From the Helm of Adamant 1 – Installment 6 – Engine trouble

Engine Trouble

Nov 23, 2016

Longtime CY staffer Lynn Lortie and her husband Pat left Midland this summer to make their way into the Great Loop and head out on a three year sailing odyssey. Follow their progress right here in CYOB

It was in one of the lakes, at mile 379, that Adamant lost her transmission. One moment we were moving along great, the next moment the engine was howling and we were dead in the water. Our buddy boat, Folly, a Catalina 42, quickly took us in tow as we were in a stump area.

We have Boat US insurance for towing and I was able to call them on the phone. It was Sunday and they did not have a boat in the area. Harley and Janice tow us 13 miles and through 2 locks to get down to the anchorage we had chosen for the night. It is Canadian Thanksgiving weekend so we don’t let a dead engine deter Pat and I from cooking a turkey dinner for Folly and Sea Mist.

White CliffsOn Tuesday, T (his name), from Columbus Marina arrives with his towboat to take us the 31 miles down to his marina. Long story short…. we were docked there for two weeks while we waited for Toronto Yanmar dealers to see if they could get us a new transmission. Nothing was available. Only one place in the US was able to come up with one for $4000 USD. Not an option for us at that price! T used all of his contacts to see if he could get us a rebuilt one, to no avail. It was a miserable 2 weeks for us, waiting for calls and emails. Finally we send our transmission to East Coast Marine Transmission in New Jersey for a rebuild.

Rick at East Coast was amazing to work with. He emailed us every step of the way, kept us informed what was needed and got it back to us in less than a week, all new parts, for considerably less than $4000 USD. It was installed, tweaked and tested within an hour of getting it back and we left the next morning. Thank you T at Columbus Marina in Columbus Mississippi for everything you did to get us going again and for trying to keep us busy while we waited. You were a terrific help to us and we appreciated everything.

White CliffsAs I write this we are motoring south in 80F, sunny and no wind. We have passed through one of the best areas in the whole trip….The White Cliffs of Epes. These white cliffs are part of the Selma Chalk formations, which were deposited about the same time as the White Cliffs of Dover in England. They are simply stunning, pure white, a hundred feet tall, etched by nature into amazing formations and surrounded by green pines and fall reds. I couldn’t take enough pictures.

We continued south, through remote, forested areas, quiet and pristine. I felt like an explorer, seeing this all for the first time, wondering what was around the next bend. And there were many, many bends. Called switchbacks, the river follows its natural course, looping back and forth. In a lot of cases, we would do 3 – 4 miles in order to move a quarter mile down the river. There were creeks and small rivers where we would have been able to anchor for the night if we needed, but we weren’t ready to chance those spots as I prefer somewhere that we wouldn’t have to back out of in the morning! There were areas where the river widened out and we were able to pull in close to shore, in 10 – 15 feet of water and set a bow and stern anchor. We were well out of the river and the tows that passed weren’t a problem for us. We would put out two anchor lights and leave our AIS on all night so the tows could see us on their screens.

SwitchbacksAt Demopolis, we pulled in to the marina for one night. From here south there are few anchorages and many boats going the same way, all vying for those anchorages. Fifteen boats, all over 40’, left the marina the next morning, all headed into the last run of rivers at the same time. We spent two nights anchored alongside the banks of the river, one night in a wide river cut-off and one night at Bobby’s Fish Camp. Bobby’s is the only marina in the 217 miles between Demopolis and Mobile. They sell fuel and have a restaurant that serves catfish as the main entrée. The night we were there, 13 boats rafted on a dock that would normally hold 4 boats! Then we descended on the restaurant and had our fill of catfish! At 12:30 on Saturday November 5th, we crossed through mile 0 and entered Mobile harbour. We were officially off the river, having completed more than 1300 river miles. I now have a new respect for Huckleberry Finn!

DebrisThe river alternated between being peaceful and relaxing and there were moments of confusion and panic, but it was a wonderful trip and a sense of accomplishment washes over us. We did it, we faced the currents and debris, we made it through the hassle of getting our boat fixed in a remote location, we saw deer, alligators, wild boars, linx and turtles galore. We saw scenery and vistas we could never see on land. Truly an unforgettable experience. From Mobile, a very busy seaport, we will head out to Pensacola for a few days to visit friends, then onto the Gulf of Mexico and Florida.


Until next time….






Adamant 1 at the dock taking down the mast  in the river



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