March 2, 2011

Calm as it ever Gets

Either Passage Weather misforecasted the day, or "calm as it ever gets' is a euphemism for a stiff wind in a washing machine.

It started out fine. But rather than the wind dropping last night, it began to build. Not to anything dramatic--but between the adverse wind, the adverse seas and a stubbornly adverse current we were making a nauseatingly slow 3.5 knots through the night.

Occasionally we'd hit a steep wave that was big enough to stop us cold. When that happens the boat shudders and bucks and I'd race around trying to see if we caught a fishing net or something. But then we'd start to churn forward, wallowing up and over the next wave.

Our goal, when we set out yesterday, was to have an event free passage. A goal that despite the nasty conditions seemed to be going fine until I was woken from a sound slumber: "The engine's over heating and the tach is going crazy!" Evan called down, before disappearing into the engine compartment.

I was up in a flash--checking our location, course, looking out for hazards etc. Then Evan called me to shut down the engine. There was water in the compartment.

Salt freaking water.

I hate finding water in the boat. It bugs me. Logically I know we're not actually sinking, I know we're nearly impossible to sink. But water doesn't belong in the boat.

I also hate the little dramas that come with these emergencies. Or rather, I did. Something hit me this time--as Evan trouble-shooted, and I offered actual relevant thoughts (through some sort of osmosis a whole bunch of boat stuff has sunk in to me), and Maia did what was needed and helped where she could--we're okay at this. We can handle emergencies.

This is good to know. Because no matter how well prepared we are, stuff is going to break and things are going to go wrong. And Evan--despite being competent at everything boat--can't steer the boat and hold a calmish course while his head's in the engine diagnosing that the water is coming through the shaft seal at high rpms, but only when we hit a wave at a specific angle. And I can't fetch him things if I'm outside steering and sorting things out. And Maia can't help with tools if she hadn't known where they are kept and what they are called.

I would have like an eventless passage. I would have like to have stared at the waves and daydreamed about wonderful things while the ocean went by like a movie.

But I like that our emergency played out without drama--that it was as calm as it ever gets.

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful post

Andy in Mpls

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

And the happy news is the high water line was below the starter motor! The starter battery had a salt-water bath--but the starter motor seems to have gotten off unharmed.
Time to move the highwater bilge alarm a little lower...

Anonymous said...

All those little things that make a big difference.

A in Mpls

Behan said...

not the kind of excitement you want in a passage- yikes! what did the root cause turn out to be? so glad nothing was damaged.

Diane, Evan and Maia said...

Hey Behan,
some of the set screws holding the shaft coupling had loosened off. The good news is the engine got a two-day overhaul and every connection, hose and belt is now inspected...