The journey begins

Rob and Jacky Black
Sun 10 May 2009 14:34

36 10.9N  05 55.9 W

We left Lagos on Thursday morning and arrived here in Barbate on Friday around 1900. You may ask why it took us so long and

Why not Gibraltar? All will be revealed below!

After an uneventful motor sail along the coast and a brief chat with Piper (June and Steve) to see where they were

I started to prepare supper when the engine stopped! Rob restarted it after a few minutes but it stopped again. We decided that

It was probably a fuel blockage but also found that the water filter looked a bit murky so engaged the alternative uplift supply.

Having checked my notes on service and ‘get you home’ tips from the class I took 4 years ago we changed the secondary fuel filter.

This seemed to do the trick and the engine ran again for bit longer. However it stopped in the same way so we knew the problem was still there. We decided to try and sail so unfurled the large genoa and continued to drift east at about 2 knots. I read my lesson notes and also tried calling Piper again on the VHF to ask Steve for advice, but got no response. As we were quite close to the coast south of Faro we made use of the mobile and called our friend Graham in the UK who used to service the engine. He gave us a list of things to try which all seemed very daunting! Anyway around 20.00 we had a VHF call from Piper and they turned round to come to the rescue once they knew what was wrong!! ( Although apparently they too had a fuel blockage problem so Steve had to sort that out before they could get back to us).

Thank heavens for friends is all we can say. Steve came aboard around 2200 after June had brought their boat very carefully alongside (despite a nasty swell!) he then proceeded to check all the pipes and junctions and eventually around midnight found a blockage in the top of the primary filter cap. We had changed the filter in February and also checked it much earlier on in the process of elimination but had not taken the top fitting off. Once this was off and replaced hey presto! the engine was working again. While all this was going on Piper was standing by – June on the helm. Steve finally transferred back on board Piper and we said our goodnights around 0030 so we were able to head off towards the agreed destination of Barbate (Gibraltar was just too far after the trauma of the engine.) We had no more engine problems but the auto-helm had a ‘wobbly’ around 0400 and the boat turned round as the MOB alarm went off! Having fixed that we settled down to try and get some rest with our usual watch keeping of 4 hours on/off. June called us to let us know they had decided to head for Sancti-Petri as they were fed up with the sea conditions (as were we) but we decided to persevere to Barbate.

On arrival off Barbate we made the decision (regretfully) to go around the Tuna nets which seemed to take forever but one delightful outcome of that was we saw an Orca whale!!! It was about 20 feet long and came within 100metres of the boat – we think it would have been after tuna or possible dolphins chasing the tuna.  No time to get a photo as it only surfaced twice and I wasn’t going below in case I missed it.

We entered Barbate (thanks to Trevor and Lesley for the info on the tuna nets right at the mole) and were all fast by 2000. Showers and a beer in the new bar were soon followed by supper and a very long  sleep.

The following morning we decided to leave early and fight the tide to get to Gibraltar.

Jacky and Rob