Sunday, October 20, 2013

Outboard Offense

    The last few days can be summed up in one story about my outboard, Jackson. He is so named because Jackson is a Mercury, and Alan Jackson wrote the Mercury Blues. That's just how my brain works.
    We started out from Great Kills Harbor after three nights of restful anchoring, occasional town runs, and a mussel feast that couldn't be beat. It was supposed to be 10-15 knot winds from the Southwest, but it turned out to be all of that from the south, dead on the nose. I was motorsailing with the others to keep up and try to make Manasquan before dark when I noticed Jackson making a rather unusual sound, kind of a whistling or ringing. I figured I could play it safe, shut him down, and sail the rest of the way. I was wrong. Jackson shut down just fine, but the wind was just too much from straight on the nose. I couldn't sail into it and get in before dark, even though the next inlet was only six or seven miles away. So I tried starting Jackson again. No dice.
    I continued sailing the best I could, but with the wind being what it was and all, there was no way I would make it before dark. Luckily SomeDay was there to answer my call. They tied an anchor line to a bridle on their stern cleats, I tied the other end to my mast, and they towed me those last six miles into Manasquan.
    I dropped anchor as soon as I could, only to find out I was in the middle of the channel. SomeDay went off to anchor in a better spot, and I managed to get Jackson running briefly. A French gentleman from a catamaran anchored nearby dinghied over and helped me up anchor and drop it again just behind him with scarcely a word, and as he left his wife handed me two delicious chicken sandwiches and a cold soda. If not for the kindness of strangers, I think I would have packed it in right then and there, so whoever the kind french couple is, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
    The next morning I got Jackson running once more, pulled up anchor just before noon and watched Jackson propmtly give up. Again. Luckily there was a falling tide, an offshore wind, and I was right next to the mouth of the inlet, so I raised my mainsail and sailed off down the coast to Barneget Inlet where I coaxed Jackson to life with equal portions of prayer, persistence, and brute force. He sputtered to a stop of his own accord just as my anchor touched bottom. The Lord takes care of saints and fools, and I'm no saint.

    As I write this, all three of us are tied up at the Atlantic City Marina for the night. SomeDay will likely be anchoring out in the morning, Impulse thinks they may try the weather and get to Cape May, and I will be staying put until I get Jackson up to snuff, and get a new second deep-cycle installed.


Andy McBurney said...

I figure if you can average about 20 miles per day, you might make (Savannah) Georgia by Thanksgiving.

the johnsons said...

We love your writing and your passion for the sea and Cassie.

Aunt Karen said...

Was reading your blog to my friend who is a world class sailor who says with a smile, "tell him one word - sweeps." :)