As we started one of our earliest and easiest departures, we were feeling good about the day. It was a clear day, the sun was going to shine, and we could wear shorts from the start. The trip down the waterway was great, barely a breeze, smooth water, life was grand. Then it happened, only an hour into the day and I ran aground. It was my fault. It all started the night before. One of the pre-trip actions is to plot the course for the next day, or rather let the charting program do it. I entered the data and it drew out a course for me to follow. First mistake, I did not look closely at the map. The next morning, I loaded the course and left the dock. Second mistake, I did not look closely at the map. There were two routes to take, I wanted route one, but the program gave me route two. They are very close, but one went down the ICW and the other went into the Gulf.
As we were going along, I pointed out the inlet to the Gulf and without warning, we come to a full stop. We were stuck and this time the tide was falling. It would be worse in a couple hours with no hope of getting off until well after midnight. The tides here are longer than the usual 6-hour duration. I was slightly too far right in the channel, but not much. I tried to get off, but it was hopeless. The current was too strong. I had to call for a tow. The BoatUS guy showed up about 30 minutes later and within 15 minutes we were in deep water again.
While getting pulled off I was going to center the rudder, however the wheel would just spin more than it should. I took a quick look and found that the chain had jumped off the sprocket. I had no steering. I yelled over to the tow guy that I will also be needing a tow back to the marina. Great. I can only guess that while I was trying to get unstuck, I jammed the rudder in the sand and turned the wheel with a lot of slack and the chain jumped off.
On the slow trip back, I found other problems. The nuts and bolts holding the steering gear to the rudder post were loose. Maybe it was good luck getting stuck because I found a potential future problem that could have been worse. I also found the engine was getting hotter than it should. I knew what the problem was. When I was on the sand, the engine sucked up sand into the sea strainer. I jumped down below and started cleaning the strainer. I needed the shop vac to get all the sand out.
Just as we neared the marina, Linda got on the phone and quickly and got us a mooring ball. The tow guy, Captain John, did a great job getting us to the mooring in spite of the slight breeze and we tied up. After two or three hours of working on the boat, the cooling system seemed to be moving water and the nuts and bolts for the rudder were tight. I had to put on my snorkel gear and get in the water to check that the rudder was still there. Fortunately, it was. It was well past noon by the time I finished getting everything fixed.
Lesson learned, do not assume the electronics did want you wanted. Also, a big reason we ran aground was the shoaling near the inlet was not charted. I did not want to take a route through the Gulf because inlets south of Tampa Bay are too narrow and there is too much shoaling.
Until we get the boat moving at a higher rpm, I will not know whether the cooling system is working properly. We could have taken a test run in the afternoon, but Linda did not like how windy it got and did not want to pick up the line to the mooring ball for her first time in this much wind. We will find out tomorrow.
When the wind died down later in the day, Linda sat on the front of the boat and took hundreds of pictures of pelicans. She claims they are all bad, but she did get a few she liked.
Oh my goodness. Wh