Saturday, 3 March 2012

Never Leave on a Friday

So the wind was about 10 knots and it was wonderfully sunny. We decided to have a quick jaunt offshore down to St. Johns river entrance, and take it from there. Jennie warned that we shouldn't leave on a Friday, and boy was she right. First off as we were leaving the St. Mary's inlet, the motor started clanging. So I jump down into the bilge, grab the tools and start effing around with the manual and the bleeding points on the fuel system. Problem solved. We decided to pull out the sails asap. We just pulled out a reefed main, and most of the genoa, just to get familiar with how she sailed. We left the motor running at low rpms and in gear to help us push into the wind, and recharge the batteries.

The sail was really nice considering how it started, and all was working well. We found out that Cypraea cannot sail up wind, at all. We had a south wind, and we were sailing SSW to W, and SSE to E. We finally entered the St. Johns river and decided to push it a bit and keep heading south down the ICW. Not an issue until we realized that there are barely any anchorages along this stretch. Just a 14 ft deep channel heading down the St. Augustine.

We pushed on to get to a mapped out anchorage, through the dark. With a few groundings in the mud, that we throttled out of and continued down.  By now we were going super slow because I happened to notice our motor over heating. I ran down to the bilge again, using some choice words, and came up with bad new... Low oil. It was leaking out at a faster rate than we thought. Plus it seems like fuel was in it. The bilge was a mess. I poured some in, and kicked myself for not checking. We decided to not push the engine anymore, and cruised slow. I think I caught the overheating quickly, and in retrospect, I think the fuel was just in the bilge, not the oil. No smoke issues.

We got to the Pine Island anchorage... And could not find the entrance, a couple more mud treatments for the keel, and we just kept going. We were so lucky it was a clear night with a bright moon. On the ICW the trick is to have a boat with a shallow draft, if not then you drive by your depth finder and theses little pilings with green squares or red triangles on them.  Some of them have lights, but most of them don't, and sometimes it may be a very very long distance between them. The maps help a little, but they are very inaccurate. So Jennie steered and read the depth, which she is very good at, and I stood at the bow with our two strongest flashlights, as we have not spot light, and spotted the markers and crab traps. We finally made it to St. Augustine, exhausted, but the fun was not over.

We headed over to where we thought the mooring field was, and found one. As we approached the boat wouldn't go any further, Jennie goes " Oh no, we must have fouled the prop on a crab trap" We throw the dinghy over I try to row the boat, no luck. I get a long rope and we try pulling, no luck. Finally we realize the boat was already sort of anchored, we have had no luck today. Who puts a mooring in 6 ft of water! So we throttle out of our predicament and head over to where othe boats are anchored. We get stuck,  seriously this time. I put as much weight to one side and Jennie uses her best Alberta "get the car out of the snow" techniques and eventually we get free. One of the cruisers noticed, or woke up as it was midnight, and told us where to anchor. We stuck in at 20 ft and went to bed exhausted with all our nerves wrecked.

We will never leave on a Friday again.

I digress, the next day we woke to sunny skies, spotted all our nocturnal mistakes and decided to get a mooring at a reasonable price, and get things working again. I changed the oil, and now the motor makes a phhpt sound every half second. I will try to diagnose and repair to the best of my ability. I'm thinking leaky fuel system, hence the diesel in the bilge and when I changed the oil it was fine.

 I did take off the carburetor for the dinghy motor, poured out the oil that had seeped everywhere when we crossed the Rockies, and she started up first pull.

 If anyone has any ideas why the motor is making this sound let me know. I have a feeling it has something to do with the fuel lift pump as we found out the tank is poorly vented and it probably had to work extra hard. We also found out another reason the previous owners were idiots, other than blowing the fuse on the macerator pump and not having a spare, in amongst all the used and burnt out light bulbs they kept. They stated the motor had about 5550 hrs, so when we noticed we had added 300 hrs so far, we questioned this. I now know why they had a spare hours meter on the boat. I wish I knew who rebuilt it, because they should get into arts and crafts and out of mechanics. It has nice paint and a lots of glue, but the important stuff is still aged and there are definitely things that need replacing. One day, but for now we fix what we can and change the oil alot.

Yay we get showers tonight, and don't have to worry about the gale force winds on our anchor!
People have lengthy forum discussions on training your dog to do this!
Next stop Africa.
At the helm.
What we woke up to after our nightmare night. Notice the shoal, our keel marks are probably still on it.

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