2.22.2010

Update

We have just posted 3 blogs... sorry no pictures attached at this time. The wifi lately is slower than snail mail! When we arrive at DR we should be able to recieve high speed and will update all the previous blogs with many great pictures.

As a reminder... you can click on the picture of Don and myself on the main page at it will re-direct you to our photo album. There are a few new pictures ther.

Peace and hugs and always remember .... Follow your dreams!

Georgetown Bahamas to Rum Cay, 2-16-10

First….this is not a “how to” on the passage from Georgetown to Rum Cay, but rather a review of our own experience aboard Mary Rose V.

Next….. a word on Georgetown…….Georgetown seems to be the “in” destination for hundreds of cruisers in the Bahamas. There is a cruiser net every morning about 8 AM after Chris Parker weather reports. The cruiser’s net is the boaters version of the famed tradeo program in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The net starts out with a good morning from the daily host with a short bit of recorded music that has something to do with current events. An example of this is the day it rained they played, it feels like rain drops fallen from the sky. Then the daily net schedule goes something like this…….weather report gleaned from Chris Parker, Advertisements of local businesses, Boaters general (buy, sell, barter, trade). Note: It is illegal for cruisers to buy, sell, barter, trade without paying duty in the Bahamas. Then the net continues with boats departing and new arrivals. It is a bit too much for us but we did manage to procure a Sony Single Sideband receiver from a cruiser using the net. Now we can get National Weather Service reports as well as Chris Parker. Georgetown in general is way too over populated with cruisers in our humble opinion. All the people and boats was a bit of overload after cruising the remote cays of the Bahamas where we were often the only cruiser at anchor or in sight. Then there was the typical suburban gossip chain at the dinghy dock with grown men standing around doing a bit of “he said – she said” about rumors of permanent moorings in the harbor. There are all sorts of social events scheduled everyday. Volleyball, bachie(sp), basket weaving (not lying), to meeting the family film producer from New York. Phewwwwwwwwww, this is way to much, got to get out of here! It was a great place to replenish food, fuel and water before we set out to more remote islands and longer legs of our journey south and east. With that said we are glad to leave the suburban cruising lifestyle behind.

We pulled anchor Monday night about two hours before dark and made our way south to Foul Cay at the south end of Elizabeth Harbor. This would save us about two miles the next day and allow us an early start to make the pass through the channel cut at day break. We found two other boats anchored in the Foul Cay area and snuggled in close to them for the night. We had a quick dinner and hit the bunk for a 5AM alarm.

We were up early and admired the beautiful predawn sky displaying hues of pink and orange through mostly cloudy skies. We just knew we were going to have a great sail. We had the perfect weather forecast from Chris Parker and we had followed Van Sant’s (author of passages south) instructions to the last letter for the perfect weather window and the pre trip staging at Foul Cay. The Admiral took the helm as I pulled the anchor and she made good speed from our anchorage to the harbor through the cut and out into the sound with a perfect pass, right on course. We talked about how this looked like a perfect opportunity to set the cruising spinnaker and have a great sail to Rum Cay, 50 miles to the east around the northern point of Long Island. We decided to delay the Spinnaker set and opted for full main, a yankee head sail and the staysail. We had all three sails set and were making top speeds of 6+ nautical miles (nm) per hour. The winds began to build and a squall line appeared some 20 – 30 miles to our north. We discussed pulling a reef in the main but decided that we were OK and the squall line was far enough away to give us time if conditions warranted. The winds were out of the northwest and we were on a northeast course when the winds began to build and our heeling angle was a bit uncomfortable. We completely reefed the yankee head sail and proceeded with only the main and staysail. Our boat speed continued to exceed 6+ kts with main and staysail. It was not too late to reef the main but we choose not to as the boat was sailing upright and under control given the angle of the wind and swells. It was a comfortable ride. As we approached Santa Maria point on the north end of Long Island the wind driven troughs of the waves and swells increased dramatically and we were seeing 10-12 ft seas.

These conditions continued until we reached the lee of Rum Cay. Or maximum speed on this passage was an astonishing 9.6 kts with a moving average of over 6 kts. NO MORE BAD JOKES ABOUT THE WESTSAIL BEING SLOW.

One big mistake we made on this passage was that we towed the dinghy rather that put her on deck. We will not make long open water passages again towing the dinghy. The seas and wind were way too much to go looking for a dinghy that might have broken loose in transit.

