|March 17, 2012 - April 7, 2012
|Monday, March 26, 2012 - Laid Back Boat
Club - Panama City, Florida
The temps are cooling off slightly and it's comfortable for
sleeping and cool in the morning. I'll be fixing the main gaff
gooseneck and getting the mainsail mounted today, then doing a
little prep for the jibs and lifelines. Six full working days left
before Sunday, when I leave.
Passage Weather is showing a disagreeable situation in the Gulf
for the beginning of April. It's not a problem because I don't
expect to be ready to stage before the 2nd, and I can wait at the
Apalachicola anchorage for a few days without a problem. As
long as there isn't going to be an untenable bug situation. If
there is, I'll head over to Carrabelle and wait there, probably in
the small cove East of East Pass. It might be a little rougher,
wind-wise, but more comfortable bug-wise.
|The foresail is now mounted. First, I had to sort out some stuff
and lube all the sail tracks. During this process I discovered
what created the stickiness on the mainsail luff: a twisted
fitting on the main gaff gooseneck. I have to come up with a
cure for it. It may be no more than loosening a bolt, but if I do
that I'll have to drill at least one tiny hole in the stainless steel
bolts head so I can safety wire the thing. I'll have to think of
something and get it done.
Seven days left. Or six. Depending. I have to remember to
install lifelines before I leave. I almost fell overboard on the last
passage across the Gulf.
|Sunday, March 25, 2012 - Laid Back Boat
Club - Panama City, Florida
I've already vacuumed out the boat, including under the
hatches, and done the batteries. Only 1 cell - out of 18 - needed
water, meaning the end is approaching for these batteries. If
this one cell tanks first, I can disconnect that battery and run on
the other two until one of them goes South, then use each
battery in stages, one at a time. You can get more use out of the
|The mounted foresail and the problem with the mainsail gaff
gooseneck. The bolt acting as the hinge pin, throat tack and
lifting eye is too tight. When wind presses the main, the lower
eye twists to one side and binds against the sail slot. I have
begun by loosening the bolt, allowing the lift eye and tack to
pivot freely, but not put a bind in the sail slot. As soon as
pressure drops when the halyard is eased, the gaff will now
slide easily down the mast.
Once again, tools are out and there are obstacles on the cabin
sole. It will be corrected when the days work is done.
I've pulled a bunch of lines out of storage to use for lifelines.
Another job for today.
|Eight days left. I have to dig the vacuum cleaner out and do
some cleaning around the boat, then lift the floor hatches and
check the battery water. I'm glad to be so far ahead of the curve
now, to have plenty of time to prepare and be sure I've gone
over everything. There is still a big question as to the weather
window to cross, but I have plenty of time to wait for a good
passage window and plenty of excellent books to read while I
|The gooseneck is fixed and the mainsail is mounted. I raised it
to check everything when there was not a breath of breeze.
Once it was up, a wave of fresh wind from the Northwest piped
u and it took me 20 minutes to get the things down. While it
was up I noticed I'd left one of the boom slugs out of the slot.
Later on I'll pull the foot partially free to insert that. This huge
gaff mainsail only likes going up and down with Falcon facing
into the wind, not something always available when tied to a
The small can-like base fixture - a transformer or something -
on the mainmast VHF antenna is completely rusted rotten and
chunks are falling down on deck. I installed the cockpit radio
that uses the antenna and it works fine, so it will wait for a
|while to be replaced. I do have the second, fully operational VHF on the electrical panel, should there be an emergency, and I can
always swap antennas if need be.
The antennas are available in West Marine for about $53, the same price as Defender. I should probably get one before I leave. It
only takes a few minutes to change and will have to be done sometime.
|Thursday, March 22, 2012 - Laid Back Boat
Club - Panama City, Florida
First thing this morning I sanded the jump seat and applied the
last coat to the top and the first coat to the strut. In a little while
I'll apply the second coat to the strut and use up the poly.
|Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
This morning marks five days left to work and on the sixth day, I'm gone. That is, unless it is pouring rain on Sunday, at which
time I may hang just long enough to leave in the dry.
It's now 10:45 and the errant mainsail foot slug is fixed. I also took the time to clearance the aft slug entry on the boom, making
installing and removing the slugs back there much easier. I did the dishes and went outside to watch Drew work on his upper
shrouds for a while. It's pretty amazing to see him up and at work so early.
|Strong winds almost dead out of the South have once again
prevented my mounting the sails. We are now forecast to have
about 2 days of heavy rain, so that's the name of that tune.
Sunday might be a good day to mount the sails. I will be leaving
next Saturday, just 9 days from now.
