Day 189, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 12
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2013
Weather: Overcast and Warm, Winds SW 5-20, Temp Lower 80’s F
Latitude: 39 19.932 N
Longitude: 076 08,485 W
Location: Anchored in Still Pond Near Worton, MD

As you will read below, there was a bit of excitement on Windbird today, but all is well. If things go as planned, Windbird could pull into Woods Hole on Wednesday afternoon. So hope with us that the weather doesn’t change for the worse.

Before you move on to read about the ‘exciting’ day on Windbird, I’ll tell you a bit about our day here on the Cape. I have to back up a bit and explain that yesterday Jonah brought home a stuffed fish named ‘Swimmy’ to spend the weekend. The class of four and five year-olds at Woods Hole Day Care Cooperative is called the Swimmies (versus the Lambies who are younger) and this stuffed fish is the mascot. Each weekend a different child brings Swimmy home and returns on Monday with photos and a story of the weekend activities. So we are including Swimmy in everything we do. Sam also brought home a special thing from his kindergarten class yesterday. They have been watching Painted Lady Butterflies emerge from their chrysalises and there was one that had just emerged at the end of the school day yesterday and one more chrysalis that was yet to hatch. So Sam was deemed the one to bring the butterfly habitat home to care for the butterflies for the weekend. This morning at breakfast, while eating pancakes, Sam noticed that the yet unhatched chrysalis was changing. A butterfly was emerging. What magic! We all watched with amazement. The rest of the day was business as usual. Heather, Jed, and Ollie went to look at new washing machines and I played at home with Sam and Jonah. In the afternoon, Heather and I took Sam and Jonah and went to the Farmer’s Market and to Mahoney’s Garden Center to purchase a few plants. And then we ended the day with a taco dinner.

130511 Day 189 Cape Cod, USA–Swimmy and Butterflies

And now for the Captain’s Log for Saturday, May 11:
“Some days are more interesting than others. Today we awoke to 15 to 20 knot winds pushing us hard against the bulkhead. I wasn’t sure we were going to get off. But tomorrow is supposed to be worse. As we were contemplating this, another sailboat came in and looked like they were headed for the space behind us on the bulkhead. Lee and I went out to catch their lines. They pulled up parallel to the bulkhead, but about 20 feet off. The wind did the rest. They blew up against the pilings and Lee and I caught their lines and made them fast. Then we helped them put some big fenders between their boat and two of the pilings. We had just reinforced our two fenders with two more as the wind was strong enough to smash the first ones we put up last night. So with both boats safe, we gave some more thought to ways to get off the dock. And then the wind died to 9 to 10 knots. Instantly, we all sprang into action starting the engine and releasing the dock lines. We got away fine and were off to Chesapeake City. But about an hour out, Lynda smelled rubber overheating. I quickly found that the alternator cables were the culprit. The new batteries are larger capacity than we have had and when low (50% of capacity) they consume an enormous amount of amperage. Our alternator is rated for 220 amps but actually probably can only do about 160 amps of output. In the past, our batteries have never called for more than about 110 amps, but these new, higher capacity batteries were capable of taking much more. We were putting about 140 to 150 amps into them and that much power created more resistance in our double-ought cables. The cables closest to the alternator started to overheat. We took it slow and watched them carefully. Soon the batteries were getting charged a bit and, therefore, demanded less amperage. With less demand, the wires gradually cooled.
In the meantime we were fighting a strong negative current so we decided to pull into a quiet anchorage about 4 hours short of our goal. Once anchored, Lee and I set to work to do some re-wiring in an attempt to mitigate the problem with the overheating cables. We made a few changes that should help, but the problem won’t be fixed until we replace a couple cables with larger ones. While working on the wiring I was putting a lot of pressure on a wrench to loosen a bolt. My hand slipped and the wrench shorted out a battery. It only lasted a second but was enough to burn out a small wire which glowed and smoked as its insulating cover melted. Smoke on a boat is always frightening, but even Lynda remained calm only asking what we were up to. We cleaned up the mess and finished the wiring and checked all the circuits and everything was working fine. We had done as much as we could so put everything away. We were both hot and sweaty and Lynda insisted we take showers before enjoying a drink. Enough excitement for one day!

130511 Day 189 Passage to Cape Cod–Day 11, Still Pond, MD

Tomorrow is Chesapeake City and getting ready for the three day/two night passage to Cape Cod. We plan to depart from Chesapeake City on Monday morning if weather predictions don’t get worse.”

Another Version of Today . . . Guest Log Written by Lee Kaufman
Another boring day on the water . . . Well except when another sailing vessel came into Rock Hall and docked against the same bulkhead we were tied to. Mark and I caught lines and helped them get fenders out. They were on the way back from Florida. They stopped at Rock Hall to meet a broker to look at a trawler. When sailors can no longer sail they get a trawler and then a motor home, so they say.

We were penned against the bulkhead by south winds coming straight into the harbor. The wind eventually abated from 20 mph to 10 or so and we (Mark) decided it was our best chance to go. We grabbed all our dock lines and Lynda and I pushed the bow away from the dock. Mark motored us away in great fashion.

After an hour or so of motoring, Lynda, the beagle, said she smelled something like hot car breaks. Mark investigated and found that the new 4D batteries were able to accept charge much faster than the old group 31 batteries. This meant that we needed larger wires to carry the load. As the batteries accepted charge the charge rate slowed and the wires cooled and weren’t a problem for the rest of the day.

We headed for Chesapeake City in the CD Canal but the current was against us so we decided to stop at a well protected anchorage at Still Creek. We pulled in and anchored in 19 feet of water in a most beautiful place. Being here is worth all the rest of the trip.

After a celebratory beer, we undertook to remedy the wiring problem. Wiring on a boat that someone else has owned is always an adventure. To get to the batteries required completely undoing the master birth. While we were working on the wiring we accidentally crossed a hot terminal with a ground that caused massive smoke and melted the insulation from one of the wires. We still don’t know what the wire was for. We reinforced one of the wires and hope that will take care of the problem until a permanent fix can be accomplished at Woods Hole.

We are in an absolutely beautiful anchorage.

Tomorrow we will head on to Chesapeake City and Monday out for three days and two nights to Cape Cod. The adventure continues.

Day 190, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 13
Day 188, Year 8: Windbird’s Trek to Cape Cod, Day 11