Monday, June 16, 2014


Freja keeps watch on the bow.

Boaters, especially cruisers, like redundancy. Two fuel filters, two Phillips head screwdrivers, solar panel and wind turbine, electric start engine that also has a hand crank, pressure water and foot pump. On sailboats, sails and an engine. And, as sailors cruising on a powerboat, two engines. 

Thanks goodness for redundancy. 

A couple days ago as we were nearing Charleston, SC, our starboard engine sputtered and died. We motored into our anchorage on one engine, checked the obvious (impeller, fuel filters), and, finding no obvious answers, shut the engine compartment and poured a couple stiff drinks. 

A couple hours later, Hans got the engine to start up by cleaning the battery terminals and banging, yes, literally banging, on the starter with a wrench. But it made a horrible, loud, clanking, clanging sound. We quickly shut off the engine and called a mechanic near Beaufort, SC. 

Motoring south the next day, Sunday, I only could think of the worst. Total, catastrophic engine failure. Perhaps because it was Sunday, or perhaps because I was steering the boat through beautiful, winding rivers and creeks that connected to the ocean, my thoughts became introspective. 

I wanted to pray for good news from the mechanic. I wanted to pray that it would be a simple fix that we didn’t see because we don’t know very much about gasoline engines. But I couldn’t. I’ve always been uneasy with praying for things and I’ve always been uneasy when people use the phrase “I’ve/you’ve been blessed.” I don’t think there is a God that bestows favors or grants prayers to specific people. For if that were the case, then what about all the starving children in Ethiopia? Do they not pray hard enough? Are they not blessed?

I found myself then praying for the strength and the grace to deal with whatever verdict the mechanic offered. Because that, I find, is one of the most valuable things about religion: offering a moment to stop, think, (think critically), examine, and observe, about how I can live better on this planet. I’m not necessarily praying to a single God, and I”m not necessarily praying. What I am doing, however, is taking a minute from every busy day to reflect and be introspective, and, in that regard, work towards living a better life. Is Jesus a fictional character? Is the Bible a bunch of stories? Perhaps. But these stories provide a path to follow; a leader to follow; an inspiration to live life more gently, less selfishly, and more gracefully with myself, my family, and the people around me.

A few days later and many miles of running our boat on just one engine to get to Jacksonville, and I’m feeling much calmer. The boat runs fine on one engine, perhaps we’re even saving some money on gas, and we’ll get there. 

Thank goodness for redundancy. 

An engine rebuild is not in our plans and we’ll have to revise and come up with something new once we get settled in Jacksonville, but that’s no big deal. We’re all happy and healthy. We’re still out cruising on the boat every day, anchoring in beautiful wetlands only accessible by boat; life is pretty good, even with just one functioning engine. 

Crossing our fingers that our one engine keeps on chugging as we enter the notoriously shallow and shoal-ridden waters of the Georgia ICW.

Hi shrimp boat!

Here we go, in between the green and the red with a strong moving current.
Keep on chugging port engine, keep on chugging.

Hans (and Freja) drive the boat through the channel at Jekyll Island.
Yes, that is a mud bank off our starboard side; there was an identical one to port.
It was shallow and skinny with a fast current.
Keep on chugging port engine.

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