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Crunchy Grindy Noises

Yup, crunch. Its a nasty grindy sound on a sailboat. My buddies Bryson and Peter drove with me to Seward today to finish up getting Serena guest ready. Lots of experienced hands made quick work and we decided to fire up the engine and head out of the harbor for a quick sail before heading back to Anchorage this evening. Thats when it all went south.

My transmission’s clutch developed a bad slippage problem right in the middle of the Seward harbor channel amidst the boat traffic, wind and chop. Within seconds I was banging and grinding against the rip rap rocks on the west edge of the harbor wall. Volkswagon sized rocks. With lots of boat eating sharp edges.

We banged and ground against the rocks for about a minute before we could flag down a passing charter captain who kindly towed us off the wall and outside of the harbor and out of harm’s way. We tied the dingy to our port rear quarter and mounted the outboard and quickly had steerage. This was a bit tricky in the chop and wind, but nothing dangerous. We circled and waited for about 30 minutes while most of the charter and tour boat captains streamed in from their day’s trips. We had just enough power to safely putt putt back into the harbor. As we were making our final docking manuevers the outboard died as soon as I put it into reverse to slow ourselves down. Ack! Lots of foul words! But, we managed to dock without damaging anything further. Whew …

It turns out the nylon fabric handle I use to move the outboard around had come unclipped in all the excitement and wrapped itself around the prop. The engine would work in forward, but immediately seized as soon as I put it into reverse.

Sooooo, poor Serena has some serious paint chips in her paint and unknown damage underwater. I’ll need to be pulling her out of the water as soon as I can to assess. Its likely to just be some small dents in the steel and damaged paint. Small dents are fixable. And damaged paint is also easy to fix. You can bet on Monday I’ll be on the phone to the harbor to make an appointment for a boat lift.

For those who are interested here are some pics of the above water damage. The paint chip and dent is about 4 inches long. Underwater grindy noises with resulting unknown underwater damage is … well … an unknown. Its the most pressing thing on my mind at the moment. Bare steel exposed to saltwater, while a problem, is easily sanded and repainted once the boat is out of the water. If I had to pick a good thing about today – at least this didn’t happen with newbie guests on board.