Log of SV Free Spirit and ships company

The chronicles of the schooner Free Spirit and her crew, embarking on an open ended journey upon the great rolling heap. Free Spirit is currently pursuing humanitarian and commercial goals in the Dominican Republic, on the island of Hispaniola. Working under the Ocean Reach USA and Paradigm Research banners, she is serving as logistics headquarters, workshop, and development laboratory for many ongoing projects. This is the log of her journey.....

Web sailfreespirit.blogspot.com
If you are joining us for the first time, click here for an introduction!
Books and more, at the Schooner Free Spirit Chandelry
Clothes and more, at the Free Spirit Logo Shop!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Independance, Celebration & Change 7-4 / 7-8

The 4th of July coincides roughly with the "Croaker Festival" here in Oriental. There is a small carnival, and thousands of people from surrounding towns show up for the parade and festivities. As luck would have it, we celebrated independence day in oriental, along with their wonderful "Croaker Fest"!

On the night of the 3rd we dressed ship, so as to honor the town and thank them for our warm treatment.

Free Spirit, All flags flying. If you look carefully, there are coded messages in the flag halyards aft...Really. Each nautical flag has a specific meaning, and you must understand the code to translate it correctly...a little more complex than just letter substitution, due to the use of "repeater" flags. Who will be the first to successfully decode the flags, and the meaning?

Twister! at the carnival.... the boys did their best, but were no match for the girls, of course.

Sitting on the sidewalk, watching the parade. They collected up candy that was thrown at them by the floats, but were generous enough to share it with the girls down the curb.....of course ;-)

The latest in land yachts- the optimist caravan.

Kord, our nephew, back from Iraq for a few precious months, enjoying a moment's peace on the bowsprit. Good luck and godspeed, dear nephew!

Fireworks!!! KaBoom!

Despite the safe environment and the beauty of the display, Kord was still a little unsettled by the fireworks when he let his mind wander. A small reminder of the huge price that our loved ones are paying abroad in the middle east - let us all hope that in the end it will have been worth it.

Sadly, Dave (far right) had to leave us for other projects here in Oriental. You are sorely missed, Dave, and we hope that someday you will join us again!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Discovering Oriental 6-28/7-3

Big boat! There were quite a few barges running the ICW with us, so we took care to give them the channel when we could. A little courtesy goes a long way, I can remember from my days playing "tugboat" in the gulf of Alaska. Sail around imagining that your bow sticks out another 200 feet and you can only marginaly turn, and you can have a peek into the head of a barge pilot....

Blayde, taking point on the way in to "mysterious creek" ... a little creek off the main channel that we anchored off to explore....Little did we know what lay in wait for us.....

.....A dead end, not 100 feet off the channel. It wasn't a creek at all, but a little inlet made perhaps for livestock to drink from.

On the way back out to the channel from "mysterious creek". Not too long after, we arrived in Oriental, with its reported "plenty of room to anchor" ....

A sad sight, a little 22' Catalina? that sank in a squall just hours before we got there. We heard it on the radio - she got knocked down, and I guess that no one released the sheets, as she filled by the fore-hatch and sank on the spot. We offered assistance with our inflatable things and air compressor, but the I think the Tow boat US operator was irritated by the prospect of our lowering his salvage bill, and honked us away, sirens blaring, like some kind of wanna be coastie on crystal meth.

The harbor at Oriental, as it turned out, was a bit small for our little ship, and as we have learned since, "plenty of room" usually means for a thirty footer. Most folks just cant get their head around the fact that in 15 feet of water, we need 15*5 = 75 (anchor line) + 65 (length) + 5 x 8 = 40(roller above the water) that's 180 foot radius... or a little more than a football field of swinging room (360ft) , all told. Twice we had to move out of the harbor around 2 AM in a thundershower, with poorly anchored boats blowing up against us, so the next night we spent out and slept well, despite the little swell.

