Shipwrecked!

Madison, CT March 9, 2019

So why is the Tardis flying through the air?

Why is this post coming to you from Madison, CT?

Where to begin?

My friend Pat Harris and I were taking the boat across Florida on what had actually been a rather boring cruise across the Okeechobee Waterway from Vero Beach to Fort Myers.

We were three or four miles past Clewiston, the halfway point on the trip and the start of the Okeechobee Canal, when Pat noticed a big motoryacht coming up behind us.  He noted that the same boat had passed us the day before throwing a gigantic wake that shook everything off the shelves.  To his credit, the captain called on the radio and said he would slow down, but as he came off plane, his wake got even bigger.   So I slowed down myself and pulled off to the side of the channel about 40 feet from the grassy, muddy bank in 5-6 feet of water  (we draw just over a foot).  I was constantly looking at the depth sounder,  had plenty of water, and was only concerned about getting back across the tidal wave unscathed.  As he passed and the wake hit, we came down on something really hard, the boat swung toward the bank and the engine started to shake.  I slowly moved back to center channel and then out to check whether the transom had torn off, and by that time the motoryacht was long gone.

Who knows what we hit.  The banks of the canal on that side look to be just grass and mud, and I didn’t see any rocks.  So it must have been a chunk of concrete, an irrigation pipe or maybe a stump that didn’t get cut off when they dug the canal.

But the prop was a mess, with the edges all beat up and several chunks torn clear out.  We could smooth out the vibration by running at high RPM, so we got into Moore Haven, docked and Pat hung over the side and smoothed out some of the dings with a file.  That’s all we could do.  This is one of the most isolated areas in Florida with no repair facilities at all.  So we had to get to Fort Myers.  But just before Franklin Lock and the Fort Myers area, the engine started running a lot rougher and we could here clicking sounds coming up through the shaft.  So I made some calls and we were directed to Sweetwater Landing Marina about 10 miles north of Fort Myers.  We limped in and Pat got a rental car back to Vero and I stayed on the boat.

I had had a new prop shipped down to Fort Myers, and was hopeful that it would take care of the problem.  Wrong!.  They pulled Tardis out of the water with a giant forklift, and Dave the mechanic had to beat the prop off with a big hammer.  The force of the prop turning against the obstruction had twisted the half-inch stainless steel shaft by about 3/8 of an inch and there were obviously broken gear teeth rattling around in there.

Dave called around all over, and all the machine shops were booked and couldn’t guarantee that they’d have the parts for a total gearcase rebuild, which is what needs to be done.  So the only other option was to order a new gearcase from Evinrude and have Dave bolt it on.  That’s a $5,000 item, but I hope insurance will pick up some of it.  The boat will be ready to go (we hope) next Friday  It made no sense to stay in Ft. Myers during high season at $300 per night,  so I have come home, and am glad to be here to recuperate from my vacation.

I am so glad Pat was with me during all of this.  Without him, I think I would have had to limp back to Clewiston, get the trailer out there (somehow), find someone to take it to Vero or Connecticut (somehow) and get myself back to my car and Connecticut (somehow).  Now there is at least some chance that the bad luck cruise of 2019 will continue with a much better ending.

Prop damage

Prop cluseup

Shaft twisted like a piece of wire.

This is close to where we hit. Looks pretty benign.

Haulout

Comfort food for dinner after hearing what all this will cost — martini, IPA, 1/2 pound burger with cheese, bacon, an egg, and a side of mac and cheese. Yes, Steve, I was suicidal.

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2 comments on “Shipwrecked!

  1. Ray Gaulke
    March 10, 2019 at 2:54 pm #

    OMG Thats terrible

    Best

    Ray

    Like

  2. Glenn Holland
    March 11, 2019 at 6:38 am #

    Yes, this is bad BUT, as an inboard the damage would have been X 2 or 3 and there may have been no “limping”. Personally, I would look for a low hr. used lower end.
    good luck,
    Glenn

    Like

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