We were sailing from Isla Providencia, Columbia
to Roatan, Honduras
when our Auto Pilot decided to give up the ghost with 250 miles left on our trip, 20 knot
winds and quartering seas.
As a result, we had to hand steer the boat
for 31 hours, one hour on and one hour off. The seas and winds keep the boat squirrelly and you just could steer longer than 60 minutes without being exhausted. 24 hours into this, needless to say Lori and I were incredibly tired.
At sunrise, we spotted a fishing
boat off or stern about three miles back. By this time we were working fairly fair along the Honduran Coast and had heard horror stories about this part of the world.
Then the VHF
goes off and someone starts asking for "the sailboat" in both Spanish and broken English
. Then they call a mayday. It is obvious it is coming form the boat behind us, because there is nothing else on the 48 mile radar
. My wife is telling me not to answer since they might be pirates... By this time I am so tired, I am thinking anything would be a break and answered them.
It turned out they were a Honduran fishing
boat, which during the night had lost
and were lost
. They had been following us for most of the night, figuring eventually we would lead them to land. When the sun came up they figure they would call us and ask for a position report. Once we gave it to them, they turned off for Isla Guanaja and headed on their merry way.
Needless to say we were both relieved, but realized that most of our paranoia came from 28 hours without sleep!