All in all, it was a great passage and we are at anchor at Rum Cay waiting for the next weather window to make our way south to the Dominican Republic (DR). We will most likely make one or two more stops before making landfall in the DR.

Captain Don Montgomery

Anchor Rode Chaffing - Georgetown, Bahamas 2/13/10

Anchor Rode Chaffing - Georgetown, Bahamas 2/13/10

Mary Rose V had two very nice CQR anchors on her bow when we bought her with 250 feet of three strand nylon rode attached to the 25 foot 3/8 inch chain on the anchor end of our ground tackle. One weighed 33 pounds and the other was 44 pounds. We knew that we needed at least one anchor with a minimum of 75 feet of chain for the Caribbean trip that we are on. We also felt that it would be better to have two types of anchors so that if we experienced difficulty with the CQR holding we would have an alternative to try for a better hold.

The Admiral and I went to the St Petersburg boat show in December of 2009 and we saw a Delta style stainless steel anchor for sale with a show special. After about two hours of nonstop whining from the Captain, the Admiral cheerfully agreed that we indeed had to have the stainless steel anchor with the boat show special price that was too good to pass up.

We met the vendor after the show and we went back to the marina with our new ground tackle in hand. We purchased our anchor from Captain Jack at Seven Seas, his phone number is 410-340-8244. His business is in the Ft Lauderdale area but he makes regular trips throughout Florida. We were very pleased with the anchor and the service we received from Captain Jack. He came by to visit a few weeks after the purchase just to make sure everything was OK. We give Captain Jack a very strong recommendation.

While we were in Georgetown, we received a weather forecast for a strong frontal passage with squalls that could deliver winds in excess of 40 kts. The whole harbor was a buzz about the threat of the squalls and the wind forecast. Cruisers made a run on the town and loaded up on water, stores and fuel like they do in the Midwest when a blizzard is knocking on their door. We knew we had to prepare and we looked at the possibility of moving to another anchorage but there were few options available to us with our keel depth and none seemed to offer any more protection from the wind direction. So our storm preparation at anchorage was to batten down the hatches, make sure the anchor was surely buried deep in the pure white sand 10 feet below our keel and then increase the scope of our anchor. We choose to anchor with the delta on arrival at Georgetown due to the soft white sand bottom. There was no apparent need for the all chain anchor. So now the dilemma was do we change anchors and move from nylon rode to chain? I made the decision to say on the delta with nylon rode and 25 feet of chain attached to the anchor. I felt that the stretch of the additional nylon rode would be better for staying dug in and not dragging anchor. We had already had some strong winds and we knew the anchor was well set and dug in tight from several days at anchor and healthy winds. We let out more anchor line to increase our scope. We were in about 10 feet of water and the bow is about 4-5 feet from the water line. So that’s 15 feet times 7 for normal conditions or 105 feet of anchor line. I increased that to 125 feet for the storm that was headed our way.

The wind began to blow straight down the harbor and the waves stated to build as well. At times it felt more like we were sailing rather than at anchor. The waves were coming at us nonstop and were at least two feet high. Mary Rose stained at the anchor and you could feel the rode stretch as tight as possible and then Mary Rose would spring forward and begin to hobbyhorse a bit. We set the anchor drag alarm on our GPS and never once felt like we were in peril or about to drag anchor. However there was one boat without crew that did drag anchor about 2 AM. We were made aware of it on the VHF by a captain doing an all night anchor watch for the protection of his boat. We were grateful to him for his effort even though the dragging vessel was no threat to us. Fortunately we did not have any other boats anchored directly forward of Mary Rose. The watchful captain repeatedly blew a warning horn after he made his VHF announcement giving the location of the boat dragging anchor. The dragging boat simply slid past all the boats aft of it and the anchor reset itself in shallower water before the boat went aground.

I inspected our anchor rode for chaffing the next day and was surprised to see that there was significant evidence of chaffing in less than 24 hours. The chaffing had the appearance of melting the nylon rode. So it is safe to say that the constant movement creates heat at the rub points on the nylon anchor rode. The lesson we learned from this experience is that you MUST adjust your anchor rode early and often when conditions are extreme. All damage to the anchor rode could have been avoided if we had simply let out a foot of rode or taken in a foot of anchor rode every couple of hours during the high wind period. We will monitor our chaffing more closely from now on and take preventative measures early and often. If we had decided to go to all chain we still would have had the same issue with chaffing of the nylon snubber that we use to prevent the shock due to lack of stretch when anchored with all chain.

