Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Magical Mystery Tour PS

Our ACR Res Q Link PLB's were supposed to always be worn by the Helmsman and whoever else was not asleep at the time. The crew got a bit lax and had them at there side but not always around their neck with the convenient Lanyard I made for them so I resorted to keeping one around my neck full time. 

The repair made at sea with rescue tape, wenches for splints and hose clamps.

Here you see the broken connector (the broken half rolled off the dock and Neptune claimed it!)

The full length of conduit, I decided it had had enough and replaced all of it. 

With the head of the pedestal removed exposing the sprocket and chain so I could make sure to center the helm in line with the rudder, 

Our always not so ready Spinnaker/whisker pole

I recently learned about using Butyl tape to re-bed deck hardware from my friend Johny in Tampa and Carey in St. Pete so I decided to give it a try to stop the chain plate leak which developed on the trip across the Gulf

Gulf Crossing Post Script

There are always things you think of that you wish you included in your thoughts when blogging. Here are those that I thought of that I think are worthy of mentioning:

Choosing Crew

Choosing your crew for a voyage of any length is very important but the longer the trip and the farther offshore the more important this decision. The decision to go with three total was perfect. Four could have easily been to many. For longer trips it is very important for each person to have there on quarters. On small vessels this is difficult beyond two or three. They need a private space and a place for their stuff. If we had four then one of the spaces would have had to be shared adding possible stress to those sharing the space. Three provided a watch schedule that provided everyone with ample rest time. Given that many of us who have the time to participate in pleasure cruising are retired and over the age of 55 and more like over 60 then physical ability, food needs, other restrictive considerations are present. Older persons are a bit more set in their ways and not as tolerant in change of routine. A trip over 5 days can test the patience of anyone if for any reason they are annoyed of the habits of their fellow crew. I got Lucky. I had a crew that adapted to each situation seamlessly and with great tolerance. I have always believed that I must be a direct descendent of Job. Many who know me well have stated to me how patient I am. There are few in this world or any other that I can’t get along with for any amount of time.

Whisker Pole

We have never used the Spinnaker Pole that doubles as a Whisker pole aboard Wand’rin Star. We do not even carry a Spinnaker but I have often thought about adding a asymmetrical spinnaker. Since we never raced her and until the Gulf Crossing the desire or the need for a whisker pole just never arrived. For some time on the second and third day we had light winds directly behind us. To stay on our charted course line we tried to sail wing on wing but the winds were just to light to keep the Genoa full all the time. Deploying the pole would have been an advantage but since I never used it, it was a piece of neglected equipment. I got out the spray lubricant to free up the spring-loaded jaws and considered putting the pole out. But a couple of the connecting cables were rusty enough that I did not have confidence in it supporting the stresses especially if the winds increased. I did not have a downhaul rigged, but I could have put one together. I was just not prepared and I knew this was one item I should have spent time on to get the most out of the wind. Next time every piece of gear will be prepared to make the trip.


I bought several offshore trolling lures for the trip across hoping to catch a big one to brag about. I have never been offshore troll fishing. My three times offshore fishing have been on Head Boats where you are fishing in deep water and the boat is anchored so you are just dropping the line over the side in 200’ of water over a reef, or rocks. I recently Googled How to Rig Lures for Offshore Trolling and I was not even close. No wonder I lost the battle, I was not even close to the fight. Again, next time AI am out there I will be prepared to catch the big One.

The Learning Curve

Everyone has a different comfort level and the only way to move to the next level is to be presented a challenge to prepare. Each journey should prepare you for the next level. Our two challenges one being the Very heavy Lightening and Thunder storm ahead of the cold front, and the other the 47 mile Winds that led to a bit of confusion and a mild break in the port side steering conduit presented the challenges. For me, even though I have twice been in seas twice before that exceeded what we experienced on this trip, I was impressed how well Wand’rin Star managed in the storm, the unexpected high winds and the 8-10 and occasional 12’ seas that we had along the way. I know that I and  the vessel can weather the next level now. As AI said before the weather Guru’s forecast are at best a three day event and anything beyond that is a crap shoot on their and your part. The basic rule as I understand it is that the longer you are at sea the higher the percentage that you will experience some uncomfortable weather and seas. This is why even though I was having a great time in the Gulf Of Mexico I knew it best to get in to Corpus and not dally around another night gambling on what weather might be brewing for us. The message is to enjoy your journey but make it efficient and safe.

