Friday, May 29, 2009

Time out

I love when the anchor comes up clean and I don't have to wash it. This anchorage at New Smyrna Beach that I was using for the first time was pure sand and ideal holding.
Anyway, I woke up around 6:30 with the lights still on, the dishes still waiting to be washed and the shower still waiting to be had . . . . I was really tired. Actually thinking about it, I don't think I would do that again. It is OK to go first thru the ICW for a little while then go out and be able to sleep 20 minutes naps. But do the opposite, go out first and then do a whole day inside with only the ability to sleep in 2 minutes intervals did not work out well. Fortunately I did not run aground not did I take out markers, but it could have happened.
I got to the barge canal around 2:00 and presented myself at the bridge over route 3 at 2:40. I then learned (this was not on the ICW book not on the chartbook) that the bridge would only open every half hour, with a curfew from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. So I made the 3 o'clock one and went on to the best kept secret in the barge canal which is Harbortown marina, at 1 dollar a foot for Boat US members, and a very good price for fuel.
Gary was at the fuel dock waiting for me, after filling up I went tie up at the dock and relax as I knew I was going to stay here for three nights, with not very much to do in terms of work on the boat. For once, I have no schedule and I can just enjoy myself, which is not hard to do when your host is Gary.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

change of plans again

It has been a very long day, but I won't have much to say. Instead of a 60 miles run to the SteCatherine sound, I went for a 230 miles journey to New Smyrna Beach by way of Saint Augustine. The weather was too good to pass up which is why I change my plans yet again.
All I want now is an early dinner, a nice shower and a very early bed. I am truly exhausted, and I should not. I left Ediston Beach in SC at 6:00 and dropped the hook in New Smyrna Beach at 4:20 p.m. the next day. In between, the crossing from Ediston to Saint Augustine was wonderful. During the day, I had the main with one reef (not that the wind was that strong, but I do not trust too much my repair on the boom vang) and full genoa. As usual, the wind died in the evening and I had to hoist the Yanmar sail again.
While underway, I notice that there was water in the bilge, although I had retighten the stuffing box on the shaft. After inspection, I found that the packing on the rudder post tube was completely loose and let water in. So, I had to move the mattress out of the cabin to be able to retighten it. Physical but a no brainer. Fortunately, as I am not a very talented mechanic.
I got to Saint Augustine too early, 7:42 a.m. to be precise so I had to wait for the 8:30 opening of the bridge of Lions. They open every half hour, except for the 8:00 which they don't do.
After that, it was a routine transit on the ICW but I was quite sleepy, and I had to set up my timer at 2 minutes and sleep in bursts of 2 minutes to get rid of the sleepyness. It worked.
But now that the anchor is set, it's bye bye, I am done

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The repairman

I got to the anchorage around 12:30. I entered very cautiously as the map and the reality are quite different. Once you are in the Big Bay Creek, there is plenty of water and I went all the way to the end of the area with lots of houses and boats, as it is quite active today for the Memorial Day Week-End.
As soon as I was anchored, I looked at the problem with the boomvang. Not only the part is badly twisted, but I can see that there is far too much play and I would have to find a way to secure the connection between the boom vang and the mast.
Using whatever tools I had, I 
managed to unbend the fitting. But I could not find metallic washers with a 5/8" inside diameter. So I used the rubber packings for water hoses and I know that I will have to be extra careful when using the main until I can get that design fault fixed permanently.
Once this was done, I went through the routine of getting ready as early as possible tomorrow as I have changed my mind again. If I can make it to the Sapelo sound (82 miles), I would be only 97 miles from Saint Augustine and I could attempt to make it in one run, or split it by stopping for the night in Fernandina Beach and then anchor way past Saint Augustine on Wednesday night.
As far as I can tell, the weather is looking good at least until Wednesday, and all will depend as to whether I feel very good or if I ne
ed to rest.

