This is something we have to go through every few years. Until now we could get the same model batteries but this time they had stopped the fabrication of this particular cell. The new ones were too big to fit in the restricted area available. So we have been shopping around for a new set of 12 batteries which could give us 24 volts and about a 1000AH. After weeks of research we found some at the Casa de la Batteria in Colon, they were completly different regarding size and weight (only 65kilo each)! We had then to put our brains to work on how to make them fit and how to secure them.
Hopefully our friend Richard helped us with the full process of grinding, welding and even with the installation! It took about 10 days to sort all out and we are now very pleased to have closed the floor and no see the faces of those for another few years!
Always something to fix but for once the view was good, the air fresh and the birds were singing!
Oman - Eritrea - Sudan - Egypt
On the way to Eritrea we lost our propeller! This is righly not the right place for that! Hopefully many friends on other boats came out at night with their dinghies to help us to enter the harbour under sail. We had no spare one so had to wait for our new MaxProp to be built and sent to us DHL to Massawa. We had to wait about three weeks at anchor in the port.
Thanks to advices of many yachties and the help of Lisa & Bill on S/V Apollo, the new prop was put on underwater. It is normally done while the boat is lifted but there was nowhere for us miles away to get a yard to lift a 65 tons boat!
Picture of Bill once the job was done.
In Egypt we stayed at the lovely Abu Tig Marina complex with hotels, restaurants, shops, swimming pool, golf courses... in a very nice setting. A delight after the basic places visited along the Red Sea.
Abu Tig Marina Website
Arriving at the head of the Kumai River with our friends on S/V Selkie & S/V Mektoub, the water coming out the exhaust for the engine stopped. Our friends stayed by our side to go up river to the main town, 18 nautical miles away, under sails as we could not use the engine.
Once anchored the men had a look at the problem and found that the shaft of the water pump had just broken in half. I mean this is a MTU (better known as Mercedes) and German equipment can be trusted! This is just incredible, we had every parts possible but not a spare shaft as we thought we will never have to replace one. Always the same story, it does not matter how many spares you have, you will never have the right one!
Where could we get something so special in the middle of primitive Borneo where you can still see the Ouran Outang and where the sun never seems to break through the thick wall of smoke due to the huge logging taking place. We could hear at night the unofficial barge boats loaded with enormous trunks slidding down the river with no light under cover of darkness!
We went ashore to see what we could do regarding the engine. The agent at the check in told us that there is a Chinese's Machine Shop a few blocks down. We arrive in front of the run down little building starting to feel a bit desperate. We've got inside and we discovered in real factory doted of the lastest machinery! The Chinese owner comes to talk to us and say:
"Can I hep you?"
'Yes Sir, I broke this shaft and I wanted to know if we could get it sent to us from the main town"
"This is no problem, we can make this here, you come back in 30 minutes"
We left the place being suspectious but to our wonder when we came back the Chinese man handed us a perfect replica of the original part. We could not tell the differences between the two! We fitting it and all seemed to work fine. So we went back and had another one made. It costs us $10 US!
When we arrived in Singapore we had the MTU representative to come and check the system, we showed him the shaft and he said:
"This is good and it is working very well so just keep it that way"!
We could not believe how incredible it was but it is very often the case as we learnt through our travels. In the less expected or poorer places, the people still knows how to repair or make anything.
A big thanks to all of you, who came to help us out there in the swell and at night. There were, S/V Head Office, Atlas, Maxy Pocket, Star Dancer and Marcrista.
Our saviours put anchors out for us and we crossed our fingers that the tide 8 hours later we free us. It did happened but what a memorable night, being throw up in the air every time a wave was passing! You can read the details of the story below. Hopefully the boat is strong and the damages were not too bad.
The next night we had a drinking party with all our friends but once every one was full with the bottle, we heard a call on the VHF from another boat which run aground! So all the men which could not by now start their dinghies left for a second rescue mission! But that poor boat stay several days on the sandbank and was in a terrible angle. Hopefully again no damage.
