The Sailboat Search Chronicles: Part 26 (Grounded)

It’s often struck me that owning a boat is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, only less predictable.

This past week is a prime example. Marty and I have been working madly on the boat to get it ready for its first outing, a trip to Blake Island with our friends Aaron and Nicole this weekend. The forecast looked stinky, but we didn’t care. We’ve been itching to take Three Sheets out since we bought her in September. A little rain wasn’t going to stop us.

We’d been anxiously awaiting the relaunch, and Wednesday was finally the big day. I drove over in the boatyard in the early afternoon and watched excitedly as Three Sheets was lowered into the water. It was the first time in two and a half months that she’d floated. After being hauled out in Mexico on Nov. 30, she’d spent time in a Mexican boatyard and a Tucson crane company yard before arriving in Seattle by truck on Jan. 3. Since then, she’s been at the yard for recommissioning, maintenance work and inevitably, a few unexpected repairs.

To see her hull touch the water was thrilling. I half expected to hear celestial voices and see the sun pop out from behind a cloud to shine down on her. Marty showed up soon after, smiling at the sight of our boat floating, finally, in Northwest waters. Our boat. In the water. In Seattle. It was slightly surreal.

We figured we’d take her out for a spin on Friday night to make sure the engine was working properly and then head for Blake on Saturday morning. Despite the rain, I couldn’t wait. I was sitting at my desk yesterday afternoon, pretending to write a story while thinking about what we should grill for dinner on the boat Saturday night (burgers? souvlaki?) when Marty called.

Dockbound for a few more days.

“I just talked to the guys at the yard. Something’s wrong with the engine,” he said.

“You have got to be kidding me,” I said.

Nope. He wasn’t kidding.

While replacing the impeller on the raw water pump, a yard worker noticed that the inside of the pump was badly corroded, meaning the pump housing needed to be replaced. Taking the boat out without doing that would run the risk of the pump malfunctioning, which could cause the engine to overheat and, possibly, fail.

In other words, no sailing this weekend. No drinking wine around a fire in one of Blake Island’s cabanas. No enjoying a view of the Seattle skyline from across the bay. No playing cribbage in a cozy salon. No onboard laughs with Aaron and Nicole. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Marty, always the optimist, took the disappointment in stride. With his usual glass-half-full take on things, he pointed out that we can use this weekend to hang sails, bring bedding and galley items down to the boat and get it ready to take out … next weekend. He gamely tried to cheer me up, but I wasn’t in the mood. A few Mount Gay and Cokes later I emerged from my funk, realizing there’s no point in sweating it.

Because if there’s one thing sailing teaches you—enforces upon you—it’s patience. If it’s not mother nature putting the smackdown on with a windless day, it’s yet another unanticipated and necessary repair that keeps you landlocked. And there’s the sailing itself: if you’re in a hurry to get from A to B, you’d best cool your heels and make yourself comfortable. Sailing is an apt metaphor for life, a reminder to just chill out and enjoy the ride.

So next weekend it is. Though forecasts in these parts are notoriously unreliable, AccuWeather is at the moment predicting mostly sunny weather next weekend. I’ll take it. And I’m pretty sure that once we finally get out there, all the waiting will be worth it.

10 Responses to The Sailboat Search Chronicles: Part 26 (Grounded)

  1. Carolyn February 16, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    you certainly are learning to be patient! this weekend sounds like the weather is going to be much nicer and I am certain the long
    wait will all be worth it! I enjoy your updates!

  2. Mike Oswald February 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm #


    You’ve all missed the point. It’s not the pump cavity. It’s the boat itself. You see, boats are she’s and like all she’s or women- they’re fickle. Down right opinionated they are! Look at it from “her” point of view.

    First you tear the boat away from a warm sensuous climate with warm water caressing its hull and drug it in the middle of the winter a quarter of the way (vertically) around the world.

    Then you take away all what she was familiar with inside and then strip-STRIP-her name from her stern and leave her BARE?! Bare ass for all the world to behold?

    Oh, but you’re not done yet, you then place her in cold-COLD-water and expect her to enjoy it? On top of that you want to take her out in colder water in the middle of the winter when the wind is blowing and the rain is falling-so far from the mariachi bands she knew so well. Have you no shame?

    This was the Valentine week end. You must treat her like the lady she is. Speak soothingly to her, I know, the neighbors will think you crazy, but the boat will know. Thank her for the enjoyment you’ve had throwing all those bucks her way. Polish up what little wood she might have using a warm scented oil. Let her feel your heart beating for her. Put some flowers on board. It’s the only way, believe me.

    From an old boat owner.

  3. Claus Jensen February 13, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    Deborah – you didn’t miss a thing, viz.

    “Today…S wind 30 to 35 kt. Wind waves 8 to 10 ft. W swell 17 ft at 15 seconds. Rain.

    Tonight…S wind 25 to 35 kt…becoming SW 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 7 to 10 ft…subsiding to 3 to 5 ft late. W swell 18 ft at 15 seconds building to 20 ft at 15 seconds during the evening. Rain.”

    Would not have been a comfy stay at Blake 🙂

    • Claus Jensen February 13, 2010 at 10:14 am #

      Ooops – quoted the wrong forecast – DUH 🙁

  4. Scott Wilson February 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    This is not the weather to be out breaking in your new boat, anyway! Enjoy the enforced delay, wait for some sunshine and warm breezes!

    • Marty McOmber February 15, 2010 at 10:25 am #

      Easy for you to say — you are up in Canada enjoying the boat and the Olympics 🙂 To say we are jealous is an understatement. Enjoy your time up there, guys! Can’t wait to hear the stories when you get back.

  5. Claus Jensen February 12, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    As they say “Always expect the unexpected” … e.g. the CG asking about your vessel’s name and homeport if not affixed to transom 🙂

    • Marty McOmber February 12, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

      Well, the money we had planned to spend on the new name decal just got sucked up into our rotten water pump 🙂

      Still, I don’t think that excuse will fly with the coasties.

  6. Deborah Bach February 12, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    True, Dave, true. But still a bummer. I’m starting to wonder when the work finally gives way to a little fun. Hopefully that will be next weekend!

  7. Dave C February 12, 2010 at 11:14 am #

    Jeeze, that’s a bummer! At least they caught it and you weren’t halfway to Blake and seeing that engine temp go nuts!

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