We finally left Palmetto Bay Marina, but what we hoped would be the beginning of our southward sail turned into a sea trial when the engine overheated, the GPS stopped receiving, and we discovered that our rigging was, well, a bit off. Remember that we hadn’t sailed her since last March! Both Brian and I were nervous about sailing her for the first time in so long. We were certain something was going to break, but we didn’t know what it would be. We motored out of Broad Creek at 2:30 pm on Sunday, I drove while Brian worked out the reefing lines and put up the mainsail with one reef. The wind was blowing about 10 -15 knots from the east – perfect sailing conditions for Illusion. Just before we turned to go out into the ocean we unfurled the jib and continued to motor sail.
We started having issues with the GPS cutting out as we looked for the markers indicating the narrow channel out to the ocean, but this was an on-going issue, so we were only a little concerned. Brian’s parents and Larry followed us out in Larry’s 19 ft. Key West and shortly after we pulled the jib out, Brian’s Dad radioed to let us know that the mast appeared to be tilting slightly forward, odd considering that we had just adjusted tension in the rigging and it should have been tilting slightly back. We decided to pull the jib back in and proceed with the mainsail and motor. Then, all of a sudden, I saw smoke pouring out of the engine box.
Brian quickly pulled the choke because the engine was overheating. The channel was very narrow and we were still at the beginning, trying to locate the next green marker. Then, to complicate the situation further, the GPS cut out again. It would have been extremely difficult for us to make it through the narrow cut without the GPS, so we decided to play it safe and turn the boat around. Brian sailed back to Palmetto Bay, up Broad Creek, and then anchored under sail power (a first for him). The sail back was beautiful and calm. After all the nervous tension earlier in the day – knowing that something would go wrong, but what? – the minute Brian cut off the engine, I was able to relax; something had gone wrong and I finally knew what it was. Neither of us were happy to turn back, but it was obvious that we had some kinks to work out.
Oh and check it out…Illusion is clean again – and kind of fancy after all that work! Imagine that…no more fiberglass dust or project clutter.