Remember check early and often for anchor rode chafe in extreme conditions and move the anchor rode in and out every couple of hours when conditions warrant. We also reposition our anchor rode every 12 – 24 hours under normal conditions just to prevent chaffing and extend the life of our anchor rode.

Captain Don Montgomery

Reality.. Smack In The Face

My first “authentic” ocean passage began 2/18/2010 bright and early at 300 am. We pulled anchor at Rum Cay and started our 30-36 hour 3 boat flotilla south towards our destination of Mayaguana. The following is brief note regarding my experience and what I received from this trip. The Captain and I do 3 hour watches and this night when my first watch was finally over I climbed below tired, cold and exhausted, I desperately needed to sleep for my designated 3 hours. I tried to find a comfortable and safe way to sleep in the pilot berth and found myself being thrown to and fro and my mind running constantly…why did I do this, what was I thinking, this is not fun at all etc, etc, etc. I looked around the cabin at all the navigation charts, shoes and fowl weather gear that was lying all over the floor, I listened to various items crashing and banging around within the lockers and galley cabinets, the loud clatter from the sails due to sudden wind shifts. I observed the multiple bruises that cover my body as a result of being tossed around like a rag doll and my aching sore muscles from guiding the tiller through the colossal swells as well as trying to maintain as much balance as possible while ambulating around the boat. The swells were up to 10 feet in size and continued to roll at us every 6-10 seconds like a slow motion rollercoaster. The occasional rogue wave would implement a sneak strike from the blackness that left us clueless as to which bearing the next attack would come from. This went on for 20 hours. I found myself second guessing my inspiration that lead me to make this decision to bid farewell to the sanctuary of land life to a life where I find myself today surrounded by trillions of gallons of water, waves and winds. That night I sat on this wonderful, beautiful 32 foot boat that felt more like I was sitting in tumbling Maytag dryer. It would be much easier for this journey if the water was always clear turquoise blue with slow gentle swells but what I was living through at that moment I found a bit overwhelming. I realized the need to sort out these regrets and confusing thoughts that continued to race through my mind. I was sitting in the cockpit during my next late night/early morning watch when something invaded my mind insisting that I stand at the spray hood over the cockpit entrance. I verified that the light was on the autopilot to indicate that it was functioning properly as well as my current bearing and heading displayed on the chart plotter. I stood up to comply with this intense impulse that was overcoming me. In the beginning I found myself feeling a little frightened and very intimidated as I peered into the pitch blackness that surrounded me. It appeared that we were going 100 mph as we sped through the night. My knuckles were white from the pressure of holding on very tight to Mary as we rolled up and down and were tossed side to side. I all of a sudden had an epiphany…this is must be what total faith and trust is all about, I had little control, I had to trust the information that the chart plotter and radar displayed, I had to have faith in my skills and in Mary for her integrity to keep us safe. I was overcome with emotions as I finally began to understand this concept. At that split second I stepped out in faith, I released my fears and insecurities. Mary and I became one for a few moments. We glided through and over the swells at 5.6 – 7 knots into the darkness. It was an amazing experience yet some what disorienting, it felt like we were skiing down steep mountains tops, the clouds at times appearing as bridges and trees over my head, the feeling that at any moment we could lose control as we were accelerating down the hills. This new perspective gave me a sense of total freedom that I have never in my life felt. I sat down and started sorting out my feelings regarding my questioning whether I made the correct decision by going on this journey. I began listing the good times as well as the bad times that I have experienced. I changed my focus to all the wonderful experiences I have had during the past 939 nautical miles (for all the land lovers this equals 1127 statute miles) over the past 34 days. I have learned to comprehend that with every situation we find ourselves in during our lives there will be positives and there will be negatives and the tricky part is learning to discern if the positives out way the negatives or visa versa and how much are you willing to give to make it happen. Yes, I have encountered several uncomfortable moments, several bruises, many missed hours of sleep, no showers for multiple days but in the mornings when the sun is rising in the east I realize there is no comparison to the blessing and gifts I have received in return. My life has been changed forever in a positive way. After careful analysis I have come to realize that one must step out in trust and take the bad with the good in any given situation, whether in relationships, jobs, and even dream chasing. No the cruising life is not all glitz, glitter and glamour but even so I have realized that it is good for my soul!