The past few days have been pretty frustrating and exhausting. I guess I can’t complain too much though. I mean we ARE living on a sailboat, sleeping whenever we feel like it, and don’t have to deal with the pressures of having a job. It’s only fair that we have to deal with working on engines sometimes.
After we replaced the voltage regulator on the alternator we cranked the engine and it started right up. The next morning we were planning on leaving and the engine would rev up like it was about to start and then die as soon as I would let go of the key. My first thought was that it was probably electrical. We had been having other problems with the ignition switch anyways and I thought that maybe it had just finally kicked it. Allison and I decided to take the bus to West Marine to get the stuff to replace the ignition switch and wiring. We took the bus and didn’t get back for six hours. I guess one or more of them had broken down. By 10pm we had finished installing the new ignition switch and realized that it fixed the problem that we were having with it before, but it still wouldn’t start.
The next day I hotwired it thinking that bypassing some of the other connections might help. It didn’t. In fact, somewhere in the process of trying to get it started I burned up the condenser. So I decided to take the bus to the auto parts store to get a new condenser.
I waited at the bus stop for an hour and a half. It never came. So, I walked/ jogged (in flip flops) the 9 mile round trip to Napa. When I got there the guy looked through tons of parts for about 15 minutes and finally told me that he didn’t have one. The door was in the process of closing behind me when I hear the guy yell “Hold on bud”. He walks to the back again and comes out with the 8 dollar part that I needed.
After replacing that I still had the issue of the boat starting and dying as soon as I take my hand off the key. Turns out that it was not an electrical issue at all. The next day I took the carburetor apart and cleaned it really well. It was a little gummed up. After I did that it started up right away. We really should install that fuel filter….
We plan on taking off tomorrow and going offshore outside the inner coastal waterway for a bit. It sounds a lot more pleasant than trying to go through Hell’s Gate.
Also it is a “Supermoon” right now so the tides are crazy.
Well.. Yesterday was interesting (if your confused read the previous post). People keep asking me if I was able to find anything out about the dead guy. Here is what I know…
This is his boat.
It looks like a boat you would find a dead body on.
Apparently he was taking it down the coast much like us… Yes on THAT boat…
He stopped here several weeks ago to do some repairs on his boat. (From the looks of it it would have taken him the rest of his life to fix it up even if he lived another 20 years).
The owner of the marina said that he was an older man who he thought was an alcoholic. Apparently the owner thought that the guy was just trying to avoid paying his slip fee. So yesterday he went to try and get the guy to pay up (as he had been doing everyday for a week). When the guy didn’t answer he started yelling to the guy that he knows he is in there and if he doesn’t come out he is coming in. When he opened the hatch it was obvious what was going on.
Today the smell is completely gone. Apparently the owner took 12 boxes of moth balls and 5 gallons kitty litter and put them all over the inside of the boat. Then he duck taped all the hatches, windows, and vents shut so none of the death fumes could escape.
Also in case you were wondering… No we are not going to steal that awesome anchor on the back of the boat… Maybe if we had a better place to keep it.
We’re still in Turner Creek just south of Savannah. We anchored here for three days. There’s a Publix nearby and public transportation into Savannah, so we thought it’d be a good place to do some shopping and site seeing. The second night here, some friends from Nashville were in town so Willy had it’s first guests! They brought some steaks to throw on the grill and we had a good time trying to convice Luke he should also buy a boat 🙂
The next day we were all ready to head out, but our battery was low. It had been draining a little faster than usual which was odd. It took us awhile to get the boat cranked up, but we finally did. We didn’t get too far though. The engine quit on us and wouldn’t restart because of the battery problem. We probably could have gotten jumped and kept going, but we were in a good spot for fixing a boat and the marina nearby had a spot open so we got a tow there.
