You do not realize how tired you can get until you drive 16 hours and then spend three hours on a boat in the sun. I attribute most of my exhaustion to the actual boating part. I managed to get a decent sleep in the van.
On a boat, you are constantly moving. Even if you are just steering, or just stowing items below deck, your muscles are constantly engaged to keep your balance. And then there’s the fresh air and the sun, which always brings out a ravenous appetite and sheer exhaustion.
So after we ate at Archies, we returned to the boat and went to sleep. Jerry slept in the van because we couldn’t get the table to convert to a berth.
I’m really glad we were able to do this, because it was a lot of fun (though I was asleep for all of it). Sleeping aboard the boat was comfortable! And it is a good thing to know for future reference. I’m glad to know that I would be perfectly happy sleeping aboard that boat for an extended amount of time. The creaks and groans of the lines and fenders, and the lapping waves were something to get used to, but they eventually faded to a lullaby in the background.
The next morning, we awoke and grabbed breakfast at The Spot, also in Burlington. It was delicious, and if you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend the Huevos Rancheros. Delicious!
During breakfast, our friendly waiter supplied us with a local phone book. We called all of the marinas and boat mechanics listed, but they either didn’t answer because they were closed on Sunday or they said they were busy with their scheduled haulouts. The waiter also mentioned that they don’t have a very high opinion of the local Coast Guard, which might explain their slightly less-than-helpful attitude.
So we took a nice drive down to West Marine, boat supplier extraordinaire, in Burlington. The store manager there gave us a few ideas.
- He didn’t think the engine had over heated, which is what we thought the problem might be, because we would have noticed steam and we would most likely not have been able to restart the engine.
- He suggested our problem could be dirty filters.
- He also suggested our problem might be due to debris or water in the fuel tank. Possibly due to ethanol in the fuel separating out into water and gas.
We decided to head back to the boat and do a little engine diagnostic.
I’m afraid Wolf got a crash course in the filters and carburetor of the Atomic 4. I don’t know much about what he, Jerry, and Chris Hartman ended up doing to that engine, but the final diagnosis was that they could not find anything that indicated a problem.
Jerry and I went to Lowes to buy three 5-gallon gas cans (to fit all of the fuel from our 15 gallon tank), a drill-powered pump, some hose, and some fittings so we could pump out the gas from the tank. We arrived back at the boat, assembled our pump rig, and began pumping gas.
It ran for five minutes, filling part of one of the gas cans, then died. The pump had broken. It turns out there was sediment in our gasoline, but whether or not that is the cause of the engine problem, we won’t know until later.
It was 4:00 pm on Sunday night, and we were defeated. We had tried everything we could reasonably try on that engine, short of taking it apart. We could have waited for a mechanic, and maybe one would have had time to look at the engine on Monday. For my part, however, I had lost faith in our engine. Unless someone would be able to directly point to a flaw and say ‘That’s what was causing your problem and here’s what you do to fix it’, I would not be able to trust the engine to get us to Canada, the Erie Canal, or anywhere. Wolf agreed. At this point, the risk was clear and insurmountable. Maybe it should have been clear and insurmountable from the beginning.
Wolf, Jerry, and Chris, covered in grease and smelling strongly of gasoline, marched up to the public marina bathrooms to get cleaned up.
After that, the four of us spent the next two hours unloading the boat and loading the van.
At 7 pm on Sunday night October 9th, 2011, we left Shelburne Marina and went to eat dinner at a delightful place called Brunos (of Burlington, check them out sometime if you’re in the area).
This may sound really sad, but you have to remember (as I constantly remind myself), that the engine works…sort of, and we still have a really awesome boat. It was awesome to motor for the short time we were able to, it was awesome to sleep aboard, and it was awesome to stow all of our gear aboard. I can’t wait to get it here to the Midwest to spruce it up.
Looking back, we should have done a sea trial before we shelled out all of the money for this project (the charts are not refundable 😦 We should have made sure that engine worked.
Looking forward, we are pricing out how much it will cost and what it will take to ship the boat to our driveway. At worst, the boat will be wintered in Vermont, and we will get it to the Midwest early next spring. Money is definitely a factor now.
But I am glad. I am glad that I have an awesome boat, and I am 100% confident, even more so than before this failed endeavor, that Wolf and I will sail it to Mackinaw Island come summer 2012. I love the Laeta.