10:59.517N 065:22.765W Tortuga
Saturday 27 September 2008
So yesterday was the stuff picture postcards are made of, but yesterday ended at midnight.
We had a thunderstorm, usually very impressive to watch from afar, not so nice when it is on top of you.
The thunder and lightning were together and the sky was lit up as though it were bright day.
I had got up and put the raincatcher up, my tank was full, but I cannot bear to waste the opportunity. As the tank was full I had the bright idea of putting the tube through the hatch and bottling the water inside the boat to save me going out in the rain. The rain was so heavy it pooled before it got to the tube and so I went out and jugged 25 litres straight into the bottles. I should have called it a night at that, but I didn’t. I ended up with a wet bed from the hatch and very little more bottled water to show for it.
We are at the West end of the island protected from the prevailing wind, but what happens when the wind comes from the West. Then we twirl on our anchors and are being pushed towards the reef and the beach, it is a bit nerve wracking. It was time to abandon rain catching and get the boat ready for immediate departure if necessary. Raincatcher down, dinghy stowed and everything cleared and tied down. I had to put my wet weather jacket on it was so wet and I cannot remember the last time I have had to wear that. I sat at the helm from about 4am until 7.30, ready to switch the engine on.
By the morning it was calming down and I was able to make a cup of tea, in a mug with a screw top lid.
Then the swell set in and I rolled like a pig. Jimmy said my masthead light went in the water and Lloyd said he could see my keel, exaggerations, but that is what it felt like. Everything inside was crashing from side to side, not much actually fell, but it sounded terrible. Even the two cats had to admit to things falling and it is not often that they roll. Lloyd had to stop watching my boat as he said it made him feel sick, it was not much fun for me either.
I had to clear the back cabin to get to the coolant, no spare coolant. I topped up the header tank with water and it is a bit over diluted, but will do until I can get some. The engine is ready to go and I tidied everything back into the cabin. I did not do much, but the rolling made everything difficult and it was exhausting.
Later in the afternoon we went for a dinghy ride, just to get off the boats. It was too rough to snorkel and then we visited Debi and Bob on Passat.
Sunday 28 September
Bob and Debi came over and Bob looked at my electrical problems. We changed the fuse holder on the chartplotter, hopefully this will finally sort the dodgy on/off situation. The GPS did not work because the wire was out on the panel, my panel is difficult to get wires into and even more so when two are twisted together, which is why I have used so many connection blocks. We put a new switch on the watermaker, but I still need to get a better fuse holder as that is getting hot.
The inverter has got wet and is probably dead, it should not have been moved into the locker, I should have had bigger wires into the saloon to keep it dry. I will look for a bigger one in Curacao, but it has to be 230V and 110v is normal out here.
Puddle Jumper and Bluewater Cat came over to visit and then I re-anchored as we were expecting some more bad weather. The GPS now works, but the instrument on the binnacle was not working. I am glad Bob was there to see it, it is getting ridiculous how things are constantly dipping out on me. We undid the unit and it had water inside. We dried it out as best we could, but Bob is not hopeful. I need the combi to work because it feeds other instruments. Hopefully it is only the display, because it does still feed the other instruments with information, I just cannot see it. The chartplotter and GPS downstairs do pick up the data. Never mind, it is three steps forward and two steps back.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Puddle Jumper and Bluewater Cat left about 5.30 this morning for Tortuga.
I sorted my diesel tanks. I emptied the second tank, which had old diesel in and put it in the main tank. I then put the new diesel I had in cans into the second tank. My problem is that I cannot open the filler cap to the second tank (does that sound familiar to last year?) and inside the boat seemed to be swimming in diesel.
I went snorkeling the reef with Passat; it made a nice break from the diesel. There were lots of fish and I saw a spotted coral snake. I missed the small turtle, but that came by the boat when I was back in the bay.
When we were coming back the Guardacostas were checking boats. What were the chances of not being boarded, not much. They may have seen about 5 boats leave this morning and worry about getting their paperwork quota. They did come to me, three came into the cockpit and one stayed in the boat. The man in charge was very nice, he did not speak much English, but we got through it as it was the same form that I had completed in Los Testigos, but we do not get a copy. They did not search the boat and left after about 15 minutes.
I cooked some lunch and tried to nap as I was planning to leave at 5pm for Tortuga.
This life is not always easy and not always fun, but it is never dull.
5pm I set off, half an hour out of the bay I turned off the engine and I sailed all the way. The wind was not strong, 6 – 13 knots, but I managed to do 3+ knots with the current.
Tuesday, September 30
1am – a very long vessel had been making for me for the last 10 miles. I had my tri light on and had kept an eye on it and hoped that it would see me and change course. I think they hailed me in Spanish and I should have replied, but I had been keeping radio silence and did not want my position relayed on channel 16 for all to hear so I waited to see what they would do. The vessel was longer than any I had seen and was carrying three white horizontal white lights, with white, red, white horizontal lights next to those. Presumably this was difficulty to manoeuvre, but he had the whole sea to play with and a few degrees should not have been a problem for him, I did not want to go round the back of him and find that he was trailing 5 mile of cables. There was a horrible moment when as he turned the full force of the lights came on me, but then he went behind me and all was well.
I arrived at 11am – 18 hours to do 70 miles, average 4 knots.
I had to anchor without knowing the depth and Val came out to meet me in her dinghy to guide me past the shallow patches. I have 1.5m draft and am probably in 2.5m. We are in a bay of one of the tiny islands off Tortuga, Cayo Herradura. There is a small fishing encampment, but otherwise just white beaches and clear water. The bottom is sand with some grass and there are large starfish on the sand.
Passat arrived in the afternoon and we are all resting. What will tomorrow bring?
10:59.517N 065:22.765W Tortuga