Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Art of Going With the Flow

Days on cruise:  99

Distance traveled today: 8.6 miles

Travel time:  1 hr, 37 mins (or 6 hrs, 34 mins including “other issues” and 5 locks)

Two days ago we got an email from a friend who shall remain un-named inquiring “How is the boat running?” Cathryn responded something like “Well, I should knock on wood before answering that question, but it’s been a while since we had any problems. Everything is going great!”  She knew at the time that putting those words in writing might invite trouble.


Today we left Peterborough Lift Lock #21 at 8:30 and found ourselves traveling with Ron from Montreal on “Nord South”, a solo guy and non-Looping sailboat. We went through 4 locks with him, and he was a pleasant lock companion, chatting amiably with us as we locked through. Like many men, he commented repeatedly how impressed he was that Cathryn was able to drive the boat well, and took a photo of her which he said he’d post on his Facebook page.  Bob VERY much enjoys, whenever asked, telling people that Cathryn drives the boat perhaps better than he does, just to tweak their assumptions (that women can’t drive boats).

Trenton University’s campus spans both sides of the river.


Back in January when we were trained by Captain Chris Yacht Services, Chris and Alyse Caldwell, they taught us never to ignore “What’s that noise?  What’s that smell?” questions that arise while boating. Today that lesson served us well.

After the fourth lock, Cathryn noticed a strong smell of fuel in the salon, so asked Bob to go below and see if he also smelled it. Five minutes later, Bob emerged and said “Pull over to the wall. We have a problem".

When he opened the hatch to the engine room, he saw pink fluid (diesel fuel) splashing into the bilge from the generator, and the generator’s fuel filter and cap that holds the filter in place from the bottom were lying on the floor. HUH?  How can that be?  He tried to re-install the filter and cap, but to no avail. He noted the rubber gasket looked worn and didn’t seem to fit properly, and we had a spare, but it didn’t fit either. At that point he was thinking the problem was beyond his pay grade.


We were at Lock 25 so asked Lockmaster Dan if he knew any mechanics who could help.  He made a few calls and didn’t find anyone on a Saturday, so suggested we proceed to the next marina, stay there for the weekend (with shore power so our refrigerator/freezer contents wouldn’t spoil without the generator running), and get help on Tuesday, as Monday is the Canada Day holiday. Bummer.


The second lockmaster, Jordan (photo above), spoke up and offered to call her father Wayne, who lives nearby “and is very good with boats”.  We admit to some skepticism that her father would feel inclined to help us, but thanked Jordan and waited.  Fifteen minutes later Wayne arrived with toolboxes and his son Cole. He dropped into the engine room, and emerged 5 minutes later to announce that whoever did our oil and filter changes less than two weeks ago in Brewerton, NY (that person, from Ess Kay Yards, shall remain un-named as well) put the wrong size gasket in, one that is too big and thick, making it impossible to screw the cap on the filter properly, so it had vibrated loose and fallen off over time.  There was about a half gallon of fuel in the bilge which Bob cleaned up while Wayne drove back to town and made a set of properly sized gaskets. He returned, installed the gasket and filter, screwed the cap back on, started up the generator to test it, and determined all was well with no more fuel leak.  He did all this on Saturday (his day off work) and in less than 2 hours, for people he’s never met before and likely will never see again. What a great guy!  He refused any payment, so Cathryn stuffed some bills in his pocket and told him to take his family out for dinner.

It turns out Wayne actually works for the Trent-Severn Canal system as a mechanic, but today was his day off. We’ll definitely send an email commending his outstanding service!

Note in the photo below that at Lock 26 all three employees are female:  a first!


So we traveled through one more lock, decided we’d had enough for the day and tied up for the night, despite the short distance for the day.  Later, we still smelled fuel, so Bob performed further inspection in the engine room and discovered more water and fuel in other portions of the bilge. It was hot outside (33 degrees C, or 92 degrees F), much hotter in the engine room, and it took more than an hour of sopping up fuel and water with absorbent pads, then a turkey baster into plastic buckets, and finally paper towels to clean it all. Tomorrow’s project will be to find a suitable place to dispose of this biohazard material that can’t be merely dumped.

Because this is a holiday weekend, Canada Day, (sort of like our Fourth of July), the locks and lock walls are unusually busy, as the full lock below shows.


Yesterday we traveled only 1 mile, today only 8 miles, and because tomorrow is a national holiday and lock walls everywhere are full, we’ll probably travel not at all.  Hmmm . . .  guess we’ll have to work harder the rest of the week to meet our 100-miles-per-week quota!

Despite the somewhat stressful day, we remain happy and well.


Chris & Alyse said...

Cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places...Yachting is PAYING someone to fix your boat in exotic places. What are you doing when you stuff money down someone's shirt? :-)

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you are having a great time.

Our Sea Quest

p.s. sorry you missed the Rideau system.