Tales of the Itinerant Sailor

Cruising 2009

Political Peril and the Itinerant Sailor


Steven Jones  

The Second Mate

The next day my first objective is to contact Raymarine to inquire about my sick auto pilot.  They understand the problem and acknowledge that there is a remedy.  They will e-mail me the pages from the manual via the internet.  Great!  But I soon learn that I can’t download this document.  The hotel internet clerk informs me that no internet system here or in the city of Trinidad has the capacity to download this much information.  Bummer.  But at least I know there is a remedy and set about figuring it out.  I make the correction.  Now, I can focus my attention on the weather.

At Hotel Ancon I meet Friedenke Berger, or “Rickey,” as she prefers.  She is from Germany, 26 years old, a college graduate plus two years of internship, and is seeing the world before marrying and settling down in Australia.  She wants to go to Santiago de Cuba.  “This is my destination,” I tell her.  She is looking for adventure; she has some sailing experience. "How would you like to be my mate to Santiago?" We negotiate a deal.  She will be my mate for this trek.

We are under way early morning July 3.  While motor sailing during the day with the main sail only, I notice a rip in the sail.  I keep an eye on it; it appears that it is not worsening.  Just to be safe, I lower the sail.  I approach Cayo Breaton and with a sigh of relief, keep right on going.  As night approaches I see signs that another electrical storm is brewing.[i]

Before the Thunder Storm

Before the Thunder Storm

At daybreak I elect to go inside the reef at Banco Livisa.  No sooner did I make this maneuver than the motor overheating warning light comes on.  Now what?  I reduce the engine speed to idle, unfurl the head sail, and shut the engine down.  I put Ricky at the helm.  She keeps us off the reef while I begin the problem solving—but the wind is pushing us backwards. 

The last thing I check, the raw water impeller, is the problem.  When I go to replace it I realize the replacement impeller that I have been carrying for two years is the wrong one.  There is no way I can adapt it.  So I reassemble the pump with the damaged impeller—two of the six fins are missing—restart the engine and resume our course at ½ speed.  Another bummer.  But at least we are moving forward.

[i] It is interesting to note that Christopher Columbus, on his first voyage (in 1492) at Jardines de la Reina and then on one later voyage, also observed these same thunderstorms. I was as awestruck as he was, and I, like him, wondered why I was here, in the middle of nowhere.

The False Start The Encounter

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

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