It’s Dead, Jim 1

DSCN1093Remember where that came from? It’s at least close to a quote the Dr. McCoy used to say to Captain Kirk when something or someone was dead and the Captain was still trying to revive it. Well, we had a similar experience over the weekend. Something close to both the First Mate and myself, something beloved to both of us, passed away and we were unable to revive it. Our diesel. Our “beloved” Volvo. Actually our diesel was closer to a nemesis than a beloved friend, but anyone who owns a sailboat will appreciate that, even with a sailboat, there are times when you need a good engine.

First Mate and I had considered all the options, although there are only a few. First she, being the adventurous spirit that she is, suggested that maybe we do not even need an engine. After all, the Pardeys sailed for many years without one, and think of all the storage in that cavernous engine compartment. We’ve sailed in and out of our slip, into and away from anchor, we feel comfortable sailing without an engine as much as possible. There many instances when a sailor is not under the gun, and can take time to make decisions. If you sail without an engine, there are always things that must be taken into consideration. You must always consider being engineless when you plan to anchor in a cove, or when you are sailing to a port where you have to cross shipping lanes. In our case our marina is in a shipping lane. From the moment that we exit our slip we are entering into shipping lanes. Contrary to what you might think, that sailing yachts have the right of way while under sail, that is not always the case. In shipping lanes all vessels must give way to the cargo ships and large vessels that cannot maneuver. We’ve sailing through the shipping lanes more than a few times because of engine failure, and there has been more than one time where we have had certain body parts in our throats as we passed a large vessel. There are those night sails where we pass through the shipping lanes on the way to the islands. If you are engineless, then you have to rely on the other guy not to hit you, especially if there is any fog in the area. That is often the case in Southern California – foggy at night and in the mornings. Those times make it mandatory that you have an engine.

Then there are those times when you are forced to anchor close to a shoal area where there are rocks, then the wind comes up at night and you start to drag. In a really close anchorage and the guy next to you starts dragging your way. When you’re becalmed and your solar is not able to keep up with your electrical needs, and the wind generator isn’t turning. Those are the times when a good engine can come to your rescue.

We do not want being engineless to dictate whether or not we can anchor at one place versus another. We also like the thought of having an alternate source of power in the event that the solar cannot keep up with the watermaker. There are many reasons I could come up with to justify having a good diesel, and I am sure that a lot of you out there could come up with more of your own.

One thing I did hear the Pardeys say, was that one of their regrets was that they were not able to explore Alaska because they had no engine. Exploring the back channels of Alaska, much as Chuck and Laura of Lealea have done, requires a good engine. We may want to do that one day, too.

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About Captain Tom

Over 10 years sailing and over 3500 miles under our keel. Was an engineer (EE) for over 30 years, then after moving into management, decided that the corporate world was no longer for me. Ran my wife's law office for 15 years and recently retired. Now we live aboard and sail the California coast, soon to leave for the Sea of Cortez.
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[…] my “big three” list – solid hull and she floats, good rigging, and good engine (more on the engine debacle here) – so we accepted the owner’s offer and gave her time to get her affairs in order. We […]