July 25, 2000
On Wednesday, July 19th, we started to back out of our slip in Moss Landing to head north on our journey to get this boat to the Columbia River. It didn't work out as planned that day.
While backing up, the starboard prop shaft came out of its coupling. Debbie noticed this by hearing a thump, I noticed it by getting no response from the starboard engine. Fortunately there was no wind to speak of and we got the boat back into its slip with no problem.
While trying to ascertain the extent of the damage, I ran across a diver walking the dock. I quickly hired him to go below and inspect the boat (and particularly my new props). He came up to report that I had lost the rudder too. Wonderful! I hired him to look around in the area to see if he could find the rudder, but with the water visibility so poor he was unable to locate the rudder.
So over to the boat yard I went. And wouldn't you just figure, the yard owner was on vacation till the 31st and it would be impossible to have my boat hauled out before then. I could take it to Monterey or Santa Cruz, but there was no guarantee it could be hauled there either. The outlook for the week was looking pretty grim.
Then I got this brainstorm (I think Debbie referred to it in a less
flattering manner - like,
Are you out of your &*^%ing mind!). I'd find a
replacement rudder at a boat wrecking yard, rent some scuba gear and replace the rudder
while it sat there in the water. Yeah, sure, we'd get some water in the boat while this
happened, but it should be controllable.
So off to the wrecking yard we go, where we find a rudder. It's not as big as we need, but the shaft is the right size and it'll do for now. Then it's off to Monterey to rent the dive gear. Back at the boat I strap on the dive gear (no suit) and get in the water. There I find that the shaft has broken off flush with the hull nothing to grab on to here. I come up and work with Debbie on a plan to hammer the shaft remnant through the hole. I get back in the water to catch the stub (I needed some measurements from it) while Debbie drives it down.
It didn't work as planned, of course (what has this week?). The shaft made it down below the packing then just wouldn't go any further. I tried using a pipe wrench below to twist it out, but that didn't work either. And with it now below the packing, we were getting a small trickle of water coming in - nothing the bilge pump couldn't handle, but nothing you would want to walk away from either.
Back to the boat yard to plead for a haul-out, to no avail again.
So I slept on it and came up with the answer - a bigger hammer! Dad always told me any problem could be solved with a bigger hammer. I went to the tool store, bought a small sledge and a big punch. This time, without scuba gear (I could reach the rudder shaft without going under) I got back in the water and Debbie took a few swipes at the shaft and voila, it came out. Of course, the water came pouring in through this inch and a quarter hole but Debbie didn't waste any time in getting a wooden plug in the hole to stop the leak.
I then used the old shaft to prep the rudder shaft on the replacement and we were ready to install the replacement. Knowing how difficult it was to get the shaft out, we obviously worried about how hard it would be to get the other rudder shaft back in (particularly without scuba gear). But judicious preparation of the shaft paid off as it slid into the opening with no problem. I came out of the water, put on the packing nut, secured the steering gear on the shaft and we had twin rudders again. Yeah baby!
Finally, on the 25th of July we were ready to give the repairs a trial. At 10:00 AM we pulled away from the gas dock and headed out into foggy Monterey Bay toward Half Moon Bay, some 60nm north. The forecast was for a small craft advisory, but with all the other boats leaving, we decided we'd follow the lemmings over the cliff.
Leaving Moss Landing harbor into calm seas was a relief, as we had come in while the bay was churning. Maybe this bode well for the trip. The NOAA buoy reports were favorable, calling for seas of 3-4 feet, so we motored on.
Almost as soon as we left the harbor we were greeted by Grey whales everywhere. They were obviously feeding on the surface, as they were rolling, diving and surfacing regularly. We got some great pictures this time!
As we approached the end of Monterey Bay the white caps began showing up. Soon the sea was awash in wind and waves. We were taking a pretty good beating and decided to turn around and head back to Moss Landing, or maybe Santa Cruz. We made the turn and headed back. While motoring toward a safe harbor we saw some boats over by the shore in what appeared to be better conditions. So, taking a chance, we moved in on the shore and found calmer seas. Alright, this is looking promising. We turned the boat around and followed the shoreline toward Half Moon Bay. The ride wasn't ideal, it was still pretty rough, but not of the pounding variety.
We stayed in these conditions till just after we passed Point Ano Neuvo at which point the seas calmed down considerably. We relaxed. The sun then came out, the wind settled some and we had a pleasant ride all the way to Half Moon Bay.
On the way, as previously mentioned, we saw whales. We also saw more dolphins, a massive seal colony at the Ano Neuvo island, and a most unusual grouping of jelly fish. As we approached this area it looked like shallow water, it turned from dark sea green to the light color that is usually seen around shore. We gave the area a wide berth, but as we went by we saw it was jelly fish. Thousands of jelly fish! We turned the boat around and motored up to this odd phenomenon - we just had to have a picture. I'm still amazed at the sights we've seen on this epic journey.
We pulled into Half Moon Bay at around 6:30pm and were assigned a slip in a position that gave us difficulty, due to the wind and the massive windage of this boat. Seeing how hard it was for us to get in, the harbormaster assigned us another slip with the commercial fisherman that was much more favorable when the winds were considered.
We docked, registered and settled in for the night. 60 more nautical miles down, many more to go. Next, Bodega Bay.