LINKS FOR THE YEAR 2001
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WEEKLY LOGS FOR JANUARY
Log for the week of January 7,2001 Jacksonville, FL by PS
I am beginning this log all over again because, somehow, I accidentally hit some keys, which deleted two hours work. Aggg!! Now I know how Amy feels when it happens to her. There is something about my computer's keyboard that makes text suicidal. Auto-Save is on but·.Anyway, here we go again
On New Years Eve, Ben and Nathaniel set off some fireworks from the boat. We used an old pipe for a launcher and put a wet towel on the deck. They put on quite a show for the people at the Beaufort marina. At noon we all drove to Jacksonville Airport so the boys could return to NY. The stormy winter weather held off long enough for them to get home without any delays. Amy and I had a quiet ride back to Beaufort. We really miss them.
Tueday we woke up to the coldest temperature yet, 40 degrees inside the boat. The poor wood stove was really struggling. After warming up the boat as best we could (for Stewart's sake) we went ashore and made preparation's to find warmer weather. I reloaded programs and files back onto Arnold and Amy did some last minute shopping.
By Thursday night we were ready to go. Or so I thought. I was having some problems with the DeLorme GPS. After two hours of trouble shooting I discovered that I had the receiver powered with AA batteries. The receiver can use batteries or power from the computer. I don't remember how long it had been on battery power, but needless to say the batteries were dead. By then it was after mid-night. I am superstitious about starting a voyage on a Friday. I really didn't want to tempt fate by leaving in the dark.
6:30 AM Friday we were underway, with enough light to see our way. The forecast was for fair north-west winds, so we planned to go off-shore directly to Jacksonville, FL. By the time we go to the mouth of Port Royal Sound the wind was southwest. Right on the nose. We decided to take the ICW. The route was longer, but you can't make much progress when you are slamming into heads seas off-shore. By 2:30 we reached the Caulson Bluff bascule bridge. We were surprised to see some boats that had passed us in the morning, anchored in front of the bridge. (Iwalani is not known for her speed) The bridge was having some problems, but as we arrived we heard over the radio that they were ready to open. Well, almost. Things still weren't looking good, so four boats (including us) anchored just on the edge of the channel. At 6pm we got a call from the bridge tender saying that he was read to open. All of the boats decided that it was better to stay put until daylight. Navigating the ICW at night is not a smart idea. There are a lot of un-lit markers. The bridge tender complained that we were in the channel and had to move. Some of the other boats got into a pissing contest with him, then refused to talk to him. Getting run over by a barge is a real possiblity. A young man from Beaufort, SC was killed last month in Florida because he was in the channel without an anchor light. While we were not totally in the channel, we didn't see a problem staying because we all had anchor lights, and we really didn't think commercial traffic would take the chance of coming up to a bridge that may or may not open. I called the Coast Guard to let them know what was happening. Well, the bridge tender had called just before me and really pissed and moaned to them about us being in the channel. I told them my side of the story and they said they were sending a boat over. They arrived about an hour later and looked into the options we had. While having casual conversation with one of the crew, he admitted that the problems with this bridge were happening more often then they should. The long and short of it was three boats continued on south, after the bridge opened, with a Coast Guard escort to a anchorage about two miles past the bridge. We opted to be escorted back north were there was a more suitable anchorage for a boat with a seven foot draft. While we waited for the Coast Guard to return for our escort, we scanned a more detailed chart to use with our GPS, to help with navigating in the dark. It's a good thing we did because to Coast Guard escort stayed about 500 yards ahead. With all the twists and turns in the river, it was impossible to follow them close enough to keep from getting into trouble .The GPS kept us in deep water and we finally settled the boat down around mid-night.
Saturday morning the weather looked good for an outside passage, so we headed out the Savanna River to Jacksonville. We motored the whole way. It's a good thing we did because we used the engine heat to warm the cabin! The outside temperature was in the 40's. We took 4-hour watches and had a pretty easy passage, except for the cold. Amy had so many clothes on she looked like the little kid in "Christmas Story" who couldn't put his arms down!
