Opportunity, Plans, Cruising, and Troubleshooting

Trip planning can be taken very seriously. Alternatively, plans can be thrown together excitedly, at the very last minute. I have always preferred the thrill of the latter, as there is no other way to take advantage of life and these valuable opportunities.

This plan was formulated with the goal of executing a 45 hour yacht delivery over the weekend, outside business hours. One might point out that between 5:00 on Friday and 8:00 Monday morning there are only 63 hours, and I would say, that is plenty. Add travel, sleep, a small buffer, and things gets tight.

Trip planning began on the stools of the Stamford Yacht Club’s Vineyard Deck, amid a bit of work week decompression. This was followed by a quick provisioning run, and securing the good ship Gryphon (Swan44, MKII) for sea. With a soft northerly and a clear starry sky overhead, we determined this was our opportunity for the taking. For anyone who has been out sailing under a moon and star lit sky, warm breeze and flat seas, this is the pinnacle. Throughout the night the wind blew from the north, then northeast. As the wind clocked, we began losing some boat speed and required some motor assist. We had a target speed of 7 knots to make the tide through the race, and onward through the Cape Cod Canal. As the sun came up, the breeze softened and we needed more engine to keep moving. That is when we realized we had a problem: engine exhaust temperatures spiked, and alarms rang. So much for the plan.

Walking through this, we began to put pieces together in evaluating the genesis of the issue. We had very little exhaust water passing through the transom. We did have white smoke coming out, which we later determined was in fact steam (thanks Neil). Over the summer, it was recalled that the exhaust water flow had slowed, and now was a problematic trickle. The wind headed us off and dropped to 7-10 knots. We were now missing our opportunity through the race with no power to get through an adverse tide (3+ knots). Plans change.

After some reasoning and discussion we headed off south and east through Plum Gut, around Orient Point and into Gardiners Bay, west of Mantauk, Long Island. We took advantage of flat seas and light breeze in Gardiners Bay to work on the issue at hand. Raw water pump impeller disassembled, inspected (ok), but replaced. No improvement. Sea strainer cleaned. No positive results, however, we did notice at this time that the sea strainer was not gushing water while the sea cock and strainer were wide open, well below the water line. Some pictures of the raw water arrangement aboard:


We decided at that point the problem was below the waterline, and it was time for a swim.

Without a working anchor windlass (a whole other issue), we decided to sail in to Sag Harbor for the night, and get to work on a fix. The afternoon sail down Gardiners Bay in to Sag Harbor was excellent, very pretty and done under sail as our engine was intolerant of much exercise. We called the friendly Sag Harbor Harbormaster via cell, secured a mooring for the night, and made it in under reduced power.

The engine aboard Gryphon is a Volvo Penta, Saildrive. The raw water intake on a Saildrive engine actually pulls through the stem, much like a traditional outboard. Rather than a dedicated simple seacock, the raw water intake is internal to the shaft of the Saildrive (shown below [7]).

After identifying some clams lodged in the exterior/interior of the intake, it took a series of dives to scrape out the water inlet and clear established sealife. Optimistically, we tried the engine again; no water flow. We were stumped, but went back to the observation of the sea strainer, below the waterline, but not flowing water when open. We decided to remove all hoses back to the raw water seacock and attempt to snake out the clams, at the risk of bringing volumes of water aboard. Using a plastic coated steel wire and pushing down through the valve, the clams began to swim free! Full water flow achieved through an open seacock…what a relief! Systems reconnected, engine started, full exhaust water flow, back in business baby.

Realizing our window to make it to Maine had all but closed, we set our sights on Newport and enjoyed a flat, but sunny and lovely day on Block Island sound motor sailing past many pleasure craft on our way towards Point Judith.

Around 1700 we were cruising into Naragansett Bay, wing on wing in front of an afternoon southwesterly. We had a wonderfully easy interaction and transaction with the Newport Harbormaster who set us up on a city mooring without issue. We quickly absorbed the beauty of Newport’s inner harbor and all the fine vessels around. Plans were coordinated with a good friend who was able to set up the crew with public transportation and dinner in Providence. A fantastic weekend trip with a sequel to follow!



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