July 2016 Maintenance and Mishaps
We’ve had a whirlwind month filled with a lot of blissful sailing. However, the more we are in motion, the likelihood for repairs, maintenance, system failure, and problems at sea are greatly increased. So what happened over the last month?
In the middle of one of our first charters of the season, we left Moment’s mooring with the aid of the engine then shut it off as soon as the sails were raised. When we were returning, the engine wouldn’t start. Not even a “click.” This would have been less upsetting if the starter system hadn’t failed two separate other times in the past year, not to mention replacing the entire engine less than three years ago! Fortunately, we were able to sail back onto the mooring without an engine and return our guests to shore safely and on time. It was then time to tackle this problem before the next sail. Each starter issue over the past year, we replaced more parts of the system to ensure there were no flaws where electricity would get resistance. In the spring it was a whole new 12′ long battery cable, terminal bus, solenoid, and rebuilt starter. After some tests, we determined that at a minimum, the starter solenoid was bad and needed to be brought to a shop to be replaced. We pulled the starter and slave solenoid to bring to a shop down-cape. After some diagnostics, we determined that this time, we needed a new ignition, new wire to the slave solenoid, new slave solenoid, and a new starter solenoid. By the next morning, Moment fired right up and was ready for more action!
If you’ve met a sailor that tells you they’ve never run aground, you’ve been lied to. So, we won’t lie. It periodically happens to us too, especially growing up in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay, where grounding is a common occurrence. Fortunately, unlike the Costa Concordia, usually one can steer a boat out of the shallow water before going hard aground.
On a two-day sail to Plymouth and Wellfleet, this ‘steer-away’ tactic unfortunately didn’t work as Moment was exiting Plymouth Harbor with an out-going tide. We were in 18-30′ of water according to the charted depths, yet a shoal had shifted over the winter leaving us actually in less than 5′ of water and pushing us further onto the shoal. With a 6′ draft, we were stuck and stuck. All efforts to power off and get towed off were not working, so we had to delay until the rising tide. Luckily, the guests on board enjoyed the “Adventure” portion of the trip, while the captain coordinated ungrounding efforts with the tow-boat while simultaneously preparing morning coffee and omelettes. Four hours after our original departure time, the tide rose enough for the tow boat to pull us off the shoal and we were off to Wellfleet to sample those famous oysters!
A Fouled Prop
During a 6 hour tandem charter during Provincetown’s Bear Week, we sailed over to Herring Cove, brought our 11 guests ashore for a picnic lunch and then sailed our way back to Provincetown Harbor. As Moment’s engine went into gear (and only while in gear) to approach Herring Cove, we noticed it struggling, vibrating and thumping. Fortunately we didn’t have that far to go to drop the anchor and then investigate the issue. Once the guests were ashore and enjoying the beach, Captain Chris donned the mask and fins to investigate. Sure enough, a massive mooring line had wrapped around the shaft and propeller to the point that we couldn’t free it by hand. After getting a serrated rigging knife from the cabin, the captain was able to cut the line loose with about 10 surface dives.
Floor board repairs
In both boats, we have bilge access panels to below the teak and holly floors. With extreme moisture and a lot of pounding, sometimes the supports and access panels need reinforcing and repair to keep them sturdy and even with the floor. It was Moment’s turn to had a couple of her access panels reinforced with thickened epoxy and carpentry.
As for Momento, she has been mostly behaving well for us and has undergone a few upgrades since arriving in Provincetown including installing a brand new water tank, voltage meters for the house and engine battery banks, sealing off the inner perimeter of the toe rail, the removal of her old name, “Whispa” and installation of her new name and hailing port.
Despite unforeseen circumstances as noted above and maintenance management, we have truly enjoyed the summer so far, and always do our best to keep the boats in the best condition possible, while creating a safe and adventurous experience even when things don’t exactly go according to plan.