Well, the Martha’s Vineyard trip did not go quite as planned. But, then, the nature of adventure is that nothing ever goes as planned. I did make it, though not by my preferred method of sailboat…Mother Nature put the kibosh on that (see: Plans subject to reality). And neither did my attempt to hitch a ride with my buddy Brian on his power boat, Bella Lisa…
The evening before I drove to Rhode Island and camped out on Bella Lisa in order to get a good start in the morning. The weather was perfect. Off we went into sunny skies on Friday (15 June 2012) with everything running as it should. It was, simply, a marvelous day for the trip. Until we heard a sudden crap your pants loud bang from the stern. Brian was at the helm and quickly pulled the throttle back after which the motor stalled. Uh oh. After checking that we weren’t sinking (the stupid seats over the engine room hatch didn’t want to come undone), we discovered that the outdrive unit had seriously failed. We couldn’t tell how bad it was; but we knew our trip was done. TowBoatUS came out to tow us the forty miles home.
We actually were crossing two TowBoatUS coverage zones so there was a handoff in the middle. The first, smaller, towboat pulled us at a comfortable 10 MPH or so until somewhere near Newport (I guess…fuzzy memory already). So far, so good. After transferring to the second bigger and faster towboat, though, we heard a disconcerting banging from the stern. Another quick and worried examination (after once again checking that we weren’t sinking) showed the busted outdrive flopping around in the wake. Not a good thing. We had the towboat driver stop for a bit so we could secure the outdrive with some line, and then proceeded slower back home. It was a long trip and we could tell the towboat driver really wanted to go faster (he asked several times if he could pick up the speed); but the smart thing was to go slow, and slow we went.
There is some coolness factor here, though. We were actually towed right across the start line of the Newport-Bermuda race and got to see the start. We also got to see a rather awesome airshow put on by the U.S. Airforce Thunderbirds that passed directly overhead. Very, very cool.
The marina was waiting for us when we finally arrived and brought us right into the slings and out of the water. We could finally get a good view of the damage and it was sobering. The outdrive had sheared completely off the mount and was only being held on by a rubber bellows. Had that bellows let go there would have been a good size hole in the boat below the waterline. Good size holes below the waterline tend to lead to unexpected swims. Happily, while the repair is likely to be very expensive, at least the boat remained floating. Fingers crossed that insurance helps out some.
We didn’t waste much time upon getting back to land. We took some pictures, unloaded the boat, jumped in the car, and made the best time we could to Woods Hole where we jumped on the ferry. Happily the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground was not over crowded and we were able to get a cabin for us and several friends who where to join us on Saturday.
The rest of the trip was a lot of fun and a lot less exciting. We met up with a gang of friends here and there on Friday evening and Saturday. Saturday morning on the Ferry more friends arrived and went with us as we toured the island via rental car. We ate a lot. We drank a lot. And we basically crammed as much vacation in as we could before grabbing the ferry home Sunday evening. Exhausting. Expensive. But a blast!