It was becoming a constant topic of conversation. Every time someone asked when we were going to get launched, we would point to the rudder lying on its side beneath the boat and say, “we’re waiting for that to go back on”. Oh, I see was usually the reply. Although it’s possible to steer with the sails, we prefer the comfort of knowing that a turn of the wheel will actually turn the boat. It had been a bit of a rocky road, so we weren’t sure how smooth the final installation would go.
The first little hiccup occurred during the rudder removal. While Orion was still in the Travel Lift bands, hoisted up to allow room to remove the rudder post, a piece of the rudder quadrant broke during the process of removing the pin to drop the rudder. The stainless steel pin had frozen in the cast aluminum rudder quadrant, making it difficult to remove. After reviewing our options for a repair, we decided to have a replacement part machined in Deltaville.
Since this was a more unusual installation, Matt insisted the rudder quadrant be installed after we were in the water, so he could check the rudder for leaks and look down into the rudder shaft. He wanted to be able to turn the rudder, but without the quadrant, the wheel couldn’t be used. So, Dave dug out our emergency tiller, which we got to use for the first time. After turning the rudder through its entire arc several times with no problems, we had passed the next hurdle. So far, so good
With some final provisioning done, and now that Marianna had caught up with us, we were ready to move south, and pretty much on schedule despite the delay at getting back in the water.
We left Deltaville on Tuesday, October 26th originally heading only for Mobjack Bay. We were still checking out the rudder for leaks and we had left later in the morning after a brief tour of Deltaville with Pat and Fred. However, we were making such good time, we decided to head for Hampton instead. We made it in well ahead of sunset and tied up on the public piers for a couple night stay. The public piers and the anchorage was full with boats staging for a trip south down the ICW and those preparing to leave for the Caribbean 1500 on Nov. 2nd. We left on Thursday for the free docks in Great Bridge, casting off just before sunrise and making it through the 11:30am lock opening along with 14 other boats. (We had come through the Gilmerton bridge at 10:30 with 17 other boats in what turned out to be about a 10 minute opening. We were shocked.) The dock was empty when we arrived, but that didn’t last. By 1pm, the dock was full and boats began tying up to the trees on the north wall of the canal.
Since we were ahead of the Nov. 1st date, the only thing we could figure is that boats were worried about the announced restrictions in the Gilmerton Bridge schedule that started on Friday. However, we learned that day that the restrictions applied only to large commercial vessels, not small boats like us.
With the arrival of fall came some quickly falling temperatures and lots more rain than we had had. We were glad then for the chance to get away for a couple of weekends to visit our grandchildren and participate in some fall rituals with them. We helped pick pumpkins and enjoyed the Hampton Halloween festival. We were endlessly grateful to Steve on Bay Dreamer who picked us up in Deltaville when we couldn’t find a car rental on such short notice for the Halloween Festival. (We had thought we would be in Hampton with Orion.) He put us and 2 of our grandsons up at his house and allowed us to continue what has become an annual tradition of trick or treating in Hampton.
We’re continuing to move south, not well ahead of the pack, but hopefully still in the warm weather.