“Only two more watches until we’re there!”
Never, ever, ever utter these words on a sailboat.
That was me, at midnight, happily calculating how much longer it would take us to get in to San Carlos. As the last leg of our trip back North, this passage had been pretty smooth… no wind, no waves, no problems! (Because we’re a little early in the season to be heading north, we’re looking for the windows between Northers where we can just motor like hell and make miles).
But, being me, I had to go and offend the sea-gods with this clearly jinxable utterance.
So at 6:00 am (why do these things always happen just as I’m supposed to go off-watch???), when the temperature gauge suddenly shot up to 240F, I wasn’t even really surprised. You just can’t say some things on passages (Mom’s favourite: “Isn’t it nice we haven’t had any squalls in a while?”… guaranteed to elicit a nasty one).
I woke Jon up with the happy news (“Guess what honey! We only have 14.5 miles to go but the engine is overheating and there’s zero wind so we’re now drifting backwards from our destination! Oh and would you like some coffee?”).
I should say at this point that I refer to anything involving the general engine area as “Mechanics“. Changing the oil? “Mechanics“. Checking fuel filters? “Mechanics“. Overheating engine? “Mechanics“. So it was up to a bleary-eyed Jonathan to take charge of the situation (while I tried to ghost along on fictitious zephyrs… or at least keep the bow pointed in the right direction).
- Engine compartment dismantled (very tricky to get to the back of the motor — and where else would the heat exchanger and water pump be??)
- Heat exchanger dismantled (where we found pieces of the shot water pump impeller — ‘we’ being maybe a bit generous) and cleaned out
- Water pump dismantled (without a 13mm wrench… the one we apparently *really* needed)
- Impeller removed
- Calder consulted (not my favourite book, but even I was disappointed at the 2 measly pages provided to describe overheating engines!!)
- New impeller dug out of the ‘impossible locker’ under the vberth
- A few choice words uttered as broken tools flew overboard (apparently a broken ratchet is about the most frustrating thing in the world, followed closely by trying to make crescent wrenches do anything useful)
- Impeller changed, pump re-installed, heat exchanger re-installed, engine compartment put back together…
…and (my) hero Jonathan saves the day, again.
So it took us 9 hours to make our last 14.5 miles… (can you say ‘last 5%’?)… but we are now in San Carlos, with 600+ miles of north-ing behind us. This is also our final destination for this year.
But I don’t want you to go thinking that we had no highlights to this passage! At about the halfway mark between Topolobampo and San Carlos, Jon woke me up to see quite a sight:
A school of over 40 dolphins (babies included) had spotted us & come to play…
Which way should we go? Both ways:
This one is not in focus, but look at the baby jumping just in front of her mama:
We’d never had a glassier-smooth passage: