Whole lotta shakin' goin' on, revisited - Part 4...
My apologies for the late posting - we, among other excitements you'll have
to wait to hear about, had a computer failure just before I would have sent
this. Now that it's back, here we are with the next installment...
As a reminder, or for those just joining us, we finished a massive refit a
while ago, and, prudent mariners as we tried to be, felt that shaking the
boat and the crew out before heading across oceans would be a good idea.
The usual name for this exercise is a shakedown cruise. The previous 3
segments of this saga revealed the many reasons that had turned out to be a
good idea, as, at each anchorage, another set of problems was found, and,
eventually, resolved, but not before a lot of sitting and waiting as the
needed parts arrived and were installed.
Of course, we took advantage of those waiting times to do local
explorations, and found, in a forehead-slap moment, that we very much
enjoyed doing here in the good old U-S-of-A the same thing as we'd done in
foreign waters, to wit, exploring and enjoying the locales next to which we
were parked. So, we committed ourselves to taking advantage of the local
attractions as we moved up the US East Coast, the proximity to which would,
we felt, allow us the luxury (comparative, when held against that of foreign
shores) of TowBoatUS, the national towing/emergency service company with
whom we renewed our unlimited towing agreement, and the proliferation of
places to get parts when we found something for we didn't have a replacement
aboard. So far, that has proven to be an excellent decision as, while we've
never needed a tow, there have been LOTS of opportunities to be grateful we
were where we were.
When we left you, we had come to Vero Beach to take a mooring ball, an
anomaly for us, as we rarely do that, preferring to anchor out. However,
Lydia's mother was literally less than two blocks away, in the home of her
two dearest high school chums, now deceased, helping out with their
high-functioning, slightly autistic and mentally retarded son. She likely
will remain there for the rest of her life, as both a helpmate and roomate
to that son, but also helping massively to cover some of the expenses which
had fallen to his sister and brother-in-law following his parents' deaths.
Not insignificantly, our time on the ball, while we dealt with the several
shakedown issues we'd uncovered, would allow Lydia to gently disengage from
the very intense 20 months she'd enjoyed with her mother who'd lived in
England for the last 50 years.
At the same time, we had a few chores to do. Among those, arranged before
we left to go visit kids, grandkids, and help out with a wedding, was the
removal and sending off of our Mack Pack - the self-organizing cover for our
main sail - for restitching. It came back in due time, but they'd not
restitched our boat name, Flying Pig, which 18" tall letters showed many
places of stitch failure. Not to worry; we have a sail-capable sewing
machine, and Lydia restitched and then washed and waterproofed the assembly.
Reinstallation with the hundred-pound-plus sail was a bit of a wrestling
match, but it, too, was accomplished successfully. Along the way, I
resolved the twists of the lazy jacks (the lines which guide the sail onto
the boom when lowering), and all is better than before.
One day, when Lydia was off resewing our Mack Pack letters, I lifted the
dinghy and used straps to angle it toward me to attempt cleaning of the
grass and barnacles which had accumulated. That would explain the majority
of boats with their dinghies lifted aside on a spinnaker or other halyard -
this water was intensely fecund. Fortunately, I was able to scrape a goodly
bit off; some time in the future, we'll beach it and do a proper cleaning.
In the meantime, it STILL wouldn't plane with only me aboard and the 6HP
pushing. When we lifted everything out for our departure, the reason became
clear - the propellor was seriously fouled with barnacles! We'd previously
spent an afternoon scrubbing the sides of our boat (well, Lydia did...) and,
at the same time, I used a scrub brush on a long handle to clean as far as I
could reach under the hull. I'd felt nothing other than some grass, and the
waterline, where the largest accumulation would be, was clean, so I presume
that our anti-fouling bottom paint is working as it should.
Those of you who have followed us for a while may recall that we came into
possession of a new-to-us aluminum propane bottle of the size we use on our
cooking system - two 10# bottles in a proper propane locker, vented
overboard. All that was required to make this bottle legal was an
inspection, which I did in the process of refilling our other 10# can. To
shorten the story, we were given one of the two such bottles which I'd taken
to help out another cruiser, as we had a car, on which more, later.
We still had one can which was being used to cook, plus the one I'd had
filled. As such, we now had a spare, and Lydia didn't want to have it on
deck. I'd told our benefactor, when he asked what we'd do if we had a spare
tank, that we'd sell it. It was then he demanded I take his second can (I'd
taken the two, which he'd intended tossing, based on the advice of someone
at a gas-fill place, for recertification and refilling for him, when I took
ours), as he, having bought a new, unreturnable, one from Amazon, would ALSO
now have a spare. My protests were overcome as I tried to give him back his
tanks at the dinghy dock, and I accepted it. However, we now had that
As was the case in our last instance of having a spare tank, it sold nearly
immediately when I posted it on the various cruising places I visit on the
net. The purchaser wasn't local, and it couldn't be shipped, as it was
still in use, and had propane in it. An arrangement was made for pickup on
our purchaser's way from North Carolina to his boat in Miami, and all was
well. But, back to the new tank...
