Our First Official Days As Cruisers

Bundled up pups.
Dewey and Riley didn’t want to get out of bed either. It was COLD outside!

It seems that hell has frozen over (and no, I’m not talking about what is happening up north right now). Jason and I have finally, FINALLY begun our sail south! The whole experience has been a little weird, and honestly it still doesn’t feel like we’re doing it. With our alarms set for 6am we rolled out of bed and started our day. The coffee was made and everything was put away. We were ready to leave. Just as we were about to untie the dock lines (we stayed on the free dock at Cocoa Village for the night) a very distressed man came up to us and told us his boat had drug anchor and asked if there was any way we could bring him to his boat and tow it in for him. As we have had so many people be incredibly helpful to us we of course told him we would help him out. Sailors helping sailors. So, by 9:30 we were finally ready to leave. Winds were nearly non existent but were forecasted to pick up later in the day so we decided to start with a bit of motorsailing. Not even 30 minutes in our engine decided to die. Awesome. With nearly zero wind we were sailing along at about 1.5 knots. For those of you unfamiliar with how slow that is, I could easily walk faster than that. Much faster. I’m not talking about a brisk New York City style walk either.

Using your dinghy to tow a sailboat
Good to know our tiny 5hp can tow a sailboat

While I took the helm Jason went down to try and fix the engine. In doing that we also discovered we were taking on water from our bilge pump. Wonderful. It seems that the check valve wasn’t closing properly and was letting water in because we were heeled over a bit. Luckily we had a spare on board but the only way to fix this was to turn around so we could heel the other way so no water would come in while we made the change. The process took us long enough to bring us just about back to our starting point. Swell. At least now the winds had picked up and we were sailing at about 4 – 5 knots. We even got a few big gusts that heeled us over quite significantly causing some of our plates to roll out of their shelf (apparently their security bar had come open) and come crashing down. It seems that the unbreakable Corelle plates are no where near unbreakable and that when they do break, they shatter into millions of tiny shards that are guaranteed to go everywhere. Awesome. Jason’s hands thank you for all the cuts he now has.

Now that we were headed south again Jason went back to trying to fix the engine and I was sailing us along. Everything was going smoothly given our current engineless situation. I was sailing between the channel markers in a nice 10 ft of water. That is until the 10 feet quickly turned into an unmarked 2 ft. shoal. I had grounded us. Spectacular. They say that there are two kinds of sailors – those that have been grounded and those that are lying. I was now part of the club. We tried to use the wind to heel us over enough to push us off the shoal but without an engine to back us up our efforts were worthless. So we brought in the sails. As our non luck would have it, one of our lazy jacks came undone and the Dring caught on our sail creating a 2 inch tear in our main sail. Marvelous.

Dogs on a sailboat
Dewey was not pleased we were grounded


We had just renewed our Boat US membership a few days ago so we had them tow us to a nearby marina where we could fix our engine issues. We chose the Eau Gallie Yacht Basin because they had hot showers and laundry. If we were going to be forced to pay to stay the night in the marina I was surely going to be doing some laundry! They charge $1/ft for transients and have a canvas shop right on site (I was literally drooling just looking at it). They also have pretty fast wifi.

Jason spent the entire night and next day (seriously, he didn’t even go to sleep) trying to figure out what had happened without any luck. We thought it may be the coil so I biked over to the auto parts store and picked up a new one. Jason quickly installed that bad boy and wasn’t convinced that was the issue. We had an oil leak from our oil pan so I went over to Ace to get some new gasket material while he tried to troubleshoot a bit more. When I pulled back up to the boat I was greeted by the sounds of our engine running! Hallelujah! In fact, I’m writing this post with the engine as the most welcoming background noise. While we’re not sure if the coil was a contributor to our issue, we did discover a blown inline fuse as well. With that switched out and the new coil in we seem to be running well. We’re letting her run for a while before we head off again but hopefully we finally have this thing figured out!

I’m now off to get one more hot shower before we head out. Here is to hoping our next couple of days are a bit smoother sailing than our first couple.

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  1. I feel your pain! I know what it’s like to want to get going but unfortunately until you get out there you have no idea what’s going to work or break down. We spent 2 months on the Chesapeake back in 2010 and even though we never went very far it was always an adventure. I’m glad your engine is running again and hopefully you’re pooches are now enjoying warmer weather, I know Wilbur is!

  2. Holy moly! Talk about one eventful departure. You guys seem to be rolling with the punches pretty gracefully. I, on the other hand, would be cursing up a storm and who knows what else. Don’t worry, soon you will be in the Bahamas and it will all be worth the trouble. -Kim, s/v LAHO

    • Oh believe me, there were a LOT of curse words going on. I just chose not to repeat them in my post. 🙂

      • Isn’t that always the case? Lots of swearing when the event is happening?? 😉 we tried unsuccessfully to heel off our first grounding(and only grounding so far) too and had to towed off. At least we know you’re not a liar! Haha, fair winds guys!

  3. Ouch! That was one event packed day! Not the way you envisioned your first cruising day I am sure, but better to get it worked out in the river than the stream (gulf). But hey, I am still celebrating for you because you have done it- congrats on heading south! May smoother sailing (and motor sailing) be in your very near future. Keith and Deborah svWrightaway