Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nautical speak translated - you rock!

Ok i'm the sister Liz (usually people shudder when I arrive but I have a sweet heart) and I keep the blog going while John has all the fun on the Arden.  It just so happens that i'm in grad school studying Library and Information Science at Catholic University and I would like to give my yo bro a two thumbs way up for adding the glossary.  Granted, most readers of sailing blogs will already know the meaning of boat language, but for us family/hangers-on wish - we- could- be- on- the- boat- but -have- other -types- of obligations, it sure is nice to have a handy translator for the salty-speak.

Hi Spook - make sure he pulls over for you more often!  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Warm weather....and dragging anchor

This morning I woke up being tossed about on the Pasquotank River- we had just the right wind matched with the right swell to make for some very good chop here in Elizabeth City. I crawled out of the sleeping bag to find that the weather forecasters were right on the money, it was almost 70 degrees out at 5am. Wow what a change. Then I popped my head out of the companionway hatch, and got a complete shock - I was MUCH closer to shore than I had been the night before when I went to bed. Very much closer. So close that I immediately donned foul weather gear (did I mention it was pouring down rain? They forecast that right on the money too.) and headed out on deck to start the engine and reposition the boat. After getting the engine cranked up, I went forward and hauled up the anchor, not an easy trick in the 40+ mph winds we were having at the time. I usually haul up the rope by hand and use the windlass to pull up the chain and anchor itself, but not this morning. My main concern was that as soon as the anchor broke free from the bottom, I'd drift even closer to shore, so, with the anchor just barely holding, and the chain taut, I ran back and put her in gear, and then pulled the anchor up the rest of the way. Whew, what a job that was. I motored out farther than I originally was, and dropped anchor, this time letting out 10 fathoms. (I was only in 10 feet of water, and a fathom is 6 feet) Once the anchor grabbed and the boat came into the wind, I backed down on it, and pulled the anchor free, again! So, I had to pull it all back up, and start over. Now there are 12 fathoms of rode out (6x12....something like 72 feet) and it seemed to hold. Well it has held all day, we will see what tonight brings, but I think the winds are supposed to die down a bit over the course of the evening.

Being rocked around like that can make for some very good sleep though, I think I have forgotten to mention that here in the blog. Being tied up to a dock can sometimes lead to some very odd motion in the boat, if the waves are coming from the side, or on the quarter, the boat gets this unruly motion to her, very unnatural and very unsettling. On the hook it is a more natural motion, the boat is usually bow in to the waves and wind, providing they are coming from the same direction, and current isn't an issue, and there is a really nice forward to aft rolling motion to the boat. Makes for some really good sleep.

Beth came down today to help me pack up and clear out the storage unit here in town, the last task I needed to finish before I headed out. She couldn't get the horse trailer out of the mud with her truck-it has rained a ton over the past 2 weeks, so she is going to come back down next week and clear it all out.

I managed to get a few things done on the boat today as well, she is completely topped off with fuel-and-I have a spare 10 gallons on deck as well. The compass has a new light, the bottom was always lit, but there were no lights on the top. That has been remedied with a red LED, we will see how that works out, because before it was very hard to view the compass card and see where you were actually heading at night. Tonight I stow gear, put up the lee cloths for the berths, and then I am out to Coasters for a few beers with my friend Ted.

After beers it will back to the boat to rack out, and then reveille at 5am...and off to Manteo shortly there after. Departure time: 0800.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

View of the Territory covered so far....

Follow this link to view the trip and the sunrise sunsets thus far geospatially.

Sunrise and Sunset, Cold Weather, Getting Set To Sail Again

Time for another installment of Sailcloth!

Just what you were all waiting for right? For the past few days I have been "on the hook" at the Pelican Marina here in Elizabeth City, it has been pretty relaxing so far, so much so that I am not nearly getting as much done as I should-I am feeling a bit anxious about getting things done. I suppose a bit of this comes from me being a bit hyperactive - I suppose now-a-days it is called ADHD, but back in the day it was diagnosed as being "hyper", and I don't know if there was medication for it then as there is now, but I have learned to deal with the urge to be permanently busy - I just roll with it and pretty much stay busy.

Yesterday was spent modifying the spare flag that was given to me by Eric back at Calvert County Marina. The flag I was given was meant to be flown with the pole through the header, kind of like a yard banner, not like a flag hooked to a halyard or flagpole. I had to sew in reinforcement to the header of the flag, for which I used some of the 2 inch polyester webbing I had leftover from an earlier project. I sewed this onto the header with some of the sail thread I have, using my old Brother sewing machine. I reinforced the areas where I was going to install grommets with additional stitching, and then installed some 1/2 inch brass grommets. I also reinforces the fly, so that hopefully, it will last a bit longer in higher winds than the other flag did. All of these alterations made the new flag ready to be hoisted. I also have on board a much smaller flag, that I will fly as a storm flag, as it has less surface area and is less likely to be shredded.

I also made lee cloths for the berths, I used some really heavy weight canvas I had gotten at Lowes, sewed it up with a bolt rope, and I will install it using some stainless steel eyes that I have in one of the hardware boxes. The purpose of a lee cloth, for the uninitiated, is to keep people, bedding, or gear in place on the bunk when the boat is heeled over and that berth is on the "high" side, or windward side as it was. When you are on the "low" side (leeward side) you are smushed up against the hull, and have no worries on tumbling out of the rack. I suppose one of these days, perhaps some lazy, sunny, sun drenched day in some southern anchorage I will take the time to create a sailing terminology dictionary, so that all the land lubbers that actually put up with my ramblings will understand just what it is that I am talking about sometimes.