Repairing the Steering

I assed the damage to the steering and knew I might have to replace more than just the plastic conduit connector that broke. Shortly after buying the boat I was in the engine room when I noticed that the Starboard side steering cable had a bit of chafe. A short length of Conduit also on that side had a funny kink in it as well so I replaced that section of conduit, the cable, and installed a new connector with a updated lubricating cup. I had to disassemble the entire port side system to get the connector out so this would allow me opportunity to inspect all the parts on that side as well. The steering cable had a couple of “meet hooks” in it, which are a couple of broken strands. So I decided to replace the entire port side of the system. About 14’ of conduit, and a new connector with the updated grease cup. I already had the steering cable on standby as a back up part “Just in Case”. I ordered the Conduit and the connector from Edson. Their website stated that you could cut the conduit to the desired length with a “Hacksaw”. So I ordered 14’ of Conduit as I needed one section about 4’ long and the other just 9’4”. I tried cutting with the hacksaw but no luck, it just dulled the blade and made me tired. I got out my handy Electric Saber saw and it took the only two blades I had to complete 1 cut. Mark brought me back two more blades from his trip to Home Depot just in time for me to make the second cut. Both blades dulled and barely a scratch on the conduit. I went below to retrieve My SawsAll with heavy duty metal cutting blades but just then I remembered using my Drimmel tool with a metal cutting tool to cut off a lock once. So I tried that and it worked great with a much better cut to boot. After I put it all back together again in the middle of the night I woke and became concerned that I may not have properly tensioned the two steering cables. I checked the Edson site and the instructions there called for 1” of deviation for every 1’ of cable. Well that made no sense to me at all. With almost 14’ of cable how could I have 13” of slack in the system??? So I called Tech support at Edson. I got a very friendly and helpful guy who explained that the best way to tension the cables to have someone on the helm put the wheel all the way over and then add about 30-40 pounds of pressure while I checked the slack on the lazy side to make sure the cable stayed in the track on the Quadrant and would not fall out of the groove. And to do this on both sides. After talking to him I realized that explained how loose it should not be but it did not explain how tight it should be.  I discussed this with two of my trusted and respected friends, Mark here in Corpus and John F. in Tampa and between the two of them I got the answer I was looking for. The Steering can not be so loose that it falls off the quadrant when there is considerable pressure on the helm and not so tight as to be restrictive in Steering the boat. The Wheel should not feel like you are dragging a truck around. This of course would produce a lot of wear and tear on the conduit system if it was to tight. With a hour or so of tweaking I finally arrived at both what feels good and what is safe keeping the cables on the quadrant. After all this was finished up I remembered that I needed to re-calibrate the Autohelm to make sure it knew where the stops were on both the port and starboard side. The last thing you need is for the Autohelm to be out of sync and to apply so much pressure to the helm that the steering breaks again!
 The only other thing that required repair as a result of the trip across was a leak that developed on the way across in the aft port shroud chain plate. I decided to use Butyl tape since it was recommended by both Johny in Tampa and Carey in St. Pete. Johny gave me a YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Upksj19lyU  showing how to apply the butyl tape so it looked easy enough and a lot less expensive that conventional adhesive marine caulking. If it rains enough here in Corpus I will update on it's ability to keep water out of the boat. 


I wanted to paste a link to Buckminster Fuller's "Naming of a Sloop" here but I could find none on the net. I think his prose says it all about Sailing. But you can find it in a collection of true sailing stories by David Goudy available at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Before-Wind-Stories-About-Sailing/dp/0070237565/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1371688499&sr=1-3&keywords=before+the+wind 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Magical Mystery Tour - The Gulf after the Storm

The vessel “Timothy Danos” was the Tail Vessel of the 9 mile long seismic cable.




A Zen Crew

Welcoming committee From the Left Mark, Randy, and Wendy complete with  Shiner!

