Our choices may surprise you. This past cruising season was a wildly different one for Phillip and me—beginning where we purchased our Outbound 46 in Annapolis, MD and taking us down the Chesapeake, around Cape Hatteras, and down U.S. east coast for the first time. Every anchorage was new; every inlet was novel. There was a lot of learning involved and local intel required. Phillip and I made many new cruising friends, several of whom gave us the critical scoop that allowed us to get in/out of these places safely. Some were quiet and isolated. Some were wild, whooped-up parties. But, of the dozens of stops we made along our way down the coast October, 2021 through March, 2022, Phillip and I definitely discovered a few spots that stood out. For those planning to cruise the east coast, we wanted to share our top three, show where we anchored, how we got to shore (and what we found there!), and the reasons these three anchorages were our favorite while cruising down the east coast:
Cumberland Island, GA and Lady Carnegie’s Impressive Dungeness Estate
Flagler Island, South Beach and the 25th Street Cleat
Lake Sylvia, Ft. Lauderdale and the Clothing Police
ANCHORAGE #1: Cumberland Island, GA and Lucy Carnegie’s Impressive Dungeness Estate
We should have spent a week there. Next time we will. After a glorious overnight passage from Charleston, SC (roughly 200 miles north) down to Cumberland Island, GA, Phillip and I navigated Ubiquitous into the St. Mary’s River to anchor near, and explore, Cumberland Island. Phillip chose this magnificent place for a reason, of which I was unaware. I had no idea what awaited me ashore. The might and gumption of the woman who assembled this kingdom. The sprawling breadth of the estate she built. The crumbling structures laying testament to the elegance that once was. The wild, tangled beauty she spent a lifetime preserving. Simply put, the Dungeness remains are stirring and breathtaking. I have a distinct memory of one of the wild horses who roam the Island, standing in what was once a tiled, heated pool in the Recreation Hall of Dungeness, munching grass and blinking at me while he chewed—completely unaware of the grandeur that once stood there.
Everything around me was in decay. But I felt like I could close my eyes and see the magnificence of the past mapped into the present.
Lucy Coleman Carnegie and Thomas Carnegie (brother to the Pittsburgh steel tycoon, Andrew Carnegie) purchased the Dungeness property (1,891 acres) in 1881. They moved to the Island in 1884 and built a modest home on the site that was completed in 1885.
The following year two pivotal things happened: 1) Thomas and his business partner purchased a whopping 8,240 acres of Cumberland Island; and 2) Thomas Carnegie died. At that time, Lucy had only been living on the Island for two years, yet she—a recent widow—decided to stay and raise her nine children on the Island.
Lucy bought out Thomas’s business partner and continued to amass her estate, eventually acquiring roughly 90% of Cumberland Island. From 1890 to 1905, Lucy spearheaded a massive construction project to expand her and Thomas’s original modest home to a 37,000 square foot Queen Anne gothic mansion with over 50 rooms that required more than 150 full-time staff members to maintain.
Lucy also had a massive Recreation Hall and other, smaller mansions and estates built for her own children all over the Island over the years.
Walking the remains of Lucy’s legacy, the stunning Dungeness estate, it is almost as if you can feel her there. Savvy business woman. Entrepreneur. Worker of the land. Single mother of nine who devoted much of her life to preserving Cumberland Island, the largest part of which was declared a national seashore in 1972, a posthumous, but still shining, jewel in her conservationist crown. Lucy was described in her obituary as a “keen hunter.” She was also a boat captain. A racer, hosting dozens aboard her steam yacht, Dungeness.
Lucy ruffled feathers. Stirred fires to become the first woman permitted to join the New York Yacht Club in 1894. Lucy mystified and intrigued me. The beautiful tangle of trees that cloak the Island I imagine are an accurate reflection of her complex mind.
I had no idea this sense of inspiration and awe awaited me as we glided into the St. Mary’s River but I can still close my eyes and see sights from Cumberland Island. Wild horses whispering behind the bushes. A tapestry of 19th century brick and tile, woven with young grass. Spanish moss fluttering. Sticky mud smacking under the sun. Phillip and I spent one memorable day exploring the Island and Dungeness estate. A promising weather window that would allow us to comfortably and quickly sail the next leg of our journey south to St. Augustine, FL encouraged us to leave the next day, but the next time we come to Cumberland Island, Phillip and I will stay longer and explore further.
We anchored here in the East River, a short dinghy ride across the River from the public dock (near the Ice House Museum) that allows access to the Island.
Cumberland Island does not have a bridge to the mainland. To preserve its historic seashore beaching of boats is not permitted. Private vessels can tie up to the Sea Camp Dock and then pay the park entrance fee to visit the island. Phillip and I anchored in the morning and spent the afternoon perusing the park, walking along the Atlantic shore, and exploring the decaying Dungeness estate. I wish we could have spent more time exploring the other structures on the island, the cottages and other “mansions” Lucy had built for several of her children (Plum Orchard, The Cottage, Greyfield Inn). I found a great blog post here from a Blue Ridge Mountain blogger that really showcases the other estates on the Island. But, honestly, I could spend a full day simply walking all of the shade-chilled, tree-roofed paths, listening to the horses. If you are traveling down the east coast, put this magic Island in your path. Come humbly, with open eyes, and I think you will find this Island, and Lucy’s legacy, will touch you as well.
This cruising season proved very different for Phillip and me. For our first nine years cruising, when we headed out for offshore voyages, Phillip and I, aboard Plaintiff’s Rest, had always left out of our home port of Pensacola, FL and either shot straight across the Gulf of Mexico down to the Keys (or straight to Cuba in 2016!) or dotted our way down the west coast stopping at some of our favorite ports along the way: Port St. Joe, Apalachicola, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg, Venice, etc. before ending at Key West/Stock Island and eventually the Bahamas. When we weren’t traveling south, Phillip and I usually spent our weekends at local anchorages around Pensacola Bay: Ft. McRee (our favorite), Little and Big Sabine, Red Fish Point, and sometimes over to Ingram’s Bayou and the Wharf for longer in-shore cruises. This year, however, we started our cruising season very far from home—in Annapolis, MD—and cruised, for the first time, down the east coast of the U.S. It was no more sleepy, Forgotten Coast towns. We were in the big shipping lanes, making the same trek all the east-coasters do on their way down to palm trees and margaritas.
What did we learn along the way?
The anchorages are far smaller and more crowded;
The tides play a much bigger role in navigating inlets, docking, even anchoring; and
The diversity of cities, restaurants, and history to explore makes it all well worth it.
Lesson One: Smaller, Crowded Anchorages
Phillip and I (and likely many other Pensacola cruisers) just didn’t know how good we had it in Pensacola. Aside from Ft. McRee on a Blue Angels weekend, there would often only be 3-4 boats in a spacious, good-holding anchorage during the week, maybe 10-15 boats on a typical weekend. We’d have our pick of locations within the anchorage and typically throw out 125 feet of chain no matter the weather, simply because we could. Why not, right? Boy, those times were grand. This year, those times were gone.