All I managed to do by way of boat work today was to sand and
poly the teak jump seat. I put two coats on it and will let it dry
until tomorrow before sanding and applying a finish coat. The
support strut below will also get some sanding and use up the
last drops of the small can of poly I've held onto for too long.
|Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - Laid Back Boat club - Panama City, Florida
|Pictures on the bottom of the previous page are of the two gaff sails finished and the lifeline candidates out to dry on the deck. I
will be filling the water tanks and rigging those lines next.
|Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
The temps have dropped a tad here lately, but it is still warm and beautiful. The reefer is beginning to really show signs of a leak
or other problem. I only have 6 more things to eat before I can open it and thaw it out completely, just to see if it can come back
again. I'm beginning to have my doubts.
The wind has been a little too lively for the past couple of days and I have not been much inspired to start mounting the sails.
There is at least 11 days left, so it's not a big deal, but I would still like to get it done. Watching the weather on Passage Weather
has not yet been of much use. It doesn't extend far enough ahead to make any estimates, and even if it did, what possible use
could they be? Weather forecasts are suspect from one day to the next: anything two weeks in advance has to be viewed as stand
up comedy. As it is, I will be making my way to the range marker anchorage in Apalachicola and stage there for a crossing
window. I am still wondering if I will head straight for Tarpon Springs or - depending on the conditions - stretch out for Cortez in
a single shot. I'm thinking about trying to hit Tarpon Springs and just start spending a few days here, a few days there, and burn
up a month before heading to Cortez. We'll see.
|I topped up the water tanks earlier today and switched the draw back to the #1 tank - the tank with the leak - so as to make the
most of the water in it until it got down to the point where it no longer leaks - probably halfway. I will be fixing that later on.
Anyway, I KNOW when I switch tanks I should open the tap and let the pump work the gulp of air out so it doesn't run and run
until it trips the magical '5 minute' switch device. Unfortunately, over excited at having fixed the mainsail and topped up the
tanks so early in the day, I played loud music and didn't hear the pump running, or smell the magical switch device burning up. A
little while later, I noticed the pump was not turning on while I was using water. A little investigation revealed this destroyed
un-magical switch. Evidence above left.
This would be a tragedy if a guy didn't happen to have some spare 40/60 amp 12 volt relays laying around and yes, I am that guy.
The location of the pump made it a tough job, but even with rest stops, it took less than an hour from start to 'now, pick up the
mess'. I haven't cleaned up yet, but I will shortly.
|The new rollers are assembled with special lube, installed, and
the anchors are back in place. The boat was then cleaned and
the stove all cleaned and re-assembled. All this was completed
by 11 AM. The reefer is frozen again and I have to defrost it for
a day to get it working again.
|Stuff everywhere. And the forward areas under the sink were partially emptied, making the work area a mess as well. It's all
better now, though, and I'll do more cleaning after a while.
Below are a couple of shots of my newly tried out lifelines. I may have several versions before I settle on something I like. It's
just too early to tell. I'll have a few days moving to Apalachicola to think about them and work it out. And I still have zero idea
about a weather window from Apalachicola South.
|The cutting of the new rollers was a bit of a marathon, what with the constant taking of short cuts and cooling the hole saw in the
container of water. I did the 'drill through' with the pilot bit and went at each roller from both sides, taking care to bore the 7/8
inch center hole before the rollers cam free of the main bar. This made the machining easy as the long bar was simple to hold. I
also had to cut 2 1/2 inch rollers and one 1/4 inch to fill both rollers. The starboard roller is 1/4 inch wider than the port because .
. . . . because . . . . . I don't know, it just is.
|Willy gave me the remains of an old deck harness he had. There were a pair of them on the boat he bought and he only has use
for one. If that. I cannot get him to even begin to contemplate cruising. His boat is cheap housing and little more. I may be able
to build a good unit out of what he gave me, so I'll pick a Jackline and patch together a temporary harness for the trip.
|Rather than drop or remove the anchors, I just hung them in position and quickly (that's right - quickly - I build things to be easy
to work on) removed the rollers. I the picture above right, the components are: a heavy 1/2 inch bolt and lock-nut, a heavy wall
bronze tube, a very heavy wall aluminum tube, and two layers of heavy exhaust tubing. The rubber tubing succumbed after a
short time and began to crumble and snag the anchor shackle, forcing me to go forward and un-foul the anchor to chock it almost
every time I retrieved it.
|Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
Passage weather seems to be showing a possible early window to make the crossing. I won't be sure until tomorrow or Friday,
but it looks like I might be able to set out from Apalachicola on the morning of the 3rd of April.
It is now just about 1 PM and the weather window I was hoping for no longer looks very good. It was dicey at best as it was, but
the latest predictions show the finish of the passage being the very worst place in the entire Gulf at that time. I will be spending a
few days between Apalachicola and Carrabelle.
The water pump seems to work better now. Maybe the relay inside the timer module was underrated and going bad. Burnt
contacts may have caused the meltdown before the timer had a chance to shut down.
