30 Nov 08, Sunday
I found an error in a "how-to" book on celestial navigation. That might explain why, sometimes, I'm off by 50 miles or so. Next time I'm in sight of a clear horizon I'll see if my new understanding of the procedures will let me develop fixes that are a little closer to reality.
By 1700 the wind was slowly diminishing. but I still had rain and more wind that was comfortable when sitting at anchor. As such I was stuck on board Galena all day. Which is actually OK since each day I sit aboard I 'accrue' spending money.
Sad day today: I seem to have lost my MP3 player. It's a nice 30GB unit that I've had for quite a while. I had about 5000 cuts of my favorite music on it and now I can't find it. The last time I saw it was when I took it with me to do laundry. I fear I might have left it there, or dropped it out of my jacket pocket at the local dock bar. This really bums me out. I listen to that thing all the time. I've torn the boat apart and I simply can't find it. If I have to replace it I'll get a couple of cheap, small capacity players.
01 Dec 08, Monday
The cold front passed through and the barometer is at 1014 mb and up on the tick. That's up from a low of 1003mb yesterday. Winds are still 15-20 gusting to 30 out of the west. That's good for the batteries. The wind generator is kicking butt. The batteries are at only -38 Ah (capacity is 320 Ah). The temperature is noticeably down. At 0930 the temp was 48°. That's down from 60° yesterday.
I don't have a mast-mounted anemometer. But my wind generator gives me a good feel for the wind speed. Right now it's holding at a steady 7 amps output. That equals about 10-15 kts of wind. The wind has veered north of west and that's a good sign for departure tomorrow.
04 Dec 08
Fernandina Beach, FL
Trip: 160nm, Total: 752nm, Eng: 2012 hrs
I departed Charleston, SC, on 02 Dec a little before dawn. My plan was not well synched with the tidal currents in the harbor. Sunrise wasn't until about 0630, so I was going to depart about 30 minutes ahead of that and make it out to sea just after light.
But low tide was 0415 and the current was lagging by 1:40. I thought I could make it out of the harbor during slack tide at the latest. But I was a bit late on that.
When I awoke at 0500 two of the boats that were anchored around me had already left. They were smarter than I. I hurried through the departure procedures of: Dink on deck, sail covers off, ensure equipment secure, charts ready, engine on, lights on, anchor up.
As I left Charleston anchorage there was a drizzle of rain and absolutely no wind. I was under way by 0550hrs.
As I approached the main inlet channel a container ship crossed in front of me. As I was making my way out of the main channel and between the jetties toward open sea, another container ship passed me outbound. Charleston is a very busy port. The outbound ship was accelerating and make a considerable wake as she went by about 150 yds off my port side.
As I said, I was a little behind on the tides. As I was heading out to sea I could make only 5.1 kts compared to my usual 5.7kts. That's not bad. I've motored into currents where Galena could only make 3.5 kts! So I was only off by about 30 or 40 minutes on the tidal current thing. Still, I should have left port an hour earlier.
By 0745hrs I had all sails up and the engine secured and I was making a comfy 5.0 kts on my rhomb line course toward St Mary's inlet.
At 0815 the air temperature was a balmy 47° and winds were west at 9kts (apparent) while Galena held her course of 220°.
The temperature slowly came up to 55° while the winds stayed westerly and built to about 15-20kts with gusts to 30kts. The promised wind shift to the northwest never came.
Around noon Galena was galloping along into 3ft seas and heeled over about 25°. That made for a generally uncomfortable ride. Well, actually just tiresome, really.
The a 'sustained gust' came along that really got my attention. The gust started normally: increasing wind, Galena heads up a bit, Harvey (the Aries wind vane) catches the change and swings the helm to windward, Galena obeys and falls off a bit. heeling over a bit more. But this time the wind continued to build. Galena continued to heel... and heeled yet more. I held on and looked around suddenly a bit concerned. Within about 15 seconds the port rail was under water. Then it was a full foot under water. Green water was rushing down the side decks and into the cockpit. And Galena still continued to heel as the wind gust increased to an easy 45 kts! I lunged over the tiller (which was by now full to windward and pulled the mainsheet free on it's jam cleat. As the sheet ran out I pushed my full weight against the tiller, trying to overpower Harvey and push the helm down to allow Galena to head up. After another 5 or 10 seconds, she did just that. In another 5 seconds Galena slowed and stalled with her bows to windward; mainsail flagging in the diminishing wind; water swirling in the cockpit and filling the side deck; and me draped over the tiller still wondering, "What the hell was that?" I swear I've never seen Galena heeled over that far. I've seen her dip over to about 45° before. But this was way, way past that. Scared the hell out of me.
