The Search For Bright Waters

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bright Eyes in Peril

We enjoyed three calm days at Normans Cay.  We got some grub at the Normans Cay Beach Club.  It was expensive of course but much needed.

We snorkeled a wrecked plane that was really cool.  At high tide you can see the top portion of the plane and it doesn't look like much but under the water it is an entire 75 foot long plane with wings and fish swimming all around it.  We took pics with the disposable under water camera so you will have to wait to see those.

On Tuesday the 28th we left Normas heading for Highborne Cay.  We had to motor around the corals and through some shoals and then our engine decided to quit on us.  We have had a small oil leaking problem for awhile and it finally got worse.  We have been adding oil to the engine pretty consistently to keep it happy.  This time when the engine died we threw out the anchor in shallow water and then added oil and started it back up.  It ran for and bit and then conked out again.

We decided to sail up to Highborne for possible help.  We made it pretty close until one of our turns required us to go upwind.  We are absolutely horrible at sailing upwind.  We can never get more than a perpendicular angle with the wind on either side.  We even broke out the Sailing For Dummies book for help and couldn't get upwind.   So we anchored in a relatively safe area and looked up engine mechanic info.

Our desired destination of Eluethera did not offer much but Nassau had an advertisement.  So that's where we decided to go.

Highborne Cay Marina was supposed to give the weather everyday at 7:30am so we got up then to listen but they said they couldn't get the weather.  That began the longest day ever.

We used our manual windlass to crank up 120ft of anchor rode against the wind. That was no fun.  We then sailed in the direction of Nassau by 8:30am.

We were headed directly down wind which we also have trouble sailing.  We were able to gibe most the way pretty well.  Around 1pm we had to cross the Yellow Banks which is a shallower area with a lot of coral heads scattered around.  On the way down we went around it but this time we decided to go through it because of our slow sailing.

Of course right before we get to the Yellow Banks the sky turns dark and storm clouds loom over us.  We were smart enough to put on our life jackets but not foul weather gear.  As we enter the coral garden chilly winds hit us.  We reduced our sail to slow down as the winds picked up and then it started pouring raining.  Christine laid on the cockpit seat trying to cover up with small pillows while I shivered at the helm.  We were both just wearing our bathing suits and life jackets.

Eventually Christine remembered not all our hatches were closed so she went below to close them.  The only damage was half our bed was soaking wet (my half of the bed).  She came back with jackets for us.  That made it bearable in the cold stinging rain.  The storm lasted an hour and a half as we navigated through the shallow corals.  The corals were much scarier than the storm which was really just uncomfortable compared to the big waves we've been through other times.

And then around 2:30pm the storm finally let up and we came out of the Yellow Banks safely.  However the storm took all the wind with it and soon our sails were luffing and then laying like curtains.  Originally our Garmin told us our arrival time was 5pm, now it was saying 5am the next morning.  When we had only 4 miles to get in the Nassau Harbor we were basically drifting with the water at less than 1 mph.  

We drifted our way into the harbor around 8pm and then the current took a hold of us.  We lowered the Genoa and left up the main sail for direction.  Our goal was to anchor in the first anchorage before the bridges.  However we underestimated the current when we turned into the wind to drop the main sail and by the time we got the anchor down we were swinging close to a charter boat docked.

Night had fallen by now and we had to re-anchor.  Instead of cranking up the anchor one link at a time like before we figured out how to let out some of the Genoa and sail back and forth upwind on the anchor as I pulled it up.  But once we had the anchor up we had our familiar problem of not being able to sail upwind so we couldn't get a better anchorage spot.

That meant we had to try the next anchorage down, on the other side of the two bridges.  So Christine went on the bow with her headset on and a fog horn and I used the half Genoa and the current to take us through the bridges.  It was a lot scarier before than after.  No other boats came and we made it through with ease.  

We then pulled into the next anchorage which was where we anchored the first time we came to Nassau.  However there was a huge barge sitting at the entrance making our life miserable.  We couldn't sail across and anchor right away because the current was still pushing us so we had to cut through the barge and another boat and anchor behind the barge.  We got the anchor down just in time to give us enough distance between us and the boat behind us.  

So at 10pm we could finally get off the boat.  We quickly headed to the Green Parrot, our favorite lodge and now you know the days story.

While we are here we plan to find a mechanic and hopefully get the engine in a better mood.  And then back over to Eluethera.  Wish us luck.

Again sorry for the lack of pics but grabbing the camera was far from our minds most of the day.

I drew this picture to depict us in the storm


Amanda said...

What an awful day! I stumbled across your Blog while searching for 4th of July pics over Annapolis - you have some great ones. Taking a sailing adventure like the one the two of you are on has been one of my lifelong dreams - my husband & I actually talked about it the night we met so we've vowed to do it one day! Until then, I plan to live vicariously by following your blog. Good luck!

Amanda said...

p.s. I've just added you to my Blogroll - when you get to safety, keep the great pictures coming!

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Wow, I'm exhausted just reading this! Glad ya'll made it safely and hope you resolve your engine problems quickly and cheaply! =)

hans and laura said...

I'm so glad you're okay! For God's sake you two have more adventures than anyone I know. But you also have tons of experience under your belt now which is a lot more than some people will ever have!

Snoodle Time said...

Don't know why you can't sail upwind very well, as your boat should do fine. If you take pics of both your sails while sailing upwind, perhaps 40-45 degress off the wind and email them to me, perhaps I can spot some sail trim suggestions.


Joey and Christine said...

thanks for all the well wishes. we are figuring out our engine problem now and will post next week.

steve, next time we sail we will take pics and maybe even a video to show how we cant sail upwind.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good. I'm guessing your car on the genoa track is to far forward and causing it to be pulled down rather than back and down. Try moving your cars back and see if that does help. Also, if your outhaul on the mainsail is loose, that will cause issues. The outhaul for the main sail is on the end of the boom and pulls the sail back on the boom.

Good luck

Joey and Christine said...

anonymous: the tracks for the genoa are pretty far back, about 75% back. we can try moving them all the way back. i have not checked the mainsail outhaul but will look at that.

George and Kerri said...

Hi, I'm a marine mechanic in Annapolis MD. (Edgwater) and fellow cruiser. I'm well familiar with the small yanmar engines and willing to help all I can from here. I have some ideas and can walk you through the rest of your troubleshooting if you are interested. You will be probably getting *lots* of free advice about your motor. email me or ping our blog if I can be of any help. In any case, best of luck. George and Kerri

Mom:o) said...

I like the sound of George and Kerri. They get my vote. Meanwhile, about that latest pic(drawing). Is christine holding on for dear life or is it what it looks like,her lounging while holding something over her head? justing

Joey and Christine said...

We have been receiving a lot of help this past week. We always knew that the sailing community was the best around and this just proves it. Thank you to all.

Mom, Christine was holding a pillow over her head but also holding on for dear life. While I'm at the helm she has the tough job of getting things we need like life vests and jackets and grabbing lines. When the boats bucking it can be very scary and that's how her e-reader got tossed over board. We are tethered to the boat but still have to keep our balance.