Our First Bump of the Journey

Bill fixing hole
Bill is preparing to apply the first small oval of fiberglass. Eight layers of consecutively larger pieces followed.
keel damage
Pretty bad gash. No water got in the boat. This is one tough vessel.
keel fixed
Look at that finished product. Bill has a new career now.

Many of you have heard about our bump. The one which resulted in a hole in the boat as big as your head. It was bad. We had just been talking about the fact that we have never gone aground in Alembic. We regularly went aground on Wings, our Westsail 32. Sometimes we kedged off. Sometimes we slept aboard at an angle until the next tide lifted us off the mud. Other times we just powered through it or backed off and went on our way. Never was it a big deal. These full keel, sturdy vessels don’t mind a bit of mud. The prop is far enough up, the bottom is flat and wide for a good eight feet. We even considered standing these boats against a pier, letting the tide run out, and painting the bottom. But this was no mud grounding. This was a front end cracking bump.

Tafts Cruising guide was in my hands, as I read the exact instructions for entering Mud Hole. The wheel was in Bill’s hands, as he carefully followed what I read. We both stared at the depth sounder, which was reading 13 feet or more. Seeing the 40 foot Hinckley further in the tiny cove gave us that false sense of security that “if he could get in there, so could we”. Then Bang. My tea spilled, we bounced off something hard. I dashed below, certain that I’d see water spurting from somewhere. But no. Nothing. We backed off, turned out of the cove entrance, and dropped anchor quickly so Bill could dive in with a snorkel for inspections. He came up pale. “There’s a big hole”. Ugh. We had hit a rock that came up like a building, right on the centerline of the boat, a foot up from the bottom of the keel.

The next thirty minutes was a blur, but we decided that we were not going to sink, so we might as well dinghy into the cove and begin our hike around Great Wass Island. This was our intention in the first place. The four mile hike did wonders for our frazzled brains, and we returned to Alembic with a renewed understanding of the cove depths. Taft recommended coming in at low tide, when you could best see the bottom contours, but I think he should have been more clear that this exploration should be done by dinghy. Coming back at high tide, as the Hinkley had done, would be easy, when the staggering rocks were covered by another 13 feet of water.

We carried on with our Maine cruise, knowing that we would haul out in South Portland to repair this damage. The photo shows the nasty gash. Bill ground down the fiberglass, applied eight layers of fiberglass, sanded it smooth, and it was better than new. We had to haul to scrub and paint the whole bottom with antifouling anyway, so this “little project” was not much more work. Our devotion to the Whitby has risen a few notches.

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