Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Back in the USA

I finally turned the corner at Grand Bahama Island yesterday and the winds picked up. Before you knew it I was in the Gulf Stream doing 9 knots on my way back to the United States. Unfortunately the weather forecast was for the wind to turn to the North. This meant that I had to get across the Stream. I decided to head for Ft. Pierce as it was the only Class "A" inlet that had a place to dock after dark. (Port Canaveral is a Class A inlet - in fact a big cruise ship port - but there are no places to stop at night - the lock is closed until 6AM.

When I got about 10 miles from Ft. Pierce I realized it was going to be a major battle to get in the inlet. Winds were about 15 knots, seas about 3 feet, and a big current coming out of the inlet to sea. I still don't trust my fuel. I discussed options with Towboat US and they suggested they come out and tow me in rather than have to come and pick me off the break wall. (In fact, this inlet gets so bad that a SeaTow tow boat and tow were thrown up on the rocks a year or two ago.)

I got towed in without incident and placed gently at the fuel dock at Harbortown Marina. I went on shore and had a sandwich and settled down for the night. My plan for today is to start heading up the ICW toward Jacksonville.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Off Freeport - sort of

December 28, 2014 08:09 UTC
Atlantic Ocean, approximately 26 NM Southeast of Freeport, Bahamas
(I am finally close enough to Freeport that I can see the light pollution on the horizon)
N 26 14.379 W 078 21.271 Course 315 Speed 2.2 knots

Yes, we really do stay up all night every night with 30 minute cat naps all day and night. Its 3:15 AM EST and I am quite awake. Yes, it is quite boring. One can only read so much and sleep so much. I think one of the big attractions of trawlers (large powerboats with small engines and big fuel tanks. They usually have a top speed of 8 or 9 knots but the amenities’ of a “gin palace”) is the size of their fuel tanks. Since the engine is expected to run 100% of the time underway there is always ample power for computers, DVD players, etc. Lots of other reasons too, they are quite nice. A lot of sailboat cruisers “retire” to a trawler when handling the sails gets to be a bit much.

I have mentioned that I am on a route with a lot of ship traffic but that usually they pass me far enough away (2 NM) that the AIS alarm does not go off. I was cat napping (as was XO) when the alarm went off. Sure enough, another Carnival cruse ship. Once again he was going to miss me by 1 NM. That is more than enough distance but within the alarm zone I had set on my AIS. They really are pretty at night. The power generation needs just for the lights must be significant. I got a kick out of watching the “jumbotron” video display on the Lido deck. Of course it was 2 AM for the guests on board. I wondered who was watching what. It made the entire top deck of the ship look like a discothèque. Maybe it was. The process of watching it go by woke me up completely so I made some coffee and decided to write this entry.

The winds did pick up after sunset (thank you katabolic winds) so instead of drifting I am now drifting smartly. Actually I am underway at about 2 knots. One frustration is watching the “time to turn” display on my chart plotter. I am going so slowly that a change of ½ knot can result in a time to destination difference of several hours. I have about 26 NM to go to the turn that will take me Northwest and into the Gulf Stream. At various times today the time to turn has been 60 hours, 30 hours, and now 16 ½ hours. It can be very depressing when the time goes way up as the boat slows way down.

Still no sign of the 10 to 15 knot winds forecast (for the last two days) by NOAA (the United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.) Usually they are pretty good but they have been quite off the last couple of days. So apparently have most of the other “wind and wave” web sites. Since everyone uses the same six weather models this suggests that the models are off. The best data are live ship observations. Unfortunately you need very expensive electronics that I do not have to get that data in real time. The best I can do is to get it relayed from shore.

On a sailboat you go where the wind lets you go…

Fair winds and following seas J

Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 27th, 2014 Off Freeport, Bahamas

December 27, 2014 22:04 UTC
Bahamas, about 34 miles south of the Grand Bahama Island airport
N 26 03981 W 078 04.088 Course 297 Speed 0.0 (naught, nil, none, zilch, zero, etc.)

Since I wrote this morning it has been a long and frustrating day. For me (not for XO who continues his sleep, eat, demand attention, get petted, eliminate routine unchanged.) The synoptic forecast for today is winds from the East at 10 to 15 knots. Perfect for a fast trip to the United States. The actual local weather has been winds from the East at 1 to 3 knots. The boat speed peaked at 2.9 knots for one brief shining moment (that was known as Camelot.) Most of the day it has been between 0.5 and 1.0 knots. I am reminded of two movies: Master and Commander (the scene where they are totally becalmed on a glass ocean) and Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Why, you ask? Because of the scene with the quote “I will taunt you unmercifully.” I can occasionally see wind on the water around Reboot  but by the time it reaches me, or I reach it, it has gone away.

I have tried a little bit of everything including heading slightly upwind (what little there is) to see if I can get the boat speed (what little there is) to generate additional apparent wind. It works for short periods of time but only gives me a 0.25 knot boost before it dies. Since upwind is also off course it doesn’t seem to be a good strategy.

The one thing I have not done is put up all the sails. I have two reasons. First, putting up the main downwind only blankets the jib - only one of the two sails really contributes. Since I have a pretty big masthead jib the additional sail area of the main isn’t going to make much of a difference. Second is the synoptic forecast. If I do get everything up and the winds fills in quickly to the forecast I am going to be greatly over sailed. My attitude is little potential gain for some potential of a big mess. I have left things as they are.

The wind is so light that when I try to tack I have to carry the jib sheets from one side to the other. The sheets are heavy enough that the sail can not pull them to the other side.

We are now approaching katabatic time. The katabatic winds are better know as sea breezes and shore breezes caused by the differential heading and cooling rate of the land and sea. At sunrise and sunset the winds always shift. Normally you get a period of calm before the day or night winds settle in. I am crossing my fingers that tonight the winds will be much stronger than today.

Fair winds and following seas J

Saturday, December 27, 2014


December 27, 2014 10:39 UTC
Bahamas - about 75 NM north of Nassau
N 25 55.073 W 077 42.645 Course 292T Speed 2.5 knots

On Christmas Day in Nassau, Bahamas I had a long conversation with Bill (KI4MMZ) about the upcoming weather patterns. I had considered going to the Junkanoo festival and staying over until the 27th. The festival starts at 1 AM and runs all night. That suggests a departure in the morning is not wise.

December 26th is Boxer Day in the Bahamas. I got everything ready for a high tide departure. There is a bar that runs across the center of Nassau Harbor. When one leaves the marina and wants to exit through the west channel one has to cross the bar. I can do that very comfortably at high tide, not so much at low tide. I set off for the fuel dock only to discover it was closed for the holiday. In fact both fuel docks near the marina were closed. I decided that rather than turn around I would go with the fuel on board. (I had a difficult time getting out of the slip, a very large charter boat had pulled in next to me and the winds were adverse.)

At about 1600 UTC I cleared Nassau harbor and set sail almost due North. The winds were light (the story of this trip: to little, to much, wrong direction!) Making haste slowly I bobbed my way North.

Commercial ship traffic and cruise liners coming from the United States all use the same route that I had plotted. So do most pleasure boats although they do have other alternatives. As a consequence I have been passed by a number of large ships all day and night. It once again reminded me of the value of transmit/receive AIS, I joke a lot about Carnival Cruise Line ships. I equate them to the battle cruiser in Spaceballs with its sign “we brake for nobody.” After a long night (its almost dawn) of seeing many targets but none of them getting close my AIS collision warning alarm went off. Would you not guess, it was the Carnival Ecstasy! Closest point of approach (CPA) was 1.0 NM. I watched as she passed down my starboard side at 1.0 NM. My attention was then redirected to the ship behind, an MSC tanker. It too had tripped the alarms with a CPA of 0.8 NM. As I was watching the MSC tanker I realized that the Ecstasy had turned behind me. It had obviously altered it course to avoid me. The MSC tanker passed me at 0.8 NM. It is quite a show when a 900 ft long ship passes you at 17 knots in the dark.

This brings me to marine electronics. Reboot has quite a few, most even work most of the time. If I was outfitting a boat on a limited budget my first two purchases would be a GPS and a transmit/receive AIS. The GPS because the most important thing is to know where you are and with charts and a GPS that can be covered (yes, a chart plotter would be much nicer but more expensive.) The transmit capable AIS because it tells other ships where you are. Instead of having to get out of their way, they get out of your way. In light air such as I have been experiencing most of this trip it is virtually impossible to get out of the way in any significant way. Moving at 1 or 2 knots with a big ship bearing down on you is not a comfortable solution. Even if one starts the engine you are still going pretty slowly compared to the commercial vessels. When they see you on their AIS they make very minor course corrections and pass you without incident. It appears that 1.0 NM is the courtesy distance. Yes, a receive only AIS tells you they are there. But then you either have to contact them by radio or bear the burden of not being sure if they have seen you. IMHO of limited value. BTW, you might ask about radar. It turns out that sailboats are almost invisiable on big ship radar even with reflectors in the rigging. That is why a transmit AIS is so much better.

