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.