Disabled at Great ExumaApril 4 on the Bahamas ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F
Well our next adventure didn't go quite as planned. We had noticed on our way to and from the Jumentos that our cruising speed was about 2 kts slower than it should have been at our usual rpms. At first we attributed it to a strong current but realized on the way back that we weren't able to accelerate normally in forward. Dave attempted to adjust the gear linkage without success and, when we tried to leave from our anchorage on Long Island, we had no forward propulsion at all. We realized at that point that our transmission had failed and that we would need to go back to Georgetown for the best access to resources.
The silver lining that morning was having a Manatee visit us for several hours. Apparently there aren't many that reside in the Bahamas so we were thrilled! Having learned from previous stays in marinas that Manatees love getting fresh water from hoses at the docks, we fed him multiple kettles full and stopped only when we decided we had depleted enough of our water supply.
We were fortunate the next day to have enough wind in a favorable direction to sail without the engine back to Elizabeth Island near Georgetown. Away from concentrated boat areas, Elizabeth Island would offer us room to maneuver when anchoring. We tried to time dropping the sails so we could end up in a spot close to shore and protected from upcoming winds, but slowed down too fast. We were still able to put the boat in reverse and neutral, so Dave turned the boat around and backed the rest of the way in. I'd love to know whether the small handful of boats anchored nearby were humorously entertained by this or concerned that we were complete idiots.
We were towed to an out-of-the-way location which was protected from most wind directions and accessible to a dock, important since we would end up being there for almost a full month. Unable to find an exact replacement for our old transmission, we were able to find a guy in Virginia who could get us a new one that could be modified. He fabricated the parts we needed for the modifications and assembled what he could before sending it to Florida. We found a broker in Georgetown who would arrange for it to be shipped by boat from Florida to Georgetown. We picked it up by dinghy and carried it the 3 1/2 miles back to the boat, hoisting all 50+ lbs up the boat ladder.
Dave was cautiously optimistic that he could install it himself. We lifted the engine with the halyard to gain the necessary access. Right off the bat the shaft coupling didn't quite fit and would, ideally, need slight boring at a machine shop. Well, there are no machine shops in Georgetown and the closest one was in Nassau. Unwilling to give up and send it elsewhere, Dave managed to file it by hand using a coarse semi-round file and, believe it or not, a diamond knife sharpening tool. Many hours later he was successfully able to attach it.
The rest of the actual installation went quickly but adjusting the gear linkage was a big challenge. Our friend Hayden gave Dave the tip he needed to complete that part of it.
Between getting back to Georgetown with no engine, finding someone to tow us, finding the parts to fit an older boat, locating a broker to arrange shipment and Customs clearance, and solo installation, so many things could have gone wrong or gotten even further delayed. We got underway again Sunday. Needless to say, I am so impressed and grateful for Dave's tireless determination and astute problem solving abilities in tackling and successfully completing such a huge job almost entirely on his own.
We happily spent our last three nights at Little Pipe Cay, which seems to have become our Exumas home base. Before crossing back to the States, we anticipated making it as far as Grand Bahama then needing to wait out a front affecting both the southern U.S. and the Bahamas. We realized, instead, that if we sailed straight through, we could be in Florida in under 48 hours. We left Pipe Cay Friday morning, had a challenging first night (higher winds and seas than predicted) then a great night crossing the Gulf Stream. We made it into Ft. Pierce around 9 this morning, just before the winds quickly started to pick up.
We are homeward bound!Read more
Traveler I am so glad you were able to get on your way! Sorry we never crossed paths again. Good luck!
Fantastic job, I cant believe how you solved so many problems anchored out and you got it all installed and running. Very impressive job. [Hayden]
😳 Great Story and Great Fix! Truly you are Cruisers! We’re enjoying MOW and plan to return by May 8 to Beaufort SC for a haul. [Tracy Knox]