Fair winds and following seas J

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Christmas Present To You

I have always enjoyed flash mobs. Here is my Christmas flash mob for you:

Merry Christmas!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Christmas Eve in Nassau

December 25, 2014 Christmas Day
Nassau Harbor Club Marina and Hotel, Nassau, Bahamas

I made it safely into Nassau, Bahamas on December 23rd and tied up at the Nassau Harbor Club. I have been in this marina before and was surprised to be remembered by the staff. After many days of being offshore it was nice to be on land for a rest,

I did the checking in formalities and then headed down to Captain Andy’s, formerly Crazy Johnnies. No longer Captain Andy’s it is now Volume - a music club. It was closed but I did speak to one of the staff - Tom - who send me down to The Poop Deck restaurant. It is only another 200 meters or so down the road. Not realizing how dehydrated I was I quickly drank four beers and then said to the bartender - I had better switch to water! He said OK and watched as I quickly drank four glasses of water. I explained that I had just come in on a boat. I had a nice dinner although like all things in the Bahamas expensive and headed back to Volume. The club was actually closed but they let me in and I had a very nice long conversation with the new owner. He mentioned that they would be open on Christmas Eve. That gave me a destination as everything else was pretty much going to be closed.

Christmas Eve was a Wednesday. Under the previous two owners Wednesday night has always been Karaoke night. “Q”, the new owner, had decided to continue the tradition. The big change was the music. The venue had always been a rock club, under the new management it had become a hip hop club. The people were still very friendly. The Karaoke was the same. The same people who could not do rock were now not doing hip hop well with the occasional injection of someone who was actually good. Most of the people who work at the club are also aspiring musicians so they all took a turn. Perhaps the funniest performance was by McKinsey, a white bartender. He performed a rap that required the use of the “N” word. Whenever he would reach that word he would swallow it and every black person in the bar would shout it out and then start laughing. I felt very comfortable and safe and had a very nice time although if you had suggest I spend Christmas Eve in a hip hop club I would have probably passed on the opportunity.

I spent a quiet Christmas Day on the boat in the marina. It was nice to just continue to unwind.

Fair winds and following seas J

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014 Hitting the Wall

The last time this happened to me was when I arrived in Portugal after soloing across the Atlantic Ocean. I had left the Azores on my way to Ireland. The entire trip the winds had been adverse so eventually I abandoned trying to get to Ireland and headed for Portugal. When I was a few miles offshore the engine quit. I entered Cascasi harbor in 35 knot winds and dropped anchor. After things calmed down I changed the fuel filters and made it into the marina. It had been 44 days since I had left the United States. I was ready to sell the boat and fly home. After a couple of days ashore I calmed down and went back to cruising. That was two years ago.

After several days of bobbing around trying to get south of Rum Cay I finally decided to turn on the engine. Within seconds after engine start the exhaust filled with heavy white smoke and there was no power. I spent the next couple of hours changing the fuel filters, always a joy at sea. Not being sure that the engine was OK I altered course and passed west of Rum Cay (and east of Long Island.) At that point the wind picked up dramatically from the Southeast - exactly the direction I was trying to go. I started doing short tacks with a double reefed main and a small section of the jib. I was clearly overpowered but in a bind. If I dropped the main I would not be able to point high enough. The batteries were dropping quickly as the electric autopilot tried to maintain course with the wheel over almost at lock. I tried shifting to the vane but could not get it working. Not being sure of the engine (to produce power I decided it was time to drop the jib and head downwind. This of course mean I was giving up all of the distance I had struggled to make over the last two days.

Everything calmed down - not a lot but enough that I knew that Reboot was back under control. Dawn came a couple of hours later. I discovered that the reason I could not get the vane to work is that I had failed to put the in-water vane down. I realized I was both physically and emotionally exhausted. Checking the weather forecast I discovered that I would be heading directly into strong winds for the next couple of days. I decided that I did not want to spend Christmas fighting the ocean. In fact, I was not sure that I wanted to continue on to Jamaica at all. I had once again “hit the wall.”

I headed up to Nassau, Bahamas and after another couple of days made it into port. For the first several hours my legs were tingling - I don’t know if it was because of the reduction in stress or just having been afloat for so long. I decided that in my emotional state the smartest thing would be to stay in Nassau until I got a good weather window and then head back to the United States to regroup. So that is the plan.

Fair winds and following seas J

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday. December 21, 2014 1028 UTC

Sunday. December 21, 2014  1028 UTC
Atlantic Ocean about 38 NM North of Rum Cay (Bahamas)
N 24 24.947 W 074 54.253  Course 200 Speed 1.1 knots

Welcome to Winter. Today is the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year. This is a day beloved by solar panel users everywhere as for the next 6 months the days get longer and the solar panels generate more power. As I have traveled South the days have become a few minutes longer but not really enough to disturb the routine. A standing joke is “cruisers midnight.” The classic definition is 8 PM. What it really speaks to is the fact that cruisers live by the sun. Once it gets dark its time to go to bed, once the sun comes up its time to get up. It also speaks to the fact that most cruisers are in the 50’s through 70’s and don’t go out clubbing a lot at night.

When I left Cape Fear I left behind the cold weather. The water is in the mid 70’s. The boat is warm, yesterday it was 80 inside the cabin.  Quite a change from last year when I was in New Bern, NC with minor medical problems and the nights were already getting cold. Had I known then what I know now I would have set sail from New Bern in January. As it was I sat out a cold winter with occasional snow in the cockpit.

I grew up in the Northeast. My images of December are chilly days with a fireplace and a warm companion (not to discount Christmas and New Years.) Now that it has gotten warmer XO (the Wonder Cat) has been decidedly less cuddly at night. In the past he would scrunch his body as close to mine as possible for warmth. Now its just two forepaws on my arm to establish ownership and dominance.

I finally got some decent winds from the East yesterday and got in a good 12 hours of brisk sailing in the right direction. About two hours ago the wind shifted 90 degrees to the South. I went up to see what was happening and was greeted by a mist. I tried various sail configurations to no avail. The wind has died back into the 4 to 5 knot range. I am currently making my way south slowly while waiting for the wind to fill back in from the East as is forecast.

One thing I did not expect on this trip was all of this light air. I have been in some pretty scary weather: off Miquelon Island and soloing the Atlantic to Portugal. The only other time I have had sustained light winds was also in the Bahamas. Then I was in Exuma Sound surrounded by islands. Now I am in the open ocean with 3000 miles of water to the East. Coming on top of the severe weather that kept me in Norfolk for several weeks this is quite shock. I am reminded of the doldrums scene in Master and Commander.

Fair winds and following seas J

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sail Choices Friday, December 19, 2014 1335 UTC

Friday, December 19, 2014 1335 UTC
About 120 NM East of the Bahamas Bank, 280 NM North of Long Island, Bahamas
N 26 47.725 W 07455.014 Course 180 Speed 0.9

Bobbing around again in very light air. I am in a convergence zone and until it shifts or I drift out of it winds are going to be very light. I could not hold course last night so I motored for about 8 hours. This has taken the fuel gauge off the “full” peg. I still have quite a bit of fuel in the main tank and 15 gallons on deck but prudence in the use of fuel is always wise. At least this time I am bobbing in the right direction (South.)

I was reminded this morning of the problem of choosing the right sail configuration. When the sun came up I stopped motoring and put up the jib. With the wind this light I should have also put up the main or even better dropped the jib and put up the asymmetric. The problem was that the sky was overcast and black. It takes about 15 minutes to put up the main, maybe 25 minutes to put up the asymmetric. Taking down the main takes about 10 minutes before the sail is stowed enough that it is not providing power. The question: do I put up more sail and risk that the wind will rise suddenly? Or do I bob smartly on the sail I have? I chose to bob smartly (reef early, reef often) and was rewarded (?) by the winds rising to 20 knots and a rainstorm. I had to furl the jib a bit in the rain. The storm passed and then - you guessed it - no wind at all. I am no longer bobbing smartly, I am just bobbing. Once the weather burns off and the wind reestablishes itself I will be able to put up a sail that can catch the wind rather than just flapping around killing itself.

With crew it would not be quite so difficult. With a second person to help with the sail changes the time goes down. Also, with someone actively steering they can help get the sails down quickly by stalling the boat in the “no go zone,” or as we traditionalists like to call it “in irons.” It gives one a real appreciation for the people who do the around the world alone race. Their boats are about 20 feet longer so every sail change takes far more energy. Plus they are racing so they are always trying to keep the maximum amount of sail up for every condition.

Fair winds and following seas J

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014 2200 UTC

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 2200 UTC
Atlantic Ocean - 336 NM East of Flagler Beach, FL (Hi  Bill) 535 NM North of the Windward Gap.
N 29 28.689 W 074 59.136 Course 180 Speed 4.8

Happy Birthday to Andrea. Wish I was on Tenerife with you to celebrate!

