Image: The Awen calmly waiting for the tide to go down at the Port Neville public dock.
A couple weeks ago, we picked up a new propeller for the Awen while we were in Campbell River. Now, we finally have everything ready to put the new prop in place.
As usual, nothing about boats is ever straightforward. When we had the Awen “re-engined”, we knew that the old prop was seriously undersized for the new engine. To make efficient use of fuel, and go at a speed somewhat better than 4 knots, we were going to have to get a different prop. The original prop was a three-bladed sailor-style (narrow blades) prop with a 17” diameter and a 13” pitch. After some head scratching and calculating, I figured we would need a prop with at least a 21” diameter and a 14” pitch – much bigger than we currently had. In fact, we settled on a “new-to-us” prop that had a 21″ diameter and a 16″ pitch – a little more pitch, or bite into the water, than we needed, but still pretty close to what we wanted. Used propellers are hard to come by, and new ones are very expensive, so we were happy with what we were able to find.
The next problem that needed solving was getting a heating system working in the Awen. We had decided that the best way to install the new prop would be to tie the Awen up to the public wharf at Port Neville where she would be in shallow water above a sandy bottom, and then just let the tide go out. If everything worked as planned, she would settle gently on the bottom, leaning against the dock pilings, and we would be able to switch props out and do a little bit of bottom maintenance. The problem with our scheme is that there were no low tides during daylight hours. That meant both working at night, and staying overnight on the Awen. Given the wet, cool October weather we were experiencing, we were going to need some heat to stay warm and dry during this operation. Fortunately, we had purchased a new diesel heater/stove (a Dickinson Lofoten stove) when we were in Campbell River getting the engine work done. However, the intricacies of installing said stove in the tight quarters of a sailboat took another week of work before we had the first heat in the Awen in almost a year. What a joy to be warm in the boat again!
So, on the day before Halloween, we were finally off to Port Neville, hoping that all our plans would work. It was a long, slow process – tie up at high slack tide, get the Awen weighted properly so that she would lean into the pilings (as opposed to falling over in the other direction), and then wait … and wait … and wait. Finally, around 8 pm, we hit bottom.
Image: The Awen beached in the sand.
We had never seen the Awen‘s bottom before – when we had bought her a couple years ago, the time frame of the situation had not permitted us to have her hauled out for inspection. So we bought her sight (or at least bottom) unseen. Now we were in for a bit of a surprise. Nauticats have several different keel designs, ranging from a full keel, which goes the entire length of the boat, to a modified fin keel, which looks something like a flattened shark’s fin in the middle of the boat. The Awen‘s keel turned out to be something in between the extremes. Not a full keel, but enough of a keel that she balanced gracefully, if a little bow-low, on it. We gave a real sigh of relief as she settled in this position – it means that we will be able to work on her very easily without requiring an expensive haul out. It also means that we didn’t have to spend a lot of time this evening trying to brace her to keep her from falling over too far. We were very happy to find this out. We also discovered that, although she has a fair bit of algal slime on her bottom, she had relatively few barnacles and the hull was in good shape. Another sigh of relief!
In a little over an hour we had the job done – new prop in place, all our through-hull fittings cleaned out, barnacles scraped off, and new zincs installed. Then it was the waiting game again … waiting for the tide to rise enough to float us off the sand. Eventually, at around 1 am in the morning, we floated free, tied up to the main float, and crashed (in our nice warm bunk thanks to the new stove) until morning.
And was all of this successful? Indeed it was. The Awen‘s new motor purrs like a kitten, and now, instead of creeping along at 4 knots, we can make 8 knots easily. What a difference! The Awen actually creates a wake!