Thursday, February 21, 2019


A journey from heaven to hell and back

Having have a really wonderful time in Cuba it was time to say goodbye and head towards St Lucia so I would be in plenty of time before they arrived for their two month visit
So after much planning and preparation I set off at 0830 hrs after a resounding farewell wave from all the friends I had made in Santiago da Cuba and it was humbling to note that people I had known for such a short time were happy to come out at 7am to wave me off

Maybe they were actually coming to see if I Gould get off the jetty  single handed or if I would call for help because they all thought I was loco
Well I got my clearance and jumped onto the boat having loosened the lines and it went perfectly and I was off
I knew I would have to motor some way on the first day as the winds would be very light and so I i called to wish some Irish friends on their way and headed for the gap between Haiti and Jamaica .
About two hours out the wind picked up and I was able to sail for around two hours so I believed I was in heaven still but the wind died again so on went the motor and I donked for 12 hours achieving 110 miles that day
As I came around the end of Haiti the wind picked up not to the 16 kts I saw on the forecast but to 25 kts peaking 30 kts so with two reefs in the main and a tiny Genoa I started my beating into the wind
Well day two I did two very long tacks and made 48 miles headway which was around three miles sailing to one mile forward This was going to be a slow sail
At the end of the day two I went to start my Volvo and well the clunk told me something was wrong so I went down to check if the water problem was back and well I got thrown about and saw that the engine had filled overnight to the point where the oil was pushing out of the air intake  so I opened the oil filler cap and oil poured out of that too
Needless to say I allowed my spirits to sag to an almighty low being in such strong winds without an engine. I was not a happy camper but at least I still had my generator to charge batteries and it meant real sailing for me
So out came Mrs Kipor and I started her up and all was well for around 10 minutes and the overload alarm light came on and shut the system down and nothing I could do would change it even trying to start it with nothing connected didnt work. So now I am 100 miles offshore without and engine or generator and only Mrs windgenerator and solar panels to help me on the way
So I carried on and on day three i went down to have a look at Mrs Volvo and what I could do to save her and started by pumping out 15 liters of sea water (luckily no fresh water was lost )
Then I got all the tools out while being bounced about on close haul bashing into waves and everything going flying around the saloon in different directions all the time
I found a bucket and started stripping the engine very slowly to ensure I put all the parts in so I could put them back in the exact same order and eventually got the injectors out and put away
Then as I thought was a good idea I could pump the water in the piston out by cranking the starter motor and the piston would pump the water out and once all out I could assemble and put new oils new filters and save the engine. Well now what I didnt realise was when I turned the starter motor that instead of sea water black sooty engine oil would come flying out of those 19mm holes and cover me and every single mm of the engine room in oil very slippery oil
It was here I went outside checked the liferaft and got my passport and wallet into the grab bag in case I needed to get out fast
Not only did Id cover the engine room but it started dripping down and filling every crevass in the boat storing it for later. So I sat back in disbelief and instead of crying I burst out laughing with my black face and all of the other parts
That was when I decided that my bath towel had to be sacrificed and first wiped myself down and then covered the engine and blew the remaining oil out of the cylinders and then started wiping down some of the engine room and engine
Then I rested before i reassembled the engine and left the filler cap off and the drain plug out of the sump and went to change tack for the evening
Next morning I went down to look and low and behold the engine was full again so out came the pump and I drained it again but by now I was in panic mode (almost) and switched  my  sailor engineering
Brain on and started using logic so I found an old cloth and stuffed it into a zip lock bag and stuffed it into the exhaust to ensure water could not come in that way . Mindful of the huge waves that were breaking over me all the time and that I was soaked
By this time the steady strong winds were giving a constant white foamy spray and it was coming into the boat through everywhere it could so having plugged the exhaust I went to my cabin to get some dry clothes and get out of my oil rags from my baptism of oil the giggling motor gave me
Well on my way out of the cabin my foot slipped on a wet patch and I cam crashing down in the gangway on my face but the doorway decided to take my shoulder out with it
I am not sure if I was unconscious but I realised that a facelift wasnt on order but I was really sore and this wasnt going to help me with changing sails everytime I tacked but I couldnt allow that to stop me now or I would be in serious trouble
Having plugged the exhaust I decided I was going to ensure the siphon release worked and I also added an extra stopcock to prevent any seawater getting near the engine and then went down and pumped another 15 liters out of the engine and then left it again
By this time I was exhausted and was for the first time ever feeling a little seasick so I had to force myself to eat because I needed to keep my strength up .
I had cooked 21 meals in preparation for the trip but I had added a little too much chillies in the food so at sea it was too much so I reverted to adding a box of soup to half a jar of bottled food and it got the spicy tast just right and so i knew what my meals were going to be for the rest of the journey
So now its day four and I am grinding the winch to set the Genoa and my left arm screams at me and I just knew I had pulled a muscle leaving me no arms to grind with (I suppose after four days of doing gym in strong winds and very big swells and boat bashing down the back of waves you should be tired