When we put it in the locker and connected it up, our stove worked as
expected. However, on our return from dinner with Lydia's mother, Lydia
smelled propane as we dinghied up to our stern. Tracking it down revealed
that this new-to-us (much better condition than our prior cans, which were
20+ years old) can had vented nearly all of its contents. The can itself
was icy, and covered in condensation, the product of the continuous release
of gas, expanding from the liquid state in which it was stored. YIKES!
The good news was that there was no fault in any of our lines. The bad news
was that there was a worn O-ring fitting inside the valve which had caused
the venting/emptying of our tank. Our refill place, which is also a service
outfit and which had recertified both of our fellow sailor's tanks,
explained that parts for this had been promised to be available 5 years
after the new valves were introduced. That was 13 years ago, and there are
STILL no repair parts for the output portion of the valve, by some
bureaucratic annoyance which has not allowed that to happen, to this day.
The good news is that there is a hand-tightened version of the old POL "Put
On Left" bullet-nosed fitting which goes INSIDE (rather than the
now-ubiquitous plastic hand-tightened outside plastic shell), and it, rather
than being solid, has a small O-ring on the end. So, while I bought another
refill, I bought one of those and a spare O-ring, installed it, and solved
The next day, as we were leaving the boat to go to supper with Lydia's
mother, in a panic, still, about all that propane, we checked and rechecked
our propane locker and the new valve. All is well, phew, and off we went.
Unfortunately, we had been so paranoid and focused on the propane locker at
the stern, we'd forgotten to slide our 24x36" hatch closed, over our bed.
You guessed it. A frog-strangler rain, perhaps as much as 3 inches, based on
the amount of water in the dinghy, which stopped just before we returned.
Unfortunately, with no impediment, all that rain had landed on our bed,
soaking it through, along with the just-cleaned laundry bag sitting on top
of it. I'll spare you the details other than to say, aside from the
nuisance of drying everything out (we considered what it would have been
like had all that been SALT water!), and rewashing everything along with the
cushion covers, re-ScotchGuarding them as well, there was no lasting ill
We still had provisioning to do - a very much less intensive process this
time, as we'd be in reasonable reach, as we traveled the East Coast, of
refreshing our stock - and a wait for the weather window. We'd elected to
"go outside" - sail up the Gulf Stream, taking advantage of its northerly
lift, turning in when Fernandina Beach/St. Marys/Cumberland Island was 45°
from our position - rather than go up the "ditch" - the Intra-Coastal
That was mostly because we really hate running our engine, both for cost and
noise issues. However, that meant that we'd have to wait for the right
winds, and, as well, we'd be sailing right by some very interesting places.
Going up the ditch would mean motoring the entire way, and in daylight hours
only, as, while it's clearly marked, the channel has no night markings and,
once out of the channel (assuming we didn't hit one of the day mark posts,
as could happen in the dark), we'd be quite aground.
So, we did a daily check of the grib files (a grib file shows the forecasted
winds, and other weather things, in an area, for up to 7 days) before
consulting our weather oracle, Chris Parker. We didn't want to have
provisioned too early, as we'd just be using it up while we waited, so we
left that for last. The gribs suggested that Wednesday and Thursday might
be OK, but that Saturday and Sunday or perhaps Monday looked better. We
All around us, people were leaving the mooring field, but they mostly were
going up the ditch. Anxious to get on, we enviously watched their wakes as
the balls around us emptied. In the meantime, the gribs looked less
promising - the wind was in the right place, but there wasn't much of it,
and it got less the further out we looked. We spoke with Chris on Saturday
morning, and he confirmed that Sunday afternoon looked like an ideal
OOPS! Hurry and provision, make the last arrangements for our giving away
the car we'd bought ("cheaper than a rental car" in our gallery link below),
have the last supper over the grill with Lydia's mother, and get back to the
boat, nearly dark. Dark enough that I didn't want to deal with lifting the
dinghy right then, we got up early the next morning, May 19th and secured
the dinghy and engine. We'd refueled and rewatered earlier, so all we had to
do was top off our water tank and refill our gasoline jugs which we'd partly
emptied in running our Honda eu2000i "suitcase" generator, topping off our
batteries when there wasn't enough wind and solar energy to keep up with all
the things we did aboard.
