Morning at Anchor
It was truly a three-dog-night but we only had the ship’s cat, Beulah, to boost the BTUs of the Traveler’s heater system. It was 20 degrees at daybreak and frost blanketed the boat. We waited until 0900 before starting the engine and raising the anchor; the temperature clawed its way up to 25 degrees.
The anchor came up without a hitch, the wind was quiet, and the sun was shining. Bob washed the mud off of the anchor, I slowly turned the Traveler toward the channel, and we whispered goodbye to Bay Springs Lake. As I straightened the wheel, it unexplainably quit turning to starboard. It would turn to port, but not back to starboard.
We had our second emergency anchoring within 24 hours. Bob tried the lower helm with the same result. We couldn’t turn to starboard. Then, by magic, the wheel began working again. And then it wouldn’t.
Sometimes on a boat there are things that remain a mystery. We hashed and rehashed possible explanations for the problem. We examined the steering gear in the lazarette for possible causes for the malfunction but everything was in order there. Going back to the helm to test the mechanism, we found that the wheel turned in both directions as it always had, and there were no more problems. We raised the anchor and cautiously headed south.
After much discussion during the day and a call to our dear friend, Tom Barnes, we surmised that the most plausible explanation involved a bit of frozen condensation at the helm on the flybridge in the steering lines that caused a break in the flow of hydraulic fluid. The Traveler’s flybridge is not enclosed and we had failed to place the canvas cover over the helm and instrument panel the night before. It is now a task that we will be sure to include in our nightly shut-down procedures.
Locks of Luck
Though the days are short and this one started late, we encountered only brief waits at the locks as they lowered us toward the Gulf of Mexico. We traveled 44 miles through five locks without incident, and chose to anchor just above the Amory Lock near the Amory Recreation Area.
This is our first experience traveling with a pet. It was Beulah’s second night at anchor and she had reconciled with being a ship’s cat; she settled down and began ruling her domain.