Monday, July 28, 2014

The last leg to Jacksonville

Jacksonville at night from m/v Rhumb Line

Boaters can’t be lazy. We may look lazy. We may look scruffy and unkempt. We may look like we shirk work any chance we get. We may look like loafers, free-loaders, lazy bums. Sure. Maybe we are. But that’s just when we’re tied up to the dock or swinging at anchor. When we’re actually out there, boating, we can’t be lazy.

Oops. The other day, we were lazy. We decided to move our boat to a new marina, one that is much closer to Hans’s work. The trip is about thirty nautical miles in protected waters. No big deal. We estimated it would take us about four hours or so, maybe less if our tide calculations were correct. Just twenty minutes into the trip we watched the temperature on the port engine, our only running engine, steadily climb. And climb. We marked a point on the gauge and said “if the needle hits the “r” then we need to do something.” Well the needle hit the “r.” But then it stayed steady. So we putted a walloping three miles an hour, sometimes we hit four. Big time! 

Why didn’t we panic? Well, here’s where we were lazy: We knew exactly what was wrong. This engine had been running a little warm for the last 100 miles or so of our trip south. Not this hot, but warmer than usual. We knew the impeller needed to be changed but, at the time, Hans didn’t want to the do the job because we were out in the middle of marshland Georgia. But why didn’t we remember this problem before we cast off the dock lines yesterday? We would have saved ourselves a lot of headache and hassle if we had swapped out the impeller when we were at the dock, before embarking on yesterday’s boat trip. 

Don't let your impellers look like the one on the left. Check often!

 We were lazy. Dock living is easy and it’s easy to become complacent. But running a boat isn’t like running a car. You can’t just turn the ignition over and set off down the waterway, which is exactly what we did. We forgot to run down the basic maintenance checklist before leaving, which may have jogged our memories that the impeller was bad. Instead, we just drove the boat out of the slip. And nearly overheated.

So we may be lazy at times, but thank goodness Hans is handy and mechanically-inclined. After a couple hours of hanging upside down in the engine compartment and filing the bilges up with probably a gallon of sweat, he pulled out a shredded, chewed up impeller and replaced it with an intact, brand new one.* We were back on our way south, at a more respectable nine miles an hour.

Pulling into a tight slip at a new marina at ten at night on one engine, however, is no small feat. Hats off to the captain and fellow boaters who got Rhumb Line into our slip safely without bumping anything or anyone.

The reward for anchoring for hours to swap out the impeller is that we motored past the city at sunset.
All cities look romantic and exciting at sunset.

*Smart boaters also know that it is imperative to carry a full arsenal of spares.

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