Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The end of the adventure....

So I'll pick up where I left off several weeks ago.  The day after the last post, Day 8, was frightful.  With sustained 35-40 knot winds, I came up from a break at 4am to hear Ron screaming at me to get him a knife.  The stainless steel radar mount had sheared in 1/2, and the radar, with it's base, was banging and whipping around the mizzen rigging.  No way in the current conditions to climb aloft to make an alternative plan and lower the radar to the deck (perhaps we could have done that had it been daylight), so we made the decision to cut it away.  And so we did, watching as $2000 fell into the sea.  I try to look on the bright side of all situations, and while in this case it was more difficult, it could have been worse if it had fallen down onto the 5 solar panels within striking distance.  The rigging was safe, we were safe, and the true adventure was just beginning.

Ron had been stressed; the worry of keeping me safe, keeping the boat safe, keeping the systems working....it was starting to take it's toll.  We spent several hours discussing our situation, coming up with alternative plans.  The overriding thought between us, was that the last 5 years while cruising, we had been complacent.  It was difficult to get replacement parts, it was difficult to do major repairs and upgrading, but we were now faced with the future destination (Easter Island) and the loss of our radar.  The conditions were pushing our boat to it's limits (or so we thought) and we decided that if we really wanted to continue with the sailing life, we needed to do some upgrades, and the easiest place to do those was going to be Mexico.  Yes, it was a long way away, but water and food and fuel were plentiful, and the long range needs took precedence.  So, we turned the boat 180 degrees away and started heading north.

25-45 knot winds, 10-15 foot seas, some south and some east winds, we were doing fine, and had Mexico in our sights, 700 miles away. Then....disaster.  One day, there was some uneven reving with the engine, as we were using it under massive swells, but no winds.  Exploration discovered lots and lots of water in our fuel filters and an hour later, the engine had quit, never to start up again.  The fuel injection pump was hooped!

Not a problem, we thought.  We're a sailboat, and while we may not get there as fast as we could, as long as the wind held, we'd be fine.  AS LONG AS THE WIND HOLDS!!!!

Bypassing this an account of too repetitious days, a week later found ourselves still 280 miles away from the Mexican coast and enthusiasm was on the wane.  We had been heading first east to Chiapas, then further west to Huatulco, and then finally with the north winds in control, we headed towards Acapulco.  By this time, Acapulco Search and Rescue made an appearance, and indicated that for $33,000 they would be happy to give us a tow.  Uh, huh.  For that price, I would be too.  Another week of haggling, another several days of drifting either in one place or even backwards......the game was starting to get old.  A different system took hold, and we were back heading at 1-2 knots/hour towards Huatulco.

In the meantime, we give thanks to three boats who really gave our spirits the needed boost, and one boat in particular who we will remember always.  Islena, Sailor's Run, and Curiositas happened to be in Acapulco, heard about our trials on both the Amigo and Picante ssb nets, and came to our rescue by attempting to find a private party to tow us towards Acapulco.  Another quote, this time for $10,000 but we still weren't desperate, although it was now Day 36 since our little adventure began.  The winds switched again, and off we all went to Huatulco, our three new best friends from Acapulco, and us from 80 miles offshore.

It was finally decided, on Day 38 that if we could get our boat to Islena, who was drifting 9 miles away from us and 20 miles from Huatulco, that they would be able to tow us the rest of the way in.  We got busy.  As it was dead calm, we successfully lowered the dingy, got the outboard engine on, sidetied the dingy to Sundancer and at a blistering 2.5 knots, off we went.  We rendevoused with Islena at noon, and by 4:30pm that afternoon, we were inching our way into Marina Chahue, in Huatulco.

Our Saviours, Dave and SaM on Islena
Inch by inch we made it into Marina Chahue, Huatulco
Can you tell we are happy?
And so here we are.

It's now 3 days later.....and only now can I write about it.  We don't know what the future holds, except that the first order of business is to get the engine up and running again.  We are kicking around a couple of ideas, to stay here for a few months, to stay in Mexico for another year, to attempt the south Pacific again next year this time, to sail north back to the states or Canada.  The only thing we really know is that we are very grateful to the sailing community that pulled together to help a fellow mariner.

We are staying on land for awhile

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