August 09, 2008
Well, every trip begins somewhere, and most of mine begin here. Every new program for the PC requires practice too, and this gives me a chance to figure out how to get the %^$* cursor to stick someplace on the map (the chart will come later) without being distracted from the many chores I’m sure we’ll have awaiting us on the Boat. It also gives me a quick shot at attempting to attach an image — in this case, a website pic of an It’s Only Money (IOM) sistership under sail. Nice boat!
August 10, 2008
08/10/08 08:55: Course: Not; Speed 000
For once, packing is done early. Like most people, I’ve probably packed more than I need, but got everything is two smallish duffles (two small are easier to store than one big on a boat) and a mini-camera/electronics gear bag. But I will arrive at the dock with more, and likely get a strange look from the Skipper – until he realizes that the large shopping bag ("shopping bag!" he’s saying to himself – "this guy’s not a lubber, he’s an idiot!") — is the all important ship’s cookie supply. Thank you Barbara from all o’the Ship’s Company.
Meanwhile, we had a bit of an interlude yesterday, as brother in law Paul, who suffered greatly when some rude vassal t-boned his classic Jaguar some months back, found a likely replacement candidate in Northern Virginia – no longer a part of the Empire, but hey, you gotta take your classics where you can find’em, ya’ know? This meant that I was arm-twisted (well, not so much really) into a quick test drive in one of the poshest cars I’m ever likely to steer – just before I leave to do a bit of, well, we have to call it what it is – Yachting. I really, really have to be careful not to get to used to this stuff. Maybe driving to the marina in the super-cheapo subcompact this evening will help – assuming I finally get the rental set up this morning.
Shipmate Jack and I will be cabbing it out to IAD late afternoon, and should be at the marina by mid-Evening. The serious weather picture looks clear (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/; Click Hurricane in the Left column), and our timing looks good, as the right hand orange circle showing moderate potential is out east near the Cape Verde Islands. Storms forming there tend to live long and prosper, so it’s good to be leaving before whatever may happen there actually happens. The more routine weather picture for our departure point (26° 06.1’ N 080° 07.1’ W) suggests that we might have some solid breeze and some lumpiness early (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/MIAOFFNT3.shtml) but we’ll just have to see when we get there.
August 10, 2008
Just a note to let you know that while TripSailor is harder to navigate than a difficult inlet, it certainly appears that you can leave comments and questions by dropping an entry in the guestbook for my log. So feel free to try that out, and (assuming everything works) I’ll respond when I’m off watch.
Just go to the bottom of the page, type and sign in the guestbook, and hit send. Don’t be shocked if you don’t get an instant response. I have no idea how the connectivety will be or how often we’ll download from the Satellite.
August 12, 2008
No, no, we didn’t RUN aground, we’re just temporarily grounded here in sunny Ft. Lauderdale by "new boat stuff." There’s stuff you need to do – that really nice RIB dinghy isn’t much good until you actually inflate it. You need to go out and dial in the autopilot. Etc., etc. But none of that actually prevented us from Departing. Nope. That was accomplished by just one item. A faulty shaft seal in the brand spanking new drivetrain. This means heat, water leaking into the boat, and other not so good stuff. Secondarily, the dodger and bimini weren’t ready.
So we did lots of useful stuff for the first time as a crew, and the new plan is to depart first thing Wednesday AM. This is actually pretty good for any new boat, and it has given us time to find all sorts of nits and investigate IOM’s very impressive systems and just get ready. And the other good news is that Hylas is a very efficient, attentive company. They pulled a 50’ boat, found a new shaft seal, and had it installed in one day. That’s pretty impressive.
So, we’re in Ft. Lauderdale, we’re working up the boat, and all is well. Weather is sunny with light easterlies, we should easily be gone before there’s any heavy weather, and we’re starting to worry about having ENOUGH wind. The early departure will give us lots of daylight first day out too, which is a good thing.
Now we’re off to West Marine to invest more of what have been dubbed "boat units." One boat unit is $1000.00 to you landlubbers. But they spend about as fast as $1 bills when you’re outfitting.
More when there’s time – likely when we’re underway – assuming we get that modem up and working.
August 13, 2008
14:23 27.13.214N; 79.49.72W
COG (Course Over Ground): 011deg; SOG (Speed Over Ground) 6.9 Knts.
