We left Hatteras, NC and sailed down the Pamlico Sound on a broad reach in 25 knot winds and a light chop. The sail was fast, maintaining a speed of 6-7 knots for a majority of the passage. Then we anchored in the harbor at Oriental, NC which is a very boater friendly town.
They have marine consignment shops, and co-op stores that stock everything a cruiser will need to provision, repair, or relax as they cruise! They even loan bikes to boaters for free so you can explore the town with ease. The local grocery store also has a shuttle that will pick you up at the pier and take you to the store, and take you back to the pier with all your groceries!
We greatly enjoyed our stay here in this small town where everyone knows each other and is very friendly towards us and other cruisers. Then the winds shifted and were blowing towards our next destination.
I was preparing to raise the anchor when I decided to test the motor first: nothing.
The engine display would not turn on and the motors did not respond when I would put the motors in forward or reverse. It seemed that our reliable and maintenance free motors were not responding and were not going to work today.
I began trouble shooting everything, tracing wires and checking voltages. We had 51.3 VDC leading into the motors, and all the connections seemed to be corrosion free. I also checked for continuity in the circuits, and everything was operating as it should, yet the motors would not spin.
Then I thought: "What if the propeller is fouled and wont allow the motors to spin!" So I tried turning the shaft by hand, and sadly, it spun freely without any hesitation. I was stumped, as everything seemed to be in working order, yet it was not responding.
After talking with the manufacturer of the electric motors directly, they deduced based on the information that I had given him that the main controller has died and there is no way to fix it without a new control unit.
The company is very kind, and since the unit is only a few months old, it is covered under warranty and they are going to ship it out to us so that I can swap the parts and get running again.
We are anchored in a beautiful harbor, surrounded by many nice people, yet we wanted to go and were not able to. It looks like we will be here in Oriental, NC for another week as we wait for the parts to come in. Such troubles!
We did consider raising anchor and sailing away without the motor working, but decided against it. Yes, we usually sail into and out of anchorages, traveling many miles without the use of our engine, but those are in much wider waters with calmer currents. Here, the current flows at around 2 knots down a very narrow channel with lots of shoals and obstructions along the way. We could brave it and venture off under sail alone, but it would be very unwise. The ICW is in the motor boats domain. The water is narrow and shallow, and the winds are blocked by trees and buildings along the way. There are also bridges that open on a schedule and a motor is needed to fight the current and hold one in place as all the boats wait in a line.
Trying to sail through narrow Adams Creek and into Beaufort, NC is foolish. So instead we decided to stay where we are and wait for the parts to arrive so we can join the ranks of the motor boats that transit these narrow and crowded waters.