It was this past Thursday. Deb and I were just knocked out by the scenery. We were beginning to see cliffsides and mountains. Simply breathtaking. We were making a long run that day, maybe 100 miles. At 8-9 mph, that’s a long day on the water. We knew we could make our next stop before sundown. Saaaaaay, doesn’t sundown occur earlier when mountains are present??? Yup, sure does! Deb and I found ourselves navigating in the dark. Dark like, other than the light of the moon there was nothing. We were in unfamiliar waters. And nervous (read scared). Finally get to the turn off from the main channel and we can see the lights of the restaurant where our dock was. Intently monitoring our new chartplotter we made the turn. *&%$#*(), made the turn 5 feet too late. The red marker (which should have been on our right side) was on our immediate left and then…the boat stopped and both engines died. We are aground. In the dark. Restarted both engines, put the starboard engine in reverse, gave it throttle and the boat did not move. Starting to mutter expletives. Put the port engine in reverse. Gave it throttle. Boat started to move back. Got free. Uhhh, no rudder control. Did I say it’s reeaallly dark by now. Debbie being the smarter of us says, “I am getting the life vests”. Not only is she prettier, but she is certainly the smarter of the two of us. Debbie dug out our SeaTow insurance card and we phoned for help. Guy was an hour away. After turning the wheel all the way to port and then starboard, we regained rudder control. But we are still in the middle of nowhere and we were not going to try to enter THAT channel again. Our savior shows up and we follow him into a marina through waters that I would not attempt in the bright of day. Safely ensconced on a dock with shore power we turned on the AC and opened a bottle of our favorite beverage, Taittinger Champagne. We are alive and safe and that is enough to open a bottle of bubbles.
Bright and early at 7am we meet with the marina shop. Their travel lift is empty and we promptly fill it with Whisky Business. This boat weighs 1,000 lbs per foot. This fabulous machine picked up this 46′ long beast as gently as could be. Once out of the water the 24″ diameter beautiful propellers that we had reconditioned and polished were now chewed up and one of the propeller shafts was bent.
That’s the leading edge of a $3500 propeller.
Good news is we had a spare set of props on board. Bad news, we had to drive close to 300 miles in a rented truck to drop off the original props in Soddy Daisy, TN. and then to Cleveland, Tn. to a fella who could straighten our shaft. Bear in mind that this shaft was a 24,000th of an inch out of straight. That’s a lot.
And it’s over 9 feet long
Dropped it off at his shop last night. This man, who we had never met. This man, who we will probably never see again. This man, comes into his shop at 7am and straightens our shaft. On a Saturday. For us. Strangers. He owes us nothing. But he knew we needed help. A new shaft would have cost $2,000. He charged us $125. Jim Hughes is going to heaven. And so are Joe and Beth King at Anglers Marine. These are the folks who are 2 weeks behind schedule and they literally dropped everything to help us. They worked overtime to get us back in the water today. The guys that do the heavy lifting for them were equally fabulous. Cannot sing their praises enough. Oh yeah, they had to fabricate a special tool to remove the propeller shaft.
Ask yourself this: If a tree fell on your house, would your neighbors come out to help you? Some of you will say “sure!” But, some of you will say no, they wouldn’t. We don’t even know them. We are just in awe of the wonderful people we have met along this journey and we are just getting started.
Got back in the water at 2 this afternoon (9/22) and are now safely anchored out on a beautiful stretch of river near Bridgeport Tennessee or Alabama. Not sure which state. And yes, we opened a bottle of Taittinger Champagne.