Maine 2009 Legs and Distances

Provided here is a summary of all the individual legs we ran on our summer sail 2009 from Rock Hall, MD to Mt. Desert Maine and back. We were gone for 58 days, had a dock for 2 days at the end of the trip in Cape May NJ, but all the other days were on mooring balls or on anchor. The goal this year was to travel via NYC and Long Island Sound anchoring every night and avoiding the overnight passages. Coming home we made the usual ocean run from Block Island, RI to Cape May, NJ, for a 30 hr passage of 203 miles. Other than that, we make simple day hops from harbor to harbor all the way to Maine and Back. The hardest aspect of any trip is….”Leaving the Dock!” Once out there, “If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there” so that’s when you deal with it….

Island Spirit’s Maine 2009 Voyage

Date From To Miles
6/20/2009 Rock Hall, MD C&D Engineers Cove 35.6
6/21/2009 C&D Engineers Cove Cape May NJ 65.1
6/22/2009 Cape May NJ Atlantic City NJ 37.7
6/23/2009 Atlantic City NJ Atlantic Highlands NJ 82
6/24/2009 Atlantic Highlands Layday 0
6/25/2009 Atlantic Highlands Port Washington, NY 35.8
6/26/2009 Pt Washington NY Milford CT 40.4
6/27/2009 Milford CT Watch Hill RI 55.4
6/28/2009 Watch Hill RI Layday 0
6/29/2009 Watch Hill RI Pt Judith / Dutch Hbr RI 36.2
6/30/2009 Dutch Harbor RI Cuttyhunk RI 26.1
7/1/2009 Cuttyhunk MA Pocasset MA 21.6
7/2/2009 Pocasset MA Scituate MA 52.9
7/3/2009 Scituate Layday 0
7/4/2009 Scituate Layday 0
7/5/2009 Scituate Marblehead MA 20.3
7/6/2009 Marblehead MA Kittery ME 41.9
7/7/2009 Kittery ME Layday 0
7/8/2009 Kittery ME Portland ME 47.5
7/9/2009 Portland ME Layday 0
7/10/2009 Portland ME Layday 0
7/11/2009 Portland ME Layday 0
7/12/2009 Portland ME Layday 0
7/13/2009 Portland ME Boothbay ME 35
7/14/2009 Boothbay ME Vinalhaven ME 43.3
7/15/2009 Vinalhaven ME NE Harbor ME, Mt Desert 35.6
7/16/2009 Northeast Harbor ME Layday 0
7/17/2009 Northeast Harbor ME Layday 0
7/18/2009 Northeast Harbor ME Layday 0
7/19/2009 Northeast Harbor ME Someville ME 6.5
7/20/2009 Somesville ME Cranberry Islands ME 8.1
7/21/2009 Canberry Isl Someville ME 8.1
7/22/2009 Somesville ME Buck Harbor ME 31.8
7/23/2009 Bucks Harbor ME Camden ME 18.4
7/24/2009 Camden ME Layday 0
7/25/2009 Camden ME Pulpit Harbor, Vinalhaven 8.1
7/26/2009 Pulpit Harbor ME Winter Harbor ME 15.8
7/27/2009 Winter Harbor ME North Haven Vinalhaven 4.8
7/28/2009 Northhaven ME Rockland ME 9.6
7/29/2009 Rockland ME Boothbay ME 39.5
7/30/2009 Boothbay ME Layday 0
7/31/2009 Boothbay ME Norm Pierce Rendezvous 0
8/1/2009 Boothbay ME Norm Pierce Rendezvous 0
8/2/2009 Boothbay ME Norm Pierce Rendezvous 0
8/3/2009 Boothbay ME Rockport MA 83.9
8/4/2009 Rockport MA Cuttyhunk RI 85.4
8/5/2009 Cuttyhunk MA Block Island RI 36.3
8/6/2009 Block Island RI Layday 0
8/7/2009 Block Island RI BLISS Rendezvous 0
8/8/2009 Block Island RI BLISS Rendezvous 0
8/9/2009 Block Island RI BLISS Rendezvous 0
8/10/2009 Block Island RI Layday 0
8/11/2009 Block Island RI Layday 0
8/12/2009 Block Island RI Cape May NJ 203.3
8/13/2009 Ocean Pasage Cape May NJ 0
8/14/2009 Cape May NJ Layday 0
8/15/2009 Cape May NJ C&D Engineers Cove 65.1
8/16/2009 C&D Engineers Cove Rock Hall MD 35.6
Total NM 1372.7
33 travel days avg 41.6
25 laydays
58 days total

Click this image to see the entire trip as a picture
Use our Interactive Google Map of the trip here…

Maine 2009 Trip Ends

It has been the best summer sailing trip ever, with 1,636 miles covered to Acadia Maine and back. The trans output coupler nut held together all the way from Boothbay Maine to Rock Hall, MD. Traveling with buddy boats was fun, and added a new dimension to the cruise. We sincerely enjoyed traveling with a fleet of Island Packet friends as this add so much more to the adventures. We would do this again and we really enjoyed this “fleet” aspect of this summer.

