Imagine the splash made by something falling from 185 feet above the water. We had never seen anything like it. From the helm Sharon spotted a stopped vehicle at the center span of the Sidney Lanier Bridge. Realizing that someone had fallen or jumped off the bridge, we went into rescue mode. We’re not trained first responders or Coast Guard rescue swimmers, but we had decades of boating experience as well as many United States Power Squadrons courses on boat handling and safety at sea at our disposal.
It happened to us one September day as we headed out to the San Juans from Boat Haven Marina. We left Port Townsend in ideal conditions: calm winds and seas with a slight current push to the north once we were past Point Wilson.
I pulled myself up from my cozy nest, had the mate take the helm and lifted the engine room hatch to find disturbing news: We were taking on water at an alarming rate. The hose connecting the flexible stuffing box had split.
Our batteries had been running down over time despite spending significant time under power. To compensate, we used marina shore power for a night or two during each cruise. But this year, we didn’t stop at a marina, and by the time we got to Bar Harbor, the batteries could hardly turn over the engine.
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