March 9, 2018 – Warderick Wells, Exuma Land & Sea Park

Yikes, what a day. It started well, we dialed into the 9am Wardrick broadcast. Since the winds really really died down as of this morning, lots of boats left and yea, we got a mooring ball in the north field. For those of you reading this who are following Bob & Tarja’s travels on FB, you will have read some of the following, copy and paste is my friend for long posts.

We left Cambridge Bay in very light winds and were motor sailing. It was only about 10 miles to Warderick Wells. After about 5 miles Bob thought he heard the sound of a plane flying overhead or a fast motor boat behind us. Then he realized it was us! The noise sounded like the muffler was gone until Bob looked at the heat gauge which was rising.

Being a Diesel engine school graduate Bob sprang into diagnosis mode and checked the raw water intake but it was fine. He then took the engine cover off to check the impeller but immediate saw small bits of rubber randomly beside and below the engine – it was the sea water pump fan belt. The good news, we had a spare belt on board. The bad news is that installing it required removal of the main drive belt. Between lack a of the right tool, strength and knowledge, Bob was within an eighth of an inch of getting the belt off. He cried uncle and we then tried to get help over the radio. Bob “pleaded” for help from any boaters in the area and even did a PAN PAN – next down from Mayday , in some trouble but no danger to life – to no avail.

Meanwhile, Tarja the big time sailor kept the boat heading towards Warderick (ok, it was autopilot), our speed was between 1.4 and 3.4 with the occasional leap to over 4. Once we were within about 3 miles of Warderick we had to turn east to make the approach to Warderick. This was directly into the wind, for a sailboat that basically means you’re stalled. We did manage to get it into shallower water and then threw out the anchor. We radioed the Warderick office and they said we had to contact Staniel Cay for a mechanic. We are now close to the park and there is no cell or data service and Staniel are not responding to our VHF call – not a surprise.

We were starting to think, now what, when there was a call on the VHF from the park rangers. We think they heard our call to the office and offered to come and tow us. They said the usual charge is $250 but they’d be fine with us making a donation to the park. There was a huge sigh of relief from both of us. We waited about 40 minutes for them to arrive and the tow itself took about 30 minutes.

Our park warden saviours

So now we’re on the mooring ball but still have not resolved the problem.  This is where friendships on the water really kick in. When we were temporarily anchored at Staniel Cay waiting for our slip, a boat called Mariposa, who we figured had to be Canadian, contacted us on VHF.  They had met Jeff and Trish who on finding out Phil & Michelle were Canadians, told them about meeting us, so we’re now at least VHF friends. When they called us, they were at Warderick and had planned to stay there for a few more days.

Once we were all tied up on the ball we started for the office to register. Partway there we passed a cat called Archipelago who we had heard in conversation on VHF with Mariposa. We stopped to ask if Mariposa was at Warderick and of course they were the next boat over. Phil on Mariposa said he’d called us on VHF when we were still “out there” but we hadn’t hear the call. Phil and Steve from Archipelago volunteered to help us. Steve’s cat has the same engines as ours and he had a small pry bar which Bob thought would come in handy. Also, Steve had changed that same belt on his boat. Both guys were engine savvy and with Steve providing guidance and Phil doing the work they got the replacement belt installed and didn’t even have to use the pry bar.

They said they were happy to help as they had often been helped so felt they were paying it forward. We were very thankful and relieved !

Phil & Steve at work


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