Sailing down the east coast in late-October into November is not a lonely jaunt, I will say that. You’ll have lots of company. Every other cruiser who is hopping down toward the islands is often making the same stops you are. Which means you’re all looking for similar weather windows and often moving (and landing) at the same time. These are the stops we made along the way (and we found them typical for many cruisers headed down the east coast).
When Phillip and I and UbiQ rounded Hatteras and pulled into our first anchorage after the Chesapeake—Beaufort, NC—we knew immediately space was a thing of the past. There were 15 other boats jammed up on the east side of the river with us.
We could only put out about 75 feet of chain in 15-ish feet of water (a ratio that is much lower than our usual, but required) to ensure a safe swing radius. Then a three-day blow came through Beaufort that had us all twirling and dancing. The new Hylas 54 from the Annapolis Boat Show came in the evening we arrived and had to re-anchor several times before he found a spot he could squeak into, but that made everyone around him a bit uncomfortable. “At least I know he has good insurance,” Phillip joked. Unfortunately, it was not the typical, spacious setting we are used to on anchor. Any time we were sitting below and saw a mast move by our port light, Phillip and I both would jump up and look about to make sure we weren’t getting too close to anyone. I often spent my work days aboard sitting in the cockpit or up on the galley counter simply so I could see out at all times to make sure we weren’t getting too close to anyone, or that anyone wasn’t getting too close to us. It wasn’t exactly peaceful.
Wrightsville Beach was bigger and better, but the anchorage by the Yorktown in Charleston was a little tight and required us to re-anchor and move after we started swinging too close to a boat that had anchored there before us. (P.S. That is boat code: if you dropped last and the boats get close, YOU have to weigh anchor and move.) Thankfully, we had Cumberland Island all to ourselves (I don’t believe many people stop there, although it was one of our absolute favorites – more on that little gem later on the blog). But, in Lake Worth (West Palm) and Lake Sylvia in Ft. Lauderdale? We could see what our anchor neighbors were having for dinner each night. We could hear their morning chats over coffee. We knew their backgammon score. It was … tight. I didn’t like that at all about east coast anchorages, but it was just our new reality. We had numerous near-misses, many mandatory re-anchorings (some at night), and even an unfortunate collision (with an unmanned boat) in West Palm (more on that later, too, with several important lessons learned).
What was worse? The boats all seemed to have a mind of their own. In Pensacola, we were used to anchoring in “somewhat tight” anchorages—on occasion—but it was much easier to gauge space and a safe swing radius when all the boats fell back on their anchor in the same manner and all swung together—like a well-synchronized dance—in the same fashion when the tide or wind shifted. But, when they don’t? When one boat can ride all the way up its 75 feet of chain while yours pulls back all the way on its? When the guy next to you has his bow pointed at your hip, and the gal behind him has her stern into the wind? The anchorage turns to chaos.
This unnerving phenomenon opened our eyes to the next important lesson we learned while coming down the east coast.
Lesson Two: Dangerous, Dictating Tides
In Pensacola, we never rarely even thought about the tide. There was always enough depth to navigate any channel or cut that was required and travel to any anchorage we wanted to go to. While we could sometimes feel the current when swimming or paddling, whether the tide was going in or out never entered our minds when anchoring. It simply didn’t matter. And, although we were aware of the slight current when docking, it was always out shadowed by the wind and we never envisioned a time when we would need to plan to dock or de-dock only at slack tide. It was also a rare day where we had to plan an offshore voyage specifically to arrive at an inlet not simply in daylight, but at a specific hour to ensure entry with an incoming tide (St. Augustine requires this).
Much like spacious, deep anchorages, such gayeties became a thing of our past. In certain marinas along the way (Charleston and St. Augustine come to mind), the currents are so swift and powerful, the dockmaster will not allow you to come in when it is not slack tide. They accomplish this by not telling you your slip number until close to slack tide to ensure you make a safe entry. Leaving at slack tide is also highly encouraged, but with help freely offered from one, if not two, dockhands upon both entry and exit. And, their precautions proved sound, particularly in Charleston, where the currents run 90-degrees to the slips, swift as a river, and are powerful enough to push boats around like toys.
Although we didn’t stay at many marinas on our way down, it wasn’t simply to avoid the treacherous dockings. This year, cruising on our Outbound 46, we have the luxury of living aboard a wonderfully self-sustained boat. But, we also found the marinas were crowded as hell! Many were booked for months. “Try us in March” they would tell us over the phone … in November. There were several times when we would have liked to have had a slip so we could wash the boat thoroughly and enjoy some AC and other step-off-into-downtown amenities. But, the answer was “no.” We simply could not get a slip because the east coast is so crowded. Everyone is marching south in the same direction at the same time. Booked-solid marinas took some getting used to.
However, the tides and swift currents proved our worst enemy not at docks, but on anchor. I still can’t get my head fully wrapped around it, but each boat responds differently to the pull of the current. Some hull shapes (full keels in particular) are gripped and dictated by it, while others (often catamarans) did not see as much impact, particularly when the wind is a stronger force. But, when the wind and tides opposed each other, the anchorage would look like a handful of boats had been dropped from the sky, each laying a different way. Some cock-eyed, some laid side-ways to the wind, while others marched way up the entire length of their chain (UbiQ did this often), which was an odd sight.
This unsettling reality made it sometimes impossible to determine, when an incoming boat dropped their hook near you, if they were “too close.” Neither of us could answer that question without knowing what would happen a few hours down the road when the conditions changed. Phillip and I quickly fell into the habit of dinghying around and dropping off our boat cards to all neighboring boats and telling them to call us if things in the anchorage got “funky”—a practice that proved invaluable later on (and helped us make many new friends, although that is startlingly easy to do out here).
Many times we held a boat off while the owner weighed anchor and tried to find a safer place (some times that owner was us). Many times we saw boats cinched together in an unintentional raft-up (not the best way to make a new friend). Many times we saw owners pay out chain, or pull up chain, trying to avoid contact with another boat, often with the intended result being the exact opposite thing that happened. Many owners kept fenders out all the time—a practice we first snickered at initially, thinking they had forgot to stow them, but then adopted ourselves for two purposes: 1) to hopefully prevent damage if contact is made; and 2) to remind everyone around that contact is often, if not always, possible. We also now keep the dinghy down and ready to be maneuvered and wedged in as needed as a big-ass mobile fender anytime things got funky in the anchorage and contact seemed possible. We avoided many unwanted contacts by wedging our (or another’s) dinghy between UbiQ and an approaching boat.
After an unfortunate encounter in West Palm—that resulted in multiple boat-to-boat contacts and gave UbiQ her first real cruising scars (bummer, but it happens)—Phillip and I decided the tight tidal funk of the anchorages was the most unfortunate aspect of cruising down the east coast. Never in all our nine years of cruising had we had a collision while on anchor. Then, in the matter of a few months, we had experienced many more than we would ever have liked, several resulting in scratches, gouges, and other damage, albeit fully repairable. Even when there was no contact, we often had less peaceful evenings and nights aboard because we were constantly worried about other boats, popping up topside often during dinner, movies, midnight even, just to make sure everything was okay out there. And, the worst part, was the only answer you could give was “for now, I guess.” It was stressful.
