Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mr Wilbur's Wild Ride (or what went wrong this time)

First of all, today is Wilbur's first birthday. Look at his sad baby picture taken at the vet clinic when he was 11 weeks old. His former owners left him alone with a pregnant female dog and she promptly tried to kill him.

When they couldn't afford his treatment they relinquished custody and we ended up with him.

You can see the IV in his left fore leg.

Here he is trying to stay warm on our first night back on the boat.

After a 12 hour drive we arrived and found out the lock combination we'd been given in order to get into the boat yard wasn't right.

Luckily they have an emergency number to call.

Then we had to steal a ladder from another boat in order to get on ours, and I had to frog march poor Wilbur up to the top.

After a day of provisioning, getting the rental car back to the agency, and rappelling Wilbur off and on the boat: I was overwhelmed, wiped out, and vaguely depressed.

Hans was euphoric; he was back on the boat.

Wilbur was confused and constipated.

A yummy peanut butter birthday kong.

The Knotty Cat was put back in the water on Friday and we decided that since we finally didn't have a real schedule (YAAAAAAY!!!), and with all the details that really needed attention, we wouldn't leave on Saturday after all.

It felt so good to use an entire day to get things put away properly and by the end of the day (last night) I was feeling a thousand times better and didn't even mind that I had to heat water on the stove and wash dishes in a bucket on the dock. Our water tanks are empty and the marina's water is full of sulphur and to fill our tanks with it would be a nightmare.

Hans was thrilled to be able to watch football on our TV and the reception is incredible with our new antenna.

We got up bright and early this morning in order to take advantage of high tide and its strong currents, and put on our foul weather gear while the coffee was brewing. Boy we just knew after all the work that had been done on our girl she was going to just purr her way down the river.

I pulled off the last dock line, Hans accelerated forward and off we went.

In reverse!

Holy crap! We knew the current was strong but not this strong.

And why did the engines sound so loud?

We continued sliding backwards and I ran down to look in the engine rooms. Our newly aligned port engine had taken on a life of its own, was bucking like a bronco on its new motor mounts, and gave every appearance of trying to escape to greener pastures. The newly aligned starboard engine was also unhappy and in the spirit of competitiveness emitted very loud knocking sounds.
By now we were well away from the dock and the current was pushing us straight towards a green marker when Hans realized that we had no power at all in either engine. We just missed the marker and then had to worry about the huge electric tower we were skidding towards. I kept screaming to throw out the anchor but we were in thirty feet of water. We missed the tower and its cables and when the depth read sixteen feet the anchor finally went over. Thank God it caught hold and we finally stopped.

Wilbur had been with us in the cockpit the whole time and was really pretty good about everything but when the boat stopped he jumped on his potty patch and ended his constipation issue.

TowBoat US got us back to the dock by 10 AM but it felt like we'd been gone for hours. So here we sit with our newly repaired yet crippled boat and we can't even begin to imagine what the hell went wrong.

Tomorrow when the boat yard opens we'll find out, but I'm not sure I really want to know. It seems to me like every single time we get on board this boat we have some sort of disaster occur. And Hans tries so hard to keep all the systems in good repair, he checks the oil and belts every morning, and has all the maintenance done in a timely manner but we keep getting hit with very big (and very scary) problems.

Maybe this stuff happens to everyone but it sure doesn't seem like it.

While we were waiting for TowBoat US I took this picture.

That's marker #39 and the tower we just missed hitting. In the distance is the boat yard.

Wilbur is thanking Hans for getting us back to the dock after our thrill ride.


  1. Wow, you would not find the smile on Hans face on mine after a trip like that! That's patience...zen.....scotch? Schnapps!

    You never posted a reason why the thru hull mountings broke up like they did. My very uneducated guess would be a submerged object hitting both props and putting the engines out of alignment.

    When you send a car in for repair they rarely test drive to make sure the job is done right. With a boat, it can be life or death. I'll bet you'll not cast off next time before verifying that you have at least some thrust!

    I don't think your going cheap on maintenance or anything but in my opinion marina personell are little better that carinval workers with few exceptions.

    The Ghost of Christmas Past

  2. Wow, it's hard to believe that Wilbur is already a year old! I remember when you first posted about him and the terrible ordeal he went through...I knew then and there that he was going to end up living with you and Hans! :o)

    Okay, Laura, do you ever feel like you've entered "The Twilight Zone"? These things just HAVE to stop happening to your boat! For God sakes, stay away from the Bermuda Triangle!



  3. So sorry that you're experiencing more problems. I often wonder about the skills of the people working at our local boatyard. Hope today is better for ya'll. As far as Wilbur, I'd love to see pictures of you getting him up the ladder and into the boat!

  4. Hans very rarely gets upset (but don't worry, I make up for that) and at the end of the day it's beer all the way! The cutlass bearing issue was mostly age related. The bolts were corroded and while only one really bit the dust, the other was close to it.
    You can bet we'll never leave a dock again without verifying forward and reverse!

    Cyndi, I think I've watched so many Twilight Zone episodes that maybe I've absorbed some of its energy. And don't worry, if the Burmuda Triangle really exists, I'm sure I'll be the one to confirm it!

  5. Cheryl, believe me the boat yard has taken this problem very seriously!! And actually, rappelling Wilbur with the halyard was much more interesting than the ladder.