on our way
08 December 2018 | Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
We are off and sailing. Today will be our first day actually sailing and putting up the sails. Motoring out of Prickly bay, we turn the Mile High Dream into the wind and put up the main sail. It has not been raised since last spring and everything appears to be ok as it rises to the top of the mast.
Our sailing start was delayed because we had to have a survey done on the boat before we could leave. Insurance required this since it had not been done for five years. Unfortunately it did not turn out quite like I had hoped and some last minute needed repairs had to be made before we could leave. Little things like cracks in the fittings that hold the the mast in place. I decided that might be an important thing to have repaired before we left so we wouldn’t have the mast falling down on us. Kinda important for a sailboat.
We turn the corner to start our journey north and we unfurl the brand new headsail. It looks great. It is a little smaller that the one I had. The sail maker recommended it for the areas that I was sailing in. With the consistent heavier trade winds that we get here, I found my self constantly bringing in the head sail to make it smaller so it was an easy decision to just get a smaller one to begin with.
With our sails full of wind we turn off the engine and enjoy the quiet and pure joy of sailing. It is a beautiful day as we head north for our 12 mile shakedown sail.
Having dinner with friends two nights before we left, they recommended anchoring in Halifax harbor. I had only been there once before and had not liked the bay very much but they told us where to go and a great restaurant if we decided to eat off the boat. Arriving there around four o’clock we proceeded to drop the anchor in a very calm bay.
After dropping the anchor I tell Carol my first mate for this part of the trip, “ Put it in reverse so can set the anchor.”
I wait. “Do you have it in reverse?”
“Its not going any where. Put in forward.”
Nothing happens there either. This sucks. I go down to the engine and take a look. Everything appears to be normal.
“Maybe the propeller fell off,” I tell Carol.
Putting on mask, fins and snorkel I jump overboard to take a look. Propeller is still there so that good.
Back on the boat I head back down to the engine. I had a new cutless bearing installed and a new seal on the shaft to prevent water from coming in before putting the boat in the water.. Another important component of boating.
“Turn on the engine and put it in gear while Im looking at it.”
“Ok here goes.”
Wow the shaft isn’t turning but the engine and coupling are.
“Turn it off, ” I yell back up.
The mechanics had not tightened the bolt down correctly when they had removed the shaft and the square key to make the shaft turn had fallen out. I put it back in and retightened the bolt.
“See how it works now.”
She starts the engine and all is good. We re-anchor and settle in for a nice quiet evening. Time for first sail rum punch. This is the life.
The next morning we get up, have breakfast and talk about today’s sail plan of going to Sandy Cay. It is one of my favorite spots with a beautiful soft sand beach and fantastic snorkeling. Off we go on our 25 mile sail. The propeller shaft seems to be just fine and we soon raise the sails and turn the motor off.
“Its around four o’clock and we are six miles away. I’m going to turn the motor on so we can get there faster. The wind seems right on our nose.”
“Sounds good to me. I’m ready for a swim,” answers Carol.
I turn the engine on ands put it into gear. Nothing happens.
My first mate jumps to the helm as I go b below to find out the problem.
The propeller shaft has come completely off of the transmission coupling and is just dangling there.
“Turn off the motor,” I yell up.
This time when I slide the shaft back into the coupling, it pulls on the shaft seal and water flows in. Not a good sign. It is all fine if we don’t run the engine.
I go up and discuss our dilemma, and we talk about options. My first mate has her own boat and is a very experienced sailor. We start sailing and tacking towards Sandy Cay. I go below and try to figure out a temporary fix. We start the engine and water is coming in as fast as I can bail it out. 30 minutes later and not much closer to our destination, I admit defeat and we turn off the engine.
Carole looks over and says” we can sail right into Tyrrel bay. The point of sail is perfect.”
I head back below and empty out the water that has collected. We figure we can use the motor right at the end to drop the anchor and set it and then figure out a fix. I also remember that some good friends who had left a week before we did might still be here. He is a take charge fix it kind of guy so my spirits are lifting.
We sail in and get the anchor dropped and sure enough my friends are there. They make sure we are ok for the evening and we make plans to connect the next morning.
This was quite a day but are safe and sound.