November 13, 2013.
On Monday we woke up with a short 30 mile day planned. The goal was Vero Beach where we always have such a great time seeing people and putting the final touches on the boat before crossing. We once again pulled the hook at first light and motored down the ICW.
It was a perfect morning until Granga, granga, grang....A HUGE vibration. I quickly chopped the throttle and slipped the transmission into neutral. The vibration was instantly gone. I ran the engine up to cruising RPM's and it was silky smooth. Good, its not the new engine.
We were in a section of the ICW that is cut through a very wide but shallow section of the Indian River. We pulled out the genoa and ghosted along at 2.3 knots. Once I was sure we were able to have steerage and stay in the narrow channel I went below to check out the rest of the drive train while Christy sailed along.
The shaft coupling was still intact and everything looked as it should. I reached in and grabbed the prop shaft and tried to turn the shaft by hand. Nope, couldn't do it. Thank God. That meant that there was a very good chance that we got a line wrapped around the prop. We tried a low RPM reverse to see if we could clear the obstruction by unwinding it. It was a long shot, but no luck.
We had to sail very slowly for about a mile until there was deep water adjacent to the channel where we could pull off and drop the hook. Once there we rounded up, furled the genny and dropped the hook in 8 feet of water.
I quickly donned my snorkeling gear and slipped over the transom. I found myself hyperventilating a bit before ducking under the surface. I was hoping for an old forgotten crab pot line wrapped around the prop. Visibility was only about 3 feet and I couldn't see anything until the silhouette of our shaft, skeg and prop materialized in the murk. It turned out to be a six foot long palm frond spine wedged between the shaft and skeg and wrapped into the folding prop. I cleared it quickly and checked that the prop still cycled easily and climbed back onto the boat. In 8 years I believe thats the first time I've ever had to clear something from the prop.
We had the engine running and the hook up 2 minutes after I climbed out of the water. We arrived before noon yesterday and today we sit on a mooring while a hoolie blows outside. And as far as “last one in the waters a rotten egg” goes, I've got that one covered. Its the rest of you I'm worried about......