Bernard Logan BEESMEJ – USA 37

Where should I start?

Hurricane Gustav was scheduled to travel NW up the Gulf of Mexico, Sunday. The local forecast was for winds, from the east, at 20-25 kn. Therefore, the west coast of Florida should have little of wave action, as it should come from the east and the coastline is to the east. I decided to take the chance of getting to Charlotte Harbour with excellent wind strength and wave action protected by land.

We set off on Sunday morning and were, positively, swept out of the Manatee River with winds at 30 kn! We topped 10 kn of boat speed. We entered the Gulf of Mexico and proceeded south east, towards Charlotte Harbour. We were heavily reefed. The waves were coming at us from the west! I guess they were between 10 and 12 feet in height. Whenever we picked up speed, the boat’s movement became positively violent. At one point the wind rose to 40 kn and gusted at 45…..that is to say, until the anonometer blew off like a flying saucer! Maggie got really stressed and insisted on anchoring, at the earliest opportunity. I found a spot on the chart and made for it. It was close to shore at a depth of 12 feet. I placed two anchors: one with 300 ft of nylon rode; the other with 200 ft of chain at 60 degrees apart. We settled facing south east; but the waves were from the west. Worse was the fact that we lay between two surfing lines: one outside and one inside of us. About one in twenty waves came at us in breaking mode. One hull would rise, crasily, into the air; followed seconds later by the other. Things went crashing about in the cabins. Glass, crockery; my shredder. Surprisingly, nothing got broken!

Even the US Coast Guard paid us a visit! We were the only sailors afloat! I explained our anchoring arrangements and they seemed satisfied. They parted with the request that if we had any problems, during the night, I was to contact them, immediately. They were very kind. The yacht was perfectly safe; it was just an incredibly uncomfortable night.

Next day, we were both a little shell-shocked; so, we decided to abandon Charlotte Harbour. We entered the Manatee River and parked, for lunch, behind an island called Egerton. We were, actually, on a lee shore [in other words: if our anchor dragged, we would be pushed onto land]. It was, actually, fun being there, away from those horrendous waves. The island protected us from the westerly waves. We decided to stay there, overnight. I adjusted the anchor, accordingly. The night was peaceful and we slept well.

We should have returned to the marina, next day; but, in the event, we had plenty of food on board…so we decided to stay put. I tried out the new dighy outboard, which, being new, needed some persuasion to start! During the latter part of the day, the wind picked up, again from the east; this time, the waves were, also, from the east…..at least on the nose! At some point, during the afternoon, I happened to go into Maggie’s cabin, where I discovered a sizeable puddle of water on her floor! It tasted salty. A side porthole had been left open and, presumably, a passing wave decided to pay a visit. I cleaned up; shut the porthole and thought no more about it.

I started up the generator and ran the washing machine, air conditioning units and the water maker. It took a longer time for fresh water to be made, than I had anticipated. Sleeping, tonight, was a little more disturbed, owing to wave action.

Next day, I checked both engines; Maggie’s had salt water in the engine compartment. When I opened the inspection hatch to the starboard bilge, I discovered salt water almost up to floor level. There must have been close on 400 litres in that bilge. I switched off the seacocks to the airconditioning units and the watermaker…..just in case. The automatic bilge pump was not working; nor did it work on manual. Maggie and I had to hand-pump the water out of the bilge. There was no obvious cause for the water being there. We weighed anchor and headed for Twin Dolphin Marina; we had a beautiful sail back to base and parked, safely, in our berth.

I switched on the air conditioning and opened the seacock…..no water leak. I switched on the watermaker and opened the seacock……no water leak. The only, logocal, cause for the bilge water was a lot of water entering the porthole.

Tomorrow, the bilge pump will be examined; it may need to be replaced.

In addition: my state of the art loo has decided to misbehave!This is an electronic loo: you push a button and flushing and clearing is, fully, automatic. There are traffic lights to indicate when the holding tank is empty, half full and full. A\red light indicates that the tank is full. Worse: on red, the system locks itself…it is not possible to flush! Last week, after a pump-out, the system showed green….for one day; it, then, went straight to red! Today, after a complete pump-out and flushing the tank with fresh water, the light remained at red. I contacted the manufacturer, by phone. It took 30 minutes for an engineer to become available. I was given the name and phone number of a local service department; it did not exist! I checked on the internet and got the address. We drove to the service centre, only to find that it had closed! I contacted the manufacturer, again. I was directed to “experts”, who had no idea about marine toilets! Eventually, after a huge amount of time and effort, I located someone, who knew what I was talking about. Of course, had Manta still been in operation, the matter would have been referred, direct, to them!

I am not impressed with business in America. How, on earth, did they become the richest and most powerful nation on earth?

Posted from USA:

posted Thursday September 2008

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