The marina is run by really nice people. It’s a little worn down and not in the best shape, but it’s not expensive and there are lots of places within walking distance. There is a little shack on the water that seems like it is from The Rescuers. Remember that movie? With the mice and the dragonfly named Evinrude? Old blues music drifts down the docks from this shack and it only adds to it’s sort of class-less charm. We docked up here and called our dads…like you do. My dad thought there was a bad connection somewhere so we started checking them. Luckily, my parents needed to come up here anyway to get the jeep from my cousin’s house in Beaufort (who we stayed with while we were there). So, my parents offerend to help us out while they came to get the jeep.
In the meantime we thought we’d take the alternator in to be tested, but we wanted it to go to a real alternator shop. So I looked one up and we found the bus route to Mr.Alternator and Starter. Josh threw the alternator in a backpack and away we went. Once we got there I thought we’d struck gold. The best shops are the sketchiest looking, right? Two dogs there to greet you, random old men hanging out and chatting, in the rougher part of town.
Josh hauled out the alternator and said he wanted to have it checked out. The guy grabbed it, and immediately got on the phone. I was chatting up the older man who was clearly just hanging out. The main guy got off the phone and croaked out, “Five hundred bucks.” We were thouroughly confused. “This has a lot of hours on it. It needs rebuilding – and what are these wires anyway.” Stuttering from confusion we admitted we weren’t sure what those wires went to. I mean, we just disconnected the thing and there are about 5 million random wires on our boat. He then proceeded to chastise us for not knowing our boat well enough. At one point, his friend who I had been chatting with said, “Why don’t you hook it up and test those wires. See what’s happening.” “I don’t need to,” was his reply. “It’s shot. I know that much. But you’ll definitely want me to rebuild it.”
We should have walked out, but we really just wanted him to get in there and SEE if anything was wrong so we paid him a fee to open it up and see what was wrong. Not before some more chastising, however, and a lecture on how he could, “rebuild an alternator 50 miles offshore if he had to.”
The more we thought about it, the more we wished we had not left the alternator with him. We wanted to explore Savannah some though, so we took the bus back to downtown and tried to brush it off. Unfortunately, Mr.Alternator wasn’t going to let us. He ended up calling us each at least five times. Once, he informed Josh we should get rid of our boat because we don’t know what we’re doing. Keep in mind this is the alternator mechanic who can’t identify the wires on our alternator.
We make a plan to just go there the next morning and retrieve the part. So, we load up again on the bus and head over. Luckily, Mr.Alternator wasn’t there but a much kinder man was behind the counter. He told us that the voltage regulator had been bypassed and that it would cost about $300 to rebuild the alternator. We kindly told him we just wanted it back.
So now we have the questionable alternator in tow and we meet up with my parents in Savannah who had just arrived. We ended up riding with them to Beaufort to pick up the jeep and see my cousin. We got some dinner and my parents got a little mini tour of the town. If you’ve never been and you are going to be in the Lowcountry, you have to visit Beaufort. It’s such a pleasant place! There is a lot of history, it’s very walkable, and there are a ton of cool shops and restaurants (including my cousin’s store The Beaufort Clothing Co.)
But, as usual, I digress.
So, back at the boat my Dad comes up with a rewiring scheme and figures out what’s wrong in about five minutes. We make a plan to take the alternator to a new shop in the morning for a new volage regulator. We also realize we need a new battery switch because there’s a short in the one we have.
The next day, today, is when the real story begins.
When my parents first got to the marina, I apologized for the smell. Every now and then you got a waft of what smelled like rotten-ness. I assumed people were cleaning fish or catching crabs and the leftovers were smelling rather putrid. It wasn’t overwhelming, but certainly unpleasant every now and then.
This morning, while sitting around patting ourselves on the back for a new and improved battery system on the boat, we see an ambulance pull up. I had just walked by some people at the previously described shack and they seemed to be in okay moods so I didn’t think much about the ambulance. My back was to the situation as well. My parents and Josh were keeping a close eye on the situation. A few minutes later, police cars arrive and the marina owner starts leading the EMT’s down the docks to a derelict boat on the other docks directly in front of us. They proceed to open up the companionway and the putrid smell I had assumed to be rotting sea creatures became overpowering. “Do you think someone died in there?” Josh asked.
