Disaster Averted, Happy Anniversary, Disaster Averted Again
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
(Ships Log entry)
September 14th, 2012
0824: Passing Devil's Head (southernmost point of Longbranch Peninsula). All is well.
0900: Just passed Eagle Island to starboard. Reth was at the helm, and I below, when all of a sudden there was a very loud and disturbing BOOM. We hit something. (End of entry).
Then, another BOOM, which shook the vessel, as well as us, to the core. Just as I stepped back into the cockpit, I saw a submerged tree (better known as a "deadhead") surfacing not far off of the stern. Apparently, we had just gone over the top of it. The first "boom" must have been us hitting the deadhead, with the second one resulting from the keel being jarred loose from being seized, sliding over the top of the submerged log, and then SLAMMING back forward and smacking the front of the keel pocket. Good news, the keel is no longer seized! Wait, where is all of that water coming from?!! "OMG, we're going down!" Actually, it wasn't coming in that fast, but fast enough that something had to be done immediately. There was no bilge pump on board, of any kind. The water was filling up the portside locker beneath the dinette, where access to the keel bracket and pin were located. The compromised area was not visible though. At that point, we were about half way to our destination. Do we turn back, or steam ahead? I would have to see how fast the water is coming in to make that decision. Luckily, there was a long length of clear plastic tubing on board. I placed one end into the flooding space, sucked hard on the other end, and placed it into the 5 gallon bucket we had onboard. Thankfully, the bucket was filling faster than the storage locker. When the bucket filled, I poured it overboard. This scene repeated itself all the way to Gig Harbor, and we made it safely to our slip at Arabella's Landing.
While in Gig Harbor, we did find time to celebrate, but never left the boat for very long. Much to our delight, the water had stopped coming into the locker. We kept a regular watch on it for a couple of days, and then decided that we'd attempt to get her home. Our passage home was rather uneventful, which was exactly what we had hoped for. Once back to Boston Harbor Marina, the decision to schedule a haul out in Olympia was made. Monday morning, I made the appointment for 2 weeks away.
Before I could get her to Olympia for the haul out though, my uncle came to town and wanted to go for a boat ride. My friend Alex had mentioned wanting to get on the water earlier in the week, so I invited him also. I figured, what could be the harm in motoring around a little. Afterall, no more water had come into the boat since the day we left for Gig Harbor. Uncle David, Alex, and myself set out for Hope Island just a week before haul out. We were approaching Hunter Point to portside, which is about 2nm from Boston Harbor Marina, when David asked me if there was supposed to be a bunch of water in the cabin. Obviously, the answer was "no". I gave him the tiller and checked the locker where we had the previous compromise. It was dry. By this time, the water in the cabin was above my ankles, and rising fast. I lifted the lid to another storage locker, in which the thru-hull fitting for the keel cable is located. Holy Shit! The entire thru-hull fitting had popped out, leaving a hole the size of a racquetball, in which water was freely gushing in through. I took the tiller back, came about, and pegged the motor in the direction of homeport, 2nm away! In the meantime, I gave them both buckets to bail with. I could feel the boat becoming harder to maneuver, as she took on more and more water. The motor was also getting closer and closer to being submerged. If that happens, we're dead in the water. PUSH PUSH PUSH, BAIL BAIL BAIL, PUSH PUSH PUSH, BAIL BAIL BAIL ... we HAVE to make it back. In hindsight, I think that having both of these guys aboard to bail is the only reason that boat doesn't sit on the bottom of Puget Sound today. Had there only been one other aboard, or even just myself, there was no saving her, or possibly me.
We made it back to the marina pretty close to low tide, took her as close in to shore as possible, basically beaching her (the keel was kind enough to somewhat retract), and tied her to the dock really good. Here's the saddest part... I had to go coach a baseball game, so we left her there.
While acting as Third Base Coach, in the middle of our team batting, I got a call from the marina. My boat was sinking, as the tide came in, and it was taking their dock down with it. I told them I was on my way shortly, finished the inning, and headed back to the marina. All the way there I could only picture the damage being done. My mind kept repeating that maybe this boat life wasn't for me. So, imagine my surprise when I arrive to the marina and walk down the dock only to find the boat floating like nothing ever happened. I spoke to the people in the office and they told me to go down and look for Mark Osborne, the marina maintenance guy. When I found Mark, he explained how he had gone down in the submerged cabin, filled the hole with a wad of Oakum, and then pumped the water out. I know his motivation was saving the dock, but he, in essence, saved my dreams that day. I offered to pay him whatever his rate was for such a heroic service. In true sailor style, he said only to bring him a bottle of rum next time I come out. I ended up bringing him the biggest bottle I could find. It was a small price to pay.