Sunday morning we went up the St John's River toward the ICW again. We were heading to St Augustine to get hauled out, but had reservations about going in at the St Augustine inlet. The buoys were not marked on the chart. That was because the channel shifted so much. We hadn't gotten more then 2 miles into the ICW when we went hard aground. Luckily the tide was low so we sounded out the bottom from the dinghy and set our light anchor in deep water. It turned out that the green buoy should have been red because the deep water was on the wrong side! Maybe the Coast Guard was color-blind. Anyway, a tug went by in the supposed channel and struck so hard the helmsman was almost knocked to the deck. He put on more power just as his stern wave caught up to him and he managed to drive over it. Once the tide rose enough for us to get off we headed for Pablo Creek Marina, which was only 100 yards away. We struck again and had to wait for more tide, to reach the gas dock. The marina has a travel lift that will carry 130 tons so we will be speaking with them tomorrow about getting hauled. This may just be a good bit of luck, having started out on a Friday, as you will remember. We'll see. If they can haul us, we hope to be ready to head directly to Panama by the end of the week. PS
Log for the week ending January 13, 2001 by APW
Monday morning we went to speak to guy at Pablo Creek Marina about getting Iwalani hauled there. A big, jovial toothless fellow said, "No problem, we don't usually haul wooden boats, let me see, you are how many feet long? Just a minute, yes haul out, wash, paint the bottom will be -... two thousand dollars. We can't get you hauled until Friday as we are very busy, we are hauling three other boats this week." Phil was already to sign up. I am the chief financial officer and said “thanks very much but we will continue on to St Augustine Marine. Phil really hates the Intracoastal waterway. We split the navigating and steering responsibilities and it really isn't that bad getting a seven foot draft boat through the waterway.
We arrived safely in St. Augustine Monday afternoon, after an interesting trip through the confluence of the ICW and the St. Augustine inlet. On the chart kit, there is a magenta line printed on the page that one follows through the Intracoastal waterway. By the entrance to the St Augustine inlet, the magenta line goes right over a three foot spot, which we had been dreading since we first noticed it. Luckily for us, it was a brisk windy day and we had been passed one mile away from the inlet by a sailboat, that smuggily waved to us as he left us in his wake. OK by me if he wanted to go first. It definitely gave us the advantage as we watched him run aground, so we learned where not to go. After awhile, he sheepishly came back to us and looking a little bit scared, maneuvered his boat behind us. With the help of a Sea Tow operator yelling from the shore, a rising tide and picking our way very slowly, we managed to get in to St. Augustine without incident, the other sailboat still following us.
St. Augustine is America's oldest city. It has some charming parts, with interesting Spanish influenced architecture and some rather canned touristy parts. Unfortunately, the canned touristy parts are taking over. It is rather unfortunate to see local artists and craftspeople being pushed out by Thomas Kinkaid “art”, shells from the Phillipines, woven straw stuff from Panama, glass ware etched with the towns name, tacky T-shirt dealers, and an over all stench of cheap candle perfume. Each of America's regions are going to lose their uniqueness to corporate commercialism, if people support this kind of tacky tourism. There, I have gotten this off my chest, unfortunately, I think I am in the minority.
Iwalani got hauled on Wednesday morning. We had Maine mussels at least two inches long, growing on the galvanized underwater parts. There was no evidence of toredo damage. I couldn't pin point the munching sound I was hearing, with my stethoscope, (when the boat was in the water); in retrospect, I think I was hearing fish inside the thru-hulls ,as each thru-hull was shiny clean. When Phil removed the strainer to the raw water thru-hull for the engine, the flange fell out too. The only thing holding the thru-hull in place, was the 5200. When we put the thru-hulls in, last spring I was the spud guy working on the outside and Phil was the inside guy holding the thru-hulls with an adjustable wrench. I am notorious for not screwing jar lids very tight, so I can't imagine I over tightened the thru-hulls. But, maybe so. On the head thru- hull I did strip the little ears off, so maybe I am stronger than I think. Using a screwdriver and sawsall Phil chipped the raw water engine thru- hull out. We bought another one from St. Augustine Marine Supply, a store further down Riberia Rd. with a fantastic inventory of boat building supplies. This one looked a little more rugged than the ones we had bought from Defender.