Our noses said, “Definitely.”
We proceed to watch one EMT lower himself into the boat and come up rather pale. “Do you want to go see,” he asks his coworker. That answer was, is, and should forever be NO.
At this point, I am realizing that I have been smelling a dead body for THREE days. Three. Adventure of a lifetime, folks. And here you thought living on a sailboat was the glamorous life. Truth is, I am currently docked directly downwind from a rotting corpse.
Yes, it is very sad that this man died and no one even missed him or realized it for four days (he passed away before we arrived at this marina). I felt especially bad for the marina owner who made the discovery and was clearly shaken by the situation.
I also, could not stop wishing I had brought my Netti-pot to thoroughly disinfect my nostrils. The desire to shower in some strong anti-bacterial soap is also quite overwhelming. Everyone got a bit of a chuckle over the fact that I apologized for the smell which was unknowingly a dead man.
Josh and I are currently sitting at a library writing this blog. The man’s body has been removed, but the stench is lingering. Knowing what it is now, we couldn’t keep marinating in the fumes. We felt very determined not to spend money eating out, but tonight might be the exception. Grilled sausages were on the menu, but I just don’t think I can cook and eat with the smell of death all around us.
We haven’t gotten the full story on this man, or what happened. We aren’t sure if that was his boat, if the marina staff knew him, or exactly how he died. I don’t know if we will, because hopefully we are high tailing it out of here tomorrow. The plan is to head to another marina near a stretch of the ICW called Hell’s Gate. We’ll rest up a bit and prepare to conquer, yes conquer, Hell’s Gate on a rising tide. After that, we’ll keep making our way south toward St.Augustine. Hopefully, there are no more dead bodies along the way.
Yesterday, we didn’t go too far and stopped at a marina. All the adrenaline of the first day combined with very little sleep on our first night anchoring had us feeling super crappy and pretty worn out. We just needed a day to celebrate all our firsts and relax. So we pulled in for fuel and when the dock master at Hilton Head Harbor Marina said something about a pool we caved.
After a relaxing day, we got back up and going around nine. We left Hilton Head behind and entered Calibogue Sound. I got to see a stingray jump out of the water which pretty much made my day.
After the open sound, we had to navigate some narrow and shallow cuts. I had just downloaded a new FREE open source navigational software called openCPN. I like it so much better than SeaClear (what we were using). It’s much easier to use. In case you are wondering..a lot of people pay big bucks for a chartplotter system on the boat to keep them on track in the Intracoastal Waterway (or ICW, or The Ditch). We bought a $50 gps that plugs into a laptop and downloaded NOAA charts for free, then use a free software program for a chartplotter. It’s awesome.
Anyway if any other cheap ass sailing people are reading this, use OpenCPN instead of SeaClear.
So we successfully navigated Fields Cut, and a few other tight spots with this set up. In the sun its hard for Josh to see the screen so we tag team it and all those years working together came I’m handy.
We made it to an anchorage in Turner Creek and are here now. We are just watching the sunset and about to make tuna burgers on the grill.
We might stay a few days and take a bus into Savannah. Once we move on, we’re gonna go to a really inexpensive marina not too far away. I saw the price on Active Captain…then I saw that they have golf carts you can take into town. Uh, yes please!
Now that you know all the nitty gritty details of our day, I am going to get a little emotional on ya’ll.
To all the friends and family who told us not to quit and who encouraged us…thank you. Seriously….if you have a dream that seems ridiculous, or scary, and it’s really hard to see it through…surround yourself with people who won’t let you quit.
People who tell you (in slightly fouler words) to buck up and sail the crap out of your $4000 sailboat.
People who call you and help you problem solve every step of the way.
People who pray for you, and give you homemade limoncello, and cards stuffed with cash for the hard days.
Read blogs of people who have done what you are interested in.
If you’re a fellow Christian, find a church full of people telling you to get off your ass and do what you’re made to!