At Home in H23 Corpus Christi Marina

After the Storm

Sunday 5/12

At 0315 Maureen logged Engine on @ 1000 RPM course 270 degrees N27 05.752 W 089 08.060, Jib and Main speed unchanged (avg 6.2 knots)
By 1000 hours we contacted the vessel “Geo Caribbean”, it was a AIS target that reported to be towing a 9 mile seismic cable. There were at least 4 or more targets involved in this operation. The vessel “Timothy Danos” was the Tail Vessel. We changed course to avoid the tow and all the support vessels. This is the first time I have heard of a seismic cable over the 1-2 mile range. We set our course North for the “Timothy Danos” It took nearly two hours to go around the tow and resume our Westward course. Buy 11:48 we turned off the auxiliary and continued West under full headsail at 6 knots. By 14:05 we were entering the Deep Sea Platform fields. The best thing is that all the platforms we encountered on this trip had AIS so they were easy to spot well in advance. The seas were 3-4’ and the motion easy with 10-15 knot winds. The BP Atlantis platform was a Mega Structure, The largest I have ever seen and in depths over 7000 feet. I checked and we were 122 Nm off the coast of the southern most tip of Louisiana. I tried trolling again and had at least 3 strikes, two let go and one took the lure!.
 By 17:51 the winds piped up and we were reefing the headsail. At 18:56 another vessel hailed us on channel 16 and requested that we change course to 290 degrees, he was towing a 5 mile seismic cable and there was no tail vessel. We could see him in the far distance and it seemed like he was farther then 5 miles but we complied with the request for sure since we wanted plenty of room between us and the cable..
Another grilled dinner and fine sunset, the whole day was magical again as the seas and winds were favorable and the Seaman who spend their working days and nights on the seas considerate of our journey.

Monday 5/13

At 0300 I logged N027 14.824 W91 12.97, Maureen came up to take her watch and at 0400 I heard/felt a change in course. The winds had piped up to 15-20 knots and for whatever reason the Autohelm was not steering properly, Maureen released the helm and began to hand steer. I came up to assist and figured the winds just momentarily overwhelmed the autopilot so I turned off the system for a few minutes and the turned it back on to allow it to reset. The autohelm resumed steering and Maureen was again making excellent time with the good winds, I went back to sleep. This was our best sailing day, we only ran the engine 1 hour 30 minutes and most of that was for cooking. With Following seas where else can you watch an endless beautiful blue sea with the waves washing under you, passing in front and seeing the white water crest and the back side of the wave as you slide down the trough? Sorry you can’t take a picture, there is only one way to see this up close and personal. We had all reached a  group rhythm and and individual appreciation of this special crossing. We picked up the camera less, a meditative presence prevailed and we each in our own way absorbed the magic around us.

Tuesday 5/14

By 0600 we were in Texas nearing Galveston, wind was on the Port Beam at 7-9 knots, the heading was 255 N27 36.287 W 093 29.230 at 15:15hours I figured we had 47.6 gallons of fuel left. This would be enough for us to motor the rest of the way if needed. I tried but I still could not catch the Big One. Another magical day in the Gulf of Mexico

