A Great Circle

We sailed a great circle over the last week. Not in the traditional sense of navigating along the shortest path, but in the equinoctial Chesapeake sailor’s way. And we looked good doing it. The wind direction and intensity, the direction and speed of the tidal currents, and the long list of neat places to visit combined to allow us a circular path around the upper Chesapeake. In winter, the winds come largely from the north and, in summer, from the south. In the shoulder seasons, though, the wind cycles through the compass as weather patterns form and pass over. This gorgeous anchorage (unofficial, like most of the places we drop the hook) rewarded us well for an unexpectedly hard day. The whole point of the spring circle is to have easy weather for the whole trip, wind on or abaft the beam, and helpful currents that don’t turn choppy running against the wind. On this occasion, we jumped the gun by leaving Annapolis before the tide had well turned. We slogged a little – like walking through a few inches of water, though, nothing drastic – and motorsailed in the morning’s light wind. As we came up next to the Magothy River, a loud clunk preceded the onset of a heavy vibration. A rattling, beating vibration that got everything on the boat moving, even at the top of the mast, where the 3′ VHF whip antenna taught an impromptu lesson on sine waves. We figured out pretty quickly that it was drive-train, not engine, and sailed up the Magothy to a spot I (Dena) decided would be safe and convenient for both anchoring and receiving help. We’re getting pretty good at receiving help, something that surprises and pleases me. We’ve been so independent for so long and it’s nice to[…]

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Home again, home again…

We have definitely arrived! Our crew here in the MRE dressed our boat up like an Easter doll for us! The guys at Coastal and Bacon, and our very own Kate Bishop, took care of the nervous-parent checks and saved the boat from going down while we were gone. The news of several inches of water over the floor boards freaked us out when we were in India, but they make shit right. By the time we showed up, the cleanup was minimal and the to-do list consisted mainly of readying the boat for a sailing trip. After getting the engine running (replacement starter, air filter, and alternator belt), putting the boat back together was an awesome adventure. Like we’ve said so many times before, engine work sucks for us both so it’s always the most nerve-wracking part of our “returning-to-the-boat-after-a-stupid-long-time” duties. Now the engine runs fine and we decided to move forward on the “Twin-Primary House Battery System” (TPHB). Dena says, “I’ll buy an acronym for $400, Pat.” The TPHB is a battery system that we read about a few years ago. Morgan’s Cloud is a boat with rich people’s problems, but this is one area where we can adapt the ideas to our poverty-oriented version of cruising. The system allows you to draw all your 12 volt loads from an isolated 8D AGM battery until that battery is 50% depleted.  While you’re depleting one battery, the system takes all of your 12 volt charging systems (solar/wind) and dedicates them to a second, separate primary house battery that is not being drawn upon by your house loads. When you reach the 50% mark, you manually switch the loads over from the depleted battery to the fully charged battery. The resting battery will attain a higher state of charge than[…]

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