In the washer

8h30 a.m.Sunday 5/24/09
32:33.35 N 80:00.08 W

It had started quite well and I was quite happy to have chosen to sail
downsouth outside. Up to early evening, I was sailing with main and
genoa and under the steering of the Monitor. But as the night fell, so
did the wind, and the whole night it was a continuous dance between
motor sailing and sailing without motor.
At day break, as I was crossing the channel into Charleston harbour, the
weather started to deteriorate significantly, with a line of showers
that does not seem to have an end. The wind inside those showers was
strong enough that I felt the need to drop the main. Being on my own,
obviously I do that with the main sheet loose. And of course, all that
in a pouring rain.
As I dropped the sail, the boom came down more than usual and was
rubbing against the top of the bimini. The boat was rolling violently
and before I could immobilise the boom, the top part of the bimini was
damages. Not a disaster, but another repair to be done in Fort Lauderdale.
Looking for the reason of that low boom, I discovered that the metal
part that links the boomvang to the mast had bent almost to a 90
degrees angle, which had caused thte boom to drop maybe an inch and a half.
I quickly set up a topping lift with the spare halyard, but the damage
was done. And I probably can't use the main sail until I find a
solution. Not that it matters since the wind has shifted to SSW, dead
in my nose.
I will be entering the South Ediston river, as I planned to drop the
hook in Big Bay creek.
I will change my plan and instead of anchoring for the day and go out
again tomorrow, I will continue up the waterway today, and stay inside
until I feel that the conditions weatherwise and boatwise are safe
enough to do so.
So bye bye to the leisurely day of cooking and resting today, instead I
will try and make as much progress as I can and place a few phone calls
to organise repairs to the boomvang and the bimini.
Actually, I do not mind another quick stop in Beaufort, SC which I had
enjoyed on my way up North in March.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

At last, a real run .

Another excellent evening last night. Late afternoon, Tom Zalewski, whom
I had met in March on my way up North, came to pick me up on a boat
borrowed by a North Carolina House representative no less ! He then took
me home where Barbara was waiting for us with dinner and a couple of
bottles of wine.
I must say that my natural modesty (uh, uh ? ? /) took a beating all
night long as they wanted very much to talk about the book that R.K.
Ready (Condemned to be free) had written based on my recollection of a
significant slice of my life. Although I kept telling them that this
book was a fiction, even if the story took from my souvenirs, I could
not convince them. This being said, it was an excellent evening, in very
good company. I would easily see Tom as being part of our brotherhood.
Then around 11:00 p.m., back to the boat for a quick night and up again
at 5:00, anchor aweigh at 6:00, with little to say about the stretch
from Wrightsville Beach to Southport, where I arrived at 9:40 to top up
my fuel tank. Out again at 10:00, the exit via the Cape Fear river was
as always not a quiet one.
Anyway, I was out in the open around 10:40 and by 11:30, I was underway
with full mainsail, genoa and the monitor to steer the boat. It does not
get any better than that. I hope the wind will keep up (it is already
showing signs of dying out) so that I can get to my anchorage before
night time. With 140 miles to go, things can change quite a bit, so no
forecast of the ETA yet.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where is Papy Jovial ?

Whenever you click on the link "Where is Papy Jovial ?" it opens up a world wide map showing all the boats members of the Sail the World association. The scale of the map does not allow you to see in detail where I am.
However, if you drag your mouse over the icon of Papy Jovial, you will draw a rectangle which will define an area to zoom in. It takes a little bit of practice, but eventually, you will be able to open a map with only the area where I am and will show you more details.
You can also click on the icon itself and it will provide you with more data about my position and the weather around me. As long as I am very close to land mass, the weather will not be correct. Also, my position is transmitted only twice a day, which will explain erratic average speed as long as I am not on a continuous movement, as will be the case on ocean crossing.