The last 36 hours have been long and tiring. Mother Nature (or Neptune) decided to show me what she had. Yesterday morning the wind finally started to pick up. Unfortunately it was blowing from the Southwest. Since I am trying to go due South this meant that I had to go close hauled (up wind) all day. In order to get Reboot to point high enough I put in a double reefed main in addition to the jib. Going upwind usually means you are also going into the waves and yesterday was no exception. It also means that the wind speed over the boat is the boat speed plus the true wind speed. As time wore on the wind continued to pick up. I continued to furl more and more of the jib. The waves also continued to build. In the early evening the true wind speed was exceeding 30 knots and the wave height was about 8 feet. Even the double reefed main was too much sail. Reboot was literally going airborne off the tops of the waves. Considering she weights 11 tons that is saying something!

The only way to get the main down is to head into the wind and stall the boat. At this point she is pitching up and down in 8 foot waves. It also requires going up onto the foredeck. Even with a harness, life jacket, and tether that is not much fun. I got about 2/3 of the main dropped before Reboot simply refused to stay headed up in the wind. As I fell off the remaining main caught the wind and off we went, fortunately at a reasonable 6 to 7 knots. At this point I was still on course but being hit by 8 foot waves on the beam. Reboot was rolling 30 to 40 degrees from side to side. I noticed that the vane steering cables have become undone. Nothing was steering, just the waves pushing and the main pulling was keeping us on course.

Once when talking to Ed (Hooligan) about getting ready for sea he said jokingly “I just go, Everything finds its place after a day or two.” You can imagine that everything that was not tied down found its place on the deck sliding from side to side.

I realized that this was not going to work so I pointed the stern at the oncoming waves and started the sleigh ride (it being Christmas season and all.) Reboot stopped rolling and I was able to retie the Monitor steering cables. But once again I was not headed in the direction I wanted to go. Unlike yesterday when it was benign and I was drifting I was going the wrong way very fast. The good news was that I was able to stabilize my course due East. In the Caribbean, since the prevailing winds are from the East, one can never be too far East. I was reminded of the old Navy saying “in the event of a nuclear explosion point your ass to the blast and run like hell.” In the end I made about 60 NM due East. That was of course off course.

In the middle of the night I looked over at the voltmeters and realized I was quite low on battery power. Since it was critical to keep the AIS and navigation lights running I fired up Mother Yanmar and let her charge the batteries for about 4 hours. This morning I disconnected the second wire from the broken solar panel. I am hoping that there was some kind a a short that was dropping the batteries. We will see.

After a long and sleepless night the dawn finally came and I was able to see both the sails and the seas. They were still in the 7 to 8 foot range and the main was plastered against the spreaders. The winds had started to moderate to about 25 knots. I checked in on the Waterway Ham Radio net and was told that the winds should shift to the Northwest and the waves moderate over the course of the day. And so they did. I was able to go upwind and get the remainder of the main sail stowed around noontime. By sunset I was headed back due South with a moderate following sea and wind off the starboard beam. I even enjoyed watching the sunset. Of course I didn’t enjoy picking everything up off the floor.

As I write this after a very tiring 36 hours I finally have …….

Fair winds and following seas J

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday,  December 15, 2014
Atlantic Ocean - about 250 miles east of the Florida - Georgia Border
N31 06.3  W 077 03.1 Course 165 Speed 0.5

I spent Saturday morning in Masonboro replacing the bow light. At some level it was a victory as I did not drop any tools or pasts into the water. It was a total fail as when I switched on the power no bow light. There is a broken wire buried somewhere. Replacing the light was necessary, the previous light was completely corroded. I had repaired it a number of times but this time the light bulb was completely corroded into the socket. Rather than fooling with it further I decided to get underway. When I sail I use the tricolor on the mast so the only limitation of the non-functional bow light is that I can’t motor at night.

Left Masonboro Yacht Club midday on Saturday 13 December. Headed down the ICW to Carolina Beach for fuel. Filled tanks, was $75. I can remember when this was a $25 evolution. Went through the Carolina Cut in adverse current and out into the Cape Fear River. Motored down the river as the tide turned, got an excellent push from the current all the way down.

Thought about spending the night in Southport and leaving for offshore the next day. As I approached the turn to the ICW I decided against it. I figured that there was no point, I was just delaying the inevitable for another cold 12 or so hours. Yes, when I have not been offshore for some period of time I am nervous about going back out. Out I went into the setting sun.

Set up a course of about 175 to stay clear of Frying Pan Shoals. It is about 30 NM to the end of the Shoals. The east end is actually deep enough for Reboot, but I didn’t want to take any chances at the beginning of the trip (or any time, for that matter.) The wind was moderate and I was able to make a comfortable 5 to 6 knots on the jib. Since it was night I did not really want to raise the main, it is easy to furl the jib if the wind picks up at night, much harder to deal with the main. Since I was going mostly down wind adding the main would not have done much other than to blanket the jib.

I was surprised to find the wind was mainly from the West. I had been expecting light North winds. I was pleased as this meant crossing  the Gulf Stream was going to be possible. I had my equipment set up so that I could measure water temperature and even in the first few miles out it started to rise. It had been about 40 degrees in the river, it was quickly rising to 50. The air temperature was also staying at about 50 degrees.

Worked my way through the night with the water temperature rising to 72 degrees and the air temperature stabilizing at about 60 degrees. What a change from the previous few days with 32 degree nights. The waves were small, about 1 to 2 feet but quite confused.

At dawn I was at the heart of the “nominal” Gulf Stream. Water temperature was 76 degrees, air temperature was 65, I signed onto the Waterway Ham radio net. All of the land stations were talking about the previous night low temperatures - you guessed it, all in the low 30’s. I felt quite smug that I had not taken the bait and spend and expensive and cold night in Southport.

Winds were still good. I was making good time. By evening the waves started to settle down. By the morning of the 14th (Sunday) they were “training” from the North. Winds were still moderate from the West. All in all a good ride.

I did discover that my Ham radio was not holding a tune. I guessed that my failed attempt to rig a flag hoist on the backstay was causing problems. I had intended to remove it when working on the wind generator but it completely skipped my mind when we realized that the generator was a no go.

This morning the wind died. I have been bobbing around in the ocean going nowhere all day long. The waves are about 1 - 2 feet so when the boat gets a little way on - like 0.5 knots - the ride is not too bad. I took advantage of the quiet seas to further explore the backstay. I rerouted the flag halyard (its jammed or I would just have run it out of the block.)  I then flushed the backstay insulator with fresh water. It seems to be working better but only time will tell.

While standing on the helm seat I noticed that one of my solar panels was cracked. The solar panels are set up in two banks, each with its own charge controller. I had noticed that one of the two banks was not showing the “charge” light in the daytime. I wrote this off to the fact that frequently the meters on the controllers have no similarity to reality. To be sure I disconnected the cracked panel and then checked the fuses on the controller. Sure enough, the fuse on the solar panel side was blown. I replaced it and was rewarded with a yellow charging light. This is a good thing as the two panels were having trouble keeping up with the overnight load.

When traveling in late November, December and early January the days are very short. This means that the solar panels don’t have as much time to charge and the nights are long. I use halogen lights in the tricolor and anchor lights. They use a lot more power than LED lights. But I have had bad luck with the LED lights. Perhaps over time the quality of the LED’s will improve until I feel comfortable to try them again.

The good news is that I am comfortable on the boat for the first time in a couple of months. The water temperature is in the 70’s. The boat has warmed up, the seats are not long freezing cold. My back has stopped hurting from sleeping on a cold bed. I actually spent today in shorts! Quality.

Fair winds and following seas J

Friday, December 12, 2014

Masonboro Yacht Club

In Masonboro Yacht Club just south of Wrightsville Beach. This is the kind of place that always gives me pause. As one travels down the ICW there are channels leading off to the left and right to various marina facilities. Never, and I mean never, do the signs say anything about depth. So one looks at the chart and sees 2 feet, or 3 feet, with this channel. Is it deep enough? The only way to tell seems to be to go in. The channels are always too narrow to turn around. Have you ever tried to back a sailboat? The result is that I avoid them. That is a shame because some, like Masonboro, have really nice people and decent facilities. Note to marina owners. Want to increase business with a cheap fix? Put up a depth sign.

Spent Wednesday night in Mile Hammock Bay with 7 other boats. Seemed like a lot of boats for this late in the season. The manager at Masonboro told us that there are a lot of late transits. The weather (as I well know) in November was terrible. Apparently lots of other people decided to wait it out. Major fail. The temperature dropped to 32 F and was still there when we got underway at 6:30 AM. Since the sun didn't rise until 7:01 AM our first mile was under twilight conditions. A little spooky but the channel is well marked.

