What’s the Story?

We’ve just returned to Rode Trip from our vacation in California. Yes, even though we live on a boat we can still take a vacation and it was glorious! But I haven’t forgotten that you all are still reading. So, here’s the story…

We returned to St Marys, GA just in the nick of time. Santa was coming to town! We quickly unpacked our bags and strolled into town toward the sound of Christmas carols. Tiny, white, holiday lights were glistening through the treetops down the center lane of town. People were crowding the streets to get a glimpse of Santa Claus as he made his grand entrance. Down the lane trotted a horse drawn carriage carrying Santa and Mrs. Claus. Cheers erupted from the crowd and confetti burst into the air above our heads. Then, eyes following Santa, our gaze was turned to the Christmas tree at the end of the street and “Viola!” the tree was lit and applause filled the streets. Now, it’s officially Christmas! We met with our friends, Scott & Kim (s/v Anthyllide), and returned to Rode Trip to swap stories about our previous week’s adventures.

So what’s the story with our travel plans? Truth be told, as I write this to give you the scoop, we don’t actually know! We’re watching the weather, which is not promising for an offshore trip forecasting light, south winds for days. We’re debating whether to motor down the Intracoastal Waterway to make tracks south and east or to sail east across the south winds for several days hoping the next front holds true so that we can drop south into the Bahamas either at Abacos or Eleuthera. This is not adventuring. This is cruising on a schedule. We’re trying to make the most efficient trip, having limited time to arrive in Staniel Cay, Exumas to welcome our friends on December 20th. When we make a decision and/or land in a new destination I’ll be sure to let you know!


For those of you paying attention, Rode Trip and her crew are all A-OK!


And for those of you who know your geography, Savannah, Georgia is NOT the Abacos, Bahamas! This was further clarified by this morning’s view.


Approximately 200nm into our trek we were becalmed; this was forecasted and we had planned to motor through. Upon checking the engine oil prior to firing up the Perkins, Brian discovered a significant amount of diesel fuel in the oil. In short, we had an engine issue that was not about to be solved at sea and we turned back toward the coast. It seems for the second year in a row we were unable to break free from the extreme gravitational pull toward Georgia. I don’t know what the attraction is and I can tell you that St. Mary’s was not in the running as a stopping point this time ’round. But here we are plodding down the Intracoastal Waterway. We’ve contacted the OCC Port Officer here in Savannah for some brainstorming and recommendations. Rode Trip is on her way to the Hinckley Marina in Thunderbolt, GA where the Perkins will get a thorough inspection and repair as needed. Meanwhile… we’re making the most of our new destination and I’ll roll out the full details of what has been an extraordinary ocean passage!

Why the holdup?

To answer the question that I am sure all of you blog readers are asking…no we have not moved in to St. Mary’s, GA permanently. Very soon we plan on getting underway again and heading for the Bahamian islands.

Our engine has been continuing to exhibit some strange behavior with very inconsistent oil levels. It would go up for a little while and then it would go back down, and we decided to take a little bit of time to get it completely sorted out before we leave the country. The engine troubleshooting indicated that our oil level would go up while the engine was not running, so we found a good secure anchorage next to our friends on Anthyllide and proceeded to not run the engine. After about a week the oil level had risen very significantly, so it was time to drain the oil and see what was in our oil pan other than oil.

We managed to pull out this liquid


This is water that was sitting in the bottom of our engine oil pan! YIKES! Thankfully we didn’t run the engine with this much water in there, but it indicated that we have been collecting saltwater and then evaporating it out of the oil for a while now.

The good news about having water in the oil is that there are very very few options for how it can get there. The mostly likely cause is our cooling water pump. It bolts on to the front of the engine and has the possibility that if seals fail then it can leak into the timing case on the engine.

We had a problem with this pump dripping previously and a rebuild had appeared to fix the problem, however now it looks like the rebuild just changed the location of the drip to a location where we couldn’t see it. We currently have a disabled engine, but have a brand new raw water pump in the mail. While it is shipping we are going to continue to monitor our engine oil level to make sure that disconnecting this pump actually fixed the problem.

After identifying the fact that we had salt water in our oil we changed the oil and oil filter twice to try and remove any salt from the system. After we reinstall the new pump we will run the engine for about 25 hours ( not continuously) and then change the oil one more time. Hopefully this will end our engine excitement for a long time!

Meanwhile we are enjoying the reasonably warm weather here in St. Mary’s. The town is full of very friendly people who have made us feel very welcome here. We even met another boat registered out of Portsmouth. The owner Ron has sailed his 33ft steel boat around the world in the high latitudes around Cape Horn. He has amazing stories and is giving up cruising (at least temporarily) to bike around the United States. If anyone is looking to join us we can check out his boat for you…I’m sure we could delay another week before we get under way.