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Liberty Schooner Rounding Cape Hatteras
Small Craft Warning
05/18/2008, Cape Hatteras

Despite a very favorable forecast yesterday when the Liberty Schooner left Charleston, SC for Cape May, NJ, the weather has deteriorated and they are in for some nasty weather. The graphic is the actual weather data from the sea buoy on Diamond Shoals, Cape Hatteras.

At the time of this blog, the pressure has started to rise, and they could expect improving conditions. Gusts were up to 45mph, and seas around 12ft.

AMZ152-154-191000-
/O.CON.KMHX.SC.Y.0048.000000T0000Z-080519T1000Z/
S OF OREGON INLET TO CAPE HATTERAS NC OUT 20 NM- S OF CAPE HATTERAS TO OCRACOKE INLET NC OUT 20 NM INCLUDING THE MONITOR NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY- 831 PM EDT SUN MAY 18 2008

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 AM EDT MONDAY


TONIGHT
SW WINDS 25 TO 30 KT...BECOMING W 20 TO 25 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 7 TO 11 FT. DOMINANT PERIOD 7 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY WITH A SLIGHT CHANCE OF TSTMS THIS EVENING...THEN A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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Mending the Main Sail
Philip
05/16/2008, Charleston, SC

Monday May 12, 2008, dawned bright, and I was outside the UK Sails office as it opened at 09h00. After a brief conversation with Tripp, he indicated that he couldn't help us. Too much sail had to be put under the arm of the sewing machine for a repair to be practical. The loft in Annapolis could do the work, but that wouldn't help us. Next we called North Sails, and had a great conversation with Josh, who kindly offered to come right over and take a look at the sail. Within 30 minutes Josh was dockside with some colleagues, and after a brief tour of the Liberty Schooner, had the sail in a dock cart bound for his shop.

In the mean time, Sharon and Ruthie had arrived, and Sharon went right to work as the boat mom, sorting out and organizing all the stores, and preparing the boat for sea. The decks were washed down, and tools and spare parts inventoried.

The Raymarine chart plotter C70 we had on board only had charts for South East USA, and so, we picked up another chip from Westmarine, but if only it were that easy! When the new chip was inserted it caused the machine to go into a cycles of rebooting itself. A call to Raymarine indicated that the firmware had to be upgraded and they would send the 4.29 release on a compact flash card by DHL. No problem, another reason to spend another day in Charleston.

The following day Josh at North Sails called back and said, after looking at the sail, that the amount of work to patch it would approach the cost of a new sail, and even then the new fabric would be stronger that the old fabric, possibly causing it to rip in a big wind. So the sail was coming back to us un-repaired.
Around this time our crew member Jim came by with some bad news. While underway from Miami, his doctor had called him with the results of some tests he had done. Being 100 nm off shore meant he didn't get the message until his arrival in Charleston. The bottom line was, he was lucky to be alive, and was advised to returned to NJ, and have an angioplasty procedure done as soon as possible. So with some sadness Jim was sent home.

Wednesday, saw the crew hard at work repairing the mainsail with herring bone stitches, and 3M 4200. Yes you read that right, 4200 worked great to adhere the patches to the sail and take the strain off the stitches. Everybody put in some time, but is was Captain Cheyenne and Ekkehart that did the heroes portion of the work. All told 50 man hours went into repairing the sail. Well done!

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Limping into Charleston
Philip
05/10/2008, Charleston, SC



The crew settled into the watch system fairly well, enjoying the food prepared by the ship's cook Analise, and getting sleep between watches. Jim was our resident fish expert, and he had several lures over the side, on 50lb test line. One morning, I thought I might clear the Sargasso grass that occasionally got snagged on the lure, when the line felt like it was fighting back. It turned out that we had a 24" Dolphin fish on the line! He made a great lunch.

The next day, we pulled in a small tuna, and then almost immediately had a hit by a very big Mahi Mahi. He pulled hard on the line, and swam parallel with the boat, that was sailing at about 8 knots at the time, before the line parted and he got away. Altogether we landed 2 fish, and 2 got away.