OK. I can take a hint. I put a reef in the main and left both head sails up. That reduced her angle of heel to about 15° and both Galena and I were a lot happier. He speed went from 6.7 kts down to 6.3 kts. Considering my hull-speed is 7.2, that's still very respectable. Galena was still galloping along, punching into 4' waves every 5-seconds or so. But the ride was a lot more comfortable. I believe I heard her sigh a 'thanks' (or was that more of a 'it's about time!').
I went below and everything that wasn't nailed down was over on the port side of the cabin. Things were even up on the shelf on the port side that I know were over on the shelf on the starboard side a few minutes ago. That's straight across the cabin! I spent some time cleaning up below before I went back on deck.
About 1630hrs I noted a freighter heading directly for me off my port quarter. I think she was heading for Savannah, GA. I was between her and her port. So I turned sharply to port to cut across her bow and get out of her way. I had moved about a half mile east and was back on course when the ship turned to starboard and crossed my stern. She was about 1/4 mile away when she passed me. But on the ocean, that's very, very close.
At 1700 I went below to use the head. I found water everywhere. I had left the sea cock for the sink open. The pounding into the waves had been forcing water up the sink drain and all the way up to the overhead. everything was soaked with sea water. Another mess to clean up. I closed the sea cock and mopped up the water. With the constant heel to port the water was all piled up against the cabinets. At least it was clean water.
By 1800 the wind was definitely north of west and steady at 20kts. Galena was holding at just under 7kts.
I noticed that my stern light was burned out. Didn't I replace that just before I left on this trip? The stern light is mounted on the wind generator pole which in turn is mounted on the aft end of the boomkin which puts it about 3' off Galena's stern. Standing out there with a screwdriver removing the lens and replacing a bulb is easy in a marina. Not so much when Galena is galloping along at hull speed through choppy seas and fading light. I should really replace the stern light with LED's as I have the sidelights.
The crescent moon is still close to Venus and Jupiter... pretty. A few hours later they set and I'm left with only Galena's stern light. I can see the phosphorescence of her wake fading into the distance behind me. At least there's some indication of progress.
Occasionally I'm surprised by the ghostly sight of a sea gull swooping through the lighted area astern.
Sometime after midnight I was watching the loom of Savannah drift astern; 30 miles from shore and I can still see civilization.
I spent a lot of time below after midnight. I was tiring of the chill of the wind and the rough motion. The wind was biting through all that I had on, which was considerable. I was wearing: a T-shirt, a sweat shirt, a hooded sweat jacket, foul-weather jacket, sweat pants, jeans, bibbed foulie pants, gloves, wool watch cap, the hood from the sweat jacket, and the hood from the foulies. All of that and I'm still cold. So I stay below between lookouts. I set the egg timer for 15 minutes. It rings and I go up the ladder and take a quick look around. Then I do a very slow scan of the horizon with the binoculars. That takes a good five minutes. Then I go below and set the timer again. Sometimes I doze standing at the ladder. Sometimes I sit down and close my eyes. Always weary of falling asleep and missing my timer's alarm. So I don't want to get too comfortable.
I'm just resting my eyes...
By 0500 the wind was down to 5kts or less and had clocked around to the stern. So I fired up the engine and motorsailed the rest of the way in.
The intrepid sailor ready to climb up for a look around
I arrived at the St Mary's inlet at about 0930hrs 3 Dec. I had to go around a couple of tugs that were dragging a 3/4-mile section of dredge pipe into the harbor.
The last time I was at Fernandina Beach the anchorage was packed with cruisers. Today there were... none!
So I anchored in 30-ft of water and went to sleep.
About 1800 on 3 Dec I awoke, got cleaned up, ate dinner, and went to town. I spent a few hours in the Palace Saloon. They bill this place as the oldest bar in Florida. Not to be confused with the Tradewinds Bar in St Augustine which is billed as the "oldest bar in the oldest city" in Florida.
I was invited to come back on Friday to attend a ladies 51st birthday. But at the time I was not planning on staying that long.
I spent all day on the 4th on Galena just relaxing. I have to change the oil and locate that vibration I keep feeling when the engine is running. I fear it may be the prop shaft or engine mounts. When I fear a big problem, I tend not to look for it. I procrastinate the investigation.
It was cold in the morning. But my little propane heater wouldn't light. The thing would come one, but when I let go of the "Light-the-pilot" position the pilot light would go out. I took it apart and found there was a wire that had come off a spade connector. Who know there was anything electronic in something like this?
