Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crossing the Gulf of Mexico

We departed Fairhope AL on Sunday July 28, 2013.
Most of the trip was calm, light wind sailing days mixed with doldrums and motor sailing. We had a few evenings of fabulous sailing averaging 6 to 7 knots. In the 6 nights, 7 days of sailing we had one night that we wish we could have stayed at the dock or had a protected anchorage.

We have auto pilot which is a blessing, especially on the quiet days. We named him Otto Auto and on occasion he just quit and we had to offer him a beer and time off. Having Otto Auto allows one of us to sleep and the other to stand watch without always standing at the helm. However he will run into things as he does not veer from his course, so a vigilant watch is imperative. There are freighters, oil rigs, cruise ships, fishing boats and now, closer to Mexico, the occasional atoll and reef to sail around.

We had a couple days of repairs at sea, which is not uncommon, according to fellow cruisers stories and thankfully for us they were calm days, so the repairs went as smooth as could be, considering. First incident involved the alternator belt having a melt down. We have spare parts, however, we have to dismantle storage compartments to get to the engine room which creates chaos in the cockpit. We were able to drop sails and just gently float along as we did the repairs. Once Charlie got the alternator belt on we started the engine and heard clunk,clunk.... what the heck was that? Turned off the engine and tried again, same thing.
Opened the engine compartment which means dismantling the companionway and low and behold three of four bolts had fallen out of the transmission and were laying in the bilge under the transmission. Whew! Easy to fix, another thing to add to the engine check list.
Our second repair was the steering cable. On Saturday August 3rd as we were anchoring at Isla Perez the steerage gave way and we are not sure what the cause was. So instead of fishing and snorkeling we had work to do. We have spare cable on board but it is a bit smaller and will need to be replaced when we get to port.  We took the day to disassemble the steering column and again empty storage compartments so we can reach the steering quadrant. With much standing on heads, crouching in small spaces, improvisation, trial and error we were able to rewire the steering.  We departed Isla Perez at 8pm hoping to head for Isla Mujeres but the wind had other ideas and after being pounded around for awhile we changed course and headed for Progreso, MX arriving Sunday August 4th around 6pm.
We are having new steering cables made and a check up on the alternator as we rely heavily on all of our charging systems for navigation, refrigeration and charging of computers and tracking, not to mention Otto Auto needs his power fix too.

The following pictures are a smattering of life at sea. Our favorites being, when the dolphins come for a visit and stay to play. Sunsets, moonrises and sunrises are gorgeous and the cloud formations quite spectacular.

One of several oil rigs

The water was so calm today that the dolphins almost look surreal. What fun they have playing with Leap. There were two females with very young ones but they stayed on the outside of the pod and I was not able to get good pictures. The young try to jump and play like the others it was an absolute joy to watch. The pod  of 20 to 30 stayed with us all morning.

It was so calm at the halfway point we had a celebratory swim. Charlie rigged a line with a fender and we took turns swimming as we never leave the boat unattended when not anchored.

Otto Auto at work. Charlie on left Karen on right.

The culprit and the chaos in the cockpit.

In our safety gear following a squall.

1 comment:

  1. Now that is some blue water! Can't believe how well the dolphin pictures turned out! Looks like so much fun!!! (except the whole standing on your head part and the things associated with that...) Good to know you've handled everything so far with flying colors!!! LOVE YOU!!!