An update for those interested.
A few days before we were due to leave the Caymans, a solo sailor arrived there in a 40' Jeaneaux, having motor
sailed from Key West via the west end of Cuba. His experience was that it wasn't too bad, but he had burned a lot of fuel
We decided to go that route too, mainly because we had a good weather
window, the really bad bit wouldn't be for very far and we could motor
or motor sail, or get out of the current if it was too unpleasant.
We had a dream run to Cuba with 15-20 kts over the starboard quarter, rolling swell for most of it. When the wind
dropped and we could only manage a couple of kts we decided to motor sail for a while.
It was early hours of the morning, and a great time to find that 1500 rpm
on the Lehman
was making absolutely no difference at all.
First thoughts... we've lost
The choices were to sail to Hemmingways Marina in Cuba and get a prop sent in from the US, probably via the Caymans due to the embargo.
Or we could try beating to windward with a bit of a push from the current, to Key West.
These boats are not known for their windward performance... I'd planned on using the engine
A lot was hanging on the weather forecast
, but we only have VHF
We managed to get an updated forecast
from a passing ship which indicated we were fine for the present, but there was a low starting to form in the Atlantic which could get nasty in 4 or 5 days without a high to fend it off.
During a becalmed moment we started checking all possibilities. The shaft was still turning under sail so we must have a prop. All linkages were still in place, and no really obvious places for adjustment. We undid it at the transmission
end, started the engine
, and soon established that reverse would engage with lever pushed by hand directly at the transmission
, but 'forward' gave us nothing.
I think losing a prop may have been preferable!
Over the next 3 days we had calms, a midnight squall with gusts to 35 kts and lightning
and thunder simultaneously overhead, rain bucketing down, and this old behemoth racing
to windward at 8 kts!
We made the total trip in 5 days, sailing only, but with main, mizzen, yankee and stays'l all up the whole way.
I have a new respect for how these boats handle, and particularly how they sail to windward if there is enough puff in the wind
We managed to get to the outer channel markers for Key West early on thursday morning, where we got Tow Boat US to get us into a boatyard. Marinas
were full for the Lobster Festival, and besides their rates would have killed us.
Transmission comes out on monday and hopefully we can be on our way around to the east coast
of Florida, and up to the Chesapeake as quickly as weather permitts.
C'est la vie.