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Rhapsody-NS27 10-06-2013 01:05 PM

Does a first sail ever go as planned?
As I heard once, "a plan is a list of stuff that ain't going to happen." The reason behind this quote is that you can plan all you want but when you start to DO your plan, sometimes you are just reacting to the situation you are given.

I've had my boat since April last year. For just over a year, it was sitting on a trailer while I worked on getting it ready to go with some necessary projects. Since it's been in the water at the marina, I've still had some work to do along the way. Previous sailing was a Colgate 26 for ASA101.

Yesterday, I decided instead of getting ready to sail, I wanted to actually GO sailing. I loaded up some things on the boat (food/tools) and took a garden hose and cleaned off a mess from spider webs. I looked over the engine to make sure the fuel lines were bled to remove any air.

While I could have done plenty at the dock, I decided to go sailing for once. I checked the weather the day before and saw it was supposed to storm but everything looked fine anyway. There was a couple down pours earlier in the morning but started cleaning up and I thought this was my chance.

Took the sail cover off the mainsail and stored that in the lazarette and untied the starboard dock lines. I started the engine and let it run a few min to make sure it was running well. Then I untied the port dock lines, put the engine in reverse and proceeded out of the marina.

The boat is on Lake Barkley in KY. There is a canal that connects to another lake, Kentucky Lake. I motored down to the canal and went through to Kentucky Lake. The day was nice, there were about 20-30 other sailboats out on the lake and shortly after I got to the other side of the canal, I decided it would be a good time to raise the sail.

There wasn't a whole lot of wind but there was enough to sail slowly around the lake. The sail went up fine, I turned off the engine and started to catch a little bit of air.

I was having a great time. I left the dock! I was excited and nervous to see how things would go. This was the first time sailing MY own boat.

In almost no time that the sail was up, the bilge alarm sounded. I jumped down into the cabin, lifted the floor board saw it almost full of water. I had the bilge pump off and turned it on. I jumped back up to the cockpit, looked around to make sure I was still heading out toward the lake. Of course I wasn't, the tiller was turned and I was going around toward the shore line so I redirected course, I jumped back down to the cabin, saw the water was pumped out, and saw water was FLOWING into the bilge. "What the heck!" :mad:

I jumped back into the cockpit and again, the tiller was turned... Basically, I was going in slow circles. No one around, no chance of collision with anyone else, and far enough away from shore.

Back in the cabin. I heard water flowing in from behind the engine. I looked back there with a light and saw it was coming from the stuffing box. Again "What the heck!"0

Back on deck. Dropped sail. No one around.

Back in the cabin. Still trying to figure out why water was coming from the stuffing box. :mad:

Back on deck. I decided I would immediately head back to the marina to fix this. I turned the engine back on and headed back to the marina with the engine running a little faster than the trip out. The entire time, the bilge alarm was going off every few seconds. Annoying but effective.

I later looked online that I had motored a few miles just to get out to where I raised the sail so I had to motor all the way back. As I get to the marina, a guy in dinghy with his son was behind me and asked if my boat was a Pacific Seacraft. I just replied "No, it's a Nor'sea".

As soon as I got to the dock, I quickly tied the port dock lines, jumped back into the cockpit and emptied the lazarette.

Again, jumped down into the cabin. I grabbed some tools, tossed them (and myself) into the cockpit and I climbed down into the lazarette.

Looking at the stuffing box, I found out the large nut holding the packing material wasn't even on the threaded part. It was just sitting against it. I moved the locking nut farther down the threads, got the packing nut tight on the threads with the tools and used the locking nut to compress the two together. This stopped the leak.

I could have tried going back out on the lake but at this point, I thought I would try taking care of other things around the boat, cleaning/organizing, calming down from freaking out over the water flow. From leaving the dock to getting the leak fixed, altogether took 2 hours.

I was trying to figure out why the packing nut was off the threads but wasn't sure. I redid the stuffing material last year while it was still on the hard so I knew I tightened it up. Then, I realized, when I dropped off the boat at the yard to get it ready for splashing into the water, I remembered they were going to do some work on the cutlass bearing.

