A Travellerspoint blog

Used Sailboat for Sale!!!!

No Unreasonable Offer Refused

Sometimes even boats have bad days, occasionally getting a nudge in that direction from the captain and crew.

We were about to get underway on Friday for Devil’s Cay, a relatively sort 23 nm jaunt. I heard the bilge pump cycle; no big deal, that’s what it’s supposed to do. Then, about 5 minutes later, I heard it cycle again, not a good sign; it’s never done that. Sure enough, there was water everywhere. A quick turn on the nearest through hull did nothing so we checked forward of the mast where the two transducers, speed and depth, are located. Each has a threaded locking ring and the ring on the speed transducer was loose and water was just pouring in. It was a very simple fix but a sad harbinger of things to come.

We got to Devils Cay with no problem and tried to set our big Manson anchor; several tries later it was clear that there was no way it was going to set. So, Carol putted around in circles while I switched to the Fortress Danforth anchor. It set, sort of, but not very well. I was backing the boat down to try to get the anchor a better purchase when, once again, predictably, chaos ensued.

The floating, polypropelene dinghy painter, somehow, got drawn into the propeller and stalled the motor; the boat, by the way, was still not well anchored and was dragging. Now we have no power; so, into the water I went to cut the line free from the propeller and shaft. This took a little while but was not a major problem other than our traveling companions, the barnacles, which shredded my back and arms. When I tried to restart the engine …. Nothing! The boat was electrically dead …. No motor, no refrigeration, no circuits were working, especially neither of the radios.

This was looking pretty bad, and the boat was still not well anchored. So, using the dinghy, we put out a second anchor that seemed, in combination with the Fortress , to hold. We were majorly S.O.L.

There were two other boats in the anchorage and one of the boats had come by to offer assistance. We were out of cell range and the big VHF radio was dead as was the SSB. I took the dinghy over to their boat and, miracle #1, Steve on the Fine Lion had a satellite phone which he used to call BASRA (Bahamian Air Sea Rescue Assoc.)

While we’re waiting for BASRA, Carol and I are furiously working on what I thought was the fail point: an on/off switch which can block the ground and shut the entire boat down. I had a couple of spares all of which we tried with no luck. The boat was still dead.

BASRA #1 – Chester showed up about an hour later from Little Harbor, a few miles to the south of Devils Cay. We tried a few things electrical, none of them doing any good. So after discussing our options we decided that if Chester could drag us the ½ mile to open water we would sail to Nassau, about 40 miles against a tough wind, which meant going well over 50 miles with tacking.

Chester, good to his word, got us to open water with enough wind in the sails to make way. So, off we go …. No navigation equipment except a small hand held GPS unit, no navigation lights, no compass light, headed toward a very busy harbor and no radio other than a small handheld VHF unit with a not too great battery which we have to save for when we near Nassau. The cell phone had no chance to work ….. we were tens of miles away from a signal and cannot recharge the unit and were very low on minutes.

We sailed for about eight hours, including two long tacks to get a decent line to the east of the harbor, before I took our first GPS fix. It was miracle #2: from our position, the wind would allow us to hold a line to the harbor entrance and, when we arrived, we were only about ½ mile from the channel and on the correct side, the east, which meant that we could bear away from the wind and nail it, if only we had a motor that would go.

BASRA #2 – We had asked Chester to contact the Nassau office to let them know that we were heading to Nassau under sail and would arrive sometime after sunrise and would need a tow into the harbor. We arrived a little before 0800 and waited to call BASRA. They were PO’ed at us. Somehow, in a classic failure to communicate, a boat had been sent from Nassau to Devils Cay to tow us to Nassau, and they were blaming us for screwing up and wasting their time and money. No one would come out to tow us in and there’s no way that I could have sailed the boat into that harbor, maintained control and anchored; the wind was wrong and I had never been into that harbor before. I’ve been at the helm the whole way, almost 24 straight hours, and I’m 63 and feeling every year of it. The VHF radio battery was gone and the cell phone battery was fading fast, the captain was fading fast, we still had no motor and no plan and were quickly loosing our ability to communicate.

