Saturday, June 23, 2012

North on the ICW - Day 5

[Kyle]Rather than a schedule that would take every minute of daylight for the solstice day, I finally had a shorter one planned. I was even more pleased when I found myself ready ahead of schedule for a pre-dawn departure in the dark.

The last couple of days, the anchor has been really dug in in the morning and difficult to unstick from the seabed. This morning, it was even harder still. I pulled until the electric windlass was showing signs of strain, then I would pause in order to let the buoyancy of the boat slowly pull the anchor free. I would pull, then wait, pull then wait. After some time of bringing up the chain only a couple of inches at a time, the poor windlass seemed to be really straining. I looked through the trampoline with my headlamp and saw an enormous blob smashed up against our bow roller.

At first, I thought it was our really muddy anchor with a couple of wraps of our chain around it. I started pushing and pulling it with a boathook and quickly realized it was something much bigger that I couldn’t even budge. {Maryanne: The last time this kind of thing happened was in Ireland, and the problem was an abandoned outboard that we’d dragged up }. From feeling around, the problem seemed to be a long abandoned two or three hundred pound anchor completely hidden under growth. Our chain was firmly caught between the flukes and the shaft. I wrestled with it for a while, but quickly realized I had no hope of lifting it far enough to remove our chain.

It couldn’t see how to get free of it. I didn’t want to cut loose our anchor. I sat down in front of it, shining my headlamp on it, studying it and trying to figure out what to do. After some time, I realized I could pass a dock line under it to support its weight, then I could let our chain out, which would give me enough slack to unwrap it.

As I did this, the boat and our huge new anchor drifted back until it came taught, being held by our real anchor. I was foiled. I then braced myself, counted to three, and let out all of the rest of our chain in a big hurry. This gave me a few seconds to work until it pulled tight. I plunged my arms through the big holes at the edge of the trampoline and started working furiously. Even without the weight of the unwanted anchor, all of that chain was heavy. Flailing it around like a madman while the trampoline net mashes waffle patterns into my face wasn’t easy. I got the last loop off the other anchor just before the chain pulled tight. I let one end of the dock line go, dropping the blob and freeing me to do a much more sedate normal anchor retrieval. The sun was now coming up. I had lost all of my extra time.

After that, the day went pretty smoothly. In the genuinely open waters of the Neuse and Bay Rivers, I once again visited my fuel leak problem in a series of carefully selected 20 second bursts every minute or so. I figured out the leak did not seem to be from the fuel pump after all. It was dripping from a different fitting at the filter and running down the line to collect at the pump, making it appear to be from there. I tightened the connections at the filter end and the leak decreased by at least two thirds.

Following current and fair winds got me to the next anchorage with plenty of time to spare. I wanted to relax, but I decided to use the time to my advantage and be extra-industrious.

I tidied up, and then donned my snorkel gear for a swim under the boat. Nothing had been scratched during the anchor retrieval and the new props still had all of their bolts attached. The anchor was buried far into goo in which I didn’t want to go fishing around.

Once the engines were cool enough to make burns unlikely, I topped off all of the fluids and then went through the entire fuel system on the starboard side. I did find a couple of less than tight fittings in places I wouldn’t want to try to get to on a running engine. Hopefully, the pesky fuel leak is now fixed or at least reduced to below the level of evaporation. Tomorrow will tell.

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