Awakened for my watch on day four of our seven day passage to Green Turtle Cay, Captain Judy says, “We had the “dreaded clunk!” [indicating water block] while you slept.” Back at Caribbean 1500 pre-departure seminars, Rick Palm and Miles Poor had warned us of water siphoning back into the cylinders from following seas. Despite following the advice to run the engine a couple of times a day, this gremlin had struck “Bentaña.”
The good news was that we were given thorough instruction on how to remedy the problem on shore. The bad news was, after a previous ugly encounter I told wife Judy “I’m never going in that engine room again. It’s a sailboat.” I protested in my best macho voice, “We don’t need no stinkin’ engine“. Well, the Captain prevailed, I followed orders and into the breach I went.
The first injector came out without much fuss, but it took 12 hours of sweat, brute persuasion and more than a few salty words to oust the other three. After sucking over a gallon of water out of the engine, giving it a loving dose of WD-40, blowing sooty water everywhere and bolting everything back in place, we crossed our fingers and started the engine. After a few turns, and a miasma of fumes and sparks on top of the engine from a high pressure hose leak, our mighty Perkins 4.108 came back to life to a round of applause from a tired and grateful crew. I think no one was more surprised or thrilled than I, an avowed anti-motorhead. I know that cruising and passagemaking test us and then require us to reach beyond our comfort zone and do what has to be done.
Thanks to “Doc” Miles who talked me through the operation over the single-side-band; scrub nurse Judy who handed me tools and mopped my brow; and Bill and Tim, our stalwart crew who kept “Bentaña” moving on course on a voyage we will all long remember fondly.
Up the Mast at Sea
On S/V Bentaña, we had lots of adventures and misadventures while on our passage to the Bahamas. Our whisker pole bent double before we left the Chesapeake, we ripped the main and mizzen sails, had a water block in the engine, lost the autopilot, and ran low on fuel to name a few.
I had a nice nap one afternoon and when I awoke, my husband Steph mentioned that a flag halyard had come loose and fouled the blades on our newly installed wind generator. Since we needed the wind generator to produce energy and save fuel, we heaved to and I, being the smallest aboard and a confirmed mast monkey, went up the mizzen to see if I could clear the halyard. The seas were relatively calm but it was still “rockin’ and rollin’ “25 feet up. After going up twice assessing the situation and not having 3 arms and hands with which to work on it and hang on at the same time, I decided not to risk fingers or other body parts to clear the line at sea. Luckily it was a lovely sunny day and the solar panels did their job.
A Letter to HQ
Hope everyone is finally in and safe in the BVI. We’ve had a few days to decompress and get some clean-up and sail work done at Green Turtle Cay. Just checking to see if you got the two postings Judy and I submitted Re: Problems at sea, as we’ve not been able to confirm your receipt.
More importantly, I have not seen a correction of our finish crossing time. Although we arrived at GTC on the 19th, we had crossed the line over a full day earlier at ~ 0917 GPS time, 11/18/11. Your Yellow Brick tracker and our Spot Tracker can confirm this. As the rally wisely selected a finish outside the reef cut, to allow competitors to cross the line at any hour without risking the potentially hazardous channel, we took advantage of it. We crossed the morning of the 18th, and after assessing the cut, the weather, our compromised vessel (low fuel, injured engine, ssb down) and our personal experience in the “Rule 62” search, we decided the “prudent mariner” would seek shelter in deep water. So we clawed off the lee shore and we hove to, awaiting the next day’s better weather.
An issue which exacerbated communication was the choice of Channel 77 in the Bahamas. In the US, 77 is 25 watts, but in the Bahamas it is only one watt. There was no way Johnny could have gotten our finish over our VHF. We were however in radio contact with “Troubadour” and “Transylvania” who can confirm our proximity to the finish on the 18th. We had visual contact with “Troubadour” at around the time of our finish, however they had crossed earlier in the night and then reentered during daylight .
I hope this will clarify our finish. Judy and I and our crew worked very hard under difficult circumstances to bring Bentaña across the line in a timely and sportsman-like manner. Please correct our finish if you have not already done so.
All that said; please understand that we had a great time. We had one of our best and most exciting starts ever. We had wind and seas which put us in first place for the first three days of the rally and allowed us to keep moving while engine issues made us sail! We all agreed that we had some of the best sailing ever. Thanks for all your effort. Best wishes to Rick and all the 1500 crew.