Hurricanes are out there. We can’t make them go away. We can prepare and hope that they go out to sea where very few people could be affected. For the last week, sailors have been glued to some sort of screen, watching the path and the predictions. We were lucky. This time.
Alembic has had a leaky oil seal on our engine since we bought her, and Bill has been changing “diapers” on a regular basis to sop up the drips. He has been looking at the replacement seal in a ziplock bag for a few months now, wondering if he could fix this himself. He fixes almost everything aboard, but this seal is critical and opening up the engine could lead to a long list of other failures. Seeking advice from many sources, Bill found: schematics of our engine in the excellent documents aboard, Utube videos to show him how to pull apart our engine, sailors who suggested that diapers and replacement oil are cheap, a mechanic who thought he’d have to fashion a “tool” to pull pulleys and drop the oil pan and likely have to raise our entire engine. None of this helped Bill feel confident, so he consulted the Whitby 42 owners association, and they suggested stopping by Haven Harbour Marina in Rock Hall, on our way to Annapolis. We made an appointment with a mechanic for Thursday Oct 1, arriving Wednesday so the engine would cool down.
Just as we turned the corner to enter the marina, the winds piped up, and the rain started pelting. Entering this marina was a near nightmare; we were digging up mud, turning down a very tight pathway, looking at all the million dollar boats ten feet away on both sides, unsure which spot was Red 9, our berth. Seeing no colors, no numbers, no people to ask anywhere, we were losing faith fast. With no possible way to turn around, we started to panic, thinking this was not the right spot. But then we saw Hal, waving way down at the end, welcoming us in and ready to catch our lines. Relief.
Secured to our dock, marina manager Bill came aboard and reported the bad news. He was happy to have us here, but all hands at the marina were tied up preparing for Joaquin. Our engine would have to wait. How do you show disappointment and gleeful relief at the same time? This marina was so tucked away which made entry of Alembic and Joaquin almost impossible. So here we were, at a world class marina, equipped with 18 private hot showers, laundry, huge rooms for guests to watch TV (what’s that??) or sew projects, free wifi that actually works (unlike many marinas), free beach bikes and cars, friendly people everywhere.
The marina owners were worried about flooding causing tools, yard toys and furniture to float away, boats that were not properly tied to docks could get damaged, and unsecured fabric could fly loose causing excessive windage and more damage. While these are huge concerns, and a lot of work to attend to, they posed no danger or consequence to us. We could tie extra lines, we could remove all our sails, dodger, bimini, and clutter on deck and bring it all below into the cabin. We would be fine here. Even if the storm really came right over us, we could step ashore, drive away, and be safe. If we had been at anchor, this would not be an option.
Today is Saturday. We have enjoyed this marina immensely. We have biked all over town several times, gone jogging, dined out, performed many tasks which were made easier having access to land, and our engine is good to go. Hank simply loosened the pulleys, and replaced the seal. He also showed Bill many tricks about general maintenance and assured us that our engine is in terrific condition with many more years of life left. Weather has been lousy, with 20-30 kt winds, rain, and cold temps, but staying here has been a gift. We are still monitoring the progress of Joaquin, and staying hunkered down in this wonderful spot. Luck has been with us so far. We wish we could share our bounty with those less fortunate in the Bahamas.