Kid Friendly Wahoo!

As a father, one of the things I appreciate  about my Wahoo! is how kid-friendly they are. That manifests itself in a variety of ways: their stability, their unsinkability, the uncluttered cockpit that makes boarding and moving around once aboard easy. They’re simple to launch and operate.

Like their Whaler cousins, they’re also great teaching boats for kids, as demonstrated here by my eight year old, Sarah, taking her first turn at the helm.



Backing in a Trailer

Today for the first time ever I backed my trailer from my narrow street into my narrow driveway using only the car. For once no uncoupling the trailer from the vehicle and pushing it in by brute force. An everyday event for some folks I guess but for me a landmark achievement. The driveway is eight feet wide and the street is ten feet wide and you have to start with the trailer exactly perpendicular to the driveway so backing in involves pivoting the trailer 90 degrees.

After four years of slow progress I think I’m finally getting the hang of backing up a trailer in a tight spot, although with my dyslexia it still takes me longer than it would a normal person. Yay for me! It’s been pretty tiring looking like this guy:

Out of the water, 2013

photoFinally pulled the boat today. I didn’t have any choice really. The POPYC docks are coming out Saturday and the weather is supposed to turn nasty tomorrow with rain and gusts up to 40 mph. My boat was the last one of the docks by several weeks. With the engine problems I’ve had I was worried about getting it out. The options were to put a small, spare outboard on her or try to run her at the lowest possible speed using her own engine, gears a-clattering, and hope that she’d limp into the launch without something catastrophic happening. I’d initially planned to run her to Zioli’s crude but close-by ramp but found out earlier this week that it was blocked off by wintered boats. The Lynn ramp, a mile away, exposed, and with no place to tie up, by myself without help, was out of the question. That left Tim H’s ramp a mile and a half or so up the Saugus River. It was the farthest of the three and being upriver presented an issue if I didn’t time the tides right. But it was the only option left short of a tow.

The day was nice for November, mid 50s and sunny. Wind out of the west and picking up but not too bad yet. I made it over to the slip around noon, 45 minutes before high tide. The idea of mounting the outboard as a kicker quickly proved a no-go as the transom was 2.5 inches at its narrowest point and the 8 horse I brought along wouldn’t open wider than 2.25. So that meant running upriver on the bad engine, with a chance it’d die somewhere along the way. The thought of causing serious engine damage just trying to move a boat a little over mile was not appealing. That it might also leave me victim to the wind and currents was icing on top. I didn’t like the risk but also didn’t have time to to hem and haw: the tide was near high slack and it was a BIG tide…another hour and it’d be pushing out hard to seaward, meaning I’d have to throttle up just to make headway, something I didn’t want to do given the engine problems.

So I loosed the lines and prepared to get underway. At the last moment I realized I didn’t have a life preserver aboard (I’d stripped the boat of deck gear and removed the dock box a few weeks back) so I hunted around in the club dock until I found a kid’s styrofoam boogie board. Not Coast Guard approved but in a pinch it would keep me from drowning.

Pulling out of the slip the engine showed the symptoms that made me releuctant to run it in the first place…on its own it slipped from neutral into forward, and shook and clattered. On the other hand, as it moved along, the problem didn’t get any worse. And with the tide more or less slack and no other boat traffic to contend with we passed under the General Edwards Bridge easily. The half mile to the MBTA railroad bridge was uneventful. Approaching the bridge I eyed the clearance. The eleven foot tide left me five and a half feet. Not much, but enough for my small boat.

The next and last obstacle was the 107/Western Ave Bridge another half mile ahead. This bridge had even less clearance–three feet it looked like as I approached. There’s a drawbridge there but this time of year on a weekday I wasn’t sure it’d be manned. And anyway I hadn’t brought a radio along. If the clearance was insufficient to let me pass I’d have to wait for the tide to drop. And of course with the dropping tide would be the surging current I  didn’t want to fight.

As it was I made it under with about a foot to spare, my head ducked low, looking up at the iron i-beams that even at low speed could likely cave in a skull. Five minutes later I was tied up at the dock. Another boating season over.

Next year, swear to God, one way or another I’m done with problem engines.



Sometime around Christmas the vessel pictured below broke loose from its mooring in Lynn Harbor and washed ashore near the Nahant rotary. For the first few weeks it was a curiousity. I assume other passers by expected, like I did, that the owner would be there in short order to get his boat. But time went by and there it sat. With each passing week it settled a little lower in the sand.

I’ve been told that in most US states the law is that any vessel run aground and abandoned by its owner, even if just for a short time, can be claimed by anyone with an aim to do so. Even if this is correct in practice it’s probably not that easy. There must be papers to file and legal hoops to jump through. This is, after all, America. In this particular case I suspect that the owner actually abandoned the boat even before it broke its mooring, as there’s been no attempt to retrieve it and from the day it washed up it had a look of neglect.

I stopped off to take a closer look at it a few times. And apparently I wasn’t the only one. Because even if no one is interested in the hull, for sure bit by bit scavengers have removed pieces of it: the anchor and lines; compass; deck hardware; life vests; ring buoys.  It’s reached the point where there’s not much salvageable left outside of some minor hardware.  I scraped some sand away and discovered Doel Fins on the motor. Just so happens I was planning on fitting my Wahoo! with Doel Fins this year.


When good depth finders go bad

Image from http://ncara.edublogs.orgLaunched the boat today for the first time since pulling it out of the water for engine repairs four weeks ago (a story in itself for another time). I launched from the Nahant Town Wharf intending simply to test out the engine after the repairs and then dock at my slip at the Point of Pines Yacht Club two miles away. Wind was moderate out of the southeast and, as the tide was low and there are some rock piles along that route, I kept my speed down and my eye on the depth finder. After rounding Bass Point I headed out towards open water. The finder was showing a steady seven feet so I opened her up a little and suddenly BAM!!!! The whole boat shuddered and stopped. I didn’t know what happened…thought maybe a couple of the engine mount bolts failed–that’s how severe the shock was. But looking down over the side I saw right away I’d run onto a rock pile and had struck a large rock. I was in two to three feet of water but the depth finder still read seven feet. Killed the engine, titled it up, and sat there a little dumbfounded as the wind and current pushed me away from the rocks, feeling very sheepish and wondering just how badly I’d injured myself.

As it turned out, the answer was bad but not as bad as it could have been. The edges of all three blades on the prop were dinged pretty good (but the blades themselves were not bent). The prop will need re-machining. But had I been going a little faster I could easily have taken out the lower unit. After drifting awhile I restarted the engine and gingerly put it into gear. I completed an hour of practice runs during which I confirmed that the depth finder is malfunctioning; it will read OK for a bit but then lock on a particular depth reading and stay on it until something causes it to start working again.

Later, docked safely at the Pines I told the story to Raybo (Ray M.) who’s been following my boat, ahem, issues, for the past year. “Damn Mike,” he says. “If it wasn’t for bad luck you wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Fishing tomorrow with Ben.