This saying was from Jake’s days in the military…the only easy day was yesterday. Easy living is only a memory of the past. Every day going forward is hard…And it rings true for us right now.
We are just a few days shy of our one-month anniversary of living on a boat AND today is our 5-year wedding anniversary. We hoped to make it a special one with our first attempt at making passage to an anchorage across the bay. The winds were predicted to be pretty heavy though, so we weren’t counting on sailing but were excited at the prospect of leaving the marina for a few nights.
If you have been following us along this quest, you have heard us talk a lot about the never ending “boat-project list” that has accumulated since we started living aboard. We have been slowly ticking things off the list, however there is one major road block; Our engine. We still have yet to actually SAIL our sailboat since our little beauty (engine) likes to give us problems inside the harbor forcing us to turn back. Needless to say we are more than a little discouraged.
We were excited on thursday because the mechanic came by to help us install the new parts we ordered, including the water pump and secondary fuel filter line; both of which were leaking. Once in, we started the ol’ girl up she purred like a kitten. So we went ahead and stocked up on food and water to take off for our 3 day shakedown cruise.
Friday morning brought winds that were a bit steep for our first time out (~20 knots with gusts upwards of 30 knots), and the waves were around 2-3 feet. Not huge but not small either. We motored out right into the wind, so we were really bouncing out there; though having a great time! We decided to hold off on raising the sails until we got closer to our destination because we weren’t even sure how things were setup and didn’t want to risk anything (playing it safe for our first time out!). However we didn’t get very far when the engine started to act up…UH OH!
At about 2nm (nautical miles) from the bay, the engine RPM’s died down and revved up randomly. It was pretty rough out and we suspected bad fuel in the system was causing it to act a little wonky. Within a few minutes, it died completely. We restarted right away without any issue so we kept chugging forward. But then it died again within another 30 seconds. So we made the call to turn around and head back towards our marina, just in case. But sure enough it consistently got worse until it puttered out completely. We were less than a quarter mile from the entrance to the harbor.
With the strong gusty winds and larger waves, we decided it would be safest to drop our anchor so that we wouldn’t stray into the shallow shoals around us. Perfect time to test our brand new Rocna anchor! Let me tell you this bad boy performed like a champ! It set without any issues and held in place beautifully.
Jake setting the anchor
Once secured, we grabbed our cell and dialed the number for Boat US; and a boat was dispatched to us within an hour. As we bobbed around waiting, we broke out the diesel engine maintenance book and tried to attempt troubleshooting. After opening the hatch, it looked like we had leaked quite a bit of fuel and possibly some oil, though it was hard to tell. We just had our filters replaced (by a professional) so we could cross some obvious suspects off our list, but we really had no idea where the problem came from. It did help pass the time though because soon enough our tow arrived.
Boat US Tow Saved The Day
Boat US came to the rescue and before we knew it we were back into our slip within another 20 minutes. Good thing we bought unlimited towing insurance so that worked out really well!
As soon as we settled back in our slip, the boat yard manager told us that we were being moved to another location. Apparently our transient status means we get booted if someone has more priority or seniority (which is just about everyone else). We were only moved a few spots down from the old location, however, in the end it was okay because the new slip is much larger than our old one. It had a better view of the bay. Plus we met a bunch of our new boat neighbors who are super friendly.
As we reorganized the boat for living again, we discovered a bunch of water in our propane locker. Another project for the list. We also decided to take the time and raise our main sail, clean it off and set up our rigging and reefing points properly. It was so great that we did this because it was a bit of a cluster. We found two bird nests in our sails and a bunch of poop (we suspect all bird but who knows what other critters got in there over the long winter). We took the time to clean the sails and the top decks while we were at it which was REALLY overdue.
Even though we were frustrated about not getting to our anchorage and the never-ending engine woes, we managed to have an enjoyable evening and accomplish quite a few tasks so that the next time we go out and sail, we will actually be prepared to do so. And truth-be-told, this is the whole point of our time here. To do things, to learn things and to get our boat ocean-ready. Now we just have to get her out to sail.
We attempted to shoot some footage of the voyage:
The silver lining to this was that our raft-up extravaganza was cancelled. So we didnt miss anything! On top of that we met and partied it up with some of new boat friends. It was a VERY enjoyable day in the end.
I guess its very rare that 1-in-5 planned excursions work out because there are so many factors at play; wind and weather, boat conditions and personal conditions. Everything has to be perfect for plans to work out so its common for sailing plans to fall through or completely change. It forces us to keep an open mind and be ready for anything, because you really NEVER know what to expect. It wasn’t always easy but it was a great day in the end.
Happy 5 Years Jake & Jill.