I tested the anchor windlass and dealt with a headache all day. The forward area is once again straightened out and ready for the
trip. I asked Bruce for a ride to West Marine on Saturday morning. The VHF masthead antennas are on sale for 24% off, making
the purchase there at least as good a deal as buying it through Amazon. No shipping makes it a better deal.
|Thursday, March 29, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
|Sunday, March 18, 2012 - Laid back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
I started right out early by getting the anchor's suspended and the old anchor rollers off. After taking a few measurements and
surveying what I had for materials to work with, I started right in cutting new donuts from 1 inch starboard, making a complete
mess of the newly cleaned interior.
|I have finally heard enough about Carrabelle and anchoring in the Carrabelle River to want to avoid going there. The weather is
changing daily and the forecast for a passage South is looking better and better. So good in fact, I am now set to leave here on
Saturday afternoon and anchor behind a sheltering headland spit on the Northwest side of the St Andrews Bay inlet, or St
Andrews Pass, or whatever it's called. It is a big pass directly across the bay from the Panama City Marina. This will cut out the
long motor through the Intercoastal and at least one overnight anchor, but only shorten the trip by 2 miles. Speaking in terms of
the weather window, however, the total trip will take about 40 hours instead of 4 days. More importantly, the BIG hump will be
over and I can start really relaxing and enjoying vacation. Reading, some little boat jobs, writing, Hungarian throat howling, a
little easy sewing (Prom dress) - okay, no: the safety harness I should have finished before the trip.
I will need to get to Cortez to get the reefer straightened out, and I will probably remain anchored in the area long enough for me
to get and install the first set of AGM 2 volt batteries. From there I will meander South and go to Marathon when I have the
money for the second set of batteries. Until I have at least one set installed and see what I'm using in various configurations, I
won't know if I really need the second pair of solar panels.
Another thing I think I'll finally be able to do is to finish the sanding, priming and painting inside, plus completing the trim and
other details. Sometime along the line I'll need to make another list of items and issues, such as the watermaker, the lens in the
overhead hatch, the one-way mirror for the head door, the shower curtain, rugs for the sole, a dodger, etc. I will be okay as far as
electronics go for a while, so long as nothing fries.
|The boat is almost completely ready to go. There is one last problem I want to address before leaving. The slapped together
anchor rollers I made up for the davits are no good. Well, the Port side has never been used, but the Starboard side is shot. I have
to make up some better ones. I'm going to try something with starboard scrap and see if it works better. Tomorrow I'll take the
old ones off and get started. Then get the sails mounted.
|Friday, March 30, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
It is now 10:45 AM and I've pulled out the sewing machine and extra webbing and dug through the stores of 'Misc." stuff for
hardware. Once the boat was a mess, I ironed all the old wrinkles out of the remains of the safety harness, then sewed up a new
|I got a ride to West Marine with Bruce and picked up a new VHF
antenna, then he brought me over to an excellent little fishing
supply shop where I finally got a pair of good wet weather boat
A cold front is moving through right now and we've had some
wind and cold rain. There are tornado warnings and thunder and
lightning, but most of it is North of us. Predictions for wind on
the trip look like about 10 to 15 knots on the starboard stern
quarter, meaning little use from the large main and setting the
foresails for downwind running. Changing directions of wind
and waves will make for a moderately uncomfortable trip,
unless I find a way to make it comfortable.
|Saturday, March 17, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
|Two hundred and thirty miles by this route and at least 40 hours. It may become more if I heave-to for a nap during the day, just
to see how heaving-to works.
Below is the new $55 (on sale) antenna.
|Saturday, March 31, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
It is VERY rainy and stormy here this morning and the situation out on the Gulf is looking more and more unsavory. Not
terrible, you understand, but very poor for a Schooner going in the direction I'm heading. The problem is winds coming on the
Starboard stern quarter at 10 to 15 knots, coupled with seas of 1 meter broad in the Starboard beam. Wind on an aft quarter, or
dead aft, on a schooner, makes using the giant main all but impossible. Jibs and the foresail work well, but don't press the hull
down enough to hold the boat steady against the broadside seas, which will work hard to make her roll and occasionally do just
that. Wallowing every five minutes or so may not seem like a very bad thing, but 40 hours of it gets more than tiring. Not to
mention the autopilot's being greatly taxed, trying to hold a course.
About 12 hours into the trip, If I'm able to maintain a 5.2 knot average - even under power - the seas will be building a little and
clocking around to match the wind direction. At this time, my only choice will be to steer by hand. I've been in exactly those
conditions before - the last leg of my trip up from Marathon to Cortez: I came out of Venice into exactly that situation and it is
miserable and tiring - and the only way to mitigate the sea state is to correct in advance of each wave - something an autopilot
(no eyes) cannot do.
I will watch the weather and conditions all day and know by nighttime whether to risk the St Andrews Pass route, or take the
slower, but more comfortable, Intracoastal route to Apalachicola. I can hang at the anchorage in Apalachicola for a better window.