We were off the dock at 10:55AM, and headed down to Ft. Pierce, our exit to
the ocean. We were motoring, as the wind was right in our nose, so I took
advantage of that to check out our new packing gland - the thing which
allows the propshaft to turn, without letting in so much water as would sink
the boat. Marvelous. 10 degrees warmer than the outside water, and making
the approved drop of water every couple of seconds, keeping it both
lubricated and cool. Given that we were running the engine and making lots
of amps, I did as we always do when Perky, our diesel, is running, and
turned on our fuel polisher. The fuel polisher has saved us from having to
change our normal fuel filters, particularly exciting when it happens in the
middle of nasty weather, for more than one thousand hours of operation - for
the first and only, so far, change of our primary, Racor filter. We have a
dual system, which makes switching to another filter before breaking the
seal on the first one. That normally would save us having to prime and
bleed the engine, should we ever be forced to do it in a hurry. In any
Our engine was really happy, too, with the temperature rock-solid at 195°
and the oil pressure, even, slightly higher than we'd seen in extended
running. The batteries were full, and all systems were "GO" as we motoerd
south. By 1:25PM we were in the turning basin and prepared to get all our
canvas out, as the winds were forecasted to be relatively light. The main
went up without complaint, and we commenced sailing out the inlet. As I
prepared the genoa, I did as I always do, which is to cast a critical eye on
all the components.
WHAT'S THAT!?!? Something's sticking out of the top of the furled genoa.
Can't be good... Out come the stabilized binoculars, and I see something
white, rectangular, looking to be about 1x8" or so. ???? Well, whatever it
is, it can't be good. We have two choices, maybe three. We can turn
around, go back to the basin, and drop the genoa to see what it is. Or, we
can leave our largest sail in place and continue on staysail (the equivalent
of a 100% jib on a fractional rig, so not a really small sail, but probably
only half to a third the size of the genoa) and main. We chose the latter,
and raised the staysail and soldiered on, unhappy about the light winds and
no big sail...
Out the inlet, finally, having made that decision, and raised the staysail
in the protection of the sheltered inlet, at 2PM, we headed north at 047°T
(True, vs Magnetic). We were on a broad reach with the easterly breeze to
our starboard quarter at about 45° to the stern. Unfortunately, the winds
were very light, at only about 7-10 apparent. Given our stately speed we
continued to motorsail, and I estimated our arrival at the edge of the Gulf
Stream around 6 this evening.
Ever the optimists, and hopeful of fish for dinner, at 3PM I set out a pole
with a white cedar plug. However, our fish finder's sonar wasn't making
many chirps at us, so it didn't look promising. However, the winds were
dropping, with an apparent 1-3 knots, and very few "horses" (white spray off
the waves). If it weren't getting late in the day, we would have flown our
asymmetrical spinnaker, but even then, it was a bit of rock-and-roll for
that. On the other hand, perhaps it would have stabilized the boat. We
instead continued to motorsail toward the northeast, and I went down for a
nap at 4:30.
I awoke after a couple of slap jibes, and came up at 7:30. We had, indeed,
entered the western portion of the Gulf stream, and its forward motion was
minimizing the already very light winds, and the rolling of the relatively
large swells was causing the booms (the staysail has a boom as well) to
crash over to the starboard side occasionally. Unfortunately, the apparent
winds were now from the ENE, our forward motion being sufficent as compared
to the very light winds, to move it forward, making it even more
challenging, but stiffening the boat a bit in the now-9-12 knots breeze. Of
course, as we were now on a close reach, our speed was dropping a bit, and
we continued to get a boost from Perky. We were making 6.5 knots STW (speed
through the water) but the Gulf Stream had us moving at more than 10 knots
SOG (speed over ground).
We were still within range of the NOAA VHF weather forecasts, and the
mechanical man insisted that we were seeing southeast winds. Perhaps we
were, and they were so light as to have moved forward by 45°, as we were now
on a beam reach with apparent winds in the 10-15 knot range. Out in the
middle of the Gulf Stream, the swells were 4-6' and with no genoa, we rocked
a goodly amount. That actually, at least for our fuel system, was a good
thing, as it sloshed the fuel tank around and would loosen any grunge which
might have accumulated. With our fuel polisher still humming away, it would
remove any of the small particles which might otherwise clog a primary
By 11PM, we'd been in the Gulf Stream 5 hours, consistently heading 000°T,
and the wind had clocked and died some more, coming over our starboard
shoulder at only 6-8 knots, but we continued to make ~7.2 knotsSTW and in
the mid 10 knots rangeSOG. Of course, nothing stays the same in cruising,
so the wind clocked some more, and died, some more, to the point that by 3AM
we were seeing that light wind nearly at our stern. That resulted in our
SOG dropping to only the mid-9s, and the staysail mostly blanketed by the
main, rendering it useless, and our forward assist reliant on the relatively
small mainsail. At 120 miles left to go to St. Marys, we'd not be there
before dark on Monday at this rate. I pondered using the spinnaker and
turning downwind to about 300°T, but not, at the very earliest, before dawn.