But, the good news? Even this unfortunate element of east coast cruising cannot and did not out shadow the extreme pleasantries and eccentricities only the historic, diverse east coast can provide, prompting Phillip and I—time and again—to highly recommend cruising the east coast despite the crowds and occasionally uncomfortable tides. Why?
Lesson Three: A Diverse, Unparalleled Collection of History, Food, Art, and Entertainment
Given the crowded anchorages, the wicked currents and challenging inlets, and the occasional boat-to-boat contacts, would we cruise the east coast again? The answer is absolutely! In fact, we will be doing it this very summer as we make our way, this time, up the east coast to the northeast area (New York or Rhode Island perhaps) for hurricane season. Phillip and I were awed and enamored by the history and culture we experienced all along the east coast.
Beaufort, NC—with its quirky bars and sea glass and soap shops;
Wrightsville Beach—with its mesmerizing display of daily surfers of all skill levels;
Charleston, SC—with its impressive, stick-with-you history and horse carriage tours;
Cumberland Island—with the mind-boggling Dungeness estate, history, and wild horses;
St. Augustine—the second oldest settlement in the U.S. (Pensacola folks get it);
West Palm Beach—with its monstrous sand sculptures and nightly light show;
Ft. Lauderdale—all the little canals, mega mansions, and the daily dock show at Raw Bar;
Miami (South Beach)—with restaurants of every ethnicity, Muscle Beach, bikinis, hair gel, and outstanding kitesurfing;
Marathon—with its tight cruiser community, memorable margaritas, and entertaining morning net;
all the way down to the funky, live-music and Bourbon-Street-vibe of Key West.
Phillip and I went on many tours that taught me so much I hadn’t really soaked up about the history of our young country and our inspiring, bloody battles for independence from British rule. We perused old forts, churches, apothecaries, and graveyards. We took trains, trolleys, and carriages through these grand cities. We gorged ourselves at a full gambit of eateries, ranging from food carts to five-star dining rooms. We didn’t say ‘no’ to a single distillery tour (particularly those that included tastings : ) and even bought several hand-made tonics and sour mixes that elevated our cocktails to entirely new levels. We watched plays at local theatres and absorbed gallery after gallery of eclectic art.
We ate too much. We drank too much. We walked blisters into our feet. We went through two pairs of flip-flops each. We dinghied down canals, under bridges, and up to public parks and tied to trees. And, we would do it all over again. Every stop was new, which brought its own challenges and unknowns, but also its own fresh feeling of exploration. Local intel proved invaluable, and necessary just about everywhere. It was fun meeting new fellow cruisers, making friends, and getting that intel and then turning around and passing it onto the next incoming newcomer. These anchorages and cities are well-cruised by many and have a wealth of experiences and new adventures to offer.
While the crowded, tight anchorages do pose their own potential threat, they also make it incredibly easy to make new friends and meet fellow cruisers. I guarantee you will not be lonely cruising the east coast. It’s quite popular. And, Phillip and I now know why. It was very different from the more isolated, sleepy Florida west-coast cruising we were used to on our Niagara—with its large, spacious anchorages and sugar-white, unpopulated beaches. But the dozen, diverse cities we were able to experience and explore along the way outweighed the challenges for us. Phillip and I learned while we love pristine beaches and remote islands, we also love (maybe just a bit more) the bustle and culture of cities, their bars, restaurants, and live music, the laughter and shouts of people, and (my God) the food and wine. This cruising season has been a dizzying, delightful new experience. One, we would be happy to repeat. East Coast, we’ll be back. Next up on the blog, we will share our three favorite, unique stops on the way down. Uncovered island gems and sweetly-kept secret anchorages await. Stay tuned!
“Hattereen” was definitely an easy way to remember it. Phillip and I weighed anchor in Norfolk, VA preparing to head out into the Atlantic for the first time on our new Outbound on October 31, 2021, Halloween. It was a spooky day as we were preparing to make the voyage that had caused us the most fear of our entire cruising this season—the arduous passage around Cape Hatteras. The name of this body of water around the Cape—the Graveyard of the Atlantic—definitely conjured ghosts and goblins.
Sunk ships give me the heebie jeebies. While I have mentioned my thalassophobia here before, one particular item that I do not like to see submerged is a ship. My mind populates it with the sailors that may have sunk with it, their souls lurking below in the dark bellows. Knowing the Diamond Shoals which we would be sailing over has claimed over a thousand ships (a thousand!) with its uncharted shifting sand ridges hidden beneath the turbulent sea did give me a healthy dose of nerves mentally preparing for the trip. And, yes, “uncharted” is accurate. Even in this day and age the area is considered technically uncharted because the bottom shifts so often that hydrography and charting is out of date before it gets published. These waters deserved some serious respect.
Also, rounding Cape Hatteras would be our first offshore sail on the Outbound—not quite the first jaunt you want to make on your new-to-you boat, but we were dying to take her offshore. We technically have a mast height (63.5′) low enough to allow us to utilize the protection of the intracoastal waterway, so that was an option. ObiQ’s former owner had utilized that option in a pinch previously. However, we wanted to embark offshore and SAIL south rather than motor.
Phillip and I spent a (very fun) week in Norfolk watching the weather patterns and planning our trek around the deep jut of Cape Hatteras out into the Atlantic Ocean. Two major ocean currents—the Labrador Current (a weaker current flowing to the south) and the Gulf Stream (a wicked, strong current flowing to the north)—converge off the Cape. Combine that with the shifting shoals, depth in the mere teens, and low-lying hard-to-spot barrier islands and we had ourselves a very challenging body of water to sail through. As for weather, we wanted enough wind to sail—because: a) we like to and prefer to sail; and b) the boat would have better steerage and make better, more steadfast headway if she was under sail as opposed to trying to motor through a formidable sea state—but not so much wind that we would be uncomfortable. While wind behind the beam would be ideal, the north fronts that kept coming during that time of year typically carried stronger winds than we wanted to sail offshore in: 25 knots or more. In the end we found a two-day window of winds that were predicted to be out of the NNW to W at 12-17 knots.
It looked like a nice passage window and both Phillip and I were giddy at the thought of finally (finally! after our summer-longsaga with the lost riser/elbow) sailing our new Outbound offshore. Her offshore performance was one of the main reasons we purchased this boat and, after a summer living aboard, we were finally going to be able to truly feel what she could do when she got out there in the ocean and stretched her legs. Damn, does she have some legs.
The voyage kicked off with a boding omen when I raised the anchor out of the water to find it cloaked in this dreary, haunted cloth. Turns out our anchor had dressed up for Halloween! A pretty nice ghost rendition if you ask me. This was October 30th.
We weighed anchor that morning to get the two-hour motor over to Comfort Point behind us and get staged up there just for the night so we could jump out before sunrise the following morning. We were planning on 200 nautical miles for the voyage. Estimating a boat speed of approximately 5-6+ knots (although we were hoping to go faster, we’re always conservative when voyage-planning) that would be, roughly, a 30-35 hour trip. So, leaving at 5:00 a.m. on October 31st would put 24 hours behind us at 5:00 a.m. the following morning and give us the entire day to log the remaining 6-10 hours and make our way around and into Beaufort so we could navigate the inlet and get anchored in the remaining daylight hours. When voyage planning, one of our primary goals is to arrive in daylight and with a favorable tide.
