Daydreams Afloat

What IS that smell?!

When we last left off, Dwayne and I were headed back to our home base in Florida. We spent the next week firming up a boat hauler and a tow to a marina that had haul out services. Why not sail to a marina? Well, once we made the decision that the best option was to ship the boat to Florida, we took down all of the sails and started removing anything that might hinder the shipping process.

So here we are. A week later, driving back to Connecticut. We found a great marina that would be able to haul us out. The towing guy said he would meet us on a Monday morning and we’d be set.

Halfway across the country and a call comes in

Hold on…not so fast. Halfway to Connecticut, the hauler called to tell us that his rig had broken down and he was headed to the shop. He would not be able to haul our boat to Florida anytime in the foreseeable future. Back to square one.

Luckily, we were able to snag another hauler, after approximately 30 phone calls. It seems that hauling out of the Northeast US is a bit of a pain because of all the toll roads and bridges and New York City. Once again, we were back on without altering the haul out plans we had made.

We arrived to the boat on a Saturday evening. We didn’t have much time to remove the last of the hardware and as much from the inside as we could. After opening the hatch, we were pleasantly surprised there had been no leaks (so we thought) and all appeared to be right where we left it.

Ohhh that smell …

We noticed, during our previous stay, that our head had a bit of a leak. It didn’t look like anything major. We had already decided that once arriving in Florida, one of the first projects would be to remove the head and all those plumbing lines and replace it with a composting head.

When we climbed aboard to start unloading, Dwayne headed up to the V-berth. When he stepped on the flooring by the bed, water seeped out. Uh-oh, what the heck is going on? We opened up the flooring which has a small locker and it was filled with water, but wait…no…no that wasn’t water.

Dwayne started cleaning up the area with paper towels and I (Heather) was all, “You might want to put some gloves on..that’s not water…that’s pee.” At first, Dwayne tried to disagree that it was water. Once we opened up the lockers near the holding tank, the smell of urine hit us like a ton of bricks. Lovely, just lovely. Long story short, once that mess was all cleaned, we found the pump out valves were not labeled correctly. When we pumped out the first time, nothing happened…..and the tank was full. Very full. So full that a few gallons had seeped out around the hose clamps. A few gallons.

Another beautiful morning in Connecticut for the day of towing. Mitch, from one of the nationwide boat-towing companies, was a great guy. We were able to get a full pump out before heading to the next marina. We verified that the stinking tank was empty! The plan was for Dwayne would drive our car to McMichael’s Marina in Mamaroneck, NY. I was to stay on the boat to hopefully get some footage of Long Island Sound. I was not prepared for what was going to happen next……..

And we’re off!!! Or are we?

Our boat was located at South Benson Marina in Fairfield, Ct. There are only 2 ways out of Long Island Sound. Either we motor through the East River praying we get the currents right or we sail east to Montauk, NY and deal with the cut known as “The Race”. Not the best of options for sailing newbies. Rather than adding several days to the journey, we figured motoring through New York City would be pretty awesome.

We woke up to a beautifully calm, blue sky morning. There was no wind. Since we wanted to motor for a bit, we figured all was well. There was a nice high tide for our almost 6 foot draft. After a quick fill up of gas (yes, we have an Atomic 4 gas engine) and a pump out (more on this adventure later), we were on our way!

Our engine had just been serviced a couple months prior, new filters, cleaning, the works. We were told it ran great, no problems. Being newbies, our big mistake here was not checking over the engine before we left. We were about to learn a really rough lesson.

We headed out of the marina and were doing great. All we could think was. “this trip is going to be amazing!”. Right after we passed the first set of buoys outside the marina, the engine died. Wait, what?!

It’s ok … we got it started again … we’re fine … let’s keep going.

Almost to the second set of buoys, the engine died again. Are you freaking kidding me?? I (Heather) took over the helm while Dwayne ran down to work on the engine. Meanwhile, we’re just drifting sideways between the buoys and the channel going into the marina.

Dwayne got the engine started again, yes! I got her straightened out and the engine stopped, AGAIN. This time, it did not want to start again. Dwayne was down dealing with the engine inventing some new words as I was watching us drift closer to the buoys and ultimately the lighthouses.

As our attempts to start the engine continue to fail, my new catchphrase of “I don’t know what to do” took hold. You might ask, why didn’t you just pop those sails up and go? Duh, we do have a sailboat. Well, remember when I said we had a beautiful calm morning? When I said calm, I should have said non-existent wind.

At this point we really only had one option: call the marina and see if we can come back until we figure out what is now wrong with the engine. We dropped our anchor; silver linings it held great. We sat out in Long Island Sound and had a nice lunch while waiting on TowBoat US to come pick us up.