Apparent Wind 9.1 Knts; 120 degs Port
Good Afternoon All:
I’m delighted to report that IOM is officially seaworthy, and – following an oh-dark-30 christening ceremony complete with champagne over the bow and a transfer of ownership outside the 3 mile Florida State limit (Floridians apparently like to tax yachting for some inexplicable reason), we are underway and cruising north towards a second waypoint off Charleston, SC. We had a spectacular sunrise just outside the channel exiting Ft. Lauderdale, motor-sailed early for an hour or two, and have been mostly sailing since the end of Owner John and wife Dianna’s first watch. Jack Feeney and I were next, and of course I couldn’t resist rolling out the stays’l and double slotting a bit just to she how she’d do – and she does just fine. As we found out yesterday, IOM is a sweet sailor, but would prefer another 8-10 knots of breeze to really find her legs. We saw that briefly yesterday on the edge of a squall during our brief sea trial, and the boat just rolls along in a breeze, dead stable and in the groove. She’s going to be very good in moderately lumpy conditions, and we may see that if the system over Georgia and SC stays stuck and doesn’t move off the coast.
The boat is also spectacularly equipped, particularly in the electronics department, with a chart plotter in the nav station and a second fully functional unit at the helm. I can stand at the helm and overlay the radar onto the chart. I can call up the surface weather picture for the entire East Coast by way of Sirius weather radio without moving just by selecting the correct “page.” We have an AIS receiver, which is sometimes better than radar – commercial vessels have transponders like aircraft, and we have a receiver. So we can see a “dart” for each vessel, roll the cursor over the vessel and see size, course and speed, and can call up last port, destination, and all sorts of superfluous information at the touch of a button. In short, boat geek heaven. This morning on watch, I saw a target well north coming south towards us on course 186. Rolled the cursor and saw a 150+ foot vessel southbound at 6.5 knots. I put the IOM’s bow on the AIS target briefly, and the “dart” instantly went to a red outline, telling me that continuing on that particular course would not be a grand idea. In the daytime, this is fun to play with. At night, it’s a very good way to be sure you don’t get run down.
I’m already getting “racing sailor” flack for actually trimming the sails, but I can live with that. Hope you’re all well and will broadcast this when we have connectivity. If we can’t get the cell based web, we will upload this blogs in our version of a military “burst” transmission on the spendy, but very cool, sat phone. Did I mention that she’s well equipped?
August 13, 2008
27.30.8N; 79.48.52W COG 11degs; SOG: Negligable. You’ll all be glad to know that your Coast Guard is hard at work here in Florida waters, as we found out around 19:20 when a cutter out of Ft. Pierce pulled alongside to check on us. They asked all manner of questions by radio, including the name and SS# of every soul aboard (Mike Romeo, Oscar, Whiskey, Echo, etc.). They determined that the boat had just been commisioned, where she was bound, and so on. They also learned that title had transferred only hours before, so when they asked "when were you last boarded by the US. Coast Guard (duh!)" we figured that they were coming aboard. They did, they inspected all manner of things (after determining that we had no weapons aboard), and were mostly satisfied. We were short one fire extingusher as a result of John and Dianna having bought two extras and Hylas having failed to yet deliver any of the three promised. That, however, just generated a warning, and questions from the kids who boarded about what something like this set you back. Answer: It’s measured in "Boat Units" and we’ve all lost count. Off they went in their RIB, and we got back on course and speed in a freshening breeze as the sun moved towards the Horizon.
In all, they were most professional as they went about their business – which was likely in part a training exercise – and I, for one, am glad they’re out here. Bit of adventure for us, bit of training for them. Good all ’round.
August 14, 2008
Wind 18.5 w/higher gusts; COG 12 deg; SOG 9 knts (Boat Speed 6.3 knts)
Following our meeting at sea with the coasties, we sailed North in ever-increasing wind and swells. By midnight, we were moving right along, with the flying jib reefed down to a blade, and a reef in the main. The wind was generally off the port beam, but the swells, unfortunately, were right on the port quarter – a prefect recipe for sea sickness, which everybody had to put up with to at least some degree. Our very talented Captain Jim seemed to do allright, but the rest of us took the hit, and I seemed to get particularly sick – which is pretty unusual for me. But a long bout of winds that eventually reached into the high 20’s, with higher gusts (not counting squalls at 35 with gusts into the 40s which had us with a double reefed with most of the forestays’l rolled up and no jib) was enought to take it’s toll on most of us. Everybody stood their watches, but nobody was feeling great – making the decision to put into Charleston an easy one. We needed a break.
