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Swing Set

Jul 17, 201310:19 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Decision Time

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Rosie and I were definitely disappointed in Rum Cay and Port Nelson, and certainly in Sumner Point Marina. We had traveled over 35 miles in rough seas, believing the guidebooks about everything that Rum Cay had to offer. What if we traveled another 35 miles to Cockburn in San Salvador, only to be disappointed again? There are no anchorages around San Salvador unless the wind is coming from the east, which it usually is, but there are no guarantees. When we travel to any island, I usually have anchorages in mind for any weather situation, because you never know.

At issue was also the current wind situation. Winds were continuing from the east, which would put us on a beam sea heading to San Salvador, something that is not pleasant at all. We made a decision to head back to Long Island at the crack of dawn and take advantage of a following sea to scoot us along. Our decision was a fortuitous one.

At 6 a.m. on Monday morning, Rosie had the coffee going and I was untying our lines. The sun was just coming over the horizon as we made our way through the maze of coral heads back out to our route west to Cape Santa Maria.

We hadn't had much experience with a following sea since we began our adventure, and what we soon learned was that unless one wanted to fight the helm all day, the boat will do better if it is going faster than the waves, otherwise the waves overtake the vessel, pushing the stern around as they gain purchase on the rudders. As the stern tries to come around, one can steer "into the skid" as one does when sliding on ice. Real havoc occurs when a vessel is running in a surf into an inlet and the waves push the vessel sideways. In a big enough surf, this is when the boat will broach and possibly roll over. The seas we were in were not big enough to roll us over, but I quickly tired of fighting the wheel. This is where autopilot comes in handy.

But we don't have autopilot, but we do have horsepower, so I put Swing Set on plane and we ran along with the waves, gently coasting over them with no spray on us at all. Until the temperature alarm on the port engine sounded.

I really wasn't taken by surprise, because when we are running at our cruising speed of 25 miles per hour, I always have a close eye on the temperature gauges. I had replaced the raw water pump on the starboard engine, and we were on borrowed time with the impeller on the port engine, and now payment was due. I slowed us down to 1500 rpms, not a very efficient speed, but the added miles per hour gave me better steering, but still not enough to stay ahead of the waves coming at our stern quarter. So, I fought the wheel for three hours back to Long Island until we rounded the tip of the island and happily found ourselves back in Calabash Bay and Cape Santa Maria Resort.

We anchored in the exact spot we had been in before leaving for Rum Cay, close enough to Cape Santa Maria Resort to keep an eye on the boat, but far enough out of the way of their two fishing boats that travel to and from the beach resort several times per day. We were also as far north into the bay that we could be to avoid any swells from the ocean. With the prevailing easterly winds, the anchorage is a really calm spot.

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