Insufficient harbors and bad anchoring manners aside, we found the town very accommodating. Raoul and Dave both found temporary employment, and the facilities provided by the town were excellent. We were even invited to join in some community activities for the boys, and felt very warmly welcomed by this picturesque little fishing village.

Drake, running trash to shore solo. A proud day for this boy and his parents. They grow up so fast, don't blink or you might miss it!

Sunset under the bridge. Despite the late night thunderstorm drama, the harbor was quite pleasant, and comes highly recommended for boats up to 35 feet or so. The western part of the harbor is quite shoal, so if you draw more than 4 feet you should stay close to the seawall side if possible.

Frog footed vines... Not what they are called of course, but they were neat anyway...

The community theatre, where the boys were graciously invited to participate in a youth theatre workshop. They were very thankful for the opportunity, and had a great time... thank you, Oriental!!

Jellyfish.... They kept getting caught in the sea strainer and plugging the cooling water. Yech!! A slimy job to clean up, both times.

The Barnacle bike, covered completely with barnacles.... Ironically, the seat was covered by a bag to keep it dry!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

North To Oriental 6-23/6-28

Prelude to a thunderstorm.
On our way out of Charleston, a storm was brewing......

The wind came up, cold and stiff. The wind against the tide made the seas steep soon after this photo was taken.

My only contribution to this post is:
I was a wee/little/lot bit freaked out by this storm :-) I dealt with my stress by taking as many pictures and videos as I could before we got hammered with rain. After that I laid with Valin and Drake in the aft cabin convincing them (me) that we have lots of thunderstorms in Alaska and that being in the boat is not different than being at sea. I knew in my heart that Free Spirit and her crew were capable of 10 times worse, but it was still a little freaky!

Still no rain, but rest assured it is on its way! Notice the seas are still small, but growing larger by the minute.

You can see the water running off the winch if you look closely here. The winds were only gusting to 35, but it made for a little excitement on our way out.

Thunderstorms usually involve sail changes, and this was no exception. The main was doused, and here Dave contemplates the fate of the jib. The seas built to a steep 6 feet (12 feet top to bottom), and we took a few over the bow for good measure. Free spirit handled the little squall with aplomb as she always does, but the cook got shook up a bit and the pasta went airborne. Too bad, as Laura's pasta dishes are always 5 star.

In due time, the thunderstorm rained the seas flat and melted into a dead calm by morning. This trip took us a total of 56 hours, unfortunately 46 of them were spent motoring to keep us at 4 knots.

Calms on the open ocean are eerie to behold, with such potential for powerful motion held in reserve. It makes this sailor nervous, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Along the way, we saw this box floating and decided to investigate. At the time, it felt to me like the beginning of a bad horror movie... but it turned out to be a live well or some kind of tank, lost off of another boat.

On our offshore trips we frequently hear mayday calls from other vessels, but so far we have been too far away to be of any help. The problems vary from one to another, but seem to have a common thread of recklessness, ill preparation, or other pitfalls of good seamanship. They usually end happily, but serve as a good reminder that the sea does not suffer fools gladly. It does make me wonder how that box was broken loose from its mounting, of what drama might have accompanied its separation, of what mistakes were made.

Blayde, helming Free Spirit on a very challenging downwind run into Beaufort, NC.

On a downwind run, Free Spirit keeps the helmsman busy arriving into Beaufort, NC. Adding to the difficulty was a steep following sea, a strong current, and a complex and narrow channel. Blayde handled the challenge with a great show of skill and strength, a feat any sailor could be proud of.

Next Stop Charleston, My Dear! 6-15/6-23

After being at sea for a day or so, it can be really exciting to see 'anything at all' :-) This was a structure out at sea on our way from Cumberland Island to Charleston, which was a 47 hour trip all together.

The Free Spirit boys looking, well, maybe just a tad bit seasick.... It takes a day or so at sea for your body to adjust to being seasick if you are prone to get it. The problem for us so far is that our longest trip has been 56 hours, so by the time that you get comfortable, you stop again. I guess it is a small price to pay for all the adventures and experiences that we are having!