My little camp heater
I actually sat in the sun in the cockpit in just a T-shirt. This is the first time I've been warm since that day in the Alligator river back in Virginia.
I went online and updated the EPIRB registration info. It was too early to go to bed and too late to head in to town. Oh, I know: popcorn and a movie.
05 Dec 08
Still at Fernandina Beach, FL
Happiness and Joy! I found my lost MP3 player! It was hiding in a pile of folded-up clean clothing in a drawer. I had apparently placed it in the stack when I left the laundry for the trip back to Galena. And it had stayed there when I transferred the stack of clothes to the drawer.
I changed the oil (but not the filter). The mounts are OK and the shaft and coupler look fine. It occurs to me that Harvey (the wind vane) may be the cause of the vibration. I think back and realize that, yes, I had his servo-rudder down in the prop-wash whenever I noticed the vibration. That would do it. I'll leave him up and see if the vibration disappears. [Later Note: Yep, that was it.]
A week ago I think I mentioned my sore arm. Sometime about a month ago I had pulled a tendon or something just below the elbow of my right arm. The result was that I couldn't really grip anything with my right hand. No grip to speak of at all. Especially with my arm fully extended. Lots of pain at the tendons just below my elbow.
So I'd been favoring it; trying to let it rest. It was not getting better. So the other day I thought, "The hell with it." I've been working the hell out of it for the last couple of days and as a result it is a lot better. So I've been flexing and extending and lifting and pulling with the right arm and, yeah, it's getting a lot better. Still a lot of pain when I grip something with my arm extended, but it's better than it's been in a month.
06 Dec 08
St Augustine, FL
Trip 56nm, Total 808nm, Engine 2024 hrs
I was up at 0530 and was ready to leave Fernandina Beach by 0600. I had a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee and was off as soon as I could see the unlit buoys marking the channel.
there was a nice northerly breeze when I left so I raised the staysail after I got the anchor up. By then it was 0705: just light enough.
I had some trouble finding the channel as I motored south. For the first hour or so I was all over the place looking for deep water. I get a little concerned when the depth goes less than 8'.
View from the foredeck
I noted a lot of white smoke/steam coming from Galena's exhaust. It might be the cool air, or it might be something more serious. It might be a blockage in the cooling system. See? I always find something to worry about. I'll check the strainer and head exchanger when I get to St Augustine.
If I ran the engine over the cruise RMP of 2800 I saw a lot of steam. If I kept it down, not so much. The air temp was 60° but the humidity was high. So it may be just normal condensation of the exhaust.
By noon it looked like I might actually make it all the way to St Augustine. The currents had been favorable most of the way and I was making over 6kts all day. Last year I had to stop in the St Johns river for the night. This year I think I'll make it all the way.
There was a bit of rain at noon with a bit of wind. That put a bit of a damper on my mood.
Anyway, I arrived at the St Augustine anchorage at 1700hrs; a full 30 minutes before sunset The area to the north and west of the bridge was full of boats. so I anchored on the north east shore.
I went to town and had a beer at the Trade Winds bar. I returned home at 2100hrs to be aboard at the change of the tidal current. The current here is severe and I wanted to be sure my hook didn't trip. The first night at anchor is always a bit of a hassle.
07 Dec 08
I was up at 0800 and saw that many of the boats on the western shore were gone already. So I hauled anchor and moved Galena over to that shore. It's closer to the dinghy dock. I ended up a little too close to s/v Flamingo (a boat I've seen on this trip in years past, but have never talked to). But the next day they were gone.
Today was task day:
Grease the windlass. When I drop the anchor I use the clutch on the windlass to control the chain as it runs out. Lately it's been grabbing when I tighten the clutch. No gentle slowing down of the chain. Just a sudden stop. That's hard on everything. So I need to take the gypsy off and grease it up.
Clean inspect and grease the winches. They have been sounding and acting like there's a broken spring in them for the past month. I usually service them once a year. But missed this year's inspection. So I'll do it while I have the grease out for the windlass.
Clean the raw water strainer and engine heat exchanger. I'm concerned about that steam I've been seeing coming from the exhaust.
I accomplished all the above. There was nothing wrong with the winches. But I found some clogging of the strainer. So that should make everything better. I have been using the bearing grease made for boat trailers. Supposedly it has been formulated for wet conditions. I've been happy with the results and it's a lot cheaper than the 'special' winch grease.
