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On Living Aboard

It had been a nice, quiet weekend on the hook at the anchorage in Coecles harbor, off Shelter Island, NY. Enjoying the solitude, we ate well, kicked back and read most of a book each, but it was time to head back. The Blonde, my wife, has a real job and eight O’clock comes early on Monday when you have been kicking back all weekend. Plus, I had a delivery job coming up, which, while unusual this time of year, made sense. A very busy executive, that I knew from when I was in the rat race, wants to spend his two weeks in Maine, but didn’t want to waste the time running his boat up there. So he asked me to run it up for him. He will meet me in Portland next Sunday, with his family. I will drive his car back here, and then return after the two weeks to bring the boat back home. The route north was rambling through my mind when there was a rather abrupt change In Patty O’s exhaust rumble. Then, seconds later the temperature alarm on the starboard engine went off. Pulling the engine out of gear and glancing at the temperature gauge, I saw that it was at the bottom of the danger zone. Hitting the kill switch, the nasty exhaust note went away. Usually, when an engine overheats, the normal response is to remove the load and allow it to cool a bit before shutting down. But in this case, the loud exhaust meant that there was no water being expelled and that could cause the exhaust pipe to become very hot, possibly causing a fire. Turning the helm over to the Blonde, and scrambling below, there was no sign of anything amiss. Opening the engine room hatch I couldn’t see anything wrong visually and while there was a lot of heat coming through the hatch, there was no smoke. Back on the bridge, I took over the helm. “Doesn’t seem to be any disaster. Looks like the cooling water to the starboard engine went away.” Like any twin screw boat, Patty O’ is a handful to maneuver with one engine. Fortunately, we had opted not to tow the little Century runabout along this time. This made getting Patty O’ into her slip a lot easier. Secured to the dock, I decided that there was little I could do on a hot engine on a rather warm day. That decision made, we decided that it was a good time for a dinner out. At this stage of my life, I do not feel the need to solve any problem immediately that is not an emergency. Opening the big engine room hatches, and turning on the AC to high, insured that we’d be returning to a cool and comfortable Patty O’. With the temperature in the mid eighties, and with humidity over fifty percent, not doing this would have meant a very uncomfortable night’s sleeping. Next morning, before it got too gooey, I was ensconced in the engine room between the main engines. Taking the raw water pump off the engine took about a half hour. It involved removing the starboard alternator which allowed me to reach the pump. Once the pump was removed, it was disassembled while I was sitting in the cockpit. The impeller had self destructed causing the shaft to be scored beyond repair. Fortunately, I do keep a spare pump. This was installed, along with a new set of belts. The old ones looked ok, but I have a rule that when a belt is stressed, as when the pump failed, it’s best to replace everything involved. It may seem overkill to some, but it gives me peace of mind. Going on line and ordering a new raw water pump, I checked the price of a new set of belts as well. Last time this was necessary, the price at the local parts emporium was better than the on line price, but not this time. A tap on the ‘enter’ key and in a couple days or so the UPS man will come and we’ll be back to normal as far as our replacement parts are concerned. My friend Ritchie McGill and his wife Linda are taking a well deserved vacation aboard their vintage Luhrs 32, fly bridge sedan cruiser. They’re currently anchored up inside Napatree Point in Western Rhode Island, a place long called the ‘Kitchen’. We’ve been there many times over the years. It can be quite busy on a holiday weekend in summer, and can also be a nice place to spend a few days of solitude without having to travel very far. Ritchie is the sole proprietor of his business in which he creates high end furniture as well as custom kitchen cabinets. They try to get away at least twice a year, but in summer, Ritchie likes to be close by. On Monday, he called and invited us to dinner at one of the trendy eateries in Watch Hill, a short tender ride for them, and a somewhat longer drive for us. Being the first day of the week, the crowds were manageable and even though the restaurant was almost full, the service was timely and the meal good. Ritchie seemed to be all wound down and that was a good thing. He keeps busy mostly due to the high quality of his product. His furniture and cabinets are constructed using very exotic wood that he searches far and wide to obtain. I told him about the delivery to Maine I was going to do and asked him if he wanted to go along. He looked at his plate, and then at the ceiling before answering. “How long would we be away?” he asked. “Well, I figured on leaving sometime on Friday . The boat’s a vintage Grand Banks 32, with a single Lehman diesel, figure on eight or nine knots. Larry, wants it to be in Portland by Saturday. I’m to drive his car back while he and his family cruise around Maine, and then drive up there and bring the boat back when they’re done.” “Lemmy think on it.” He said. Ritchie rarely does anything on the spur of the moment. On Tuesday afternoon, Ritchie called to say that he would go, “I don’t have anything booked for the week.” He said. “Sounds like it’ll be a fun trip.” This was met with much relief from the Blonde, who did not like the idea of me single handing to Maine. To be frank, neither did I, but the person who was originally going to accompany me on the trip had a sudden family emergency and had to back out. Not that I’m not capable of making the trip, but it will be good to have Ritchie, who, unlike Carl, the first candidate, does indeed know how to run a powerboat as well as I do. Also, having Ritchie aboard meant that the trip could be made in one continuous run, each of us taking a watch. Alone, I’d have to stop at least once to rest. Getting underway at noon on Friday, the weather forecast promised a pleasant trip with a slight chance of a thunder storm on Saturday afternoon. It’s a bit over two hundred miles to Portland, with the longest leg a bit over a hundred, from the north side of the Cape Cod canal to Portland head. I figured the trip would take something over 24 hours at the steady eight knots that the Grand Banks was comfortable cruising. Having no auto pilot meant that whoever was on watch had to physically steer as well as keep a lookout. There was no radar, and a basic GPS was all the navigational equipment aboard. Because of this, I decided that four hour watches would work, and it did. Arriving at the marina in Portla

nd a little after four in the afternoon, we were directed to a slip and after fueling up, we grabbed a meal at the marina restaurant and crashed soon after. Eight O’clock Sunday morning found us back at the restaurant for breakfast. We were just finishing when my phone rang. “How you guys doing?” said Larry. “We’ll be there in about a half hour. Everything going ok?” Giving him the slip number and that everything was on schedule, we drank one more cup of coffee, and headed back to the boat. Larry sent me a text when they got to the parking lot and we went to help them with their luggage. They had loaded most of it aboard the boat before we left, so there wasn’t much. Shaking hands, Larry handed me the keys to his BMW SUV, and we headed south on I-95. The trip back did not take anywhere near as long as the trip up, and wonder of wonders, traffic around the Boston area, while always scary, was tolerable. Dropping Ritchie off I called the Blonde. “Just leaving Ritchie’s.” I said. “And I’m starving.” “I thought you might be.” She said. “How does shrimp and scallop scampi sound?” “You know me too well!” I answered. “You know it.”

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