Cruising is really maintenance in different places

Tue 7 Feb 2023 21:04

Tuesday 7th Feb,

St Davids Habour is very quiet
The broken Teleflex throttle cable
Ashore at Grenada Marine in St Davids
Matha and Dennis sampling rum
Us at anchor in Clarkes Court Bay just south of Whisper Cove. We are directly in line with the sunken ship.

Independence Day, Prickly Bay, Grenada

We had a couple marina days in Port Louis after Steve left us and, on the Saturday morning, absent mindedly wandering up to the cafe, I was stopped by Dennis and Martha from Fishcake (ex Cascais and Las Palmas) who had just sailed in from Tobago. We knew they had made it to Barbados in 27 days from Las Palmas and were heading to Tobago, but it was great to catch up again.  They had travelled from Prickly Bay by bus to deal with the immigration formalities.

On Sunday we were aiming to make our way east towards St Davids Harbour so we agreed to meet the Fishcakes in Clarkes Court Bay.  We were scheduled for a lift out and pressure wash to clean the undersides on Wednesday early so needed to be off the hoist the previous night.  We had a loose anode which necessitated removing the folding propeller, and I wanted to see if we could get a new Delrin top bearing made for the rudder post.  The rudder post had bumped from side to side (it seemed like 5mm but was probably less than 1mm movement) since leaving Plymouth; I was sure it wasn’t going to fail – the shaft is a 90mm diameter solid stainless rod, and the bearing was huge but the movement was probably wearing the lower bearings and seals.

Leaving St Georges, we headed south to round the island and halfway to Prickly Bay (PB) I happened to pick up a Pan Pan (urgency) radio message from a yacht that had engine failure west of us by five miles or so and were drifting toward Central America.  This was fortuitus for them in a way because we don’t have a cockpit speaker for the radio at present.  They were clearly anxious, but the weather was fine and since there was no response from any official quarter, we responded to say we would try to assist. The caller on the radio was clear and efficient and we located them about three quarters of an hour later and stopped within hailing distance.   By this time the breeze had filled in from the northeast at 10-12 knots (from very little earlier), so I suggested they hoist their headsail and beat north so they could tack towards St Georges later, and we would standby and help them if they ran out of wind closer to the shore.  The breeze and the swell was making me disinclined to try towing in the open sea.  They hoisted a very baggy and poorly set headsail on a stay inside their furling headsail and set off – slowly – not helped by the fact that they had two reefs in their main sail.   They seemed very grateful to us for standing-by. Their boat was bigger than ours and I would have liked them to shake out the reefs but good manners prevented me from suggesting how they sail their yacht, and as they had made it there from Trinidad, they were not completely hopeless, but they were clearly not good sailors either.  Anyway, to set an example we set full sail and powered north after them and then had to heave- to and wait for them to catch up.   We suggested when they should tack and they were happy to respond and we sailed together like this for a good bit of the morning closing the land close to St Georges Harbour with the wind holding and us heaving-to at intervals to let them catch up.  We were just contemplating towing them to an anchorage when they said they had requested a tow from the marina work boat so we stood down and resumed our passage to Clarkes Court Bay.   We heard later from Gabriel, a Cornish shipwright on a Mevagissey lugger (the only lugger in PB – or probably in the Caribbean for that matter), that he had done some work on their engine and they were now heading for Martinique and the Pacific!

After we had anchored in Clarkes Court Bay we were able to help Dennis and Martha with some orientation such as the best rum punch spots and the location of the second-hand boat bits treasure trove.

On Tuesday morning we left for St Davids with an exploratory lunch time stop in the ‘hurricane hole’ of Port Egmont.   This was interesting and would clearly be very sheltered but there was no public landing as the entire bay was surrounded by private residences.  On Wednesday and Thursday the lift and maintenance went smoothly and we were able to bring our launch time on Friday forward from pm to am.  We also got a new rudder bearing made by a German engineer called Dietmar who really wanted us to drop the rudder out so he could measure the shaft accurately, but since it weighs 200kg, I didn’t want to so, muttering in German he took measurements off the exposed top of the shaft and turned up with a new bearing the next morning.  The bearing fitted with that reassuring ‘sticky-sucky’ fit, and on the sail back, the steering seemed smooth, quiet and knock -free.  What is it that Audi say:   Werk sprung derk teknic– or similar?

I mentioned the sail back to PB but forgot to say that on leaving the hoist, we set the main sail and then found we had no throttle control of the engine.  We had forward and reverse in tick over but no way of increasing revs.  Dropping the mainsail we anchored, still in St Davids, in no wind, and a quick look at the engine showed that the throttle cable was OK at that end but to access the lever end was a major dismantling which might have left us stranded so we decided to sail back to Prickly Bay with access to chandlers and shops.  The wind built as we reached the narrow exit from St Davids, but the wind angle let us sail briskly out under main sail and then bearing away we set some Genoa and with a clean bottom sailed quickly down to PB.. We took the headsail off entering the bay and close reached up the harbour (with sixty plus yachts at anchor) and finding a suitable space, tacked into it.  The wind was probably too fresh to control the boat at tick over revs so we luffed into the spot and dropped the anchor letting the wind set the chain and dig the anchor in. This was an exercise I had taught students to do for just that situation but which I had never had to do myself, for real, before.

Anchored in PB when we arrived were Linda and Peter on the junk-rigged Koka Chin who we last saw setting off from Cabo Verde and who were just arrived from Tobago.   The following day, Edward, Brian’s diving buddy from the great Cascais anchor recovery project, also sailed in from Tobago on Adela; he was single-handed.   Everyone except us has been to Tobago and is raving about it so if we get our new Hydrovane rudder, and the throttle cable fixed, we are thinking of a round trip there ourselves in the last half of February.

When we finally broke into the throttle lever control unit (much drilling and sawing of corroded stainless screws in aluminium castings) we found the broken cable and were able to remove it.  Unfortunately, the nearest replacement was at Budget Marine on St Marten and a DHL delivery, we found today, would take a week to arrive.  There were not many options so we are resigned to being immobilised at anchor in PB while we wait but with dinghy access ashore and jobs to do on the boat to occupy us.  I would like to report that the flexible, 100W solar panel, I bought for the dinghy will fully charge the battery of the electric motor from 50 % discharged in a day of good sunlight.

Tomorrow, February 7th is a public holiday for Independence Day on Grenada and we are going into St Georges by bus to see the fun and games of the celebrations.