I don’t know what happened behind the scenes but, eventually, the Bahamian Coast Guard came out to take us in; the two guys didn’t seem to happy about this but they got us through the channel and into the harbor. I thought that they would take us to the marina but they dropped us off at an anchorage and told us that this was all they could do, appreciated and all, but we’re never anchored a boat without power, and by the way there is no power to the anchor windlass, so we cannot use our chain rode, which added to the degree of difficulty.

But …. we were ready for this, sort of. We got a smaller spare anchor and hooked it up to a spare 200-ft. rode and over the bow it went. Miracle #3 … the anchor set right away and held with a pretty good wind backing the boat down. Off goes the BCG and we’re on our own again. We used the dinghy to set a 2d, bigger anchor using our spare 350-ft. rode; this one also set and held. It’s ironic that the best anchoring event we’re had in the whole trip was with no power. The other thing was that we had the right equipment in the right places and were able to use it under duress, a modest accomplishment but way better than the alternative.

I used the dinghy to get to the marina and pleaded with Dudley, the dock master, to get us towed to the marina. Since we had no power, if our anchors did not hold we were going to crash into a bridge, a sea wall or a cruise ship, all three bad alternatives. He located a young man, Gumm, who, with his boat, did, finally, get the boat into a slip. Secure at last, but the boat was still dead, no refrigeration, we could not even use the stove because the gas solenoid would not work.

Here’s where things got interesting and provided a bright side to an otherwise dismal sequence of events. Our boat neighbor, when he heard our story immediately gave us 10-lb’s of ice. Dudley called an electrician who came to the boat on Monday. When I Saw Gumm on the dock I said that I would have offered him a cold beer but we had no refrigeration. So, Gumm shows up about ½ hour later with an ice chest with a 25-lb. block of ice inside for us to use.

The proximate cause of the whole fiasco: two blown fuses, one 200 amps and the other 130 amps. The larger fuse shut down the house side and the smaller did the same for the engine starting circuits. I had done a visual inspection on both and they seemed OK. The only way to tell they were gone was with a continuity tester. The electrician found one problem and I located the other myself. Many, many lessons learned.

The boat, Lazarus-like, now works as it should. No shore power and we’re doing fine. The concern is whether this was a one off event, or are there other things working that could cause a remise. We did have spare fuses, one each, but we used those; sailing with no spares seemed like a bad idea.

So, off we went to buy some replacements. No luck at the electrical stores people suggested. We’re walking back to the boat planning on stopping in every marine store along the way. Carol sees a place and suggests that we try there. I said that I would wait while she wasted her time. Miracle #4: about 20 minutes later out she comes and tells me to come upstairs, which I do. Carol had barged into the office for the pilot boats which meet the large ships, including cruise ships, to guide them into the harbor. She has cornered the guy in charge of maintenance for all of the pilot boats. Poor Eugene has never encountered and could not prevail against a Nordic princess cum verbal tsunami like Carol. Long story short, he had someone going to the states to pick up parts for his boats and offered to get our fuses with his stuff.

BASRA #3 - We stopped by the BASRA office to make amends and to atone; we were told that when the facts finally became clear we had not been the cause of the problem. We made a donation and joined the Assoc. which we probably would have done anyway, but it seemed like the right gesture.

So, the boat works, we have parts, we’re rested and the sun is shining. We survived a difficult experience, met some wonderful people and, maybe, will keep the boat a while longer.

We haven't really spent any time enjoying Nassau other than a Domino's pizza and some Haagen-Daz; we've been consumed with getting the boat and ourselves ready to go. Where to go? We haven't decided. We have more boat tasks to complete today, Wednesday, 04/28. We'll leave the marina tomorrow and, depending on the wind and weather, head east to Eleuthera, north to the Abacos or just wait things out at anchor in the main harbor. We sort of plan to start heading back to Brunswick about mid-May hoping to get to the house in early June. But, as the sage said, "Man Plans, God Laughs."

Posted by sailziveli 04:34

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