Saturday, May 25, 2013

Arrival in Isla Mujeres

Whispering Jesse in her slip at El Milagro Marina for sunset
If you were following the Spots, you know we arrived in Isla Mujeres on Wednesday evening. Whispering Jesse is now safely slipped at the El Milagro Marina, and Nan and I are adjusting to our new life here on the island. Jack flew home yesterday, Jim is flying home on Monday, and Mike is staying on until June 3.

Within sight of the island on Wednesday afternoon, I said to Jack, "I can't believe what an uneventful trip this has been." I should have knocked on wood because a few miles later, the diesel engine, which we had been running to make headway against the Yucatan Channel's 3.5-knot current, suddenly changed its tune from a steady chug-chug to a high-pitched whine. I throttled back immediately, shifted to neutral, and then stopped the engine. We already had our stay sail out so we could continue making slow headway. Based on the sound, we all thought it had to be a problem with the drive train. Mike went over the side and confirmed that the propeller had not fallen off. We added diesel to the fuel tank from a jerry can in case we were wrong about the drive train. But when we restarted the engine and put it into gear, nothing really happened. The whine was gone, but the propeller was not spinning. With no hope of engine power, we put up the main sail and were able to achieve about three knots. We were close enough to Isla Mujeres by then to pick up a one-bar cell phone signal, so I texted Nan to let her know what was happening. She had Jaime and Julio, the El Milagro Marina guys, contact us on the VHF radio to arrange a tow. By the time we reached the Avalon Reef Hotel at the northeast corner of the island, they were waiting for us in their panga. We continued sailing to the northwest corner, turned into the wind to drop the sails, and took a line for the tow. Julio had us raft up to the panga just before we reached the marina, and he guided us into a slip, where Nan was waiting with open arms. The twelve-day sail from Savannah was over.

Now I'm sitting under a palapa waiting for the mechanic. He came by yesterday evening and determined that the bolts connecting the coupling plates between the drive shaft and the propeller shaft were sheared. That was a relief. It should be an easy, inexpensive repair, if the mechanic ever shows up. I'm slowly adjusting to "island time," but I've been waiting for four hours now. Tal vez hoy, tal vez maƱana.

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