Tale of a Bow Thruster and a Reunion in Stonington

Messing about in boats includes trouble-shooting and repairs, as well as the creative side of renovations. “BOAT” is sometimes referred to as Break Out Another Thousand. A “new” (new to the owner, not necessarily newly made) boat usually results in unanticipated issues that suddenly appear, and must be addressed. So far we have been fortunate with the new Kindred Spirit. We are renovating and adding things because we believe we need them for seaworthiness, safety, comfort and convenience. The things that need repairs and fixing have been minor and due more to dis-use than over-use or age.

The propeller of the bow thruster at survey time.

The propeller of the bow thruster at survey time.

The surveyor pointed out that the propeller on the bow thruster would need replacing soon. Duly noted. What is a bow thruster? A bow thruster adds easy control of the bow (front of the boat) at slow speeds to counter the effects of wind, current and prop walk. It makes it easier for the person at the helm to maneuver a boat into tight dock spaces or moorings. The propeller of the bow thruster is driven by an electric or hydraulic motor that gives a gentle push (thrust), enabling the bow of a boat to move sideways, to either port or starboard.

Most sailboats do not have a bow thruster, although larger, newer ones are coming equipped with them more and more. Single engine boats, sail or power, are sometimes difficult to maneuver in close quarters, especially in reverse because the engine’s propeller often walks to port or starboard then (that’s what is called “prop walk”.) Some people consider use of a bow thruster to be “cheating.” 😉 Al is masterful at controlling, maneuvering, and docking any boat and has never had a bow thruster. But, if the boat has one, why wouldn’t you use it?? We are not ashamed to take advantage of it when needed.

When we returned to our mooring from a weekend at Napatree, a line caught in the bow thruster’s propeller and jammed it. Uh oh. Al jumped into the water to take a look below the surface to see what damage there might be.

Al is not fond of swimming in cooler New England water, but when it comes to messing about with his boat, he did not hesitate.

Al is not fond of swimming in cooler New England water, but when it comes to messing about with his boat, he did not hesitate.

He removed the propeller, a little 3-blade plastic thing, and saw that everything was ok. Next step was to investigate the motor that controlled the thruster. This is a boat so that required lifting the mattress up off the berth and removing the support boards. Nothing is ever simple on a boat.

Lifting up the mattress on the berth and crawling into the space below to take apart the motor.

Lifting up the mattress on the berth and crawling into the space below to take apart the motor.

Diagnosis? After taking the propeller apart and dismantling the motor, Al determined the problem — the key on the drive shaft coupling on the motor had slid up and was no longer engaging. So the problem was not the propeller.  Since the propeller was already out and needed replacing, per the surveyor, Al figured he might as well install a new one at the same time now.

Fast forward four days to Stonington, our next little trip. We scooted over to Stonington to meet with Cutting Class and Magnolia, our Morgan sistership, who was on her way home to Annapolis from their northern journey to Maine. Stonington is a great little town but we don’t often stop there since we are usually on our way to Napatree. We anchored beyond the moorings near Cutting Class and Magnolia.

Cutting Class anchored on the left and Magnolia on the right.

Cutting Class anchored on the left and Magnolia on the right.

Stonington combines active fishing boats with a very active marina, Dodsons Boatyard, filled with sailboats and powerboats. The town is quaint and picturesque; so much so that the film, Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, was filmed there in 2012.

Views of Stonington from our dinghy as we rode into town.

Views of Stonington from our dinghy as we rode into town.

~An aerial view of the Stonington harbor ~ The DogWatch Cafe, a great restaurant at Dodsons Boatyard. ~ Stonington Harbor Light, built in 1840, now a museum.

~An aerial view of the Stonington harbor
~ The DogWatch Cafe, a great restaurant at Dodsons Boatyard.
~ Stonington Harbor Light, built in 1840, now a museum.

Dan and Anthony’s eyes lit up when Al asked if they could help him install a new bow thruster propeller. The “boys” had a job to do. The kind of job that nautical types love – fixing a boat problem. It was like a playgroup for grown-up men.

Anthony manned the dinghy and managed the tools, including the new propeller (notice that this one is a 6-blade.)

Anthony manned the dinghy and managed the tools, including the new propeller (notice that this one is a 6-blade.) Dan and Al donned snorkel gear and worked in the water.

Time out. Things weren't going well they got out of the water to strategize.

Time out. Things weren’t going well so they got out of the water to strategize.

Al and Dan were in the water, and under the water. Yes, Al is holding Dan under so that he does not float upwards too soon. They took turns.

Al and Dan were in the water, and under the water. Yes, Al is holding Dan under so that he does not float upwards too soon. They took turns.

The job is done! And successfully.

The job is done! And successfully – no parts were dropped into the water.

All three couples had a celebration reunion on Kindred Spirit.  Anthony brought a bottle of champagne to toast the new Kindred Spirit. Champagne named "Michelle."

All three couples had a celebration reunion on Kindred Spirit. Anthony and Annette brought a bottle of champagne to toast the new Kindred Spirit. Champagne named “Michelle.” 🙂

The next day, Al decided to work on reinforcing the transom. Anthony was eager to help (boys will be boys…. or is that captains will be captains?)  So once again, out came the tools and the messing about playgroup began —

Al and Anthony work on reinforcing the transom.

Al and Anthony work on reinforcing the transom.

The next night we had dinner with Anthony and Annette at the Dog Watch Cafe, followed by ice cream. Of course.

That night we had dinner with Anthony and Annette at the Dog Watch Cafe, followed by ice cream. Of course. We wish them well on their travels south!

 

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