Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…

Today was one of highs and lows, exploration and discovery, breakdown and repair. But all is well I think as I begin this blog. What is in store tomorrow I cannot say.

First, a little catch up from yesterday’s run down the Potomac. Alex drove the boat at 25 mph for a bit but soon tired and fell asleep. He can sleep nearly as good as I can. I did make him get up and sound three long blasts on the horn as we passed Washington’s tomb at Mt. Vernon. We finished our run at Dennis Point Marina on Carthagena Creek. Alex discovered they had a pool, played with three little girls and caught crabs. Sorry I could not resist.

Now this morning we wanted to take in the sights at a quaint town upriver. The community of St. Mary’s is very beautiful and highly historic. We left Dennis Point Marina and cruised only a few miles up the St. Mary’s River to the dock at St. Mary’s College. The dock master and his dog Nikki, an English Pointer, met us and we tied up. Nikki is a self taught fishing dog. She wades into the water and stares intently until she sees a fish and her tail begins to wag. She then attempts to catch them as is often successful.

We walked through the campus and visited the site of the old St. John’s community which was very significant in the development of Maryland. Then we went to the Old Maryland Statehouse and eventually went aboard the Dove, a replica of one of two ships that came from England to settle this colony. How people crossed the Atlantic in these things I shall never understand. Those were real adventurers. We are just tourists compared to them.

As we left the school and moved back downriver toward the Potomac the weather was reporting gusts of 25 mph and we were destined for the Chesapeake. An evil omen.

Yes friends the Chesapeake was acting out today. All seemed well until it lured us out far enough and then WHAM the waves and wind suddenly picked up. Soon we were rocking and rolling. I was worried about Alex’s stomach but he did fine. We jumped up on plane to smooth things out and soon we were banging across the bay. Alex said it was like a roller coaster and he was right. Waves 2-3 feet were taking their toll downstairs but nothing we could do but hang on. As we got within 8 miles of our destination an alarm went off, an unusual roaring noise started and a burning smell filled the air. You have probably guessed we lost an engine. Starboard this time. Oh joy!

We shut it down and cruised along on one praying this was not a system failure. I donned earplugs and headed for the engine room to see if anything was readily apparent such as oil splattered all about or a smoking turbo or some other disaster. Thankfully none of this was present and there was absolutely nothing I could do to effect any repairs in these rough seas. We just had to keep going and cross our fingers.

As we got into the Solomons Channel I tried to start the starboard engine and it immediately started but the temperature began spiking and I shut it down. This told me the engine was fine. This was a cooling problem. That is somewhat good news.

We made it to Solomons Island and found our marina. Jan had already informed them we were on one engine and limited in our ability to maneuver so they agreed to let us tie up on the long fuel dock as it was getting late and they were going to close shortly. Jan eased her in on one engine and I tossed lines. Soon we were secure and I began the task of diagnosis while Jan began rinsing the salt spray off the boat. We had waves splashing all the way up to the flybridge all afternoon.

First I checked the raw water strainer. Nope, it was clear. Next in line the impeller. Nope, it looked fine. But something told me to look closer. While the cover was off I had Jan to bump the starter to see if the impeller was turning. If not it could be several things. As I shined the light on the open impeller I saw exactly what the trouble was. The shaft was turning but the impeller was not. The key was gone just like the last time in the other engine. Now that is a puzzler. How can a steel key 3/16 inch square just evaporate? I would much later find a piece less than 1/2 inch long. It started out as a 3 inch key!

Over the next 3 hours I wrestled with that thing. Not as easy as last time and I did not know why. Finally I began disassembling the pump housing and hoses. How would I ever get this back together. I have often said that if I took it apart I could get it back together but often I tear up something in the process. This time was no exception. I tore up a $60 impeller. Luckily the Commander had delivered two more to us just weeks ago.

I did discover why it would not come out easily. A piece of the old impeller had lodged in the new one and prevented it sliding out. I found this when I tore off the outlet housing. So now we knew the problem, let’s try to fix it. Much consternation while working in the overheated engine room. I had an electric fan blowing directly on me but the engine was hot as fire and the water that drained out could make coffee. I had to work slowly and carefully.

I did find the aforementioned piece of the key and it is still a mystery. I had plenty of key stock left from the last time so I took out the hacksaw and cut a new key. Put everything back together and fired her up and let it run at 1000rpm’s for a few minutes. Earplugs back in and checked for leaks. I believe we are fixed! Glory!

A shower and we headed to the restaurant by 2000 to dine. Now friends, that was a busy day and tomorrow we cross the Chesapeake and run to Rock Hall if the weather will leave us alone. We do not wish to spend several hours in rough seas. Just as soon stay put if that is the case.

I leave you with a poser. Why is this boat sinking?