Well now I had to really put my mind to work and ignore the pain so using two hands every time to spread the load I positioned myself over the winch to help me but this meant that waves crashing on the decks would wet me every time I was out there and being wet caused me to get nappy rash which also gets painful and you eventually cant sit anymore but have to lay down and I didnt have any medication to use on it
Well it was day five and the night had given me a new challenge and the bilges were filled up and all the oil in then had now been deposited on all the floors in the saloon and galley and passages and the auto bilge pump wasn’t coping with the flow inward
It was the worst sight I could have woken to so back on hands and knees I was using sacrificial towel and shirt and a couple of rolls of kitchen towel I got it cleaned up and was able to move around again
Then wondering how the water had come in I went forward to the front cabin and to my utter disbelief it was saturated and there was a jet of water coming through from the chain locker every wave that hit Mrs opela and it was a lot of water so next job was to try and plug it with silicon which I did but silicon does not stick to wet salty surfaces and eventually I cut the two wires going through the hole and got a wooden bung and banged it into the hole
Then Mrs auto bilge pump started winning again and soon the bilges were cleared with an oil residue on the bottom not floating around the cabin
So drenched again for six days Now and in the day it was hot but at night it got really cold so even with foul weather gear on I was freezing and got out the warm fleece blanket out to help me
Under the waxing moon the wind on day seven had a squall and shredded my sunshade which also kept the bulk of the fine spray coming off the sea from my feet as I lay in the cockpit to rest
So the end result was I was wet some more
Over the next few days I checked the engine and yay no more water was coming in but I was worrying that the parts inside might be rusting which would mean it would seize but had no option but to leave it
Going back on day two I had to decide what electric equipment needed to be switched off to conserve the batteries because I really needed the autopilot with my arms hurting the way they did so Out came the battery powered led lights and off went computer and everything else except fridge and autopilot and AIS and vhf
Well here is where Mrs wind generator came to the party and during the whole time she kept enough power in the batteries to run those items even though i had decided to sacrifice the food in the fridge over the autopilot
It was monitoring these iTunes and power that I noticed the solar panels werent working properly so I was back on the hunt for faults and found that one was disconnected all together so of course I fixed that in another wet exercise but after that the batteries stayed full all the time so my spirits were lifting again
Well days nine and ten were better because the wind came down to 18 kts and it was easier sailing because the waves only crashed over me every third wave as opposed to almost every wave
And I was set at doing three miles sailing to one mile forward I couldnt point into the wind any better than that and I knew it was a matter of time and I would be near a port where I could get spares and fix the engine
By now the water problem was stopped so I put oil into the engine and cranked it around two or three times to ensure it was loose
Well now on day 11 I went to the heads and did a number and when I started pumping nothing worked so now I have a full toilet and no way to get it out of the boat. A really shitty experience on its way
So I had to strip the pump put some thread tape on the I side of the o ring and then grease the tubes and then reassemble it again while every wave tried its best to share the loaded bowl all over the boat
Luckily my efforts paid off and the pump worked again and was good from then on
Well by this time I was more than exhausted and I was 32 miles out of Ponce in Puerto Rico  and decided the port was open enough I could sail onto anchor and there was a marina so I should get spares and if needed assistance from qualified artisans to sort everything out that still needed sorting out
So I needed to arrive in daylight as I was really afraid to sail onto anchor in a strange port at night so I put in a final tack which put me past the port and allowed me to enter on a beam reach and settled in for the night and of course I fell asleep but something woke me and I found myself two miles offshore heading for a reef so I came about and move to until  morning then as I passed the first bouy  marking the channel I tried turning the engine just praying that it would start and allows me to use it to put the anchor down and flush it out for a final time
No chance and after five attempts I gave up and waited 10 minutes sailing in slowly
First ten and I failed again so I asked the universe for help and on the third attempt she fired up and took me to anchor like a wonderful lady she is
Well I have been here seven days Now and not all the jobs are done because I cant get the spares I need so I am leaving tomorrow to head for St Thomas so that I can try again but I ordered spares online here and they are being delivered to Entheos and I will collect them there and it means I have to beat again and put plugs in all the holes again but at least this time it wont be 12 days but 2 and because I carry the spares I need I have flushed the engine out and fixed all the holes and most of the broken things and sewed a new shade cover it wont be too bad
I must also say that opencpn on a tablet was as good as on the computer and will be happy to share it with everyone to help them
And also I want to add this that because I had AIS the captains of ships were really good in that they always steered around me and I was never put into a dangerous position because they were courteous and also when I asked for weather updates they were very forthcoming I was impressed
Well a week later and my arms are still stiff and sore but I am moving on so that I can get my things sorted out and will be in St Thomas in a weeks time to collect my one way valve for the exhaust and other parts like replacement filters to keep my stocks up
Lets hope the next hop will be less of an adventure

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