Two hours later, we were back in the marina. Tearing apart the engine trying to find out what was wrong. Dwayne found the problem quickly. An oil pressure sensor wire had disconnected while the engine was running. We thought “Great! We’ll walk down the road, get a rental car and get the supplies we need to fix the problem and get back on the water. We’ve got this.”.

The next morning, another beautifully calm day dawned. We tested the engine and it ran great for a good twenty minutes. It looked like we were good to go. We untied the lines, put her in gear, and cast off the dock. Not ten seconds later the engine died again! I mean, seriously?!?

This time the engine would not start back up. What were we to do? We were drifting in the middle of the marina! Luckily for us, there was someone working on their boat and we were still close enough to the next set of docks. I was able to throw him a line, Dwayne jumped off the boat, and they were able to get us tied back up.

At this point, I got off the boat and took a walk. How do I bring up that maybe we shouldn’t attempt this. We had to have a reliable engine to get out of Long Island Sound and the East River. Obviously, there was something seriously wrong with this engine. We agreed the next course of action would be to find a place to haul out and have the boat shipped to Florida. But for now it was time to go back home for a couple weeks.

We made it to the boat!

When we last left off with this story, we had just bought a boat, sight unseen, on eBay. After a quick check of the boat, in person, we tucked her away for the winter since she was in Connecticut and we were in Florida. So begins our story today …

We had planned on heading to Connecticut in April to sail our boat to Florida, but Covid-19 had other plans. Fast forward to the end of May and we were finally on our way back up to Connecticut; even though there were a lot of marinas still closed at this time. We figured it would be the first week of June before we actually headed out of the marina. Places were planning on opening, so all would be fine; right?

The road from the Florida panhandle to Connecticut took us 2 days, through 10 states, with a stopover in our old stomping grounds of Roanoke, VA. We arrived at the marina fairly late in the evening, so we just grabbed the essentials for the night. Our sailboat was just as we had left it in March, for the most part. We wouldn’t be able to really survey anything until the light of day. That first night on the boat was rainy, but definitely not uncomfortable. We sat out in the cockpit, under the bimini, listening to the rain and the sounds around the marina. It was so peaceful, but dang was it still cold in Connecticut! Our thin Florida blood was NOT prepared for the 40 degree weather at night.

We woke up to a nice brisk morning at the marina. People milling about working on their boats and heading out for a day on Long Island Sound. Justin, the marina manager stopped by for a chat. Back in April, there had been some gale force winds in the marina. They literally tore our dinghy off our boat and into the water. Marina workers were able to retrieve our dinghy and secure it back to our boat. However, it had lost most of its’ air, so we were praying real hard that we would be able to re-inflate it and there wouldn’t be any holes. As luck would have it this time, we were able to salvage the dinghy.

Before we had left the boat back in March we had noticed there were leaks around the portholes and handrails. Once we returned to Florida, we knew we were going to put the boat on the hard and give some serious attention to the entire boat.

We did some quick fix sealing of the windows and handrails in an attempt to keep water from getting inside the boat while we were gone. The seals worked great; it may have not looked the best, but hey, it was a fix to get us where we were planning on going and most importantly, no more water dripping in the cabin.

Now that we knew everything was sealed up good we set about cleaning and bringing in food, supplies, safety equipment and gear onto the boat. I quickly realized, I brought way too much for a 32 foot boat. For a week, we cleaned inside and out, bought spare parts, checked lines and added an anchor.

One day as I (Heather) was scrubbing the deck, I heard someone yelling to me. The previous owner’s son stopped by in hopes of seeing the boat still docked. He said they had a bunch of stuff for us if we wanted to come get it all. We ended up with 2 chairs, 4 sails, spinnaker pole, whisker pole, extra line and blocks. Basically, we ended up filling our rental minivan completely full of more equipment. There was so much we weren’t sure if everything would fit on the boat with everything we already had stored!

I should mention that while we were getting everything ready to set sail, we were also waiting for a good weather window. The first part of June had 2 named storms already. This had made us more than a little nervous and antsy about getting started. But, it was time to leave the marina and Connecticut to begin the journey south…..

A new beginning …



We’ve been wanting to buy a sailboat for quite some time now and today we did it; we bought a sailboat. Dwayne has been eyeing boats on eBay and making bids here and there when we find a sailboat we are interested in. Well, we actually won a bid and never thought it would happen so quickly let alone happen at all! The kicker; it’s in Connecticut and we’re in Florida. Things are about to get real interesting around here. We have only seen pictures of the boat thus far and are praying that the pictures are at least a decent representation of what we’ve purchased…cue Captain Ron…..let’s hope it’s not like Captain Ron.

So, come along as we journey to see our sailboat for the first time and begin our adventure!