July 11 – 18, 2021
By July 11th, after a week of 90+ degree heat, waiting of our turn in line with AC repair guys, we were getting pretty desperate. The mechanics at Bay Shore spent all day Friday trying to remove the throttle lever to hook up the new engine control cables. This was supposed to be a 30 minute job. That left us feeling pretty grim going into the weekend, but Monday, things finally started happening. They decided to use brute force and just sliced off a perfectly good $400 throttle lever. At that point this made us happy not sad, because it meant we were close to the end of the job. The sea trial of the new motor went well Tuesday, with just a few tweaks to finish on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the AC guys finished their work. The whole boat, not just the aft cabin, is now COOL!!! However, the only guy that new how to hook of the fireboy got delayed in southern Maryland, so the engine work finished on Thursday morning.
Thursday, Jeff and I worked like crazy people getting the war zone boat put back together and shipshape. Also, we were joined by our new friend Ron, who agreed to crew with us on the trip back up to Oyster Bay. He even took me in his car to provision, so we have tons of food crammed in the fridges now. Yay.
By 4PM, we untied the lines and left Annapolis harbor for the first time Since May 19th, just shy of two months. So our projected boat work (“2 days to pull the old motor, 2 days to install the new motor, but we won’t work 4 days in a row”, is what we were told). This means we should have know 8 weeks was how long it would take. The formula for boat projects is estimate how long it with take (4 days) double that (8 days) and raise the units by one (days become weeks). Technically, we finished one day early. Sigh.
The trip to Oyster Bay started out great. We left hot and windless Back Creek on a sunny afternoon with very light wind. We raised the sails and had an easy gentle sail up the bay until about 8:30 when the wind died after sunset. No problem! Fire up the brand shiny new diesel! Joy for 5 minutes. That was fun. Then we notice the engine compartment blower fan isn’t moving… This little guy moves hot air out of the compartment at the center of the boat, down a 4 inch tube that vents out the transom.
The engine doesn’t mind the heat, but there is a bunch of other stuff in there and it makes the whole interior hot. Humm. Apparently, during the engine installation it got bumped around and gave up the ghost. Not to panic! In our small West Marine rivaling trove of spares, low and behold, we have a back up engine blower fan. Oh joy! Another great 5 minutes. Then we realize the box contains a totally perfect and awesome 3” fan, not four inches. Frustration replaces joy. We proceed to motor all the way through the C&D Canal, out in to Delaware Bay and drop the hook at midnight to sleep and wait for the Delaware City Marina ships store to open at 8AM. I should note that Ron was a trooper during all this fiasco, and stayed totally calm and ready to help. We had a peaceful, quiet night on the hook, but the boat was hotter that it should have been.
First thing Friday morning, we start calling around and there are no fans to be had near Delaware Bay. Sigh. At least the tide was good to be swept down the bay. Oh, and I almost forgot. For the first 50 hours of run time, a diesel needs to be run at high loads – even at max throttle for 1 min of every 30. There is this whole break in procedure. So the engine is as noisy as possible and sucking down gas at 2 or 3 times normal burn rate and normal cruising speed. That’s bad, but on the up side, we were zooming down the bay moving at 10 knots – faster than some of the tankers that zoom up and down that channel. Delaware Bay is very shallow, except they dredge a deep water channel right up the middle. We need to stay in that or close to it. No problemo! More 10 knot joy ensues. By now, you know what I’m going to say. An alarm goes off that sounds exactly like that klaxon they use to warn you the nuclear weapons are launching in 60 seconds. The engine has overheated. We are dead in the water. Jeff brings us out of the channel on our coast down from ten knots. We are still moving down the bay at 2-2.5 on the strong current exactly parallel to the channel. I man the helm (which is kind of superfluous with no steerage, but I can at least be supper aware of when we would need to drop the anchor if we started drifting in front of a tanker (which takes like miles to stop, and is to deep to turn to avoid us). Apparently, our new engine did not come with all new cooling hoses. The hose between the engine and the water heater did not like being jostled around when the new engine was installed, detached and reattached. It split right near where it attaches to the water heater, and a gallon of antifreeze spewed into the bilge. No Bueno. Luckily, Jeff only had to cut off 2 inches of the hose to get back to a good part, and it still reached, and we had just enough antifreeze on board to refill the reservoir. Phew! We were out of commission for only about 30 minutes, and they weren’t even that tense. What if this had happened last night in the dark, in the narrow canal? Boy did we get lucky. We weren’t even really slowed down that much because we kept moving on the river current at 2.5 knots. Some of you may remember we have excellent sails, and wonder why we didn’t use those? There were 2 knots of wind, if that.
It’s hot and noisy but we persevere and by the afternoon we turn the corner around Cape May. The wind has come up a bit, and we are able to kill the engine and sail at about 6 knots with 9 or 10 knots with the wind on our aft quarter. Gorgeous. We even ate dinner on an even keel and it was joyously quiet. Night watch was so easy with Ron there to help. We each did 3 hours in the dark, and Jeff got 6 hours sleep before he had to pilot us through New York Harbor. We entered the traffic separation zone at sunrise when I came off watch. We were all well rested to enjoy the trip past the Statue of Liberty and up the East River. By noon on Saturday, we had picked up a mooring in Port Washington, and that afternoon, we walked to West Marine, and got a new magical unicorn, I mean 4” blower fan. They are harder to find than unicorns, and unicorns can’t make the boat cool and quiet! We enjoyed a wonderful celebration dinner at Louie’s and a quiet night on a town mooring.
In the morning, we had a cool and rainy departure from Port Washington, and although the wind never came up, the sun did break through the clouds in order to have a beautiful entry into Oyster Bay and a last lunch on the hook with Ron before we took him to catch a train into the city to meet his wife in Manhattan. I think a good time was had by all, even though there was more noise and heat than would be idealJ At least we ate well.
One of Jeff’s very good friends here in Oyster Bay has agreed to be our post office, and he stopped by with all the mail and parts we’ve been eagerly awaiting. Weeeeee!
We hope to leave for Block Islands and points east by tomorrow. We are back on the road! Freedom feels so good!