Couple of interesting points that I hadn’t necessarily expected. One, sailing in the Gulf Stream is a noticably humid experience. You know you’re there even without checking the water temperature. Two, the stream will really move you along — note the delta between Boat speed and speed over ground above. Three the stream can get rambunctious – we were runing in 6ft plus breaking swells 100 miles offshore. No much out there, and you do know you’re on your own when you get that far out. But we have an outstanding boat and a great crew, so while we were uncomfortable, nobody was really worried.
And, of course, this was the stuff that IOM – proving to be a very trusty mount indeed – really loved. She shouldered off the green water without a hitch, and even gave John MacEvoy a chance to run off in a squall when we were over canvassed, something I’m sorry to have missed while I was in the bunk feeling green. Would also love to show you pix of all this excitement – but it was so exciting that nobody had time to take any.
August 14, 2008
COG 339; SOG 6.9knts
App. Wind 20knts and gusting higher; 12degs Starboard
Set and Drift 025degs and 3.2 knots; Water Temp 82.1degs
Last time, you heard about the beginning of our heavy weather experience, so you might as well hear about the beginning of the end. Back on watch, and feeling OK, though not yet great, we began to encounter the back end of a stationary cold front that started to move off the coast just as we came through. Towards the end of my watch with partner Jack, we were running along as we watched the cells pass ahead on radar – except for the last one. This was a really nasty looking thing, which passed clear ahead producing both lightning and a rainbow. The wind behind the front veered substantially to the North, and we first thought we’d motor sail close hauled to be sure we got by and then tack over onto Starboard into Charleston. Didn’t work out that way. Within a few minutes, we’d gotten knocked enough that both wind and current were driving us towards the back end of the squall and out to sea. Time to exit the stream. So we tacked over and headed west, motor sailing a bit too close to the wind, but getting through as the current continued to push us North and East and 2 knots or more – increasing as we approched the western wall, where the current is known to be strongest. We could actually see salvation coming in the form of sunlight streaming through the clouds behind the front, and while we initially got 25 knots plus starting to oppose the current (not so good) we knew it wouldn’t last. By the time my next watch started at 0300, the sea was calming down a lot and the wind was down to 6.4 knots. We were still hours out of Charleston, but we were done with the rough stuff. Jack and I stayed on watch a bit to let folks sleep, as we were now feeling a good bit better. Cap’n Jim confided that it had taken hours to cross out of the stream, so we were likely over on the eastern edge when we started across (or the stream was particularly wide at this point).
August 15, 2008
COG 008; SOG 6.7knts
App Wind 6.4 50degs Port; Set/Drift 201degs, .4 knots
As the seas continued to moderate, we motored on into Charleston. There wasn’t much wind to sail in, it was from the wrong direction, and we needed to get there.
Had a brief, but interesting encounter that allowed IOM to show off here racy instrumentation. We had a contact to the West on AIS (the transponder) that ID’d as a coastal freighter. They were going North at about 14 knots and pulled ahead. Shortly after they got out just to the horizon, we pick up a second contact (while holding an tanker bound for Savannah to Starboard as well) racing out of Charleston at as much as 25-30 knots, without an AIS transponder. So we used the Radar’s MARPA system to lock the target and watched the crazy antics of what turned out to be the pilot boat. They were zipping around all over the place, nearly idling, then zipping up to 25 knots. Just as we were wondering what in the %^&$ that nut was doing, we heard the pilot boat hail on the radio and it all made sense.
Finally got the cameras in gear again, so will attache a pic for you of famous Ft. Sumpter, which you pass right at the harbor entrance.
August 16, 2008
IOM is currently at the "Mega-Dock" in Charleston Harbor’s Municipal Marina, where at 49’, she’s a "small boat." She’s among 65’ Sport Fisherman and multiple Motor Yachts, one about 160’ and looking much like a Destroyer painted white.
We’re preparing to Depart later this morning bound for Cape Hattaras, expecting light and variable winds SE trending E, so we’ll likely be motorsailing to make time.
Just to keep you up to speed in the meantime, here’s an extra pic of our first morning out of Ft. Lauderdale, with Cap’n Jim giving sailing lessons . . . "all sailboats are basically the same . . . just think of this as a big sunfish. . ."
On the left is my watch mate Jack Feeney, Cap’n Jim is in the middle there, flanked by happy new boat owners Dianna and John.