Splash! The boat goes back in the water after 8 weeks on the hard! No leaks from the newly installed depth transducer (i.e. through the hull) or the repacked stuffing box! Life is good. I love the wide white stripe at the waterline – new Pettit ViVid White bottom paint and this time since the waterline keeps sinking, we took the bottom paint all the way to the bottom of the existing white awlgrip hull stripe. I was a bit concerned if I’d like it, but that concern evaporates as soon as I see the boat floating in the water. The diesel purrs to life, all is going well.
We motor the two hours through the canals from Charlotte Harbor Boat Storage to the lock. The lock is being a bit stubborn, but apparently it’s not just us. Switching it to manual lets it operate correctly.
Now we’re sitting at the outside dock, trying to gauge the depth. It’s well known that the next 100 yards or so is too shallow for a 5 1/2 draft (ours) without some help from the tides. We have a .9 high and think it should be sufficient,but since it’s a hard bottom, I call SeaTow to get some local knowledge. Wouldn’t you know, right in the middle of talking to SeaTow, our VHF goes from this:
WT????? I’m talking along and all of a sudden nothing. I look at the radio, nothing. I shut it off & turn it back on, nothing. We disconnect the remote cockpit mike, nothing. Grumble. I get out the handheld.
We get out the short narrow (and extremely shallow) channel with no difficulty, raise the sails and wouldn’t you know, our destination is 12 miles away directly into the wind… just figures, huh? Oh well, we’re so happy to be back in the water, it really doesn’t matter. And the new depthsounder is working perfectly!
Then, all of a sudden, the wheel pilot that’s not even on because we’re both enjoying actually sailing our own boat again, decides to become a little hitler and take over the steering. Except it’s not because it’s just holding the steering hostage, not steering at all. We can’t move the wheel at times except with extreme force and we cannot get the old Autohelm ST4000 to release it’s grip. And it’s not even engaged! Grumble. This could be dangerous, but we’re on a straight course and we’ll just hope we can wrestle enough control to get into the slip when we get back to the marina.
A bit later, we decided to turn on the below decks autopilot while we relax on deck and enjoy another spectacular sunset on the water. But wait ….
Drive error? Back to our first idea anytime anything doesn’t work — what were we doing in that area of the boat and could we have accidentally caused this malfunction? Well, David was working in that lazarette while we were on the hard – checking the steering cables, rudder post etc. So maybe he knocked something off, except he swears he didn’t.
Strike Three…. 🙁
So OK, we’ve been sailing less than an hour and the VHF, the backup wheelpilot autopilot and now the primary belowdecks autopilot have all failed. We need to get back to Eileen Quinn’s song — “If it ain’t broke, don’t use it”!
So are we LUCKY because the boat went back in the water perfectly with no issues. Or JINXED because within the first hour of sailing, not one but THREE important systems have failed.
As we watched the sun set, we decided we’re the LUCKIEST people on earth! How could you watch this and not feel that way? 🙂
P.S. A day later, David has all three of the challenges under control, or so we think. Turns out the VHF had a loose power cable – he added more electrical tape and snugged it up, so far so good. The wheelpilot that was holding the steering hostage has been removed and we have a new part ordered that should correct the problem. The belowdecks autopilot was a bit more of a challenge. We assumed maybe the connecting arm had been inadvertantly knocked off or some such simple thing, but everything was intact. We got out the manual and the troubleshooting info said with that error to check the hydraulic fluid levels. Sure enough after adding fluid and purging the system, the autopilot appears to be working again. So all in all, it’s all good. See, we were right to think we’re LUCKY! 🙂
So how’s everything going on your boat? Leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan