The old girl made her first trip under power in many years on Sunday evening. She is now sitting on the river channel on the outside of the dock, waiting for her haulout later today.
This was the most nerve-wracking journey the boat will ever make. It’s always a bit stressful driving a new boat for the fist time, because each boat handles differently with different hull profiles, propeller sizes, and rudder sizes and angles. Add to the mix that the throttle and gear controls are unlike any boat I’ve skippered in the past 25 years and there is a new level of stress. At least there’s plenty of water, right?
Wrong. The above picture at high tide is very deceiving. Most of the water you see between the boat and the shore is only a foot deep. The Carlyle draws almost six feet of water, and we have to squeeze into a narrow channel basically scraping alongside the boat house. One wrong move, and we could get stuck in the mud and the boat would roll over when the tide goes out. Many boats have been lost this way. Here’s a shot of how narrow the deep enough water is to sneak around the boat house:
Doesn’t look as wide now does it? A couple more pictures with more water:
So we had to wait for high tide which gave us barely enough water to turn the boat around. My friends Dan and his son Daniel from the F/V Pheonix III came and helped get the boat turned around and Dan joined me for the first short boat trip. He spotted us as we ran the narrow channel to get out past the boat house and helped get tied up in the current. We went about an hour before high tide so if we did run aground we had some more water coming in to lift us off. All went well. The old motor chugs away and the boat moves some serious water. She had excellent rudder response. The controls will definitely take some getting used to – instead of moving a lever forward or reverse to change gears, it’s three turns of the big wheel clockwise for forward, three turns counter-clockwise for reverse. And good luck if you forget which turn you are in. Did I mention the throttle? The lever is backwards, you shove it forward for less throttle and back towards you for more. And there is about a 3 second delay in the old engine rpms…
Here’s a picture of the controls from before we bought the boat. The big wheel on top is the transmission control, the assembly with the vertical shifter on the right is the throttle. To kill the engine, just shove it forward until you run out of fuel. Shoving it forward is exactly what you would do on 99% of boats if you need emergency throttle – more power. And this engine doesn’t restart with the touch of a button. So it takes some real thinking to get used to these controls.
Daniel took some pictures from the dock – when he sends them over I will post them. Now we wait for the haul out at slack water, scheduled for 09:30 this morning.