A handful of events

First, a brief summary of last night. At 7, Rafael came to get me to have dinner with him and Eliane on Ti Moun. Eliane had prepared french baguettes and spaguettis bolognaise. I suspect that the bread initiative came from the fact that she knew since yesterday that I was going to have dinner with them on their boat. Very nice gesture indeed. I could only give them very few books in french and my DVDs in french would not play on their equipment since I had them zoned for the US. Anyway, very nice evening all the same.
Up at 5, anchor aweigh at 6, the day started beautiful with sunshine and a nice breeze from the east. As soon as I entered the Bay River, I was able to set up main sail and genoa, stop the engine and sail at 5 to 6 knots in peace and silence. Unfortunately, upon entering the Adams creek, with all the twists and turns, I had to drop the main and roll the genoa.
I was surprised to be called on the VHF in french by someone talking about my blog. It was a member of STW (Jean-Marie aboard Na Maka) and we could chat for a little while until the VHF stopped transmitting and I had to finish it on the handheld one.
This was the beginning of another load of problems with the electronics. The computer gave me the dreaded blue screen again, and after a first false start, it crashed again and refused to restart. I quickly set up the back up that I had prepared on the laptop Toshiba, with all accessories readily available in a ziploc bag, and the software pre- set up.
I got to Morehead City at 3 and as soon as the anchor was set in my favourite anchorage (opposite the infamous Sanitary restaurant), I called Bob to try and trouble shoot the problem. We almost got it right, except that I have now lost the sound. That will do for the time being until I get to Fort Lauderdale and get professional help. What worries me is the fact that those blue screens are probably caused by a defective power supply, and I don't fancy starting to mess with the wiring. It may be that the breaker, and the cables used for the computer, which is the circuit that was intended for the stereo system, are not adequate for the computer. If I have the guts, I will try and switch the computer to the power intended for the VHF and see if the problem occurs again.
Anyway, the Toshiba will be good enough tomorrow since I will be going to Wrightsville Beach the outside route. Straight shot from Morehead City to Masonboro inlet, not much problem with navigation.
I wish the weather gods will be with me for once so that from Wrightsville Beach I could shoot for Charleston direct. We shall see...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Short hop

I did all of 50 miles (nautical miles) today, which is what "Ti Moun" says is his maximum daily distance. Sounds like brother Limey !
I was up at 5, impatient to leave that anchorage where I have already lost almost 2 days. But I must wait, since I promised "Ti Moun" that I would wait for them and get through the bridge with them.
So, at 7 we are under way en route towards the bridge which I have seen offer openings to early birds going north.
As we arrived almost to touching it, it stayed closed, which is unusual for that bridge which has one of the best timing of the ICW. While I am doing a 360, the bridge tender "I am trying to open the bridge !". Did not sound encouraging, and I could already picture myself wasting another day.
Fortunately, after a few scary minutes, the bridge finally opened, and we were on our way to a routine 50 miler to Pungo Creek just outside Belhaven.
Tonight, I am having dinner on "Ti Moun" and they asked me whether I had some books in french. Shame on me, first of all, I have very few books since Diana was going to come with an eBook reader, and on the very few I have, all of them are in english. To save the day, I offered them the french DVD on Eric Tabarly, and I will try and get forgiveness with a good bottle of Bordeaux wine.
I will probably sleep well after that and won't have time to make an entry, which is why I am making an early one.


Another day sacrificed to the great God of Northeaster ! From one boat anchored in the Little Alligator river (me) we grew to 2 then 3 then came a french cat named "Ti Moun" from Pointe a Pitre.
I spent the whole day very busy doing nothing, partly because my lower back is acting up again and I can hardly move.
Mostly I kept monitoring the weather forecast broadcast by the Coast Guard, as they probably are the ones to advise the bridge when it can restart normal operations. From what I hear, the wind is supposed to subside starting at midnight tonight, so I am planning on an early start but a short day, to stay with "Ti Moun", and then move on to Morehead City.