Second to Bogue Sound in my I hate the ICW list is the run from Mile Hammock Bay to Wrightsville Beach. The trip itself isn't particularly worse than any other part of the ICW. The problem is that there are three bridges, all of which open on schedule. Miss a bridge opening, wait an hour. It is very hard to time one's arrival as there are numerous channels leading through the marsh out to sea. One minute you are going 4 knots. Pass a channel, now you are doing 6 knots at the same RPM. First you are late, then you are early for the next bridge.

Of particular note is the Wrightsville Beach bridge. The problem here is current, very strong current. While waiting for the bridge it is not unusual to be swept down on it at 2 knots. The nearer one gets to the bridge the stronger the current. My solution is to point up current and run the engine so that my speed over ground is near zero while my speed through the water approaches 2 knots. This confuses all the other boats who are backing and turning and trying to stay in place. It is also possible to run down or be run down by another boat while maneuvering to get under the bridge. People forget that they are still making 2 knots toward the bridge even though their bow is pointed elsewhere. Not fun. We were blessed with a medium tide. That gave us a  little bit wider channel to work in. I came down once  with a pack of snow birders at dead low tide. About 6 ran aground. Four hit each other. And the bridge of course refused to open even though a whole bunch of people were in extremis.

Ed (Hooligan) has been in Masonboro a number of times so he led us in. They set aside two spots on the "T" head even though they were full. I decided to stay for two nights to warm up and finish up tying everything down to go offshore. It is tough to get motivated after freezing all day when it gets pitch black at 5 PM. If conditions remain as forecast Saturday I will head down the Cape Fear River and go offshore and south. That way I will be able to avoid freezing behind the wheel with my eye on the depth gauge all day long. I should make about twice or better the distance each day.After a couple of days hopefully I will be in warmer climes.

Fair winds and following seas :)

PS: The air temperature is 34 F as I write this.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Another Marine Story

Today I left Sanitary on my way south. At the last moment Ed (Hooligan) yells "I am not going." I yell "OK." I continue down to my planned night's anchorage at Mile Hammock Bay (inside of the Marine base at Camp Lejeune.) I am listening to the marine (as in boat) VHF radio. Everyone is talking about a shoal in front of me. At the same time I am very aware that there is a brige in front of me on bridge hours (that is, they only open at a certain time.) I am gunning it to make the bridge. Wham, I hit the shoal that everyone is talking about. I bounce up, spin around, throw it in reverse, and find myself on the other side (the destination side) of the shoal. Now at some point Ed changed his mind because he has caught up to me and has been following me for several miles. He has jerked his boat around, somehow missed the shoal completely, missed Reboot, and is now alongside me. He yells "if you don't hurry up we are going to miss the bridge."

My fantasy conversation with Ed in Korea or Vietnam; both places Ed served in combat roles in the Marine Corps with distinction:

Marine: "Ed, I have a sucking chest wound, both my legs are blown off, and I can't see."

Ed: "Hurry the "F" up or we are going to miss the extraction."

In fairness to Ed, without embarrassing him further, he has some cheap metal and ribbon that he got for activities in Vietnam that involved saving lives. Enough said. I hold him in great respect and would trust him with my life.

We made it through the bridge (which requires you to be there at opening time but takes 5 minutes to open - go figure) and to Mile Hammock Bay where we are spending the night.

An aside, they have been doing artillery practice all day so we have been listening to the guns for about 6 hours. Makes one want to shout "incoming."

Fair winds and following seas :)

Bogue Sound

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways...
1. You run Northwest to Southeast. Backwards! So when I travel South you make me go Northeast and vice versa.
2, Your winds are adverse. If I wanr to cross the Gulf Stream your winds will be wrong. If the winds are from the South I can avoid you and cross the stream. But if the winds are from the North and I want to continue south to wait for a better day your winds will be in my face.
3. You are wide open so I feel the full brunt of the weather and wind.
4. You are very shallow so the smallest breeze kicks up nasty waves,
5. Your channel is 100 feet wide so I am constantly on alert that you don't blow me onto the shallows.
6. You are full of nasty eddies and currents so I can't use the autopilot unless I want to run aground.
7. You are long and boring and a miserable excuse for a passage route.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Feeling Guilty

Of course during all those warm days in port when I was supposed to be working on the boat I was not. I was eating too much, drinking lots of coffee (for some reason I just am not really into alcohol these days) and chasing women (unsuccessfully of course!) Now it is cold and I am underway so I end each day tired. All of those little projects are still in front of me. There is nothing to do when I set anchor. It is December so the nights are very long and electricity is at a premium. Still, I am so bored that each day I do one of the little make life better projects I should have been doing when it was warm. Such is life.

Fair winds and following seas :)


CAPT Roger J. Jones USN (ret.)

Sailboat Reboot

411 Walnut Street, #9700, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043-3443

Reboot's Agent's Email: and phone Rebootagent@gmail.com (201) 925-2581

Reboot Email (in port only) rogerjohnjones@gmail.com

Reboot Phone: (414) 248-0345

Satellite Phone  (870) 776-4111-46

Web Site: www.sailboatreboot.com

Blogging: blog.sailboatreboot.com

Reboot position http://www.winlink.org/dotnet/maps/PositionReportsDetail.aspx?callsign=W2ZDB

Ham Radio: W2ZDB via Maritime Mobile Service Net 14.300 Mhz

Ham Radio Email: W2ZDB@winlink.org

 This email is sent from an infrequently monitored mailbox.  It may take several days or weeks before REBOOT and I are in port where I can receive it.  Should you have an immediate need please contact me via Reboot's agent.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sanitary and South

Came down Adams Creek yesterday morning to Morehead City. Left Oriental in fog. Discovered that the radar has decided not to work. Fortunately the visibility was still about 1 mile so I was able to see the two boats that were coming the other way. After about two hours - an hour into Adams Creek the visibility improved and the fog burned off. Reached the Core Creek Bridge at exactly high tide. Expected no current, was fighting an almost 2 knot current (adverse of course) under the bridge. This was when the only two power boats heading in my direction wanted to pass. They were very polite but the current required them to really power up (off plane) to move so the wakes were ugly.

Was planning on heading down the ditch but by the time I got to Morehead I was frozen again. I realized that my gloves were not waterproof. I had worn them handling lines in the morning and they got wet. The result was that even though the rest of my body was warm, my hands were freezing. Lesson learned. I decided to stop at Sanitary. It is beautiful - the new dock. What isn't are the prices - $1.00 per foot per night or $25 if you eat. I decided to take the eat route, had a basket of clams, and saved $3.00. Ah for the days when it was free.

I did stop at the hardware/marine supply store across the street and bought all the hand warmers in stock. Unfortunately that was only three. I now have a three day supply.

Very cold last night. Ran the propane heater all night. I had filled both propane tanks in Oriental in anticipation of going offshore. I will most likely top them off again before I go. The heater tank is also the backup for the stove. Running the heater all night only gives me about 4 days supply in that tank.

Looked at the weather buoys this morning. Days are so short in December. Was going to try a "training wheels" offshore (its been a while) from Morehead to Masonborough inlet. Weather OK near shore but would arrive after dark. So more ditch today. I expect to run to the Cape Fear River and reassess. It is annoying that I am heading Southwest when I want to be heading Southeast but I would rather be alive then dead. The offshore buoys are showing 25 knot winds gusting 30 and waves of 7 to 10 feet. I think I will wait..

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Leaving Oriental and Sailcraft

The yard period at Sailcraft didn't work out. It turned out that the new wind generator was a 24 Volt unit that could not be retrofitted to a 12 Volt unit at a reasonable cost. So all of the purchases to support the generator: pipe, wire, circuit breaker, switch, etc. Fortunatley a bunch of the stuff was from the local West Marine and I was able to return it. Still, a hit on my finances for the things that I could not return.

The offshore forecast is still not very nice so I am leaving Oriental and starting to head down the ICW. It will take about three days to get south of Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals. At that point I will look at going outside again.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, December 5, 2014


It looks like the wind generator project will get finished today. That means that if I pick up my new bow light this afternoon I am ready to go. That would be nice. But...

It would be nice if the weather would cooperate. In order to get out of here I have to cross the Gulf Stream. That means, no wind with the letter "N" in the description. Or at the very least a very low wind speed - say 10 knots or less.

This is what I get:


 TODAY (as in Friday)
 NE WINDS 10 TO 20 KT. SEAS 5 TO 7 FT.



(If one doesn't mind the Thunderstorms not a bad time to try and cross over. Waves a little high but very doable. Unfortunately 12 hours doesn't get me across the Stream and out of the area.)


 NE WINDS 35 TO 45 KT. SEAS 15 TO 25 FT.

