Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Adventures in Towing

Now that we are on the hook for a bit in Boot Key Harbor we can catch up on a few recent stories. Boot Key has a mighty fine wifi signal from right here in the cockpit! What follows are the gory details of our entrance to Miami...

Coming into Miami. We couldn’t have been more excited. After two months on the hard with long days just either working on our boat or on other people’s boats to make some cash, we were finally arriving someplace new. Then it happened. We’d navigated government cut into the port of Miami and taken the southern route around Lummus island. Huge container ships off to starboard and buoys marking the shallows off to port. And then the engine quit. Just like that. Running fine and then just shut itself off. Of course you do the obvious things. Restart. That never works and didn’t this time either. Go below and stare at the engine and see if it has its left ventricle sticking out of the oil pan or something obvious. No. It is just a maddening hunk of iron that won’t spin right now.

OK. Luckily it’s a sailboat and we can keep some way on by flying a little sail. So we roll out about half the jib and begin sailing in circles staying off of the big container ship and also off of the shallows. Not unlike the moments before the start of a sailing race we just continued to jibe back and forth (Thanks DaveR.!). While that was going on I did two things. I called Tow Boat US (with our unlimited towing package why wait?). They ask for the nature of our problem and our location. Now our location is easy on a number of fronts. For one I gave them our lat and long. That alone pinpoints us on the planet. Additionally, I said we are south of Lummus.island by a big container ship and we are the only 40 foot sailboat sailing in circles here. Fine. Next I had to find a marina to be towed to. Using our Florida cruising guide I began calling marinas and boat yards. Bad news. There is a regatta AND fishing tournament in town and there are NO slips. I mean NONE. While this is going on Sue is steering the boat and calling me topsides to help jibe the boat one way or another. While I am below one time Sue says, “Here comes the tow boat”. That seems about right and then she says, “And there they go out to sea!” At first I thought that they were probably going to another emergency and OUR rescue boat would be soon after. No. Pretty soon we got a call from the tow boat guys who I will hence forth refer to as Wayne and Garth. “Now, WHERE are you exactly?” What does one say after you’ve nailed your position down with GPS to within 10 meters? “We are south of Lummus island, sailing in circles and there is not another sailboat anywhere around us. Yeah, they cruised out to the ocean and started looking around for us. Finally they found us and actually did a great job towing us up the Miami river through 5 lift bridges including one with only one working span! With no available slips we were towed to their little working dock for only $80 per night (not covered by the insurance!)

Upon our arrival we were greeted by an over friendly dog who immediately jumped aboard, chased Gracie below, and the took a leak on our deck.

I have officially recorded this moment as my personal low point of the adventure.

I had called Stem to Stern soon after the engine quit as they had just worked on it and given it their seal of approval. True to their style Erik drove down to Miami from Ft. Lauderdale after putting in a full day of boat work to help us get it started. Erik worked on the boat from 4:30 to 10 pm not only getting her started again (had to bleed the fuel system completely including the four injectors) but also re-doing the front seal on the engine which was showing a little oil seepage.

Afterwards everything seemed fine and it was. We started the engine the next morning and let it run for a half and hour or so and then cruised up river for a bit just to ‘make sure’ it was fine. OK, on ward! We negotiated the five bridges to get us back to Miami harbor proper and followed the buoys under the Rickenbacker bridge and then veered a little off to the East and anchored just off of Key Biscayne in what they call Nixon’s. If you remember Richard Nixon or was it BeeBee Rebozzo had property on Key Biscayne.

And then……………….we did nothing for three days. It’s not that we didn’t want to go places it was just that we were pretty exhausted from working like rented mules for two months! We read, napped, ate and napped. Nice anchorage with an east – south east wind. A few boats came and went but it was really just us. And just us didn’t need anything right then nor did we want anything right then. No wants and no needs. That’s a beautiful thing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you overcame the enigne situation. Sounds like everything is going great now! I'm sure you are enjoying boating much more than the rest of us are here on the Great Lakes!