We spent an incredible day sailing. The winds were a little more WSW than W or even NW. We were surprised to see NO north in the wind. None. That put it a little forward of our beam, but not uncomfortably so. The Outbound just absorbs and picks up speed without the old groan and heel we would typically feel on the old boat at winds approaching 15 knots on the beam.
We had the Gulf Stream pushing against us which slowed our actual speed, but she was making 7-8+ knots speed through the water with such ease it was astonishing. This voyage told us we were definitely going to have to re-plan our voyages at a much faster average speed. While our new super-sonic sail speed took some getting used to, boy, the boat did not. She is unbelievably comfortable underway. Solid, sound, and just in her element out there. After all the work and struggle that went into this decision to buy a new boat, the purchase of Ubiquitous, and the summer we spent aboard, THIS was our reward: the bridle off and our gal galloping out in the Atlantic. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.
As night approached, so did the Cape.
We were poised to round around 1-2 am. Of course. The diciest part of the passage was set to occur at nightfall, but we were prepared for that. What we weren’t expecting was the shift in conditions.
Although Phillip had read that the temperature gradient around the Cape can cause its own local weather pattern, with the possibility for sharp storms and shifting winds, it’s one of those little facts you tuck away hoping it’s not entirely true. Turns out, it is. As we neared the Cape, the temperature fell at least ten degrees and the winds picked up from the 12-16 knots it had varied between during the course of the day and evening to 20+ and rounded further south, even more on our nose. Phillip and I decided to furl in the genoa and pull out the jib to get the boat more comfortable. The solent rig on the Outbound offers a great option in that regard in that it’s easy to switch from a larger headsail to a smaller one (or vice versa) as they’re both rigged and ready to deploy. Furling the genoa took some effort as the winds continued to increase, but once we got the jib out and trimmed, we knew it was the right call because the winds continued to climb to 23-24+ knots.
UbiQ took it in true stride. She picked up speed and pushed thousands of gallons of water out of her way. While we found we were spending most of our shifts under the protection of the dodger, watching intel on the display mounted above the companionway, when I stepped out during our most severe conditions to check the rigging and look for chafe, I was shocked by what I found. The experience under the dodger, and particularly below, was worlds away from the reality of what the boat was doing out there. She was thundering along, charging through the salt and spray. It was surprising to see and experience the exciting, noisy, wet world topside but thoroughly comforting to know a mere step down below the dodger seemed to pack all that away and close the lid on it. I knew then and there, wherever we wanted to sail on Ubiquitous, she was capable of taking us comfortably. I felt like UbiQ and I got our deepest introduction to one another out there. I hope she was just as pleased with what she found in me as I was with the strong, salty spirit I discovered in her.
Our auto-pilot also found this the perfect moment to introduce himself as well. We have Sirius satellite radio on the boat and we’ve found it is an everyday asset for nice dinner-making or morning-coffee music but it’s also a great entertainer during offshore passages. We would often listen to not only music, but podcasts, interviews, and particularly stand-up comedy (my favorite during night shifts). We had the Sirius playing while we were switching from the genoa to the jib and as soon as we got it dialed in and the boat took off—making 9.2 SOG—it felt like a bit of a record scratch moment when the radio kicked over to a new song at a seemingly louder decibel than it had been, all on its own. Or, all at the direction of “Maestro” we later concluded, when we decided that was the name of our auto-pilot as he orchestrated our passage and hand-selected the music that would accompany it.
As we whipped around the Cape at record speed at two in the morning, Maestro picked the perfect song to kick off. “IN YOUR HEEE-EAAAD. IN YOUR HEAAA-EEYAA-EAAD. ZO-HOM-BIE. ZO-HOM-BIE!” Phillip and I shouted the lyrics into the wind, our voices swallowed by the Atlantic. “ZO-HOM-BIE. ZO-HOM-BIE!” This trip around Cape Hatteras had definitely got in our head in the weeks prior, picking at us, worrying us, stressing us. And, here we finally were, thundering around the bend in the new boat just slaying it. Phillip and I couldn’t sing loud enough to match the exuberance that was flowing out of us. We were doing it! Really doing it! Galloping offshore in our new boat. It is a moment I will not soon forget.
And, it was in that same moment that Maestro reminded us, with his wickedly clever music selection, who’s in charge and who decides the vibe of our voyages. As the last Zombie lyric slowly spun out and the winds seem to calm just a bit to match it, Maestro strolled his fingers through his record collection and picked the next perfect record.
“Party in the city where the heat is on … ” pumped out as we put that infamous Cape in our rearview mirror because that’s exactly what we were in the process of doing. “Going to Miami. Welcome to Miami” It was as if the boat knew. Maestro knew. UbiQ knew. And, Phillip and I knew. This boat was going south. Finally.
Amazingly, we sailed almost the entire voyage around the Cape. With winds mostly forward of the beam but it wasn’t uncomfortable. Ultimately, we sailed 210 nautical miles in about 32 hours and recording our fastest offshore speed yet at 6.6 SOG, average. We made our way into the inlet to Beaufort, NC around 2:00 p.m. and, many thanks to the enormous tankage on the Outbound, we were able to give the boat a nice rinse-down and scrub.
She certainly deserved it. The scrub was our thanks to her (and Maestro) for carrying us safely over the Graveyard of the Atlantic, while handling mostly everything in the process, including the entertainment and song selection. The boat had no tricks for us. Only treats. And, she gave us a Halloween for the books!
“Boat show, then it’s time to go!” was our motto. After our infuriating saga (part one, part two) with the lost elbow/riser that pretty much consumed our summer in the Chesapeake, Phillip and I vowed— once our Yanmar was finally reassembled and roared back to life—that we would be leaving Annapolis as soon as possible after the October Boat Show. Our good friends, Megan and Chris (who purchased our impressive Niagara) were coming into town for a week to stay aboard, experience Ubiquitous, and do the boat show with us. It was kind of surreal to be welcoming them aboard our new boat—one Phillip and I never dreamed, even within months of our purchase, we would be buying—while talking to them about “their boat,” our Plaintiff’s Rest. The swiftness with which time changes, moves, and molds us sometimes baffles me. It can be a little frightening, but, for me, also comforting, to know things are always changing.
One of the wonderful things about UbiQ (and one of our reasons for purchasing) is the ease with which we can host other “boat people” (aka cruiser-minded folks) aboard. While Phillip and I always felt our 35-foot Niagara was plenty of space for the two of us, we would be the first to admit she was not enough to space to share comfortably with others for passage or visits. The Outbound, however, to be only 46 feet—actually 44 with a 2-foot scoop off the stern—is not only a comfortable size boat for two people to handle, it also offers comfortable space for others to join intermittently. Megan and Chris snapped in beautifully and, we hope, felt like they were treated to an elegant waterfront vacation on the Chesapeake.
Chris and Megan even treated us to a circus show to boot!
We also had a great time reuniting with other friends, our former dock neighbors, Stephen and Beth, from Pensacola, who ran into these folks you may recognize at the show!
