On the way I decided to push our engines a bit, to make sure we were heading to Cartagena with no engine-surprises. This time of year, with wind, waves, and current often against you – motorsailing is the only way to get there. I was planning 36-48 hours, so that means we need the motors working.
Naturally, we lost an engine. I wasn’t too worried about it, as it was almost certainly a fuel issue. With one engine down, I put out our headsail – and we motorsailed the rest of the way into Nabadup, where Gilana and a few other yachts were anchored. I anchored on a pretty remote sandbar to avoid any weird anchoring issues with only a single engine. We dropped the hook, it held.
I called into Gilana, let them know we were around. Then I got into my boatwork clothes, got out the tools, and was almost into the engine room when Mike showed up. It was good to see him. Really good.
Mike said hi, and introduced himself. We caught up, I told him my plan for my fuel issue. He concurred with said plan, and then he left to kitesurf. I dropped into the engine room and began working. After a couple of hours of playing with diesel, I found the clog was actually in my fuel tank. That’s a shitty thing to find, after you’ve just flushed your tanks.
A quick chat with Mike left me with a plan – rig up a pump/filter system and polish about half of the problem fuel tank, sucking from the bottom to get all of the bad stuff. I rigged up the system and did my best to not spill diesel everywhere, but there’s no such thing as a clean diesel job. Especially on a rocking boat.
I finished the job, then we all went into decontamination mode. We did a good job and after an hour of cleaning the boat was smelling much better. It takes a while to completely remove the diesel smell (usually the exact period between diesel-jobs), but you’re not going for perfect – you’re going for tolerable. The rest is solved via Febreeze/Simple Green.
Then we decided to burn trash. So we did that. Even burning trash can be an adventure, so we packed our survival bag, mostly consisting of some beer, music, hammocks, and a snack.
With our last boat-project in the rearview we chilled and cooked and generally enjoyed ourselves. That evening we went for a dive, and we managed to find a reef with a couple of Dog Snapper – but the snapper outmaneuvered us, and then we lost the sun.
That night I decided it was time to remove the urchin spines from my foot. This isn’t something that’s very fun, but I reckon it beats the Hell outta walking around with them. So Amanda got into surgery mode and I began drinking whiskey. I’m not really sure that it dulls the pain, but it’s a good excuse to have a couple glasses of good whiskey. She pulled 11 spines out of my right foot without much blood. And I didn’t scream (loudly).
The next morning we heard our friends on One World hail us on the morning net (SSB radio). This was our first day actually monitoring the net, and apparently they’d been hailing us for a couple of days. Turns out that they were helping a cruiser salvage his yacht. A major heartbreak: a single-handing sailor lost his 2007 53’ yacht on a reef just outside The Hot Tub. No insurance, entire life savings in the boat. The kind of thing that really makes your heart sink.
Best Laid Plans
One thing about this lifestyle that people (who haven’t been living it) struggle with: constantly changing plans. No matter how many times you tell someone “the plan is to not have a plan” – they begin to expect things. They begin to set schedules. They begin to book flights. That’s all fine and good, but with that comes schedule-pressure. With that comes the expectation of me and S/V NOMAD being somewhere. And that leads to the constant barrage of schedule/plan related questions.
When you’ve set up your life to try to remove those questions and that pressure – it can be disappointing to find yourself back where you started: trying to make detailed plans in a constantly changing environment, so that other people can be happy. In situations like these “we’ll see” is the best answer.
So when we got the call to help out a shipwrecked sailor and some friends, I made a call: to Hell with The Plans. The Plans included a trip to Nargana for water/food, followed by sailing further East through the more remote areas of San Blas. That trip to the more remote area of San Blas would have removed 50 miles from our motorsailing trip to Cartagena and allowed us to see more of San Blas. Luke was ready to get to Colombia. I needed to get to Costa Rica for a wedding. The groom of said wedding was hoping for a last hurrah in Colombia with me. Another friend was coming to check out the lifestyle once I made it to Cartagena… But offering aid to another sailor is paramount. So all those plans were put on hold.
That morning we packed up and beat into headwinds and fairly large seas to get to The Hot Tub. We made it without issue – it was only 9 miles. Once there we packed a bag of tools, some water, and a handheld VHF. Then we wove the dinghy through a mile of reef/super-shallow water to get to the shipwreck. It was a heartbreaking sight.