06/28/2011, Puorto Quetzal, Guatemala
You know, I was just happily sailing along the coast of Guatemala on a broad reach making 6 1/2 knots and the sun was just about to rise, when suddenly the boat appeared to be heading toward land and I couldn't correct my coarse. I turned the helm to port and nothing happened, I turned the helm starboard and still nothing happened. Hmmmn we seem to have a wee problem here I thought to myself. I checked the wheel connection and yes indeed, the wheel was turning the rudder post. Whew, I didn't really want to dig to the bottom of my lazerette to get my emergency tiller. In hind sight, I wish it would have been that simple.
Well, I guess I need to go for a swim, so I dropped my main, rolled in the Genny and put the swim ladder down. Sploosh, in went one of my crew. You didn;t think I was jumping in did you? He came back up and said the rudder was gone. I looked at him kind of funny and said "what"? He was telling the truth.
We made a makeshift rudder, it actually worked for awhile, at least while the seas were calm. Then the wind picked up to 30, then 35, then 40 and finally settled in at a pretty steady and constant 45 knots. Of coarse, you didn;t think that when something went wrong, the seas and wind would cooperate and make it easy did you?
We were close to a port, just beyond hailing distance with the VHF mind you, but we were fairly close and the current and wind was drifting us in the general direction. Ok, make a plan. We'll drift into about 35 feet of water and drop anchor. 3 hours later, we are close, but drifting further away from the port. Then a ship answered my call and relayed to the port. The Guatemalan Navy was coming to the rescue. Oh goody. They actually did more damage than good, but they did get us to port.
I arranged for a haul out, luckily they were able to do it, they don;t get many sailboats here, in fact I think I am the 3ed in the same amount of years.
Once I was hauled out, I didn't even have to enlist the skills of Sherlock Holmes, I was able to figure this one out on my own. After careful inspection, I deduced that there was indeed a problem with my steering, and it appeared that the problem was that someone, or something had made off with my rudder. I could be wrong, you look at the picture, but I'm pretty sure there is supposed to be a rudder attached to that rusty rudder post hanging down there.
So now I'm on the hard, in a port that has not much for sailboats and almost zero tourists. But I am moving forward and have designed a new rudder to build. Now I just have to build it, attach it and test it and hopefully be on my merry way once again.
I suppose I should mention that had the rudder not fallen off, I was sailing directly into the hurricane off the coast of Mexico. So perhaps it was a blessing in disguise to keep me and the boat safe.
Need to post, the time warning told me to hurry up...
Transiting the canal was unbelievably awesome. The first day was rain soaked, and I do mean rain soaked. On the way to the first set of locks, the rain was so heavy we could not see. We were early, or should I say the ship we were scheduled to transit with was late due to visibility problems and so the adviser had me attempt to dock to the ferry dock and as soon as we touched, the ferry that never runs, came charging in and we had to make a hasty exit and almost crashed the boat into the other end of the dock. The end result was a chip out of the rubrain and some choice words for the adviser from me. He complimented me on my ability to handle my boat in extreme weather and adverse conditions and for not getting us run over by the ferry. I bit my tongue, HARD.
We rafted up with two other boats and headed into the first set of locks, both which took us up. The rain subsided just enough for us to be able to see what was happening. Once through we motored to the mooring balls and rafted for the night and got some much needed sleep.
The next day we were rewarded with a new adviser and as we motored across the lake on a 5t hour journey towards the Pacific, the new adviser told me that the person who was with us the day before was consistently causing damage to peoples boats with his advice. He said we were very lucky that I was able to avoid the incoming ferry and got off lucky with so little damage.
Once we reached the locks on the Pacific side, we rafted with another boat and the sun was shining. The other boat had friends watching on live camera and their adviser called the tower to have them lock on out boats. The brother of one of the other crew received a phone call while we were going down in the lock and they could see us live. They caught the images on tape and promised to send me them. I will post them when I receive them.
Once through the down locks, our new adviser welcomed us to the Pacific and disembarked with a smile and hand shake.
We all had a great time and once we dropped off the lines and tires, headed for Panama City anchorage where we located some friends we made on the Caribbean side.
In spite of everything, the trip was great and well worth it.
Had an incredible sail from Rio Dulce Guatemala to Roatan Honduras. Then once I left Roatan Island, I reached all the way to Vivarillo before I had to tack for the first time. Then 3 hours later I tacked once more and broad reached right to the breakwater at the entrance to Colon. I adjusted coarse by 10 degrees to bypass Providentia, then adjusted it back and was right back on coarse. About 3 days into the trip I started the engine to charge batteries fully and the fresh water pump went. No worries, I was sailing anyway.
Once I arrived at the breakwater into Colon, I sailed by, gybed through the breakwater and sailed right up to the dock at Shelter Bay Marina.
I had a great solo sail, great wind, great weather and awesome sights.
Click on this link to see my track.
Now I am trying to locate my part while waiting to be measured for the canal.
None of my pictures turned out very well at all, sorry.
I am about to fly back to Guatemala, leaving tomorrow actually, Tuesday April 19th, and will arrive at Rio Dulce on the 21st. Then bring Shibumi back to life, provision her and set sail once again.
I purchased a DeLorme GPS Messenger with Spot Adventures and hopefully, this link here will allow you to follow me in almost real time. Of coarse I have no idea if this is going to work, but I am still trying to figure it all out.
shibumi's adventure map
ok, so that didn't work, well I'm still trying, I may need some help so bear with me, I'll be back with one that does work. But that will have to wait a few days as I will be flying south.
OK try this one...
follow me here
11/11/2010, Marios Marina
Safely tucked away at Marios Marina, (see link) Shibumi waits patiently for her next adventure.
After almost 3 months of what seemed like a living hell trying desperately to get my engine repaired, I finally said good bye to Roatan Island, Honduras and sailed; into the wind and current of coarse, to Livingston, Guatemala where I miraculously crossed the bar without a hitch, or even a touch, something that everyone on shore seemed quite amazed at. It seems that with a 6' draft, I shouldn't have made it, but I am happy to say, I did! Then after a quick, uncomplicated and real easy check in, I hesitantly headed up river for the 25 mile trek to Rio Dulce.
Stay in the middle, you'll be fine seemed the standard advise. Just stay in the middle! I took the pocket map they give everyone and thought, well Ok stay in the middle it is. I have t tell you here, I only know of one other boat that had previously made this run, and their advise was, don't worry everyone runs aground somewhere on the river, we did.
Well, I made it with no trouble and without touching or running aground.
The trip up river is beautiful and quite relaxing journey, with much to see. Just watch out for all the local fisherman crossing the river in canoes. I arrived at Marios just before dark and of coarse, the office was closed. But after hailing a few times on the VHS, one of the other cruisers answered my call and said, just a minute, I'll get dressed and go get Jim. I'm thinking, it's only 5:00 pm, well, ok, it was hot afterall.
They all came and helped me dock, secure my boat and get me settled. It was nice to be welcomed and their help was certainly appreciated, especially for a single handler.
After getting the boat ready to be left on her own, and with the knowledge that the Marina staff are all wonderful and competent people, I left Shibumi in their capable ahands and flew back to Canada.and
Now, I can't wait to get back.