Container ships look WAY bigger when they are close to you out at sea... This one was coming from our starboard aft quarter for a couple of hours. We were maintaining a constant heading, so we would take binocular/compass headings to figure out which direction they were headed. Many of those big ships take a course heading and attempt to maintain it for days. He passed behind us about a 1/2 mile back, and it was neat to watch the ship sink into the horizon.

We had the most amazing, beautiful dolphin experience on this leg of the trip. Generally you will see and be visited by small pods of dolphins while at sea. But we were amazed at the size of the pod that we saw one this occasion. At first there were about 10 (which is normal), but after about 45 minutes of them playing in our bow wake and swimming around the ship, we realized that there were somewhere around 100! It was spectacular!!! There were 2 different varieties, and many different sizes.

You don't realize how playful they are until you can see them racing and jumping in the waves for as far as the eye can see. They would take turns at the bow and circle us over and over.

I was really surprised that none of them hit any part of the boat during their visit. The boys and I think that this experience was definitely the best animal one that we have ever had. I anxiously await the next encounter that beats this one :-)

Rupert, on Patrick's back completely tuckered out by a trip to shore. He has this incredible ability to sleep anywhere at any time.

Me, in Charleston.....

Fort Sumpter, on the way out of Charleston. We were not able to see many of the historical sights during this visit but plan to on our way back south this fall.

Cumberland Island 6-10/6-14

Cumberland Island was an incredible mixture of different flora. On the East side there were beautiful, near empty white sand beaches with natural dunes; and on the West side it was similar to being somewhere in a jungle in Central America. Here are Tamer and the boys walking straight through the middle from one side to the other. We were anchored on the West side, and had to dinghy to shore and walk about a mile to get to the beach.

The boys immediately stripped down and started a sand ball fight :-)

For those of you that have had the opportunity to spend some time with Drake, you will understand how this picture captures his very being!

Walking back from the beach to the dinghy dock... It was an outstanding, breathtaking walk full of birds, spiders, and bugs.

The island is also inhabited by tons of wild horses. We got to see this one up close, and Drake thought that she was an orphan because she was so skinny and all alone. It made him really sad....

A big, nasty, dead jelly fish..... Oh yah, we also learned that you cannot bring a metal detector into a federal park, or you can be fined up to 2,000 dollars!

Tamer and I found this sea sponge on the beach during his birthday walk. We surmised that the red part was still alive, but the tan colored side had already died. We threw it back to the sea in hopes that we could save it, but found it back on shore when returning down the beach an hour later. The textures on the different sides were also very different, the tan was less slimy and more porous.

A HUGE, (also dead) horseshoe crab!!

After staying at Cumberland for a few days, we then went south across the St. Mary's River, and back to Florida to provision for the next leg of our journey. The little town is called Fernandina Beach and was really a neat place to visit, even though we only had a day. Down near the mooring area there is a lot of little shops, bookstores, pubs and they even had a great little farmer's market.
Here is Tamer returning from his share of the provisioning (90%). This bike has been a godsend to us, and I am sooooo glad that he built it back in Alaska. It can be taken to shore in the dinghy, gets 100 miles to the gallon, goes about 15 mph, and hauls an inordinant amount of stuff!!!

A close of shot of Tamer's hauling capabilities... Amazing!

Titusville, FL To Cumberland Island, GA 6-8/6-10

P'tit Louis and Free Spirit were joined in our travels by another french couple on another steel boat named Ahora. This is their son Rupert, and he was a very smart and fun 2 1/2 year old who spoke about 97% French. It was very entertaining for the boys to sit with him and their English/French picture dictionary. They would point a picture of something common, say the French word for it, and Rupert would immediately say, "No!", and correct our pronunciation. He completely understood that we were learning his language, and was also open to learning a little of ours. He was a breath of fresh air and a joy to be around :-)

Getting ready to head out of the waterway and into the Atlantic. Ahora went first, then us, then P'tit Louis. We 'rubbed aground' about 5 times in this channel, and would highly recommend that it be up next for dredging!

