It’s coming up on 9:30 p.m. and I’m sitting beneath the stars in a marina in the Chesapeake Bay town of Deale, Maryland (home of country music stars the Brothers Osbourne, a friend informed me this week). After an evening of high clouds, the skies are clear now and from my perch on the cabintop of Further I can see the Big Dipper hanging upside-down between the two sets of spreaders on Further’s mast. There’s no sign of the moon (now a couple of days past full) but she’ll be up soon. And when I’m finished jotting down these thoughts I will, for the first time since the first week of November 2019, turn for a night of sleep on board.
That’s right, folks: Further is in the water again. Hallelujah! Seventeen and a half months after being hoisted out of the Chesapeake and placed on stands in the vast yard at this marina, Further is once again afloat. In her element.
Which is not to say that we’re able to GO anywhere just yet. It’s been a wacky thirty-six or so hours and there are a few, um, issues that need to be sorted out before Further is once again a cruising vessel.
On the positive side, the through-hull that I replaced in Further’s hull to house a new transducer as part of an overhaul of the boat’s navigation electronics held tight and was fine.
But on the negative side, a seepage of water is making its way into the boat from one of the keel bolts. It’s one of the primary tenets of boating that water is to be kept OUTSIDE the vessel so this small trickle unnerved the hell out of me yesterday. And as I always do, I immediately went to the worst-case scenario, one that involved having to immediately pull the boat back out of the water, remove the keel and do all sorts of mean, nasty things to make the situation right. I was able to get a technician from one of the companies located in this marina to take a look at it and he said it was no big deal, that since it’s just the one bolt (the rest of the more than half-dozen keel bolts are all dry) it’s simply a case of pulling off the (huge) nut and backing plate that holds the bolt in place, resealing the bolt itself with some 3M 5200 sealant (insanely strong goop) and resetting the plate and nut. Whew!
Sidebar: Of course, in the marine industry’s inimitable style, the guy never followed up (as he said he would) as to whether he could come out and fix the thing later in the afternoon or the next day (i.e.: today). Seriously: if any businessperson out there wants to make a killing, simply open up a marine-services company that is even the slightest bit diligent and you’ll have every boater within a thousand miles beating a path to your door. Anyway, I went by the company’s office and they said they’ll follow up with me tomorrow morning. Fingers crossed…
However, before the technician talked me off the ledge I was, almost literally, on the ledge. Envisioning that worst-case scenario I started thinking things like, “screw it, I’m selling the boat and never boating again and just gonna buy a small house somewhere and never do anything ever again. I mean: you get a hole in a house and take on water, it’s a drag. You get a hole in a boat and take on water, it’s a WEE bit more of a drag.” I don’t know why I go to such places but I do. I rally, of course, especially in emergency situations that require action, but once there’s enough time to climb around the dark places in my psyche, well, bad visions arise. And even after the guy had eased my worries, I still drove down here from Annapolis last night around 9:30 p.m. just to make sure everything was still okay (it was).
But all’s well that ends well, right? Ask me once the technician comes to actually FIX the keel bolt. I could probably do it myself but I think I’ll pay for the peace of mind this time.
And there are a couple of other issues to deal with, too. When I drove the boat down to this marina from Annapolis in November 2019, the engine would, when I ran it at a high-enough RPM — but not a high-high rate; simply the normal, full-cruising-speed RPM level — slip out of gear. Uh oh, right? Transmission slipping. Well, we’ll see on that one, too. I talked to a marine-diesel company (also located here on the marina property) about it a couple of weeks ago so they’ve been on it. When I got to the boat a bit before lunchtime today someone had clearly been poking around the engine room. Later in the day I got an email from the diesel guy who said he’d been there but couldn’t run the engine because the water-intake strainer was disassembled.
That’s because I took it apart yesterday. As part of the winterization process back in 2019, I shut off that water intake (after putting some antifreeze in there, and also changing the oil and filling the coolant tank). The oil and coolant were fine when I checked them yesterday afternoon, but when I opened the seacock on the intake, water streamed out the top of the filter. No surprise, really, since the rubber gaskets had dried out over the seventeen-plus months the intake hadn’t seen any H20. I’ll need to replace those before I can try the engine and, in a positive development, another shop here at the marina ordered them and they’ll be in tomorrow morning. Now we just hope they’re the right ones…
Because the plan for now has been to get Further mobile and get her back up to Annapolis. I like it down here in Deale — it’s very quiet and peaceful, and this marina has excellent facilities — but my Maryland life is in Naptown: I know quite a few people there, there’s work to be done for the yacht brokerage, and there are resources such as grocery stores and the like that lacking down here in South County. As most of you know, I crave solitude and quiet. But if I’m gonna be THIS solitary and THIS quiet, I’m going to do it at anchor out in some backwater, away from everyone. And that’s the goal. But to escape society I need to be in society for a bit longer. And as long as that’s the case I’d just as soon it be in a place where I have those things I like about being in a sea of humanity. Ergo, Annapolis over Deale.
Anyway, I can’t get to Annapolis, or anywhere else for that matter, until the keel boat and the engine are addressed. So hopefully that can happen tomorrow or Friday and then I’ll be freed up to head north when there’s a good wind forecast (Dammit, I wanna SAIL, not motor!). If not, I’ll have to hope this marina has a slip for me until I can get things straightened out (I get to use this slip until Sunday as part of the launch service).
Of course, there are a plethora of other issues that need to be addressed aboard Further, some more pressing than others. I think my batteries are toast — again, no surprise after seventeen-plus months of not being used and constantly being charged by the solar panel on board) — but an upgrade, perhaps even to lithium-ion batteries, has been on my wish list for a while so…maybe now’s the time. I also ordered a new bimini from the same Annapolis company that built a new dodger for Further back in 2019, but they’re backed up so that might not happen for a while. On the other hand, I got word today that the new genoa I ordered arrived in Annapolis today so Further could be sporting a new sail very, very soon. Woohoo!
Suffice to say, it’s been a topsy-turvy few weeks getting Further back into sailing trim. I’ve run the emotional gamut but I must confess that late this afternoon, just sitting in the cockpit here in the marina, just felt RIGHT. For the first time since the @$%$@#% Covid pandemic shut down the world, I felt like I was back where I belong. I love Plum Island and miss it dearly, but my home there is gone. Further is home now and despite the bumps along the way, I’m glad to be back aboard. And I hope to have a lot of fun, interesting content for you here in the weeks and months to come. I hope you’ll stay tuned.
P.S.: A friend chastised me recently for not having posted since, when? August? And to be honest, it had been my plan to do a play-by-play along every step of the recommissioning way, taking you along for the ride and providing a glimpse of just what it took to get Further ready to go again.
Whoops. Kinda fell short of that goal.
I did post a few photos and comments on Further’s Instagram account (which you can also see on the Photos page here on this site), but that’s obviously leaving a lot out. And for that, I apologize. To be perfectly blunt, I just didn’t feel like it. But being back on board has me fired up again, which is why I’m here now. Besides, I’m gonna have to post a bunch if I want to take off and be one of those sailing stars of the internet. You know the type: those folks whose followers chip all kinds of money that pays for the sailors’ cruising lifestyle. Thing is: the majority of those internet stars have, umm, let’s call them “well-endowed” subjects who prance about the videos in teeny tiny bikinis. And needless to say, NO ONE wants to see me prancing around. I guess I’ll have to come up with a different angle. Suggestions welcome.