THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; ...
I left the Azores with the intention of heading for Ireland. I realized that something was wrong as I left Horta, Faial, Azores. I could not get much power out of the engine. I wrote it off to strong winds and currents as I clawed my way out of the Azores. Little did I know. I motored North to pick up the non-existent westerly winds. Concerned about running out of fuel I turned east waiting out the Azores high so I could turn North. It never happened. I spent several days in very light winds heading East. The ride was nice, I was bored out of my mind as I had not found anything to read in Horta. Heading North, then East, then North, then East I realized that I could have made port again at the east end of the Azores cutting the distance to Portugal by that amount. Bill (KI4MMZ) and Fred (W3ZU) told me that there was a wind field to my east, I decided to motor a bit . I did find the wind field and progressively reefed until I got about 25 miles from the Portuguese coast.
I started the engine as I was once again "0 points free" to head into Caicais. I was not getting much power and with beam seas rocking a great deal. All of a sudden the engine died, then caught again in a particularly strong roll. Of course at the time I was dancing with a tanker that was also trying to get into Caicais. Well, it caught and I continued at about 2 Kts into port. The further I got the more frequently the engine would die and then catch. I arrived outside the marina entrance and decided that in 30 knot winds I did not want to risk having the engine die in the channel. So I limped across the anchorage and dropped the hook. Bill had warned me that the winds would be strong and possibly get stronger. I could not get far enough into the anchorage to really get any shelter without running the risk of loosing power and running into another anchored boat. So I dropped the hook and sat out the winds very conscious that I had dragged just two months ago and destroyed my rudder. I just sat there while the wind whistled around me and the halyards banged against the mast. No matter what I tried to do I could not get control of the halyards. I desperately wanted to get to shore, but the winds were too strong to launch the dinghy. So I just sat there feeling very sorry for myself as XO continued to cuddle and demand attention. Of course the breakwater for the marina was 400 yards to my stern, if I dragged I had visions of Reboot on the marina breakwall. I took out my secondary anchor and deployed it ready to throw overboard if I started to drag. (This is something I should have done in Garrison Bight. Live and learn.) Anyway I did not drag and as night fell the winds moderated overnight. I realized that my loss of power was due to one of three problems - something wrapped around the prop, the transmission had seized, or my fuel filters were clogged. I checked the transmission and it needed oil. Then the dip stick fitting broke. But I filled it with oil - at least most of the way. This morning with lighter winds I changed out the fuel filters and called the marina for a tow. They hooked up and we powered in, apparently the fuel filter change made the difference. After checking in they made sure I got to a dock safely. So my mood is somewhat rejuvenated. I am now on my third beer and feeling better. I also left Horta without smokes - not a great way to quit. They are quite a crutch when I am feeling down.
So here I am, somewhat better. Will file the official voyage statistics later today. I realized while sitting at anchor waiting for something to go wrong that I have been crossing the Atlantic for 5 weeks. I am glad it is over (it only took Columbus 22 days to reach the new world.)
Fair winds and following seas.