A massive school of jellyfish that we encountered just after leaving the inlet into the Atlantic and turning North. There were probably hundreds of them, but if I zoomed the camera out, then they would blend into the surf. It was cool!!

Up close and personal.... I would not want to meet one of these in a cold, dark, waterway :-)

Sunrise the next day over the Atlantic while on my morning watch. It is kind of cool that over the ocean, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between sunrise and sunset.

A HUGE manta ray followed us into the St. Mary's River from the Atlantic just south of Cumberland Island. The St. Mary's River is the border between Florida and Georgia. Finally!!!! We are into another state!!!

The 3 boats, safe and sound, moored together for a few days of fun and relaxation.

Ahora / P'tit Louis / Free Spirit

Introducing Propcalc 4.0

Use Propcalc to easily match your hull with your engine, transmission, and propeller
Put the known data in the top fields, then hit the Update button to get the answers.
Results, of course, should be verified by a Naval Architect or qualified surveyor.
Data is provided for three bladed propellers of average type
For two or four bladed props, use the modifiers shown below.

Fill out the fields as follows:

Vessel LWL (ft) = Waterline length
Vessel Disp (lbs) = Vessel displacement
(max) HP = Rated Engine Max HP
Engine RPM max = Engine RPM at Max HP
Engine RPM cruise = Desired or estimated cruise rpm
(Cruise or Max) Kts = Speed to work the calculations for
Slip = Propeller efficience. 45% is average for a displacement cruiser.
Gear ratio = 1: Gear ratio of transmission
SL Ratio Adj. = This value will be added (or subtracted, if a negative value) to the calculated S/L ratio.

Key information:

If the "hp required" is greater than the "cruse HP", you have your cruise RPM set too low for your engine parameters.
If the "hp required" is significantly less than the "cruse HP", you have your cruise RPM set too high for your engine parameters.
If the "hp required" is greater than the "Max HP", then your target speed is too high for your engine/hull parameters.
The S/L ratio is calculated automaticaly based on your input. It can be adjusted if necessary, but normally it should be left alone.
If the calculated S/L ratio exceeds S/L MAX, then the results are likely to be non-predictive. Try a lower speed requirement.
SL Ratios of 1.1 - 1.4 are typical of displacement hulls. Semiplaning or planing hulls can go higher.

Typical propeller slip values:

Sailing auxiliary, barges, etc less than 9 Kts............45%
Heavy powerboats, workboats 9 - 15 Kts....................26%
Powerboats, Lightweight Cruisers 15 - 30 Kts..............24%
High speed planing boats 30 - 45 Kts......................20%
V bottom race boats 45 - 90 Kts...........................10%


it is possible to get irrational answers by irrational input , I.E specifying excessive speed for hull type and length
Any attempt to exceed hull speed (1.34 times the square root of the waterline length in feet) with a displacement hull are likely
to fail unless the hull is extremely fine (multihull) or otherwise exceptional. In such cases, an S/L adjustment would be in order.

2 and 4 bladed props:

For two bladed propellers, multiply the diameter by 1.05, and the pitch by 1.01
For four bladed propellers, multiply the diameter by .94, and the pitch by .98

Vessel LWL (ft) =
Vessel Disp (lbs) =
  (max) HP =
  Engine RPM max =
  Engine RPM cruise =
  (Cruise or Max) Kts =
  Slip =
  Gear ratio = 1:
  SL Ratio Adj. =
  Prop rpm max =
  Prop rpm cruise =
  Pitch =
  Diameter =
  Static Thrust =
  Cruise HP =
  Cruise HP% =
  SL Ratio =
  DL Ratio =
  SL Max =
  HP Required =