Australia, Pancake Creek, 24'00.269N - 151'44.173E
Due to some swell after a full day blowing 25 to 30 knots, the sea was by now building up while reaching the coast to break on it. As we headed towards the channel, all we can see was a line of surf but no passage to get into the calm water of the creek. Not trusting the view of rocks to our port we decided to head to starboard, panic started as nothing could be seen. So we just thought it will be best to turn around and go back at sea, while doing so we hit the ground. Hopefully it was a sandbank and not reef of rocks! The swell was pushing us farther and by now every wave passing was lifting us up than with a huge "Bang" throwing us back. The boat was shaking and we were having trouble moving around safely. This is when the bilge alarm started to let us know that water had found its way in! The leak was coming from the lazarette where a crack formed after the rudder had been pushed up a few centimeters inside the boat. We tried everything to stop the water from underwater patties to thick grease without much success. Hopefully all the people on the yachts anchored came out to help us by putting some extra anchors, they braved the darkness and the swell, some even jumped in the sea! We just had now to sit and wait hoping that the rising tide will save us. And indeed very early in the morning our mighty Blue Dawn was floating. We abandoned all the ropes and anchors just in case that was our only chance to free ourselves. They indeed save our vessel with their courage.
About 150 nautical miles away from Vanuatu, in a confused and crossed sea, the wind was blowing quite hard and the boat was rolling all over the place, we felt a strange feeling, something like Blue Dawn was changing course.
How this could be possible the wind was still in the same direction and the autopilot was on?
This impression was getting serious and we both stand up to evaluate the situation but in just a second we were gybing and we could see our boom coming back towards us at great speed and noise. This I can tell you, is scary, our boom is enormous as we have a full batten mainsail which rests on it. It is approximatly 13 meters long and 1/2 meter wide.
With huge force it was flying back, Geoff was at the helm and I was ready to bring it back in at the winch. We realised that the autopilot had just stopped and was causing the problems.
This is when it hit the boat with a full blow, I was bringing it back in and all I saw were pieces of metals flying in front of my eyes!
I started to really panic and all I could think of was praying. Then the final crash came, the whole mast then the vessel started shaking while the boat was being tossed around a the bad sea state! I had brought the boom back while praying and I could feel salted tears running down my face, I guess I was shocked. I just thought that all the rigging was coming down, and there is 28 meters of it!
But no, as always our good old Trintella had stand it all, the runner had stopped the boom in its crazy race with only a few scratches, the rope being made of spectra just burned but was fine as well. And for the metals I saw it was only two of the self-tailer on the winches which broke apart when the crash happened!
So at the end we realised how lucky we were to have so little damages, we even started talking to Blue Dawn and giving her praise on how good and strong she was. We thanked her for taking such good care of us. You really make such a strong bond with a boat once out there, she quickly becomes a lioness looking after her cubs, always ready for the fight to protect them.
"Sorry to not write as often as we did before but we are quite busy now we are TRYING to do it all by ourselves. And I swear that was not the smartest idea! We are spending half of our day with a manual in one hand and a screwdriver in the other. Covered in hydraulic oil and grease.
It is really glamorous a yachty life!
So, we finally manage to move on our trip and five days ago we sailed away for the lovely small chain of islands in Fiji called, Yasawas (where they made Castaways with Tom Hanks and the Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shield).
But (I hate that word) as we try to go through the small passage between the reef which are not marked we realize that something was wrong because it was just half a meter deep and that is never a good sign! That is not surprising because most of the maps were established in the 1800s, perhaps by Captain Blight himself !!!!!
So here we go, I am alone on that sailboat without a skipper to save me, Geoff who has two left hands and maps from a century ago!!! Oh, Oh very very bad!
As we were anchoring in that absolutely exquisite place a lot of water started being pumped out by the bilge pump and we could see the water going out on the side on the boat. What is happening now? Are we not going to have one quite day just enjoying the sun and the beach?
Geoff run down (it is just a way of talking, he do not actually really run, he kind of slide around!) and shout me: 'there is sea water coming in from the shaft seal because it moved'. I do not want to be more technical so in a few words, sea water do not belong inside the boat!!!! And I do not want to sink after only the first 25 nautical miles crossing by ourselves, we will look really stupid!!!!!
Geoff, Oh surprising cannot fix the thing nor do I, and we are in a very remote place without any other boat, no luck I guess and sea water is still coming in!!!
But we must have a big star in top of our heads taking care of us because two boats are sailing in. We jump in the dinghy and ask they if they could help us. Geoff has spend the last two months in the dinghy asking for help!!!! And now each time we are anchored somewhere no other boats come in, they see Blue Dawn and turn around to find another anchorage!!!!!
Anyway s/v Tucumcari and Allons'y fix the leak for us (see picture while having barbecue on the beach).
And they told us: 'This is how cruising life is and do not worry, you are still very lucky and your problem are nothing until you will run over a reef or a rock!'
Very promising I should say.
The next day Geoff made with the gang plunk a look out for me and now I am spending my days standing on the bow looking for reefs!!!!!!!
So far so good, I did see the different color in the sea warning me of shallows from my crow's nest."