It is 11:20 AM and still pouring under dark skies. Thank God I have my new white fisherman boat boots, huh? Yeah.
It is 7:30 PM Saturday night and I will be leaving at about 6 Am tomorrow morning. The weather looks good for a trip straight
out St Andrews Pass and the straight long shot to Tarpon Springs. Will be back in touch when I get there.
|Sunday, April 1, 2012 - Laid Back Boat Club - Panama City, Florida
I've decided to stay here forever. Okay, April fool. Totally got you. I've been up since 4 AM and it's 5:30 now. Just about time to
start thinking about getting ready to leave. Actually, I've already made the boat ready. I just need to get my shoes on, wear what
I'll be starting with, and start the engine and collect the power cord and the lines. I've decided to just wait until the sky lightens
before dawn to do those things.
The tide is low and will be coming in through West Pass (what I've been calling St Andrews Pass) at about 1 knot while I'm on my
way out. I'm still not sure if I'll be able to use the mainsail for the first half of the trip, but I'm counting on using the foresail and
I'll try to add to this during the trip.
It is 9:30 AM Panama City time and an hour later Tarpon Springs time. There is not another boat on the horizon anywhere and I
am about a quarter of the way to Cape San Blas. As expected, this leg is rolly-polyrdly a breath of air (that I can feel). The 5 to 7
knot breeze is directly behind me and not helping at all. I have the big jib and the foresail up, but they are sheeted in tight and
only helping tame the rolling. As you see, I can type, so it isn't that bad. In about 4 hours or so I'll be South of and way off Cape
San Blas and will make my turn for Tarpon springs. I'll raise the mainsail then and see what I can do about getting a little more
push out of the wind. Catch you later.
At about 11 AM I noticed smoke coming from the engine compartment and immediately shut the engine down. The temp gauge
was pegged at 240 and the first thing I heard was the bilge pump running. I opened the engine compartment and saw no water
and a lot of steam. The thing needed to cool off before I could see anything or even touch the engine.
I called Bruce and appraised him of the situation, more as a way to make sure I still had phone service, but also as a way to think
out loud and relax. The next thing I did was to raise the main and get the boat sailing as well as the 5 knots of wind from behind
could do. I set the booms wide overboard and tied them down to the toerail, netting 1.8 to 2 knots, then went below to find the
problem. It was a split old hose.One of those formed engine hoses there is no possible way I would have on board. I called Bruce
again and told him the story and went about seeing what I could do.
Well, it seems there are 2 outlets from the fresh water pump and one of them is for the nonexistent heater core. I got rid if the 'T'
where the hoses were joined together, put the much better remaining hose in place of the blown one, then made a special plug
from the remains of the bad hose and capped the unneeded outlet. New water and antifreeze, start the engine and Bob's your
Uncle - all better. I called Bruce once more to say I was up and running and would continue on my way.
I lost 2 hours to the engine work and had her running again at 2 PM Panama City time. It is now 5 PM Cortez time - I've set my
clock ahead - so she has been running fine for 2 hours. No sooner do I say it than it suddenly overheats again. Be back later.
|Monday, April 2, 2012 - River Anchorage - Apalachicola, Florida
Well, the engine overheated for the second time. This after running fine for 2 hours and making me think I'd had it fixed. Cruel
engine. This time, I couldn't readily see the problem and realized if it was the same piece of tubing that blew and first time and I
used to make a plug, then I really just didn't have anything on board to fix it. I called the Coast Guard and asked if they could put
a call in to Tow Boat US and have them give me a call.
Meanwhile, I trimmed the sails as best I could for the barely noticeable breeze and started planning my next move. The Coast
Guard kept calling me back and asking this and that and certain questions causing me to believe they had Tow Boat on the
phone. They finally - after about an hour - told me Tow Boat Carrabelle would start looking for me in about 3 1/2 hours. Lovely.
It was 6 PM by then.
I went below for the second time and started tearing the engine apart. I can hardly say the insane cobjob I made of a fix. Yes, it
was the same piece of 1" hose. The stuff was old and soft and I could tear it to pieces with my fingers - easily. One small hole
popped out of it and the engine lost all it's coolant once again.
|It could have been much better with a little wind. When I did get some, with the engine off, I managed almost 4 knots. What I
wouldn't give to be able to make this crossing without the engine. There may be a chance yet.
I took a small piece of tubing and forced it into the spigot on the pump where the offending water was leaking from, then pushed
a bronze slug into the tubing and forced it in with a lever. Next I cut part of the band off a hose clamp and bent it like a bracket ( [
) only with longer legs, so it looked more like a square 'C'. I put this over the slug and hose section and connected it to the outlet
spigot with another hose clamp. The thought of it working was ludicrous in my head, but also possible.
