Hell in Paradise

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Mon 19 Nov 2012 23:53

Position 13:23S 038:56W Paradise Beach – Morro de Sao Paulo

Date: 19 November 2012


Hell in Paradise


Blimey, where do I start? A lot of water has passed under the keel since my last blog, and a fair few disasters along the way as well. Where did I leave you? Oh yes, we were en route on the two-day passage from the Abrolhos Islands to Morro de Sao Paulo, the fashionable beach resort 35 miles south of Salvador. Lawrence, Sally and I were enjoying some really good sailing, and in my off-watches my sleep was only interrupted by the thought that when we got to Morro I would have to get to grips with that blocked aft head.


Half way into the passage, as the batteries started running low, I turned on the generator. After a while I smelled smoke, opened the engine room door and was nearly bowled over by the clouds of acrid diesel smoke that billowed out. Something was horribly wrong. I wasn’t clear what the problem was – with all the various problems I’ve had with the generator over the years, it always turned itself off BEFORE bursting into flames - but one thing that was clear, was that we couldn’t use the generator again until I’d fixed it. Until then the only way of recharging the batteries was by running the noisy, diesel-guzzling main engine.


After a couple of days of great sailing, we arrived at Morro de Sao Paulo and dropped our anchor near to a couple of picturesque fishing boats. The anchorage is opposite a paradise beach, but the downside is that the anchorage is also the motorway for the dozens of tripper boats that rush past flat out throwing up a wash that has the boat rocking and rolling almost continuously.  I suddenly found all sorts of pressing things that had to be done immediately, like emailing the generator manufacturers in New Zealand to discover why the generator had suddenly gone into self-combust mode, but eventually I ran out of excuses. I had to tackle the blocked head. Armed with rubber gauntlets, tools and a large bucket I started taking everything apart.


Whilst I was otherwise occupied, Sally and Lawrence busied themselves lowering the dinghy into the water and getting the outboard attached. That evening we were going ashore, the first time since Rio the week before - and we were going to celebrate.


Not. The outboard wouldn’t start. Lawrence who knows a thing or two about motors stripped it down to its component parts and declared it dead. No spark. It would require a specialist to get into the guts of the motor and fix it. We couldn’t just row over to the paradise beach and leave it there all evening whilst we walked into town – it would disappear. And there was no question of rowing it the half mile to the town against the strong tide. The celebration meal ashore would have to be postponed. Dinner on board again.


Meanwhile, after a couple of hours sweating in the tropical heat in the enclosed space of the head, up to my elbows in calcified excrement whilst periodically being thrown from one side of the head to the other by the wash from the pleasure boats, I received what I thought was a welcome distraction. “Tim” shouted Sally “come up on deck”. I assumed it was to view a spectacular sunset or somesuch. Then, in a considerably more urgent tone was the next, much louder shout. “TIM – GET UP HERE -- NOW!”


I threw myself up on deck to find that the two fishing boats that had been anchored so picturesquely nearby had decided to leave, one being towed by the other and without consideration for the strong tide that was running. They had both managed to wrap themselves round our bow, and the long metal gantry for the trawl that was sticking out from the side of one of them had got between our shrouds. If we couldn’t get it out, the weight of the fishing boat being swept by the tide could break the shrouds and our mast would fall down. We all heaved away, disengaged the trawl from our rigging and the fishermen went on their way without a backward glance, like nothing had happened.


After that little excitement, I returned to my head repairing duties to conclude that the blockage was in the seacock – and about the only way that could be cleared was by craning the whole boat out of the water and tackling it from the outside. Meanwhile, I would have to continue “inspecting” the for’ard head of the ratings.


Too exhausted to write more. But from now on, things can only get better, can’t they?