Orion was finally underway again after a month on Broad Creek, motoring in a light wind out of the Magothy River, through the Bay Bridge. Having left the dock late, after 1:30, we had only a few options for ports for the night. We decided to head for the West or Rhode Rivers, depending on which had the best protection. This turned out to be the Rhode River. It was going to be a short stop, dropping anchor just before sunset and getting up a first light to head south to Solomons.
What greeted us as we awoke the next morning was quite a surprise. The night wasn’t as calm as we thought. On top of the bimini, our solar panels were covered in pools of blood, feathers and animal parts. There was blood dripping down the sides of the cockpit and running down the deck – and feathers everywhere. We were at a loss to know what had happened. We hadn’t heard anything. Using the deck washdown hose, we sprayed off some of the worst of the mess, but realized we would have to wait until we reached a dock in Solomons to really clean it off. At least the inside of the cockpit was largely unaffected. We can’t say as much for the poor bird on the losing end of that fight.
The rest of the trip to Solomons was cold and overcast, but uneventful. We pulled onto the Spring Cove fuel dock shortly after 3pm, cleaned up, fueled up, pumped out and then headed back to anchor once again in Mill Creek. The sun finally broke through shortly after setting anchor, which would be its last appearance for at least 36 hours. We knew the forecast for the next day’s planned trip south of the Potomac was not pretty – rain likely all day – but at least the wind would not be too bad and it would be behind us, making for a much easier Potomac River crossing than the forecast for the rest of the week.
We had been hoping to visit Indian Creek to see Joy and Rusty on Slow Dancin’. However, we weren’t sure what the wind would allow us to do. Just before we reached Smith Point at the southern edge of the Potomac, Dave got a call from Jon at Deltaville. After talking through the symptoms, they decided the problem was likely a blockage in the fuel line before the Racor filters. If that was the case, it might be possible to clear it by blowing through the hose. Dave first tried to clear it by blowing toward the Racor filter. Nothing happened. So, he tried blowing back toward the fuel tank. After a couple of tries, he heard a distinctive “pop”. He could tell the line had cleared. After re-connecting the fuel lines and topping off the Racor bowls, we re-started the engine. The fuel vacuum pressure had dropped back to an acceptable level. We called Joy and Rusty and told them we would see them as planned. They met us in the rain, as we pulled onto the dock shortly after 4pm.
With winds forecasted to gust to 30 from the southwest the next day, we arranged to spend 2 nights on the dock at the Indian Creek Yacht Club as guests of Rusty and Joy. This gave us a couple of days to visit with them and enjoy their hospitality. They are working to prepare Slow Dancin’ for another trip south, with a planned departure in early November. We compared notes on different boat projects and offered a little assistance with some. But we were trying to get to hook up with Steve on Bay Dreamer for the weekend, so we needed to move on, and headed out early Friday morning.
So, we settled in at the Hampton Public Piers and started working on a list of boat projects and trips that would fill our time while we waited for Marianna and Quicksilver to arrive from points north.
While in the East River, with the beautiful weather and the dinghy in the water, Dave used the time to clean the water line and wax the hull. We used lemon juice for the waterline, which was kinder to the environment and to our bottom paint and seemed almost as effective as the more caustic alternative. Cathy spent her time on the upper deck, polishing the rest of the stainless steel and waxing the foreward part of the upper deck that is normally blocked by the dinghy. The main reason for launching the dinghy was to allow Dave to check out his fuel line fix on the outboard (which worked well) and to run the gas out of the dinghy, since it doesn’t age well.
In the meantime, Dave worked out a way to implement a temporary solution to our fuel blockage that would keep us running if it happened again. He purchased some fuel line that could attach to the Racor filters and run into a 5 gallon diesel jug. This would keep Orion going for almost 10 hours in an emergency.
Taking Time Out
Of course, being back in Hampton meant we could go back to the Community Center for swimming, visit with our friends at Joy’s Marina and enjoy the downtown happenings, such as a Halloween party with a great band and lots of interesting costumes. Also, with all the boats in and out of the Public Piers heading south, we enjoyed time with some new friends, such as Scott and Lisa on Messenger, who were taking their first trip south. We helped point out some of the things to look for and some to avoid as they made the journey.
As our friends get closer, we are keeping busy, but looking forward to getting back together for the trip south. Hopefully, our next update will have us on our way.