Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coastal Bend Cruising

The 1st three images are out of order because I found them way after I posted this blog & just recently added them..

The 1st pic is of the burning of the Bastille on Ingelside Bay.
Wand'rin Star is the boat on the far right of the photo.

Jenny, the Admiral & I at the Burning of the Bastille!

This is the Women's On board Emergency Procedures Seminar at BYC.

Here is Johnny Huddelston teaching us all about DSC/VHF radios and all their safety features.

Here is Captain Bob Barrow filling in all the gaps. He teaches ASA Coastal Cruising at the local Sailing School so he was a valuable asset to this seminar.

I won 2nd place in the Men's dingy Poker Run..I had 2 pairs & an Ace.

Our DSC/VHF radio...Just push the little red button on the lower right hand side and the Coast Guard shows up to help.

This is our Nauticast -B AIS system. This displays all commercial traffic and anyone/thing else with a AIS transmitter. right on our Garmin display

The Radio and the AIS are wired into our Garmin 3210 Chart plotter through the Industry Standard NEMA connections that allow the 3 devices to share data.

This is the M/V Eclipse at Ingelside Bay

Here is S/V Griffith, a Pacific Seacraft 37 Ingelside.

The Excellent Wind Scoop, already ordered one more for the other hatch!

Well what a fine sunset at Ingelside.

If I was not going cruising I might just have to have one of these for the dock!

Teresa, Neil & Megan on Totom passing us by on the way back to Corpus.

A fine Corpus Sky line in the distance.

The benefit of getting some local cruising in before we depart Corpus Christi for the East Coast is getting in some practical sea trials for all the systems on board. For instance managing the 3 water tanks or learning how long we can run our refrigeration without draining our house batteries to much. Determining just how long to run our generator each day when we are anchored out to keep the batteries charged. Our generator is a 5 KW Seapower unit that runs off the main engine instead of a separate self contained gen-set. This has the benefit of not having to maintain two separate diesel engines but you add running hours to the main engine just to charge batteries and provide other electrical needs like the microwave, TV, or charging cell phones and all the other rechargeable stuff. Two large solar panels are on the wish list and should provide most of the power we are depending on our current charging system. Also using our AIS, DSC/VHF Radio, and learning all the functions on the Radar and Chart plotter. We rarely use our propane stove so the Admiral just today mentioned she needed to start cooking on it to make sure it is all in good order. We either use the grill mounted on the stern rail, a electric skillet, or the microwave for everything. The Admiral prepares all our meals before we leave the dock and shore power behind for our short 2-3 day cruises so we do not need to use the stove but that will soon change.

June Education Seminar

In June I led a Women's On board Emergency Procedures Seminar for the membership of BYC. I had to do a bit of homework to prepare the topics for this course that is also known as a "Skipper Savers Course". Lisa Kelley, the Commodore of BYC requested this topic since we have so many couples who depend heavily on thier skipper to make sure everyone stays safe and returns back to the d0ck. So what would the Admiral do if the skipper was incapacitated and she was suddenly in charge of the helm. Needless to say this was a well attended seminar and I recruited 2 knowledgeable local sailors, Johnny Huddelston and Captain Bob Barrow, to help present the material for the class. In the short 2 hours we merely were able to highlight the important knowledge and skills required to be prepared for such an emergency situation and sent all off to do their own homework and practice to insure that the Admirals can not only properly communicate emergency information to 1st responders but to also take charge of the vessel and bring all home safely. This class pointed out several deficiencies that Lynn & I will have to practice to make sure she feels confident as well. Soon Lynn will assume the helm duties and I will be the dock hand for coming into the dock and leaving the dock. The Admiral is already confident sailing and anchoring at the helm. The summer months offer plenty of low wind conditions to practice docking without risking nerves or banging up the topsides.