I started the engine and within ten minutes it began to overheat. I shut it down and opened the pressure lever on the cap, then
added more water to the overflow bottle and opened the air bleed valve I have mounted on the back of the cylinder head. This is
required because the heater core, the device normally able to bleed air from the cylinder head, is non-existent. Starting the
engine and running another fifteen minutes produced the same result. Again, I bled the valve and added water. The sun set
behind me and I was not in a mood to take pictures. I'd been up since 3:30 AM and was getting tired.
This time the engine took much longer to start getting hot, so I tried throttling back a little and the temperature held. I was only
moving at 4.6 knots, but moving was moving. It became dark and started cooling off. I watched the abysmally slow movement of
the chart as I slogged slowly around Cape San Blas and carefully scouted each possible inlet. Port Joe was way too far back.
Indian pass was for canoes. West Pass was for boats with half my draft. That left Government Cut. To make Government Cut
much farther away than it was, there extends from the barrier island a place called St. George Shoals. Rat bastard. I had to swing
and extra five miles or so out and around to pass it. Sure, I could have probably picked my way through in daylight, but I'd
already used up all my 'good luck' for the day and decided to pick a safe route.
Guess who called? Now that I was just 20 miles away from the Apalachicola anchorage. Tow Boat US, from Carrabelle. They were
East of St George Shoals and would prefer to wait and see if I made it through. It was after 10 PM when I met up with them. I
explained my situation and they had me follow at first, then took me in tow to get through the tricky Government Pass.
It must have been trickier than they were used to, because they ran us aground hard. They added a long line to the tow and were
able to get themselves off, but I could have walked around Falcon without getting my knees wet. Well, almost. It took half an
hour to get me off, and another hour to reach the anchorage. I kept the engine running at idle and did use it to help get myself
off, but mostly to keep the batteries topped up during the long tow.
When we passed under the bridge, I had them stop and I dropped the tow line and motored into the anchorage and anchored,
taking time to back down on the anchor to set it, something e never do. I knew they were coming to tie up to me and didn't want
any more drama. By the time we finished the paperwork and they took off, it was after 1 AM and I was about played out.
When I got up this morning - at dawn, a bad habit my tired old body should have skipped today - the boat was shrouded in thick
fog and every muscle in my legs and back were stiff and sore - and I had the headache. You should have seen the pollen in the
water out there.
I've cleaned up the boat a little and tied up the mainsail so it doesn't block the solar panels. Tried and experiment with writing on
the Toshiba and transferring to here - it worked - and downloaded pictures and movies. I took movies in addition to photos
yesterday and may post a couple on You Tube and link them here. Right now, I need to lie down and get some sleep. Be back later
in the day.
|Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - River Anchorage - Apalachicola, Florida
I have a new plan. Oh, by the way, if anyone thinks I am discouraged or upset at all, I am not. Part 1, adventure at sea is still
better than never getting to sea. Part 2, I have Tow Boat US Insurance and the tow didn't cost me a cent. Part 3, if I'd had wind, I
could have sailed to Tarpon Springs and still might. On to the new plan.
The plug I made and installed in the water pump is working, so today I'm going to remove it, improve it, and re-install it with
Permatex Form-A Gasket. I also had a problem with the shifting and want to fix things up with the shifter a little. I would also
like to drain the oil in the transmission and install the correct fluid. I'll check with the auto parts place to be sure they have the
things I want, then move to the Free Dock and find my way there and back.
|Those are a couple of shots of the sunset last night from the anchorage.
Once I started looking around for what to do and how to do it, I spotted a marine supply store called 'Wefing's' directly across the
street from what I supposed was the 'Free Dock' and gave them a call. The guy on the phone told me they were no longer there,
and continued to describe the whole waterfront area and who I would best get the stuff I needed from. He suggested I use either
Miller Marine or another place. I called Miller Marine and they told me to come right over, tie up inside the fuel dock and they
had the antifreeze and ATF inside, and would provide me a ride to Napa for the hose and whatever else I needed.
So I did. It took about an hour and a half all told, from me raising the anchor to my setting it back down and securing it. While
finishing up, I noticed a tiny squeak in the windlass and set to work first thing taking care of that. It took all of half an hour to get
the top end off and all cleaned up, then fresh grease applied and put back together. All this began at 10:30 AM and it is only 12:45
right now. Below are the shots of the windlass. No more tiny squeak.
|At Napa I got a preformed radiator hose that will do in a pinch if I have to use it and a fresh tube of Permatex ultra copper gasket
maker, should I need that on the way. I got a gallon of antifreeze and 4 quarts of AFT and 4 new 'D' cells for my big flashlight. I
must have left in on during the day (and not noticed) while working on the cooling system. All in all I spent $60.78. Not at all
bad, considering how easy it was to get everything.
I'm back at the anchorage with everything I need and great weather. Time to start checking Passage weather for a window with
wind so I can sail. All the portholes are open and there are very few bugs of any kind. I am becoming quite fond of this
anchorage. Diesel fuel is $4.20 at Miller Marine, now called Apalachicola Marina, so I did well to buy it at Panama City Marina
for $4.06 a gallon. A savings of $8.40.