Wednesday 5/14

It was decision time. It was clear we would be arriving in Port A in the late afternoon or possibly even at night. Port Aransas is no place to be arriving at night especially if the winds and seas are up. With all the ships at anchor just outside the Corpus Christi ship channel and all the Port A lights, entering at night is risky business unless this is something you do on a regular basis. I had come in twice at night but that was during the Harvest Moon Regatta and there are lots of sailboats coming in at the same time. We also had a crew of 6 men on board so there was plenty of help for any circumstance. If we were to arrive at night I preferred to just slow down and wait for daylight to enter the Port Aransas channel. At 10:00 we had 15-20 Kt winds and 6-8 following seas, we were making great time. Another huge pod of Dolphins surrounded Wand’rin Star. These guys won the Talent show. I think they had a couple of artist who had escaped SeaWorld. One Dolphin made a run perpendicular to our course and jumped just in front of the bow, made a complete 360 flip right at the apex of the bow and entered the water like a Navy Seal!. These guys won the trophy, sorry the Florida boys could not hold a candle to these Texas Dolphins! After the dolphin show I went back to trying to determine if we could make either Port A or Corpus with daylight. Well since we had been traveling West for so long we had an hour advantage and we calculated that we could easily make Corpus before the sun went down if we maintained our speed. When we were 21 Nm from the Port A jetties we upped the RPM’s to 1650 and enjoyed a light rain washing off the salt. I thought how wonderful, I will not even have to hose down the boat when we get there. The 6-8’ seas on the port quarter tossed the stern around enough that the autohelm was having trouble holding course. I finally put it on standby and hand steered the rest of the way into Port Aransas. By 1630 we were rounding the channel to pass Port Aransas and as I received a text from my friend Bill Wilson in St. Pete he informed us that WindFinder reported that the Bay was full of wind. We would be entering a Bay with 30kt + winds when we just left the Gulf with 15-20 favorable winds on the close beam. We already had the main tucked away so we brought in the Genoa and motored through 5’ short chop, with crazy winds on the close.
 Wand’rin Star would definitely need a good hosing off after this 3 hour trip across the 10-14 foot deep bay. Maureen hand steered us all the way into Corpus. I called Peter, the Marina Superintendent to request an immediate slip on G or H Dock. I let him know we had just crossed the Gulf From Florida and needed a bit of priority. He accommodated us and we were directed to G4, a perfect slip for the moment. At 19:39 hours a welcoming committee of old friends Randy, Wendy, Mark and a Corpus Marina dock Hand greeted us at the dock and in moments we were tied up and enjoying a Mighty Fine Shiner Bock courtesy of Mark Babcock After showers with all the Hot water we could use Mark asked us where we wanted to go Eat and we all agreed on Texas Mexican for Sure. He loaded us up in his Truck and We all went to Acapulco’s. Perfect. 

We sailed 867 Nm. 5.0 Kt average speed, 10.8 maximum speed. We had 98:42 hours total engine time. Used 68.6 gallons of diesel with an average of 0.697 gallons per hour. We sailed without the engine for a total of 3 days 7 hours 18 minutes.

Out of all the stories I have heard from friends and acquaintances making the crossing from Texas to Florida across the Gulf we had a near picture perfect experience. The stories run the gamut from too much wind and seas to no wind at all for the entire crossing. I felt like I was given a gift, not only for the weather during the crossing but from the gift of crew as well. Preparedness from all that we have learned on this trip and from other sail experiences added up to a vessel safe and worthy enough to make the trip. The Gulf of Mexico is one of the most respected oceans on the planet due to its nature. I was most concerned about the weather as we neared Texas and Port Aransas. And no matter what all the forecasters predict 7 days out it is just conjecture. I wanted to get my vessel and crew to safety and not spend another night in the Gulf knowing we had been blessed up to the moment we entered the Port A Channel. For the next week the winds and seas were not pleasant after our safe arrival. 

The Next Morning we slept in, I began to get Wand'rin Star ready to be left alone for a few days while I drove the crew back toward home and returned to Florida to fetch the Little Truck that Can. We lounged around, had a nice Happy our and another fine sleep. I received a call from the Marina Office that slip H23 was available and I could move there right away. We woke early the third day to get the boat moved to her new home and prepare the crew to depart Corpus in a Rent Car, We had a fine drive to Houston where we dropped off Maureen at her Mom;s house then John & I continued on to Florida with a quick stop over in Baton Rouge. John Dropped me off in Tallahassee where the Admiral had left the Little Truck that Can at the Airport, then he continued on to his boat in Tampa. I headed West again with a brief stopover in Baton Rouge at the same hotel, then on to Austin to rendezvous with the Admiral in Austin. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Magical Mystery Tour - Gulf of Mexico Saturday 5/11

Major Dolphin Patrol, 10 or more on each side of Wand'rin Star

They raced down the fave of a wave abeam and then shoot to the bow.

They continued for over 20 minutes

It was like a compititon to see which dolphin was having the most fun.

Disney Magic passing to Port

A Zen moment for John

Just Happy to be Here!

Sometimes you just try to steer better than the autohelm

Did not quite make the Jump

Speedy little devils
Maureen was the first to spot this vessel.

Finally I could see it.

With These Eyes

BP Atlantis Platform 122 miles offshore from Louisiana in 7000 + feet, It is the size of a  City out there

The Rain slowly ends for a cloudy sunset

Minor Splinting for a snapped Steering conduit fitting.