 17 TO 24 FT.

And on it goes. No, I can't get out and across the Gulf Stream and past the forecast area by Saturday night. Looks like I will be spending more time in Oriental.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sleeping in a bed

Yesterday I went over to the hardware store to fill the propane tank that powers my propane heater. This morning I woke up stiff and went to make a cup of coffee. I discovered that the second propane tank, the one that feeds the stove, was also empty. I knew it was low and planned on filling it before I left. Unfortunately it came up empty a couple of days early. Rather than changing tanks I headed over to the Bean for coffee and warmth. "the Bean" is a well know coffee and conversation emporium just off the Oriental public dock. You can see the harbor on the Oriental Town Dock Web Cam. As I walked I realized how once again my back was stiff and sore. I have concluded that sleeping on a cold surface (the bunk on Reboot) results in early morning back pain. I have several layers of blanket under me at night but it still doesn't keep me from early morning pain.

This led me to reflect on the last time I slept in a bed. The truth is I can't remember. Yes, I sleep in a bunk on Reboot but I am talking about a real bed in a heated room with hot showers and flush toilets. When I visit my sons I sleep on the couch. That is my choice, not theirs. The couch at Trevor's is actually quite comfortable. I think the last time was on Saba Island about two years ago. The bed was a pretty trashed hotel bed. In addition XO was with me. He could hear all of the animals around the cottage and ran and growled all night. Not a great memory. I can't remember the time before that.

Actually as I reflect I have slept in a bed since Saba. But in these cases it was associated with getting off Reboot because of severe weather. Not particularly a great mood for a good night's sleep.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Position Reports Problem

I have been posting (or my great shore staff has been posting) my position on Winlink. However in checking my website www.sailboatreboot.com I notice that the map is not being updated. I presume this is a problem with their web site and that it will be rectified soon. In the meantime I will continue to post my lat/long here.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Oriental, NC

Oriental Inn and Marina
Currently in Oriental, NC 35.0311° N, 76.6878° W at about noon. Re-acquainted myself with Tom and the Oriental Inn and Marina. Sitting at the town dock, with plans to go over to Sailcraft Yard on Thursday to get a bit of work done. Left Elizabeth City on a beautiful warm day. Made it as far as Hobucken and R.E. Mayo. This morning I left with Willaim Reed to Oriental. On the way out of the canal we were hit by beam seas and wind. It wan't all that bad but with the air temperature at 50 degrees it was far from pleasant. Made it around the corner and headed up the Neuse River with a following sea..It was still unpleasant but more comfortable. Tomorrow XO gets his rabies shot and checkup before we leave the US. Plan is also to drive down to Morehead City to check Reboot out of the United States. Thursday into Sailcraft to get the wind generator pole welded and then I should be good to go.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Elizabeth City

In Elizabeth City, North Carolina. (36.2956° N, 76.2250° W.) Left the North Carolina Welcome Center on the Dismal Swamp Canal at 7:30 AM EST. Air temperature was 24 F. Water temperature was 42 F. Very cold trip to Elizabeth City. Expected it to warm up. When we arrived in Elizabeth City air temperature was only 40 F. Forecast was for 50 F. Traveling with Northern Express (Ann and Mike) and the William Reed (Reed.) Forecast for Albemarle Sound tomorrow not very favorable. May stay a day and do minor projects and shopping.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Terrible Trip, Amazing Finish

I left JEB Little Creek yesterday morning in light rain.water temperature was 47 degrees, air temperature 40 degrees. Was about 15 minutes out of Little Creek when it started to rain. So in addition to being cold and having to hand steer all the way I was rained on too! When you see the picture of the smiling guy in foulies banging his way up upwind on a sailboat be sure to know - he is an actor. It is no fun at all.

Made it to Deep Creek Lock on the Dismal Swamp Canal for the 1:30 locking. Docked between the lock and the bridge. I was cold, wet, and exhausted. Turn the propane heater on Reboot but it could not keep up with the plunging temperatures. They finally dropped to 29 F at about 10 PM and stayed there all night. By about 5 PM it was dark and XO and I were miserable. Everything was still wet and dripping. I was sore from dealing with the sailing and the shivers. I think I was mildly hypodermic as it took about 2 hours for my uncontrolled shivering to stop.

About 7 PM I heard a knock on the boat. I had been joined by another single hander so I assumed it was him. In fact, it was the legendary Deep Creek Lock Master - Robert. He had brought a complete Thanksgiving dinner including desert down to both boats. What a fantastic way to end the day. So the next time you pass through the lock make sure you take time to say hi to Robert and pet U-Turn

This morning after coffee and donuts (supplied by Robert) I headed down the canal to the North Carolina Welcome Center on Route 17 (Latitude: 36° 30' 26.3514" / Longitude: -76° 21' 19.1304".) I waited until 11:30 so I would have the benefit of what sunshine there was for the trip. Air temperature varied between 40 and 42 degrees, the water temperature dropped by 4 degrees to 43 F. Forecast low tonight - 29 F. It is forecast to warm up slowly over the next couple of days. Tomorrow morning early cast off the South Mills lock and Elizabeth City for the night.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rain Today - Gale Force Winds Tomorrow

I didn't make it out today. No only was it raining - something I could have coped with, but the marine forecast for tomorrow is gale force winds. Since the forecast for today was heavy rain and tomorrow light rain I figured I would get everything ready for a very early morning departure. That way even if I got hung up by the railroad bridges on the Elizabeth River I would still make Deep Creek lock for the final lock through. Then beep beep beep - weather alert. Gale force winds predicted in the Southern Chesapeake from Little Creek Inlet to the Hampton Bay Bridge Tunnel. In other words, the first 10 NM of my route. Great. At least I am getting a bunch of small boat projects done.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Raymarine Rudder Angle Sensor

Raymarine Rudder Angle Sensor
This unit feeds back the rudder angle to the course computer on my Raymarine ST-6000 autopilot system. When the rudder was repaired in Sailcraft Service in Oriental the sensor was damaged when the rudder was re installed. In all fairness to Sailcraft I don't know if it was their fault or mine. After I left the yard I discovered that the electric autopilot was not working. Since I had just emptied my wallet at Sailcraft I decided to continue on to Virginia Beach and troubleshoot there.

When I arrived in JEB Little Creek Fort Story it was clear that the sensor had been spun out of its range breaking it. It was time to get it repaired. Since repair service at Raymarine can take a very long time, particularly in the summer, I opted to purchase a new sensor while I waited for the original to be repaired. My reasoning was that it was good to have a spare of this unit as the autopilot would not work without it. Last night and early this morning I finalized the replacement and got the autopilot working again.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, November 24, 2014

It's warm and the wind is from the South? North?

24 November 0600UTC Wind
The plan was to depart this morning. The forecast is for winds from the South gusting to 30 knots. Since I am heading south down the Elizabeth River this is not a good plan.

But wait! Winds from the south. Cast off, head out due east from Hampton Roads, cross the Gulf Stream with a nice south wind to lay the waves flat. What a deal! Until I looked at the offshore weather (courtesy of Passage Weather.) Look ma, strong winds from the North. In fact, the yellow area is predicted winds of 30 to 35 knots. And across the Gulf Stream to boot! I guess that is not happening today.

I am deferring my departure until tomorrow. I may get hit by rain late in the day. The tides are favorable for an early departure and the winds will drop and then shift toward the north. The temperature will drop about 10 degrees but I can deal with that.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Apple takes over the world

Digital Yacht AIS to WiFi Converter
A standing joke between Ed and I is that Ed feels there is only once device needed on a sailboat: an iPad. We have a lot of fun with it. But sometimes he shows me some really neat apps on his iPad.

I mentioned in a previous post that I helped Ed rewire his AIS, Chart Plotter, and WiFi (I think I actually said Ethernet but it was WiFi) The box on the left is the WiFi converter. It is from Digital Yacht This particular model talks high speed NMEA - the normal connection for AIS devices. There is also a model that talks low speed (4800 baud.) and I believe but can't find the link a version the interfaces with a NMEA 2000 network.

The way we set this up on Hooligan is that the output of the AIS is broadcast over a WiFi link on the boat. Since AIS devices also contain GPS devices the Converter knows the location of the boat in addition to the location of the targets. These are displayed by an app on the IPad. Since it is all wireless Ed can walk around Hooligan and still have a picture of the AIS vessels nearby. I am sure the Captain of the USS Stark would have loved to have such a device!

It is pretty cool. The downside is that it uses a TCP connection so only one device at a time can connect. We had the iPad and Ed's computer both trying to connect (the device does a great job delivering data to OpenCPN) and of course the software wasn't having it. But still, a pretty cool device in the $275 range.

Fair winds and following seas :)

The "Uptown" Solution

After I helped Ed rewire his AIS, Chart Plotter, and ethernet connection with new wires, terminal blocks and Dymo labels he laughed and told me that my solutions were "uptown."

This is the new control panel I made for my new wind generator. The red button is a 50 amp circuit breaker, the switch will short the leads from the generator. The control circuitry in the generator knows that this means to stall the blades. One does this in high winds to prevent damage to the blades. The next big step (not while it is raining outside as it has been all day) is to actually mount the generator on the old radar pole. I hope to get that done in Oriental NC on my way to Beaufort.

Very "uptown."

