Sunday, March 23, 2014

When Things Don't Go To Plan

Goodbye St John

You might have been under the impression that our life is all blue seas and sunny skies (ok it is mostly – at the moment anyway). But it seems that there are forces at work trying to tarnish our otherwise balmy days. Why is it when one thing breaks, it starts a trend?
St Thomas - Cruise ship city

After our fabulous time in St John we sailed over to St Thomas to refuel and get water and do a few other bits and pieces before being on our bonny way again.  We have been to St Thomas before and it is a big duty free tourist destination with two or three cruise ships arriving almost daily.  It can be madness there. Plus the anchorage can often get very rolly.  So we do what we have to do and move on.  We set sail for the Culebra in the Spanish Virgins islands, the last group of Virgins before Puerto Rico. Latin America is kicking in; you can hear it in the music blasting from cafes and car radios.  We are anchored a mile or so away from the main town behind the reef at Dakity, by our friend John from SV Stingo.  The anchorage is stunning, open to the trade winds, the reef protecting us from the rolly sea.  Things start to break. No problem Sim works his magic fingers – takes the electric dingy lift apart, finds the problem and fixes it.  The VHF radio plays dead, no worries Sim fixes it.  We have hung out with John and said goodbye – it’s time for us to move on.  Only the engine won’t start.  No worries.  Sim runs a few tests and works out it’s the starter motor.  Takes it off, takes it apart – verdict –Houston, we have a problem!  It is irreparable.  Great!  Now we are stuck in a very small island six miles long by 3 miles wide.  There is no one ashore here that can help.  They don’t even have a Fedex or UPS office to get an item shipped.  John gives us some auto parts companies that might stock our starter motor in Puerto Rico.  But it is almost an impossible job to try and match the serial numbers on our ancient machine to the modern day versions.  We do the best we can with cross referencing (honestly, you would not believe how many different starter motor there are out there) and think we find one, only the one in the picture looks very different to ours.  We Skype the shop and with their pigeon English and our awful Spanish – we decide we best go to their shop to order the part.  So we jump in the dinghy, walked across to the ferry dock, jumped on a two hour ferry and then jumped in a taxi – almost there, we get our places mixed up jump out of one taxi – walk across the motorway, call him back and hey presto we are there! Jose has been expecting us, orders the part and tells us to come back in five days.  So we jump in the taxi and dash back to the ferry - missing it by the skin of our teeth as it leaves the dock five minutes early. Darn!! We wait two more hours for the last ferry and finally get back to our boat at 10pm that night. 
Dakity, Culebra - Wandering Star

So here we are – we have no engine and our anchor was stuck on a rock, with the possibility of a little more wind later in the week we decide to take a mooring that freed up this morning – now our only concern is that the water in front of us is very shallow – we currently have about 10cm under the keel – but a gentle grounding is the least of or worries at the moment.  Now we just hope that when the starter arrives it is the right part. I guess there could be worse places to be stuck.
On a mooring in very shallow water
Sim fixing the electric dinghy winch
On the ferry to Puerto Rico

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