A blasting start

At 1300 h GMT we left Isla Mujeres, Or? well we tried. Before the crossing we had made contact with a skilled sailor from Sweden. On board we call him Hasse and he sits at home in Sweden and does weather routing for us. The plan is that he basically going to safely radio control Chibidarra all the way across over the Atlantic. By communicating to us via satellite phone, he informs us about the weather situation and the best possible route for us to go. According to Hasses calculation we where to leave at 1300 h GMT to have the best possible sail through the straits of Florida to the Atlantic. But since Lisa on Minaki had left the previous day, and therefore left her role as morning net controller to our friend Maik we felt obligated to stay and listen on his debut. Definitely don’t regret that. He made an awesome job with spreading happiness to everyone around in the morning.

He even kept our mode up by highly appreciated jokes.

Closer to 1500 h GMT we picked up the anchor and blasted Adios Mexico on our speakers as we cruised through the anchorage. The first couple of hours sailing were almost perfect conditions for us and we made great progress. We were happy to finally be on our way again. But name the happiness that last forever, the wind soon decreased and we were back to our normal slow sailing again. With help from the current we managed to barley make up for the late start.

Swimming behind the boat at 0 kn through the water but 2 kn over ground

We struggled a bit to get into the watch routine again. But at least we are three people sharing on the responsibility and we agreed upon doing our usual three hours each. That way we manage to split the days up so the hours alternates between us and everyone gets both the best and the worst hour of the day.

Just an example of a bad time of the day.

After two days and multiple small thunder squalls later it was time for a proper one to hit us. We were cruising around just fine when the sky shifted colour and became darker. We were a bit slow to react since the previous squalls basically only marginally increased the wind but contained tons of rain and thunder. This one on the other hand was different. The wind increased drastically and we reefed both main and genua. We turned on the engine to be able to reef the mizzen. With a reduced mizzen and engine we followed the sea to reduce the load. That is when the temperature alarm for the engine goes of and we need to shut it of. We are now surfing down the waves only sailing on the mizzen sail. But then all of a sudden Captain loses all steering and we manage to get the last of the mizzen sail down and becomes sitting ducks in the now less windy but still rainy squall.

After the rain had stopped we managed to install the emergency steering and started to further investigate the problem. turns out that our ball joint for the steering ram had failed and the rudder had been flapping around with out nothing stopping it from turning to much. since we had a spare ball joint onboard we collectively worked to replace the broken one for the spare. It maybe sounds like a quick and easy task to do for three engineers but bare in mind that everything rusts onboard a boat especially stuff that never gets used. After a couple of ours we manage to reinstall the steering ram. After a quick test we realise that the ball joint isn’t the only problem we got. the steering is very stiff and needs a lot of force to move the first 3/4 of the stroke. The last bit on the other hand is very easy and moves effortlessly. We quickly realise that the cylinder shaft is bent and we need a new one.

So where are we? with 60 Nm to Key West and 53 Nm to Havanna we chose to go to Key West USA. Since we never planned to visit the US we never bother with getting visas. Right now this was our main concern. We contacted the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) fleet and asked for assistance contacting the US coast guard and border patrol. After getting a green light from US coast guard we slowly limped by engine towards Key West. The previous temperature alarm turned out to only be a pocket of air in the water cooling system, most probably caused by the ruff sea state.

To avoid meeting, and probably be boarded by the coast guard in the middle of the night we slowly motored between the thunder and lightnings. In the early morning we entered US waters something that we had been dreading to do especially during Covid-19. Turns out that the coast guard didn’t care at all about us and we safely (for this special occasion dressed in life jackets) could enter the harbour and anchor right beside our friends Northern Sky and Minaki.

Over and out Anders

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