Prior to leaving Fogg Cove Brian had once again changed the engine oil. The old oil seemed to be the appropriate amount, have the appropriate color, and have the appropriate thickness. Nonetheless we are once again in monitoring mode. After a very helpful conversation with Scott (of “Scott & Kim” cruising friends) wherein he shared his experiences with Brian and troubleshot our mysterious Golden Goose, we’re hoping to avoid a runaway engine.
We began motoring, with yours truly at the helm, and decided to not bother with sails for this short six-mile jaunt into Wye River. It was nearly 5:00pm and a steady speed and direct line should get us to our next anchorage before sunset. Brian joined me in the cockpit. He was pining over our engine troubles and looking to the internet to continue brainstorming. Here is when we learn what all those ‘ol timers meant about good communication…at least for cruising. Just out of the Fogg Cove channel I asked Brian whether I could head directly toward “that red buoy.” iPad in hand, he took a quick look at the chart and determined, yes, I could head directly toward “that red bouy.” All the while I was looking ahead steering and he was looking down internet-ing and charting; we never specified to the other which red buoy “that” one was. I continued full steam ahead until “THA-THUMP” and Brian…”What was that!?”
This time we both instantaneously and clearly defined “that” as the BOTTOM. I’d run aground – HARD.
“STOP,” exclaimed Brian, “Reverse – HARD!” I handed over the tiller. We weren’t moving. The engine was full on and I was jumping from one side of the deck to the other to try to rock us…somewhere. Brian kept us in reverse and rowed the tiller. There, maybe, yes…we’re moving. Brian kept on it and I paused to observe the outcome. We were nearly free of the mud. Brian sent me to the engine room to check the bilge and the raw water strainer – dry and clear. Thank goodness! Once free we both looked at the chart confirming that this 1-foot spot was mud and/or soft bottom. PHEW!
Brian steered toward “that red buoy” and handed the tiller back to me. We sat silent for a few moments before the communication started flowing once again. “I think we both just weren’t paying attention,” I started. “We need to always be specific about which buoy,” Brian replied. “Yea, and the driver should probably check the chart regardless,” I answered. BIG SIGHS!
“Well,” Brian added, “add white smoke to the list of engine symptoms.” I sighed at this…we were running the engine probably the hardest we ever have. “Let’s check the oil again in the morning,” I concluded. Through a cold blanket of drizzle we made it safely to Wye East River and anchored in a cozy, still cove. Dinner, a movie, and the heater slowly lifted our spirits.