Servicing the winches
(Not to be confused with servicing the wenches)
I walked around town until 1600 and then came home for dinner.
Lights in the town square
08 Dec 08
s/v Jennie Marie anchored nearby. I had met him (John) on my first trip into George Town, Exuma. He and I went to look for the Chat 'n Chill just after we dropped the anchor there. Much to the disapproval of Jane, as I recall.
09 Dec 08
Went to the post office and mailed a couple of letters. I transferred fuel from port to starboard tanks. I still have about 60-gallons of fuel on-board. I'm averaging 0.4 gal/hr.
On the way in to the dock the dinghy motor sputtered a bit. It sounded like there might be water in the carb again. And I didn't have any tools with me to take it about and drain it out. There's a hardware store right next to the post office. There I bought a cheap imitation Leatherman tool for $5. When I got back to the dinghy I drained the carb float bowl and hand no problem heading back to Galena.
Later in the evening, after dark, I decided I should make a water run. I had just used the last of the water in the forward tank. That means I had about 2-weeks of water left. I'm only 5-minutes from the dinghy dock here. I could fill the empty tank with two runs to the dock (I have 3ea 5-gal water jugs available for transporting water). So off I went. I went to the dock, filled my jugs, started back and the engine died. The current was running north, pushing me toward the construction barges that were around the Bridge of Lyons (which is being rebuilt). With all the construction lights in my eyes all I could see was this dark wall of the side of the barge. I was drifting toward it quite fast. Now all cruisers know that barges are very bad things to get close to. I felt a bit of panic as I saw myself being swept under the barge. That was silly of course. I'm in a dinghy. The current is only about 1.5 kts. And the barge is moored. Still I hit the side of the barge hard. I grabbed a tire/fender and tied the dink's painter to it.
I pulled out my trusty tool and drained the carb bowl again. No good. It will not start. There are construction guys working on the barge who don't even notice my down there. I suddenly had this vision of the tug starting up and taking the barge away with me tide to it. That would not be good.
Then I noticed a sucking sound when I squeezed the priming bulb on the fuel line. There was a crack in the hose near the coupling that fit it to the fuel tank. OK. I got it. The engine was sucking air instead of fuel.
So I used the leatherman-like tool to take the hose off the connector and cut off the bad bit of hose. Then I reattached the hose and, presto!, the engine fired right up.
I finish the water run and make another without incident. Now I have full water tanks.
10 Dec 08, Wednesday
Daytona Beach, FL ICW milepost 830.7
Trip: 46nm, Total: 854nm, Engine: 2033hrs
Anchored here for the night. The weather was crappy again. Rather than wait for a good window to go offshore from St Augustine, I decided to just drive down the ditch.
Aside from the weather, nothing of interest. I just stand there driving down the ditch all day.
Me in my standard pose as I motor down the ICW.... Boring
11 Dec 08,
Trip: 43nm, Total: 898nm, Eng: 2042hrs
I left Daytona Beach in high winds out of the east. The forecast was promising heavy rain, winds gusting to over 30kts, and the possibility of tornados. I had anchored in an open anchorage and thought it might be better to be underway than sitting at anchor. I was wrong.
At first the trip was just slow. Motoring into wind and waves has never been Galena's forte. But it was 71° and fairly comfortable.
The ICW around Ponce de Leone inlet is always shoaling. But just now it wasn't so bad. I saw no less than 13' MLW.
Then at 1245hrs the front hit. I saw the squall line coming toward me. I saw the wind whipping up the water and the rain slanting down. I zipped up my foul weather jacket. It hit. And I mean 'Hit.' The rain was horizontal and the wind was up to 40 kts on the beam. Galena slowed quite a bit. Then I heard a funny sound astern. I looked back to see my dinghy flying upside-down on her painter. All of her contents were streaming away in my wake. The fuel tank, the oars, life preserver, handle extension, line, et al. Luckily I didn't have the engine on it. I slowed Galena to an idle and pulled the dink to her leeward hip. I just had to lift the bow a bit and she flipped right-side up. But all the stuff that was inside was already being blown out of channel and out of my reach; as well as a quarter of a mile behind me!
I was bummed!
A new fuel tank would cost more than I wanted to spend. And oars! those things were expensive! Oh, and don't forget that I'm stranded on board Galena now unless I go into a marina. And that's expensive, too.
As the front passed, and it passed in about 20 minutes, the wind veered to the northwest. With the wind abaft the beam I could make some good time and would arrive at Titusville before dark.
The rest of the trip was uneventful by comparison. I was completely soaked, I was cold and miserable. The temperature dropped over 10° in those 20 minutes of front passage.
