Location: Spa Creek, Annapolis, MD
Current position: 38 58.335 N 076.29.523 W
We're sitting here in Spa Creek, relaxing and sipping a glass of wine, and enjoying what might arguably be called one of the nicest spots on the creek.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves....
We arrived in Annapolis at around 10:00 AM Wednesday and headed up to the mooring field on Spa Creek to see if we could grab a mooring until after the Annapolis Sailboat Show. We'd heard stories about how crazy the anchorages around here can get at boat show time, and thought a mooring would suit us well. There were several moorings available, but they are all scheduled to be taken over by the boat show starting next Monday. We decided to find the harbormaster's dock and go talk to him about it and maybe take on some water.
Not knowing where the harbor master was located, we slowly motored around the creek looking for the city dock. We headed toward the Spa Creek bascule bridge, realized the harbor master wasn't up there, and turned around. Then the engine died. In the middle of the freaking channel to the bridge.
Sheesh. Never a dull moment....
Mark leapt forward, dropped the anchor, and let out some chain so at least we wouldn't drift into other boats or docks. Then he went below and started digging into the bowels of the engine and bilge trying to figure out what the problem was.
Julie went up to the bow to make sure the anchor was holding, to let out a bit more chain when we started to drag (we wanted to put out the minimum necessary), and to head off any authorities who might think we were planning to anchor out there. Oh. We did mention that you're not allowed to anchor where we were, didn't we?
In a flurry of activity with rugs, floorboards, engine covers, boat parts, perspiration, and tools from the "appropriate language toolbox" flying everywhere, Mark changed the fuel filter. Nope, that wasn't the problem.
More flurry, more "appropriate language", more floorboards, and he finally found it. The lift pump (the pump that pulls fuel from the tank and pushes it to the injector pump) had a loose fitting, spraying fuel and allowing air into the fuel system
It's commonly said that diesel engines only need two things to run - clean air and clean fuel. They don't, however run so well if you mix the two together before trying to push them through the injectors.
About this time, the harbor master's skiff pulled up alongside to chide us for anchoring there. Julie deftly dealt with the anchoring issue by explaining our predicament and telling him that we'd found the problem and should be back under way in fairly short order. She also took the opportunity to discuss the mooring issue with him. In the process, she learned that the boat on mooring #23, one of those not taken over for the boat show, would be leaving in an hour or so, giving us an opportunity to pick up the mooring.
Mark tightened the loose fitting, bled the system, and with phone support from Rachel's previous owner (once again - thanks, Butch!), we got the engine restarted.
What a relief. We hauled the anchor back in and headed out into the mooring field to pick up #23 when it became available. As we motored by, we saw the crew in the cockpit and Julie called over and asked when they'd be leaving, explaining that we wanted to pick up their mooring.
We hovered around to make sure we would be there at the right time. Good timing, too, because we'd seen several other boats looking for moorings, as well. With the boat show a week away, things are starting to get crazy around here. Suddenly a guy popped up out of nowhere in a dinghy and said he was getting that mooring. We were a bit put out but the moorings are offered on a first come first served basis and with him being in a dinghy he could get right next to the boat and grab the pennant as they let it go.
Mark began to reopen the "appropriate language toolbox", and Julie, seeing it wasn't going to do any good, prepared to leap off the boat and intercept the pennant as the guy was about to grab it. After a team confab we decided it wasn't worth getting upset about, nothing we could do about it. This guy was a "gret daft chuff" and nothing we could do short of running him down would make him give up that mooring!!
We decided that we'd head through the bridge and try to find a spot to anchor further up Spa Creek. As we headed toward the bridge, the harbor master came by again in his skiff and chatted with us. We explained what had happened and asked if he knew of any other boats that were on "keeper" moorings that were scheduled to leave soon. He quietly muttered "Damn bird doggers", checked his list, shook his head, and we motored on.
We saw him pull out his cell phone and a minute later he came back alongside. He sad "The bridge will be opening in a couple of minutes. Go through it and about a quarter of a mile on your left, just past the day mark, look for mooring # 65. The boat that's on it is smaller than yours and the owner has agreed to move to the St. Mary's moorings."
Only boats 35' or less are allowed n the St. Mary's mooring field - off limits to us at 37'.
We thanked him profusely, went through the bridge, and as we approached #65, saw him receive the pennant from the boat, and hold onto it until we could come pick it up so nobody else could swoop in and grab it. What a nice guy! He told us to get settled and when we could, go to the harbormaster's office on Ego Alley to check in, pay, and fill out the paper work. When we got there, we learned that we'd gotten the last available mooring for any boat over 35'. And the best part is that we really like this spot much better than the mooring field outside the bridge.
So we're settled in here in Spa Creek for the next ten days or so and are looking forward to exploring Annapolis.
Mark & Julie