Fair winds and following seas :)

Becoming Impatient

Now that I have committed to leave of course I want to get out of here. The air temperature this morning was 43.5 degrees, the water temperature was 42. Not very comfortable. Getting ready to go means that I am reviewing the weather every day. I have two route choices - go out Hampton Roads, cross the Gulf Stream, and head South, or take the ICW to Morehead City, cross the Gulf Stream and head South. Looking at the weather for the next week there are gale force winds off Cape Hatteras. The first weather window is next Sunday. The plan, therefore, is to depart early tomorrow morning (when it is forecast to get up to 60 degrees) and head for Morehead City. I have 6 days to make it. The trip normally takes three but with the short days it will take a extra day or two

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Getting Ready

I had hoped to depart tomorrow but it just was not to be. For one thing I have not worked so hard in a long time, it wore me out. Got the propane tanks filled. Topped off the water tanks. Provisioned for up to 30 days without a store. Tried to do my laundry but was closed out by all the other people using the machines. So that will happen tomorrow morning at about 5 AM. Still have a couple of minor electrical glitches I would like to fix before I depart - in particular the autopilot (electric) is acting up. Since I intend to go down the ICW to Morehead City to avoid Cape Hatteras it would be nice if it were working. The vane steering is working so I will not be without the ability to take a break once in a while - just not as much as if both systems were working.

The weather here as been very cold and is not really forecast to get any better so there is no point in waiting. It will be in the 50's day and 40's night next week so I hope to get clear of the coast, cross the Gulf Stream and head South within the next two weeks.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 21, 2014


DeLorme inReach
Ed (of Hooligan) has a Spot tracker. He decided that he wanted something with more features so he purchased a DeLorme inReach. This device posts one's GPS position every ten minutes to four hours (user setting) and permits short text messages to be sent to any email or telephone address. The message recipient is sent a link to a web page that displays Ed's position and gives the recipient the opportunity to respond to the message. Unfortunately this requires linking to a web site. If you don't have Internet but do have a phone (like a satellite phone) it is not clear how one can respond to the message.

The device is quite nice looking. I had some trouble getting the direction keypad to work properly. The screen is very small. Fortunately one can download an app to their iPad and interact with the device that way. It is a lot easier to read and simpler than trying to deal with the small keys on the device.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Vietnam Story

Yesterday Ed and I were driving around doing errands and the conversation changed to bizarre experiences. Ed related a story about a particular firefight in Vietnam. Ed was out on a patrol when his unit came under fire. He found a destroyed tank and got behind it for cover. Machine gun fire was all around but was unable to hit him behind the tank. As he was sitting with his back to the tank he noticed that there was a guy lying on the ground about 10 yards away taking Ed's picture. So in the middle of the firefight they have this conversation:

"Are you taking my picture?'
"I am a freelance photographer."
"So you get paid to take my picture?"
"Maybe. I take pictures, send them to Saigon. If they use the picture they pay me."
"I am here because I have to be. You are crazier than me."
Crawls off to find another photo opportunity...

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In the cups

My Garmin anemometer cups arrived. Bill volunteered (again) to climb the mast. A quick trip up, snap on the cups, and a quick trip down. I now have wind speed on my instruments again. Yea! Thanks Bill.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 14, 2014


Sig Marine P-9000 Propane Heater
Fired up my trusty Sig Marine P-9000 propane heater to combat the cold. Did not realize that Sig posts propane consumption numbers on their web site. Even running on low it made an immediate difference in my comfort.

These heaters are quite expensive but on days like today and are forecast for the next week they are life savers. I have purchased a variety of electric heaters over time. They seem OK for keeping your feet warm but don't do much of a job of heating the boat. The bigger heaters not only require a lot of power but are difficult to store.

XO and I were buddies last night. I do have a mattress heater and we had it turned up. With a heavy blanket on top XO just kept snuggling up to me all night looking for the warm spot. It was most appreciated.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Not going anywhere soon!

The weather forecast through at least next Tuesday is for nightly lows in the 30's here in Virginia Beach. I don't think I will be disconnecting shore power (and therefore heat) anytime soon.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Address Change - Native Son of the Golden West

My brother, Ace, a true "Native Son of the Golden West" has decided to return to his roots over the next few months. I expect that once he gets out to California (he and Sally have owned property there for years)  he might actually join the Native Sons of the Golden West.I unfortunately was born in Flushing Hospital in Flushing, Queens County, New York City, New York. I was flushing from my birth moment. Anyway, we agreed that continuing to use his address as a mail drop while the house was for sale was not a good idea.

My new mailing address is:

Roger Jones
411 Walnut Street # 9700
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043-3443

My legal address continues to be in Madison, WI.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wind Generator and Bottom Cleaning

The time as come. Actually, what happened is that Ed (Hooligan) found a new wind generator on E Bay. He bought it at a good price because he thought that his old wind generator was broken. The we fixed the old generator. So he sold me the new one. Went yesterday to get the stainless pipe to mount it. I was going to work on it today but it has been raining on and off.

I am continuing the preparation for departure next week. Today I got the bottom cleaned. It was pretty clean, the anti-fouling paint was put on three months ago. The shaft and prop however neede work. So its all good.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Power failure

Yesterday morning we lost shore power. Actually they turned it off for the day to work on the lines. Of course this came as a great surprise since no one had told me. It was an interesting case of Reboot working too well. When the power went off the inverter kicked in. Now this would not have been a big problem except that I had two electric heaters running. They draw a lot of power. So as the batteries are trying to go flat the sun comes up and the solar panels kick in. Alas all they do is slow the inevitable drain. But the inverter is smart and as the voltage drops the low voltage alarm kicks in. The inverter stops producing power. The heaters go off. It gets really cold really fast (the water temp is 56 degrees, the air temp was about 50 degrees.) I wake up and shut everything off.

Of course now I am freezing. But the good news is that I can make a cup of coffee on the propane stove. Which I do.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

To the Top

Garmin GWS-10 Wind Sensor
Yesterday my dock mate Bill Reynolds helped me re-install my Garmin wind sensor at the top of the mast. Bill did the climbing, I did the safety stuff.

This was a refurbished sensor to replace the one that had been damaged. But when they sent it back they left off the anemometer cups. Now I have wind direction but no wind speed.

Bill was very gracious. He suggested that we remount the sensor to make sure it worked electrically and that he would climb back up again when the anemometer cups came in.

So that is what we did!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Crazy FREE Charts

One of the smaller blessings of traveling by boat in the United States is that all the necessary nautical charts are free. Most everywhere else in the world obtaining digital charts is equivalent to paying for the birth of your first born (or second, etc.) One of the great things about the Internet is that creative people from around the world donate time and expertise to creating really cool software. Enter Paul Higgins from Canada. In his sailing experience he noted that many of the electronic charts were based on very old surveys. Surveys that were sometimes several nautical miles wrong. When going into Turneffe Atoll in Belize I noted that the channel I was in was shown about 1 NM north of my location on the chart plotter. Then I check the chart and found the last survey was in 1899, Not surprising there was a small error.

What Paul has done is create software that converts a Google Earth image into a .kap file. In the process one can merge a nautical chart with the satellite image. The result is that when you load the .kap file created into OpenCPN the satellite image is displayed in the chart plotter. That big brown section of land is all of a sudden converted to a beautiful satellite image! The article that explains how to do this is here (Click Me!) With good charts (like the US charts) things line up. Other places not so much - which is the point of the exercise.

A couple of comments:

1) Getting the software downloaded is pretty easy, but getting things to work is a bit more difficult.
2) There is a little arrow on the right edge of GE to KAP. You must click on this arrow if you are trying to build an overlay of both the land (Google Earth) and the ocean (OpenCPN Chart)
3) On the right hand pane find the "Overlay Chart/Image or OpenCPN pull down and set it to OpenCPN. This will switch the program over to creating a hybrid chart of both land and water. It will also change the instructions in the left hand pane.
4) Note that Google Earth has to be set for "Decimal Minutes." This is done in the Google Earth "options" pane.
5) The computer will open lots of windows, do all sorts of crazy things. At one point you will have to click an OK button for the process to continue. Don't touch anything else until the program finishes or the process will fail.
6) Once the chart(s) are created you will have to refresh the database in OpenCPN (Options - Charts) to pick up the new chart. It will show up as a blue bar at the bottom of the OpenCPN chart window.

Note: There is a very nice Google Earth plug in for OpenCPN. However, I believe you need to be connected to the Internet for it to work. Obviously when one is offshore this is not going to work but it is great for planning purposes.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Predicted Rescue

There has been a lot of chat for the past two days in the marina bars about the weather. In particular we have all been hearing rumors about when the Salty Dawg and Carib1500 will depart. My prediction was the USCG would be doing a bunch of rescues as people desperate to leave departed and got in over their heads. Last night - Coast Guard Rescues Two from Distressed Sailboat. At about 10 PM EST last night the sea buoy (Buoy 44014) was reporting 30 knot winds and 18 foot waves. Not surprising that they got in trouble.

