After A Month Wait, The Engine Gets Fixed – Just In Time For A Tropical Storm To Overrun Us

By Rich

Sometimes things happen living on a boat that you just couldn’t make up if this blog were pure fiction. Last week, after a month’s wait, it was looking like our repaired diesel injection pump would be fixed near the end of the week. Just as it looked like we might get paroled from Break Down Prison, though, Tropical Storm Henri formed offshore in the Atlantic. Most early models predicted that Henri would take an easterly turn and would not affect the New England coast. Around mid week I got a warning from my friend Glenn that his weather service predicted that many models had under estimated the chances of a New England landfall and that Henri posed a “material threat” to us. We began to consider options for preparation, but there was no certainty the engine would even be fixed before the prospective weekend landfall, so there was no certainty that we had any options to prepare other than removing the sails and canvas. By Thursday the forecasts made a New England landfall look much more likely, so we began calling marinas. We learned that haul outs were first-come-first-serve, and that the only marina that might be able to take us was New England Boat Works (NEB), which was 6 miles north in what used to be called Bend Boat Basin. Ironically, Bend Boat Basin is where my family’s brand new Pearson 40 was delivered to Mathews & Fales, our Pearson dealer, in 1979. On Thursday, NEB said not to leave Newport until they were ready to haul us because there were too many boats converging on the Basin, which meant they had to hold them outside of the basin in the Bay and lead them in one at a time for haul out.

By Friday morning, the forecast looked much worse for us. Here is the forecasted track we awoke to:

Friday’s forecast for a bullseye hit on Newport.

We called Old Port Marine and begged them to prioritize re installation of our injection pump so that we could run for a haul out. Happily, they sent their (excellent) mechanic Ethan out first thing and he got the pump in by late morning. Thank you Ethan and Old Port!

Now were mobile, so we called NEB and they said there was no way they could haul us Friday but that they may be able to get us Saturday. We were once again instructed not to leave Newport until they had a prospective haul out time. Right around this time our friends Angela and Steve also warned us that in severe tropical weather all boats in Newport harbor could be forced to leave. Where to? We had no idea – they just could not stay in the harbor. At this stage, the very real prospect that we might have nowhere to go with a hurricane bearing down on us began to form in my head. We decided to be bold: with no guarantee that they would haul us on Saturday, we would still motor up to NEB and simply anchor outside Bend Boat Basin overnight, in the hopes that they would allow us in on Saturday.

Rover, stripped of canvas and sails, anchored off of Bend Boat Basin hoping for a Saturday haul out.
Our spot in the non anchorage outside of the basin is marked by the red triangle symbol depicting our position. The Basin itself can be seen with the little dock symbols north of Melville.
After completing our hurricane prep there was nothing left to do but take a nice evening dinghy ride through the Basin to look at boats with a bottle of wine. The forecast hurricane track had improved slightly by this point and NEB had taken our credit card information and had us sign a work order, so the mood lightened considerably during the evening. It was looking like we might both get a haul out and a more favorable landfall than a direct Newport strike.
Although we were fully exposed by being anchored in the Narragansett Bay Friday night, the conditions were totally serine and actually quite beautiful. Despite the chaos of the preceding day, it was a wonderful evening.
Friday morning we dumped the rolled-up genoa in the salon and stripped the boat of valuables and critical personal items like passports, etc.
Saturday morning the forecast track shifted back east and Henri was once again pointed straight at us.
Our persistence worked; NEB hauled us out late Saturday morning. We rode out the storm by crashing at our friend Ned’s house. Thanks Ned! As it happened, the storm landed as a tropical storm and made landfall just west of Newport. Damage onshore in Newport was limited to downed tree limbs, but at least seven boats were washed onto the rocks in Jamestown, which is just west of Newport.
NEB re launched us Sunday, and we motored back to Newport to put the boat back together. Henri then doubled back on his course and came back east. Although his winds were no longer a factor, he dumped heavy rain on us while we tried to get the boat back together. It was muggy, soggy, very tough work.
Our on-deck folding of the jib was not very good, so we simply had to unroll it and drag it back out the companionway. It was a significant struggle; moving this sail around Rover is like trying to move a giant futon.

On the whole it was a very hot, stressful four days but Rover came through it with no damage and the team was not delayed from making it to Martha’s Vineyard on Tuesday so the girls could meet up with friends on the island for the rest of the week.

I am still marveling at all the 2021 season has thrown at us. This life of living aboard a boat has big highs, big lows and random super spikes of stress. The 2021 season has thrown us a gumbo of all of the above.

Motor sailing to Vineyard Haven on Tuesday in fine conditions. It is amazing how different the conditions can be after just a couple of days.
Anchor down in Vineyard Haven.

2 thoughts on “After A Month Wait, The Engine Gets Fixed – Just In Time For A Tropical Storm To Overrun Us

  1. We keep our H54 at Hinckley next door to NEB – they hauled out over 75 boats in prep for the storm. Fortunately we were cruising Maine so dodged this bullet. You have had quite the summer so far. Hope you get to enjoy whats left of the summer without any new issues, but of course it is a boat.

    Save travels

    S/V Acadia

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