The passage from St Augustine was going great. Since it was uneventful and I had gotten up so early, I decided to take a nap. I was laying there in the cockpit when Dan all of a sudden says, “oh shit!” And it was in a way that really didn’t sound good. Not like an “oh shit, I spilled water on my pants” but more like there was something really wrong.
I immediately sat up and ask what was going on. I could see the look of panic in Dan’s eyes as he said the engine was smoking. There was white smoke coming out of the exhaust off the back of Maverick!!
Holy crap! We were several miles offshore. This isn’t good.
We had decided to motor to Brunswick because the winds were really light. It was going to take us 12 hours with the motor and it might have taken a couple of days if we relied on solely on wind power. We opted to run the motor the whole time and get there in less time, which is why the engine was on several hours into our trip.
Dan started running around like crazy. Checking the engine room and checking different gauges showing the oil pressure, water temperature and other things. Everything was reading normally and there wasn’t smoke in the engine room.
He started calling people and I started googling. White smoke could be steam which is ok but engines are not supposed to let off steam like this. After talking to several people and reading info online, we decided we were ok to proceed and started the engine back up.
We went another couple hours and shut off the engine again outside Jacksonville. We figured if we needed to get towed in, this would be a great place to get rescued from because it was easy to get to us and there are repair places in Jacksonville that could help fix whatever is wrong.
Except for the white smoke, everything checked out ok. We weren’t losing oil. The gauges all read normal. Dan called some more and communicated everything that was happening. It was decided that there could be a couple of problems, but nothing stopping us from continuing.
We started the motor back up and headed onto Brunswick.
As we arrived to the channel (the area that is deep enough for us to go through), we heard a pilot being called on the radio. A pilot is someone who is experienced going through a certain area. Most cargo ships are required to get a local pilot to come to their boat and take them to the docks once they are close enough.
As we slowly made the trip in the channel, we saw the pilot boat head out and then we started to see this massive cargo ship heading for the same channel we were in. Uh-oh. It kept getting closer and closer to us. It was pretty close to us when the channel split. We hoped it was going the opposite way as us but it wasn’t.
The captain hailed us on the radio and asked us to stay to the right so he could pass on the left. We ended up going slightly outside the channel because we could see on the charts that it was deep enough for us there. We wanted to make sure he had all the room he needed!
There is nothing like a huge cargo ship passing by you to make you feel tiny. Luckily, the captain was very communicative and nice for our first cargo ship encounter. We have read before that they always have the right of way but we didn’t know what we should do since we were already in the channel. I am not sure if we were supposed to do something else, but in the end, it all worked out.
After that excitement, we had one last adventure for the day. Dan and I needed to dock Maverick by ourselves since we were arriving late in the day there wouldn’t be anyone at the marina to help. This is the first time we have docked her by ourselves. Dan and I ran through the processes multiple times. There was no current in the area, almost no wind and no one was in the slip next to us, so it was near perfect conditions for docking.
Even though the conditions were perfect, that doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes. The first was, I moved all the fenders, except the very front one, so they were at the perfect height to protect us from the dock. The one at the front was hard to reach. Because I didn’t know the correct height until we were close to pulling in the slip, I didn’t have a lot of time to adjust them. I fixed three of the fenders, which I thought was good enough…but it wasn’t.
The second mistake was that I asked Dan which cleat I needed to tie the dock line to. This dock had a ton of cleats and I wasn’t sure which one was the best. Dan told me the very front one. I believe that what should be done is to tie up to whichever is closer so you can make sure the boat is immediately stopped. Then tie up the one from the middle of the boat and the one at the back of the boat so make sure it doesn’t swing out. After that, we can adjust them forward or backward as needed.
I jumped off the boat and started walking forward to the front cleat. As I walked forward, I also pulled the boat along. While doing this, I pulled the front of the boat into the dock…where there was no fender protection.
It wouldn’t have been so bad if we had just rubbed up against the dock but there was a cleat on the dock that was at an angle and stuck out over the dock. When I pulled the boat forward along the dock without the fender protection, that cleat scratched Maverick. Sigh.
The scratch isn’t too deep and can be fixed with a little paint, but I am beating myself up over this. I guess the good thing out of this is that I learned more about docking. I really hope I don’t have to learn all the lessons the hard way.
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