Not too far away is a musty store called the "Sailors Exchange", where we found more used charts and hardware for the old wooden boarding ladder that got broken in Beaufort. It's worth a visit if you are in the area. Prices, we later found out, are negotiable.
St. Augustine Marine, where we are staying, is one of only a few boat yards that will haul wooden boats and let you work on them. They have a huge travel lift and a schooner from Mystic just got hauled this morning. They are very nice here, but really aren't geared for live aboards and cruisers. They do have showers, of the industrial type and the laundromat is a couple miles away. We haven't done much sightseeing as we are in the not-so- good section of town. We pretty much hide on board the boat at night. (You are not supposed to be living on board the boat once it is hauled.) I am finally finishing up the sail covers- two months later. Hopefully, our sails haven't suffered too much UV damage. We hope to prime the bare spots on the hull, which were chafed through by the anchor line in the Beaufort River and get at least two more coats of bottom paint on the bare spots. We get put back in the water on Monday. If Herb gives us the go ahead, we hope to leave for Panama on Tuesday. It will probably take us seventeen days to get there, with no stops. We have charts for stops in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica if we need too, but we want to test my stomach and our endurance levels, before we go through the canal, as there are no stops between the Galapagos and the Marquesas- twenty eight days of nothing but Pacific.
We got a phone call last night that Larry and Poe had just arrived in St Augustine. They also left Beaufort SC, last Friday, but took the Intracoastal the whole way. I wonder if they had Friday bad luck as well. APW
Log for the week of January 21, 2001 West End Grand Bahama Island by PS
The tropics at last! Hot temperatures, aqua blue water and real palm trees. We have crossed the Gulf Stream and a whole climate zone.
Monday we re-launched Iwalani in St. Augustine, Florida and moved around to the north side of Lions bridge in preparation for an outside run directly to Panama. We planned to go to the north of Great Bahama and Great Abaco Islands then south-east down to Cuba, through the Windward Passage, then south-southwest to Panama. We hired a taxi to take us to the local Publix to do our last minute shopping. We tried to find "Annies" macaroni and cheese but didn't have any luck. Kraft is terrible! Panama should be our next provision stop. We also made arrangements for hiring Sea Tow to pilot us out of the St Augustine Inlet. There are no charted buoys because of the changing nature of the inlet. The $150 was well worth the peace of mind.
Neither of us got much sleep. Something about crossing the Gulf Stream had us worked up. My last experience with the Gulf Stream was the late 70s on Gerry Meffords boat "Arawak". We were trying to go from the mouth of Chesapeake north to New York. We were one day out when the wind went NE and blew 40 knots. We hove to and everyone but myself, and a guy who had never been on a boat in his life, were sea-sick. We ended up turning back after realizing that things would not be improving for a few days. Needless to say that as my first experience at sea, everything that could go wrong did. But that's a whole nether story.
I also changed the engine oil. We were within 20 hrs of the 100 hr changing cycle and I wasn't sure just how much motoring we would be doing. It turned out that we started the engine on Tuesday at noon and didn't shut it off till 1pm on Friday! 72 hours without stopping. Well I guess it's really no big deal. Ships start their engines and go for weeks. I am very happy with our Westerbeke. It has been a great running engine.
Tuesday morning we went to the Lightner Museum. It was an interesting collection of "things" but we would have rather seen the building restored to it's original condition. It used to be a grand resort /hotel with a gigantic indoor swimming pool, which now is pumped out and acting as a cafe'. Oh well. At 1pm the Sea-Tow boat arrived and we headed out the inlet. I'm sure glad they took us out, as the bottom came up several times with only a few feet to spare. Once clear of the entrance buoy, we headed south along the coast. I spoke to Herb Hilgenberg on the single side band, around 4pm, and he suggested following the coast as opposed to heading straight to the northern side of the Bahama Banks. There was some convection activity on the east side of the Gulf Stream which he thought we should avoid. The wind was light, so we motored along the coast.
