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June 2006

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Thursday, June 15th

First solo cruise

This past weekend was supposed to be a nice one weather-wise with a small front passing through Saturday night. Unfortunately I had to work Saturday morning and Cori was out of town on a business trip. That left me alone on the boat during a nice weekend. One of our concerns about what boat to buy was the ability for either of us to sail single-handed if we needed to or chose to.

I decided to head out and do some sailing. We had around 10 knots winds which had me on a beat downriver while deciding whether to stay out for the night or head back to the marina. I decided on staying in South River for the night. Also this weekend, the wind indicator decided to start working again and the depth sounder worked better in the shallows then previously. The forecast for overnight was for the wind to shift and build from the north and northwest then back to northeast after the front cleared through. With this in mind I chose my anchoring location, did a circle in the area to determine if I could swing properly during the night. I did manage to go aground while checking the depth. It is surprising how fast the bottom popped up and bit me. Fortunately I hadn’t pushed too far into the mud and was able to back off quickly. I relocated and dropped the hook for what I hoped would be a quiet night. The almost full moon rose and provided a lot of light to sit on deck and enjoy the evening. After going below and working on some log updates I thought I saw a lightning flash. Sure enough the front was moving through and there was a lot of lightning to our north but it was still quiet where I was. While up on deck checking the weather I heard some dolphins when they broke the surface and breathed. Unfortunately it was to dark to see any. During the night the wind kicked up and shifted just as they predicted. In the morning it was still blowing 15-20 and we had whitecaps on the river. Since the anchor was holding firm I just stayed below and waited it out. Soon it started to drop and eventually it was calm again. At this time I decided to get started.

One of my concerns was how I was going to get the anchor up and stowed without getting blown into a shallow area if the wind did not die down or shift, by waiting until it died off there was nothing to worry about but at least I had a plan. I started by raising both the mizzen and the main and then hoisted the anchor and motored away. By the time I got to the mouth of the river and headed into the Neuse I had a headwind which allowed me to break off on a beat when clear of the markers. I beat across the Neuse until I got closer to Oriental then turned downwind to make the run back up to the marina. Everything went so well that I got back earlier then I had planned so I spent a couple of hours tacking back and forth getting used to being single-handed. Eventually all thing must come to and end and I dropped the sails and headed back to the marina.

What I learned by being out alone is that the boat is well set up for single-handed sailing. The previous owner added two self tailing winches further back then the original winches which gives you access to them while behind the wheel. The autopilot does a very good job of handling the steering, which is something we already knew. The autopilot does a good job of bringing the boat around when it is time to tack, however it only works to starboard. I will need to dig into the manual and see why it doesn’t work when turning to port. It was a good experience with just the right amount of wind, anymore and it would have been a lot more work but it is defiantly doable, it will just take more practice. At least I didn’t have to stay at the dock because I didn’t have any crew.

Dale on 06.15.06 @ 09:28 PM EDT [link]

Monday, June 12th

Memorial Weekend

Memorial weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer. There was a threat earlier in the week that we may have to work on Saturday but that was canceled and the long weekend was ours.

Saturday started out with the weather not cooperating but by the afternoon it had cleared up and we were ready to head out. Our plans were to head back downriver and spend a couple of days sailing on the Sound and spend the nights in Broad Creek. Once out of our Creek and into the Neuse we were greeted by a pod of Dolphins, hopefully a good sign. Winds were favorable and we made good time on a broad reach. We arrived in Broad Creek and this time anchored where the cruising guide advises, there is more depth so we didn’t need to worry bout being too shallow. Unfortunately this area is more developed and there was a lot of powerboat traffic until late. We were again greeted by a pod of Dolphins while we sat out in the cockpit (for a couple of Midwest sailors this is still a big deal) enjoying the evening.

Sunday morning we were off to a slow start since it was so comfortable to just laze around and relax. Finally it was time to get moving and that’s when it all started to fall apart. While getting thing ready I turned on the instruments, which is usually accompanied with a “beep”. This time however, it was accompanied with a series of “beeps” something I hadn’t heard before. It was found that the wind indicator was flashing and beeping. After a bit of troubleshooting and reading the manual (yes, I actually read the manual) I decided that I didn’t really need that instrument and disconnected the power to. While trying to find the problem I asked Cori for one of the little brass brushes she has so I could clean the contacts. After giving up I commented that “if it isn’t one thing it’s another”. That’s when Cori asked me if I wanted to know about the “other”. While looking for the brush she found that one of the drain connections on the galley sink had come loose and had been draining into a container of cleaning supplies under the sink instead of all of it going down the drain. It looked like it had been a problem before since it had a lot of silicon caulk on it. The easy fix was to not use that side of the sink and worry about it later.

By this time we were ready to get underway. I showed Cori the operation and the windlass controls and she started bringing up the chain. After about ten feet it stopped, I thought it had popped the circuit breaker and came forward to show her how to reset it. That’s when she showed me that the motor would spin but nothing happened. I have had the windlass taken apart before and I thought it was probably a slipping gear. Since we were not in a hurry and I didn’t really want to pull up all that chain by hand I started taking it apart. I found that instead of the gear slipping on the shaft, the shaft had broken and motor would just spin, not able to turn anything. I put it all back together hoping that somehow I could find a replacement motor. I also found out that there is a set procedure to reassembly since it took me three tries to get it all back in the right sequence.