I arrived at Titusville and anchored in 8-ft of water off the town marina there.
After I hand dried off and cleaned up I "MacGyvered" a fuel can for the dinghy motor out of a coffee can.
Cut off the connector and ran hose through lid
Finished fuel tank
With the fuel tank problem solved I went to shore to visit with my good friends from the Bahamas, Michelle and Clark (s/v Seabbatical 1). They were there fitting out their boat for the winter trip south. They had planned on leaving in the next day or so.
Michelle and Clark of s/v Seabbatical 1
They trucked me around town and we had a wonderful dinner courtesy of Michelle. The next day Clark scored a used fuel tank for me for ten bucks. We all went out for dinner and had a lovely evening.
I met Scott Caskey the owner of s/v Marianne, a Westsail 32 #221. We all went out for drinks
Clark, Scott, and me, doing what sailors do best
The next day we took off down the IcW together. Actually, I took off and then they caught up. Everyone motors faster than poor old Galena.
Seabbatical 1 passing me, quickly
13 Dec 08
Melbourne, FL, ICW milepost 920
Trip: 34nm, Total 937nm, Eng: 2048hrs
Just a boring drive down the ICW. Not that I'm complaining you understand.
Clark was talking to me about going to Marathon, FL. I was telling him about wanting to go to Key West for New Years. He said the mooring balls in Marathon are cheap and there are a lot of them. OK. I'm thinking that would be a good idea. I can go to Miami, spend a few days hanging out there. And then a two-day run down the keys to Marathon. Leave Galena there and take a bus to Key West for New Years. Then from Marathon I can make the crossing to the Bahama Banks and on to Nassau. Sounding like a plan.
I saw an old ship anchored off the side of the ICW. It was named "Princess Grace." Must be someone's pet project. I Googled it but couldn't find out anything.
The motor Vessel Princess Grace
14 Dec 08, Sunday
Ft Pierce, FL (south of Causeway Is) ICW 966
Trip: 44nm, Total: 980nm, Eng: 2056hrs
I had a rough (bouncy) and windy (20kt) night at Melbourne. I got up at 2300hrs to put the dink on deck since it was really not happy in the water. It was bouncing around and jerking at the painter like it was trying to get away! So I hoisted it up. I tied a short light line from it's stern to a stanchion before I lifted it out of the water. That way the wind couldn't snatch it away from me and fly it like a kite. Actually there wasn't much trouble getting it secured on deck.
I had picked an anchorage up close to a bridge abutment. As a result I had the wind waves hitting me from the southeast, and reflected waves from the bridge abutment hitting me from the northeast. Very rough place. Next time I'll move down a mile or so to be away from the bridge.
When I left Melbourne at 0700 I could only make 5.2 kts into the wind, waves and current. There was a serious tidal current running out of Ft Pierce inlet. I went from 7 kts to 3.5 as I passed the inlet. Then I was set hard to starboard as I passed under the bridge. Then, as I turned into the anchorage here I was set very hard to starboard. So much so that I was crabbing at about 30° to hold a course.
15 Dec 08, Monday
Lake Worth, FL (north end of the lake)
Trip: 45nm, Total: 1025nm, Engine: 2065hrs.
I'm anchored once again at the north end of Lake Worth. Actually I'm rafted up with Seabbatical 1. There's no wind to speak of so I thought it would be nice to raft-up. Clark came in and found a spot. Then I motored up and we were all tied up in no time.
This part of Florida has some very nice houses along the waterway
This one had an interesting bit of art in the lawn p
The trip here was mostly uneventful, except that it was actually hot outside. Almost 80° out there. And there were more than the usual number of dolphins playing around Galena as I motored along
After naps and cleaning up a bit we had a wonderful dinner aboard Seabbatical 1 again. I taught them how to play dominoes. After my second sippy-cup it was time to call it a night.
Dolphin riding my bow wave
This morning I started working on this blog entry. Clark and I were talking about leaving here tomorrow. But the window is expanding (for a change). We will probably leave for an outside run to Miami this afternoon.
We all walked down to West Marine where I bought a paddle to replace the dinghy oars that I lost the other day. Then a stop a Publix for a few stores. I bought some junk food for the overnight trip tonight. right now there is absolutely no wind. Forecast is for 10-15 kts east wind. We'll see. We might end up motoring all the way there. We'll have to go slowly to make it there after morning. Clark is not keen on going into Miami at night. I've done it before and wouldn't mind. But I understand his hesitation.