Wednesday we continued south at a slow pace of 3 knts over the ground. It seems that the effects of the Gulf Stream are right up to the Florida shore. We passed Kennedy Space Center and called the Coast Guard to see if the Shuttle launch was still on. We had received a notice, via Inmarsat-C, that a security zone would be set up 30 miles downwind of the launch site. This was to keep shipping out of the fall-out zone for the booster engines. The Coast Guard said that the launch was postponed. Oh well, I wouldn't have minded the detour to see the launch. Anyway, we continued the motoring routine.
Thursday we spoke to Herb again and he began to give us this "I think you should hug the coast" thing. He wanted us to go west around Cuba. Following this route would allow us to duck in on a moments notice. Well, about this time I was getting tired of his overly protective attitude. Just because we turned around in August (trying to go to the Azores) I think he has given us a "black mark" in his book. "Loosers". I felt like telling him off, but I held my tongue. It doesn't pay to burn your bridges. I said we would think about it. Not a chance really. Amy and I were ready as we would ever be and there is no place to duck in from the Galapagos to the Marquesas.
So off we went, on a course of 150 degrees magnetic, to follow a rumb-line of 120 degrees. We had the GPS MapKit program to keep track of our progress. There was a SSE wind, so we had to motor-sail with two reefs in the main and the full staysail. All was going well until 11pm when I heard a lot of noise on deck. We were continuing our routine of 4 hours on 4 hours off and it was still Amy's watch. I came out on deck to see the staysail down and Amy going crazy. It seems that she was really confused. The GPS program was saying that our heading was 30 degrees! We were heading to the Azores, via the Bahama Reefs! The boat compass was showing a heading of 170 degrees. Whoa! Welcome to the mighty Gulf Stream(APW Note: I was not going crazy! I was mildly perturbed-imagine getting on the Mass Pike heading east for Boston and then an hour into the trip seeing signs for Montreal, although the car is still pointing to Boston. Phil told me to expect some drift- I just didn't think there would be that much offset!APW) . The truth was, if we had headed due south we would have been going north. That was because our speed through the water was about 2.5 knots (due to an increasing SSE headwind of about 12-15knts and seas of 3-6 feet) and the Gulf Stream was heading north at over 4 knots. It was a struggle, but I convinced her that we needed to head east as fast as we could to get us out of the current, using the analogy of a swimmer caught in a riptide. Back up went the staysail and I added a few more rpms on the engine. The long and short of it was that we were pushed over 15 miles north of our rumb line. All we could hope was that, as soon as we got out of the worst drift, we could get back to our original heading; and maybe have to tack to re-gain our original rumb line to the south of Grand Bahama Island. By leaving the Florida coast at West Palm Beach, the best route was now through the NW Bahama channel.
Friday morning we were still slogging into it. Every few minutes three large waves would hit Iwalani's bow and she would almost stop dead in the water. Her bow went under so far that the jib sail bag was washed off. I used to joke that if Iwalani's deck got wet it was from rain! Well, going to windward in large seas is never fun. Maybe in a 200 foot sailing vessel it would be OK. We saw our first flying fish. Schools of them would leave the water and go 30 feet or more. None landed in the boat though. Just as well. It was so rough that I don't think I could have eaten any for breakfast!
It looked like we could make the Old Bahama Bay Marina, on the west end of Grand Bahama. When we were 6 miles out, I gave them a call on the VHF and they said they had room for us. I gave them an ETA of 2 hours and we prepared to make landfall. The harbor entrance was only 50 feet wide so we didn't see it till we were 100 yards from shore. I was really nervous. After four days of sailing, 4 hours on 4 hours off, I was getting a little punchy. This is the time that a lot of boats are wrecked. Having a tired crew when you need to be your sharpest. We made it just fine though. What a relief. Tied to a dock in pale blue water. There were two other sailboats from Maine tied up next to us. What a small world. After clearing customs and immigration, we enjoyed a quite walk on the beach and a cold Bahamian beer. We planned to go out to celebrate after a short nap. Well, we didn't make it. It seems we were more tired then we thought, or they put some kind of sleeping drug in the beer. We didn't wake up till the next morning!