It was really hard to quit a job I loved, pack up a home I loved, and leave neighbors I loved. You know what though? Josh and I wanted to live on a boat. We wanted to go back to Haiti (less than 10 weeks until that happens). We wanted to live overseas. God turned those wants into something more and we couldn’t be happier that (to quote my favorite movie) “It’s all happening.”
God has literally provided every step of the way. At the boatyard we were at, a new friend even gave us sailing gloves which we ended up needed really badly.
Things will work out. It won’t be easy…not at all. It will, however, be worth it. Be wise, have some common sense and faith and do what you know you are supposed to do.
Yesterday was crazy. It was awesome, it was intimidating, it was my childhood Treasure Island fantasies come true (that sounds dirty), but most of all it was worth it.
We shoved off from Marsh Harbor boatyard at 9:00 am. Said goodbye to the friends we had made over the past several weeks and were off. About two miles from the boatyard is a drawbridge. Just as the bridge was opening for us our engine died. We hailed the bridge on the vhf and told them not to hold it open for us. We got the engine started quickly and went to anchor nearby to steady our nerves a bit. We
decided to try again, but guess what? Engine died again. Once again it started back up quickly. At this point Josh figured out it was dying when we pushed the engine too hard. The mechanic had adjusted things a bit and we were giving it too much gas for the new tweaks. So we tooled around in am open area for a solid 45 minutes to make sure that was it. Another boat was coming through northbound so we radioed in to let them know we’d be trying one more time. Josh thought it was funny to say, “Is it third time’s the charm or three strikes your out.” Allison did not think that was funny, but it turns out third time is indeed the charm. We made it through!
Before we knew it we were in a beautiful open sound! We both kept saying it was all worth it. We got the the north side of Hilton Head island and were following the buoys well, until Josh decided not to listen to Allison’s awesome navigational skills. We ran aground…like barely…but couldn’t get off and didn’t feel like waiting. Luckily we had just purchased our Boat US membership with unlimited towing and Allison sort of wanted to get our money’s worth anyway so we went ahead and called them. A really nice guy came from Boat US, hauled us off in 5 minutes, and then showed us the best place to anchor for the night.
Anchoring went well although you wouldn’t know that from the way Allison acted. She was so nervous, she barely slept (and kept josh awake all night as well) and checked our coordinates constantly.
Guess what, we didn’t move!
Now we are sitting here plotting our next course of action. Hopefully we’ll make it most of the way to Savannah.
We have been in Beaufort three weeks now. Last Thursday the boat finally got put back in the water, but we couldn’t head out right away for two reasons. One being a tropical storm that decided to show up. Another being that water was coming in the boat.
Yes. Water. Inside the boat.
Turns out when the rudder was removed it cracked the area around the rudder post just a little so that a very small, but steady stream of water was coming inside. Just enough for concern.
After the tropical storm passed, Josh filled the crack with epoxy and covered it with resin which solved the problem.
BUT, Sunday I came down with a fever and a few aches. Nothing terrible, but enough to make me want to sleep all day and be pretty useless helping on the boat.
So, I rested today and drank a ton of water. We are hoping and praying really hard to head put at high tide tomorrow. Say a prayer that all goes smoothly and that Willy finally decides to cooperate along with the weather and my body.
I have decided to make a soundtrack to go along with your reading. Over the past couple weeks we have been through a myriad of emotions and thoughts about whats next. The videos with song will hopefully help you better understand what we have been feeling.
Immediately following our rudder breaking we were reminded of our time a couple years ago when we auditioned for Deal or No Deal. The audition was just a few miles from our house and we thought we would just go over and hang out for an hour or so in the morning. When we arrived the line was longer than we were expecting (the show was in its fifth season). We thought we might be standing in line for two maybe even three hours. After four hours in line (in 90 degree heat) we were committed. It looked like maybe another hour or two and we should be in the door. Two hours later we rounded the corner and realized that the line extended past the door, looped around a few times and then came back. Thirteen hours after we arrived we were finally able to audition for 30 seconds. I was actually asked to stay for an additional minute (because I’m apparently entertaining, but not THAT entertaining).