I am presently cooking lunch noodles and spaghetti with a can of tuna and chicken bullion. It smells great and I'm starving. I
started reading one of the books yesterday and will do more reading today, after one more project is completed. Time to post this
and move off the computer for a while.
The transmission work is done and it feels fine now. I also shortened the throw to shift to avoid the gearshift lever at the helm
getting caught by the autopilot chain sprocket on the steering shaft. A weird thing happened when I tested the transmission: the
fuel solenoid on the injection pump burnt up. I had a spare and changed it and it seems fine. I wonder if the two overheats had it
close to terminal.
I found a complete rebuild kit for the transmission: $140. Not bad, if it turns out I need one. It's beginning to look like Saturday
or Sunday may be the good day to head South, though I'd prefer to do so from East Pass near Dog Island. The wind will be piping
up during the passage and I'm expecting 20 to 25 knots out of the Northeast. It will start as 10 knots, then build, and the shorter
the fetch, the smaller the seas. I'm hoping to be able to sail the entire way without the engine. I will be heading over to the little
cove on Dog Island on Thursday, I guess. Depending on the weather between now and then.
|While the sky was no great shakes during tonights sunset, the water looked awesome. The camera has a hard time picking up all
that's going on, but it still looks good.
Right across from me at the little waterside park is the freshly painted 'Governor Stone', the schooner I first saw in Panama City
at St Andrews Marina.
|Wednesday, April 4, 2012 - River Anchorage - Apalachicola, Florida
There is no wind this morning and the tide is low, so the current in the Apalachicola River is making a swirling wake off Falcon.
Otherwise, the water would be a flat mirror.
|I'll do the last two jobs today and study the Passage Weather forecasts again. I've decided to take the opportunity to change out
the mainmast VHF antenna, as pieces are still falling from the old one onto the deck. I will also put a solid cure on the water
pump spigot plug so I don't have to worry about it again.
The antenna is done and I have been copying music from the main computer to the Netbook so I can listen to music on headset
at night without taxing the batteries. I've also been reading and am getting better at it. It takes getting used to, I mean, the sitting
still and reading while paying attention to the words on the page and what they mean. It's tricky. I've been in the habit of reading
the same page three times and still not remembering a thing I'd read. It's a hard way to do research.
|Above are the remains of the old antenna and the pieces making up the plug for the unused water pump spigot. The tapered hose
section will be coated with sealant and pushed into the spigot, followed by the bullet shaped chunk of bronze rod. The nickel
plated steel souvenir coin from the Cherokee Reservation in Tennessee will perfectly cover the end of the spigot - naturally
coated with sealant - and the hose clamp feature will cap it off. I'll allow it to dry overnight before filling the system and bleeding
it out, then testing it.
It has been sprinkling on and off today so I've had to have the portholes closed, but it's still comfortable inside and I'm enjoying
Now, I will tell you a story. A saga. A tale to rival The Lord Of The Rings. Okay, no, but still . . . . . Four years ago, or five, I forget -
wait, I can check - okay, September of 2008, 4 1/2 years ago, I started this website. At the time, I tried to use the Domain Name
'Blue Schooner', only to discover it was in use by those pretenders in Canada, the guys who have the original Blue Schooner, the
'Bluenose'. Can't blame 'em, it seemed to make sense, but they never did a thing with the website. I used the Domain name 'Blue
Schooner Publishing', even though it is cumbersome and difficult to spell out to someone over the phone.
For two years I skulked around the murky underbelly of the Internet, planning to pounce on the Domain name when the
slackers up North let it expire. On the magic day, I pounced! Only to discover another Canadian Domain Name company had
grabbed it before me. Those sneaky Maple Leaf guys. I guess if you've got nothing to do all winter but shovel snow and stoke the
fireplace, there's plenty of time for Curling, The Red Green Show and to lie in wait for unsuspecting Americans. It took them
about a day to offer me the name for $300. I will NEVER buy Canadian Bacon again. For two years they have been sending me
emails, slowly as ever lowering the price a tiny bit at a time. All the while, I watched and waited, knowing it was about to expire
tomorrow. They sent me a final offer of $100 yesterday and I responded with and offer of $50, knowing already that anyone who
Google's 'Blue Schooner' now gets my domain 'Blue Schooner World' first thing, and if you type in blue schooner, 'world' comes
up as a selection to complete it.
Anyway, they came back with $75 today and I just bought it, so I FINALLY have the 'Blue Schooner' domain name I tried to get 4
1/2 years ago. End of story. Saga. Tale. NOW, I can FINALLY have business cards made. And it's easier to spell over the phone.
It's mine. Mine forever. My precious.