It looks like there will be a brief window on Tuesday. But here is the thing. Last night Tuesday had good winds for getting east followed by two days of very light air. This morning the forecast is good winds followed by much stronger winds and seas Wednesday - Friday. (Passage Weather)

I am waiting for Ed to make it back so this for me is theoretical. But it is good to get back in weather practice again.

Fair winds and following seas:)

Sunday, November 2, 2014


November 1st is a big day in East Coast U.S. sailing. It is the official end of hurricane season according to most insurance companies. That means it is the height of the snowbird migration South as boats transiting the ICW can cross the fabled Georgia - Florida state line. It is also the kickoff for the Carib1500 from Portsmouth, VA to Nanny Cay in the BVI  and the Salty Dawg Rally essentially to the same place. As a result we have some 400 or so rally boats and a large number of snow birders here in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth area.

Leave it to Mother Nature to remind the sailors who is in charge. Last night the temperature dropped into the mid forties with winds in the high thirty knot range and gusts to fifty knots! A mini-Nor'Easter. It is not clear if it ever reached official tropical storm criteria but I am sure for a lot of people it made for a long night.

Reboot was bouncing around to beat the band. She is sitting on a "T" head and is very exposed to winds and harbor chop from the North and Northeast. After a few unpleasant hours I decided to take a break and go on shore. The combination of being hit by a 50 knot gust and the fact that the floating dock was alive took me within inches of being thrown into the water. After a dinner on shore (OK, a hamburger and fries) I headed back to settle in for a long night. The wind had shifted slightly to the Northwest. The good news was this got Reboot off the dock so the fenders were not taking the load of being pushed up against the dock. The bad news was that in addition to a wind induced 10 degree heal I was subject to the sounds of the dock lines (all doubled up of course!) stretching and rebounding all night. Between the bucking and the heal just staying in bed was somewhat of a challenge. And yes, my lower back is killing me this morning.

At times like this I wonder what XO (the wonder cat) is thinking. In particular what he thinks about the "really big cat" he lives with (me.) I have been told that cats think of humans as if they were other cats. (I have no clue how some researcher came to that conclusion.) Well, XO must have decided that the big cat was going to keep him safe. All night he was wrapped up against my body in a tight ball. The fact that I had also broken out the mattress heater and was covered with a thick blanket (thank's again Maury for the Abu Ghairb blanket!) certainly added additional incentive.

This morning the winds have moderated to the 20 to 25 knot range. Still not comfortable but better than last night. At least it ia all wind with just a smattering of rain.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Living aboard and buying a boat

Recently a female poster in one of the forums I read asked question about purchasing that first boat and living aboard. I decided to copy my response here - I hope you find it useful.
OK, a number of things:

  • Size of Boat: In general bigger is more comfortable but more important is faster. An increase in average speed of one knot means 24 NM per day. When you are doing 2700 NM transits (about the non-stop distance across the Atlantic) you gain a day for every four days you sail (most people plan on 100 NM per day on a transit unless they have a very slow boat.) The downside is weight. The heavier the boat the harder it is to deal with that last 5 feet (dock, mooring, etc.) In the "old days" "cruising boats" were built very heavy. The general idea was they were safer. But they were slow and made it more difficult not only docking but trying to avoid weather. So when you look at boats make sure you consider the weight too.
  • Physical strength: Realize that sailing a boat require physical strength. Ketch rigs exist in part so that each sail is smaller and easier to handle. Trying to furl a headsail when a thunderstorm comes up can easily exceed one's physical ability. (Yes, reef early, reef often!) You can 'trick out" a boat to make it easier (oversized winches, etc.) but in the long run you need to be able to handle the day to day sailing - that means in winds up to about 30 knots. Putting the outboard on the dinghy, raising and lowering the dinghy, and getting that heavy anchor secured properly all require physical strength.
  • Learning to Sail: I approve of your desire to take sailing courses but in my humble opinion you are spending a lot of money for very little experience. You will get far more experience for far less money crewing on other people's boats. There are crew finding web sites - I post for crew on Find Crew®, Worldwide matching of Marine Crew and Boats.. Most of us who have been sailing a while (for me about 57 years and 20,000 NM) have learned a few things along the way. Find Captains who like to teach.
  • Racing: A great way to improve your skills is to crew on a race boat. Most local yacht clubs have "around the buoy" racing a couple of times a week. For an investment of about 5 hours per race you will learn a lot about sail trim in a short time. Yes, you don't know much but there are always skippers who love to teach (also those who are horror shows and no one will crew with them!)
  • Buying a boat: Unless you have a specific need to own a boat postpone purchase as long as possible. Boats age. Not only do they lose value over time but the "big deals" are corrosion and condensation. A boat sitting on a dock will suddenly have things that don't work as a consequence. Yes, you will learn how to maintain things. Let Captains on boats that you crew on give you the education rather then using your time and wallet. Plus you really don't have any idea what kind of trade offs you want to make. As an aside Enterprise Rent a Car in the US has a great winter weekend special - $9.95 per day for the weekend. I have rented a whole bunch of different cars from them over the past couple of years. What an education! There are brands and models I would not accept if someone gave me a car. The same is true of boats. Sail on as many different brands and models as you can.
  • Transit times: Long distance cruising has specific routes and times of year. If you want to get some long distance experience sign on for a transit: Europe to the Caribbean in November, US North to South in November, Eastbound to Europe from the US and Caribbean in June. The commitment would be about a month in each case and the experience would be invaluable.
  • Budget: It is important that you start to keep records and focus on developing a budget. When you are ready to purchase a boat figure you can only spend 50% or 60% of your "purchase" budget on the boat. The rest you will need for immediate repairs (the ones the surveyor didn't tell you about) and equipment upgrades.
  • Single handing: Most of my recent sailing has been semi-single handed - I do have the most adorable cat named "XO" (after the second in command on a Navy ship, the Executive Officer. See: XO The Wonder Cat It can get very lonely. Most insurance companies will not cover the boat after a certain amount of time underway (24 hours is pretty standard) until you stop for a rest period (12 hours is pretty standard.) It is also very tiring during long transits as you get very little sleep. Falling overboard is not an issue - we use harnesses to tie ourselves to the boat. That said hell hath no punishment like having a crew member you can't stand and can't get rid of on board. My guess is few of us single hand for the challenge, we just haven't met people we would like to crew with long term.
  • Single handing in port: A common complaint of most single men is that they are treated like pariahs in port by the married couples. I don't know if being a female would be different but I think not. (poof, he disappears*)
Part 2 is here: http://blog.sailboatreboot.com/2015/04/living-aboard-and-buying-boat-part-2.html

Fair winds and following seas :)

*cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am - René Descartes)

Muscle Aches

Ever since I have lived on Reboot I have been susceptible to muscle aches, in particular lower back aches. This is particularly true when I get up in the morning or when I have been sitting working at the salon table for some time. It finally dawned on me that the cause is boat heel. But you say: you are in port at the moment!

When tied to a dock with the wind blowing the boat heals. A strong beam wind can add 5 degrees of heel (not comfortable particularly when the boat is being pushed against the dock and you are listening to the fenders squeak.) What happens, I have decided, is that the body reacts to the heel and tries to stay upright. This puts one's spine completely out of the vertical. Hence it hurts!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Blog Email Subscriptions

Did you know that you can have my blog delivered direct to your mailbox whenever I post? Well, apparently a lot of you don't know this option exists. That is because the "Subscribe by email" entry (on the right hand side just below the photo album) is not shown by many ad blocker software packages. If you want to subscribe and you don't see the entry turn you ad blocker off, reload the page, make your entry, and then turn your add blocker back on. Easy!

Fair winds and following seas :}

Photo Gallery Added

I have been looking for a good way to post the many pictures I have taken of my travels. I have added a link in Roger's Links (on the right hand side of the page part way down) that takes you to my Picasa Web page. There you will find albums of the various countries that I have visited. Way Out!

Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Waterproof Marine Toilet

When I was in Sint Maarten I replaced both of the toilets with Sealock RM69 toilets. One would think that a MARINE toilet would be rust proof! No, its not. The hardware that holds the seat to the bowl has rusted out on both toilets. The good news is that on one of them I was able to remove the rusted and fractured rod making a cheap fix possible. Not so on the second toilet. So off to Home Depot or Lowes to see if I can find a toilet sea hinge. Otherwise it is new toilet seat time.


Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Basic Route Planning

There are specific sailing routes to get from place to place. These routes optimize (from historical data) the best wind / least storm ways to get from "A" to "B." The routes are also dependent on month of year. You would not, for example, choose to go from Newfoundland to Scotland in January (unless you were fighting in WWII.)