Gulf Magical Mystery Tour

By Saturday 00:15 Elsbeth II, a Tow with two barges passed to Port. John had ID the target & tuned the radar to track her. I asked John to come back up at 2:09 to assist with determining the vessels heading. I was concerned we may pass to close. We agreed all was well and they would pass across us well ahead. He went back down below. At 0236 I heard something drop, a noticeable WHACK! and thought something must have slipped off near the companionway and fell below. I stepped in front of the helm to investigate and something at my bare feet started fluttering around freaked me. I turned on my headlight and there was a Flying Fish flopping around. He was so close to the companionway that I was afraid he was about to flop down below so I grabbed a small rag, picked him up and threw him overboard. The whole cockpit smelled Very Fishy and it was all over my feet and legs. I had a jug of water in the cockpit so I immediately started washing the area down, it conveniently drained down the scuppers. Now only the rag smelled so I tossed it on the aft deck to deal with later. I was sad to think that I failed to get a couple of pics but whatever. We had been sailing with about 30% of the main and most of the Genoa at 5+ knots the whole watch. It is best to have at least the Main reefed down at night so you do not have to go up on the deck when it is dark if the wind pipes up. Maureen came up for her watch and at 0335 we started the engine to charge the batteries for an hour. The autopilot was definitely using a lot of power to steer in these quartering seas. Our position was N26 40.677 W087 12.620. The winds picked up for Maureen and she had to trim in the Genoa and average 6.9 knots with 15knots of wind. She noted that she had seen as much as 8 knots during her watch. By 0730 the winds started to clock and John made a course change to 280 and by 0800 to 300 degrees. I got up and we were making great time. We turned the engine on so I could cook up some breakfast, Egg Tacos, avocado, cheese, Jalapenos, & Salsa with all the coffee you could drink. Afterwards Maureen went below to catch some rest. John had the helm and He told me to check out all the dolphins. I went on the foredeck to get a closer look and there was a huge pod on both sides of Wand’rin Star playing in the waves and the bow wave. At least 10 or more dolphins on each side. I grabbed the camera and for at least 20 minutes took pics of them just hoping some would turn out. They would race the face of a swell just abeam and then accelerate through the bow wave, some of them jumping completely out. A few others would at the same time come at a perpendicular angle to the bow and leap completely out of the water just in front of the bow. This was happening on both sides of the boat, as soon as they passed the bow they would immediately turn and race back top do it all over again. We were nearly passed the Florida Panhandle and even with Alabama.
By 1448 we had 18 knot winds with gust to 25, a squall line was developing in front of us but the seas were only a foamy 3-4’. By 1500 we had the Engine on to furl the main and the Genoa to 30%. Seas were now 5’ At 1755 we started the engine and motored sailed at 1200 RPM as it was clear we would be dealing with what appeared to be a cold front passing a day earlier than forecasted. There was a lot of serious lightening developing as well. John took this all in stride as it certainly was not anything he had not dealt with. Maureen was pretty concerned as she had been through a miserable storm on their trip across to Florida. She wanted to alter course and try to avoid the brunt of the passing front. I have learned from the Admiral to never discount anything a Female says aboard a vessel. A woman’s intuition is far sharper than any man’s and I have known more than one instance when a man did not respond when a female shared their intuition and they not only suffered the result but they then had to admit that they were wrong and She was Right! Some friends I know were chartering in the British Virgin Islands on a Hylas 54 and when they failed to heed the warning of a female on board who was concerned they were going the wrong way they ended up grounding on a coral reef and had to spend the night there till help came