We will edit and update this blog with more MAINE photos and more charts as we wind down this summer 2009. For now, it is time to clean up the boat, and return to home, and return to our teaching positions as we prepare for our 30th and 31th year of teaching!

Thank you for following our summer sail to Maine 2009….

Click this image to see the entire trip as a picture
Use our Interactive Google Map of the trip here…

Oh NO: Drop the Transmission!

Well, not really the trans, but the “output coupler” that bolts onto the trans, that’s what we dropped! And yes, it dropped off in one of the most remote (so it seemed to us) places in Maine, Winter Harbor on the east side of Vinalhaven. Even though we check our engine nearly every hour when running, I can see no real way I could have caught this mechanical breakdown before it happened. Yes, I did have two very slight indications a few days prior. One clue was a dripping stuffing box that needed tightening and the second was a few drops of transmission fluid, but other than that, all seemed normal in the engine room.

Then while anchoring in Winter Harbor, after running the Fox Island Thorofare in pea soup fox, we heard a loud CLUNK when we dropped the shifter into idle reverse! I heard this from the bow, and Radeen heard this from the helm. She immediately returned to neutral, and I walked back from the bow and said…”What the heck was that?!”…we thought we picked up another lobsta pot and wrapped the prop. We could not see any floats, so we went back to idle reverse, then idle forward, and that’s when we discovered we had no prop wash. WHAT? Did the prop fall off? We had no propeller, we thought. Down to the engine room for an inspection, and that’s when I saw the transmission’s output coupler had dropped off (pulled off) the back of the transmission! This is something you do not want to see anywhere, much less in a remote anchorage in Maine.

Back to the bow, to continue with the anchoring, and lucky for us, we were in a safe place, with 25 feet of water and plenty of swinging room. Now it was time to inspect this breakdown and figure out what to do. First I took photos to document it and to send to Norm Pierce for advice. Then with close study and a review of the Yanmar service manual, it became obvious that the output coupler has a nut that bolts it onto the back of the transmission. So, an easy fix, separate the drive shaft (oh yea, real easy), find the nut between these plates, and bolt it back together. So that’s what we did.

Of course it took from 1600hrs to 2000hrs to separate the 4 drive shaft nuts and bolts as they were nearly frozen onto the threads. I used PB blaster and took it easy backing the nuts and tapping on them and re-treading them being careful NOT to shear one of these bolts holding the drive shaft to the coupler. By 2000hrs I had it all apart, and found the coupler nut in what appeared to be near perfect condition except for a major dent in the outer threads. This dent I assumed happened when the nut fell off and it seemed this dent was preventing me from spinning the nut on in what I thought was the correct direction. I tried to tap the dent out and I tried to open the dent to free the threads, but nothing worked. I did discover that the nut would thread on in what I thought was the opposite way, and that became the only way I could re-assemble this coupler.

So, the plan was set, we would re-assemble this nut, in a reverse direction, hoping that it would get us back to Boothbay where we could take care of a proper repair. At 0600hrs the next morning, we re-assembled the transmissions output coupler and used a pair of 90 degree bent needle nose pliers to tighten it the best we could. Of course I was working in tight conditions and standing on my head, but we were able to tap on the bolts notches and tighten the nut a bit. Our plan was to run in forward only, as reverse would be pulling on the nut and possibly loosen it again. Who needs reverse anyway?! (Note, this is right handed nut, normal threads with a right handed prop. So a quick change from forward into reverse could loosen the nut.)

Back towards Boothbay we headed, with stops in North Haven and then Rockland, and then we made Boothbay in time for the Maine Island Packet Rendezvous. Once at Boothbay, we were working with Boothbay Region Boat Yard. The recommended Yanmar service for this issue is to pull the transmission and send it back for a re-build where the output coupler would be torqued to the proper loads. This was a shock to us, and we would need to spend a week+ in the yard plus $1500 for a re-build and yard labor. We decided to go with our own temporary repair after I found out that I HAD replaced the nut the correct way and that the dent was deliberately made after it is installed. It’s called “calking the nut”, or whacking a dent into the threads into the shaft to prevent it from spinning off. (Yea right, you see how well it worked!)

