Out in the Big Blue - 26:50.5N 18:15.7W

Wed 2 Feb 2011 15:50
Hi All,
I left Las Palmas yesterday at 1700.  Checking out took one and a half hours, I think they like to keep a queue outside the marina to make themselves look busy.  Of course I missed some of the shops that close for lunch and had to hold on till four for them to open.  Any how it didnât bother me too much.  The crew of Pelican came over to cast off my lines and wish me a safe journey.
Rounding the south of the Island I put in a course for 25,25 by way of a waypoint which should be achievable in a couple of days and not far off the rhumb-line for Antigua.  I sailed on with the headsail only until about 0400 when the wind dropped off altogether.   I decided to start the engine as the batteries needed a charging anyhow.  To my amazement the engine failed to start.  This is the first time this has happened since I have had the boat.  Pretty disgusted I changed my course and headed for Mogan, on the south-west of the island.  The engine failing to turnover initially, would do so using the second bank of batteries.  Also when it did turn over the engine was not catching.  Eventually I got it going and motored the 16Nm to Mogan.  I arrived at 0800 and began looking through the engine.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion that the failure to turn over was a poor connection to the starter battery and that the failure to start was some air in the diesel line.  I couldnât believe this I had the engine running for hours on end in preparation for the trip. I guessed that one of the bleed screws must not have been tightened correctly.  I cleaned down the terminals with backing soda and water and gave them a rub of emery. After putting them back I gave them a good dollop of grease to stop this happening again.  I checked the bleed screw and noticed that one of the sealing washers was not exactly concentric with the bolt so I rectified this and bled and tightened it again.  Testing that the engine started 5 or 10 times I went to the fuel dock and filled up.  I was aware that if the bleed screw was still leaking that this issue wouldnât raise itself for a couple of hours.  I decided to leave anyway but  to keep a slightly northerly track to make calling into Tenerife or El Heirro possible should I find a fault when I tested it later.
Before turning to leave the Islands I gave the engine a go and no problems.  I ventured out into the ocean on a south-westerly track.  The wind and waves were on my quarter and I was making good progress in 25knots of wind.  At nightfall the wind had increased and was now blowing 30 to 35 knots.
Now with only a deeply reefed headsail I was still making 5 and 6 knots and not too concerned about the conditions. The boat seemed to be handling it well and the windvane steering was doing an excellent job. 
Later that night while on deck, one of the waves which was threatening to get me did.  Breaking into the cockpit and filling it I struggled to get the top washboard in place while the boat lay on her side.  Luckily the bottom board was already in place, as I always do at sea, and no water got below.  The lesson learned from this was to have both in place at night.   The boat righted herself quickly and I went about tidying up everything and inspecting the damage.  All was fine except for the spray hood which had some of its fittings torn from the deck.  But this will be easily repaired.
After a busy night I went to bed at daybreak and got a good hour or twos sleep.  For breakfast I had some fruit and a chorizo omelette.  The weather is a bit calmer today and I am doing some odd jobs around the boat.