Sunday, January 4, 2015

Full Maiden Voyage Story and Day 4 of 30 in 30

15-5 Resolution 2:  Don't forget, there's always a light
at the end of the tunnel
Y'all probably read this already as I posted it all over FB, but here's the story.  This resolution is important for me as I can sometimes forget that things WILL get better.  So, resolution 2:  Don't forget, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

The story behind this painting goes back about a year and a half ago.  We bought our '82 Egg Harbor in Wareham, MA and needed to get it back to Mystic.  We carefully planned our maiden voyage of over 70 nautical miles (or 80, I can't exactly remember, but it was pretty far for a day trip).  Jeff and I talked my dad into joining us as it would definitely help to have three sets of hands on the boat that none of us were familiar with yet.  We had gotten a survey (guy comes out, tests everything including seaworthiness) and everything passed.

We left Wareham at about 10 AM and enjoyed a leisurely cruise into Buzzard's Bay. The weather seemed nice and we had snacks, lunch, beer, wine, soda, water, you name it.  We were PREPARED!  We had even joined Seatow the day before in the event that we needed them, but we were certain we wouldn't.  About 2 hours into our trip, we were still in Buzzard's Bay and could just see Cuttyhunk.  All of a sudden, we heard this terrible buzzing.  Finally we realized that one of the engines was overheating.  Not to be crude, but the first thought was W-T-F!  We idled the working engine and turned off he overheated one and drifted a bit.  Jeff crawled down into the engine room and realized the coolant holder had tipped over so we figured the engine needed coolant as the overflow wasn't working and wouldn't suck coolant back into the engine (or whatever, not sure of the technical terms).  He fixed it, added coolant, tightened some bolts (oh, he found that coolant was leaking due to a loose connection).  We got back on course and ran with just one engine while the other continued to cool down.

As we left the protection of Cuttyhunk and were nearing the mouth of the bay, the wind started to pick up.  Nothing crazy, but it was blowing and the waves started picking up.  It made it a bit difficult to steer with just one engine, so we checked the other and it seemed as if it had cooled enough so we started that one too.  All was great for another couple/few hours.  It had gotten rough (probably 3-5 foot seas), but the boat was sturdy and we were really happy with how it handled in the waves.  At about 3 PM, we started to near RI and we heard buzzing again.  This time it was less of a WTF and more like a HUGE OMG.  It was the OTHER engine that was overheating this time!  So, we idled again (this time in some sizable seas) and Jeff looked in the engine room again.  We couldn't find anything and that engine seemed to be totally shot.  We started the original bad engine again and went along with one engine for a bit.  It seemed to be running at a fairly hot temperature, but wasn't overheating.  It definitely had us concerned.  The waves were bad at this point and it was almost impossible to steer.  At this rate, we were still a couple hours from Newport and Mystic was another few hours beyond that!  We also were nervous that the final engine wouldn't hold, so we decided to call Seatow.

As I was dialing Seatow, the engine went.  We were dead in high seas with NO engines.  In the open Atlantic.  Seatow, after getting the member number, indicated that they cancelled the account we had opened the day prior.  This sent me over the edge.  I started freaking.  Finally they figured it out and put us in touch with the local seatow.  At this point, I was getting sick on the bridge in a cooler.  Nice, huh?  Jeff called over the radio and gave Seatow our coordinates.  He mentioned it would be about 40 minutes or so as he was coming from Newport and seas were rough.  We all went down to the cockpit and waited.  And waited.  And bobbed around.  And waited.  After an hour and a half, we called Seatow on the radio again and gave him our updated coordinates.  Apparently he had overshot us by a few miles as he didn't take into account our drift.

Another hour went by, no Seatow.  We were now nearing a rock outcropping and could easily see land.  We called Seatow again, gave coordinates again and he couldn't understand why he couldn't see  us.  We continued to bob around, drifting closer and closer to the outcropping.  FINALLY, at now past 7 PM, Seatow finally found us.  At this point, we were in 10 feet of water or less and due to the big waves, it was near impossible for Jeff (standing on the bow with a life jacket on and a boathook in hand) to catch the tow line.  FINALLY the guy threw it well and Jeff caught it!  We hit a depth of under six feet of water, so he got us just in the nick of time.  We had thought about dropping anchor, however, due to the waves, we were waiting until the absolute last possible moment as that brings on different problems given the windlass didn't really work.

Now at about 7:45, we were finally getting towed to Newport.  We sat back, relaxed a bit, cursed boating, cursed the fact that we bought a lemon, cursed the surveyor, had a couple beers and realized we were all very happy to be alive!

At about 9 or so, we were just getting into Narraganset Bay.  I looked over and saw the most unbelievable, most awe-inspiring sunset.  I took a few quick photos on my iPhone and just painted the sunset today.  Those photos have always been a reminder to me that there is ALWAYS a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how bad things seem to be.  We only had to replace one engine, found an AWESOME mechanic in Newport and now fully enjoy the Stella Blue (renamed from Avalon after our not so successful maiden voyage).  Here's a photo o the three dogs on Stella Blue this summer.

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