Shortly after the boat was in the water, I found a tool was left by the yard under the prop shaft/engine, that I returned a few weeks later. Apparently, it would seem that they did the work, but they didn't tighten the stuffing box back up. This is the only thing I could think of because I haven't heard of the nuts on the stuffing box working itself loose. I'll do follow up check as I use the boat more.

Overall, I thought it was still a good day. (some learning points below)

1. The stuffing box leaked while I was at the boat so I could fix it.
2. The boat didn't leak while I was away causing the boat to sit on the bottom.
3. Need to be sure to check the weather right up to leaving the dock. (I had checked the day prior, calling for storms but turned out to be a nice day)
4. I realized I could/should have dropped anchor and fixed it out on the lake then enjoy the day a little more out on the water.
5. Be sure to check every place the boat yard could have accessed/modified during any work they did. This issue could have cost me my boat.
6. My boat still floats
7. I finally left the dock! ;)

This picture was while motoring out of the marina.

Minnewaska 10-06-2013 01:18 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
Every sail where everyone gets back safely is a good sail.

Every sail where you can use the boat again is a great sail.

Sorry for the trouble. You did the right thing coming back, although, you may have been able to stop the leak underway. You may have been required to.

Now you'll have to determine if the stuffing is okay or whether it needs to be repacked.

Sabreman 10-06-2013 01:19 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
Sounds like a fairly typical experience for just about all of us. You didn't panic and fixed the problem. You spent the day on the water and the boat still floats so it was a good day. We've all been there.


Be sure to check every place the boat yard could have accessed/modified during any work they did. This issue could have cost me my boat.
Better yet, do your own work unless the tools are too specialized or expensive (I can't afford a TraveLift). Often times, yard personnel are less experienced than the owner. A great example is painting a bottom - the least experienced guy (i.e., the one making minimum wage) does the work.

capta 10-06-2013 01:25 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
Nicely written tale; I enjoyed it, thanks.
A packing gland should leak a little bit, maybe a couple of drips a minute in the slip and a bit more under way. The water lubricates the packing. It needs to be tightened periodically, so check it every now and then. The flax packing can actually cut a stainless shaft, so do not tighten it too much.
As to plans, back up plans and plans for when all those fail, relax. You can't plan for every contingency so don't get overly caught up in that whole thing. Murphy (you know, of Murphy's Law) had a couple of boats and that's where he got the idea for his law from.
Sailing, whether on a lake like you do, or inter island as we do, is supposed to be fun, so don't stress out about the improbable, probable or even possible; whatever comes, you will manage to get through just fine, though most likely, not according to plan.

poopdeckpappy 10-06-2013 01:32 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
That almost sounds like a pretty normal day of sailing; I've had hoses let go 30 miles out and shift cables let go coming in to the's all good

Faster 10-06-2013 01:33 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
Nice post, Daniel.. all in all, not too scary, issues resolved, lessons learned. All good!

Rhapsody-NS27 10-06-2013 01:45 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
A bad day on the boat is better than a good day at work. :D

I happened to take some video too.

Part 1 with the motoring out right up to the bilge alarm sounding.

Part 2 showing the leak/fix.

AlaskaMC 10-06-2013 01:54 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
Great story! Thanks for writing it up.

In our case on our new boat (to us), the first sail was PERFECT. No issues. We even sailed it better than we ever expected. Great day.

Unfortunately, sail #2 was the opposite, total cluster getting out of the marina, grounded for our first time, looked foolish right in front of the sailing club. Our lesson was to not get too proud of ourselves or the spanking is just around the corner.

CatMan22 10-06-2013 02:25 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?
Great post, I am continually amazed at the number of times I have read "was out on the boat and then (insert calamity here) happened so I headed to the dock and repaired it. Nice writing detailing grabbing the tools, climbing in the lazarette and taking care of it.

Delezynski 10-06-2013 02:45 PM

Re: Does a first sail ever go as planned?

A very good lesson and you handled it in an outstanding way.

We had the exact same thing happen to us. Had yard work done, went out and part way across San Francisco Bay we had water! I was lucky as Jill could take the helm as I did the fix.

Posting the videos was also great. It may help others!

You SHOULD post this on the Nor'Sea board!


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