The father of one of the kids I coached happened to be the Port Patrol Officer, and when I filled him in on what was happening, during that baseball game, he offered to escort me to downtown Olympia for the haulout. The very next day, I took him up on his offer and took her down to Swantown Boatworks and was able to haul out a couple of days ahead of schedule.
The sad state of the keel. You can see the broken cable near the bottom.
The rudder cheeks were toast
Time in the yard isn't cheap, so I had to figure out what to do and how, and then get it done. After seeing the state of the rudder cheeks, I knew that I could not put it back in the water like that. I found plans to have new ones fabricated through the Chrysler Sailors online forum.
I took the plans, and the old parts to Zeigler's Welding in Olympia to see if they could make this for me. They could and they did!
The new rudder cheeks, fabricated for me by Zeigler's Welding in Olympia
Next up, the keel. Where to even begin?! There were no zincs attached to the keel, so it acted as a zinc itself, attracting all of the stray electrical currents flowing through the water, and eating away at the cast iron. First thing to do was to knock off all of the corrosion with a needle gun.
The eye for attaching the keel cable, after I removed the corrosion, exposing fresh cast iron.
Once all of the corrosion was removed, I applied a bonding coat, and then filled the largest of the pock marks with epoxy, to create a smoother surface. I would revisit this the next time I hauled out too. But, my window to get back in the water only allowed me to take care of the most vital projects at his time.
Applying the bonding coat
Epoxy filled in most of the pock marks left by the corrosion
Next up, a new thru-hull fitting and attaching the new keel cable to the winch. After cleaning the hole where the old fitting went, I installed the new fitting with 5200 and let it set. Once the sealant was dried, I attached a new rubber hose, fed the cable through, and attached it to the winch.
Fully functioning keel cable & winch
Once I was done with the repairs, it was time to get a couple coats of bottom paint applied. Rain was forecasted, so I learned how to make rain gutters that day. This was the first time using Pettit Hydrocoat bottom paint, and I've used it every haul out until the most recent, and that was only because Fisheries was out of the blue that I wanted. The Pettit product has really treated us well though.
The happiest she's been in many years :-)
Giving a vessel new life feels really nice. The sense of accomplishment, along with all that I learned, truly reaffirmed this lifestyle that I had chosen. Being a boater is one thing though, and what I really wanted to be was a sailor. That meant that I needed to learn how to sail. By luck, or just fate, I met a couple of boatyard guys while working at that tavern in West Olympia. They helped me tremendously through this recent haul out, and were at the ready when it was time to launch, to show Dylan and I how to sail. Thank you Brett and Marlow!
Marlow, Brett, and Dylan (at the helm)
Marlow raises the mainsail
Our First Sail <3
Over the next year, we would spend a substantial amount of time on the water, both under sail and under motor. Again, or should I say still, the learning curve was steep. Sometimes, we'd be out in winds we had no business being in, but we survived. Here are a few shots from those adventures. Keep in mind, I wasn't that good yet at taking pictures during extreme sailing, so most of my captures back then were with sails down.
Zana being Zana <3
Captain Ecstatic sailing!
Dylan & I heading out to go crabbing for the first time <3
Admiral Reth <3
I even got to take my grandfather for a spin. This was a special day <3
We sailed and explored and sailed and explored through the entire summer of 2013. Once the decent weather had passed us by, I made arrangements to haul out again, to do some more extensive work to the boat, such as completely remove and resurface the keel, add legit electrical components to include LED lights, a switch panel, a battery disconnect, and a manual bilge pump, among other things. If we're going to take this vessel anywhere for any length of time, this and more would be paramount. My grandparents had an empty trailer port that I would park her under, and a friend was letting me use his sailboat trailer to get her there.
This is where I would do the most extensive work, and then give her a name
Having had a taste of sailing now, as well as boatwork, I could not wait to get this project going so I could get it done and get back to sailing. What would follow was nearly a year of projects that would culminate in the trip of a lifetime.
As much as I enjoy writing about all of this, the next couple of posts will be have a bittersweet feeling for me. You see, I've already written a blog about the entirety of that overhaul, as well the adventures that immediately followed it. Sadly though, that blog no longer exists, as I recently discovered. I will do my best to recreate it here.
Up Next... An Overhaul and a Name
Thank you for reading. I'm here to answer any and all questions about this post, any other post, navigation within the Salish Sea, and anything related to living the #saltwaterlife
Being new to the "Blog Game", I'm learning as I go, and am happy to share what I know. Also, as I progress here, expect more videos ;-)
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