The Clog Before the Storm by Mark

I noticed on a trip to George Town that the stream of cooling water on our outboard was barely coming out at a trickle, so I pulled the lower end off and replaced the impeller.  I performed the operation in the cockpit with the assistance of another boat neighbor, Jim on s/v Lameroo.  Both the impeller and the gear oil needed to be changed.  Unfortunately the water had no more pressure behind it after we had it all reassembled.  Logan suggested that we poke a wire into the end of the tube in case something was blocking the flow.

Changing the impeller on our outboard.

Changing the impeller on our outboard.

Darkness and another approaching cold front halted further progress on the outboard and we all took turns peeking out from behind the dodger as the wind picked up to nearly 30 knots!

People were calling other boats on the VHF who had started dragging their anchors.  We had a trawler anchored in front of us a little closer than I would have preferred.  The owner was a former pastor and while many people take comfort in the thought of the hand-of-god, the thought of the hull-of-god crashing into our boat kept me awake half the night.

The gathering storm.

The gathering storm.

The next morning I took Logan’s suggestion and cleared the cooling water tube on the outboard.  It was full of salt crystals and after I plugged the hose back together, the stream of water was back to its former force.

It was another lesson in trouble shooting for the boys, and I was glad they discovered that the root cause of the problem was the simpler of the solutions.  I just wish it would have been the first thing I had tried and not the last!

You may get the feeling from my posts that we spend a great deal of time fixing things that break.   That couldn’t be more true.  More than a few other sailors have told me that cruising amounts to little more than fixing your boat in exotic locations!  In fact while I had my lower unit off, our neighbor in his trawler was replacing one of his water pumps.  I might go so far as to say that if you don’t see a sailor on deck with a drink in hand, they are probably lying on their backs contorting themselves in some way to work in their engine compartment.  One cruiser told me the story of how their engine fell into the bilge while underway.  His girlfriend at the time said I never knew why we had a three foot long crowbar on the boat before that day, but I was sure glad we had it when he used it to lift our engine back into place and limped our boat back into port to repair a broken motor mount.

It’s like all the people out here took the movie Apollo 13 to heart and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they can fix nearly anything on their boat.  We even met a solo sailor that had converted his aft cabin into a workshop complete with a welder.  He could not only fix parts, he could fabricate them as well!

Monohulls cats and Trimarans?  These are the people in our neighborhood.

Monohulls, cats, and Trimarans? These are the people in our neighborhood.

Sometimes I think we have stayed in George Town too long but getting to know numerous other cruisers has been worth it.  Our boys have seen the insides of several boats and met just as many interesting captains and their crews.  The cruisers in George Town are an eclectic mix.  Anything from former bomber pilots to MIT professors.  We’ve met managers to morticians.  There are parents with kids, solo sailors, and retires, but no matter the age or occupation all of them seem to share the same desire to seek out a new adventure, or in the words of Tennyson “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Fair winds ,


1 thought on “The Clog Before the Storm by Mark

  1. Hi Fiechter family! We are having a beautiful heavy snow today. We received four inches overnight and are getting another four to six today and tonight. I am envious of the warm weather and clear blue sea that you are experiencing. We are watching your blogs. I print everything off and give it to my mom so she can see where you are. She thinks it is a wonderful thing you and Christine are doing for the boys and yourselves. Stan and I are going to Australia and New Guinea in November. There is a cruise to the battlefields in the Pacific including where my dad was. I don’t think we will be diving the Great Barrier Reef. I promised my mom I would not dive anymore after one of our friends drowned. Stan has had blood clot issues so it is best we just look. Besides they have really big sharks there! Well, I hope the rest of your trip goes smoothly and enjoy! Judi

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