Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12, 2006 - Urbanna, Virginia

Hi everyone. This is Rick on the blog. Lynnie indicated in her last posting that we’d had an exciting day on the water. Well, that about sums it up. You know, some things are learned easily, and others require a trial by fire.

We spent the night of August 9th at anchor in the East River off Mobjack Bay, VA. We awoke to a very overcast sky, and it began to drizzle. NOAA weather indicated it wouldn’t amount to much, and the seas would be calm, so we headed out, bound for Gwynn Island about 25 miles north with mild precipitation showing on the radar.

We’d just rounded New Point Comfort lighthouse and started heading north with a slow rain, in 25 – 30 feet of water. About 3 miles offshore, the port engine began to lose RPM, and everything seemed to point to a clogged primary fuel filter. So … Rick decided we had better switch over to the backup primary filter, and headed into the engine room to execute this “simple” procedure.

To make a long story short … in a matter of a few minutes our ‘first’ worst nightmare unfolded. The fuel filter swap process wasn’t at all what I’d learned in diesel school. I got it all undone, and the new one installed, but for some reason, could not fill the filter housing with fuel from the normal supply line. Bottom line … in very short order both engines got an air lock and shut down cold … we were adrift, now in heavy rain with reduced visibility! We’d been dodging crab pots all the way out into open water, and began to drift back toward Mobjack.

We were in no immediate danger and could always drop anchor and call TowBoatUS to come get us. So, I took a deep breath, and began to try to figure it all out. Luckily we had cell phone coverage, and a quick call to my good friend and mechanic, Roger Brake, helped to ease the fear factor. He gave me a few simple things to diagnose, and in about an hour I was able to restart the port engine by bleeding the air out of the injector fuel line. The starboard engine also cranked up with a few coughs, and we again had normal RPM.

We breathed a very big sigh of relief, high-fived, opened a beer, and headed north once again. We decided to bypass Gwynn Island and go on into Urbanna, VA on the Rappahannock River, about a 44 mile day. That turned out to be a good decision, as it is a really neat place. It is an historic port town and the ‘downtown’ area is wonderful. Today we wandered through the farmers market and stopped in at the Urbanna Republic store and bought some new clothes.

Yesterday, we spent doing chores. Lynnie did laundry, washed the boat, and Rick spent most of the day doing a 100 hour engine service. We’ve met some fun people, had some good meals in town, and tomorrow will head up to Smith Creek, just inside the mouth of the Potomac River.
So, our first encounter with fear turned out to be a very good teacher, and we’ve both learned a lot about ourselves, the boat, and dealing with the unknown. And I will never make that same mistake again! So far we have logged 380 nautical miles since leaving Morehead City, NC.

Scenes from the back of the boat in Urbanna.