Saturday we spent re-organizing our clothes, putting away the long johns and sweaters, and getting out the shorts and sun-block. The predicted cold front went through in the afternoon with thunder-storms, rain and lightning. We stayed below scanning charts for the next leg of our trip. Around 7:30pm we went to the cafe' and had grouper burgers and did some laundry. We met an interesting couple who had just arrived from NJ. They were delivering a sport fishing boat. The amazing thing was they left NJ the same time we left St Augustine! Of course they were doing 30 knots and we were doing about 3.5.
They have internet access here at the marina, so I am updating the web site from Grand Bahama. To sum things up, we felt that we have finally made it. Neither of us got sea-sick, the 4 hour watches seemed to work out OK and just the two of us (plus Stewart the cat) had sailed Iwalani for days at a time without stopping. We have broken free of the US mainland and the rest of the world now lay ahead of us. PS
Log for the Week ending January 29, 2001 Port Antonio Jamaica
We arrived in Jamaica early this morning, actually at three a.m.; too early to go into an unknown port with only a half page black and white chart from Reed's 2000 Caribbean Atlas, so we hove to six miles out and waited a miserable last three hours until it got light enough to go in.
The last week really, for lack of any better word- sucked. We left Grand Bahamas on Sunday and had a wonderful sail past the western end. We both sat in the cockpit eating supper, having a normal conversation- one that wasn't at a shouting pitch, watching the sun set. It was nice. But, we both said we would be paying for it. We did. Herb the weather guy said not to leave, a low was forming with expected gale force winds from the North. Phil said Northerly winds were just what we wanted to head South. Herb did his sigh-thing "Ok I guess..." You could almost hear the I told you so, ahead of time.
On my watch Sunday night I had to wake Phil up as we sailed past Freeport Harbor. We had three huge ships maneuvering around us, one of whom didn't see us at all, and a tanker who requested we tack in order to pass starboard to starboard, to him. Which meant changing the running backstays and turning right around into the face of another supertanker. I didn't realize Freeport was such a shipping megalopolous, otherwise I would have turned the engine on and been more prepared. We made it by, with one of us on the radio alerting the ships of our position, while the other shone the spot light on the sails, it gave us each one or two more gray hairs.
The winds gradually started to pick up. At first, pleasantly, but then they started in with a hellcat screaming fury. The seas started to build too. At first pretty blue, but then angry gray with aquamarine tips. We were going downwind, they were manageable, probably fifteen feet, with an occasional twenty footer added in for good measure. Then the squalls came torrential rains that blotted out any surrounding landscape. The radar worked at spotting ships, which were plentiful. We were now in a "storm" according to Herb, one step above a gale, but less than a hurricane. Screaming down the waves we eventually got to hull speed on the staysail alone. After two days with neither of us having slept, nor eaten much, the wind finally let up and we decided to spend one night at Long Cay in the Acklind Islands. It was almost an idyllic picture perfect deserted island. Low and covered with scrub growth, the Bahamas have never been my favorite spot.We rowed the dinghy ashore and walked inland trying to find the source of a strange bleating sound we were hearing. It sounded like a goat to me. Sure enough we found a tiny baby pigmy goat hiding, chameleon like, in the Bahamian undergrowth. On closer inspection, we found the trees to be near perfect tropical bonsais. Neatly pruned and with thickened limbs the size of a heavy weights boxer's arm, they weren't scruffy looking at all, but entirely beautiful in their diminutive form. Hurricanes are what create the careful sculpting, goats the finishing touches and underbrush cleanup.
Earlier that afternoon, I caught another fish. This time Stew was right at the bottom of the companionway ladder when he heard the bale on the pole let go. I have put many animals to sleep, but never in my life have I partaken in such cold blooded murder of anything so beautiful. It was a dolphin fish, or mahi-mahi. A brilliant yellow three foot long fish with bright cobalt blue spots. "All tropical fish are beautiful," Phil said. "Meow", cried Stew. We ate him, nonetheless. As he died his vibrant colors faded away so eventually he looked just like any old supermarket, Saran wrapped fish. I am not sure I am going to do any more fishing. Interestingly enough, I discovered something very interesting about this special fish. In the process of cleaning him, my knife slipped in the rolling seas and I took a huge chunk out of my thumb. I was covered in the mucousy slime of the fish and figured I would take care of my wounds when I was done. When I finally got around to cleaning the cut, fifteen minutes later, the flap had already started to heal up, there was no redness or pain. The following day I had a hard time finding where the cut was. Some powerful medicine. I highly recommend mahi-mahi mucous for cuts. Flying fish have been plentiful. They land on the boat at night and Stewart has already learned what the flap, flap, flapping of their tortured suffocating means as they struggle to find their way off the boat and back into the sea. One night a fish landed right in my lap; I was so grossed out I threw him right back before Stew ever knew he was on board.
