The aforementioned test sail commenced at 9 am this morning, but only after I asked a local Bahamian friend who was passing by in is 20 foot runabout to help pull us off the dock. The wind had shifted in the night and it’s current direction and speed combined to pin us squarely to the dock.
The extraction went off without a hitch and once free of the sticky tentacles of the Exuma Yacht Club, we headed across the harbour and into the lee of Stocking Island.
Once out of the wind driven chop, we raised the mainsail. It went up without issue and seemed to set well, so we called it good and dropped it back into it’s stack pack. Next we rolled out the head sail; or at least we tried. The roller mechanism was so stiff we couldn’t get the sail to unfurl. After ten minutes of fruitless tugging, I took a BFH (Big Fu$king Hammer) up front and showed the furler my power.
“You better recognize BEOTCH ! Whack! Whack! KAPOOOOOW !!!”
A few minutes later I was able to roll out the sail and we looked good. We tacked and gibed the boat a couple of times and we felt the sail plan was manageable, so we headed out the northern entrance bound for America.
When we finally reached open water, we were greeted with 6 to 8 footers from several directions. The boat handled the confused seas ok, but not great. We were averaging 7.8 knots under sail, but taking a pretty good beating.
Three hours into the trip there was a loud “POP” followed by one of our inner shrouds plummeting back down onto the deck.
We quickly doused the main in an effort to keep the rig from coming crashing down. Fortunately, we were running down wind and it wasn’t too difficult to get the sail down and secured. Further inspection revealed the severity of the shroud failure and Dave and I both agreed that we would not be using the main sail for the remainder of the trip.
After 5 hours on the sound getting pummeled to death, we finally reached Galliot cut and crossed over to the bank’s side of the Exuma islands and relative calm returned.
The calm lasted 19 minutes at which time the main diesel engine coughed twice and died.
Shitty Death, again!!!!
Dave went below to diagnose the problem, while I continued my shift at the helm. Dave reported badly clogged fuel filter, but due to the design layout of the boat (1993), it wasn’t possible to drop the filter bowls without completely disassembling the entire rear cabin berth. Instead, Dave opted to mouth siphoned off the ugly fuel into nine different coffee mug sized loads. Two hours later, the engine returned to life.
We celebrated the return of the engine with ham and cheese sandwiches, but the excitement was short lived as twenty minutes later, the batteries flat-lined, which in turn shut off the auto pilot and I had to resort to hand steering.
Fu@k you electrons!
Dave and I trouble shot the problem and we agreed that the engine alternator was not working. The boat had a diesel genset and after 30 minutes, we were able to get it running and charging our batteries.
Contrary to what the owner had told Dave, both the new 8D house battery and the group 27 engine battery are toast. Given the state of drain just operating the boat induced, we decided we’d run the genset every other hour to ensure we can continue to run the instruments and the auto pilot.
By sunset, we were off of Shroud Cay and we opted to head towards West Bay on New Providence. At least in theory, this destination provides us with safe harbour if the boat continues its self destruct sequence while also keeping us on course for a return to America if the situation doesn’t deteriorate further.
Dave relieved me after I stood the 10 pm to 1 am watch. To bed early under very rough conditions as we neared Nassau. See you in three hours, more to follow, end of line…..