Saturday, 06 December 2014

Like last week, it was our plan this week to do an overnight sail in the Atlantic in order to move south more quickly, but once again we continued in the ICW. Last week, too much wind was holding us back, and this week, there was too little wind!

After all our misery last week, we reached Cape Fear early this week and hoped to get the saltwater pump for the cooling of the engine fixed, since it’s now leaking way more than the acceptable dripping. In Southport we found a mechanic, who unfortunately told us that the pump we needed was in backorder from Volvo, but later the same day he luckily found a repair set, which would arrive the following day.

Southport by Cape Fear was a really nice small town, and together with Oriental it is one of our favourite stops underway. Southport is often used in films and TV-series, and lately Safe Haven, which I haven’t seen though – yet!

While we were waiting for the pump, Henrik started researching the possible problems with our sometimes uncooperative autopilot (NAVICO TP 300C). A bit of research on Google showed that there were several people with the same problem, and one guy even knew how to fix it.

The problem with our autopilot is apparently that it consists of 6 very thin wires, and they are placed so close to each other that they by time wear off their isolation, so the electricity runs sideways – and that causes the confusion in the autopilot. By isolating the wires again, the problem should be solved, so Henrik decided to do that.

Unfortunately, the wires fell apart instead, which means that we now have no autopilot at all – and which brings me back to why we had too little wind to sail out of the ICW and into the Atlantic: One thing is to hand steer during the day in canals and rivers, but another is to hand steer while sailing under engine in the Atlantic for 24 hours!

On the day the pump was to be delivered, we were told that it wouldn't come anyway, and they weren't able to get one at least before a week later. So since we weren't going to wait for the pump after all, we decided not to wait for the wind either, so we continued down the ICW heading towards Charleston, South Carolina – and took turns pumping 125 times an hour to keep the boat dry!

From Charleston you can also get out into the Atlantic, and that is now our new plan. There are approximately 200 nm from there to St. Augustine in Florida, which is a shorter trip than going through Georgia. The ICW in Georgia goes more up and down than straight ahead, which probably is the reason why everybody has told us to “skip Georgia!”, when they have told us about the ICW. Besides, Henrik is looking forward to go sailing again, so if we don’t succeed in ruining our wind pilot as well, we should be in Florida by next week!

Signe Storr Freelance Journalist and Friend of Boatshed.