Thursday, February 27, 2014

Crooked Island to West Plana Cay (Feb. 26, 2014)

predawn at Crooked Island

Crooked Island sunrise

lighthouse on Bird Rock, off Crooked Island

Gil & Di making tracks east

A day of learning the hard way! …and we had several lessons today J

Anyway, the weather forecast was for mild winds (ESE under 10 knots) and therefore settled seas.  Crooked Island to West Plana Cay is about 50-60 nm (nautical miles); a long enough day - @ 5nm/hr., that’s about a 10-12 hr. passage. So, we left Crooked Island at first light – shortly after 6am. West Plana Cay lies east, then south of Crooked Island, and when we pointed our bow to get there …. sure enough, it was so close to the direction of the forecasted ESE wind, that we (being a sailboat) couldn’t go that way. Sailboats usually can’t sail much closer than 30 degrees off the wind. Sailboats have to tack, and take the zig zag course, which, of course, adds significantly to the distance travelled and therefore the time taken. The anchorage we had chosen off West Plana Cay appeared good to get into (ie. few reefs or coral heads) if we got there after dark…..    …..and that’s how the day started.

Lesson #1: The forecast isn’t always correct.

The winds were stronger than forecast, and the sea state choppier than we’d hoped for, so we decided to motor-sail.

Gil put out a line. Even though our freezer and frig were full of fish; Guilloume & Gwen had space for some. After a couple of hours, I decided to have a nap.  While napping, I heard the engine rev down and stop. I figured Gil had a big one on the line.


Nope. Much to our dismay, we had run out of fuel! So stupid of us. We knew our fuel gauge was off; but discovered it wasn’t worth you-know–what. Anyway, we carry lots of extra fuel in jerry cans, but getting it from the jerry cans into the fuel tank in the choppy seas wasn’t our best option. We chose to just sail (without the motor) until we could get to a calm spot to anchor. Atwood Harbour was the closest spot, so we tacked to get there. As soon as we tacked, it seemed the seas had calmed. The waves just weren’t hitting the boat as harshly.  Gil was able to transfer the diesel into the tank and bleed the engine, and bring it back to life.

Lesson #2:  Keep the fuel tank topped up.

So, we tacked again to make headway toward West Plana Cay once more. Nose into the wind and seas. Yuck. We were making slow progress toward West Plana Cay, because of the tacks we had to take. After too long a time – we figured we’d be smarter just to take the sails down and motor directly to our destination.  Dah. So much better!

Lesson #3: Sometimes, it is better just to motor.

We made it to West Plana Cay after almost 12 hours, and I sure was happy to have the hook down, and the day over.


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