« An Uneventful Day | Main | The new Shaft Coupling is here »

Well, Here I Am

Days 3&4

Distance Travelled: 139.5 Nautical Miles

Total Trip Distance: 224 Nautical Miles

The repair of the shaft coupling was completed at about 5:30 pm yesterday (Tuesday) and after some preliminary testing at the dock, we shoved off at 6:30  pm to resume our trek to Chicago. Peter the Great took the first shift driving until 10 pm while I fixed us some dinner and took a quick nap. I took over from 10 until about 2:30 when Peter woke up and drove on until around 7 am this morning. Then we took turns back and forth until we arrived at Riverdale Marina in the Calumet River south of Chicago.

Of course, we were scared to death of the new shaft coupling and we kept checking it throughout the night to make sure it was not vibrating or coming apart. We also nursed the boat along at reduced RPM going about 7.3 knots instead of the usual 8 knots. But the engine and shaft performed flawlessly and got us here in good shape at 4 pm this afternoon. This is an incredible boat built for long-range cruising and it is simply a crime the mistakes made in building it and the neglect it has had over the last three years. It turned out that the shaft coupling was bound to fail. First, it was a model not designed for an engine of this size. The attachment to the shaft was made with different sized bolts than the coupling was designed to use, and the engine was badly out of alignment. The mechanic spent about two hours aligning the engine to the shaft, and the coupling we installed is vastly stronger than the original, although still not adequate to allow operation of this engine at wide open throttle. The boat is far better off now than when we started, and should be fine for normal operation on the trip south.

A trip in open water all night is an exhausting but fabulous experience. We had good weather and calm seas, but there is always the constant vigilance of following ships and other boats on the radar while peering into the night to look for their lights and the lights of buoys to make sure you are safe. The long quiet hours give time to fiddle with the electronics and learn to set everything up to give you the information you need. There is a constant battle to have enough illumination to read instruments and charts while not creating reflections in the windshield that blind you to other traffic. We hugged the western shore of lake Michigan for safety and shelter from westerly winds and saw the lights of Milwaukee and Racine and numerous smaller towns. After sunrise, we saw the skyline of Chicago through the haze and at 11:30 this morning we entered Calumet Harbor and started into the river/canal system that will lead to the Illinois River and on to the Mississippi.

The first several miles of the canal system is an industrial area crowded with barges and depots for loading and unloading coal, fuel, scrap metal, etc. We must have passed through 20 bridges, many of which had to be opened to allow us through. We went through one lock, stopped briefly at a marina to lower our fold-down mast, and proceeded through many more low fixed bridges that we could not go under with the mast up. Finally, we arrived at Riverdale and, after three tries in slips where we ran aground, we parked at the end of a long dock which has no electrical power. I’ll just have to use the generator off an on until we leave Friday morning.

Peter the Great took off about an hour ago to get back to the Sturgeon Bay area where he lives. He took a cab to Midway airport where he is renting a car to turn in at Green Bay. My choice of a captain, recommended to me by the broker who sold me the boat and one of the boat yard workers in Sturgeon Bay, turned out to be a perfect choice. Peter was easy-going and knowledgeable and, when the shaft coupling catastrophe occurred, I could not have had anyone better to diagnose the problem and figure out how to get it solved. I owe Peter a lot and I feel like I made a new friend in the process. Here’s to you, Peter the Great.

So, tonight, I get to take my first shower in three days and head over to the bar restaurant here for dinner. Tomorrow night, D*ckh**d (deckhand) Jaames arrives to help me through the next leg to St. Louis. He’ll be bringing some extra Scotch from Laura Lee for his own use since Peter the great got into his supply, and no doubt some extra culinary delights.

Onward, to the Southland for Steel Magnolia. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>