Three Weeks Gone; Two to Go

September 3, 2016 in Canada, TearAway, Travelogue

It’s been three weeks that TearAway has been sitting at anchor in our bay. Three weeks since we blew out the exhaust elbow and I’ve been unable (unwilling) to move her for fear of getting into a situation where we need the engine and don’t have it. Three weeks is a lot of time to force in near the end of a launch cycle. By this time, per the original plan, she’d be up on the dry in Kingston, we’d be well into the bottom repairs and painting, have had the survey done to verify everything is ship shape, and have insurance policies in hand. We’d have had a mechanic check the engine over to be sure we’re going to be good for a lot of hours relying on this 30 year old iron jib. We’d have the mast securely strapped to a cradle that does not yet exist, ready for the canal passage to the Hudson river. We’d be in the process of putting her back in the water and getting the final stowing underway.

But, that’s not what’s going on. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s been happening instead.

  • Getting a new exhaust elbow ordered online.
  • Removing the exhaust manifold (thankfully this was not difficult) so we can remove the old exhaust elbow.
  • Finding we haven’t got the power with pipe wrenches, vises, penetrating oil, and torches to get the elbow to unscrew.
  • Taking the whole mess to the local shop (we have a boat builder on the island with a full machine shop! I didn’t think of asking them to build a new elbow custom before starting this process. Stupid!) to have them torch it with oxy-acetylene and use their bigger wrenches. They got it out. I won’t tell you what they called it.
  • Fitz and I putting it back together. We have to sit in the cockpit lockers to get to the engine. We can only get one hand in place. So, we work together as each other’s other hand to get it in. It’s a struggle, and the boat’s pitching about a bit. The combo of the fumes from the gasket goop, the movement, the probable dehydration and perhaps slight hangover, and fatigue from being at a really weird angle moving a fairly heavy piece into place along with the utter frustration that it doesn’t fit into our boat because the new elbow is longer than the old one puts me in a physical state of almost chucking. It disrupts the calm of the rest of the day.
Fitz in the locker to get to the engine

Fitz in the locker to get to the engine

Note: when you find a piece of wood on a boat you’ve just purchased and you can’t figure out what it’s for, don’t toss it. This 2×4 was cut just for this purpose. Until you have to crawl around in the lockers, it’s hard to imagine what good it is.

  • Back to the shop to have the elbow cut and re-threaded.
  • Putting the elbow on to the manifold using a pipe wrench and vise. It doesn’t thread on easily. So, I’m worried that the threading is not exactly right. But, it’s in, it’s tight, and it’s sealed. Today we find out if the new, cut-down piece fits. If not, it’s off to Marty to build one from scratch to suit, and it’s nearly $250 down the drain.
Exhaust manifold and elbow

Exhaust manifold with new elbow

As a result, everyone is a bit in a funk as to what to do next. To be honest, it’s very frustrating. I have been trying to urge the boys on to do more work to get ready for departure, knowing that we’ll have to compress the final prep stage. But, I’m at a loss to give clear instruction as to what they should be doing next because so much is in a holding pattern.

So, I sat down and wrote them an email. I find this helps me to think things through, to be able to edit and refine the list, and gives them something to go back and look at rather than try to just remember what was said. I copied Jenn on the email, just so she can keep me in check and know what’s going on in the process here. She suggested I share it. Welcome to the inside!

Hi boys,

We have two weeks from today to launch.

I’m making this for my purposes as much as yours. Please step in anywhere you think you can. Add things as you think of them. Read, think, dream, act on what we’re doing.

PLEASE! make this trip all of ours, not just me pulling you forward. This is, I think, our last big adventure together and it’s going to be AWESOME! You’re all big enough and men enough to really put your all into it and make it your trip. I’m super excited for it… I know it seems like I’m just all anxious and worried about it now, but that’s the prep-work. Just like the bike trip, which you were too little to really understand the prep-work for (it took two years of active planning and doing to get there), this is just part of the prep. But, I can’t wait to get out there with you guys, boating the historic Erie Canal, sailing the frigging NORTH ATLANTIC!, catching big ocean fish, sailing the Chesapeake Bay, bopping around the Florida Keys (the first place I saw the ocean at 16 years old), crossing the Gulf Stream, and anchoring in the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas. Spear fishing, catching lobster, meeting cool people, making new life-long friends, making memories that we’ll retell as old men. This is going to be great beyond all previous measures.

