Troubleshooting

December 7, 2015

Smooth Sailing is only part of it, the part story books are made of. Sometimes the best laid plans are just that. Our first morning aboard Sea Dragon, our new home for the next 18 + days, was one of team building, and getting the boat ready for sea. After breakfast, this newly formed crew set to polish off the list assigned by our Captain. Emily, assigned with tasking marching orders lead and guided this predominately green crew with and ease and humor that was delightful and inspiring. She and the other crew were so patient, calm, articulate and at ease with teaching us the ins and outs of this 72ft, 50 tonne, ocean going yacht. We stowed the dingy (a process much greater than I had expected), bumpers, hanked on the stay sail, tidied ropes, learned the ins and outs of life jackets and safety equipment on board, and of the safe use of winches that aid us in controlling the huge loads of the sails.

Around 1pm, with promo photos for some of our amazing sponsors squared away, we were ready to set sail. That is when our plans changed. Our engine was overheating and leaking due to a pressure build up. Emily and Imogen set to troubleshooting the issue in the engine compartment, underneath the companionway. Heat below decks was at its max. Humid midday tropical heat, uncomfortable by anyone’s standards. After many hours of troubleshooting and manual reading it was decided that corrosion over many years had caused a blockage in the raw water cooling system. Preliminary investigations complete, a mechanic was called to come and look. His analysis was that the engine was running well enough that it might carry us through. The age of some of the hose and other components were still of concern of the long term. If we could wait till morning he would return and replace these for better piece of mind.

Up on deck, the rest of us took the opportunity to have a science briefing from Emily Penn and Diana. After dinner was served in the cockpit, a wonderful curry made by Lisa and Katrina hit the spot and brought us together. After the washing up, many were feeling quite tired by a morning of labour and afternoon spent in the hot Brazilian sun. With thoughts of brushing teeth, reading, journaling and sleep creeping into our minds, we were ready to call it a day and reset tomorrow.

It was then that I noticed a seemingly different relationship of boat to land. Calling down the companionway to the crew I alerted them to my observation. They determined that the boat was in fact dragging on its anchor. This combined with our out of order engine resulted in an all hands on deck order. Our Skipper stern but unconcerned. Within minutes everyone was in lifejackets and torches on, helping to re-deploy the dinghy which only only earlier we had neatly stowed. The crew reset the anchor.

I might reiterate that we have yet to even leave! Ascension Crew (previous crew) had the insect invasion, we were experiencing our own trial by fire. I questioned whether or not I should be worried, but I am decidedly not. The Skipper Imogen, First Mate Emily, And Second Mate Holly are all confident, competent amazing and clear under pressure.

So even though our sailing plan has not started smoothly I would say our crew is learning to work together extremely well. I can see that by the time we reach shore in Guyana we will be nothing short of a well oiled machine. Hopefully setting sail is not far off.

Sarah

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