Thursday, June 18, 2009

Owning a sailboat doesn't mean you will actually SAIL

While I was busy escorting Maura off to the piney woods for a fun filled week of horses, S'mores and swimming, Mark was busy working on the boat. His good friend Bill Blizzard keeps his lovely boat Moondance at the same marina. (The photo of Maura and Mark on Maura's first sail was taken on Moondance). Bill happened to be at the marina on Sunday and was able to take the time to lend a hand so that Mark could take Ceol Mor out for a spin. Bill is an accomplished sailor and it was good for Mark to have a mentor to further his sailing skills. Other than a near grounding in what proved to be a bit of non-worrisome sludge, they had an uneventful little sail out in Galveston Bay and by all accounts, thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

 On Tuesday, seeing as how we were sans children Mark and I decided to take Ceol Mor out for a bit to practice manuevering under power and sailing a bit to get used to Ceol Mor's size, which is quite a bit larger than what we are used to and yes- size does matter. We removed all of the covers, checked the fuel and oil and prepared to take off. Here is Mark preparing to leave our slip, on our boat, for the first time alone.
  • Mark at helm
    Doesn't he look happy? A man with the boat he loves, about to go sailing with his AWESOMELY COOL WIFE on a perfect day with winds out of the south at 10-20 mph. No clouds on the horizon and 6 hours of sunlight left. Perfect
  • .
    We managed to nudge Ceol Mor out of her slip with only a momentary bit of panic from me. I was acutely aware at how much larger Ceol Mor is than anything I had sailed previously as we approached the boats moored up behind us. 42 feet is a lot of boat. Everyone assures me it will get easier but I am a big chicken. The sailing doesn't scare me, but the parking does!

  • Mark handled Ceol Mor beautifully, got her pointed down the channel and off we motored towards the bay. As we turned into to the primary channel, I noticed the engine sounded a I questioned Mark about this. I should have known by the way he said " we're fine" that something was off. Mark has a way of becoming rather terse when under stress and I noticed he was very short in his response. All the same, he kept Ceol Mor pointed towards the bay and since I have infinite trust in his superior mechanical skills, I figured he would mention if there was a problem so I continued to watch for oncoming boat traffic, debris in the channel, etc.
  • I waved as the new owners of the very little Island Packet I had so wanted to purchase motored smoothly past us on its way to its new berth, just 4 slips down from ours on the next pier over from ours. I was feeling a bit wistful for the little IP. I think Ceol Mor sensed my longing for the little tug because it was at this moment that Mark said " We're going back" and began to turn the boat around. I turned my head to ask him why when I saw this:
  • boat 029Let us speak briefly about things you do not wish to see pouring out of your companion way.
    1. Water
    2. Smoke
    That about sums it up. Smoke coming out of your companion way is bad. Water pouring out of your companion way is worse so we should all be grateful and thankful that it was the lesser of two evils.

  • I immediately stuck my head in as far as I possibly could to offer what assesment I could to Mark without pulling a Sylvia Plath in all of the diesel fumes. "The good news is there don't appear to be any flames. The bad news is, we now seem to be gathering a bit of water in the cabin" I told Mark. Mark was cool as a cucumber as he carefully eyed the temperature gauge and motored as slowly and carefully as he could back to the marina. I was offering up prayers to any and all dieties, spirits or powers that be that we manage to get Ceol Mor back to her slip in one piece so that we could assess the situation from the safe position of her berth, rather than in the middle of the channel. I am not certain which one picked up the hot line, but I was feeling grateful as we neared our marina.

  • The smoke from the exhaust seemed to gather in its intensity as we made our way back. This was the longest 20 minutes you can imagine as we glided by in our smoking hot boat (HA!) past the other sailors going out for an evening sail.
    boat 030
  • We once again, passed the little, non smoking IP with its new owners snug in its new berth. *sigh* After an inglorious docking manuever ( Mark did fine, I am the reason Ceol Mor now has a skid mark on her starboard side. Again 42 feet is a LOT of boat), we managed to get her tied up and assess the situation. We are down one exhaust pipe. Apparently, the exhaust pipe decided it was time to retire and blew out in spectacular fashion.
  • While were underway with an open exhaust line, the water intake for the engine cooling continued to do its job, intake water. Unfortunately, at this time the bilge pump which we had already decided needed some companions decided it wasn't going to work solo and retired as well. That explains the water in the cabin. Here's a photo of me perfecting the fine art of manual bilge pumping. Fortunately, the manual bilge pump works GREAT!  boat 032

    After such a stressful outing, Mark and I did what any prudent Old Salt would do in our situation. We ran to the pool to cool off and get the smell of diesel out of our nose and off of our skin. Then we had a dinner at a dockside restaurant with scallops, fish and copious amounts of adult beverages.  Nothing soothes the bruised pride that sailing provides quite like a good rum, except maybe two rums.
    Coming up next week- diesel engine exhaust repair and bilge pump installation 101! WHEEEEE! Owning a boat is F-U-N! I almost wrote some different letters after the FU...

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written account. I was right there with you... I've been there too!