Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We always make it back alive

It was another great weekend for sailing.

I finally sold the CruisAir Carry-On air conditioner, but along with it went the canvas bag that covered my hatch that I was using for the window unit, so the time came to get busy and build a wooden box for my window unit air conditioner. I got that finished Friday afternoon, but I have to fiberglass and paint it this week.

We'd originally hoped to anchor out for the Friday night fireworks display that Kemah does every weekend in June, but one thing led to another and we started chatting with friends at the pool. Suddenly it was dark and there was no chance to motor out and anchor in time for the display. Instead we watched the fireworks from the dock, but they were still very nice. I had meant to take the new Nikon D7000 for some HD video of the fireworks, but as I was busy all day building the new air-conditioner box, I forgot to bring a camera of any sort.

Saturday morning we fired up the diesel and it happily pushed us out to Galveston Bay. It was breezy and the goal of the morning was to just have some low-stress sailing practice, so I raised the main and Mary took the helm. The Starwind sails well at about 3 knots with just the main. It's not edge of your seat excitement, but it's good practice conditions. We'd been sailing for a couple hours and were nearing the offshore platforms over by Redfish Island when we started realizing how bad our sunburns were getting. At that point we turned around and started making our way back to Clear Lake.

To ease the heat, Mary jumped overboard and did some extremely slow tubing on a seat cushion while hanging from a rope ties to the transom.

Everything was good until we hit the channel and attempted to start the motor. It didn't want to start. We turned the boat around and I left Mary steering while I went below to troubleshoot. I couldn't find a thing wrong with the diesel. There were no leaking fluids. Nothing was loose. I couldn't see any real reason why it wouldn't start. I went back on deck and tried it again in neutral. This time it sputtered to life. After warming it up, I put it back into gear and we started moving forward but with a strange vibration that kept threatening to kill the motor again.

The slow ride home was filled with anxiety that the motor might be gone at any second and that something that was breaking was possibly getting worse and worse with every moment the motor was running. I found I couldn't run the motor up at 3600 RPM without the temperature starting to creep up, but it held steady at 175 degrees if I kept it around 3000 RPM.

We made it home, but the strange vibration stayed with us all the way home. I did another check of the mounts and transmission when we got back but I still came up with nothing. My next guess was that perhaps we had something on the prop or had lost a chunk of the prop, but as I was sunburned and exhausted, I didn't take a dive under the boat to check it out yet.

I do hope that someday I will have enough confidence in this boat that every launch doesn't call to question whether or not we'll make it back.
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