Fleet Week Adventures: Drama & Trauma

Before I tell you about our trip to San Francisco Bay for Fleet Week, I’d like to set the record straight re sailboats.

We’ve rented numerous sailboats and catamarans over the years.  Mostly in the 35-40 foot range.  I wasn’t a chicken on those!  I don’t think it’s sailing, per se, that made me nervous as it was the size of the boat.

Just wanted to put that out there.

We’ve been going to Fleet Week for, I don’t know, 8 or more years?  Once the Maritime Museum had an event on the roof of their building and we brought friends and family to that.  The Museum is practically center stage so that was a nifty spot to watch the air shows.

This time it was on Ms Maggie.  We packed up provisions and such the night before so we could get on the water at the crack of dawn.

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Nah, this isn’t all of it

It was going to take our little turtle-speed trawler about 9 hrs to get to Pier 39, where we were spending our first 2 nights.

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Pulling away from the dock

The water was beautifully smooth and tons of tiny fish were poking at the surface!  I took a video but it doesn’t translate well to the ‘big screen’.

All was fine until we hit fog, which was completely unexpected, we turned a corner of the delta canal and plowed right into it.  Fortunately, it lasted all of about 100 feet but it was pretty dense at the water line.  Weird patch of fog just at that one spot.

We continued down familiar territory for an hour or so before turning left where we usually turn right (towards Stockton).

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We’ve counted 20 or more egrets & herons in our bay

We’d planned on topping of the fuel tanks in Pittsburg and pulled into the Pittsburg Marina in the afternoon, all according to plan.

Then our plan went to hell in a handbasket.

Just about 90 seconds out from the Pittsburg marina the engine noise hesitated, and the engine died, again.  We’d just had it at the mechanics to repair the problem and here we are experiencing it AGAIN!  In the middle of the channel.  Drifting with the current.  Aargh.

Rick yells at me to drop the anchor while he opens up the hatch to the engine and climbs down – wait, that sounds too easy – its more like put this foot here and that hand there, then bend and squeeze down into the hatch.  The problem before had been diagnosed as air in the fuel line so he tops off the filters and hand pumps a little lever to move the fuel through the lines to get the air out.

We are drifting toward Channel Marker 13 (I think it was) despite the anchor.  Slowly…inexorably…drifting toward a marker with sharp edges around it and a stabby metal ladder that will cause damage.  I’m not telling Rick this, he’s got enough to worry about, down with the engine, sweating, pumping air out of a little fuel hose for 45 minutes.

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Painting by William Seltzer Rice.

Isn’t that a pretty painting? That’s what the channel marker looked like, but scarier…

I start planning how to keep the boat from hitting the channel marker.  Adding fenders to the sides of the boat,  pulling up the anchor and trying to coast past the marker, throwing my body into the path of danger.  Something, anything!

Then, while most boats go slowly by us, seeing that we are in a bit of a fix, one boat roars by and its wake bounces us around and tosses, no, HURLS the hatch cover into the air, smashing into Rick’s head.

I throw him a towel.  You know how much head wounds bleed?  Yeah, like that.  and me?  I’m still not panicking!

He clambers out of the engine hatch to hold the towel to his head and decides that 45 minutes of effort hasn’t helped (I’ve tried to start the engine periodically during this time).  Best to call BoatUS for a tow.  I mean we are literally a stone’s throw from the marina where we got fuel.

The tow boat arrives quickly and finesses us into a slip.  They are so good at their jobs!

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See the matted blood above his ear?  I was nice & didn’t take a photo of all the blood dripping down his face & neck.

During the wait we started calling around to find a diesel mechanic…on a Friday night…at 5pm.

Finally, we find a guy who says he’ll come down after rush hour.  We head off for dinner and our mechanic hero arrives about 8:30.

Long story short – or is it too late for that 😉  He is terrific, knowledgeable, friendly and helpful!  JustInTime Marine (Just In Time Marine)

Richie figures out that the problem is the fuel pump thingamajig which pushes the fuel through the line – its toast.

The pump must be original to the boat so its lasted a loooong time.  Now the issue is finding the part on a weekend…are we stuck here until Monday?

Then Just-In-Time Richie says ‘hey, you trawler guys always carry spare parts.  Let’s see what you’ve got’.  Rick gets the parts bin out and digs through it.  Low and behold, not the part but an entire fuel pump is there!

J-I-T pops it in and voila!  We are cooking with gas!  I mean, diesel!  Wow, thank you, Lowell!  (the previous owner)  What a testament to being prepared!

J-I-T leaves at 11:30pm.  Our wallets are just a bit lighter and our spirits are much lighter!  The next day we sleep in late and then shove off, headed for Pier 39, finally.

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C & H (C & H), pure cane sugar (pure cane sugar), from Hawaii (from Hawaii), growin’ in the sun (growin’ in the sun )

Oh, I forgot to follow-up about Rick’s wound.  He took some pain meds, but we haven’t done anything else.  We don’t feel like trying to find an Urgent Care facility and its stopped bleeding so that’s good, right?  I don’t see his skull when I part his hair so its fine, for now  😉

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The ONLY thing that makes it worth getting up early is a pretty sunrise like this.

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