The boat adventure started with an RV. We'd need it to travel around the country looking for our sailboat. We bought an old Coachman and renovated the inside to suit our needs (sewing studio and tool storage) and set off. We had many "adventures," but only this one picture (taken by my dear friend Tina Hvitfeldt) to remember it all.
We found our boat--an Island Packet 29--in Pensacola, FL. It had been damaged in a hurricane, needed work. But that made it affordable. We named her "Tyche" after the Greek goddess of dumb-ass luck, upon whom we rely.
Tyche: Excerpts from The Ship's Log
12-1-05 (Russ writing) Tyche is on the hard in Pensacola, FL. We spend the first two weeks of Dec. painting, sanding, fixing, and cleaning.
12/1/05 (McKenna writing) Finally! Got on the boat; found out what we had bought. The best discovery: an Island Packet "briefcase" with all the manuals for every part and system. Including the official IP book which will prove invaluable in the days ahead as we repair and re-rig, etc. The worst discovery: our broker, Brian Hill, is a liar. Significantly more than "cosmetic" damage.
12/12/05 (McKenna) Got her in the water! Big ole rig--marina blue, of course--picked her up and slung her into its straps and trundled her down the drive to the water. The young man driving this spider-like monster was sweet as could be. His beard was not fully in and he's driving this 25'x25' vehicle, carrying a 6-ton boat. Best news yet: She floats!!!
12/14/05 (McKenna) Spent the night aboard; our first. Of course, it was an "adventure." Big storm, so the boat pitched and moaned (and leaked) all night long. The good news: nobody puked, and the leaks were relatively minor; we can fix them in Hudson. The bad news: we froze our asses off--and woke with every big groan of the boat, deluge of rain, and thunderclap--all night long.
12/16/05 (McKenna) The wooden dock ramp was frozen this morning, an indication of how cold it was again last night. This is Florida? Went to Walmart in the afternoon and bought a ceramic space heater. Great day! We bent on the sails (we think/hope correctly), punched out at the marina, parked the car at the airport. Ready for take-off in the morning!
12/17/05 (McKenna) Finally showed Pensacola our aft! Left early, without hitting the dock on our way out (not for lack of trying). On balance, an excellent first day. The bad news: Weather was gray, cold, rainy, and windy. The good news: No one else was out there, so we didn't have to avoid other craft... and we didn't hit any of the three bridges we went under that were supposed to be 50' vertical clearance but sure don't look like it from the cockpit... Had a can of pot roast soup and cheese and crackers for supper, one of the best meals we've ever had! A strong northeast wind has us pinned against our dock tonight, the fenders are groaning loudly, water lapping against our sides--nice sounds. Best of all, we're dry and toasty tonight, with our new heater going and the companionway closed up. Our wet-weather gear was worth every penny it cost!
12-19-05 (Russ) Broken terminal on the oil pressure sensor was the cause of yesterday's issue. Inflated the dingy and went about 3 miles to a marina to look for parts. Couldn't find the part but did the laundry while we were there. Came back to the dock to find our dingy half deflated. Couldn't find a pump so I blew it up. Got back to Tyche and did an emergency repair on the oil sensor. Motored and sailed back to the bridge near the canal and anchored for the night. Strong north wind made the night a bit rough.12/18-19/05 (McKenna) An "interesting" two days. After a fairly wild evening tied up at a marina Saturday night, woke to a day that seemed great for motoring another 50 miles: basically the same cold and windy as Saturday, but no rain which seemed quite the luxury. So off we went, motoring along, enjoying the rain-free day... and then early afternoon an engine light/alarm sounded and put an end to motoring. As the wind pushed us toward shore we scrambled to raise the sails (which we hadn't done before) and figure out what direction to head. Sailed into a little bay just as dark was falling--with hidden pilings and a wide shelf of shallow water pretty much all along the shore. Somehow--Tyche watching over us?--we managed to anchor (our first time anchoring) just short of submerged pilings and right on the edge of the shallow-water drop-off. Spent a dark (didn't want to use any more power than necessary, not knowing what we'd need in the day(s) ahead) and cold night at anchor; went to bed about 7:30, both simply exhausted from the physical and mental drain of the day.
Slept well for 4-5 hours, when the anchor alarm went off for the first time (not the last), saying we'd drifted more than 50 feet. Both jumped out of bed to check our bearings, concluded we were just moving on the anchor. Went to the bathroom before returning to bed and when I flushed the head the pump started spraying me with (I hope) seawater. Okay, no problem; open the Y-valve to empty the pressure on the tank; all is well (for another 2-3 flushes; need to figure that one out later).
Looked at the motor in the morning, Russ figured out what was wrong (a sensor that was indicating a problem when, in fact, there was none--relatively good news). Time to visit the marina 3 miles away from our anchorage. Russ managed to inflate our 8-foot dinghy in the 6-foot cockpit, got it into the water, and we then managed to get the 40-pound motor from Tyche's aft rail to the dinghy floating 5 feet below... and loaded oars and gas tank, etc.... and as the dingy slowly filled with water we realized that we hadn't put the drain plug in on the outside of the transom. So threw a bucket into the boat and took off, trusting that moving along would keep it from filling up (which it did; such clever sailors are we).
Arrived at the marina to find it was a very upscale resort. No parts. Plan B: Russ will jerry-rig something. Walked back to the dinghy to find it half-deflated, sinking at the dock. Turns out the valve was leaking. Tried to round up a pump at the marina; they didn't have one. Russ tried blowing it up by mouth, discovered it was possible and practically deflated his lungs blowing it up sufficiently to get us back to Tyche. Going back was a lot harder than going out; waves broke over the bow so we were both soaking wet almost immediately, and Russ had to support the transom with his foot to keep the motor up, because we were not fully inflated.
Russ installed the engine part (with wire, epoxy, and spit, I think) and we were ready to roll again. Motored out, set a reefed mailsail, and made 5.5 knots even pulling a dinghy. Didn't leave until after 3pm, so didn't go far--basically back to where we'd broken down the day before. Anchored just off the ICW. Totally unprotected, but that should have been fine because we weren't supposed to have more than a 5-knot wind... it was absolutely gorgeous as the sun set... but now the telltales we can see through the deck hatch are blowing 90 degrees from the west and we're rocking and slapping around here like an amusement-park fun ride!
Even so, all is right in our world tonight. We got through our first real crisis without panic or injury (well, a few cuts and bruises) and we now have experience sailing, setting and pulling up anchor, and dinghying. As Russ would say, "Nothing to it!"