late the next day. We changed our heading to 200 heading SSW towards a light area on the Horizon. I then began to tune the radar so we could see the storm. After a while it became clear that we were not going to be able to out run the storm and our best course would be to head up and get through it as quickly as possible. You could see the whole storm on the Radar and it looked as though it would be about 2 hours for us to get on past it. I went below and stored all my portable navigation equipment in the oven. The metal enclosure is supposed to protect it from a lightening strike. We buttoned up the full enclosure and at 1900 hours motored through the initial 30 kt winds on the nose at 1500 RPM heading 320 degrees. It Rained HARD for 30 minutes and lightening everywhere, The storm lost it’s punch and by 1930 hours we were able to reduce the RPM to 1100 as the storm began to subside with 6-8’ seas.
I went below to get some rest, John was resting in the cockpit till his watch and we were sailing along making good time. By 20:02 Maureen noted in the log that “the storm had stopped.” At 2030 Maureen was leaving the Helm as John was coming on watch, the auto pilot was tirelessly keeping Wand’rin Star on course. Before John took his place at the helm we were hit with a 47 knot sustained gust, Immediately Wandrin Star healed and Jibbed through the wind and I heard a loud bang down below. It sounded to me like it came from the Aft berth where the steering quadrant is and I was afraid that a steering cable had just broke, I hollered up to John “Do You have Steering?” I leapt to the aft berth and threw up the bedding to open up the access to the steering quadrant. The Starboard side cable was good but there was just a small bit of play in the port side cable. Bang! I ran back to the companionway and asked John again if he had steering, He Said “Yes!” Well what is that banging? We had just jibbed through the wind again and the Main had violently swung across. I was confused as to why we had jibbed again, I couldn’t get my mind off the steering and checked the steering conduit that ran down through the engine room, again the port side looked ok, but I found one of the Hard Plastic fittings that join two pieces of steering conduit had snapped in the center. That explained the small bit of play. Bang!, I more time we Jibbed hard, I again ran to the cockpit to see if John needed assistance, he finally got the boat under control at that moment. All of this happened in less than 90 seconds, things were all disheveled down below and I with Maureen’s help put everything back in it’s place. I checked with John again to make sure all was good up there and discussed my plan on securing the fitting on the steering conduit. I then begin to do repair on the steering by fitting two wenches the same length as the fitting as a splint on each side and wrapped it all up with Rescue Tape. I then added three Hose clamps to brace it all together. I felt certain this would see us through to Corpus Christi especially since the autohelm would be doing most of the work to get us there. The autohelm is connected directly to the rudder post completely independent of the Edson Steering Pull/Pull Quadrant system. I knew the big gust of wind had overcome the autopilot, but that is where human’s come in. It is hard to say exactly what snapped the fitting. It could have been that John had not put the autopilot on standby so when he took the wheel he was acting against the autohelm and putting so much pressure on the steering cable that the fitting snapped. Or if the autohelm had been put on standby then it simply could have been the forces of the wind and seas in trying to get a 30,000 pound vessel under control again. Everything happens very fast in these situations, The remote control for the autopilot is not back-lit and so pushing the standby button when it is completely dark in the cockpit that is going in circles with rail in the water heal just at the very moment crew changes hand is quite a wake up call.
At 23:30 I went on deck with John to take in the reefed Main and we continued on with the Genoa in 15 kt winds maintaining over 6 kt’s through the night.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Magical Mystery Tour - Gulf of Mexico Days 5/9 and 5/10