On the evening of the 9th, the wind started to freshen , and was really blowing by the time our watch took the helm at midnight. We were sailing downwind, in a fresh South Westerly, in a rising sea doing 9-10 kts. The course called for me to steer close to a gybe, and at around 02h00 after 2 hours on the wheel in lumpy seas I accidentally gybed, and ripped the mainsail in half. By the time we had cleaned up the mess, and started the engine, the wind was from the west.

We had by this time made so much progress towards Charleston, that we calculated we would make landfall, at 03h00 on May 10th, at the current speed, so Captain Cheyenne ordered that we slow down to 3kts! So we could enter the shipping channel for Charleston harbor at first light.

We were tied up at the Megadock of the Charleston City Marina by noon, and plans were being made with what to do with the mainsail. Both North Sails and UK Sails were closed on Saturday, so we had to wait until Monday.

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Engine Repair
Philip
05/07/2008, Miami, FL

We arrived Miami Beach Marina and were tied up by noon on May 7th, 2008, and Bill and Ekkehart immediately climbed into 110F engine room and started trying to diagnose the problem. Eventually it was Captain Cheyenne, who hit on an idea, and Bill found the problem. The Perkins engine has a rubber cap on both sides of the heat exchanger. The aft side were we had replaced the rubber boot was fine, but the whole element had not properly been seated on the forward end, allowing, sea and fresh water to mix. By the time the mechanics arrived, the engine problem was fixed, which is just as well, because they really were marine electrical experts and not diesel engine experts. Perfect people to look at the alternator.

The rest of the crew went to the beach or for a shower. In Luke's case he did both.

About 18h00 we untied from the fuel dock, backed out, and left Miami Beach Marina. The tide was out, and we had some concerns about if there would be enough water on leaving the marina. The water looked thin between the seawall at the entrance of the marina, and the shipping channel into the port of Miami. The locals said, that we should stay close to the seawall, until opposite the Coast Guard station, and then cut across to the other side. Well it was close, we draw 7ft, and the depth sounder is zeroed at the bottom of the keel. We saw 1.8ft a few times and Captain Cheyenne's heart nearly stopped on those occasions.

Next stop Charleston!

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Leaving Key West
Philip
05/06/2008, Key West, to Miami

We departed from the Schooner Wharf in Key West on May 6th, 2008, for the fuel dock on the other side of the island around 08h00, and enjoyed our first sail aboard the Liberty Schooner. Greg, the previous owner had kindly supplied a bottle of wine to toast Neptune with, and so Luke and I had the honors of thanking the crew for being a part of this special occasion, and to say a small prayer for our up coming voyage to New York City.

We arrived at the fuel dock and had to tie up to an very well used shrimp boat. The spot was so tight, one crew member had to hold some cables out of the way, the whole time we were there, to avoid becoming entangled with the shrimp boat's rigging. We put in 425.9 Gal, @ $4.63/Gal for a grand total of $1971.92. Ouch!

We cast off for Miami, our next port of call at 11h00, and after passing through the reef were enthralled by the beautiful blue water of the Gulf Stream.

We quickly settled in our 4 hours on, 8 hours off watch schedule, and enjoyed a pleasant evening at sea. Luke stood his first night watch with Chris and I, and has earned quite a reputation for being a good helmsman.

About mid afternoon, with zero wind, and glassy seas, we decided to swim in mid-ocean. The water was so clear, we could see the lure hanging 50ft below the boat, like it was floating in space. It was fun swimming under the boat, and diving off the bow sprit, with no land in sight.



One thing that had become apparent, was that somehow sea water was getting into the fresh water side of the heat exchanger, and was coming out of the heat exchanger cap. This required hourly pumping of the engine room bilge, and constant monitoring while underway. The priority in Miami would be to have a diesel mechanic look at the engine and fix the problem. Another concern was that the new alternator we had purchased with the boat wasn't charging the batteries as we had thought it would. The charge voltage did not exceed 13.5v and we were expecting something north of 14.5v.

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Brightwork!
Philip for Capt Bill
05/03/2008, Key West, FL

Bill had the crew working hard today on varnish!

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