Cold day on the river


Winter on the Connecticut river in Cromwell

Last week, I got a call from my father saying he was on the Connecticut river below the Old Saybrook bridge and his engine wouldn’t start. The old A4 in the the Ericson which had been trouble free all summer was acting it’s age again. The bigger issue was that my father had spent the night before on the boat with his cousin in freezing temps with no heat onboard. After some cleaning of the fuel system over the phone they got the boat going again headed up river to it’s winter home.

Of course the story doesn’t end there. About duck I got another call that the boat had died again on it’s way upriver somewhere near the entrance to Hamburg cove. I made a few calls to some people I know along the river to see if I could arrange a tow upriver, but no one was free for a few days (November is not a busy time on the river). I decided to take the next day off work to bring the boat upriver. A quick look at Bing maps confirmed they were on a stretch of river with out easy access (other than a few houses). I recalled a fiend belonging to a yacht club in the area and found it was about a half mile from the boat. The next day I rode down to Pettipaug yacht club with my mother and called my dad for a lift in the dinghy. After a while I saw the inflatable coming around the bend and hopped on for a cold ride in a windy chop back to the boat.

Once on the boat and out of the wind in the cabin, I took a look at the situation. It appeared the boat was still starved for fuel despite a filter change and blowing out of the fuel lines. I began taking the different points of the fuel system apart to check for a blockage. I used the foot pump from the inflatable as an improvised compressed air source and check each part of the system. After becoming very frustrated by blowing out every part of the system and still not getting fuel flow I decided to bypass the one section (fuel filter and shut off valve) where i was getting the most restriction of air flow. Luckily there was a inline filter on board that I spliced inline to get us going along with some clamps and hoses. (sometimes having an overabundance of spare junk on board is an asset. )

Once we got it running it was a nice cold trip up the river. The Haddam bridge opened with out any trouble and we made steady progress up past Middletown only passing 2-3 boats along the way. In middle town we lost the light but decided to keep going as the moon was full. As we came to the north end of of Gildersleeve island we got a good heavy pump on the keel that slowed us nicely, fortunately the boat is heavily boat and it seemed to just be a small ridge of silt built up at the end of the island. (6 foot draft seems to be the limit on this section of river as I know other boaters with similar drafts that had the same problem in the area over the years).  It did grab my attention and I was glued to the chartplotter the rest of the trip up.

About a mile short of our goal (Seaboard Marina) the engine decided to cough twice on us. Luckily it never died and made it to our goal. (a little ungracefully I may add as I came in to the dock a little steeper than I intended) The A 4 seemed to be smoking more as the trip went and I think the rings may be sticking (or worn out) but that’s what the winters for. Well that and apparently replacing the gunk filled gas tank.

Till next year the boat is back on the hard.


About Colin

Short Bio. I have worked in the marine industry since I was 15 with the exception of a brief stint working on cars and RV's.
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