Hole in the Hull

I now know why they say “you curse like a sailor”….

We left Cobb’s Marina in Norfolk a little before 9am and started heading North to Urbanna.  It was a bit chilly, but the sun was out and we had the autopilot on while reading our books.  It was lovely.  Then, the sun was covered by clouds, the cold air came into play even more than before, and we started taking on some rain.  The sails came down and we were motoring while fighting a North wind and the current.  For the rest of the trip we were trying not to get broadsided by the waves, pulled back by the current, or completely freeze from the cold rain.  We were all bundled up, taking turns at the helm, and then Steve went down below.  He checked on the bilge and we were taking on a lot of water and the bilge pump wasn’t working.  He came back to the cockpit to retrieve the manual pump and began getting rid of the water.  Coming up for air every few minutes, it was rough seas so the environment down below would make any seasoned sailor feel unwell.  A few days before we had bought a new bilge pump in case the current one gave out, and good thing Steve bought that because it was definitely needed.  Instead of making it to Urbanna and just weathering the storm, we decided to find calmer waters on the South side of Deltaville on the Piankatank River, which is the river right below the one we would’ve taken to get to Urbanna.  It would’ve been an extra 5 hours to make it to Urbanna, and it just wasn’t worth it, not in the cold and rainy weather and with a messed up bilge pump.  Steve had to go down and pump the water out every now and then while we were underway, and once we finally got to our anchoring spot, something made the engine sound weird.  We thought we hit a crab pot because as we were anchoring we did just miss one.  So, we then called BoatUS and requested a morning tow to the nearest marina, which was about 1 nautical mile away from our anchorage.  Once anchored, we changed into dry, warmer clothes and began pumping more water out of our bilge.  We woke up every 2 hours starting at 12am, 2am, 4:40am, and 6:30am to make sure the water was going down and not staying in our floor boards.  When we woke up at 4:40 Steve took off the alligator clips from the wires and did a true connection for the bilge pump which allowed it not to lose as much voltage so it began keeping up with the water intake more than it had before.  This was a big relief.  When we woke up at 6:30, we checked in with BoatUS and they were getting ready to leave, but instead of getting to us at 7ish, it would be closer to 10.  So, we saw the crab boat checking it’s pots and hailed him over to see if he remembered if there was one about where we thought we hit it.  He wasn’t sure, but he did drive around our aft to see if he could see a buoy or anything, which he didn’t.  So, we decided we would try cranking up and just hope that we didn’t feel a weird vibration or anything, which if we did would mean we probably did hit it.  So, Steve went to the anchor locker at the bow to begin pulling up the anchor, and I started the engine.  Nothing sounded weird, everything was working fine, and we were able to pull anchor and make our way to the marina.  We canceled our tow, which was good because we would’ve been waiting another 3 hours for them to arrive.  We were able to dock fine, Steve’s grandpa was there to take me and our stuff (refrigerated stuff, clothes, laundry, etc) to their house, and Steve stayed with the boat to help us get hauled out.  When I came back to pick Steve up I got to see the hole for myself.  It was as big as the palm of my hand and down to the fiberglass.  There were cracks and paint chips everywhere.  There’s a crack on the bow that goes straight down, as well as a crack on the keel.  The worst part is it all looked good as new when we saw it a week ago before we splashed back in because of all the painting and work we had just done to it while on the hard.  

We drove together back to Norfolk to pick up our car that we had left at the marina because we thought we’d be gone for a while.  Well, we started talking to some of the staff (also our friends) and showed them photos and they said that that could be considered a “total” when it comes to insurance.  Can you imagine thinking it would just be a pricey fix and then walking in and being told that your home may be totaled?  We were in shock, because we didn’t really react to that.  We were then told by a guy who works on our type of boat a lot that if the core of the boat is still wet once the boat dries off from the water, then it means that the integrity of the hull may be compromised.  All of this information kind of turned our world upside down, but we still don’t have much information on what’s next.  We’ve made the insurance claim, now we have to have someone come and survey it, and then we will have to figure out where to go from there.  If the costs to fix the boat are more than a third of what the boat’s worth then it is very likely that they will consider it totaled and will just write us a check.  We’ve been advised that if that happens, to just take the check and go find another boat.  We don’t know how to feel about a lot of this because, well, we just fixed so much of this boat.  We just paid for a new forestay and furler (which isn’t cheap), painted the bottom, and renamed the boat.  It’s a lot to think about.

Truth is, I wrote this the day after everything happened in order to process it, so it may be a bit jumbled.

It’s now Tuesday, and not much has changed.  So, we’re working on the insurance info, they’ve called us back but we haven’t been able to submit anything due to lack of good cell service.  We’re also waiting on an estimate from the boatyard that needs to be submitted to the insurance company as well.  So, everything is currently at a stand still.  We spent a lot of time with family and friends this weekend at the Urbanna Oyster Festival, and we were able to sort of push the thought of the boat to the back of our minds.  But now it’s a new week and we have to face those things, but there’s really nothing to do but get the ball rolling with insurance, which we’re working on.  We are super thankful for all of the friends and family who offered their home to us, or that they were there if we needed them.  Life is unexpected, but it will all work out, we have hope in that.

Overall, we have a lot of options.  We have contingency plans for our contingency plans.  We will figure it all out as things go along.  The best part:  we have each other.  Sometimes home isn’t a place, but the person that makes any place feel like home.

Published by skyepage

"She always had that about her, that look of otherness, of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the earth." -Joanne Harris

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