1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: Disaster strikes!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Disaster strikes!

Luperon, a cruisers’ hangout in the Dominican Republic, was an education for Mattie, the boat’s owner, as he’d never spent time in a third world country. Unlike the resort at Samana, Luperon has no huge properties, no luxury tourists - just lots and lots of frugal sailors hanging out at Wendy’s Bar, JRs Tropical Bistro (it’s on Facebook, here) and various other dens of iniquity. We had planned to overnight in Luperon and head out the next day, but a problem with the boat’s rudder necessitated getting a mechanic onboard. For those mechanically minded, we had to replace a bushing, which meant lowering the rudder - IN THE WATER! That, as you can imagine, could be a recipe for disaster should the rudder fall off. We’d then have a large hole inside the boat, with water pouring in. Not good at all. Pedro, the mechanic’s assistant, dove under and took a strap around the rudder to support it in the water and we tied it off to the cleats. The rudder was then lowered a few inches, giving clearance to remove and then replace the bushing. Done, and we were good to go - after a slice of homemade apple pie at JR’s. Special thanks to Gil, the owner of JR’s, for his hospitality. Gil hails from Medicine Hat, Alberta and really, who can blame him for leaving that freezing cold backwater for a third world backwater that is, at least, warm year round? The weather forecast was leaving me somewhat concerned - there was some rough looking stuff east of Puerto Rico, several hundred miles away. I contacted a FB friend, Paul Moran (no relation) in Culebra, PR. Paul is a charter captain there - he advised that they were getting lots of rain, little wind, but that he felt this system might turn into a tropical storm shortly. The satellite view confirmed some rotation too. Paul suggested that we’d have no problem reaching Great Inagua if we left shortly, and I concurred, but with some trepidation. Once outside Luperon Harbour, we set our course and raised sail. Elbereth took off like a scalded kitten, racing up to 8 knots in the fresh breeze (note: ‘fresh’ breeze is what sailors like to call just a bit too much wind), and surfing on the waves to over 10. Quite the ride, and we had 160 miles of this to look forward to. Well, we rocked and we rolled, and we surfed and slid, riding over the Puerto Rican Trench with over 17,000 feet of water under us - or more than three miles! Night turned into day, and then night again, with a near full moon - spectacular, as you can see from the video. Finally, 31 hours after leaving Luperon, we dropped anchor at Great Inagua, Bahamas and collapsed into our bunks - completely unaware that disaster awaited us in the morning. Awakening far too early, our very tired crew of three looked forward to a reviving cup of superb Santo Domingo coffee from the DR. Bruce opened a fresh bag - and found - beans! Not ground coffee, but beans, and no grinder aboard the boat. This was terrible, as any coffee drinking sailor (hello Doc!) will tell you. Three tired sailors and no coffee. Opinions were divided on what to do - lower the dinghy, clear in with Customs and find a restaurant? What if there wasn’t one? Dinghy over to the ketch anchored a quarter mile over and beg for coffee like shipwrecked sailors (pride has no place here). What if he had no coffee? Tough it out, sail on to Long Island and BUY a grinder...tempers flared, voices were raised...all to a background of the captain (me) whining and whimpering. Then, inspiration struck the captain. His eyes lit up, a smile returned to his worried face - we can grind coffee with a hammer. The crew thought this was ridiculous, but I pointed out - desperate times need desperate measures. No hammer being available, we grabbed the next best thing - a screwdriver with a heavy end, put beans in a bag, and proceeded to pound them into powder - well, ok, grinds about the size of bb shot. Into the percolator they went. Anxious faces looked at one another....would this work, or were we doomed to a morning with no coffee and too little sleep? The pot bubbled away. Finally, it looked ready. A cup was poured. With shaking hands, I lifted it to my parched, thirsting lips. A sip. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Life is good.