Bay GyPSy's Mostly Excellent Voyage
by Glenn and Susan Whaley
September 2008

This is a tale of a sailing adventure. A minor one, to true initiates, but to us it was a big deal because it was our first weekend 'at sea' on Bay GyPSy. So that made it a non-trivial event. And so begins the saga of our first annual Labor Day Cruise ...

We set out Saturday morning, August 30th, for Crab Alley Creek, all set to sail. Except that we didn't. Sail, that is. Since you need wind to do that, and there wasn't enough of it to make our way south, we turned on the diesel and cheated. It was a nice cruise, if not dramatic. Heck, you can motor in a power boat. What's the fun in that?

Well, at least we all made it to the anchorage. Maybe not as sailors, but you don't need sails to party. So we proved we didn't need sails. Thanks, Commodore Tom and Gina of Taj Muha and Skip and Harriet Hardy of Moondance, for hosting a great get-together!

Sunday, August 31, was race day. Except that Bay GyPSy hadn't raced before (at least under rookies like us) and we weren't quite sure how it all worked. We proved that pretty dramatically by finishing more than a half hour after the winners. Oh, well. We'll learn. Congrats, Southern Lady!

Then there was the transit to Selby Bay on the South River. That was exciting, too, especially getting to the anchorage. We know it's best if you leave all of the red day markers to starboard. If you're even only one day marker off, it's a learning opportunity. Yeah, that's it. It wasn't exactly that the water was too shallow, you understand. It was more like that nasty old mud was just too close to the surface. And just as we rounded the point into the anchorage! It must be that wing keels make good plows, though. There's a brand new groove in the bottom of Selby Bay to prove it now, and they can thank us for that. Nothing like exploring the Chesapeake by Braille! But no problem; we made it and helped host the evening happy hour with Mike and Sherry Bernard on Eternity. What a blast we all had!

And then there was Monday and the trip back to the Magothy River. Such a day it was: A beautiful sunny Labor Day with a nice breeze. Except the nice breeze was right out of the north. Which happened to be where the Magothy River was. Bummer! But we be sailors, right? We can do this. (You experienced folks can laugh your bums off here, but this is adventuresome stuff to newbies. Which would be us.) So we tacked and tacked and had just a grand old time going pretty much back and forth. Which wasn't so much toward the north. Which, you will recall, is where the Magothy still was. Quite a way north, actually. We were having a grand time but, along about 2:00, we decided that we needed to sort of actually make progress in that direction. Okay, so it's time to be power boaters again and just give in to the diesel.

So we turned the key, the engine went whirr-whirr just like it was supposed to, and after a few minutes of warming up we engaged the clutch. And we went ... exactly nowhere. So we speeded up the engine. Still no forward motion. Meanwhile, of course, we are slowing progressing deeper into about five sailing regattas taking place just off the Severn (the current being stronger than the breeze at that point). Or maybe it was 12 or 15 regattas. It was kind of hard to tell. But, let me tell you, there were lots and lots of boats. And there we were with no power, trying to do a decent job of getting out of their way by sail. This was kind of a challenge, at least for a couple of rookies.

So what to do? Well, first let's see if we still have a prop. Did it fall off or something? So Glenn drops over the side in the middle of the Bay to see if there is still a propeller about where it was supposed to be. And we do! This is good - at least to a point. It's mostly only good if it turns when you want it to. Which it wasn't. Hmmm.

So we obviously have a transmission problem, right? Let's check. So picture Glenn, sopping wet from the swim in the Bay, piling stowed stuff that is on top of the drive train deckplate into the galley, the back of the Q-berth, and the salon, and finally getting to the transmission and propeller shaft. And guess what he finds? The propeller shaft has come uncoupled from the transmission. Four out of four bolts have come unscrewed and fallen out. How incredibly weird it that?! Anyone have a few spare 10 mm bolts and nuts on board? Didn't think so. We didn't either.

What to do, what to do? The 18 (or was it 25 by now?) regattas were all getting closer and closer. Or were we getting closer to them? It was sort of hard to tell. We were now, it seemed, in the middle of all the race lanes. So, as Susan maneuvered Bay GyPSy under sail so as not to make it necessary for any of the racers to change course (she lost count after about 20 single-handed tacks), Glenn mucked around down below. There he was: in the dark, way down under the engine, in the gunky sump that didn't have any room for a normal person's fingers, let alone hands, looking for runaway bolts and nuts. But find them he did! At least a couple of them, plus a random washer or two. How cool is that?!

So two wrenches, lots of sweaty contortions, and many prayers later, we were in business. We cleared the regattas and resumed our transit to the Magothy. Under power! Oh, happiness!

So we arrived safe and sound at Belvedere YC by 6:30, tired but happy. We're not sure, but we think that that's the sailor's mantra, right? Any voyage that ends at your home port is a good one. By that criteria, we had a great one. Thanks, CSC! When can we go again?