We never really did relax at this idyllic island setting. The winds again picked up and since our anchor chain was wrapped around a coral head, we weren't very relaxed about the anchor holding. We left the computer on with our lat lon and an "X" marking the spot, so that if the anchor dragged we could see in a second where we were on the computer chart we had scanned in. At about seven in the morning, after numerous jumpings out of bed to check the position, I stuck my head out the companionway to see we were heading in a totally wrong direction, I knew we were free from the coral head all though the lat/lon hadn't changed. Iwalani was sailing out to sea, we just hadn't picked up speed yet. We had a heck of a time getting the dinghy back on board while underway, but finally managed. We were headed for Jamaica a three day sail away.
Finally, we were in the trade winds, what Iwalani had been built for. But where were the peaceful blue three to four foot seas we had seen pictures of? These trade winds were angry, unrelenting and punishing us for putting a boat in their way. They looked like a picture out of Allard Coles book "Heavy Weather Sailing" Sleep? None. Eat? 1 pint of dilly beans, some crackers, one Jiffy Pop popcorn and one helping of macaroni and cheese for Phil for three days. Oh yes, one morning I defied Neptune and made bacon and scrambled eggs.
I did get sea-sick, once. I saw Phil furling the American flag , which we do before dark every day. He was not yet wearing his harness. The next thing I knew he wasn't there. "Phil?" I called up to him. No response. Every sphincter in my body let go. "What's going on down there?" he called down the companionway. "I thought you had fallen overboard" I answered. "Great. Instead of coming up and throwing over the man-over-board pole, you first reaction is to barf in the sink." I knew my type of sea-sickness wasn't normal. Now we wear our harnesses day and night offshore.
We arrived outside of Jamaica last night (Sunday night). The staysail sheet fitting broke from the heavy winds, we couldn't sheet it in if we wanted to. We were going six knots under bare poles. Were we having fun? After one wave pooped the stern and soaked us through, Phil shouted at the top of his lungs some very unmentionable epithets. I sat for two and a half hours saying prayers and begging the big cheese to make the winds stop and the seas become calm. Fun? I don't think so. This was not fun. Going to the dentist is fun, at least they give you a toothbrush for your troubles. Me? I am covered with black and blues, like some disgruntled mafia guy had taken a baseball bat to my legs. That was after crashing into a heavily cushioned and pillowed bunk!
At seven a.m we headed in to Port Antonio Jamaica. The seas did start to die down and so did the winds. We were still nervous as we had inadequate charts. The pilot books gave good written descriptions, but Phil and I both rely heavily on paper charts. The island of Jamaica was covered in cloud, masking all the visible aids to navigation. Finally, we got within one mile of shore and saw the red and white light house of Folly Point. Seas were breaking all around but the entrance was comparitively calm.
The Jamaicans were impressed with Iwalani, apparently many boats got dismasted in the "Heavy trade winds" of the last few days. We just lost a staysail sheet block and some interior "trim" that hadn't been finished. Funny thing, the weather faxes we get on board said the seas were only six feet. In judging wave height I use my brother as standard of measure. How many "Jays" would it take to see over the top of a wave. In most cases it was two or more. Every time we were screaming down a wave we both yelled-"six feet yea right!" Right now the weather faxes say the seas to Panama are fifteen feet. We are going to hang around Jamaica for awhile, Because "Jay and a half sized waves" are plenty big enough. It's just not fun when it becomes miserable. Next week we'll fill in about Jamaica. It is something else. That's it for now.APW