Maureen adapted quickly to the helm of Wand'rin Star. I knew I could sleep well!

I just wanted to catch at Least 1 big fish, This was the first strike on my small rig, he got away but at least I kept my Squid Lure!

The seas were pretty calm the first two days, here entering deep water and a fantastic Blue with a bit of sargassum weed

Heading West required a bit of shading on the helm in the AM and  shifted forward in the PM

Yeah Buddy!

A few migrating or seabirds paid a visit during the trip, 10 points if you identify this one.

Day 2-3 Gulf Magical Mystery Tour

On the way out of Tampa Bay I asked Maureen to take the helm and to begin to familiarize herself with the Chart plotter, Radar, Autopilot, compass, Engine instruments and Throttle/Transmission Lever. Of course we discussed the battery selector switch with engine running on ALL and Engine of on 1 to preserve the start battery. John was already pretty familiar with the instruments from our trip together to Marathon. Maureen had the chart plotter functions down in just a few minutes and in fact taught me that the AIS targets disappeared on any zoom level above the 5 mile scale. I rarely zoomed out any further than that in our coastal cruising anyway but we had several reasons to see a bigger picture on this trip. We had several AIS targets after departing Tampa Bay, a lot of ships just anchored waiting their turn to go into Tampa.
The first night I made the evening meal low key (no cooking) with chicken that Lynn had pre-prepared for us with cole slaw and potato salad.
 By 0200 we were in 150’ depths. We motored on through the night against light West winds and Maureen noted in the log that the winds had shifted to NNW at 6 knots at 0550 and the “Sunrise shades were starting to lighten the Eastern Sky”. John came up to take the 0700 watch and noted the winds at 6 knots at 310M seas 2’ with clear sky's. 0800 I awoke when I heard the sails were going out, those winches are loud enough to be heard down below even though they are properly lubricated. I popped up to enjoy the sail. By 0940 we put away the head sail due to lack of wind and increased the RPM to 1200 maintaining 4+ knots.
I decided to put a couple of lines out and try to catch a Florida Mahi Mahi, By 1400 I had a fish strike on a Squid Lure on my little pole. I had stopped by west Marine and spent about $50 on deep sea lures for my other larger fishing tackle that I have had since living in Galveston in 1961. That line had no strikes as of yet. We were in 700’ of water and I was hoping for a big one! I knew it was not to big or else I would have had a harder time reeling it in on the small tackle. Just about the time I expected to see a fish come out of the water, he let go! At least I still had my Rubber Squid! Around 1600 I had another strike but this time it was just Seaweed. The winds remained light throughout the day and we motored on in light seas. I added one of the Jerry cans in the fuel tank just to be doing something and thinking it is a good thing to get done while the seas are calm. The winds were right on the stern so we tried to run wing on wing but they were just to light to keep the Genoa full, I thought about using the pole but we would be using the engine anyway to maintain 4+ knots. At 2000 another fish strike, he was definitely bigger and this time he got away with my Squid and steel leaders! I cooked Pork chops on the Grill and we all enjoyed another fine sunset with dinner. The winds picked up slightly and we motored sailed 4.5-5 knots through the night.
Night Vision is very important especially since it was completely dark, no moon at all, and the city lights had faded away. Sitting behind the helm with all the electronics on was a problem, even with everything dimmed as low as possible. The Radar screen was just to bright so we put a small towel over that. I have two stern lights since when the dingy is on the Davits one is blocked by the dingy. The glow from the stern lights reflected off the stainless steel davits and then caused a problem seeing through the eisinglass dodger where that light was present. John preferred to have the Deck level Nav lights off for that reason. We always had the tri-color at the top of the mast on anyway and the rules state that you can run with one or the other but not both. When it is pitch black though I like to have the deck level lights on as well just so I can see the bow of the boat where the Red/Green are mounted. The best way for all of us to keep a lookout was in front of the helm and sticking a head out either the port or starboard side rolled up eisenglass. The Autopilot was doing a stellar job and you only needed to occasionally return to the helm to check the radar and other instruments. We found ways to mitigate the light being reflected back to the dodger from the stern lights by putting a black tape around one and using black tape to cover up the offending stainless that was reflecting. John still kept the deck lights off on his watch though.
Vision is so important as it gives you early warning and provides plenty of time to change course if needed. Even when targets are far away they can be dragging gear perilously close as John knows all to well. Maureen had the best vision hands down, she would spot stuff before John and way before me. Once she showed me where the target was I could pick it out but if I took my eyes off of it I would lose it again. John was a master at tuning the radar to pick up those targets. Every time you change the range on the radar you have to re-tune it to see the little dot on the screen. I learned much more about our Radar on this trip and it would really come in handy in a couple of days when a forecasted Front would pass over us a day early.
By 2030 the winds clocked to ESE at 6-7 kt. We were still motor sailing to still motor sailing to maintain our 4+ knot speed. The RPM would be adjusted between 1100 and 1400 during the night to maintain our speed. I wanted to complete this trip in the planned 8 days since we really did not know what weather would be waiting for us if we got delayed.
By 0643 the seas were 3-5’ with Southerly winds 11-15 knots, Maureen noted at 0659 “Another Beautiful day at Sea, the Sun coming up over the Horizon”. By 0715 John turned off the Auxiliary, and sailed on the Genoa. At 0845 I put out about 30% of the main This day we finally decided to let the sails do the work and sail off our plotted route. We would still be making good progress toward Corpus but we would be sailing and conserving fuel. Dead Down wind sailing is hard on the autopilot and not efficient in keeping the sails full especially with 4-6’ following seas. We did best with a Broad Reach, the auto-helm managed fine, the ride was better, and the watch stander could easily manage alone.

By 13:15 we had Full Sail, the sky was clouding up slightly and by 1815 some rain could be spotted in the distance. At 2015 we Jibbed to course heading 260W in 15 knot winds. Grilled Hamburgers and all the trimmings for dinner.