Monday, July 26, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tuning Your Rig

I came across this PDF on one of the sailing sites and thought it was a good tutorial on rig tuning. This topic comes up a lot with cruisers so I thought I would post the link. Hope it helps...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vanuatu, Kava and Cruising

Kava-powder-from-vanuatu-ready-to-mix-with-waterImage via Wikipedia
Over the years, I have read dozens of books depicting actual voyages of folks cruising all over the world. Lynn and Larry, Tanya, Herb and a slew of others have written about their journeys and all of them had something in common. When in the South Pacific, especially on the island of Vanuatu, they all were lucky enough to be involved in a Kava ceremony. Kava is a drink made from the Kava root that from all accounts I have read, has a muddy texture and tastes, well, like mud. However, the affects from Kava range from tingling lips to all out euphoric feelings.
I have always wanted to taste Kava but never figured it would happen. Well, that is going to change. Check this out...

Kava Bar opens in downtown Asheville
From a recent press release:
Vanuatu Kava Bar, the first nakamal – or traditional kava bar — in North Carolina, has opened for business in Downtown Asheville behind the Orange Peel just south of Hillard. Although a grand opening is planned for July 9th, doors are already open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. Offerings will gradually expand to include numerous specialty drinks and light island fare.
Of course, already on the menu is fresh-squeezed kava-kava juice, made from the milled root of Piper methysticum, or the “intoxicating pepper.” The elixir has been used as both a relaxing social beverage and ceremonial libation by tribes throughout the South Pacific for centuries, and is said to have relaxing, euphoric qualities.
The kava at Vanuatu Kava Bar comes from Vanuatu — thought to have the strongest varieties in the world. The nation’s laws mandate organic growing of all kava as well as a minimum-per-kilo rate that is paid to growers, to ensure fair-trade. Pictures of those who harvest and clean the kava for VKB adorn the walls, involved in various stages of the process, scribbled with “best wishes” and words in Bislama.
Vanuatu Kava Bar strives to be a true nakamal, the Vanuatu word for a place to drink kava, which translates as “place of peace.” Thus, there is no alcohol served, but with the selection of drinks and herbs, there is really no need for it. The space also functions as a gallery for handcrafted tikis and cypress furniture that is available for purchase.
The planned grand opening will happen on July 9th, with “Stereo Afro,” featuring members of Discordian Society, at 8 p.m. A kilo of kava root will be squeezed into several gallons of the elixir, and the relaxing potion will be served free until it is gone. The giveaway is a way to introduce people to something they might not otherwise try. Doors will open at 4pm, and there will be 2-for-1 drinks until the free batch is brought out and events start.
The Vanuatu Kava Bar is located at 151 S. Lexington in downtown Asheville. For more information, call 505-8118.

When I get a minute to go, I will tell you all how it tastes and what effects it actually has. Should be fun...very cool.
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Friday, July 9, 2010

Leg 2 - Morehead City, NC to Jacksonville, FL

Ok, I get the hint, you want to hear the story. Ok, ok, I was hoping I could get a few more sessions of therapy in before getting into it but apparently it's not to be.

Leg one left off in Morehead City, NC after some horrible weather put a stop to our trip the first time around. So that's where we will pick it up from now. But before I go into the details, let me start with 2 very important lessons learned from all this...

1) Going south in June is a very bad idea. (Here is why...the winds are prevailing from the south west continuously. I have never seen anything like it. SW winds every day, every night and that's the direction you want to go, SW)

2) Having a schedule to adhere to on a sailboat is also a very bad idea. (Now this one I knew, but I had no idea to what degree this would come to)

So with that said, here are the details.
I got to the boat on Friday June 11th to start prepping for the trip. My crew was due in the next day and I wanted to be ready to get out early if at all possible. Unfortunately, that was not meant to be. On Saturday morning, the winds were whipping at 30 knots from the, you guessed it, SW and there was no way we would be able to leave. As well, I had to get the head sail back up after the repairs and the wind would not have let us do that regardless. We decided to stay put and work on the boat while we had the chance. As it turns out, our time at dock was extended as the winds kept up through Sunday, so Monday was now our planned departure time.

