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Old June 3rd 09, 07:46 PM posted to
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Default Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island to Saint Simons Island GA April 19

Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island to Saint Simons Island GA April 19

We left you as we were rolling and pitching, having done all we could about
corralling the flopping hourglassed genoa, in heavy seas and winds.

By this time, about 7AM, we're well offshore, nearly 90 miles due East (due
to our delay in turning West in dealing with the genoa) of the entrance to
Saint Simons Island Sound. In addition to being carried north by the Gulf
Stream all that time, in order to blanket the genoa, requiring that we go NE
to have the wind behind us, we've been carried to near the eastern edge of
the Gulf Stream. Of course, in all this, the wind has continued to clock and
build, now coming out of close to WSW (I noted with, apologies herewith,
that in the first installment I'd called the wind SE - it was SW, thus our
eastward movement). The forecast from NOAA and Chris Parker has it that we'll
be experiencing 20-25 knot winds with squalls and gusts to 40 knots. Our
forward motion would put that at a close beat - about 30* or less to the
apparent wind - so we reluctantly turned on the engine again. I didn't
really expect to make very good progress, so our new ETA would be 9AM the
next morning.

With the main sheeted tight, our rolling diminished as we turned west into
the - let's just say "fresh" - breeze and motored ahead. We had about a 6'
bag in the genoa, which was flapping mightily, giving about a quarter turn
on each flap, to the furler and the associated gear. However, aside from the
presumed damage that would eventually do to our sail, all still appeared
well, noise level and rig-shaking aside.

By 11AM, it was apparent that we were getting some drive from the sail, as
well. Nice to have some good news! Our ETA based on dead reckoning, using
our new speed, improved to midnight. Our engine was very happy, too, with
the oil pressure maxed, and our sometimes-flaky temperature gauge in a very
comfortable range.

Accordingly, I upped RPMs by 50 at a time, until the temperature rose beyond
200, and then backed off just a bit, to 2650 RPM. With the mainsail's drive
helping Perky, our iron genoa, we were now making 7 knots toward our
destination. WooHoo! That would put us at the entrance to Saint Simons Sound
by about 8:30 PM. However, it's a long channel due to the shoalings and
reefs present, and we were headed for a spot up the Frederica River, adding
about 2 hours to the trip. There's also a pretty good tidal current there,
and with our computer's two navigation programs not sharing tide
information, and, apparently, our chartplotter's chips not having
information on the specific spot we were heading to, we didn't know if that
would help or hinder.

Adding to unease about our genoa, the wind and seas picked up notably (not
that they were benign to begin with!) at 5:30 PM, reducing our speed to only
6 knots due to the very tight beat pushing nearly directly at us. However,
by 6 PM we had only 18 miles to go to our waypoint at the entrance, and we
hit it at 8:45 as we entered the channel. Of course, once we got inside all
the shoals and reefs, the seas settled down, and so did we.

The lighted marker buoys in the channel were very faint, and we had to
strain to see them, but always found them before it became an issue. About
halfway in, a very large motor vessel was apparently headed directly for us,
but when we hailed, he acknowledged us and said he had us in sight,
expecting a very clear berth. That indeed turned out to be the case, but it
had a very curious look to it as it passed. We never could figure out what
it was, as it looked like a ferry, but its departure was pretty late, and we
couldn't think of where it might be headed; we thought it might be one of
those dinner-cruise/gambling sort of boats, but if that were the case, it
would have been very late for them to leave, so we were left scratching our
heads about it :{))

Of course, where we were going was up a minor river, and there were only
daymarks to keep us out of the very shallow water outside the channel. Even
in the daytime, we've sometimes found them challenging to see, so I got out
on the bow with the spotlight, successfully spotting all but one well in
advance. That unspotted one passed a bit closer than I like - but, happily,
still well enough off that there was no risk of collision with it. Finally,
after a nerve-wracking passage up the river, we were "home" - the anchorage
nearby to Frederica Yacht Club, home to our friend's boat, and in which slip
we'd eventually get comfortable. By 10:30, after making sure we'd not
impinge on any of the other boats anchored there, nor the breakwater dock
for the Yacht Club (actually just condo docks; no facilities of any sort for
the usual yacht club environment), we were safely on the hook, and welcomed
our dive into our comfy berth.

