We launched the boat on June 10 at Loyalist Cove and, two weeks days later, we are still here…waiting for two new propellers for our bow thruster. These small blades are housed at the bow of our boat, underwater, and are part of the boat’s bow thruster system, which includes its own engine, belts, gears, and pins.
The bow thruster is a critical piece of Wild Horses. It allows us to maneuver the boat in tight spaces like busy harbours and canal ways. 47 feet is a lot of length to manage getting into, out of and around docks and other boats. Not having a bow thruster is akin to trying to move a transport truck around an icy parking lot using only rear wheel drive. Yeah, not fun.
So, what happened? After moving the boat to our temporary slip, we asked the Loyalist Cove crew if they could change our anchor light. The bulb had blown out a year ago and replacing it meant going up our 60-foot mast. This is a Victoria job and one that I continuously deprioritized (fancy word for “avoided-like-the-plague”).
In order to do the job, the crew needed Wild Horses moved back to the launching bay from our temporary slip so that their telescopic boom lift could be used to access the top of the mast. Great! We started the engine on Wild Horses, threw off the dock lines and pressed the port bow thruster button. Lots of revving but no movement. Huh? We tried again. Same result. What? The yard mechanic came over and checked all the bow thruster equipment that sits inside the boat, under our V berth. Nothing looked amiss so the quick diagnosis was a sheared engine pin but we wouldn’t know for sure until Wild Horses was hauled out of the water and a bow thruster specialist could do a proper investigation. Ugh. These specialists are busy guys (and gals). We were told the wait could be as much as a month and the cost could be, well, a lot. We were more than a little dejected and went for a walk to clear our heads.
What happened next was simply amazing.
While we were gone, the Loyalist Cove crew came up with an alternate plan. They would help us get Wild Horses over to the launching bay to change the dreaded anchor light and, while there, they would quickly hoist us out of the water to take a look at the bits of the bow thruster that sat under the water, just in case the problem was an easier fix than a sheared pin. Wild Horses would then be placed back in the water and returned to her temporary slip. Their days were packed with other work but they could fit us in at 0700 the next morning. Perfect!
Even more perfect was that hoisting up Wild Horses did indeed expose the bow thruster problem. Two missing propeller blades. They must have fallen out after launch, when we moved the boat to her temporary slip. We knew the reason was an installation error on our part. We had done some work on the blades this spring and in an attempt not to strip the screws (which happened to us last year), we inadvertently didn’t tighten them enough. Frustrating but the good news is that replacing propeller blades doesn’t require a bow thruster specialist. It also only requires the boat to be lifted out of the water, not hauled out and placed in a cradle.
Whew! Our potential $10,000+ issue suddenly became a $500 issue.
The only hiccup is that the propeller blades are not readily available in Canada. We have been waiting over a week while the parts are shipped from Germany by way of a dealer in Washington State. No worries! We are sitting comfortably at Loyalist Cove in our temporary slip. We won’t be going anywhere until the fix is done but we won’t be bored. We are only 15 minutes from the beautiful city of Kingston and, oh yeah, we still have some boat projects to dive into!
Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.