Jul 20, 2014

And we're off!

What a first day. We were up early, excited and ready to go. I go to start the starboard engine ... and nothing happens.


We had just used the engine yesterday, started it multiple times, it worked fine, and now... nothing? It seemed to be an ignition problem. I checked out the engine, looked for loose wires, took the ignition panel apart, looked for loose wires. nothing. I got out my volt meter and prepared to start following wires.

To test the volt meter, I jumped into the port engine compartment and followed the batter cables. I noticed the cables went directly into the boat, just like the starboard cables. Then I thought... "hmm, the starboard cabin has some battery switches." I checked out the switches, noticed one was off. Turned it on, tried the engine, done. I guess those switches do have a purpose!

That little mishap really soured the "we're excited we're leaving today!" vibe, but we pushed ahead. We crossed the bay, pumped out the boat, then got on our way.

We got out on the bay, I put up our sails. We were making nice progress. The autopilot was steering and I was walking around the boat, tidying up lines and putting fenders away when a gust of wind caught my hat and blew it off my head and into the water.

I thought about letting it go. It's just a hat. I can get a new one.

... But in a flash, I thought about it, I've had that hat for 10 years. I got it just before LeeAnn and I went on our first big sailing trip to Canada when I was 20. I've sailed thousands of miles with that hat, to 4 different countries, across the Atlantic Ocean... MAN OVERBOARD DRILL! I MUST SAVE MY HAT!

I let out the jib sheet, turned off the auto pilot of brought the boat around. LeeAnn saved the hat from the yucky Chesapeake Bay with a boat hook. I turned the boat back around and we continued crossing to the east side of the bay.

Once across, we rounded up into the wind, dropped the sails and headed north up the Chesapeake, straight for the Bay Bridge. I fired up our port engine and we ran on it for a few hours. Then, just out of curiosity I opened up the engine hatch to check things out and I found diesel fuel spewing all over the place. For a split second I panicked, then realized I had just failed to fully tighten down a bleed screw.

I switched over to the starboard engine, and just to be safe, opened the hatch. I found the engine shaking so badly that the oil dipstick had shaken loose and the engine was spewing hot oil all over the engine compartment. I have no idea what RPM the engine was running at because my tachometer had failed the day before.

So I switched back to the port engine and started looking for a place to stop with a mechanic. I started calling around with my cell phone which continuously dropped calls. It was extremely frustrating, and with all the issues piling up, a semi-function cell phone was enough to push me over the edge. I considering throwing the iPhone as far as I could, but I settled for screaming out a few curse words and stomping around like a child for a few minutes.

We headed for Worton Creek. When we got close, my cell phone still wouldn't work so I switched the to the VHF radio. It was the first time I used a VHF in about 5 years, after a little awkwardness, it came back like riding a bike.

We pulled into the creek. It was beautiful. Very calm, and very charming. It reminded me of the town in the book "Fried Green Tomatoes". The marina office was really cool. It had an "old" atmosphere that can't be created by a decorator. This place was the real kind of old. Not the fake old atmosphere so popularly created in restaurants these days.

All in all, it was a pretty rough first day. Enough went wrong that I could have been in a justifiably bad mood. But I decided to be happy instead.

Bottom line: we made some progress. Sure we had engine trouble, but it would have taken weeks to get a mechanic to look at the engines in Annapolis, in Worton Creek they had a mechanic available immediately, and at a lower hourly rate.

Worton Creek itself was peaceful and beautiful. It I wanted to get Oysters before we left Maryland, and there just happened to be a charming little restaurant just a few hundred feet from the marina!

Cruising on a sailboat is full of setbacks and unplanned detours. They can ruin the trip, or be the adventure. As they say: "when the world gives you lemons, make lemonade".

LeeAnn in the marina store. One step out the door and you're in the water!

A swing set we found while waiting for the restaurant to open

The stairs leading up to the restaurant

The charming restaurant

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