Today I went out early to Lowes to get a few things, that turned out to be a few more things, and then I made a mad dash to the register to get out of there before I spent too much. Sometimes in home improvement places, hardware stores, ships chandlers, and gadget stores I can get a bit preoccupied, distracted and overwhelmed, and spend WAY too much. Today's trip was for repair parts for the windvane, that I should be working on right now.

My mom was asking about the heater on board, so this section is for her. I have a Taylor kerosene cabin heater on the boat, and it used to work fairly reliably, but not reliably enough for me to trust it when I am sleeping. Now it seems to be working better, after the cleaning I gave the burner parts and the tank, but I am still hesitant to use it all night, although my confidence in it may grow. This heater was designed for use on boats, and so it has a flue and a charley noble (flue cap) just like your heater at home, and if I am not mistaken this pretty much eliminates the worry of carbon monoxide. Again, I don't leave it on as I sleep, and, I ventilate the cabin when I use it, so for now the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning is not that big of a worry for me.

Lastly, there is a feature on the blog here that allows readers to make comments on each blog post. I am going to start adding those comments to the blog, so that readers can see what other readers have said. If you make a comment, please let me know if you don't want to see it show up for all the world to see. I welcome all comments, and those that are appropriate I will publish.
From Capt. Glenn up in Maryland:
Dude, love the blog but not sure this entry will work. I'll give it a shot. Colder? I made another delivery today. From Mear's Marina, Annapolis, MD, to California, MD. This morning was 30F and boat was covererd with ice and snow at the start. It was blowing 15 out of the NW.....I hope you and Spook are warmer!!!Capt. Glenn
Definitely sounds like I scooted out of Maryland just in time!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Can it possibly get any colder?

It has been a busy weekend so far here at the Pelican Marina-lots of old friends, a few new friends, lots of beer (and I am by no means an accomplished beer drinker) and the annual Lighted Sail Parade.

When Spook and I were caught out in that storm a few days ago, the entire contents of the cabin seemed to end up on the cabin floor. No matter how well you think you have stowed everything, something gets over looked, or something breaks loose and invariably it ends up on the floor. During that last storm lots of things ended up on the floor, and I had to rethink how I was storing things. One thing that I had thought I had tucked away quite well was my spare change cup - it was in a cubby hole in the galley, with the other cups and dishes, and previously they had all stayed pretty much secure and in place. Not this time though, the rest of the dishes remained stationary, but the change cup seemingly exploded, sending nickels, dimes, quarters and pennies everywhere. It seems that every time I look for something, or clean a bit, I find a bit more change. At first obviously it was lots of change in large deposits, now it has tapered to a dime here, a penny there, but I think there is a lot of unaccounted for loose change loitering about in nooks and crannies. I know the cup is not nearly as full now as it was before.

Saturday (yesterday) was cold, dreary and wet, it rained almost all day, and when it was not raining, it was still almost as miserable as it was when it was pouring down. I took the time yesterday to totally tear down and clean out the components of the cabin heater, which had burped, fizzled, smoked and made a complete mess out of the cabin on Friday night. I cleaned the heating element, the nozzle, blew out the fuel lines, drained and cleaned the fuel tank and cleaned out the fuel filter in the line. I found a bit of junk in the fuel tank and lines, and I hoped that I had at the least done something to improve the performance of the heater. I did. Tonight it is extremely cold, well - very cold, ok - just downright cold for me. I suppose the thermometer is hovering right around freezing, but that is just too cold for my taste. I refueled the heater, and fired it off, and it is performing spectacularly. I am under total kerosene power tonight, with the exception of the computer and the anchor light, all the cabin light is being provided by kerosene lantern, and the heat is by kerosene as well. Quite cozy on here to be honest, is much warmer inside than out on deck.

Despite being cold, it was a beautiful day today. Very sunny, quite a contrast to yesterday. I got a few things done on deck, but mostly it was a day of socializing and planning: comparing notes and ideas with some of the folks here that have made the trip south, and I have solidified my plan and my route. I have to stay in Ecity until Wednesday, when Beth will help me close down my storage unit here. I will weigh anchor, and sail out of Elizabeth City on Thursday, destination Manteo. Depending on the wind, I will make Manteo on Friday. Friday and/or Saturday will be spent being a tourist, as I have never been to Manteo, and then possibly having a cup of coffee with my friend Ali, who happens to live in Manteo. I will leave Sunday open, but when I leave Manteo, I think I will make a fast trip up to Edenton, see Gary and Alice once more, and then a day later, I will head back to Manteo, where I will head down the Pamlico sound to the Neuse River. Up the Neuse to Adams Creek Canal, down the canal to Beaufort/Morehead City, and then out into the Atlantic to the Florida coast. This route will eliminate miles of motoring down canals and rivers, and will allow me to sail most of the way - conserving quite a bit of fuel.

Tonight was the annual Lighted Sail Parade, as usual it was a cold night on the water, but this year I did not sail Arden in the parade, all my strings of lights are in storage, and even though they are Christmas colors, I don't think that red, green and white running lights count as sail parade material. Because it was originally scheduled for last night and wast postponed until tonight due to weather, the sail parade did not have nearly the number of boats in it as it did last year, and the number of spectators was lower as well. Of course, the very low temperatures may have had something to do with that as well.

I also made a new discovery by accident, and it did involve an accident as well. When lighting kerosene cabin lights on cold nights, keep the flame low initially, or you are liable to overheat the cold glass chimney, and cause it to break. I made this discovery the hard way, and am now going to be looking for a new chimney for a little Perko cabin lamp.

So here it is, Sunday night, the temps in the lower 30's, and I am nice and warm on the boat. Not a bad weekend, but a definitely a busy week ahead.