The sound of our anchor chain rolling through the windless was like church bells summoning the faithful. We were dropping the hook for the fist time in six weeks and it was music to our ears. A few hours later we watched the sun drop behind the mountains on Vancouver Island from the cockpit and toasted to being back out on Yahtzee.
Six weeks. That’s how long Yahtzee sat at a dock in Ganges on Salt Spring Island with engine problems. And if it had to be anywhere, Ganges certainly wasn’t a bad place to be. It was fun to meet great people and to discover such a cool island that most passing boaters only stop at for a day or two to get provisions. But six weeks is longer than Yahtzee has sat without moving since we’ve owned her over the past three years, and three weeks longer than we were in Bellingham waiting for sweet Magnus in December. We wanted out.
We arrived back to Yahtzee from our trip to Michigan on Monday evening and on Tuesday afternoon set out with our awesome mechanic, Bob, for the engine’s sea trial. Ole’ Blue passed with flying colors but a bit of cavitation suggested our propeller may have been fouled while sitting for so long. Nonetheless, we paid our hefty bill and pointed Yahtzee’s bow north with the sails flying and smiles on our faces.
After leaving our anchorage this morning (Thursday) the engine started acting up when we got it up to cruising revs. A call to Bob confirmed the trouble was probably just with the prop so we re-anchored, donned our wet suits and went for a swim to investigate. Sure enough, a neighborhood of barnacles had set up shop on our folding prop and I scraped them off, cleaned the prop and away we went. Like magic, the engine sounded and acted better and we were rewarded with a great breeze to our next beautiful anchorage in the Gulf Islands.
Life is still good.
But cruising isn’t always roses
It’s easy to reminisce over and share all the fun, happy moments aboard a cruising boat, while leaving the tough ones conveniently in our wake. I’m not a mopey, negative person who complains about things I can’t control — or even things I can — so I tend to let them slide from the blog.
But our engine woes present an opportunity to share that the reality aboard a cruising boat isn’t always rosy. The highs can be really high and the lows really low. Having two crying kids aboard a relatively small boat while the engine is breaking before our eyes isn’t fun. And finding out that something is seriously wrong with it isn’t enjoyable either. It’s frustrating. But that’s boat ownership, parenting and cruising.
The thing is, I’m regularly reminded by people who live in houses that they have similar issues to deal with too: leaky roofs need mending, siblings argue, cars breakdown and new furnaces or air conditioners seem to only need replacing when the bank account is stretched too thin. It’s called life; everyone has a version of it, ours just happens to be lived on a 40-foot sailboat.
Being true to myself, though, here’s the bright side to our extended sojourn: First, we had planned to stop for nearly three weeks while I raced around Vancouver Island in June anyway, and then we had a 10 day trip to visit family in Michigan lined up for early July, so we really only lost about a week from our previous schedule. Who needs schedules aboard a boat anyway?! Second, the engine received some much needed love that will keep us moving for years to come without having to fuss with the parts that we did —which is one less thing to deal with in the future.
We’ll surely have a few more hiccups along the way, engine or otherwise, but again, that’s just part of living on a boat. And if we didn’t love it, we wouldn’t be out here.