Monday, 01 December 2014

By Beaufort, North Carolina, you can leave the Intracoastal Waterway and sail into the Atlantic, which we had planned to do this week. Unfortunately, one low pressure after the other is rolling up the eastern coast at the moment, so without a favourable weather window, we continued in the ICW towards Cape Fear. This week’s travel in the ICW has offered us some challenges though, and the following is what has happened the last two days:

Wednesday, our heater stopped working, just as we had anchored after sailing a couple of hours in pouring rain (where Henrik found out that his wet weather gear only can be used, when it’s not wet). The gauge showed that there wasn't enough diesel in the tank to make it work, which surprised us, since we have just refuelled. The meter indicating the water level also showed less than we expected, and while Henrik wondered about that, we had to keep the oven burning to keep warm.

Thursday morning, we found the answer, when I realised that there was water just beneath the floorboards. Henrik was afraid the water tank was leaking, which meant cutting up the floor to get to it, but after a little bit of research and a lot of pumping, he found out that the small dripping from the raw water pump for the engine cooling had turned into a solid spray, which had filled up the entire bottom with water – and also short-circuited the gauges to the tanks. The minute the water was gone, we once again had a lot of diesel, water, and a heater that worked. So far, so good!

Since it was Thanksgiving, we had no chance of getting a new pump until Monday, so we left the anchorage promising each other to remember to pump. Henrik said that after all, it was better to have a known problem than an unknown, after which I gave us another known problem by hitting the ground. First we tried to reverse our way out of it, then we were leaning over the side, and in the end we were both lying on the boom trying to tilt us out of it.

It was only when Henrik raised and backed the headsail that the bow turned, and we got away. On each side of us were dolphins and pelicans, but it was a bit difficult to fully enjoy it, though I did try.

The rest of the day, Henrik was either pumping the bilged for seawater or trying to get our autopilot to steer accordingly to the coordinates on the chart plotter – something that it consistently refuses to do and instead sails 90 degrees on our course, which made us hit ground a couple of times more that day. Henrik has threatened it with going overboard together with the water maker, but apparently those kinds of threats has no effect on these things.

Late afternoon, we found an anchorage, and after another little encounter with the bottom, we anchored and prepared our Thanksgiving dinner (When in Rome…). While I was stirring my cranberry sauce, I was listening to the radio. The radio host asked the listeners to call in and tell what they were thankful for. Myself, I'm thankful for experiencing so much – even though it sometimes is a bit troublesome doing it on a boat!

Signe Storr - Freelance Journalist and friend of Boatshed