@ Jolly Harbour Wednesday 16th June 2015
With a reasonable forecast I left Pamala's dock to clear customs and proceed to St Lucia.
When all that was seen to, and all goodbyes said, I proceeded to sea. Modified engine driving at approx 3 to 4 knts, and passing the fairway buoy at 12 noon.
It was a very good sailing day, and if all had have been good with GL I would have been doing 8+ knots. As it was I was babying the boat, because of the bow planks with Main and staysail only, and still doing 4 to 5 knts.
I made many checks around and all seemed to be good until about 1800hrs Approx half way, when I noticed the bilge pumps were working nearly none stop with a lot of water coming in. I checked again and noticed water was pouring through the bottom bow planks, a lot more than before. Putting my head over the side I checked the planks, and to me they had all moved even further away from the stem post. This was a bit alarming as I had still had 33 miles to go before reaching shelter behind Guadalupe, this being the biggest gap between islands, and Atlantic Ocean not Caribbean Sea. I was trying to keep the boat as upright as I could, easing the main etc. but the pumps were taking longer and longer until I knew I would have to use the engine emergency pump as well.
The engine started no problem and I engaged the pump, this emptied the bilge quickly and as the engine was only ticking over anyway I left it engaged, which kept the bilges dry, even though more water was coming in.
Should I turn round and head back to Jolly Harbour or continue. Turning round would put the bow high and maybe less water would come in, but could put more stress on the stem not having the planks fastened to it, ie planks would move away even more! Or should I continue and hope I can find somewhere to stop and maybe make a fix. I was now over half way to possible shelter and night time had descended in a dark murkey haze......I continued.
I went even slower than before, engine running, charging and bilge pump on, empty bilges and fully charged batteries, me scared half to death in case something else happened, like a severe squall or something. I was now pointing more into the wind and only heeling 10 to 15 deg, leeway was a lot but that took my speed down to 3 knts prolonging my agony, its then I noticed the running backstay was making a lot of noise, the weather one under tension, the dam thing was moving in and out of the deck, it had come loose as well, but course was good and would see me behind Guadalupe about 0300 hrs. Thursday. I achieved all that and when the wind died made for the anchorage at Deshies, I was a long way offshore and it took another 4 hrs. to get there arriving at 0600hrs. Very tied and hungry. The engine had been running all that time since 1830hrs. Approx. the longest time its ever ran in its life, the last 4 hours it was driving the boat as well as no wind to help, and that with only 2 pistons in it, makes you think that. I anchored and went to sleep. Woke up at 1000hrs. Found I was the other side of the bay and had been dragging the anchor, noticed some free mooring buoys, recovered anchor and picked up a buoy. I went ashore and cleared customs had a coffee in a cafe, got back to the boat and went to sleep again. Woke up at 1400hrs and put GL into moored up mode, dingy lift, covers and awnings on, wind generator deployed, solar cells out etc. and read a book until sleepy then bed.
Friday 19th , survey of boat to see what I can do with a temp repair here on a mooring. There is no one to help here, a sleepy little holiday town. Formulated a plan of action, and work to achieve. All has to be done in the dingy lashed to the bow, even tested how to do that, went shopping, believe it or not there is a Spar shop here, so got some supplies and back to the boat to begin preparing tools needed for the plan.