At about 4 PM a nasty squall blew in just as a guy in an old O'Day was trying to anchor. His first anchor just dragged, so he tossed
out a second, a Danforth. Together, the two anchors held.
|The shots above were taken during lulls in the squall. During its height, the O'Day was almost totally obscured by blown spray
and rain. When the rain stopped, I went outside and deployed the anchor bridle to stop the annoying rattle of the anchor chain
against the lower bobstay chain. Falcon was dancing pretty good in the wind and the current of the river and I finally had to do
the bridle act. Today I'll install the bridle chafing gear and start using it at all anchorages from here on. I was doing so on my last
three trips, but was being lazy for a while here. I have to go out to the tip of the bowsprit and pass one lead around to install it.
|Thursday, April 5, 2012 - River Anchorage - Apalachicola, Florida
I have to say I'm getting plenty of sleep lately. I was up at least an hour before sunrise and that was after lying in bed for at least
an hour trying to go back to sleep. This whole cruising thing is so restful, I just don't NEED 10 hours of sleep. Not that I ever did.
Six hours is good, eight is the absolute max. Obviously, if I go to bed at 9 PM, I'm wide awake by 5 AM. More batteries and more
power available mean I can just get up then and either read or get to work on the computer. Twelve hours of darkness is just way
I am enjoying the night sky, I have to say. I will be missing Orion as it leaves for the summer, but I'll find new constellations to
watch, as always. I'm not sure if you can see the Pleiades or Andromeda in the summer. Right now, Saturn is the really bright
light in the middle of the Pleiades. I always use Orion's Belt to locate the Pleiades and both Orion's Belt and the Pleiades to locate
Andromeda. These low light locations make stargazing much better.
|The little - tiny - houseboat showed up after the squall and picked out a spot nearer the swamp than I'd like to be. They had a
barking dog and yelled a lot. Current in the river is pretty good at low tide. It pushes against the bridle so hard it sometimes starts
slapping against the hull like a machine gun. I had to shorten it up to stop that.
I'll be getting right to finishing the water system on the engine and will be back later.
It's 11 AM and the engine is all set. Everything is topped up and I'm going to be testing it again in just a little while. Okay, I just
started it to let the big alternator top up the batteries good. This is actually taking longer to write than to read, as I keep
monitoring the engine gauges. Theres a fair load on the engine right now because the 130 amp alternator is smashmouth
charging the 3 big 8D batteries. That'll teach 'em to run low on me. The engine is still running right on the 190 degree hashmark
where it should be and it's quiet and smooth. I'll let the batteries charge for another 20 minutes and shut it off. The solar panels
can take over from there are keep everything up for the day.
The weather for Saturday and Sunday looks good for a crossing. Winds will start at 20 knots and seas will be at 2 meters early in
the morning, but it will taper off during the day and by early afternoon winds will be 15 knots and seas 1 meter. It looks to me
like I should be able to see the seas right out of East Pass from Shipping Cove on Dog Island. If they look too nasty in the
morning, I'll just wait a while and leave closer to noon. I made this trip in the other direction in 27 hours. If I do the same going
back, leaving at 7 AM Saturday brings me to the Anclote Anchorage at 10 AM Sunday. Leaving at noon only brings me to Anclote
at 3 PM, without the chance to try Falcon out in 6 foot seas with 20 knots of wind. I think those numbers are right in her
wheelhouse and it would be a shame not to see if I can handle it, too. We'll see. Better safe than sunk.
I've run the engine a couple more times and everything looks fine. Did a lot of reading and watched a 4 hour movie. Copied all
my favorite music to the laptop so I can now listen to music at night without taxing the batteries. I am 25 days away from a cure
for that. Today was cloudy and it rained a couple of times, so I didn't get what I would have liked from the solar panels.
|I am cranking some sounds right now and working on the computer and I love it. 'I May Be Right, I May Be Wrong' by Stone The
Crows. Full volume. What can I say? I need the power. And empty anchorages.
I got an email from a guy named Ken in Panama City who I think flies the Police Helicopter. He says he has seen Falcon from the
Bridge when he goes over it, and from the air. I wonder if he delivered the Easter Bunny to the kids Easter party in the Park last
weekend? I heard he came by chopper. Choppers were a definite 'heads up' item for a while after I got back from Viet Nam. Not
that I thought I was about to get shot, but you always wanted to have 'eye contact' with the door gunners just to be sure. Now,
they're just cool to watch. Like the fighters out of Tyndall. I wonder if Ken flew choppers in country back then.