With the encouragement of eternally optimistic Bob Drake, IP380 Drake’s Passage, we departed Boothbay together, with his offer of a tow in mind. After new transmission fluid and several runs out to the ocean and back from Boothbay, we felt confident to go for it, and take our chances and run for Rock Hall, MD, with this temporary fix! We had other Island Packet fleet members who offered to run with us and help us if we needed it. Thank you to Lyon’s Pride, Surprise, and CAVU, who on various legs, ran with us. We ran long motor runs: Boothbay to Rockport Mass 15hrs; Rockport to Cuttyhunk 15 hrs; Cuttyhunk to Block 7hrs; and Block to Cape May, NJ 30hrs. Lucky for us, the output coupler is still attached to the transmission with no leaks, so it looks like we will make it back to home port where we can properly take this apart and tighten it with the correct wrench and torque. In the words of Capt’n Ron, “If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there!”

Lucky for us, we could fix it, and lucky for us, it ran all the way home!

Lessons Learned:

To check if your transmission output coupler is loose, do this:

  1. Watch the coupler while it is placed into forward and then a reveres, if it is loose, it will clunk aft when pulling in reverse.
  2. Use a pry bar and try to pry it aft then forward. If you can move it, it is loose

If it does come apart:

  1. Make sure you have tools to separate the coupler from the drive shaft
  2. Make sure you have PB blaster spray solvent to loosen the nuts
  3. Carry spare bronze shaft nuts and bolts if you break then

Tools Needed:

  1. Mirrors on telescoping rod
  2. 90 degree need nose pliers, also used to pull impellers, but was the main tool used to re-assemble and tighten
  3. Open ended wrenches and adjustable wrenches for the shaft coupler bolts
  4. 30” crow bar to loosen and tighten the stuffing box nuts

MUST HAVE: as advised by Norm Pierce of Pierce Yachts Boothbay Maine

  1. A zinc collar bolted onto the shaft 1 inch in front of the stuffing box, preventing you from “spitting a shaft” into your rudder and locking up your rudder! Norm Pierce made me put this on in 2006. Thank you, Norm!
  2. See Norm’s Photos here:
  1. Imagine if you are under sail, or if you hit reverse hard and pull the shaft off the transmission, it will jam into the rudder, this zinc collar prevents that. Norm installs one on every yacht he launches!

The warnings I had and how I could have caught this before it happened.

  1. The stuffing box started to leak with a steady drip way more than usual a few days before. This was after running all summer with that new Teflon stuffing that did not leak all summer. But now in the middle of Maine, it started to drip a lot. Hint: the shaft had moved back, but I did not catch it. I instead, I tighten the stuffing box to stop the leak.
  2. Three little drops of transmission fluid appeared on the engine room wall off the transmission. It spun up and flung onto the wall. I noted this in the log book 2 days prior. This was an indication of the coupler was loose off the seal. Caught that, but missed what it was saying.

Lucky for me, the prop shaft did not drop off in any of these tight channels with rocks all around that we had run through so many times. Overall, it was another great learning experience and now I have shared it with you, so go check you output coupler.

The output coupler nut, is notched and needs a special tool

Our “special tool” 90 degree needle nose pliers used to tighten

Output Coupler and the nut

Winter Harbor on Vinalhaven Maine, a beautiful place…
but a lonely place to make a repair! We appreciated IP380 Memphis Belle and IP420 Oro Negro nearby and checking in with us during that long evening!

BLISS is a week on Block Island!

At 0511 on Wednesday, August 5, we departed Cuttyhunk with IP440 Lyon’s Pride heading for Block. We were anchored by noon near our usual spot in 7 ft. of water at MLW. We walked to Old Harbor with Paul and Sue, mailed back our rented C-Map chip, and picked up a few provisions at the classy little market called Block Island Depot about halfway back from town. Paul said he had expected angels to appear as we entered the Great Salt Pond, because this is Hayden’s happy place!

Thursday was a happy mix of work and fun. Winds were light and Payne’s dock less crowded than usual, so both boats went for fuel and water. CAVU and Surprise arrived from Newport and we had lunch aboard to catch up with them. Happy hour aboard IP32 Curiese with Dan and Sherry made it a perfect day on Block.

The beginning of BLISS (Block Long Island Sound Sailing, on Friday had us humming Eileen Quinn’s song, “Company’s coming, gotta clean up da boat!” as we got ready for Jeff and Sharon’s arrival by ferry from New London. (IP35 Lucille) Cocktail time was a lovely summer evening on the lawn of The Oar with over 25 IP’s attending! The burgers were delicious, but we should have put our names in sooner – it was a long wait for us and others gave up entirely.

