After the swiftsure race I had a couple of nights downtown and then headed back to Cadboro Bay for a couple more evenings spent bobbing around, while I bought a few things and carried on getting stuff ready. I was originally going to head to Orcas Island on Monday (and give my friend Mal a lift back) but I had a couple of things that weren’t arriving until the Saturday (cutting it close there) so I decided to head over on the Friday.
There was a massive ebb from 6am till 2pm, so I was against current a lot of the way, which was pretty annoying. Up to 3 knots against at some points! However, I managed to get the foresail up and run downwind in 15/20 which was pretty nice
Until the autopilot stopped working. Now, I used to sail everywhere single handed with no autopilot, but I was also younger and stupider back then, and nowadays it’s a pretty essential bit of kit. With much grumbling, I hand-steered the rest of the way, cleared through Roche Harbour customs and arrived in Orcas, where I hung out (and said goodbye!) to my friends Elysee and Christian. Sad times. However, I also picked up
- new ladder
- bed springs
and will be doing a separate post on each as I get them installed working. I also fixed the AP (a wire had come loose inside the plug) and switched out the alternator belt.
After an early night, I started to head back to Saanich Inlet to anchor outside Emma’s parents’ house. Again I got a bit more excitement that I really wanted. While going through a narrow rocky channel against a knot of current and in 0 wind, there was a loud bang and the RPM of the engine bounced around. Hopping down into the cabin and opening the engine hatch, I saw that the alternator belt had fallen off. This drives the water pump as well as the alternator, so now I wasn’t getting any cooling – which explained the steam starting to come out of the exhaust. Balls.
I went back up and killed the engine, and watched as I was swept with the current towards a bunch of rocks and cursed the lack of wind and 200 foot depth. LUCKILY however, the 1 knot of current pushing me backwards meant there was one knot of apparent wind (caused by me going backwards) so I was able to get the foresail out and unglamorously kind of slingshot around the rocks to shallow water very slowly. Once there I dropped the anchor in 80 feet of water, took a deep breath and figured out what had happened.
Apparently, it was a very cheap belt that had stretched a TON and then just fallen off. I put the old belt back on, ran the engine for a bit to make sure all was good and then slowly pulled up 150 feet of chain by hand. That sucked. I have to get a windless one day for sure!
Below is a picture of my chartplotter track I took with my phone (I know this is like taking a screenshot of a picture and attaching it as a word document to a fax but I’m lazy). I marked each location and the leftmost track was my inbound route from the previous day so just ignore that.
ANYWAY I finally arrived at Saanich inlet, and had a well-deserved gin and tonic followed by a big nap and then it was time to load the boat and pick up Emma to head North!
Nice recovery after the engine fail!
Thanks David! Sweaty palms for a bit for sure
Engine fails at the wrong time…yeeeeesh. (not that there ever is a right time) . I’m so sick of them! And that is why I’d love to go electric! Not much range but soooo many pros!
I’ve returned to my mooring engine-less so many times I’ve lost track!
But hey…your out there!!
I’d love to go electric! But around here the wind is so fickle… maybe when my engine bites the dust I’ll switch