In the end, it was about a 51 hour trip, castoff to anchored firmly, and,
not counting the detour miles, an average of over 6 knots. Our move into the
slip was another minor adventure, in that the Watkins that we'd expected to
take out to the mooring I'd helped the other of my Saint Simons Island
angels establish had entirely dead batteries - and no charger aboard. After
obtaining a charger from the aforesaid mooring owner, and after much
charging and no success, an offer of an open slip into which to pull her for
a time was made by another of the condo docks' owners.

Accordingly we made plans to tow her around to that slip, but when we first
tried, even with two dinghies working very hard, low tide had her very fast
aground. Throwing out an anchor to keep her from swinging into the adjacent
boat in the double slip (we'd gotten her almost out of the slip), we secured
the stern and waited for high tide the next day.

Oops. The Edson cable steering mechanism I'd made plans to help the first
angel repair had failed, and the helm was hard over to starboard. (That it
happened then, and not on the weekend sail that he and some friends had made
not long before was certainly a blessing. Imagine having her out in a stiff
breeze, current, tight channel, and failing in a hard-over position. Things
might have gotten very interesting, very quickly!

That hard-over position made towing a bit challenging, but eventually we
succeeded in backing her into the proffered slip and breathed a sigh of
relief. No rest for the weary, however, as we wanted to get our boat into
the now-vacant slip, too, and slack tide was the best time to do it.

Off we zoom to Flying Pig, giving Lydia's mom instruction on where to stand
and how to toss the lines as we came in, and Lydia buzzed back to the dock
to catch. Of course, as is the case in most marina environments, as it
turned out, there were others there happy to help. As I came in, the tide
had turned, and there was a bit of a breeze, so, despite my confident
expectations of nailing it, I went around when I found myself in an
uncomfortable attitude. However, I'm pleased to say that the second time was
a charm, and as is usually the case when I dock, I cautioned the line-holder
not to throw it, but instead hand it to the person on the dock as I nestled
her into position, and we were soon secure.

Damage assessment would have to wait for another day, as I didn't want to be
taking down the damaged genoa (it had torn in several places, looking a bit
like an aged flag in the unsecured areas) in anything other than dead calm.
That day arrived in short order, however, and I discovered, as I prepared to
drop the sail, that the clevis pin holding the bottom of the genoa had
apparently thrown its locking ring, and, of course, soon after, the clevis
pin itself. That allowed the sail to ride up in the slide into which the
luff rode by a few inches. Whether that contributed to our challenges in
furling I can't say, but certainly, it didn't enhance the performance of the
sail from the time it happened!

Before I could drop the sail, though, I had to get all the lashings and
turnings and rat's nest of lines undone. I saw that the sheets had both been
damaged close to the tack of the genoa, and that all the rotations of the
furler had not only severed the spinnaker halyard at the top of the mast, it
had chewed through the furler line. The furler line just needs shortening by
the few inches involved, whipping, and reinstallation, so that's no big
deal. Likewise, the sheets needed only to be milked (pulling down the cover
to make the inner section firm), damaged section (again, only a few inches)
cut off, whipped and heat-sealed. However, the spinnaker halyard was cut in
the middle, so another (now our 3rd!) would have to be ordered.