July 4th Dingy Poker Runs

A blessing in disguise. I told the Admiral we needed to get the dingy out and prepare her to win the Dingy Poker Run being held on July 4th at BYC. She said she would learn to drive the dingy but she would not participate in a Dingy event on the busy 4th of July with all the nuts motoring about around the Marina. We needed ice for a Dock Party I had put together for H & G docks and it was impossible to go by car since you would never be able to get a parking space so using the dingy was the practical choice. I recruited our slip neighbor Earnie to go along to help, this way the Admiral would at least try to appear calm as she navigated the dingy all the way to the South end of the marina to get the ice. We would make one more trip for ice the following day so the Admiral actually got the feel for it and began to relax a bit. I told her I wanted to take the dingy to BYC for the July 4th activities since I planned on participating in the Men's dingy events. As it turned out only 2 dingy's showed up for the fun so the women needed Lynn to participate. The Admiral jumped in the Dingy with 2 other female contestants and drove through the poker run just fine. I was a Happy Skipper!

AIS/Chart plotter Update

Part of the Women's On board Emergency Procedures Seminar was on the topic of DSC/VHF radios. With one push of a button on these new VHF radios you can summon the coast guard and if they are connected to your chart plotter the coast guard will not only know the exact ID of the boat calling for help but they will also know the exact Lat/Long Coordinates of the vessel. Johnny Huddelston agreed to present this portion of the class. In preparation for his presentation he wanted to practice using the DSC (Digital Select Calling) features on his VHF radio. So I agreed since I could use the practice as well. During our attempts to use the DSC features I realized something was not working as it should. Johnny was sure it was something on his end but as I investigated I realized for some reason my radio was not transmitting the Lat/Long data. I discovered that when The AIS (automatic identification system) transponder was installed and connected to my Garmin Chart plotter that the DSC features on the VHF radio were not reconnected properly. Long Story short, the father of the young man who installed our AIS system helped me identify the two wires that were incorrectly wired to the NEMA connector. Also I called Garmin to get a software update card for the chart plotter and this corrected a couple of other issues like the AIS targets moving sideways and the incorrect date and time on the chart plotter. We also insalled new charts for the entire East coast and the Gulf of Mexico. During this process I was able to sketch out a complete color coded schematic of the entire NEMA Garmin, AIS, and VHF radio. This is a crucial piece for any future problem solving.
All of our electronics are now checked out completely and ready to go. You might like to check out http://www.marinetraffic.com/ This site is very similar to the AIS on a chart plotter. Any Vessel in the world who has their AIS turned on is displayed and you can click on the vessel and see their heading, course, speed, identification and other info.

Cruise to Ingelside Bastille Day

This would be our third time to anchor in Ingelside Bay near the Bahia Marina and our second time to attend one of the Coastal Bends biggest cruisers parties for the Bastille Day Celebration.
We decided to sail over a day early and spend two nights in Ingelside Bay. We had to clean the condo that day so we got a late start and departed CC marina at 16:30. The winds were blowing a bit so we just used 90% of the genoa and had a romping sail in 20-25 knot winds across CC Bay. The Dredge working the CC ship Channel presented a larger navigation hazard than expected as the discharge pipe ran more than a mile south of the shipping channel. We had to tack 3 times in the 4'+ chop and high winds to get around this obstacle. Keeping a sharp look out in these conditions takes all of your attention. We were glad to get into the Ingelside channel behind the barrier islands protecting us from the fetch in the bay. We anchored easily behind two other early arrivals , S/V Griffith and M/V Eclipse, with our new Rocna anchor. We were a bit concerned about being able to sleep through a hot night on the hook but I brought along a wind scoop I bought at a BYC auction. Man these things work great as they scoop up lots of breeze and funnel it all down through the hatch, I actually got cold and had to get up and put on a tshirt. The admiral was covered up with a sheet but the cool air along with the high humidity was strange to me so I opted for no sheet. I have already ordered a second wind scoop so we can force ventilate more of the interior. The Admiral enjoyed her Iphone that evening as WiFi reception was weak. I just enjoyed the evening in the cockpit with a few coldies. Someone posted a 2011 Youtube video of the event so if you click on the title of this blog the link will take you to the video. The dinner is a huge Potluck followed by Larry Joe Taylor and his band with a replica Bastille burning to top off the night. We had a very relaxing sail back across the bay in light winds and I promised the Admiral a easy sail since the trip across on Friday had been a test. So we just used all 130% of the Genoa for a 3-4 knot sail back to Corpus. Our friends Teresa and Neil and their daughter Megan caught up with us on their 36' Erickson "Totom" I got a great shot of Totom with the back drop of the Corpus downtown skyline.