Sailors are a superstitious bunch. Some of those superstitions include such things as bad luck to have bananas on board, don’t change the name of your boat (at least without a full ceremony and offerings to Neptune) and never, ever, leave on Friday. On top of these superstitions, the Bahamas happen to be smack dab in the Bermuda Triangle and, of course, everyone knows bad things happen there.
So, that being said, at 6 pm on Friday we pulled anchor at Black Point Settlement heading for George Town. This was expected to be a 10 to 12 hour trip to cover the 55 or so nautical miles. Since in sailing you can’t always go from point A to point B in a direct line our plan was to head out about 10 miles offshore then angle back in toward Georgetown so the winds would be on our beam (side) instead of directly on our nose.
Russell took first watch and off we go motoring away from land while I tried to nap so I would be awake for my 9 to mid-night watch. By the time I came on watch, he had put out the fishing lines and already made the turn to head toward George Town. Just as he was getting ready to get some rest, the auto pilot suddenly had us heading in the opposite direction. He started the motor and got the boat turned back around but we really couldn’t figure out what had happened. Everything seemed to be working fine so I took over and he went to sleep.
My watch was pretty uneventful except the winds were not exactly as we hoped so I couldn’t maintain the angle we had wanted. We would need to tack again and go back out a second time. Hopefully this would get us there.
Russell had the mid-night to 3 am watch and by the time I took over again he had already tacked and we were headed back offshore. He let me know that the auto pilot had turned us around again, we think due to the wind switches and current, so I would need to watch for that. He also found one of our lifelines had broken. The seas were a little rough and it was hot inside, so he lay down on deck for a while before going inside to sleep. Meanwhile I was focused on the radar because it was showing a number of storms popping up around us and I could see lightening in the distance. Fortunately, none of these storms got closer than a couple of miles from us.
At 5 am everything kind of went haywire. The instruments started beeping an alarm and showing a low battery error. Seems our house batteries, which run all of our lights and instruments, including the autopilot, had run down. Russell went to start the engine and NOTHING. The starter battery for the engine is in no way connected to our house bank so it shouldn’t have been down. He started the generator instead (which also has an independent battery) to recharge the house batteries and began looking for his glasses so he could try to figure out the problem with the engine. They were nowhere to be found. He had left them on the seat and seems they had bounced off the boat. He got his spare pair of glasses and found the issue with the starter battery was corrosion on the cable. A quick fix and the engine was running smoothly. Only it still wasn’t charging the batteries. Not the end of the world since the generator can charge them but something that will need to be fixed when we get to George Town.
By this time, it was after 6 am and I was officially off watch so I went in to get some sleep. Every now and then I would hear him moving around on deck and see him out the window but he never yelled for me to come up so it wasn’t until later I found out that when the sun came up he finally figured out why the lifeline was broken.
A block for the sheet (rope that is attached to the bottom) on our jib (sail) had broken so the sheet was pulling up against the lifeline. Since the lifeline had broken, the sheet was then pulling against the handrail so needed to be fixed before that also broke. He went forward and managed to fix the block but then had to run the sheet back through. This meant loosening it which caused the sail to flap around. Since the sheet is attached to the sail, it was whipping through the air and beating the crap out of him, including hitting him in the face. He was finally able to get it under control, through the block and tied off. It was only after the got back to the cockpit that he realized he was no longer wearing his glasses. They had been knocked overboard when the sheet hit him in the face.
We still weren’t able to get the right angle into George Town so instead of tacking back out to sea for a third time, we motor sailed a direct route the rest of the way.
A few hours later we had the hook down and were resting up.
Summary of our issues:
- our fishing lines tangled when the autopilot turned us in a circle causing us to lose line and another lure
- we broke a block on the jibsheet
- alternator not charging house batteries
- battery cable on starter battery had corrosion causing engine not to start
- we broke a lifeline
- lost both pair of Russell’s prescription glasses
- 55 miles as the crow flies but took us 16 hours to sail/motor sail
Was any of this due to the fact that we left on a Friday? I really can’t answer that but am pretty sure we’ll think long and hard before tempting the fates again.