Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We had a small scare coming into Carriacou, I heard the bilge pump running a couple of times for a few seconds each time. Now Elephants Child is a pretty dry boat so I knew this signaled something unusual. I checked the toilets which were both fine then the dripless prop shaft seal. Whooa that dripless seal was spraying water. We pulled the revs right back and the leak stopped so we limped in slowly. Playing with it at anchor established that, yup it was leaking and worse it was vibrating. So we spoke to the boat yard and arranged to get hauled. Once we did it was clear that the cutlass bearing was badly worn. Which was unusual as I fitted a new one two years ago. Ho Hum.

Fortunately the chandlers in Grenada had the right one in stock, got it on the fast ferry and the next day my we were back in the water with a new cutlass bearing [ good news ] but with the same leak [ bad news ].

So the cat says

“ What now skipper?”

The next step was to contact the local expert in this field. Uwe is famous throughout the Caribbean as being the guru to consult on shaft and other engineering problems. I struck lucky as Uwe had been on holiday for 5 weeks and although he had a mountain of work on his plate he agreed to come out on Sunday morning to see if he could diagnose the problem. I had been thinking all sorts of dire problems but Uwe discovered that a bleed tube on top of the seal was reducing the joint face pressure in forward and allowing a spray of water to appear. The bleed tube may just have gotten stiff with age or perhaps it had been moved when we tidied the cables up when reinstalling the autopilot computer.

So it is fingers crossed for us on Monday as we will attempt to redress the problem by fitting a new piece of flexible hose, comforted by the knowledge that if it all goes wrong the boatyard is 5 minutes away.

Our troubles are minor though compared with some others.
There is a Canadian on a trawler yacht who is very proud of his unusual and very green dinghy. Built of aluminum on pontoon boat lines it has two electric motors and 2 – 3 hundred watts of solar. When he pulled into Carriacou it had a leak which resulted in it sinking to the point that only the tips of the bows were above the water. He was busy in the morning applying large fenders and flotation bags to partially refloat it. It was towed in to the boatyard and I guess set a record as the smallest boat to be hauled by the boatyard.

On a much larger note there is an Oyster 65 which has hit the bottom off Frigate island and damaged it's keel pretty badly. To prevent it sinking it has been deliberately run aground in Frigate harbor. Uwe has been called in by the damage surveyor as the local salvage expert and he is off there on Monday with a serious petrol driven pump plus other nostrums including large ratchet straps to see if he can strap up the keel and keep ahead of the water ingress to enable it to be moved somewhere it can be hauled. The word is that it is a fairly new boat and worth £1m + OUCH!

It has rained hard for most of Sunday and the buckets are full, the dink is awash, all our hatches are closed and we were going stir crazy because the internet is down. How you come to rely on the internet as an information source.

But come Monday the shaft fix tested out OK and on Tuesday it was blue skies gentle breezes and
even the cat was not too pissed off to be sailing as we made our way up yo Union island. .

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