The Great Loopers Chapter 5. The Fortunate Side

From the logbook on July 10 2017 written by the XO:
8:13 AM calm, still.
Dropped the mooring in North Cove. Off to New Haven on the fair current. Forecast is SW 5-10, Seas 1′ or less

1:38 PM Hooked a guest mooring at the Pequonock Yacht Club New Haven (after about 45 minutes at the fuel dock).
Mileage to date: 154
Average speed: 7.1 MPH
Moving time: 21 hours 41 minutes
Filled up 78.8 gallons @ $2.9

Monday morning in Essex, Connecticut. We’re close enough to Interstate 95 to hear the din of the traffic. Thousands of people are going to work. Not us. That’s easy to get used to. Ridiculously so. Especially for a man who’s been working since he was 15. Full time cruising has its perks. No work is one of them.
Only 154 miles into a 6,000 mile trip, our new life has just started, and already there were disruptive events. Sure, life is good while floating calmly in a sweet little cove on a nice warm day, but foul your prop, sink your dinghy, run into a submerged tree, and you realize the potential for disaster is quite high. Higher than your typical work day commute.
“Shake it off Rick. If you spend too much time thinking about the future, the present will slip through your fingers.

Leaving the Connecticut River.

We had reserved a mooring at the Pequonock Yacht Club situated in New Haven, Connecticut. Our trip there was blissfully uneventful, with just enough of our fellow boaters around to give us something to look at and talk about. Another beautiful day on the water. Very ho-hum. I like that.
The XO and I are not strangers to cruising, we do it as often as we can afford to, usually weekends and vacations from work. Since The Great Loop is nothing but a series of short day trips, we settle into our usual cruising routine. First, we decide how far we wish to travel that day, usually 30 or forty miles is plenty. Then we look at our charts and see what’s around in that range. Next, we consult our cruising guides and get several possible choices. I write them down in order of best to worst, and start dialing. Generally, in a list of, say, several phone numbers, I would expect a few to not answer, or ask me to leave a message. One or two will pick up the phone, and usually, only one will call me back. Every once in a while we’ll get lucky and our first choice will answer the phone, book us in, and we’ll be done with it. Sometimes, nobody responds and we have to modify our plans. Maybe we have to travel a bit further to find accommodations. You’ve got to be flexible.
It’s all about the cruising guides, they tell you everything, all the marinas and their phone numbers, coordinates, reviews, if they have fuel, laundry, bar, if there is a market nearby, or an anchorage. There are many free places to dock as well, and we want to take advantage of those as often as possible. Our go-to cruising guide is called Active Captain. It’s free, and it’s online. We also use published paper ones that cover specific regions. Once we pull into port, or drop anchor for the night, the first thing we do is plan our next move, make a reservation, and plot our course.

Once in New Haven, we went directly to the Pequonock Yacht Club fuel dock and tied up. Nobody was around so I walked inside the building. Again, no one home. I went up a flight of stairs and found a guy behind the bar.
“What’ll it be?” he said.
“Got any diesel?” I answered.
“Fuel dock’s closed on Mondays.”
“Bummer,” I said. “Now we’ll have to dock again tomorrow.”
“Oh. You’re at the fuel dock.”
“Yup. I reserved a mooring for the night, thought I’d stop and fuel up first.”
“I can sell you fuel. Let me get the key and I’ll meet you at the dock,” he said with a big smile. “First let me show you the mooring.”
I followed him over to the window. He pointed to a big orange float.
“You can use that one or the one next to it,” he said.
I love this guy. Sometimes all you need is a little cooperation.
After getting settled on the mooring, we took the dinghy back and had dinner and drinks at the bar.

From the logbook on Tuesday, July 11 2017. Written by the XO:
8:07 AM Dropped the mooring at Pequonnock Y.C.
Forecast is SW 5-10, seas 1 ft. Possible storms or showers. Overcast after heavy rains all night. Brightening.
8:31 @R15 (nav. aid) Castor overheats to 250* after the alarm sounded. Returned to mooring.
*Buried the needle.
9:43 V-belt on Castor replaced. Rick is hot and greasy. Castor temp looks much better. Getting set again.
9:50 Under way (part 2).

The log book pretty much says it all. A little after eight in the morning when we were leaving New Haven, our starboard engine, which we named Castor, overheated. We were able to return to the mooring where I discovered a broken V-belt and changed it.
Was it my fault? I worried about that. You be the judge. That belt had been on that engine since we bought the boat ten years ago, and who knows how long before that, but I always visually inspect everything every time I visit the engine room, which is fairly often. I like poking around in there, checking fluid levels, hoses, batteries, changing filters, and, most importantly, belt tension. In a former life, I used to be a professional car mechanic. I kinda know what I’m doing, well, enough to have several spares on hand. Hey, I’m not stupid, I’m lucky. Wicked lucky. Not winning-Mega-Millions-lucky, but I always seem to find the fortunate side of any situation and come out alright, sometimes even better than before. I don’t know why this is so. Karma? God? That deal I made with Satan? I dunno. Maybe I’m just good at figuring stuff out, or managing my expectations. Whatever it is, it’s something that has followed me my entire life. I’ve come to rely on it, believe in it, trust in it, this unnamed thing that has literally and figuratively saved my life many times. From the bad comes the good. It’s a double edged sword, one that I would prefer to leave in its scabbard. In fact, it used to frighten me, until I learned to temper my fears with the wonderful things that I love to surround myself with.

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