Once I had all the lines removed, and the counter-folding/counter-wrapped
undone and the sail unfurled, the sail could come down easily. Yeah, right.
The hoist came down about a third of the way and stuck firmly. Up/down/up
again, it still stuck. I could see nothing to suggest why it should be hung
up, so the only solution was to go up the mast and pull myself out over the

Furlers use foils to contain the luff of the sail. They're made in sections,
with inner joints to keep them together. They're under no tension - they
just provide a track to take the sail up, so are under no particular
lengthwise pressure, either tension or compression. That's very comforting,
given what I saw when I discovered the source of the jam. The sections are
held in place by roller pins - hollow pins that have a seam in them which
causes them to push outward under pressure, preventing movement in ordinary

In this case, the first foil section's roller pin had come halfway out. It
tapped in easily, and the sail came down - partway! Having gained a clue
(many say I'm pretty clueless, but I gather and hoard clues every chance I
get!), I immediately expected, and was proven right about, more displaced
pins. Those, fortunately, didn't require a trip up the mast, just a bit of
something for me to stand on. Shortly, the sail was on deck, where we'd
flaked it as well as we could in its tattered condition. Rolling it up, we
took it to the dock for closer inspection.

It was a sorry sight. We flaked, folded and bagged it properly for sending
off, along with the spinnaker (already in its bag), courtesy of a Mack Sails
rep we'd met working on another boat in the marina, to the Mack Sails shop
in Stuart, FL. The sailmaker confirmed that there were 4 panels that needed
replacement, either due to shredding or excessive wear. They were able to
source the roller pins for me, and I'll install new on each of the points
where the foil sections meet, as well as one at the very bottom. The cost,
not counting the transportation costs of very heavy stuff, given that we'd
been able to very economically purchase our sails, was nearly half what we'd
paid for it new, so very little time ago. Still, that's good news in that
the rest of it survived, and with new panels in a nearly-new sail, the
repair will be inconspicuous, if not invisible. We'll also have a fair
amount of material from which we can make sail bags, line bags, jerry cans
covers and the like, from the removed, worn sections.

Other good news was that the spinnaker didn't, in fact, have a small seam
separation as we'd originally thought, our several pinholes were easily
sticky-patched with very small dots, and the dousing chute was repairable
with the total time on the spinnaker being only a couple of hours.

Other aftermaths include the apparent failure of our oil gauge, as it
remained maxed out. So, apparently, we weren't really at max pressure (which
isn't really surprising, given that it usually was halfway at power revs,
and about a quarter at idle), but instead have some electronic or sender
issues. I may have to replace the oil stuff, but that was a recent purchase
during our refit, so I'd be surprised to see an actual failure there.
Troubleshooting ahead!

Likewise, already on our list for replacement is our temperature gauge. The
original (to the boat when we bought her) had a top of only 200* - and since
we have antifreeze which would allow higher temperatures than that (despite
a 180* thermostat which, when not under stress, kept the temp solidly
there), I got nervous each time it approached the end. I really want to know
what the temp is, not just that it's up near 200! - thus the replacement
during our refit. However, frequently, perhaps due to the electronic box in
the engine room, which sends the information to the dial not being happy in
the heat, the dial would either peg or go to zero. Once it did that, it
stayed that way until the next time we ran the engine. Not informative
enough for me :{)) So, that's on the to-buy and to-do list, as well. Either
way, I'll have to get into the pedestal for the temp gauge, so I could
replace both the oil and temperature gauges at the same time.

We leave you here as we await the arrival of our repaired sails, having gone
to the mountains of GA for family time, not the least of which was Lydia's
help with her grandson, newly out of open-heart surgery. When we return to
the boat, we'll have the usual small boat chores to accomplish, which will
take a couple of weeks. I'll also help our slip-providing angel with the
repairs on his boat, dive our auto-providing angel's mooring to retrieve his
anchor which had fouled on the abandoned (but now his) mooring, and, shortly
head back to the Bahamas.

Both of us have land-fever, the unease which full-time cruisers develop very
quickly when away from the boat and our lives on the water, and we're most
enthusiastic about our return :{)) We look forward to hosting our angels
aboard shortly after we get back to the Bahamas, and continuing our

Stay tuned!


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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