The repairs/upgrades on Walden were finally done on Wednesday June 27th. We were supposed to leave the day before, but once we filled up our fuel tanks, we found out that they were leaking. All the gaskets on top of the tanks at the inspection ports were compromised and had to be replaced. So back to the marina. The guys from Just Cats guys replaced them on Wednesday and Thursday. We could have probably done it ourselves, but we had captain Blain with us and were already behind schedule. I think there were over 200 bolts that need to be carefully unscrewed to release the old gaskets and then put them back on with new gaskets. The trick was to not strip any of them in process. If that happened the fix would become much longer. Just Cats guys worked hard and carefully and it all got fixed by Thursday afternoon. It took us a couple of days to get rid of the diesel smell and any remains of the leaks in bilges and crannies of our boat.
We left Thursday afternoon around 4ish. Our plan was to make it as far as we could. Possibly to Chesapeake Bay. Our winds were not that good for us to sail, but we were taking the Gulf-stream up and that gave us extra speed. The plan was motor sail whenever the wind would cooperate. Now keep in mind we only had our captain for a certain time, so we could not wait for the wind to pick up.
On our second day heading up the coast the winds were finally cooperating and we were happy to put out our sails. We were still using motors also, but on smaller RPM and were able to our top speed up to 11 knots. All was great until a squall caught up to us. To decrease the windage Brent was pulling the jib (the front sail on our boat) down . Here we ran in a problem that our brand new fuller got jammed. This was happening in the middle of the squall and in the dark evening hour. Scary, right? For first trip and not much experience especially. Luckily we had captain Blain with us, who helped us reel it in after few tacks back and forth. Hoping this is it for our night of adventure, but it wasn’t. We always read and heard that bad things do happen at night mostly. Brent was on the watch when loud crack happens and the main sheet (line holding the mainsail) went loose and there was a lot of violent flapping. Main sheet ripped and was all over the place. He had to wake up Captain Blaine to help fix this problem. We established the rule that while on watch at night nobody is allowed to leave the help/cockpit area for deck without second person at helm. Plus Brent had no idea how to fix the problem. Together with captain Blain they jerry rigged the main sheet which was now two lines instead of one. They also found out that one of the blocks had ripped apart. It must have had sun damage from the inside and the damage was not visible outside. So the riggers couldn’t tell there was a problem with it. And that was the time we gave up on sailing and motor rest of the way. During the next day we also found out that our engines are not charging the batteries. Later on we learned our solenoids are bad. Engines were putting out power but the solenoids were not sending it in.
Not really what we wanted on our first trip. The delays in repairs and circumstances like hurricane season made us leave Ft. Lauderdale right after the repairs were done. I would definitely recommend to not do that unless really needed. For us as inexperienced sailors we felt like that safe trip away with captain we trust was worth the risk. Why?
A) Our experience with open ocean is not that great. Brent had done some longer delivery, but I haven’t done much of big open ocean at all. We also have 3 little kids o worry about.
B) Not all captains are good captains for us. We wanted to be safe and learn. We wanted someone we feel comfortable with, who can handle us newbies, kids and still can teach us. Captain Blain is it. Brent already knew him from his delivery and he was right bout him being the perfect fit. We had hired other captains before and not all were good at lol.
So this all said we chose to get to Wrightsville Beach North Carolina and spend our last day with captain there. We learned some docking (I had to dock our boat!!!), anchoring and worked on some troubleshooting before he left us for his next delivery.