Chapter 6: The Solo Sailor

Wednesday July 20, 2005.  Jim flew out today to Nassau, then on to Fort Lauderdale, back in the USA!  I feel a little bad about not being able to get him at least to the Turks and Caicos, if not Luperon in the Dominican Republic.  But the weather has made everyone a little nervous about getting too far from a safe harbor.

Saturday July 23, 2005.  Finally, the seas are relatively calm.  Of course, what wind we do have is right off the nose.  The departure has an ominous beginning:  Happy Heart wraps a dock line around her prop!  The fun begins.

As I was assisting Happy Heart to back out of her slip, I am still dockside and swim out to do what I can do.  After several dives with a knife, the prop is free.  Now, who will help me?  I am a solo sailor, again.  This marina does not have much room to maneuver.

We are both finally underway, about 10:00 a.m., for an overnight “sail” to Mayaguana.   Happy Heart, with her two engines, easily motors at 7+ knots, and soon leaves me in her wake.  By mid afternoon, the seas calm and I push the Sirius II up to 6+ knots.  Whether this explains the next series of events or not, I will never know. 

The engine oil pressure warning light comes on and I shut the engine down.  To keep from drifting backward, I raise the foresail.  I add 1˝ quarts of oil and restart the engine.  Initially, all looks and sounds good.  As I put her in gear, the engine begins to vibrate and emits a terrible clatter.  I shut her down and try to reach Happy Heart on the VHF radio.  Too far away for a clear message, but Sy does understand that I can’t continue without an engine.  Apparently he doesn’t hear my request for him to come back and take me undertow.

I elect to reverse my course, sail with the wind to Clarence Town on Long Island, about 36nm away.  I arrive about 3:00 a.m., well before daylight. As this is another unmarked channel with several shallow shoals, I put the Sirius II in irons to await daybreak. 

At daylight I enter the channel at the designated spot and slowly move toward Clarence Town, even as the winds change course.  I take nearly three more hours to traverse the 1˝ nm channel.  I am constantly tacking, as the winds are now noserly.  The marina operator sees my plight and offers to come out and tow me for a $300 minimum charge.  Today I have more time than money.  Because I don’t have power, he denies me  permission to enter the marina.  I finally set the hook about 10:00 a.m. and take the dinghy to shore in time for lunch.  Also, I learn from the fishermen on the government dock that a mechanic will be working on one of the boats tomorrow a.m.

Monday July 26, 2005.  First, I verify that the mechanic will indeed be available.  While trying to figure out how to get the Sirius II into the government dock, a local fisherman offers to tow me in.  This is just the first of many examples where the locals here are willing to help out a needy sailor.  After securing the boat, I wait for my turn with the mechanic. 

“Andrew” listens to my description of the engine’s behavior and deduces that the problem must be with the fuel injectors.  By mid day Tuesday he rules this out and begins to look elsewhere.  Whatever the problem, all the parts will have to come from the states.  And this will take time.

Furthermore, Andrew is also a fisherman, and the lobster season is set to open August 1.  Since I am safely docked, under no duress, fishing is now his first priority.  My, oh my.

Friday July 30, 2005.  Andrew postpones his appointment as a vicious storm develops just off the coast of Long Island.  Not forecasted.  Heavy rain and winds of 40 knots or more pushed the Sirius II into and almost under the commercial dock.  Fending the boat off the dock, rolling the bimini and securing the sunshield all command my attention.  The result:  One stanchion snaps off and another is bent almost double.  More tears in the bimini.  Who says I am under no duress?

The next day Andrew takes the engine apart and we see clearly that a new “short block” is needed.  I elect to take the head and fly to Nassau and Miami to get the parts needed and to meet up with Andrew when he returns from his first trip this season for craw fish (lobstser).

In Miami I learn that Yanmar does not make a short block for this engine.  I either have to ship the old engine back to Florida for repair of buy a new engine.  What to do, what to do?

I elect to get the new engine, which is supposed to mate perfectly with the infrastructure of the old engine.  Yeah, right. 

This takes several weeks.  I use some of the time to fly to the Dominican Republic; some of the time to get the boat as ready as possible for taking out the old and installing the new engine.  Then, I wait for Andrew to return from fishing.

Shipping items from the USA to The Bahamas is no easy task.  Import duties is a primary source of income for the government of The Bahamas.  To avoid these taxes, I have to document very clearly that the new engine is for a boat “in transit.”  Then I have to arrange for the old engine to be shipped back to the USA.  Note the following document:

Several modifications are necessary, some of which are temporary in nature.  For example, using non stainless steel bolts, rigging a temporary bracket to hold the shifting mechanism in place, a new heavy-duty exhaust hose, etc.

Chapter 5 Chapter 7

Copyright © 2006 Steven Jones. All Rights Reserved.
2005 Bahamas