Two suggestions:

Invest in World Cruising Routes (7th edition) by Jimmy Cornell -  Amazon.com: World Cruising Routes: 7th edition: 1000 Sailing Routes In All Oceans Of The World (World Cruising Series) eBook: Jimmy Cornell: Books Amazon.com: World Cruising Routes: 7th edition: 1000 Sailing Routes In All Oceans Of The World (World Cruising Series) eBook: Jimmy Cornell: Books

 Amazon.com: World Cruising Routes: 7th edition: 1000 Sailing Routes In All Oceans Of The World (World Cruising Series) eBook: Jimmy Cornell: Books
Amazon.com: World Cruising Routes: 7th edition: 1000 Sailing Routes In All Oceans Of The World (World Cruising Series) eBook: Jimmy Cornell: Books

Don't get the computer edition, buy the book - computers have a tendency to crash in salt water environments - this is a book you will carry on board cruising (there are other books, perhaps someone else might recommend one - this happens to be the one I have used for years.) This lays out the traditional routes from point "A" to point "B." The 7th edition has been updated with very recent pilot chart data (you will learn about pilot charts at some point.)

Consider getting a copy of Virtual Passage Planner. Link to free trial download Visual Passage Planner 2.1 Download (Free trial) - VPP2.EXE

This is a software program that lets you define your own routes. It then applies average wind and average current vectors (by month) and tells you how fast you will go, how long the trip will take, and how much time you will spend going upwind, reaching, and running.

Unlike the Interstate highway system where you just put the petal to the metal and go the speed limit (or a little above) sailing routes turn the ocean from one big blue thing into very specific places to be and to not be. This is because of the "bands" of wind from the equator to the poles - Intertropical Convergence Zone, Easterlies, Doldrums, Westerlies, etc. There is a great marine weather book by Steve and Linda Dashew called Mariners Weather Handbook that explains all this. You can download it for free!!! at http://setsail.com/mwh.pdf

Finally, spend some time on Noonsite - http://www.noonsite.com/. This site was started based on the work of Jimmy Cornell (the guy who wrote World Cruising Routes.) It is a great site to get very current country information. This can be critical to your budget. Checking into one country might cost you $500 while the next island might be $10. Good stuff to know.

Best wishes as you plan your adventures...

Fair winds and following seas

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hot days ahead

Given that it is September we have been blessed with cool night for sleeping. The days have been in the mid 80's with enough breeze to make working outside OK. Enter the Indian Summer. Today it peaked at 96 degrees. The entire week forecast is for temperatures in the 90's. Not great for getting much of anything done on Reboot.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New Helm Seat

Helm Seat
One of the realities of living on a boat is that everything wears out much more quickly. Salt water in particular is corrosive. Over the years my helm seat has worn out (must be my fat a&*) so I decided to replace it.

I was stunned to find out that helm seats cost from $60 to $300. We are not talking about fighting chairs for fishing, just helm seats. Needless to say this is the $60 model.

Installing was easy once I figured out that the screw holes from the previous seat were 1/2" further apart than the new helm seat. That handled and a little bit of red loctite and we were ready to go.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fun Night at JEB Little Creek

I am currently visiting Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek - Fort Story in Virginia Beach, VA. This is a big base and home to several Navy Special Warfare commands. Tonight XO altered me to something going on outside. I stuck my head out of the hatch only to find 3 guys in a blacked out rib, one of them climbing up the dock next to Reboot.  A few minutes later I heard noise again and again looked outside. The rib was picking up the third guy. As I looked out into the basin there were several patrol boats. It turns out that NSF was having a night exercise and the water was filled with swimmers. One came about 5 feet from the stern of Reboot. Even though I knew he was there (the swimmers all had safety flashers so that the boats would not run them over) he was almost impossible to see.


Fair winds and following seas :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cascade 29

Part of my time over the last two weeks has been driving first to Annapolis (twice) and then to Rock Hall, MD to help Ed Hart, my dock mate purchase a Cascade 29. This is a sister boat to the one that Ed used to solo circumnavigate about 15 years ago. That boat cost him $5,000. This one only $1,500. I could see by the gleam in his eye that he was seriously considering using this new boat to set off again this coming November. It does not seem to be in the cards. The boat needs too much work to be ready. So now it is on the hard in Rock Hall while each of use continue to work on our respective boats getting ready for a November departure to the Caribbean, and if things continue OK to the Panama Canal and Hawaii.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Love that Tricare

The most significant retirement benefit for my 30 years of service in the United States Navy is medical coverage. Full coverage started when I was 65. Within a month I had 5 stents placed in my heart, not an inexpensive operation.

Last night I woke at about 1 AM. My eye was burning. This morning my friend Ed Hart took me to the Hospital. Diagnosis, a small scratch on my cornea. Not real dangerous but believe me, pretty painful. So I have been treated and it a couple of days if things progress normally I will be all healed up.

That brings me back to Tricare. Since I have Navy medical coverage I never considered the cost of going and having my eye treated. Now in my opinion I earned this with 30 years of service - I am not a big fan of universal free healthcare and certainly, after my many years working in the Insurance industry and getting my driver's license renewed, I can think on any organization less qualified to provide health care than the United States government. If you don't agree consider the wonderful job the government has done for my brothers and sisters getting care from the VA. But it is nice to know that you can get the care you need without worrying about the cost.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Backing off

With another news story about password hacking on the Internet I have decided to reduce my on line profile. Since frequently I am not online for days at a time I have little opportunity to notice problems in my accounts. As a consequence I have deleted my Facebook and Google + accounts. I will continue to blog here. I hope that some of those who "followed" me on Facebook and Google+ will find their way here.

Update on news ... I am starting to assemble a crew for the transit to the Caribbean in November. In the meantime Reboot continues to get fixes and upgrades and I do get to do some sailing when the weather is nice.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cleaning the kitchen

The reality of getting ready for cruising has started to sink in. Today I spent several hours cleaning the kitchen and inventorying the contents. Deep down in one locker I found some food from Tenerife. Even though the packages were all sealed tight I decided not to risk it so off it went. But what I found most interesting is the number of excess pots and pans I have accumulated over time. It seems that each new crew member didn't find the storage so went out and purchased another pot or pan. Of course a couple of them have been good cooks so I presume that you need some extra cooking pans to prepare more than simple meals.

Since I am solo most of the time my cooking is very simple. This makes for quick but boring meals. One problem (that has nothing to do with being on a boat) is that one has to purchase very small quantities of food or it goes bad. Fortunately my refrigerator has been (finally) working OK. This has given me a little more flexibility. But I note that the transition from having a crew of 3 aboard or doing long transit to having easy access to a food store is quite remarkable.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Dodged the bullet. Arthur swung offshore before reaching Norfolk. We have 35 knot winds.

Fair winds and following seas :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fukuyama - The Origins of Political Order.

Today's book review:
I have been a fan of Francis Fukuyama since reading The End of History and the Last Man. This book will be, for me, equally memorable. The End of History asks the question "is the human race figuring out how to better govern itself?" The Origins of Political Order traces the history of that noble endeavor from prehistory to the French Revolution. Why did some countries move further along the trajectory to liberal democracy than others?
I learned a great deal of political history. Like most of my (Vietnam) generation my formal history education made it from the Greeks to England and America with little or no consideration of the rise of other civilizations. In addition to supporting Dr. Fukuyama's thesis of political order this book would make a great senior high school text for whatever "history" and "government" courses are called these days.
I said "exhausting" as there is a lot of material covered. In support of his thesis we get more than an overview. Rather we get a detailed account of the political rise of many civilizations. I found on occasion that I just had to put the book down for a day or two to catch my breath. Those who need the "Cliff's Notes" version can skip to the final section "Toward a Theory of Political Development," It is a great summary of the premise. It opens with an echo of Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (which I also recommend) in its characterization of fundamental human nature. Those who are invested in Rousseau's pacific ignorance or to a lesser degree Hobbes anarchic violence as the basis of human behavior may find this section troubling.
Troubling to me was the identification of political decay as a prime mover in history. Why do countries fall into dark ages in their quest for better models of governance? I could not but be struck hard by the similarities of the histories of previous political decay and what I observe happening in the United States today. Why are some of the most egalitarian impulses not only doomed to failure but prevalent in today's American society and political order? Are we destined to destroy our own political progress by our ill-conceived humanitarian impulses? With approval of Congress in single digits, the majority of Americans believing the country is on the wrong track, the second President in a row with approval ratings below 50%, and unemployment, underemployment, and a large number of potential workers who have just given up are we in fact in a period of political decay? Legitimacy of the “State” is a core element in political order yet the American government has never been perceived by such a large majority as having less legitimacy in my lifetime. Add that war has always been a primary source of change in political order and consider the world today - the Russian invasion of Crimea, the civil wars in Iraq and Syria, Iran, Egypt, Liberia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Korea etc. I am more concerned for the future today than I was growing up during the Cold War.
I find that scary problem an interesting foreshadowing of the second volume of this series - the history from the French Revolution to the Present. Maybe there is a way out. I certainly hope so! I look forward to its publication.
Remember, "Its turtles all the way down."