The most revolutionary act that a person can perform in this country is to be happy.Patch Adams
We are fairly well appointed and prepared now, sitting in this quaint little harbor off the western side of Buzzards Bay. By ratio of sail to power boats, I’m anointing this harbor as “Annapolis of the North “. Daily squadrons of little sailing prams, with teenage girls squealing, jousting with their opponents throughout each buoy race; sounds like my kind of early harmless flirting. Ahh, to be young and careless once again!
Our list of project priorities is ongoing, but narrowing, still allowing this year for solar panels, dodger and refrigeration systems installation upon our arrival to Rockland, Maine. We’re now about two weeks later than my original guesstimate schedule to arrive there. Not bad actually. Sails are on, bimini is on, fuel tank is nearly full, everything cleaned, tuned, checked or replaced. And almost everything else is working. That, except the elusive autopilot, considered somewhat essential, and without further destructive rooting and cable tracing I may never find it’s fault. Is it worth my time, spending hours tracing, cutting cable ties, exposing ceiling panels, and disassembling other nooks and crannies to find an offending short or loose connection? Maybe. I’ve already invested a few hours searching for an obvious answer. But perhaps at this point I’ll be better off by saving additional time – and perhaps would use less of the precious commodity just installing a new modern system, one of which I understand it’s connections, know how it’s wired, and how to make it go. What’s a few more boat bucks? But that’s not what’s keeping us here…
We hadn’t yet spent much time feeling how the new Fayaway handles. So considering an ideal weather window in a few days to head north, we took a drive out through the channel into Buzzards Bay. With motor purring, maxprop seeming to bite water, we easily slipped our mooring and motored out for an hour, going through a few maneuvers, getting the feel. Upon return, Kelly easily grabbed the pickup buoy and we settled back to watch the clouds rolling past.
A house is but a boat so poorly built and so firmly run aground no one would think to try and refloat it.Anonymous, Cruisers Forum
Upon initial launch three weeks prior, the maxprop didn’t seem to engage properly. Or so we thought it was the prop. We waited two weeks for an opening to have her hauled to check and adjust the prop pitch. Calling me at my remote office, Peter the yard owner advised me that the prop indeed appeared to be set correctly. Hmmm? So before dropping her back in, he also called PYI the manufacturer as a sanity check. Ok, so nothing left to do but put her back into the water, as she was only temporarily being held on a trailer. After checking the fluid again (possibly a bit low, but adequate) he motored around the harbor, when all seems to be working ok. End of story? Nah.
So back to Kelly and I at the mooring preparing for a 120 nm trip north… With evening twilight descending, I decided to check that transmission fluid one more time. (After the haul last week I had decided it prudent to change the nefarious fluid, possibly eliminating the mysterious “prop” malfunction). So I unscrewed the hatch over the engine compartment (too small to be called an engine “room”!) and a waft of volatile aroma drifted upward out of the hatch. Yep, that telltale smell of hot transmission fluid! So I climbed down and somehow found myself with fluid dripping on my arms, hands and feet. Oh my! Upon further investigation, it appears the main shaft seal is leaking, spewing stenchy fluid reminiscent of hot port wine dripping down the shaft to the drive coupling, slinging a marvelous arc onto all clean surfaces within line of sight. Yuck.
After soaking up and wiping down droplets of red ooze with several of those blue paper shop towels I murmured a few downbeat words to symbolize our disappointment and predicament. Of course, we made liberal use afterward of the universal solvent (rum, not water), to remediate the mental trauma of realizing our updated predicament. Our mood improved as we played cribbage and cited how really nice this little harbor of hundreds of sailboats is, our own little Annapolis, and continued to squint into the warm setting sun.
Epilogue: Realizing the problem was beyond my wanting to tackle, a mechanic came by the next day to remove the transmission and bring to a local shop. We feel that’s pretty good service! Let’s hope that trend, unlike “island time,” continues and we may be allowed to journey north. All in all, we are not surprised by experiencing “one step back”, as we did take the gamble for this beautiful boat, definitely expecting to find such issues, and we are thankful that we enjoy being here, making new friends and staying healthy.