July/August 2010 Sailing Trip — Day 18

Not, all in all, a stellar day. We got our usual late start and this time we decided to bring both Abby and Peyton with us, hoping they’d have some fun. The day was a bit cooler than on Tuesday, so we figured they wouldn’t overheat and might enjoy sailing.

Well, it was not to be.

We started with a fiasco. As we cast off the docking lines, the tide and breeze sort of pushed us to port. No problem, we’ll just scrunch her between the pilings and motor away from out in the canal. As we were clearing the pilings, I reached for the gear lever to slip the transmission into forward…just as Barbara observed that “there’s a line following us”! Too late…I couldn’t stop my movement and into gear we went. For about a second, at which point the engine stalled. It was obvious what had happened. We’d gotten the line wrapped around the prop!

Well, that’d never happened to us before, so we’re getting more and more experience. I stripped down to a swim suit while Barbara grabbed my snorkeling mask, then I climbed down our swim ladder into the water…nicely warm, thankfully. I dived under the boat (thank goodness for Dive Down Under, who keeps our bottom very, very clean of barnacles and other growth) and immediately saw that there were about 10 or 12 wraps around the prop shaft and the prop. Over the course of 15 minutes, I dived several times to take out one, two, three, or more wraps, then back to the surface to catch my breath (I’ve simply got to start working out again!), repeat until clear. Happily, the engine was idling when this happened (not while I was diving to clear the mess!), so none of the line melted or got wedged tightly against the cutless bearing. It was easy to clear, and gave us both experience and a reminder that we need to have better situational awareness.

As soon as we exited Clearwater Pass into the Gulf, we were faced with 20kt winds (no problem, as we’d tied a reef in the main before we even left the dock) and 4-6′ seas. The seas were much more of a problem because the dogs (still below and not yet in the cockpit) were being thrown around all over the place and some of the stuff we’d left on the nav table and the dining table was being thrown around along with the dogs. (Memo to self: Always make the boat shipshape before going sailing!)

The dogs were having a terrible time and Barbara was so worried about them that she didn’t pay attention to her own needs. The result was that she got seasick and just wanted to get back into calm waters. I insisted that we get more than three miles offshore, though, because the head and its holding tank needed to be pumped overboard. So we did that, but then we turned back and headed back to our home dock.

After we got “home”, Barbara was pretty wiped out from her worrying and seasickness, and I was somewhat tired, too, so we decided not to tackle any big projects for the rest of the day. We puttered around with small jobs and took the afternoon off to just relax and read our books.

But we’ve got to get back to work tomorrow!

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