Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An unexpected stop and a decision to make.

Beware, this is a long post.

So if we're supposed to be sailing, why is our Knotty Cat out of the water?

Because two nights ago we discovered a leak in our starboard engine room.

A big leak.

And of course we found it only after dropping our anchor in a very remote part of the Intracoastal about 15 miles past Georgetown.

We had made such good progress, and for once the currents worked with us and we actually motored along at 8-9 knots for quite a while.

The anchorage was beautiful and the sky had gone pink as the sun was just setting. I was going to use the grill and make dinner and we were looking forward to a relaxing evening when we realized the starboard bilge pump was dumping out water about every 30 seconds.

One look in the engine room and we knew we had to weigh anchor and get the hell out of there. Water was streaming steadily from where the propeller shaft enters/exits the boat and our batteries would never be able to handle the load of the bilge pump running all night and we don't have a generator.

I wanted to head back to Georgetown but Hans wanted to forge ahead. We called Leland's Marina in McClellanville (15 miles south of us) and he said we could tie up there for the night.

Thus began one of the most nerve wracking three hours I have ever endured.

The sun set shortly after we got underway and even though we had clear skies and a crescent moon we had to rely almost totally on the MapQuest disc on my computer (remember Fritz our GPS has been surly lately and would prefer to show us on land half the time).

Why this couldn't have happened on one of those stretches of water with all the houses and a lot of light is beyond me and we found ourselves navigating through the most desolate swampland you can imagine. The water was completely still which caused the tree line to reflect in a mirror like fashion from the shore and made us feel like we were going to run aground at any second.

Markers were few and far between and the unlit ones were a bear to spot. I would run up front and frantically wave a flashlight and feel immense relief when I would finally find it.

We knew from my computer that we were approaching a green marker but I couldn't see it at all. I was leaning over the bow with my light when I finally spotted a stick in the water just in front of us. It was my marker but the green reflective square was missing.

Everything became one dimensional and distance was impossible to judge. We would see flashing red lights ahead of us that would scare the bejeebers out of us because we were supposed to see flashing green. Then we would realize that the red lights were from towers miles away from us.

Three hours later we arrived at the creek to the marina and then came part two of our adventure. Jutting out from both sides were many unlit docks, my flashlight couldn't pick them out at the same time, and there was a bend in the creek. I was literally screaming PORT! and STARBOARD! back to Hans and he still couldn't hear me over our engines.

After barely missing a couple of docks we finally arrived at the marina only to find someone had tied a boat up to our spot and there was no space available anywhere.

That's when I almost started crying.

We got lucky though when we spotted a couple of guys sitting in a shrimping boat and they went up to a building that looked like a speak easy from the twenties, rousted the owner of the squatter and made him move his boat.

They also helped tie us up and then even came on board to have a look at our problem. Two hours later Mike and Eric left. They ended up stuffing tea towels, one of my cute pot holders, and a piece of our flag pole into the shaft area and slowed the leak to the point where our bilge only went of every few minutes.

I guess Fritz finally got his wish because The Knotty Cat is now on the hard at the Charleston City Boat Yard way up in the Wando River and we're wondering how the hell bolts on the plate that hold the propeller to the boat are loose and/or missing. Also a couple of bolts that hold the cutters in place were sheared off.

I'm not really smiling, I'm just insane.

You can see where a bolt is missing at the bottom of that plate and the loose bolt at the top.

The bolt on the bottom of the port side plate is loose.

Also, after two weeks in the water our zincs were ready to fall off. The problem was not corrosion (we had a galvanic isolator installed this summer) but the fact that they were improperly installed.

A lot of work needs to be done (parts ordered or retooled) and if it's going to take too long, we'll be calling this trip quits and going home. That means the Knotty Cat would winter in Charleston. I think she's always wanted to be a southern belle.


  1. Wow! You've got your share of "experiences"! So sorry to hear about the change in plans, but at least you're smiling (or insane). I'd be sure to contact those great installers! =) Glad you made it to shore safely, and look forward to the next time. There will be a next time, right? =)

  2. I'm beginning to think we're the only ones who have so much trouble! If we leave her here, we'll come back in January and try to finish the trip.

  3. OMG, Laura! What the hell? I'm so sorry that you are having so much trouble and I certainly hope that you get everything fixed up soon. And I, too, am happy that y'all made it to shore safely and without more damage to the Knotty Cat! That photo of you should have shown you with a BIG glass of bourbon! :o)



    P.S. Finally got myself onto this blog and am following now...I've got a lot of catching up to do!

  4. Cyndi, the bourbon did indeed make an appearance later that evening! What a weird trip this has been.