As well as Neil and Janet, with crew Larry and Tracy, who sailed across the Atlantic on their newly-built Lagoon 40, behind us from La Rochelle, France to the Caribbean in 2018-2019.
Now that I’ve introduced the cast and crew, roll that beautiful boat show footage!
As much fun as it was to have Chris and Megan aboard and visit our many friends who came to town for the boat show, I can’t lie in saying Phillip and I were looking equally forward to the next phase of our fall: when the boat show was behind us and it was time … finally … to cast UbiQ off for good and sail south to warmer climates. Immediately after the show, we made some massive runs to the store for paper goods and non-perishables. Also, with the new age of things and Whole Foods who delivers through Amazon Prime (what a wondrous thing), we were able to have a large fresh food delivery made to our former owners’ Jim and Ann’s condo in Annapolis to stock the boat.
In addition to our usual boat spares as far as zincs, fuel filters, impellers, gaskets, etc. (the small, common stuff), Phillip and I also decided to stock some larger, more critical boat parts this time.
For the generator: a spare riser and elbow and raw water pump.
For the engine: a spare riser and elbow, starter, raw water pump, and fresh water pump (because we’re never letting that happen to us again).
For the auto-pilot (the most important crew member on the boat): a back-up drive unit and computer for our Raymarine hydraulic auto-pilot.
We must send out a huge thanks to UbiQ’s former owners, Jim and Ann, as well as Peter and Patty on Outbound Hull No. 7, Serendipitous, who went above and beyond during these hectic weeks to help Phillip and I run around town to get all of the necessary parts, food, clean clothes, spares (and wine!) aboard for our passage. It never ceases to amaze me the generosity of fellow cruisers.
UbiQ, up to some of her old tricks, decided to throw us a curveball the day before we were set to depart by emitting a rather large brown pool under the engine that freaked me out. Turns out it was transmission fluid rather than oil. I do not like that the transmission fluid in the Yanmar is the same color as oil as opposed to the obvious pink I’m used to. I’ve written a strongly-worded letter to Yanmar about it … haven’t heard back yet. But, what we discovered was that this transmission fluid leak was likely caused when the dipstick/cap on the transmission fluid bin, at some point (we don’t know when exactly) got mis- or over-threaded and broke off. Part of the yellow plastic cap (plastic threads) were still lodged in the metal threads on the bin, while the other half came off with the cap.
Thankfully, we were able to connect again with Bayshore Marine there in Annapolis who had a replacement cap in stock that we could pick up that day to replace it … that is, after we dug the plastic threads out without dropping them into the bin (not a super easy feat).
It was annoying, though, to find Bayshore carries an adamant supply of this cap because “that thing breaks all the time,” the gal at Bayshore told me. Apparently, its plastic design causes it to break frequently. C’mon Yanmar … step it up with a metal cap/dipstick next time, would ya?
Once that mini-crisis was averted, our plan was to make our way down the Chesapeake in essentially two hops, each roughly 60-70 miles (day sails, if we left early each morning). Following the advice of fellow cruisers in Annapolis, we decided to sail first from Annapolis, MD to Solomon’s Island, MD. Our next hop would be to Deltaville, MD then on down to Norfolk, VA.
October 22, 2021:
While it is strange to look back and see us in three layers of foulies what feels like just a few short months ago, temps were in the upper 40s and low 50s when we left Annapolis in late October. Phillip and I decided, in the future, we will probably get further south quicker. While we certainly love boat shows. What we love more is sailing in warmer climates. But, this was our first time beginning our cruising season on the upper east coast of the U.S.—as opposed to Pensacola, FL where we usually depart—so we had plenty to learn. Our first morning heading out from Back Creek in Annapolis and down the Chesapeake was quite memorable. Cold, crisp pre-dawn light. An engine warming to life. Still, calm waters in the creek. We slipped out at 5:00 a.m. like a cat in the night. Our first sunrise on passage on the new boat is not something I will soon forget. One small sail for UbiQ; one giant leap this new Outbound 46 crew! We were finally doing it! Sailing south for the winter.
While we had intended Solomon’s Island as just a quick tuck-in for us—a place to drop the anchor for the night to relax and pop back out at dawn the next morning—we arrived rather earlier in the afternoon than had planned (UbiQ is definitely faster than our Niagara 35) and found ourselves quite pleased with the sleepy little coastal town we found ashore. There is a nice waterfront with lots of history and a wide promenade to stroll the coast.
A few little shops and eateries along the way and, most importantly, a tiki bar just a short dinghy hop from the boat. Phillip and I rarely miss the opportunity to belly up to a little tiki bar.
And, UbiQ seemed rather happy on her hook as opposed to the dock. It seemed she was just as eager to get this maiden south voyage underway as we were.
Although I could have seen us spending a few quiet days at Solomon’s Island, Phillip and I were too eager to beat feet south. Deltaville was just an easy day-sail away and a quiet, protected place to drop the hook for the night. Next up was Norfolk, VA—Hospital Point up the Elizabeth River, to be exact, which our new Outbound cruising buddies, Peter and Patty,had recommended to us—where Phillip and I expected to spend a few days, at least, waiting for a good weather window to jump out and round Cape Hatteras.
We rose again around 4:30 a.m. to utilize as much daylight as we could to sail down the Chesapeake from Solomon’s Island to Norfolk. The sunrise that morning was even more stunning. Probably my favorite of 2021 I can now easily say, bathing both our faces in neon pink and vibrant yellows. Despite the bundles of layers, our faces, at least, look warm in the photos … because they were!
And boy did we sail that day! With a nice WSW wind, we flew down the Chesapeake at an average of 7.0 knots—a seemingly impossible speed on our Niagara. Ubiquitous was quickly showing us what a difference a longer waterline makes. I think Phillip and I both could have just kept on sailing, had the weather window been right, for us to round Hatteras. With the months of work and toil we had put into not only finding and purchasing the Outbound 46, but also breaking our budget (with the unexpected riser/elbow drama) and breaking her in over the summer, this was our reward. Voyaging on the Outbound 46.
I’m quite confident, weather permitting, Phillip and I could have kept going that day all the way down to the Bahamas or beyond. Maybe next time … weather permitting.
This time, it was not only weather that required we tuck in to wait for a better weather window for Hatteras, it was also our desire to check out as many cool new spots along the Chesapeake and the east coast as we could on our way down. Neither of us had done Virginia by boat and we were eager to see what Norfolk had to offer. Coming into the Elizabeth River put us face-to-face with some rather large container ships. The riverfront there is a very industrial space but beautiful in its own way. The size and scale of the shipping industry there is mesmerizing.
We found the anchorage near Hospital Point fairly full but with enough space left to afford us a nice spot to join the pack and settle in for the night. Seeing big city lights from our portlights was definitely a new sight for us. One that took some getting used to. Phillip and I both spent a good bit of time anchored that night just staring out the windows in awe.
The next day we were also pleased to find a large city dock on the sea wall across from Hospital Point where dinghies are welcome and it allows you to step off the boat right into the heart of downtown Norfolk, a city that surprised us with its overflowing food, art, history, and night scene.
