Motor, Drift, Motor, Rock

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 30 Dec 2015 21:48
Position: 34 27.4 N 118 42.1 W
Course: east. Speed: 4 knots
Wind: south-east, F1 light air
Sea: calm Swell: west, 0.5 meters
Weather: sunny, mild
Day's run: 70 nm

I had one attempt at sailing yesterday afternoon, and again early this
morning, but both were futile. The sails filled momentarily, Sylph rolled,
the sails slatted and we went no where. So we have been doing a lot of
motoring. The new second hand tiller pilot is working a treat. No longer am
I tethered to the wheel when I want to motor. This is, of course, as with
most things technological, a two edged sword, as I can see my fuel bills and
my contribution to global warming increasing significantly.

Last night I was feeling rather smug, looking at the track that Sylph was
tracing, fest und treu, the BRM singing merrily, when suddenly I smelt
steam. The engine was overheating. I shut it down and investigated. I topped
up the coolant, but this did not seem to be the problem. I allowed the
engine to cool and restarted. The tachometer was not working and the battery
was not charging. An alternator problem. I open the engine hatch and
discover that the alternator/water pump drive belt has disintegrated (how
had I missed it). No problem, of course I carry a spare. I find it, pull the
water pump hoses off, and go to fit it. What! It is too small. A relatively
new engine, I had not changed the belt before, and must have been supplied
with the wrong size. Bother!

What to do? I try making one out of rope, but of course this just slips, the
knots chafe apart. I try the belt once more and eventually manage to squeeze
it on, the alternator hard up on its stops, the belt perhaps a tad too
tight. Oh well, as long as it gets us to San Diego where the belt can be

Dirty and tired, I washed then allowed Sylph to drift while I rested.

This morning, around four, I awoke to my alarm (I think it had been sounding
for over an hour, but had not reached down into the depths of my
slumber). The flag fluttered, a breeze, I stir, drawn to the wind, hoist
sail, set the wind vane, Sylph takes off at a smooth and steady four knots.
But not for long. It is a fickle flow, and a few hours later we are drifting
once more.

At nine, I hand sail and flash up the BRM. Santa Catalina Island
lies ten miles to the east. With no significant wind forecast for the
next few days we may as well make for Catalina Harbor, a nice tight
bay in the island's southern flank. As we approach the island reveals itself
to be dry and barren, a pile of dirt, a worn and wrinkled craggy rock. A
few, maybe three, white charter boats, gunwales lined with hopeful
fishermen, and no doubt women too, bob close under vertical cliffs.

A harbour, a place of rest, an opportunity to stretch the legs. Perhaps tomorrow there will be some wind.

All is well.