Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thomas Paine, in Cascais, Portugal

December 23, 1776 - Thomas Payne:

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; ...

Of course Thomas Paine was not talking about crossing an ocean (the Atlantic.) But the thoughts really resonate. It has been about 5 weeks since I waved goodbye to Ed and Claudia (Door into Summer) and headed for Ireland. I have now joined that fraternity of those who have crossed an ocean on a sailboat. In fact, I have joined that more exclusive fraternity that have done it alone. In the vernacular, "good on me." But at great emotional cost. I hit the wall the day before yesterday. I was ready to pack it all in, dump Reboot, and rent the apartment next to Spencer's in Madison (so I could bootleg of his Internet and have him over for dinner on a regular basis.) Trevor - the state income tax laws are easier on me in Wisconsin - don't take it personally; Spencer - is this your idea of hell or what? Sitting in the sunshine in Caicais, Portugal (near Lisbon) in the sunshine drinking my third beer it seems like a dream.

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.

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