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Disaster Averted, Happy Anniversary, Disaster Averted Again

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

(Ships Log entry)

September 14th, 2012

0730: Departed Boston Harbor Marina. Destination... Gig Harbor (Arabella's Landing - slip A-2) Reth & I aboard. Tomorrow is our 8th Anniversary.

0824: Passing Devil's Head (southernmost point of Longbranch Peninsula). All is well.

0900: Just passed Eagle Island to starboard. Reth was at the helm, and I below, when all of a sudden there was a very loud and disturbing BOOM. We hit something. (End of entry).

Then, another BOOM, which shook the vessel, as well as us, to the core. Just as I stepped back into the cockpit, I saw a submerged tree (better known as a "deadhead") surfacing not far off of the stern. Apparently, we had just gone over the top of it. The first "boom" must have been us hitting the deadhead, with the second one resulting from the keel being jarred loose from being seized, sliding over the top of the submerged log, and then SLAMMING back forward and smacking the front of the keel pocket. Good news, the keel is no longer seized! Wait, where is all of that water coming from?!! "OMG, we're going down!" Actually, it wasn't coming in that fast, but fast enough that something had to be done immediately. There was no bilge pump on board, of any kind. The water was filling up the portside locker beneath the dinette, where access to the keel bracket and pin were located. The compromised area was not visible though. At that point, we were about half way to our destination. Do we turn back, or steam ahead? I would have to see how fast the water is coming in to make that decision. Luckily, there was a long length of clear plastic tubing on board. I placed one end into the flooding space, sucked hard on the other end, and placed it into the 5 gallon bucket we had onboard. Thankfully, the bucket was filling faster than the storage locker. When the bucket filled, I poured it overboard. This scene repeated itself all the way to Gig Harbor, and we made it safely to our slip at Arabella's Landing.

While in Gig Harbor, we did find time to celebrate, but never left the boat for very long. Much to our delight, the water had stopped coming into the locker. We kept a regular watch on it for a couple of days, and then decided that we'd attempt to get her home. Our passage home was rather uneventful, which was exactly what we had hoped for. Once back to Boston Harbor Marina, the decision to schedule a haul out in Olympia was made. Monday morning, I made the appointment for 2 weeks away.

Before I could get her to Olympia for the haul out though, my uncle came to town and wanted to go for a boat ride. My friend Alex had mentioned wanting to get on the water earlier in the week, so I invited him also. I figured, what could be the harm in motoring around a little. Afterall, no more water had come into the boat since the day we left for Gig Harbor. Uncle David, Alex, and myself set out for Hope Island just a week before haul out. We were approaching Hunter Point to portside, which is about 2nm from Boston Harbor Marina, when David asked me if there was supposed to be a bunch of water in the cabin. Obviously, the answer was "no". I gave him the tiller and checked the locker where we had the previous compromise. It was dry. By this time, the water in the cabin was above my ankles, and rising fast. I lifted the lid to another storage locker, in which the thru-hull fitting for the keel cable is located. Holy Shit! The entire thru-hull fitting had popped out, leaving a hole the size of a racquetball, in which water was freely gushing in through. I took the tiller back, came about, and pegged the motor in the direction of homeport, 2nm away! In the meantime, I gave them both buckets to bail with. I could feel the boat becoming harder to maneuver, as she took on more and more water. The motor was also getting closer and closer to being submerged. If that happens, we're dead in the water. PUSH PUSH PUSH, BAIL BAIL BAIL, PUSH PUSH PUSH, BAIL BAIL BAIL ... we HAVE to make it back. In hindsight, I think that having both of these guys aboard to bail is the only reason that boat doesn't sit on the bottom of Puget Sound today. Had there only been one other aboard, or even just myself, there was no saving her, or possibly me.

We made it back to the marina pretty close to low tide, took her as close in to shore as possible, basically beaching her (the keel was kind enough to somewhat retract), and tied her to the dock really good. Here's the saddest part... I had to go coach a baseball game, so we left her there.

While acting as Third Base Coach, in the middle of our team batting, I got a call from the marina. My boat was sinking, as the tide came in, and it was taking their dock down with it. I told them I was on my way shortly, finished the inning, and headed back to the marina. All the way there I could only picture the damage being done. My mind kept repeating that maybe this boat life wasn't for me. So, imagine my surprise when I arrive to the marina and walk down the dock only to find the boat floating like nothing ever happened. I spoke to the people in the office and they told me to go down and look for Mark Osborne, the marina maintenance guy. When I found Mark, he explained how he had gone down in the submerged cabin, filled the hole with a wad of Oakum, and then pumped the water out. I know his motivation was saving the dock, but he, in essence, saved my dreams that day. I offered to pay him whatever his rate was for such a heroic service. In true sailor style, he said only to bring him a bottle of rum next time I come out. I ended up bringing him the biggest bottle I could find. It was a small price to pay.

The father of one of the kids I coached happened to be the Port Patrol Officer, and when I filled him in on what was happening, during that baseball game, he offered to escort me to downtown Olympia for the haulout. The very next day, I took him up on his offer and took her down to Swantown Boatworks and was able to haul out a couple of days ahead of schedule.

Keel repair on a 1977 Chrysler 22 sailboat
The sad state of the keel. You can see the broken cable near the bottom.

Rudder cheeks for 1977 Chrysler 22 sailboat
The rudder cheeks were toast

Time in the yard isn't cheap, so I had to figure out what to do and how, and then get it done. After seeing the state of the rudder cheeks, I knew that I could not put it back in the water like that. I found plans to have new ones fabricated through the Chrysler Sailors online forum.