Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Alaska 2016 | Day 51 | Ford's Terror to Dawes Glacier to Endicott Arm Cove

No bears this morning, but we're on a schedule and must move on. High water slack was in the early afternoon. We made it out without difficulty, although we were quite a bit early and fought about 4 knots of current.

As we left, the Island Spirit mini cruise ship (130' long) was waiting to enter. This is the third time I've left Ford's Terror this season, and the Island Spirit has been waiting to enter every time. Funny how our schedules converge.

Getting up to Dawes was easy again. Not much ice in the water until the last few miles. Tons of seals and pups hanging out on the ice. Dramatic scenery and rock formations. The weather wasn't sunny, but it wasn't rainy either. High overcast.

I maneuvered past the ice and a couple of small cruise ships until we were about a third a mile from the glacier face. Brendan and Maddie got the kayaks on the water and set off exploring.
Lots of calving
Seals on ice
Brendan and Maddie kayaking
And then I could only go backwards. That's right, the boat was stuck in reverse. Surrounded by ice, 100 nautical miles from the nearest town, with current and wind pushing me towards the rocks at about a knot. Kayakers quickly growing distant. Oh shit.

I maneuvered the boat into a relatively clear spot using reverse and the bow thruster. I could control speed just fine—the farther I advanced the throttle in either direction, the faster the boat went. But only backwards.

As soon I was in a clear spot, I shut the engine off and dove into the engine room. No fluid leaks, clean oil in the transmission, the shift cable was securely attached to the transmission. I manually shifted the transmission into neutral, restarted the engine, and tried shifting into forward. Nothing. I shifted into reverse, and we were backing up again.

Engine off, I got back in the engine room. This time I manually put the transmission in forward. Then I restarted the engine...and we moved forward! So the transmission seemed fine, just not the control.

Greatly relieved that we wouldn't be returning to Juneau backwards, I figured one of two things was wrong: either the shift cable had snapped or the cable had somehow come loose on the throttle/shift end of things. If the cable was broken, we'd limp back to Juneau. Docking would be a challenge, but I could run the boat fine by shifting the transmission in the engine room. If the connection was bad, perhaps I could fix it out here.

I took a peak at the underside of the throttle/shift lever (single lever Morse cable control), and sure enough, a cable clamp on the shift cable had come loose. Shift (and throttle) cables are basically an outer sheath with a cable traveling through the center. The cable clamp held the sheath in place so the cable would move inside the sheath. When the cable clamp loosened, it allowed the entire sheath and cable assembly to move, and I got stuck in reverse. I adjusted the cable and retightened the cable clamp. And it worked!

All in, about 15 stressful minutes at Dawes Glacier.
Red dot is "Endicott Arm Cove"
Soon after I had it fixed, Brendan and Maddie returned. We loaded up the kayaks and headed out. By now it was about 5:00 and I was ready for a drink, so we headed for an unrecommended, unnamed inlet on the north side of Endicott Arm. I'll call it Endicott Arm Cove. The books say it's too deep and too steep to. I found it acceptable, with good holding in 150 feet of water and ample room to swing.
Drone shot looking into the valley at Endicott Arm Cove
28.05 nm today
1402.99 nm total

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