June 22, 2017: B.O.A.T. = “Blow Out Another Thousand!”

I awakened on Thursday morning after a relatively sleepless night (mild leg cramps, a small cough, and the state of the bow thruster on my mind) with a vague feeling of unease and anxiety whose source I couldn’t trace. After Morning Prayer, I climbed up the hill above the Friday Harbor Marina to buy some kitchen sponges at a market–naturally, I was certain that I had put a packet of them aboard before we left Everett, but I hadn’t been able to locate them. Meanwhile, Walt continued to work on attaching letters and numbers to Coracle’s side to identify it as a registered “tender to Braesail.”

CoracleAfter my nice sunshiny walk, we prepared to leave the marina, but when Walt turned on the radar/chart plotter unit at the helm, he saw only a blank screen! After doing all he could to resuscitate the unit under the guidance of the service manual, and after calling the provider’s tech support department and finding that the technology is too old to be repaired and that replacement with a used unit would be the only sensible option (we have nautical charts on our smartphones and we have paper charts too, but there are times when you really need radar to be safe on the water in dense fog), we decided to motor back to Anacortes (about 16 miles) to the repair facilities there to buy a replacement unit and to try to determine why the bow thruster wasn’t working.

 

We started back to Anacortes around noon, and while Walt was down in the galley preparing lunch and I was on watch at the helm, I decided, “just for fun,” to push the power button on the plotter, and the screen appeared right away as it usually does with full functionality! WHAT??? We decided to keep going into Anacortes and to buy one of the two used units in stock there as a spare at a cost of $300. We made good time, running the boat’s engine at high speed and catching a current going our way, and I drifted off to sleep for a short time as we sped over the jade satin water, after having seen the dorsal fins of several more minke whales. By about 3:30 pm we were moored at the repair dock, and we decided to purchase a used radar/plotter unit that worked fine in our cockpit.

Walt determined, after an underwater camera was used to look at the thruster and after he had examined the top of the unit from inside the boat’s bow cabin, that the propeller was actually in place, but the gears in the gear box were stripped (probably due to his accidentally letting the bow line fall overboard and get tangled in the thruster’s prop while he was docking single-handedly in Everett in high winds when I was on our smaller boat with Martin on June 1; the damaged prop was replaced, but the repair people in Everett didn’t detect the gear problem, even though, when the device was tested while the boat was out of water, it was terribly noisy; they should have investigated further, I think!).

By about 4:30 I was feeling very sleepy, and took a long (four hours!) nap in the aft cabin. When I awoke, Walt was making supper from left-over jambalaya and chicken stew with grape tomatoes on the side, a very nice meal indeed. We decided to call some places on Friday morning to see how best to obtain a new thruster “leg” (gear box) (about $800 including shipping), and have it installed, which would entail having the boat hauled out of the water AGAIN (another $200). I cleaned the galley and then we enjoyed chai tea and chocolate biscotti for dessert, and we climbed into bed somewhat early after a stressful (at least for me!) day. Despite my lengthy nap, I fell asleep easily, knowing that the chart plotter was functioning and that we should be able to get a new gear box for the thruster.

 

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