We toured the Battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest and last battleships ever built by the U.S. Navy that earned five battle stars during WW II.
We drank at the rooftop bar at the Hilton, The Grain.
And, we made a new friend …
We named him Peta (pronounced “Pee-tuh” like the character in Hunger Games, because he seemed like a Peter Rabbit, only a far more dramatic version). If I had to guess, this guy is a major drama queen. Just look at him …
We ended up staying in Norfolk for over a week waiting for the right window to round Hatteras. That voyage was easily the one we stressed over the most on our way down the coast. I mean, anything that has the word ‘graveyard’ in it—Hatteras is known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”—does not give me the warm fuzzies. We’d heard some grueling tales from fellow cruisers of horrific passages made whipping around that rough, jagged, somewhat uncharted edge of the coast that juts out into the Atlantic. This was not a voyage we were taking lightly, and it required patience and time to wait for the right window. But, boy did we have a helluva time flying around the bend. UbiQ is an absolute beast in the Atlantic! Next up on the blog: Happy Hattereen around our wicked whip around Cape Hatteras. Stay tuned!
This was an incredibly fun article to write for SAIL. And, perfect timing on its publication as Phillip and I are just about to come up on a year from the time we bought our 2015 Outbound 46, s/v Ubiquitous (lovingly called “UbiQ”), in March, 2021. How time flies … The idea for this article—Tacking On a Header—came to me as I was sitting one day, working, at the end of Ego Alley in Annapolis (where we spent most of our time last year) and I saw a little sailboat tacking back and forth up the tight alley, harnessing the wind brilliantly. As soon as the old sailing adage hit my brain it felt like the perfect analogy for what Phillip and I had done in making the very difficult decision to sell our old 1985 Niagara 35, which we absolutely loved, and buy a newer, more complicated but spacious and capable boat. We tacked on a header and now, a year in—with the beauty of hindsight—we have found it was most definitely the right call. Our Outbound 46 is … well, to put it frankly, a dream boat.
I hope the article helps explain some of our thought processes when making the transition and what we considered our top priorities in shopping for a new(er) boat. Be sure to pick up a copy of SAIL’s March issue and let me know what you think. Many thanks to the entire crew at SAIL Magazine for selecting my piece and putting together such a nice spread. It was a lot of fun to share with the former owners of UbiQ—Jim and Ann—when the issue came out! (You’ll find Jim in several photos in the spread sporting his bright orange toboggan! : ). Phillip and I were lucky in that we didn’t just get a boat in the deal, we made two very good new friends as well. Enjoy the piece!
Our survey/sea-trial (back in March, 2021) was such a memorable day. Both brokers and the surveyor, who have all participated in dozens, maybe hundreds, of survey/sea-trials, said it was the most congenial, fun, smooth-and-easy survey/sea-trial any of them had ever attended. I think all parties involved just knew this was the right move for UbiQ! I like to believe that anyway! We certainly love her and can only hope we take equally good care of her as Jim and Ann did. They’ll be joining us aboard here and there to make sure we do! : D
Every bone and organ in my body slid downward. Phillip and I couldn’t quite wrap our heads around it at first. UPS had lost our package. The big, 15-pound box that contained both the old and new riser/elbow we’d had fabricated for the Yanmar engine on our new Outbound. It didn’t seem entirely possible. Lost? Like forever? Lost? While that news was bad enough, the reality of the situation sent an even colder realization up my spine.
It was later September in Annapolis. That meant two things. The boat show was coming. And winter was coming. That also meant every marine vendor within a 50-mile radius was booked for months trying to get boats ready for the show and ready to go. If our engine didn’t get up and running soon, Phillip and I wouldn’t be going anywhere, much less south, for the winter. All this work and effort and money and hours we put into getting our new Outbound and planning our getaway to the islands for the 2021 cruising season was about to be shot. Like a flailing duck in the sky. Boom. Done. Although Phillip and I had jokingly said our loose plan for the season had been to simply “not winterize the boat,” that off-hand remark was quickly morphing from a joke into our new reality. Phillip and I could not ignore the very real prospect that if we didn’t find someone to magically concoct a new riser/elbow out of thin air for us and get our engine running, our new beautiful offshore, island-bound boat was about to be hauled back out at Jabin’s yard and wrapped for the winter. Wrapped? Nuh-uh. Nope. The answer was no. There was only one solution to this problem.
I got desperate. I got dressed. I got cookies.
Late September, 2021: Running Out of Time; Running Out of Options
As I mentioned, we had tried our previous fabricator to see if he could re-create another new riser/elbow one from scratch (i.e., without the old one to use as a template). He was having cataract surgery. One eye, then the other, over a three-week period. So, nope. We tried Collection Yachts, the outfit that had purchased Outbound Yachts. The Chinese yard in Xiamen, where Outbounds are built, was on holiday. *sigh* But, Ryan Dunham with Collection, was surprisingly sympathetic. He offered to search the Collection warehouse and then contact other owners to see if he could find us one. While it was certainly a generous offer (he didn’t owe us anything). That wasn’t a guarantee or a quick, immediate answer, both of which we needed. I knew it was time to break out the big guns.
I’ve often found these work wonders when you’re headed to a shipyard to ask a marine vendor for a favor. Never underestimate the value of a cookie. Or some humility. I was well-stocked on both that day. I whipped up a batch of home-made cookies (insert, I picked up a box at Publix), donned a spandex workout number (don’t judge), and headed to Jabin’s to beg any vendor who would listen and who might have a sliver of time to help us. I spoke to several vendors who were super nice (and enjoyed their cookie!) but who simply didn’t have the time—with all the immense demands the boat show brings—to squeeze an entirely new fabrication job in. I am sad to say I left the yard with an empty Tupperware, some cookie crumbs, and no hope. Until …
September 23, 2021: A New Fabricator Is Available
Around 4:00 pm that day my phone dinged with an email. It was from Steve Madden with M Yachts at Jabin’s. His primary fabricator, Don, had unexpectedly had another project fall through which left him with a 5-7 day opening that he could fill with our project … “if we wanted,” Steve wrote. Oh … we wanted! My fingers fumbled typing him back. Of course we wanted! Thank you, Steve! And, thank goodness I’d stopped by that day with cookies.
Don showed up at our boat the next morning, full of stories about how he got into fabricating (by making potato guns that he and his cousins would fire across the creek in Annapolis). He took a long look at the empty gap between our heat exchanger and exhaust tube (that needed to be filled with a custom, stainless riser and elbow) and he set to work, taking measurements and photos.
Don was at our boat for about an hour, full of three piping hot cups of coffee I’d fed him, when he said he had everything he needed. I didn’t want to push Don, but I really wanted a rough ETA. “It can be super rough,” I told him. “I just want an idea.”
It starts to get cold in Annapolis (like freezing cold) in late October, early November. For this reason, Phillip and I had been planning to leave Annapolis immediately after the boat show, the week of October 18th to stick with our plan for the winter to “not winterize the boat.” We had friends coming to Annapolis to stay aboard UbiQ and visit during the show Oct. 14th – 18th. (You might remember the amazing Megan and Chris who purchased our Niagara 35!). They were scheduled to come into town on Oct. 11th.