At a certain point, it really didn’t matter if it was going to take the rest of our lives. We just kept telling ourselves, “Well, we’ve been here this long. We might as well stay.” After that experience we vowed never to let that happen again in any situation.
That is just the situation that we find ourselves in now. We have spent so much time and money fixing up our boat that we feel like we can’t quit. At the same time, we don’t want to waste time and money having another Deal or No Deal experience. A hundred bucks here, a few days there and we’ll be in that situation again. Long story short, we never signed anything in blood, so the vow to avoid the Deal or No Deal situation that we made wasn’t completely binding.
Feel free to play the next song.
After much “encouragement” (or something) from some friends, we decided to keep on going. We decided to waste our savings and live the adventure that we have been working for. Right now we are extremely close to having enough issues worked out so that we can try it again. We have been here long enough now to have some idea of what to expect from the tides and current. Its actually probably for the best since Beaufort SC sometimes has 12ft tides.
Since being here we were finally able to change the name of the boat.
Named after One-Eyed-Willy from the greatest movie of 1985
We were able to repack the stuffing box. Something that clearly needed to be done.
Well, we’re still in Beaufort. This is definitely a more relaxed adventure at this point, but we’re enjoying it.
Our home away from the boat
So after our disastrous first outing, we’ve been at the boatyard. They couldn’t haul us out to look at the rudder until yesterday (Tuesday) so we had a chill weekend. My wonderful and amazingly hospitable cousin, Gwen, lives here in a historic house downtown. It’s amazing and has a downstairs apartment she’s letting us use to do laundry and take long hot showers!
On Saturday, Olivia (Gwen’s daughter) and her boyfriend took us out in his boat which was nice. It was good to finally be out on the water, haha! We went out to this place called Monkey Island which is straight from a cheesy Sunday morning Sci Fi channel movie – or Lost. It’s this island full of thousands of monkeys that are literally used for scientific research. There are signs everywhere that say not to step foot on shore or basically a sniper will probably kill you….and we TOTALLY obeyed those signs. We only saw a couple of monkeys, but that’s fine. I read online that they moved the monkeys from Peurto Rico because they had Herpes and were escaping and infecting people. I really don’t want a rogue monkey even TRYING to give me herpes. I couldn’t make this stuff up, people.
We also went to America’s only plastic kazoo factory. Funny story, we have also been to America’s only METAL kazoo factory in New York which also has the world’s largest metal
kazoo on its roof. I love random things like this.
How did anyone get into building kazoos for a living? Such a random niche. We also got to build our own kazoos which involves sticking two pieces of plastic together. I do, however, wish I could get a t-shirt since I have been to both kazoo factories. It sort of breaks my heart that one doesn’t exist.
People freaked and thought this was a pregnancy test, haha.
Monday, we went to see a lighthouse on Hunting Island. The beach there was gloriously trashy. Like…in an East Nashville best way possible sort of way. It was packed as we suspected. Also, you can apparently smoke all the weed you want there and the park staff doesn’t care. Pretty sure everyone except us was high and the guy riding around on his four wheeler pretending to work either didn’t care or doesn’t know what weed smells like. It was entertaining. The lighthouse ended us being really pretty but not half as entertaining as people watching.
Hunting Island Lighthouse
At the top.
So, Tuesday rolled around and the boat got hauled out. Apparently we hit an oyster bed on our first outing (worst boat drivers ever right here). Josh’s friend, Zac, is in St.Augustine on his boat and told Josh “just don’t hit anything” and we already failed at that one. However, we were on the correct side of the buoy and our depth sounder read fine, so it was more of a fluke than
our ignorance (So we will tell ourselves). Hitting that did a number on our rudder. It cracked it and bent some metal something that’s important and I don’t know how to explain via blog.
We debated for a long time on what to do. Sell the boat and move on, or throw the money into it. We decided to throw money at that sinking pos!