Assuming we don’t die. 😉 Which is why I need you all to keep pulling forward with your respective parts. In all reality, there’s not a high chance that we’ll be in situations where we’re likely to die (if there were, we wouldn’t be doing it… it’s not like we’re going squirrel suit diving). But, we need to be fully prepped to deal with situations as they arise. The time that Gabe, Ez, and I came back from Toronto could have killed us. It didn’t. We’re more prepared now, by far. And, we have bigger things to face. So, let’s really buckle down these next two weeks (and following time while on the boat) to think about and prepare for “what’s the next thing that could kill us.”

Assuming we can get the engine together this weekend, oil changed, new filters, etc. we’ll be on the hard sometime early next week, hopefully Monday. I will be ordering some more safety things like two higher-end life jackets with harnesses built in, lights, and dye markers (since there’ll be two people on watch at a time, we’ll use our adequate safety gear for the secondary two people). I have nearly all of the required safety items now. I also bought a CO detector today to install, since that could kill us without us even knowing it through something as simple as an exhaust leak or burning the stove too much.

Below are things I’m thinking of. These are not all that needs to be done, just what’s come to mind now. Please add things when you think of them. Reply to the email and edit stuff in.

There are a few things to do once we have the boat out and the survey goes well:

  • Buy radio with GPS and AIS (Standard Horizon GX2200)
  • Buy shaft line-cutter
  • Buy insurance
  • Sign up with BoatUS for towing/insurance
  • Get boat’s radio license

Here are the things we need to get done while dry (some can be done before dry):

  • Drop mast & build cradle on deck
  • Fix masthead nav lights
  • Determine what’s needed for a masthead anchor light
  • Fix steaming light
  • Fix deck light
  • Fix crack
  • Bottom paint
  • Line cutter on shaft
  • Install new radio
  • Radio registration
  • Prop nut ( & spare) for dinghy
  • Empty and clean the holding tanks
  • Replace the clean water filter
  • Inspect all through-hulls so everyone knows exactly where they are and what they do
  • Inspect all rigging
  • Verify anchor rode is attached internally
  • Mark all anchor rode with 10’ and 50’ marks
  • Inspect (and lock) all anchor shackles
  • Inspect halyard tackle
  • Get storm jib sheets
  • Inspect storm jib and find out how to swap the genoa for storm jib. We may want to load the storm jib on before leaving NYC… easy to reef and keep a good shape in a gale.  (
  • Build dinghy motor lifting rig (need a strong carabiner)

Shopping list:

  • Gloves
  • Fishing gear
  • Batteries (AA & AAA)
  • Spare tools
    • Sockets
    • Multi screwdriver
  • Filters
  • Belts
  • Light-weight line & float for anchor trip
  • Duct tape… always more duct tape
  • Velcro

Here are my suggestions for things people to get prepped:


  • Get the ditch bag fully prepped
    • Your handheld VHF
    • My handheld GPS
    • Your handheld compass
    • Food
    • Water
    • Flares, etc.
    • Elisha’s laser
    • Extra batteries for GPS, VHF, laser
    • Fishing stuff
    • Water reclamation stuff (not sure what to do with this… talk to me)
    • whatever I’ve not thought of yet
  • Start mapping out where things are and create a chart we can use to find things
    • Everyone should know where emergency items are, like the wooden plugs.
    • Other items seldom used need to be found quickly
    • Give everyone a tour of your thinking/mapping process
  • Load Navionics charts as electronic backup #3.


  • Get a first aid kit ready
  • Simple stuff like band-aids
  • Anti nausea pills… we need to get several packets on board and never let the supply get lower than one packet
  • Bigger stuff… you can raid the existing first aid kit in the house.
    • Needle kit
    • Finger splints (this is the most likely big thing we’ll need with our finger-hole door latches)
  • Antibiotics
  • Headache/muscle ache pills
  • Diarrhea pills
  • Cold meds (preferably Contac brand)


  • Make the food lists
    • Get a good idea of where different foods will go. We have three cabinets and an ice box. You’ll have to work with that.
    • Organize your recipes so you know what you need
    • Start cooking some of those recipes now and teach them to the rest of us while at home
  • Make sure we have all of the cooking equipment we need
    • Always one spare tank of propane for the grill
    • Colander
    • Water kettle
  • Make sure we have stowage (that doesn’t rattle) for all of the kitchen gear


  • Set up handheld GPS
  • Set up SPOT
  • Copy charts onto all computers
  • Change all engine filters, check impeller, clean fuel, fresh oil.


  • Start figuring out what things you need to take with you (we’ll need to be small and light on all this, like on the bike trip)
  • Clothes (warm- and cold-weather stuff)
  • Swim gear
  • Books
  • School work
  • Work stuff
  • Toys
  • Be sure you have all you need so you don’t need network connections often.
  • Always have a sharp knife easily at hand