While having a working engine so we could take Megan and Chris out sailing on the Chesapeake would be nice, we knew they would understand if the boat was immovable while they were in town. They’re boat people; they get it. But, we hoped beyond hope it could all come together before they arrived. However, the after was the most important part. While we were super excited to host Megan and Chris and share the new joys of life aboard UbiQ with them, immediately after sending them off, our goal was to start provisioning, weather routing, and planning our passage south down the Chesapeake, around Cape Hatteras, and on down the coast eventually to a jumping off point for the Bahamas. One critical component to that plan was … a running engine.
“About a week,” Don told me, jerking me out of my mental math. I blinked. Swallowed. Blinked again. “Like, one week?” I asked, stupidly. “You’re sure?” even stupider. “Yeah, a week to ten days.” Don assured me he could do it, would do it.
September 24, 2021: New Fabrication Promised in 7-10 Days
I wanted to believe Don. I really did. But, from our experience when you dig into any complicated fabrication, or other big structural, project on a boat, it’s like having work done on your house. Whatever time frame the contractor gives you, multiply it (both the timeframe and the price – ha!) by three. That way you set your expectations realistically and avoid surprise or disappointment. But, it was September 24th. A week to ten days would have us turning the engine over around Oct. 5th … ish. Little gears in my brain that had been cloaked with disappointment and my new-found hatred for UPS started to shake themselves off and turn. For the first time since our “sortation delay” I began to think things might still work out according to plan. Up and running by the show; headed down south the week after. Could it … Don didn’t know it was coming, but I hugged him. Full on. Big, Annie bear hug.
September 28, 2021: The Boat Show Outbound Offers to Bring a Spare
It seemed perhaps some tectonic plate shifted that day. Our boat karma was bubbling up from under murky oil slick UPS had caused. A few days after Don stopped by and claimed to be started on a 7-10 day timeframe in fabricating a brand new riser/elbow for us, Ryan with Collection Yachts gave us a call. Turns out they did not have a spare riser/elbow in the warehouse for our boat, but the new Outbound 46, Hull No. 74, s/v Orion, which was going to be the Outbound 46 in the Annapolis Boat Show was carrying a spare aboard that fit our engine, and the owner, Leo (bless his soul), was willing to sell it to us. Phillip and I joked that we would never trust UPS to send an important boat part again. “No, Sir!” we shouted in jest. We trust a hand-delivery via an Outbound over UPS any day of the week. Orion was set to arrive at Jabin’s on Oct. 6th … with a spare riser/elbow in tow. Could it …
Phillip and I were trying not to get too excited. We hadn’t seen Don since he first stopped by, now, four days prior. I had no idea if he was actually working on our riser/elbow or not. I wanted to believe he was. He seemed super nice. Honest. But, you can’t get to know a guy over a few cups of coffee and some potato gun stories. We also were not 100% sure the spare riser/elbow that was coming via s/v Orion would fit. Ryan with Collection said the engine room layouts on our 2015 model, Hull 58, and the 2021, Hull 74, were the same but until you actually bolt it on … you never know. We floated our own hopes, however. Until this guy showed up.
October 4, 2021: The Newly Fabricated Riser/Elbow is Coming Along
My God, she was beautiful. Shiny stainless. Custom weld joints. An impressive new height, which meant a safer design. Don was really proving himself. Day 9 of his “7-10” day timeframe and he had a piece that was damn-near done. Don did some last-minute measuring at the boat to make some final tweaks on the new piece, and he promised to be back in a couple of days with our completed 316 stainless steel riser/elbow, custom-fabricated for our engine space.
It couldn’t be stopped. Even if I wanted to. I hugged Don again.
October 6, 2021: The Newly Fabricated Riser/Elbow is Complete!
Don and I were getting used to this coffee-cup routine. He showed up again on the morning of October 6th to ensure the final fit of his newly-fabricated riser/elbow. It was a thing of beauty. Don’s unique design, beginning with a sharp bend of the riser moving it immediately aft out of the heat exchanger and up high in a tight 180-degree turn (the elbow) back down to the “water jacket” (that was a new term for me) where Don would add a raw water intake tube for the salt water and hot air exhaust to mix (hence the term, “mixing elbow”) and then exit the boat as hot raw water exhaust. Everything bolted on beautifully. It was a bit hard to believe Don had conjured this glorious piece out of thin air. He took it off one last time to take it back to his shop to spray an anti-corrosive coating on it and wrap it for the install. He kind of had to pry it out of my hands. Having lost one already, I didn’t want to let it go.
Phillip was back in Pensacola during this time trying a case in Bay County. It was a big moment for him, but that left me by myself on the boat to handle all this riser/elbow drama. While we were confident I could install the riser/elbow myself and turn the engine over, we were new to the Yanmar 4JH80. I’d never worked on an engine with a turbo charger and an air cooler, and I’m still not 100% sure exactly what those things are and do. The guilt would totally consume me if I didn’t connect one hose the right way and I blew up the engine (yes, that’s what I imagined could happen). So, we scheduled a mechanic, Dave from Bay Shore Marine who had helped us remove the old riser/elbow back in the yard at Jabin’s (the one that UPS lost!), to come back on October 8th to help with the install and first turn-over of the engine since August 2nd.
It was perfect timing, too, as the new Outbound, Hull 74, Orion, was making his way to the dock at Jabin’s that evening and I was set to meet Marcello with Collection Yachts at the dock the following morning, October 7th, to pick up the riser/elbow spare that Leo had graciously brought us as well as a tour! This called for one thing:
An invite to our former owners, Jim and Ann, to join me so they could tour the newest Outbound 46, too!
October 7, 2021: Outbound 46, Hull 74, s/v Orion, Brings a Spare
She had a deep blue hull. A wooden bulwark. All things I wouldn’t want to maintain, but boy did I love to ogle them.
Our former owners, Jim and Ann, joined me that morning on the short trek over to Jabin’s yard to pick up the spare riser/elbow that Orion’s owner, Leo, had offered to sell us and that Collection Yachts had coordinated for us. Of course, any time you step up to a brand-new boat, there’s one thing you must get. A tour!
Marcello with Collection devoted an entire hour to us that morning offering us an in-depth tour of the newest Outbound 46. I will say it was quite comforting to see not much had changed in the design of the Outbound from Hull 58 (ours, built in 2015) to Hull 74 (Orion, built in 2021). That told us they did it right the first time. The primary differences we saw were owner-elected: a hard versus soft dodger, an AC versus DC generator, the electronics, an in-boom furling mast, the blue hull and wooden bulwark, etc. All of which I think would make for an excellent comparison article (Hull 58 versus 74) in a future blog post.
The Collection Yachts team had also brought the newest build out of Elan Yachts, the GT6, to Annapolis for the boat show and Marcello was generous enough to offer Jim and Ann and I a private tour of that boat as well, which was docked alongside Orion at Jabin’s yard. Talk about a streamlined racing beast. Not a boat I would choose to cruise, but a boat I’m confident would win in an offshore race. She was sleek. I hated to tell Phillip, who was back in Florida wrapping his jury trial but—that day—he definitely missed out!
