Where to start on this weekends activities.
We started off slowly after getting out to the boat late Friday night.
First task, inflating the dinghy with our new Max Burton 12v vacuum cleaner. The vacuum worked like a charm, the ding, not so much. To date I have found 3 major holes in the forward section and am trying to locate a small leak in the rear chamber.
This is the Dinghy…<==
We just loaded into the back of the truck and I will give the thing a few days work, patches etc. Hopefully I can salvage it for a few years use. If not I will probably get a slat floor roll-up zodiac style dink from Defender. The time it took for inflation and shear size of the beast is troubling. Possibly too large to keep on deck, I have concerns about taking it to the Keys and moving location every few days.
After burning the morning fiddling with the dink and filling water tanks we cast off our lines and motored over to the fuel pier. We filled up with enough fuel for 4 days of continuous motoring. We hold 24 gallons, 12 on deck and 12 in the saddles. I purchased a nice siphon hose so pouring is not required to refill the saddles. We have an addition 6 gallon we will bust out when we go to the Keys.
Pulling away from the marina just after noon we raised sail as soon as we were in the main channel of the ICW (intracoastal waterway). The wind was 8 to 10 knots out of the east so we had a nice beam reach as we headed south on a Port tack.
The first 4 hours of the trip were uneventful. Under full main and jib we averaged 5 knots all the way down to Merritt island, very pleasant sailing.
Skies were partly cloudy and it seemed to be getting darker. Just as we were about 30 minutes from making our turn Lori took over the tiller so I could go below and tend to business. No sooner than had gone below than we were hit by an unexpected gust of wind. Probably 20 knots, it pitch the boat over to about 25 degrees of heel. Everything came crashing down in the galley as it is on the port side. Coffee grounds and peanuts everywhere, startling. Lori turned up into the wind a bit jarred and I took back over on the tiller and adjusted out the main to keep the heeling in check. The wind had picked up to over 15knots and we did the rest of the southern leg of the trip hull speed. Fairly exciting.
When we got to Merritt Island turned down the canal and motored past the marina were the Clew previously lived. After stopping at HarborTown Marina for dinner and to walk the dogs we threw out the hook at a spoils island near the Port Canaveral locks near the cruise ships just as the sun had set.
The Disney cruise ship was in port.
There were small 3 boats at the island with a campfire and music to go with. Not that bad but it was very strange to wake up for a moment at 3:30am to the sound of Twisted Sisters “We ain’t gonna take it” floating across the water.
Sunday morning started pretty slow. With us waking at around 9am. Looking out across the water as we cooked out bacon and eggs the wind was calm.
The folks on the island were just stirring and it appeared they had not prepared for 50 degree weather as they were still wrapped in their sleeping bags as the stoked back up their fire. Sorry, I did not realize the winch was blocking the view of the fire as I snapped the picture.
As Lori and I sat in the cockpit eating our breakfast we watched as the wind went from 0 to 5 then to 10 knots. It built fairly fast.
We pulled anchor after breakfast and headed back down the canal for the ICW, the sun was breaking through the clouds, and a strong wind was building from the east. It was time to head back to Titusville. As we waited for the draw bridge to open we had to use about 20% reverse throttle just to hold steady with the other boats in line. The bridge operator told us the next opening would be at Noon, strange since it was 10:30am. We them realized the time had changed but we had not. We lost an hour of our weekend.
The bridge opened on schedule and we motored the rest of the way to the ICW and promptly turned into the wind, setting the boat in irons to enable use to raise the sails.
Up they went and we turned north only to realize the wind was blowing at about 15 to 20 knots and we had too much sail up, healing the boat 30 degrees and sending everything flying about in the cabin. This was our first ever experience with heavy air. We had to turn back into the wind and shorten sail, as we tried to furl the jib back in a gust grabbed it, pulling the sheet out of the block with a loud bang, this actually worked to our advantage because as the jib flapped in the wind Lori was able to furl it in. We then dropped the main and all was calm again.
I had ordered some Cunninghams (stainless steal hooks) to reef the sails online about 2 weeks ago, as the vendor was in Canada they had not shown up yet.So digging in the locker I found some fairly strong rope and proceeded to reef the main sail. The boat has what looks like a remnant of a reefing system at the clew of the mainsail so I had to improvise using a bowline knot and tying the clew off to the outhaul cleat.
The front reef I did with a bowline and the line fastened to the cleat for the topping lift. I did find a line that was of the correct size and length to reef the center grommets of the sail.
We recovered the port jib sheet and Lori restrung it through the block, then we raised our reefed main sail and proceeded north with the jib furled. We were making in excess of 5 knots and the water was rough. A fairly rough ride with an average of 10 degrees of heel. I could at times feel a slight thrum in the tiller as the boat would near hull speed.
We made it just north of the midway point and the wind had fallen off enough we added about 30% jib. This actually made a great deal of difference. Less weather helm and more speed were the result. The tiller thrummed rather nicely.
At 4:15 we were tied in our slip in Titusville and I was taking a nap below. We made great time but it was a lot of work.
Since our marina requires payment for electrical power we have decided to go solar with a 30watt panel. At the moment we are short a battery (one was bad) and only have 175 or so Amp Hours of capacity. The partial overcast, VHF radio, depthfinder, vacuum inflation of the dink, vacuuming up coffee grounds from the shaking up the boat took, anchor light and navigation lights after dark all contributed to pull the cell down below 11.12 vdc in about 36 hours. A level that will not charge an Iphone.
I now know I need to get the second cell back installed and wire the outboard to charge the batteries when it is running. If we plan to be out and about for a few weeks we will need to better manage our power usage and charging.
All in all, a full weekend on the water. We had a good time.