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Voyages: Moorage & Back

Wayne and Linda Masters describe their first trip to the moorage and back.          (Meandher, #216)

We bought our 1987 C34 in April, 1999. After many years of bareboat chartering, we decided to experience the "joys" of boat ownership. Our new purchase had been sitting, through the winter in a slip in Boston Harbor. The marine survey revealed that she had a loose strut and corroded shaft and enough repairable imperfections to keep us busy through the Spring. We had her hauled at a local boatyard and got in line behind all the other boats needing work before launching. 

As we waited and waited for our shaft work to be done by the yard, we purchased new sails, replaced rigging, rebeded chain plates, replaced Y-valves, sanded, bottom painted, compounded, waxed, and renamed our yacht "Meandher." It seemed like we completed the work of about three off-seasons in 12 weeks. Eventually, it was our turn at the boatyard, and since the shaft was being replaced we reasoned it wise to simply replace everthing from the transmission to the propeller. So we dug into the savings for a new coupling, SS shaft, stuffing box, cutlass bearing, zinc, and even a new prop. On the 16th of July we were ready to splash and finally go sailing.

Our mooring was waiting for us in Mattaposisett Harbor and rather than sail her to her home port, trusting an engine we had never run for any length of time to transit the Cape Cod Canal, we decided to have Meandher hauled to Mattapoisett by Brownell Boat Transport. We were happy, excited, and a little bit nervous as our new pride and joy was loaded on the trailer and driven to Buzzard's Bay. We became much more confident as we prepared to launch, thanks to the professionals from Brownell who stepped our mast and put us in the water. We held our breath as we cranked the engine, which to our relief started immediately. We backed out the long ramp between two docks like we really new what we were doing and in five minutes Meandher was on her mooring at last. While Linda broke out a bottle of champagne to celebrate the moment we had dreamed so long of and worked so hard towards, I went to the cockpit to begin tightening the backstay. 

It was then that I noticed the steady stream of water being ejected by the bilge pump. Water? In the bilges? That much water in five minutes! Suspecting a loose nut on the stuffing box we raced below to inspect. To our surprise that suffing box was not leaking, the shaft tube, however, was leaking like an open faucet. We started the engine, slipped the mooring, and in five minutes were at the dock at the Mattapoisett Boatyard. Ten minutes later, Meandher's maiden voyage ended as she was hauled and put up on jack stands at the yard. She had been in the water all of twenty minutes on her maiden voyage! It was a disappointing moment to say the least. It was most upsetting to have had a serious problem in the area of the boat where we thought we had acted most prudently. The last place we expected trouble was between the engine and the prop!

The yard that had done our shaft work was sincerely troubled and bewildered when we called and related what happened. They assured us someone would be down on Monday, it now being Friday afternoon, to figure out what had happened.

Monday: On Monday morning it was discovered, with the use of mirrors and a piece of wire, that we had a hole in the bottom of our shaft tube right were it passed out through the hull. The hole was never apparent previously because the junction between the shaft tube and the old stuffing box had been covered with exhaust hose which extended down over the hole. When the yard installed the new stuffing box they replaced the exhaust hose with a thicker hose. The thicker hose, however, could not extend down the tube as far, and didn't cover the hidden hole at the bottom of the tube. Two hours of fiberglass work easily solved the problem and on Tuesday Meandher was back in the water with dry bilges and a much happier crew! 

As for the "joys" of boat ownership - well, in spite of the disappointments of our first voyage, we like ownership a lot more than chartering.

Wayne and Linda Masters

Meandher #216

Last modified by Phil Imhof, Monday, August 09, 2004 . Copyright 2001 by Catalina 34 International Association.  All rights reserved.