Another day sacrificed to the great God of Northeaster ! From one boat anchored in the Little Alligator river (me) we grew to 2 then 3 then came a french cat named "Ti Moun" from Pointe a Pitre.
I spent the whole day very busy doing nothing, partly because my lower back is acting up again and I can hardly move.
Mostly I kept monitoring the weather forecast broadcast by the Coast Guard, as they probably are the ones to advise the bridge when it can restart normal operations. From what I hear, the wind is supposed to subside starting at midnight tonight, so I am planning on an early start but a short day, to stay with "Ti Moun", and then move on to Morehead City.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The day that was not

Miserable day today. I left Coinjock at 7:00 am with rain and strong northerly wind and a 52 degrees temperature. I was hoping that the wind would let up in the afternoon and that I would be able to get past the Alligator River bridge. Unfortunately, this was not to be and I had to anchor in the Little Alligator River creek in 10 feet of water, but using all of 80 feet of chain, to make sure as this anchorage is not protected at all from the Northeasterly wind.
The VHF in the cockpit, the best one, did not like the rain and stopped working. I tried to raise the bridge using the inside one and the hand held one, but I guess that there is no one on the bridge in these conditions. After the day lost at Coinjock, this is another day gone. At this rate, I wonder how long it will take me to reach Fort Lauderdale.
Hopefully, the weather is supposed to improve after Wednesday and I might be able to go outside most of the way.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Adrenaline alley

What a week !
First, scrambling to try and find a crew, at least for the first part of the trip. A lot of brothers and friends mobilized themselves, and thanks especially to brother Leve Taud, from the Normandie table, I now have company in the person of Jean-Francois Leroy, who will join me in Fort Lauderdale in June and stay with me at least up to Tahiti and possibly to New Caledonia. Great relief for me.
Then for the remainder of the week, I was chasing time, with the freezer, the genset and the electronics lagging behind. I still had to have the cables on the steering system changed, but that did not worry me too much as it was in the hands of Cary.
On Friday morning, I ran the genset, just to make sure, and disaster struck again. The beast was again spraying itself with water. I shut down in a hurry and called Don to come have a look. To cut the story short, it turned out that the exhaust elbow where the cooling water comes in had become totally blocked and the back pressure had made the cap of the expansion bottle (which is located way below the engine ???) pop out and it was spraying the coolant in the engine room.
Luckily, Don found a new stainless steel elbow in town and put it in place, and also relocated the expansion bottle to be level with the top of the engine. When we ran the unit, the outflow of the cooling water was at least fifty times as much as it used to be. I hope this is the end of the problems for that piece of equipment.
On the steering cables, after talking to Edson, it turned out that what was important was to change the conduits, along with the cables. So we ordered those together with new fittings and now the steering, at last, feels like I was expecting all along. I can now turn the wheel with my little finger with no efforts. The windvane and the autopilot will certainly appreciate.
On Wednesday, the brothers of the Chesapeake Bay table came to the boat to drink to my going away. Nice sent off from a group that I love dearly.
Saturday morning, some of them were at it again, to help me cast the lines. Although the boat was still in a big mess with lots of sorting out and cleaning to do, I cast off the lines at 7:44 a.m. with Mike, my riding buddy, coming along for the ride to Coinjock.
It was very important for me to get under way at the time I had said I would.
Amids showers and strong southerly winds, we arrived in Coinjock at 4:00 p.m., where Rob and Holly on Hamshire Rose were waiting for me for a last reunion. Mike's son Michael was also there and we had a very pleasant evening together. For the first time since I have been coming to Coinjock, I finally had the prime rib for which it is so famous, and I certainly was not disappointed.
I decided to stay in Coinjock on Sunday as I need to clean and sort things out before making a run for Fort Lauderdale but I will play it safe and comfortable. No ETA to comply with . . .

