Sunday, July 30, 2006

Not The Best Start...

You know how sometimes things seem to be going your way and then without warning it all turns to poo? Well, this is exactly how this vacation has started.

I picked up my friend Laura Saturday morning so she could help me get the boat as far east as possible in two days - her husband was coming down from a boat delivery to Maine so he'd pick her up on the north end of the sound.

We got to the boat on time, got all loaded up and watered up and ready to go and off we went - motoring until we got past Execution Rock Light in the western Long Island Sound. The wind filled in from the west southwest and I was so excited because I could use the new spinnaker. Woohoo!

Set the spinnaker and main (you can do that off the wind if you don't have lazyjacks or other sail handling gear). Anyway, we were moving along at 5 knots or so in light wind so we shut down the iron jenny.

But it was hotter than the hammers of hell. Downwind is not the coolest point of sail - the breeze is dimished by boat speed, and the sun was killing us! Luckily I had the foresight to pick up a couple of golf umbrellas... And hey! Presto! Sunshade. It worked out spectacularly! There's always something to tie, clip, or otherwise fasten them to.

In the hottest part of the afternoon, the wind was lightening so we decided to douse the sails and go for a swim. The water was 77 degrees, but it felt cold compared to the air. Still it was spectacularly refreshing!

While we were swimming, the wind changed direction so we'd be dead downwind to get where we wanted to go, so we decided to motor the last hour or two to our goal, Milford, CT. Well, about ten minutes into the trip a really funny noise came from the engine and the water temperature started climbing. So I shut the engine down quickly - and Laura got the jib unfurled so we had some way.

When I removed the engine cover there was foul smelling smoke and I thought I'd seized the engine! The first thing I checked was that there was no fire. Then I checked that the things that should be cool were cool (raw water pump, heat exchanger, exhaust mixing valve) and the things that were supposed to be hot were hot (exhaust manifold, engine, hot water heater hoses) and the things in between were, well, in between (fan belt, alternator).

The fanbelt was warm -the water pump pulley was very hot (shouldn't be) and the raw water circuit was cool. So I got a wrench and used it to wobble the alternator pulley nut to see if everything still rotated - within the motion allowed by the crankshaft, it seemed to.

I went on deck to get the main up and we started sailing towards Norwalk with the idea we could get a mooring and hang until Monday. More on that later.

Next I asked Laura to turn the engine over while I watched. Everything turned except the freshwater pump. Well, that was that. With much discussion, we decided to sail back to City Island - this is around 4 pm, so having traveled all day one way we had to go back.

You might ask why. The reasoning was this: I have Towboat US account for unlimited towing. Still, as long as there's wind and we can make way, we can get somewhere (it is a sailboat after all). But I don't want to be towed somewhere where I can't sail out of, number 1, and number two, I'm not interested in paying usury rates for slips. Here in the Sound, slip fees have increased from $1.50/ft. per night including electricity to $3.00 plus! And electricity isn't included! So, since the pump failed on a Saturday evening, I couldn't get a pump until Tuesday - that ends up being up to $500 for slip fees if I leave on Wednesday morning!

The winds on the Sound are typically light and variable. So anchoring somewhere where there isn't a way to get to a marine store is pretty much out of the question, too. So we decided to night sail back to City Island. Hey, it's an adventure!

Anyway, we got to Execution Rock Lighthouse by about 11:30pm, and called Towboat US for the last bit to the mooring. I can sail to my mooring but at night in no wind and current against you it's not a good idea especially if the boats around you are expensive!

So, we got to the mooring and had a toast and collapsed for the night around 2:00am. If you think you're ever going to be towed, which means you have a boat, get the Boat US towing insurance. Get the full thing -it's $99.00 per year. My 6 mile tow last night probably would have been $1000. You do the math.

Monday (tomorrow) I will continue with the saga including the replacement of the pump....

See you on the water, but I'll still be at the mooring...

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