Captain's Log: Haven of Grease
Greetings from GORGEOUS Havre de Grace, Maryland! We have been here for over two weeks now, having arrived on August 27th. Last time I posted here, we were in Rockhall, MD awaiting a diver to give our bottom a scrub—the boat's bottom, that is. He found growth enough down there to slow us down a bit, including a healthy crust of barnacles on our prop shafts. In no time flat, he had chiseled off our stowaways, and we were on our way, headed north along the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. It was still quite hot, and our generator had not worked so well in the heat during our stay in Rockhall. It was overheating under load, so we decided to not run it until we solved that problem (more on that in a moment).
We were on the hunt for an anchorage with a good breeze, similar to the anchorage called Dun Cove that we enjoyed days before, just to the west of St. Michaels, MD. First we nosed into Fairlee Creek, which looked promising, but some crab fisherman had woven an intricate network of trotlines and floats throughout the entire anchorage with little room left for us, so we scrubbed and ran up to just north of Handy's Point in the mouth of Worton Creek. The breeze there was lovely, the water was flat calm, and we were anchored in no time enjoying dinner and the sunset. The breeze calmed down to almost nothing and the only force dictating our position to the anchor was the changing tide.
Some point in the middle of the night, I arose to nature's call to find us taking a very gentle chop on the beam. There was absolutely no wind and no indication of what might be causing it. It was just one of those weird phenomena that happen on large bodies of water at night, probably caused by a distant wind across the bay that just hadn't decided to cross the water with the waves it was causing. We've experienced similar things before. It was a gentle side-to-side rocking, so I paid it no mind and returned to the berth for a couple more hours of sleep. About 5 AM, I rose once again to Stinkpot pointing into a wind and the chop it was making, coming from the same direction as the earlier gentle wave action. It was, by this point, nothing we were going to sleep through, and it was decidedly not comfortable, so I made the pre-dawn decision to venture up into Worton Creek (against protestations from the crew) where I knew we could avoid the building sea entirely. We weighed anchor in the dark and proceeded in, re-anchoring just northwest of Worton Creek Marina, and went back to bed to deal with the unfinished business of getting a decent night's sleep.
When we finally shrugged off our sleep, I made calls to try to get Worton Creek Marina's service guys to take a look at Stinkpot's engines and deal with some deferred maintenance, namely our long-time problem with attaining top RPM from our engines. We've been through nearly every system that could impact that except replacing fuel lines or rebuilding our fuel injectors, and I was finally fed up with it. Cleaning our bottom returned a few MPH, but Stinkpot is supposed to be capable of so much more, and I feel we're wasting fuel with whatever is wrong, so we started making preparations to deal with it. After some soul searching, and another night spent in the same anchorage, I decided there were still a few stones I had left unturned, and we decided to proceed to a different marina where we could spend a month while I did exactly that.
When last I wrote here, I mentioned we might venture up to the MTOA rendezvous, but I decided against that, and when we weighed anchor we were headed to Havre de Grace, Maryland. Knowing that my high school French probably did not prepare me properly to pronounce that which inevitably had long ago been anglicized, we searched YouTube for clues….
For the previous few days, we had been trying out a new navigation app called, Argo. It really seems like a promising app, but it had some rather significant gaps in its feature set. I had emailed the company and started a dialog with Jeff, the company founder. He told me they were located in Havre de Grace, so our trip here developed a few different angles of interest. First, we would rebuild Stinkpot's fuel injectors. Second, we'd meet up with Jeff and learn more about his app and its development and offer to help him make it more attractive to long-distance boaters such as us.
So we docked on the end of pier 2 at the City Yacht Basin and secured a month of dockage from the dockmaster, Steve. I ordered my injector nozzles and a new raw water pump for the generator to cure the overheating problem, and we invited Jeff over to visit us on Stinkpot. Jeff came a couple of times, the first time, bringing some nice gifts like an Argo hat, beer coozie, dry bag, and other things. He asked if he could plug his Argo data collection dongle into our navigation network to collect depth data for improving his app (which we agreed to). On a separate trip, he brought John with him, who is another of the folks working on the Argo, and John asked if we needed a car, offering his seldom-used Subaru sedan for as long as we're here. On yet a third trip, John and Bill came to diagnose and fix an issue with the Argo data-collection dongle (all is well now).
Also since we've been here, I was contacted by friends, Fred and Shirley, with whom I sit on a non-profit folk music association board called the World Folk Music Association. Fred took us shopping (pre-John's Subaru) on one of our first days here, so we could restock our thinning pantry, and he took us to lunch for good measure. Since then we've been treated to lunch several other times by Fred and Shirley. We dined with them last Saturday afternoon along with, Sean and Janet, two other mutual friends. Stacey successfully enjoyed her first-ever Maryland Blue Crab, which your humble scribe eschewed due to having tried and failed to enjoy one before.
Our injector nozzles finally arrived a week or so ago, and I set to work collecting tools we don't have and extracting the first injector to replace the nozzle. You know, if you watch YouTube enough, you can foolishly gain the confidence to attempt virtually anything. With a bellyful of virtual-confidence, I easily removed the first injector and then, using my available tools as recommended by the video's creator, fruitlessly tried to recreate what I saw on YouTube. A vice, big wrenches, a torch, and brute force and I could not get the retaining cap off of this injector. I felt like a stereotypical geezer trying to open a drugstore pill bottle. I called my friend and former Dave Rowe Trio fiddler, Ed, who usually encourages me in these sorts of things, and Ed said, "Oh, I just take mine to an injector shop. You want them to be tested and balanced, and you don't have the tools."
I rarely need to be told twice that I'm a fool, so last Tuesday we were back on the internet and phone—both Stacey and me—and we found a shop specializing in diesel injector rebuilding about 20 miles away, just over the Delaware line who could squeeze our 12 injectors in before our stay here in HdG expired. Last Thursday we piled into John's Subaru and drove there to drop off said injectors and our twelve, fresh nozzles. The process of disassembly, cleaning, relapping, replacing worn parts, seating our new injector nozzles, and testing for leaks and proper aerosolization and spray pattern would, we were told, cost us $80 per injector plus shop parts, as required. He said, "Figure on a grand." I didn't cry at the figure, and I think it's very fair given the circumstances. In the process of finding the shop, we called another injector shop and he turned us away because he doesn't do diesel injectors for want of an $80,000 tool he would need. I guess I can swallow my pride and pay the man who does own the tools (I surely do not and likely will never).
We have been told our injectors should be ready soon, and it'll take me a couple of hours to get them all reinstalled. Until then, Stinkpot shall remain motionless, and we have ceased using our on-board heads for fear of needing to get our blackwater tank pumped out before we are once again mobile. The marina has nice bathroom facilities, but it's a quarter-mile round trip on foot, so we're getting our steps in.
So, all told, this has been a good stop for us. The marina adjoins a nice park with an excellent boardwalk. We've enjoyed the First Friday street festival. There was a "Lighted Boat Parade" and a fireworks show to close out the summer season on Labor Day weekend. We intend to take in the nearby museums as we are able and desire diversion, though our evening walks punctuated with roadside/trailside signs have given us a nice taste of the town and its well-documented history.
I'm not sure when our next update will happen, but it shall certainly be after we depart here for destinations unknowable, which we are scheduled to do on September 26.
Stacey and Dave are nomadic explorers who travel the waters of the eastern United States aboard their Bayliner 3870, m/v Stinkpot.