
the line a while back, where our warning clip had come undone! I'll put
another hook on it later, but for now, I just replaced the lure with another
similar one.

Ever eventful, we had another course change to make at 3:15, as we exited
the Comer Channel. Now the water would become deeper very steadily, and we
were gifted with an deep emerald green sea. Now that it was deeper,
however, the offset to that was the swells started coming in from the
long-distance deep buildup. Still only 3-4', but with the swells nearly
behind us, it made for a slightly rock-and-roll downwind run. Still nothing
to complain about, we thoroughly were enjoying our time on the water. It's
the first sail we've had in several weeks, and it was exhilarating.

I noticed, as I was doing my regular scan of equipment on the boat, making
sure all was secure, that the fishing pole's warning clip had come undone.
There wasn't much bend on the pole, so I figured I must have snagged one of
the infrequent grass clumps we saw, and reeled it in to free it of the clog.
Imagine my surprise when I saw a fish surfing along as I hurried the line
in! It was a small jack of some sort, and while I'm sure it would have made
a lovely dinner for one, when the fish commenced flailing, trying to shake
the hook, I removed the hook and returned him to his home. Perhaps we'll
catch him again later this year on the way south, and he'll have grown
enough to feed us both. With the stories of how easy it is to catch fish in
the Jumentos, I didn't think it necessary to make him a side dish :**))

By 4 PM, seas were building, but so was the wind, slightly. The effect was
to increase our rolling - but nothing like we saw coming from Marsh Harbour
to Georgetown, and the ride was still very pleasant. It did mean that the
spinnaker was flopping around a bit, and the hills and valleys of the waves
slowed us down to "only" 5.8-6.2 knots - with ZERO apparent wind! With the
tide now dropping, we were getting the benefit of a lift, and so we charged
right along but had a constantly moving and filling spinnaker. Our speed
would put us at our main waypoint by 5PM, as originally estimated in the
dead-reckoning exercise I do not only at the beginning of each passage, but
at each waypoint along the way. So far, we were right on target for a 6PM
arrival, with plenty of light to see for anchoring and spotting of potential
coral hazards.

Sure enough, our next waypoint hove under our keel and chartplotter trace
right at 5PM, so we turned, yet again, this time on a course of 218*
magnetic. By this time the water was deep enough that it was a deep navy
blue. With the wind right at our stern, and the rock and roll, the
spinnaker flopped from side to side, but never collapsed. We were still
making the right time for a 6PM anchorage arrival, and, indeed, it came into
view just before 6. We struck the spinnaker at 6, stowed the fishing pole
(wouldn't want it to get fouled in the gear while we were anchoring!), and
headed in.

The beach at Water Cay is short but inviting, and, indeed, the sand in the
anchorage (as marked in the chart as "good holding") was perfect for our 55
pound Delta primary anchor. The wind and our forward motion made for an
exactly-wrong (nose of the anchor pointing forward) landing (you can see it
hit the sand very clearly most places in the Bahamas). So, I only let out
enough chain to allow it to swing around before I paid out about 20 feet. I
was relieved to find that it bit right away, because the appearance of the
bottom suggested that there might be sand over coral, which, while
attractive looking, doesn't hold worth a darn!

Anyway, with that as a starting point, I quickly let out, as we swung with
our bow heading downwind, a total of about 50 feet. Sure enough, despite
being more than sideways to the chain, the bow came right around. I waited
until it was straight again, and, as is my practice, let out several more
10-12' segments of chain, each time swinging bow-downwind, only to catch and
come back into the wind. Doing it that way allows the anchor to repeatedly
dig further without really being stressed. I continued that way until the
last step, where I let out a final 25 feet and attached the snubber.

So, we were anchored at 6PM at 23* 1.691 minutes North, and 75* 42.931
minutes West in about 10 feet of water. Since we thought we were at
relatively low tide, and likely to have a few more feet under us by high
tide, we put out 100' of chain, put on the snubber, and backed down hard
with a fair amount of slack. Flying Pig got up a good head of steam, and
then all 40,000 pounds of us executed a curtsey to the rod-straight chain
and then charged forward as the snubber's stretch recovered and the catenary
again curved as we let off the reverse throttle. We are very safely
anchored here, with only a little bit of wave action, very comfortable.

Once safely on the hook, with Flying Pig facing into the wind, I raised the
main again, and properly flaked it into its cover. Despite my unhappiness
with the way the sailmaker who did the Strong Track's modifications altered
our new, no-grommets, supposed-to-be-all-bolted-sliders, sail, now that
we've flaked it many times, it is much more manageable to make the huge 30"
folds land in place. Thus neatly flaked, it was a matter of simply pulling
the cord on the zipper to our Mack Pack sail cover, and we were not only
secure but protected from ultraviolet attack on our sail should we decide to
stay here for a couple of days.

Being rocked to sleep is one of the joys of living aboard. There may be some
anchorages where we have to use a bridled snubber, where the end is secured
somewhere along the side, in order to face the bow into the waves, when the
wind isn't aligned that way, but this motion is tolerable, so we didn't
bother.

A shower, dinner of penne with a great sauce Lydia makes, and we're off to
bed. Right this minute, we aren't sure what we'll do tomorrow, but likely
we'll not stay here long. If you'd like to see our travels, and have
received this on my log list (the Yahoo group below), you can pull up the
SPOT track mentioned in the beginning. For now, being at anchor, we've
turned it off, and are turning IN, ourselves.

So, until next time, Stay Tuned!

L8R

Skip and crew, in Water Cay, Jumentos Bahamas

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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