Lydia got up around 4AM and we discussed leaving the Gulf Stream a bit
earlier than expected/planned. We thought we'd best talk to Chris before we
did, and get the current information about the remainder of our trip, too.
As well, we were reaching the point where we'd have to turn inland or waste
even more motorsailed miles getting to Fernandina Beach/St. Marys Entrance.
As little wind as there was, turning the boat with a jibe, and trying for a
preventer secured-main and staysail (with its own boom) to go wing-and-wing
proved not to work, and, as we discovered, wasn't really necessary, as we
turned to 315°T COG. The current was still in our favor, and would remain
so, all the way in, such that in order to not overshoot, we had to point the
boat about 30° south of the direction we wanted to go. That put enough wind
in the sails to allow us to sail without fear of a crash jibe.
Dawn broke just before I spoke to Chris Parker. NOAA had been calling for
thunderstorms inland of the coast, but it was very light, a nearly
nonexistant 4-8 knots, at 120° apparent, at the moment. We were making only
2 knots STW, but still about 8 knots COG. I think our impellers for the
speed registers probably aren't very accurate at low speeds, because I'm
pretty sure there wasn't a 6 knot lift! Back to Chris Parker...
Winds would continue to be very light, but there were thunderstorms forecast
for the entire north Florida coast beginning in the afternoon. As dead
reckoning had us not into shore before midnight, this became of concern. A
followup with Chris revealed that we'd likely see one or more 30-40-knot
squalls before we got in.
Some thinking and considering led to our decision to press on, as we would
easily see storms and could reef both the main and staysail if it became
necessary. However, there now was so little wind that we hard-centered our
sails (made them very tight directly amidship), solely for the purpose of
slowing our rate of roll in the now-glassy swells.
We were rewarded for that decision with a pod of dolphins playing with us.
Shortly after that, I had a hard hit on the fishing pole. I didn't get to
it right away, but to prove how rusty we were, I didn't even ask Lydia to
slow the boat, let alone turn around. The fish reeled off a great deal as I
continued to tighten the drag. Suddenly, POP, the line broke. I presume
that was a relatively large fish :**))
The day passed uneventfully nautically, but over the course of a couple of
hours in the afternoon, about 45 miles offshore, we were visited by a very
small bird which we didn't recognize and couldn't find in our FL birds book.
It was obviously very tired, but, as seems to be the case in our offshore
encounters, essentially unconcerned about us. At one point, while I was
reclined, reading, he hopped up on my knee, and then to my toe. During my
nap, the second bird came to visit, and IT sat on first one, then the other,
hand, and then up to the top of the laptop screen where Lydia was typing
away. It too flew into the aft cabin, and essentially ignored me when I
stood up right next to him. Capping the afternoon, another pod of dolphins
called us to play and to admire them as they played in the bow wave.
The balance of the trip was the same - dead calm, large swells, and not much
traffic. As well, there were no storms visible, let alone near us, so we
didn't have to do anything other than to sail up to a relatively high spot
in the river, directly across from the paper mill, and throw out the hook in
front of Fernandina Beach at 10:30PM.
Once awake, we looked around at what had happened on THIS trip. A leak in
the pressure pump on the diesel fuel system has bugged us for some time.
Now I know where, exactly (it's actually 2 places) it leaks, I'll remove the
banjo bolt and get replacement washers, and remove the big cap and figure
out why IT leaks!
The genoa will have to come off the furler and have the hoist repaired.
Until we get a dead calm day, we'll not attempt dropping it, but we know for
sure that we have to do some heavy restitching.
That's about it for this passage's squawk list; we're starting to get fewer
So, here we are, in Fernandina Beach, this time just outside of the mooring
field, where we'll be for several days. We're in about 15 feet of water, so
to cope with the 6' tides and our 5' bow rise, I set our Rocna 150 ahead of
our home, and did the usual snubber-stretch/rebound to dig it in securely.
One day, our new in-laws will come in for dinner, and bring Lydia the case
to her new-to-us iPhone, and, later, we'll visit Cumberland Island.
Until then, Stay Tuned!
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
See our galleries at Web-Folio -- Your Portfolio on the Web
Follow us at TheFlyingPigLog : Morgan 461 Hull #2, Flying Pig
When a man comes to like a sea life, he is not fit to live on land.
- Dr. Samuel Johnson