Polly is our usual cab driver, 401-742-0031. She is a 16th generation resident of Block who gave us a great mini-tour of the southern part of the Island on Saturday. First we drove to Rodman’s Hollow Preserve, a lush green basin 70 feet below sea level and then to Mohegan Bluffs with 144 steps down to the beach and mud baths. From there we walked to Southeast Light, which was saved in 1993 by moving it back 150 feet from the naturally eroding cliffs. It is a stunning example of 1880’s architecture, with on-going restoration. From the grounds around the lighthouse, we could see views of the first wind farm on the east coast which is estimated to provide all the electricity needs of the Island. The fun continued with lunch in Old Harbor at Mohegan Cafe and shopping at the Star Department store, 234 Water, and the Island Hardware Store, with a stop at the Historical Society. The BLISS dinner was held at a private room with deck at the lovely and historic National Hotel. A good time was had by all IPers – thanks to Al, Conrad and Bernie!

Sunday morning was lazy, with pastries provided by Aldo’s boat, “I gotta no change” and then to the ferry to say good-bye to Jeff and Sharon. IP380 Shawnee stopped over and we toasted Deb and Drew on her birthday. We spent the evening aboard “Black Diamond” with Bonnie and IP32 Snark watching the premier of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” with audio recording expert Al of IP32 Half Moon.

Monday was a perfect day on Block, sunny and actually hot! We dinghied to Andy’s Way and walked the Clayhead Trail. Next time we will remember to go at low tide, when the waves tumble the rocks on the beach. Then we walked back by way of Mansion Beach and after lunch we spent the afternoon on beautiful Crescent Beach. Grilled filet mignon on board was the perfect ending to the day!

Tuesday was busy, with Radeen’s coffeecake and Hayden’s eggs for Bonnie, Al and Hamp, followed by shopping in town and a quick dash to the beach. IP40 Surprise hosted a pre-passage potluck with CAVU and then we readied the boat for our passage to Cape May. The winds should be good, though we may have some thunderstorms.

Maine IP Rendezvous and beyond

After a fabulous potluck supper on Friday evening with a narrated slide show of cruising Maine, the Rendezvous began in earnest Saturday morning with a continental breakfast and over 30 boats in attendance. IP dealer Norm Pierce led a terrific seminar on valuable boat management practices, laced with his dry Maine humor and pertinent sailing anecdotes. He and his wife, Mary, have traveled the ICW 29 times! One memorable quote, “If you can’t tie knots, tie lots!” The founder of The Island Institute explained their work in preserving the way of the life on Maine’s island.

In the afternoon, Norm and Mary held an Open House on the new Estero model and a new 370. Also on display were several other IPs with impressive modifications and upgrades. Everyone on the dock was interested when Norm demonstrated rig tuning.

Saturday evening everyone met upstairs at the The Lobster Wharf for a delicious traditional lobster meal including blueberry pie. The highlight of the evening was the poetry reading, when each vessel was asked by to recite an original poem. Some of those familiar with the tradition must have spent the two years since the previous rendezvous working on their creations. A few of us were more spontaneous, out of necessity. All of the poems were funny and many of them were hysterical!

The rendezvous ended too quickly with a buffet breakfast Sunday morning at Cap’n Fish’s. We are so glad we attended this event and met so many enthusiastic and interesting IPers! Norm and Mary made everyone feel so welcome! Sunday evening we had a delicious dinner at The Tugboat Inn with one of Radeen’s college roommates, Daphne from Chicago, and her two friends.

At 0501 on Monday, we sadly departed Maine with IP380 Drake’s Passage and ran 15 hours to Rockport, MA, in some fog and flat seas. fortunately, our frequent engine checks revealed no leaks on our transmission repair. Lyon’s Pride caught up with us along the way from Portland and joined us for an amazing lasagna dinner aboard Drake’s Passage. Rockport is a great harbor and not out of the way when aiming for the Canal.

On Tuesday, the Drakes headed for Boston, while we left at 0501 and pressed on for Cuttyhunk under sunny skies and flat seas. We made the Cape Canal at 1400 as planned for the last two hours of favorable tide. Lyon’s Pride had a surprise when they found the railroad bridge down for the “trash train.” Buzzard’s Bay, a notorious body of water, made for a really tough slog into southwest winds. Hats off to IP40 Top Cat and all others who sail here as their home waters! We arrived at 2000 in the welcome lee of Cuttyhunk’s outer harbor and anchored next to Lyon’s Pride in time for a beautiful simultaneous moonrise and sunset.