With the boat ready, we left late Monday at around 3:30 on the slack tide. If you have never been to Morehead City, the tides through the area can reach 4 to 5 knots and makes for very tough maneuvering around the dock, so slack tide it is.
Winds were down now and we were able to motor pretty well until we hit the inlet. There was a fishing tournament going on and the fleet was coming back in with the days catch. Bottom line, we got creamed by the massive wakes of these boats, one after the other. A fine start to a long trip.
We made it out past the third channel marker and made our turn SW to pick up the rhumb line to Cape Fear. That was about 5:00 pm Monday.

The winds were light and it was hot. The previous days winds made for some nice four foot swells that unfortunately played havoc with my crew mates stomach. It didn't take long until full blown sea sickness took over. It was a very slow next few days and the heat at times was unbearable. We eventually made it past Cape Fear and I was quite relieved to see the outer marker, actually a huge platform, go by to port as we crossed the shoals. The winds were very lite and of course from the SW, so progress was extremely slow.

On Friday though, things took a turn for the worse and my crew member had to get off the boat. We were back at Oak Island, NC at the Southport Marina by Friday night at 5:00 pm. About 4 days on the water, most out of site of land. I love that... :)

I now had to find a replacement and fast. Dockage at Southport was not cheap although it was a great marina. As a side note, the town of Southport was beautiful and the folks were fantastic. And best of all, I was able to find conch fritters at one of the local restaurants. I am always in search of a good conch fritter and I was not disappointed. All of the water front places had great food but I went back to The Provision Company for those fritters. If there, I highly recommend the place as well as a conch fritter if you never had one.

So Saturday I pulled out all the stops and started looking for help to finish the trip. None of the folks I knew were free at the time so I posted a crew wanted add on, a place on the web were you can talk sailing all the time, and waited.
Not long after, I had a call and the rest is history. Lets just say I got very lucky. Scott Watts, a delivery captain/mechanic/electrician/shipwright/master of all nautical answered the call and was available. I wonder if knowing what he knows now, he still would have answered. :) Oh well...we will never know...unless he posts a comment. :)

Anyway, he was at the boat on Sunday and we were prepped to leave Monday. We left the dock at around noon and immediately faced SW winds at 10 knots. Another great start to the trip. For the next 3 days, we knocked our brains senseless beating into SW winds the entire time. At this point, it was time to motor, but as I had mentioned in past posts, the motor and it's components have seen better years and it was nothing but problems. (One) of the biggest problem we ran into with the engine was all of the gunk at the bottom of the fuel tank getting sucked up into the fuel line and killing the engine. Eventually, we had to bypass the old tank with a new plastic tank on deck, but I will get to that later.

All said and done, and this is the very short version, we made it to Charleston, SC on Friday the 25th. A total of about 450 miles from Washington, NC and about 130 miles from Oak Island, NC.

There is one notable entry I did want to include on this leg of the trip. It happened about 20 miles off of Georgetown, SC at about 11:00pm. We were beating as usual into 4 to 5 foot seas heading SW in about 15 knots. We had a reef in the main and about half the jib out driving as well as could be expected into the seas. All of a sudden, and this is no joke, the winds completely died and the seas went flat. It was in an instant and I barely noticed it before I got a look at the15 foot wall of water coming directly from the stern, 180 degrees from the direction the winds and waves were just a minute prior. Somehow, Scott realized what was happening, got the tiller pilot off and lined up in the best possible spot to catch the wave just right. We got soaked as part of it broke over us, but Skylark was able to ride over the rest before getting put over on her side at about 35 degrees. We really did go flying, but Scott was able to get her back under control and turned around before two more waves, somewhere in the 10 foot range passed behind the first. No more than 30 seconds after the third wave passed, the winds picked up out of the SW again and the 4 footers were back as well from the SW.