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A very wet week on the dry

Monday morning, as planned, Papy Jovial was hauled out at Portsmouth Boating Center. Of course, as soon as she got on the dry, the skies opened up and we were in for three days of continuous thunderstorms and showers !
The plan is to give it two coats of anti-fouling check out again the steering system and install a grease fitting for the rudder post. As Papy Jovial came out, I noticed that the zinc anode on the shaft had disappeared. Then, looking closer, it appeared that the cutlass bearing was nowhere to be seen.
So, we took out the rudder, then the prop, then the shaft to recover the cutlass bearing which had found its way up the shaft. Then, we found out that the shaft itself showed signs of heavy wear and tear at the location of the packing in the stuffing box.
So, we ended up changing the shaft, putting new clamps and a new stuffing box. The grease fitting works fine and I know that with 50 strokes of the grease gun, I can practically fill the whole tube around the rudder post with fresh teflon 
based grease. The steering was already working fine, with no further problem w
ith the autopilot and the windvane working well without having to disconnect the piston from the electric auto pilot.
Meanwhile, I checked out and marked the chain, keeping 160 feet of chain. Besides, I have to anchor rodes with a short length of chain each and 200 feet of rope. I also changed the line on the roller furler, and I will use the old one for an anchor marker.
The freezer problem turned out to be a loose connection which caused the voltage to drop almost a full volt. Easy to fix.
I installed a third solar panel (125 watts) and even with freezer and refrigerator on all day, leaving the control entirely to the thermostats, I gained electricity during the day. I probably won't have to charge the batteries very often, since on long crossing, there will be no autopilot but the wind vane.
I also had a handle installed above the chart table, as I know that in very choppy waters, I tend to look for something to grip when I come down from the cockpit to the chart table.
And the computer came back, and within less than one evening, I had almost everything reinstalled and running.
So far, nothing on the horizon as far as finding a crew for the first part of the trip. I am not very happy at the prospect of going solo all the way to Tahiti, but that is what it looks like right now.
Less than a week to go, but fortunately, not much to do on Papy Jovial. This week, we will change the cables on the steering system, replace the hose which goes from the top of the valves cover to the air filter in the engine (PCV system), and do most of the provisionning. I will also check out the new water catchment that I had made by Mike and which will cover the whole of the front part of the boat.
I almost forgot one important piece of information. If you want to follow Papy Jovial on the map, go to the left of the page, scroll down a little and click on the link "Where is Papy Jovial ?". This will open up  world map showing all the sailboats being monitored by Purple Link. If you want to only see Papy Jovial, click on "asset map" and go down to pull down menu until you find Papy Jovial. You can click on the boat to get more info. You can also zoom on the map and see more details on the weather I am having.
Still, a busy week ahead . .  . .

Sunday, May 3, 2009


The week had started very well, with all the work on the sails and the rigging completed, most of the work on the genset and electric wiring done, the transponder installed and working and almost half of the electronic done.
What is left is to change the "bird" up the mast, as the wind direction sensor was bent in July in the storm we went through with more than 60 knots of wind. I also want them to check thoroughly the SSB.
The list being well shorted , together with Eric, I took time to help Stew take his boat out of the water which was done on Friday. Meanwhile, Stew and Diana moved most of tthe stuff that they will need for the next two years on Papy Jovial.
Saturday morning, while I was cleaning car and boat, I was told that Stew had broken his leg. I went to his boat, and there he was, lying on the ground, with a right leg that looked that it was broken very close beneath the knee. While the medics took him to the hospital, and thereafter, all we could do was wait until we could find out how serious it was.
This morning, the truth is plain and painful. Stew is out of commission for 6 to 9 months, if not more, and their coming along with me is no longer possible.
All that will take some time to digest and for everyone, but mostly Stew and Diana, to readjust to the new reality. Having their boat on the dry, and Stew being unable to go up or down stairs, they are for all practical purposes, homeless, with Stew having quit his job two days ago. Not a very happy situation. Hopefully, the situation will sort itself out, somehow also with the help of the brotherhood.
As for the trip, I will have now to scramble to find a crew to go with me. I could probably do it alone, but there is not much fun that way. I have done it before, on much shorter trips, and it feels like making a delivery, not like cruising for fun. So, I have made a few phone calls, and now I can only wait and hope. . . .