Death March 2010 – Starring Matt's Helm.

While many of you were enjoying this weekend at boat shows.. We here in Woodyboaterville decided that Sunday looked like about the best day of the year to try and move Betsy, our 1958 Connie. Now mind you, she has not really been run for years. We tore off 1/4 of her bottom planks. Removed countless items including gas tanks and only really tested her for about an hr. So to make a 3 hr journey through the Chesapeake bay From Deltaville to Reedville had my nerves a little on edge.

I asked my next door neighbor.. Plastic boater Frank… To help out as a chase boat. He is a retired policeman and a by the book kinda guy with a boat that is needless to say, ship shape. As we headed out to get Betsy, the seas were a tad heavy, but OK. We made it there in Franks boat in about 45 minutes..Oh! that 454 can move that boat…

There she was at Krunches dock, all perky and her tail was wagging. She started right up and off we went. Now… With a 3 hr death march in front of you out in the bay. I have to admit. You notice each and every flaw in the boat. Each creek, glug and spit could be disaster…I think I have about 7 fire extinguishers on boat along with one of those big tanks that blows out the engine compartment. I was alone, with Frank in the chase boat, but as predicted by the weather man on line..

I can not photo shop clouds like this.. They look to fake.

The seas flattened out and it was smooth sailing. What an amazing day..80 degreees, low humidity, calm seas.. It’s like the world was helping Betsy home.Karma is a good thing..

Or was it…At 2,500 rpm the starboard engine started heating up a tad. Why push it. And to be honest, not a huge more speed. So we stepped her down to her new sweat spot. 1700 RPM’s – As we got half way, I noticed some water in the bilge.. And the pumps started working.. Now.. I have to say.. the term “that sinking feeling”… it’s a cliche for a reason… There I am alone, don’t want to stop… And as long as the bilges..4 of them.. keep shutting off, I am OK … Just plow forward.. Another cliche that rang true..

Thank god for Frank.. Just knowing another boat was there was a good feeling.

As we arrived in the Great Wicomico, This calm fell over me, I could swim home if need be. And after all I am only in about 8 feet of water.. I could walk home.. At this point, all her problems went away and I was able to see her beauty once more. Survival had blinded me earlier in the day, I was now able to slip back into my romantic view of the world and Betsy…

Passing by the Reedville Stack.. All is swell in the world. I am home

On she went. Tail wagging and glugging to her new home. It’s like she knew. She was home, and knew that her life from this moment on would be nice slow cocktail sunset cruises.. Like her life was going off into the sunset.. Another cliche, by the way.. Once docked, I climbed into the bilge to find water coming in .. The darn bolt on the stuffing box had completely come off. One twist and fixed… I plugged her into her new home and just sat and had a nice cool glass of water. Basking in my seamanship… Next week, I need to learn how to dock. If she is still floating..

Home swell home
13 replies
  1. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    WoodyBoater, a fantastic story and a happy ending! Congratulations are in order. She looks beautiful moored on the end of the dock "at home".


  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    Great story, and it is nice to know that I'm not the only one to get that uneasy feeling the further away from the dock I get in a nearly 60 year old boat. Is the oil pressure dropping? Engine sound right? Sitting lower in the water?

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Karma is a good thing! We've all had that "I don't think I'm gonna make it" feeling. And then, after you've accepted the thought that you will lose your precious boat, don your PFD and prepare for the worst, you arrive at the dock. The calm after the adrenaline rush stops is beautiful! Fair winds & following seas to you and Betsy!

  4. Chad
    Chad says:

    I think it's the "I don't think I'm gonna make it" feeling that draws me to wooden boating.

    Congrats on making it home without any major issues.

  5. richard
    richard says:

    I watched you pull out of Broad Creek yesterday. Boat looked good. Glad you made it. I will probably see you at the Reedville Boat Show as I am entered in Sept. with my WallaceCraft.


  6. richard
    richard says:

    I watched you leave Broad Creek yesterday. Boat looked very good. I get my WallaceCraft hauled at Reedville Marine Railway every year. She has been maintained there since 1978. Will be there in September as I entered the Reedville Antique Boat Show this year. Hope to see your boat then up close.


  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    John Rothert posting as anonymous:
    Great pix, super looking helm!
    I am putting my cruiser on the railway tomorrow and will crawl under her for a couple of days screwing and gluing.
    Will gladly give you the docking tutorial!
    Thanks for the story and for saving that great cruiser! Any nibbles in Cincy on Sylvia?

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Man i'm so jealous! I can wait to get my 35" Connie in the water…Betsy is a good looking girl!

  9. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Thought I might add another thought.
    I know from experience that you develop a personal attachment to an old wood boat. Not only that but you also get an emotional attachment as well. My 1960, 27' Connie is comfortably resting is a covered slip but the dock is about 1/4 mile away from the west bank of the Mississippi River, isolated by flooded roads. I still drive out as close as I can get and check her over with binoculars across the flood water and call the harbormaster every other day to check on her. She's fine but I'm sure she's lonely out there so far from land.

  10. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Matt what happened to the barn find crusier story we were looking for on Monday????? Betsy looks good, I love those old girls but my pockets aren't deep enought:):) Now let's see you tow that to Dora:) Hey I can sleep in the back cabin all the way down, and we can just hook Betty Boop (Weldwood) behind her, hey what's an extra 16'
    Phil in Va.

  11. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    That was exciting to read. Sounds like a good voyage. I too got nervous too when the water stared coming in. Glad you made it.

  12. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    WoodyBoater You are on the right heading. Glad there are people who can manage those big wood boats. Thanks. I love to look. I guess that is why I check out the site as often as I do. Thanks for that too. I love it that when you got home, there was only one quick fix and you are ready for the next trip. Just got back from the TI's and had the longest run, four days, of the flatest water I can remember in 55 years, with the sky full of those same clouds. Fantastic. Wishing you many happy excursions on Betsy. Tons of room to spread out and relax with lots of company. I suspect you are going to be very popular. Don't let it go to your head, your hat won't fit.

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