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Old 12-01-2021, 10:19   #1
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Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Hey everyone, I've posted a handful of questions here over the past months during the restoration of my 1974 30-foot steel sailboat and given how helpful so many of you have been, I thought there may be some curiosity as to how my trip south has been so far

My one crew and I left Annapolis on the 5th and motored to Tilghman Island, anchored for a night, and woke up with near-dead batteries. Apparently my engine wasn't charging them the whole previous day while I was running my chart plotter and radar, because the correct setting on my battery switch for that is apparently "EMERGENCY COMBINE BATTERIES!" which wasn't my first guess (I figured "ON" was the right setting, silly me). But the starter wasn't drained so we motored into the Cut and spent the day at a marina waiting out some weather, then motored to Solomons on the 7th with no trouble. On the 8th we motored to Deltaville (we've been doing all motoring because no one wants to go onto the foredeck to handle sails in these temperatures), and we made slower going than I had predicted and ended up hitting some nasty weather (well, nasty for a 30-foot boat) in the last couple of hours around the mouth of the Rappahannock - I was humbled when I looked into the cabin to see water coming over the floorboards. Tasted it and it was salt, I had an "oh ****" moment and was tracing the leak while my crew steered us through the 5-7 foot seas. Wasn't any of the thru-hulls on my mental list, so I started calling marinas about a potential after-hours emergency haul out (it was already 4 PM) when I had an epiphany and remembered a dead above-the-waterline thru hull in the transom for an out-of-commission manual bilge pump. We were rolling enough that it was being dunked underwater (shouldn't have leaked in the first place, but apparently that old bilge pump was no longer serving its one-way purpose). So no emergency haul out luckily, but we did some serious bailing, ended up in Deltaville after dark, and spent the next day in Deltaville going to West Marine and getting a bronze cap for that thru-hull (until I can rebuild the bilge pump). And the good news is I've learned that the boat handles that kind of weather like a champ - only put the rail in the water once, and the cockpit was dry the whole time. Got her surfing over 8 knots, and my oversized steel rudder certainly earned my respect. On the 10th we motored from Deltaville to Norfolk and had a much more pleasant time, though I have discovered that that wasn't the only leak - my basically brand new dripless shaft seal is apparently no longer dripless. Doesn't leak at all when at rest, nor when in flat water or at low rpms - only when under load in heavier seas. Spent some time crawling around behind the engine and called my engine guy - our theory is that in all the bouncing, the compression in the shaft seal was flexing and allowed a slight gap between the carbon face and the stainless face, which let some rust debris from the stern tube through and broke the seal. I "burped" it and let some water flow between the two faces, and my hope is that it washed out whatever crud may have gotten wedged between them. The only other possibility I can think of is a fracture in the carbon, but given the age of the seal, I kind of doubt it. But we will see if my "repair" worked in the coming days - regardless, we're getting some bigger pumps just in case we end up having to bail every few hours because of it. And if anyone has experience with dripless shaft seals and a possible alternative diagnosis, I'd love to hear it.

Still in Norfolk today, but hoping to head on to the dismal swamp tomorrow Despite the shakedown troubles we've had, we're excited to be learning more about the boat every day and enjoying relatively empty marinas, and my merino wool base layers have served me very well, as has the suggestion to open the engine compartment an hour before docking/anchoring to heat up the cabin. We've also learned some other interesting winter sailing tips - like, when the fridge is full, just keep the eggs in the cockpit! It's basically refrigerated anyway.

(Photo from my first solo sail on her back in Annapolis
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Old 12-01-2021, 10:20   #2
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Also, if you have Instagram, I post updates almost every day on @littlewing_sailing
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Old 12-01-2021, 10:40   #3
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Keep on Keepin' on!
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Old 12-01-2021, 12:00   #4
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Ah, to be out in your first big boat. We’ve mostly all had these same experiences at the same age. Congratulations on the journey taking place after a challenging refit. Enjoy!
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Old 12-01-2021, 12:16   #5
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Kelsey, it's going great! You're coping practically with everything that has been happening. ["Any landing you walk away from is a good one."] Congratulations.

Ann
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Old 12-01-2021, 12:28   #6
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Enjoy the adventure!

For your info: eggs don’t need refrig. Just turn them every other day.
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Old 12-01-2021, 13:29   #7
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Kelsey, well done in carrying on when things didn't go well... a mark of a successful cruiser IMO.

Now, shaft seal: what brand/model is it? There are significant differences between the lot, and that info will help us diagnose the leak.

Jim
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Old 12-01-2021, 15:23   #8
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

You are doing fantastic!
I've done that route(in warmer weather) and broken stuff too(that's kinda what a boat does) But boy does it make for great memories and stories!
Keep on, and keep enjoying. And please keep us updated
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Old 12-01-2021, 16:10   #9
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Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Kelsey, good for you for handling what comes up. You are doing great. By the way, that photo of your first sail is a beautiful picture. Ain’t life grand?
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Old 12-01-2021, 18:02   #10
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Thanks for the update KelseyB!

Glad to hear you're moving along and fixing stuff...and I am glad to have a new sailing picture as my desktop background.

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Old 12-01-2021, 18:51   #11
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

I enjoyed the update, Kelsey.

It's going a lot like one would expect the first cruise in a new boat would, and I knew you'd be resourceful in meeting the challenges.

(Leaks and such notwithstanding, it's always great when you find out you can rely on something really fundamental, in this case, your oversized rudder!)

Have fun!
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Old 12-01-2021, 18:56   #12
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Please remind me, where are you headed to?

I am in Edenton, about 40 minutes from Elizabeth City. Contact me if you need something, I have wheels.

I will PM you my contact info.
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Old 12-01-2021, 19:28   #13
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

How is the crew handling things? Did they have previous sailing experience? Did you find them here or elsewhere. Will they stay with you for the long-haul? Any temperature surprises: colder or warmer than expected? Have you been using the ICW yet? Thanks for sharing.
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Old 12-01-2021, 19:56   #14
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Great post! Enjoy the trip!
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Old 13-01-2021, 10:28   #15
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Re: Update on my trip, for those who may be curious :)

Great trip, enjoy every minute.
If your shaft seal is a PYI you likely need to put more tension on the bellows with the doughnut ring. Sometimes ( ask how I know ) it wont leak at rest but will leak in gear a lot. The adjustment is straight forward but can be fiddly and not to be done underway if you have a choice.
Tom
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