I got an email from Espin in the Bahamas warning me to be careful about those seas and winds. The Gulf can be nasty after a
front passes through, which I understand, and I'm going to be safe and rational, but I think it's a good shot and I'll keep checking
Passage Weather right up until the minute I set out. Twenty knots of wind doesn't bother me a bit, but six foot seas, in the Gulf,
broad on the beam, does sound more than a mite uncomfortable. You know, for 30 hours. The thing is, they should drop to 3 foot
seas within 6 hours, and that's a cakewalk.
|Friday, April 6, 2012 - River Anchorage - Apalachicola, Florida
I am alone in the anchorage this morning and will be heading out in a little while. The weather still looks the same for a mid-day
departure from East Pass, so I am heading there to stage. I will not be anchoring in Shipping Cove because the overnight winds
tonight will be in the 25 to 30 knot range and the Cove is a little too exposed for me to be able to sleep comfortably. Instead, I'll
be 4 miles North against Carrabelle Beach where I'll get a little more shelter and have an easier time setting my sails at anchor
It's a bit cool this morning but there isn't a cloud in the sky and I'm already most of the way cleaned up and ready to go. The trip
to the anchorage will be about 4 to 5 hours and I won't really be able to sail much of the way. The thing is, the first 3/4 of the trip
is in a narrow channel and if I get off track just a little and run aground, the sails will only make the situation much worse.
Angie writes me a lot and today she told me Eddie had a heart attack in Georgia and is in a hospital there. She says Eddie and
Sandy fully intend to continue the cruise when he is released. I don;t know what that means. Maybe it was a minor event and
he's had them before, or maybe it's as much work going back as it is going forward, so why not keep going?
I'll post this now and don't know if there'll be Internet access in Carrabelle or not. Either way, I'll keep up with the Logs and
update when I can.
My plans are: Here to Carrabelle Beach - today
: Carrabelle Beach to Tarpon Springs - Saturday & Sunday
: Tarpon Springs to John's Pass - Monday
And : John's Pass to Cortez - Tuesday
See you then.
|It's 3 pm and I'm anchored off Carrabelle Beach. I got here at 2:30 after leaving the River Anchorage in Apalachicola sometime a
little after 10 AM. I motored all the way, though there was plenty of room to sail. I noticed once I got in those areas. Still it would
have meant some risks I was unwilling to take.
The shot above is of Carrabelle Beach. All told, counting dogs, there are about 50 or 60 people at the beach today. It's just starting
to get cloudy here and the wind is clocking to the East and getting gusty. The forecast is for big winds tonight. I already have the
bridle and chafing gear rigged and the second anchor is ready, just in case. There is one other boat in the anchorage and he just
finished putting his inflatable up on the foredeck.
|The wind is beginning to pick up more and more. I tried taking more videos outside, but the wind roars through the cameras mic
so hard you can't hear me speaking. I may be able to edit it somehow later on, but not now. I took a lot of sunset shots trying to
get some good ones.
|Saturday, April 7, 2012 - Beach Anchorage - Carrabelle, Florida
I awoke at 1 AM this morning to a major rolling factor that threatened to toss me out of the bunk. The stiff wind was coming
from the ENE at about 15 to 20 knots, but the swell it kicked up rolled around the point at the Eastern end of the beach and
caught me dead on the beam. They came in sets of four or five about every 90 seconds and It kept getting worse.
At about 1:20 I fired up the engine, hauled in the anchor and moved another 1/4 mile closer to the beach, hoping to mitigate the
rolling. No luck, and the wind continued clocking full East and increased. There was nothing to do from here but hang in until
morning and see what I could do.
By dawn the wind and waves were coming from the same direction and it has been much more comfortable. My bridle took a
beating and I had to remove it and recondition it, then climb out on the tip of the bowsprit to re-deploy it. Did I mention it's cold
here this morning? Fifty-five degrees. Balmy for folks from Maine, where they have nine months of winter and three months of
damn poor sledding, but that's more than a little nippy for someone who's blood is so thin he could die from a paper cut.
Anyway, I've got to get some sleep today and get rested up. It's bad Ju-Ju to go out on an overnight passage if you're already
overtired. It would be different if there was someone else on board, but alone, it's foolishness. I did not get a wink of sleep on the
passage up here and everything was fine on that trip. This trip is looking at odd weather and some stiff wind.
|Above is Shipping Cove on Dog Island. I pulled the anchor and set the foresail and motor-sailed over here. It was a little less than
4 miles, but it is infinitely more comfortable. I'm tucked in about 500 feet from the beach in 20 feet of water. The little patch
coming over here was through 3 and 4 foot waves, so close together they were nearly chop. I'm glad I had the foresail up and
sheeted in tight or I would have rolled severely and shipped a few waves. They were hitting right up to the toerail and only
splashed a little water on deck. The autopilot doesn't seem to have a problem with it at all. Guuuud autopilot.
|This is the rest of Shipping Cove.
|batteries if they are not connected in parallel. In parallel, the single weakest cell works the hardest and deteriorates fastest.
The sails are out on the deck, out of their bags and ready to install. I tried out the sail slide lube on the hatch slides. It works
good. I hope it lasts longer than the other stuff I've tried. It's still a bit breezy for mounting the main, but I should be able to get
the jibs and foresail mounted.