Tales of the Itinerant Sailor

Cruising 2009

Political Peril and the Itinerant Sailor


Steven Jones  

The Other False Start

November 4, 2009.  Harry is anxious to depart for Haiti.  He notifies the officials that we are leaving by 0900 hours, but I am not yet back from Guantanamo.  So they return again after lunch and we are cleared to go, but not before I add some more fresh water and soft drinks.  Harry must have forgotten that he has an extra hand on board.  And, as we have some Cuban tourist dollars left over, Harry insists that we partake of the buffet that the marina has prepared for a group of tourists that have just returned from a boat excursion.  A big mistake, as you will learn later.  Then, late afternoon, we are underway.

Now, the reason Harry left Fairwind here in August was because he needed some engine parts that are not available in Cuba.  Can you believe that?  He also needed to rebuild his cruising kitty.  I can relate to that.  So now, back in Cuba, he has the engine parts that are needed and enough funds to sail back to San Martin.  Right?  Wrong.  On both counts.

We depart knowing that the alternator regulator still is not functioning.  To charge the batteries, Harry becomes the regulator.  He must needs to enter the engine room several times a day to manually attach the alternator to the batteries for about thirty minutes at a time.

Within an hour of leaving the marina the engine is overheating.  We shut the engine down and hoist sails.  But the trade winds are pushing us backwards.  Harry tries to radio the marina.  His VHF radio crackles with static; it has only limited range.  We can’t raise the marina.  And we can’t restart the engine.  Finally, one of the charter boats hears our call and two hours later comes out to tow us in.  It is now well after dark.  The Captain first had to get permission from the Harbor Master.  And this is just the beginning!

The usual procedure for a boat under tow here is to drop anchor just to the side of the marina.  The crew stays aboard.  That way it is not necessary to check in.  Harry refuses.  If he drops anchor, and can’t start the engine, he can’t raise the anchor!!



Again we wait.  Awaiting permission from the harbor master.  Finally, permission is granted to tow us dock side where we spend the night.  And, oh what a night.  Both of us make several trips during the night to the marina toilet facilities.  (We were supposed to stay aboard Fairwind, but who would fault this indiscretion? )  Diarrhea.  Most likely, we conclude, from the buffet from that afternoon, coming in late as we did with the food being out for over two hours without proper refrigeration.

The mechanic comes aboard next morning and works until mid-day on the leak in the water pump, adjusts the timing, and his son dives down on the propeller to clean it—which was the cause of yesterday’s overheating.  Harry’s cruising kitty is dwindling fast.

The Promise Requited Lost at Sea

Cruising 2009: Political Peril and the Itinerant Sailor
Copyright © 2010 Steven Jones. All Rights Reserved.

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