01/10/2016 – Some challenges.

We pulled up the anchor just outside Mattapoissett Harbour and motored towards Newport, Rhode Island, our intended destination. There was very little wind though we pulled the jib out to catch what there was. We made steady progress until the rattling noise, which we have heard briefly and very occasionally, reappeared. This time it was more persistent, as before John put the engine in to neutral and went below to look in the engine room. Nothing was obviously amiss so he put the engine back in to gear and revved the engine, the noise stopped but the speed didn't increase. While I moved the lever from forward through neutral to reverse and back again John checked that the control cables were moving correctly. They were but the prop shaft was not rotating. We cut the engine, I raised the mainsail and we sailed slowly onwards. There was no way we could reach Newport in daylight so we searched the charts and the pilot book for an alternative harbour. We struck lucky. Sakonnet Harbour was easy to enter, about six or seven miles away and we could arrive in daylight though we could only sail at about 3 knots because of the light wind. John phoned the Marina but they didn't have enough depth for us but gave John the phone number for the harbourmaster. The town of East Compton have installed two visitors moorings, the empty one was in deep enough water on the northern edge of the mooring field so easy to approach with limited manoevreability. As we approached the mouth of the Sakonnet River Mike, the harbourmaster, came out to meet us to make sure we were OK to get in unaided. We explained we have had practice driving the boat by strapping the RIB alongside! We did launch the dinghy and put the outboard on then John started it and left it running in neutral while we drifted towards the mooring. We almost made it without recourse to the dinghy, we got to within about 8 feet of the pickup when the boat started drifting backwards so John jumped in the dinghy and towed us towards the pickup while I steered and hit the bow thruster. Thursday John fought the engine to disconnect the gearbox, with limited success. Many bolts were hidden behind some pipes, many bolts had damaged heads! He had also spent some time trying to find a replacement gearbox. A company in New York had one, almost certainly refurbished not new, and wanted $6,000. Instead he made contact with someone who could possibly rebuild the gearbox once John got it off. Friday morning he continued, having decided to cut a metal pipe which he couldn't remove. All of a sudden there was a clang as he pulled the gearbox off the drive shaft and a lump of metal dropped out. The gearbox was fine, the part that had broken was a plate rather like a clutch plate. Several hours were spent on the Internet and the phone, the cheapest one available was through a company website but it proved impossible to pay for it. US zip codes have 5 digits, UK postcodes have 6 or 7 letters and numbers. Websites cannot accept our postcode. The guy running the company said use a money transfer system. John got most of the way through placing the order then found that the money wouldn't arrive until the following Wednesday then a two day delivery for the part. Our arrival New York looked to be after our visitors! A second company, more expensive but with a human taking the order and the credit card details, sent it on a two working day delivery schedule from Florida. It arrived at Mike's late Tuesday, John collected it from the dock at 1800, Wednesday he put the engine back together. By 1530 the engine was running again, the gears changed and the prop shaft rotated. Job done! We were so lucky on a number of fronts. Sakonnet proved to be the ideal place to go, easy to enter, an available mooring, the cheapest mooring we have found in the USA ($30 per night) and the friendliest people. Bob, the owner of the boat on the mooring next to us, came alongside in his dinghy and said just ask if we needed tools, a lift somewhere etc. John needed to replace some damaged bolts and some heavy duty water pipe. He had identified two companies about 5 miles away and we also needed some food. Bob kindly drove us around on Monday morning to get the parts and do the food shopping. Mike came by in his fishing boat one day and gave us two large Bluefish fillets, each weighing about 800 grams or about one and three quarter pounds. Bob and his wife called by on Wednesday to wish us luck and give us some sea bass fillets and some lobster meat, all well frozen. So kind. Thursday morning, with a forecast of 15-20 knot winds with gusts to 25 from the northeast, we set off for Long Island Sound. I had wanted to stop at Block Island for a night but several facts made us decide otherwise. The pilot book suggested the anchorage there was a little difficult especially as the wind often howls through the anchorage, the island is often surrounded by a fog bank and the weather forecast for Friday was awful! We had a great sail, timing our arrival at a 'gate' into Long Island Sound just right and worked our way up Thames River to New London where we picked up a buoy John had organised by phone. There was no recommended yacht anchorage, the wind was forecast to be up to 30 knots with gusts to 40 and rain. We decided to stay put for two nights, without worrying about the anchor holding and never mind the expense. We walked to the centre of New London, lots of art galleries, tattoo and piercings parlours, cafes and bar but not much else. We bought some milk, had a good lunch while I watched a slightly condensed version of Manchester United's Europa League match then walked back. It was about a 4 mile round trip. Saturday we move on, Monday we are due in Liberty Landing Marina for two weeks. We need to get there because we have paid in advance! More soon. Joyce Sorry, I thought I'd posted this but connectivity has remained a problem and my mind has been on other things! Sent from my iPad

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