Really though, even if we can’t go far and don’t recover all the money and can only sail for a week at least we tried. Special thanks to Alex Vucelich, Zac Stepp, and Adam Smith for making Josh feel like he’d be a worthless loser if we tried to be smart with our money quit. We also sort of figured selling our boat in this shape wouldn’t get us much and if we repaired it, we’d hopefully be able to sell it for more money.
So, here’s hoping that we’ll soon have more exciting blogs to post than “our boat is still broken”.
So our first outing on this trip was so stressful I don’t want to think about it and write it up. I NEED to document it because one day it’ll be funny, right? That’s what they always say.
6:00 Working on getting masthead light wired so we can anchor out. Problem is, we can’t really tell if it’s working because it’s daylight. It seems pretty straightforward so we assume we have it right but it’s getting dark so we need to hurry out.
6:15 So we say what the heck and try to go. Start the engine up, head out but our charts won’t pull up now on our GPS. Snap.
6:20 JUST out of the side channel and the rudder goes HAYWIRE. It won’t turn so we’re spinning in circles.
6:22 Drop the anchor and try to figure it out. Josh jumps in the water thinking something is stuck on it or something. No such luck. It’s just stuck to starboard.
6:23 See a dolphin 🙂
6:25 Peer into the locker where we keep lifejackets. It’s itty bitty, but if I squeeze just right I can see down in it. I squeeze and figure out how the rudder works but that part of the set up looks fine. What do I know though? This is my first time looking at it, haha.
6:30 Our options are slim. Josh starts blowing up the dinghy to possibly tow us back but that’s a bad idea because we basically have no steering and an opposing current.
6:35 The southerner, or something in me takes over. I’m usually a panicker, but I decide,”I can rig this. I can get us back.” So I crawl into the tiniest place ever. You’d never believe a person could fit. I hold a flashlight in my mouth, a socket wrench in one hand, and a pair of vice grips in the other and completely rig this junk. It’s not fixed, but after thirty minutes crammed down there I think it’ll get us back.
7:15 The tide is going out and the docks are shallow, we get really really close to getting back into our difficult spot at the docks…it’s getting dark now. My rig job gives way last minute.
7:30 We’re drifting around near some really nice boats. I should mention that we haven’t called each other any bad names still which is impressive under this stress.
7:35 Josh falls in the water and and we somehow still manage to stay away from boats and get to the end of the dock.
7:45ish We’re holding onto the end of the dock thinking about what to do next when the nicest man ever drops from the heavens. Carlos (the angel) works at the boat yard and lives on a boat at the dock. “Need some help?” he asks in the calmest tone ever to two soaking wet clearly frustrated idiots.
7:50 Carlos the Angel finds us an easy spot to get to that is usually occupied by a yacht. He helps us get there and tied up. I want to hug him, but I’m all wet.
7:55 “Hey I smell gas.” Yup, we have a gas leak. It’s easily fixed but we have to get it ALL cleaned out so we don’t turn into a bomb. No cleaning up and going to bed for us. We turn on fans and blowers and soak gas up out of the bilge with a shammy. Run water and dawn through multiple times and shammy some more.
9:00 Finally crawl into bed.
12:00″ OMG I am sore.”
7:00am Um, I pretty much look like I’ve been in a car accident because people aren’t meant to fit in a space that usually holds a few lifejackets. I am cut up and bruised. No wonder I could barely sleep.
8:00am “Should we sell the boat and hike the Appalachian Trail instead” Perhaps.
Haha. But really it was a long night. We’re waiting to hear what happened with the rudder. Everything hangs on that. We’re not going to throw a ton of money into a $4000 boat. Yes, it only cost $4000 + a zillion hours of free labor from us. If it’s too expensive we really will sell it and hike for the summer instead. We’re pretty much good doing anything as long as it’s adventurous and not expensive. Plus, we are NOTHING if not flexible…and apparently really good at rigging things under stress.
On a happy note, the mechanic at the boatyard told Josh our engine was in excellent shape. Seeing that Josh put more than a few hours into our old Atomic 4 to get it up and running, he was pretty proud!
So stayed tuned, next time you hear from us we could be in Maine hiking our way South. 🙂