Scott has been around the world multiple times on a sailboat and has never seen anything like it, especially in the Atlantic. There were no large ships around that could have thrown a wake like that and no one else that we could find that experienced the waves. We have no idea why they formed or where they came from but they were real and I would swear to it on a stack of whatevers. Rogue wave maybe? Well maybe, but who knows. I do know that if it hit us on the beam, it would have rolled us for sure. Lesson learned...when it's your watch, pay attention.

We wound up stopping at the Charleston Harbor Marina for the night...this is Friday the 25th now. Another really nice place, but a bit crowded for my liking. It was here that I made the decision to jump ship as I had to be back at work Monday and it was an easy place to leave from. I was really disappointed to say the least that I was not going to finish the trip, but I knew Skylark was in good hands.

This is another part that could go on and on, but lets just say the next few days were very eventful with the engine. Due to the weather on the outside, it was decided that Scott would finish the trip down the ICW from Charleston to Jacksonville. Well, after quite a few break downs and a new tiller post bracket and fuel tank, Scott and his buddy Gary made it to Jacksonville where Skylark will call home.

Bottom line, Scott and Gary got through a lot of issues to finish the trip and was as professional as you can get. There was never a time that Scott felt he couldn't complete the trip and did everything in his power to get his crew and the boat to it's destination safely. I would recommend Scott to ANYONE who needed a boat moved, built, restored, repaired, or anything boat related anytime. He works out of St. Augustine Florida and has a website, that shows what he can do. Please check it out.

So that's the story. I know it's a little condensed, but I think you will get the general gist. Keep an eye out for the upcoming adventures on the St. Johns.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Neighbors

So I had heard from the locals that there was a family of manatee that like to stay in the protected waters of the marina. Today I was lucky enough to be welcomed to Florida by the calf. I can't believe how large these animals are. The parents were HUGE! It is so nice to see wildlife thriving so close to people like this. As a matter of fact, there is a very large turtle that hangs out under one of the piers. Have not gotten a pic of him yet, but I will do my best.

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July weekend in Jacksonville

It has been a busy few days, but we certainly have let ourselves enjoy the weather and the holiday on Skylark. Zachary has been a huge help and has been very excited every step of the way. He was especially excited when it was time to install the 19 inch flat screen Amy gave me. It fit perfectly on the port bulk head and was broken in with just the right movie...Jaws.

The marina had a barbecue yesterday and went all out with fantastic food and deserts. The pool hit the spot as the temps climbed into the 90s and the fireworks were unreal. We sat on the bow and watched at least 50 displays up and down the river. It went on for hours and seemed like it would never end. Zachary said we had seen enough fireworks for four 4th of Julys. I think he was right.

Went all out with dinner tonight and made brats, pasta and a salad. Started off with cheese and crackers as we watched a procession of fishing boats heading out for a night of crabbing. They seem to enjoy blocking all of the channels with their pots. It's a wonder they have any left with all the yahoos in their stink pots flying all over the place. Anyway...

It's a beautiful night and I just had a night cap while watching the other sailboats bob gently at the docks. It's real quiet here at night which is perfect for me. The people here are great and everyone has been so nice. I think this place will do very nicely. It has everything we need and then some.

Plan is to do a few more days of chores and then head on back Wednesday afternoon. Looking forward to getting home. Zachary will be coming to Asheville for two weeks in August right before he heads back to school so that will be a hoot as well.

So far so good here in Florida. As far as the trip details, I am still working on them. :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Skylark is Home!

Ladies and gentlemen, I am extremely happy to announce that Skylark is officially HOME! At 5:00 this afternoon, the trip from Washington, NC to Jacksonville, FL came to an end and Skylark is safe and sound in her new birth in Flemming Island Marina. I can barely comprehend that fact, but needless to say, I am ecstatic. Zachary and I will be spending the 4th of July and a few days after getting her back to "non-cruising" state. She deserves a nice break after 3 hard core weeks at sea. I think we all do.

I promise to get the story up as soon as possible. I was waiting for the ending before starting the beginning. Thanks for all you support, it truly meant a lot.