I hugged it like a child. I couldn’t believe our good fortune when Marcello handed over the spare riser/elbow that Leo brought us on Orion.
A side-by-side comparison once I was back aboard Ubiquitous showed two very similar, but in many ways very different design approaches to reach the same end goal. In analyzing the two we decided to go with our newly-fabricated piece as we preferred the higher-rise design and we knew it was constructed out of 316 stainless steel. With the Outbound 46, we were not entirely sure what type of stainless had been used.
October 8, 2021: Our Yanmar Finally Roars to Life!
It was Annie on deck. I met with Dave from Bay Shore Marine early in the morning, who quickly became our “go to” mechanic that summer, to help install the newly-fabricated riser/elbow and turn our engine over for the first time since August 2nd. That was two months too long ago! Although our fabricator, Don, had mocked up the install during his fabrication process, having had a newly-fabricated piece not fit (by centimeters only!) last time, I was a bit nervous about the install and anxious to see everything bolted and clamped back tightly. Thankfully, it was a perfect fit. I can’t thank Don and his potato-gun skills enough. Our new riser/elbow is a thing of meticulous beauty.
Once all the hoses were wedged on, all the clamps tightened, the sea cock open (I will never forget that again), and the oil checked, it was time. Time to turn our badass 80-hp engine over. This was it. Go, Engine Annie Go!
I can’t tell you what a relief that was. Was it just an engine part? Maybe. Or was it our cruising plans for the season, on our new boat that we’d spent all year planning, saving, and prepping for? More likely. Just a few short weeks prior we had lost both the old and (first) newly-fabricated riser/elbow to a UPS “sortation delay.” Now, after some cursing, crying, and cookies, we ended up with a newly-fabricated, better-than-before riser/elbow, a running engine, and a spare!? While I never cease to forget in the moment—when it seems all signs are telling you your luck surely has turned south—with hindsight I’m always reminded that maybe it was just rearing back for a massive turn in the right direction. Like a crow-hop before landing that nice big punch. Oftentimes when things seem to not be working out at all the way you planned, they may just be gearing up to work out even better in a new direction. Never forget that. Keep the faith!
Next up, we’ve got the new Niagara owners coming for a visit, all the Annapolis boat show fun, and prep for our voyage south down the Chesapeake, out at Norfolk, and around Cape Hatteras—all new terrain for us on our new Outbound 46. Now that we were … you know … able to get outbound. Boats. Always an adventure. Stay tuned.
The telling of this tale. Where to begin? This was quite possibly one of the most frustrating boat projects Phillip and I have ever taken on. And, this comes from a couple who has re-rigged their boat (switching from rod rigging to wire) and replaced the portlights (which was way worse than the rigging) …
While those projects were infuriating at times, I don’t think they came with quite as many punches to the gut. Not quite the emotional roller coaster that this one launched us on. Followers, it’s time to share. I give you …
Our Riser/Elbow Saga (Part 1): Oops … UPS Did It Again!
B.O.A.T. “Broke Or About To” I think the saying goes. This applies equally to new boats, as well as old … IF … you don’t keep up with the maintenance. (And sometimes even when you do. It is a boat, right?). The same was true with our Outbound 46. A 2015, it had only been built six years prior, but it still had several maintenance issues we were aware of going in. Minor things that were openly discussed during our purchase negotiations, but still items we needed to deal with and most of which our former owner, Jim, even offered to help us with over the summer. Jim was truly top notch in that regard. We got a heck of a draw with our former owner. A few of the items required we haul the boat to tackle, so we scheduled a haul-out at Bert Jabin Yacht Yard (known locally as “Jabin’s”) in Annapolis August 2, 2021. And, for us as I’m sure it is the same with many cruisers, once you decide to haul the boat to do “a few things,” you’ve just given the proverbial mouse a cookie. The list grew. These were our main items:
8.2.21 – 8.13.21 SHIPYARD LIST
Rebuild the Auto Prop (one blade was sticking a bit, not spinning quite as freely)
Repair the Speedo valve (to stop the geyser it created when taking out the transducer)
Bottom job, buff, and spruce up boot stripe and hull
Unseize manual bilge pump seacock in port lazarette
Replace Spurs (crab pod) cutter on prop
Replace prop anode
Replace (or clean out) the galley drain hose (that was occasionally clogging)
Repair/rebuild the Yanmar riser and elbow
During our survey/sea-trial in Annapolis in March, 2021, both our surveyor, Robert (“Bobby”) Noyce, and Steve D’Antonio, who we hired to conduct a pre-purchase inspection (highly recommended), both found the seizing wire on the wrap around our riser/elbow on our 4JH80 Yanmar engine was rusted and needed to be removed and inspected to determine whether the elbow was leaking and needed to be replaced.
Yanmar recommends you replace the riser/elbow on their 4JH80 every 500 hours or two years (whichever comes sooner), which did seem pretty extreme. But, in an effort to be prudent boat owners, Phillip and I pulled the riser/elbow on our Yanmar when we were hauled out so we could inspect it, determine if it was corroded or leaking, and, if so, have a new one fabricated by a skilled marine fabricator who came highly recommended to us through the Outbound community.
August 3, 2021 – We Haul and Send the Old Elbowto the Fabricator
Once removed, we found the riser/elbow wrap was highly corroded and indicated a likely leak at the weld where the tubes were joined.
We sent the old, corroded elbow to a skilled fabricator in Norfolk, VA for inspection and, we presumed, necessary fabrication of a new riser/elbow we could install on the boat to have her running good as new. Our fabricator advised the turn-around on a newly fabricated riser/elbow would likely run a week or two so we were hopeful we could get the new one back and slapped on the boat before our splash date of August 13, 2021. [Insert fingers crossed emoji here].
While he worked, we had plenty of other projects to distract us:
Rebuilding of the Auto Prop (with exceptional help from Roderick at King Propulsion and Jim in his Severn House Boatworks workshop! : )
Re-painting the bottom, buffing out our hull, fixing our Speedo valve, unseizing our bilge pump seacock, installing our prop cutter, and a dozen other little things by Greg with Annapolis Boat Service.
I will say the one thing I did conquer myself was unclogging the galley drain hose. Turns out it was just clogged with oil and gunk so we didn’t have to snake a new hose in. Whew!
August 13, 2021 – We Splash Back Engineless
Unfortunately, our fabricator—being in very high demand in Norfolk—had a client emergency come up in August that he had to devote his time to and he wasn’t able to turn our newly-fabricated elbow/riser around in two weeks as we had hoped. That was an impressive prospect to begin with, so Phillip and I weren’t too disheartened. He did send us some fun pictures of the progress he was making in the interim which was exciting. The new riser/elbow sure was shiny!
Not wanting to spend more costly days on the hard waiting for a riser/elbow that wasn’t critical for the splash, we decided to drop the boat without a working engine and have the team at Jabin’s tow us safely back to our slip, which was just across the way in Back Creek. They were exceptional, too, in their white-gloved, ginger delivery of our boat safely into her slip. Can’t say enough good things about Roddy, Nacho, and all the guys there.
September 10, 2021 – We Receive the New and Old Elbows Back from Our Fabricator