At this point here was no option but to pull the chain in by hand. Being anchored in mud means that the chain needs to be cleaned before putting it away. This involved pulling about three feet, hosing the mud off of it, and then continuing three feet at a time until it is all in and the anchor is secured. I earned my evening beer that day.

The day consisted of a couple of very long broad reaches (for non-sailors a broad reach is sailing with the wind 90 degrees off the bow, a fast and comfortable ride). Toward the end of the day the wind shifted further behind us and we poled out the headsail and did some downwind sialing wing on wing. After sailing this way for a while we decided to fly our mizzen staysail. After getting everything rigged it was time to raise the staysail, which Cori refused to do without the proper command. With the proper “raise the mizzen staysail” command issued up went one of the ugliest sails ever made (see photos in May 2006 gallery). We sailed with this sail until we got close to the entry to Broad Creek and headed back in to anchor for the night. This time we anchored a little further up the creek and didn’t have the powerboat traffic but we had to do the search for the bottom routine again. We never found it so we dropped anchor and settles in. We had another near perfect evening until the arrival of the late evening bugs.

Monday – Memorial Day

The winds were from the northeast and it was planned for a long downwind run back home. Once out and clear of the shoal areas we decided to have some fun and fly the asymmetrical spinnaker. We have only flown this one a couple of times before and never had one on our other boats. We had a couple of long downwind tacks that brought us up to the town of Oriental where we dropped the spinnaker, rolled out the headsail and altered our course for home.

Dale on 06.12.06 @ 08:17 PM EDT [link]

Sunday, June 11th

May recap

Since I have been lax at keeping this log current I will have to add several entries into one. I had stated that we intended to do more sailing and spend less time on projects. So far that has been working out. Here is a recap of May:

Weekend 1

We both got home early enough on Friday to get things ready and head out for the evening. We sailed on just a headsail down the Neuse and headed into South River for the night. Since my depth sounder has been acting up it was interesting. The sounder works well under most circumstances but when moving into shallow water it will lock up and just show the last reading it had. It may come back with a current reading but locks up again. Lately it just locks up and stays inoperable. Moving into shallow water is when you need it the most; it’s not a good time to have a malfunction. Choosing our anchoring spot involves moving in and circling the area we think we will swing and seeing if we touch bottom. Since it is a mud bottom it doesn’t do much damage if we touch but it can be a little nerve wracking to get free and try it again. If everything is clear down goes the anchor and we settle in for the night. This time it took three tries to find the right depth. The main channel is only 8 - 12 feet deep and we want to keep out of the channel so we just pick a spot and try the depth. We do have a lead line on board but so far it has eluded us. Saturday was a great day of sailing further down the Neuse and out into Pamlico Sound then working our way back up river to spend another night in South River. I did find that the problem with the depth sounder is most likely the transducer. Raytheon’s recommendation is to attach my instrument to someone else’s transducer or their instrument to my transducer to determine where the malfunction is. Since it woks fine in deeper water (deep water around here is anything more than 15 feet) I am pretty confident it is the transducer.

Weekend 2

The forecast for the weekend was winds 10 – 25 knots, perfect for some fun sailing. We got a number of very long tacks going downriver with the wind building. We finally, after getting some pictures of the rail almost in the water reefed down and headed to our planned anchorage. For the evening we headed into Broad Creek (sometimes called Lower Broad Creek since there are five Broad Creeks in the area) and started looking for the perfect anchoring spot. We bypassed the area recommended by the cruising guide because I felt it was too open to the forecasted winds and moved further up the channel. We picked our spot and did our circle. We dropped anchor and settled in for a beautiful sunset and a quiet night. The morning brought a long sail back upriver with the wind continuing to build. Since we were going downwind the wind and waves didn’t bother us too much until we needed to change course to get back home. At this time it was a good idea to reduce sail since it would be on a beam reach. We had never tried a maneuver called heave to or being hove to with this boat. This is a maneuver to stop the boat and sit in pretty much one spot with the sails still up. Hi Flite sits very comfortably with very little forward motion while hove to. This gets everything calmed down and it is easy to work on deck. Rather then reef any of the sails we just dropped the mainsail and continued on with just the mizzen and headsail, still doing 6+ knots.

Weekend 3

There was a party scheduled for this weekend and I also had to work Saturday morning. The weather did not cooperate and we had a combination of strong southwest winds and low water. When we get sustained winds from the southwest the water in the creek is pushed out and some of us are not able to get out. The plan was for all of us to head out for South River, get anchored and meet up with our dinghies and commence with drinking margaritas and eating a lot of Mexican food. Instead, we ended up in the clubhouse drinking margaritas and eating a lot of Mexican food. Thank goodness for having a Plan B.

I will save Memorial Weekend for a separate entry.

Dale on 06.11.06 @ 08:57 PM EDT [link]

Friday, June 2nd

Updates are coming

Sorry I havn't been updating. It has been a bit busy here. I said previously that we were going to do more sailing and we have. I am having a few computer problems since I left the laptop out with an open hatch right above it when it rained the other day. I still don't know if I killed it or just shortened it's life. For now I am using a backup computer. More info to follow.
Dale on 06.02.06 @ 09:45 PM EDT [link]