A week of opposites

Written by David Townsend

7, June 2009

David Townsend, Sail360.infoPosition 36°53’863N 007°45’954E

Alongside port Annaba, Algeria, Mediterranean Sea.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

A week of opposites, a week of balance as two gales and two cyclonic periods came by to visit SV Pinta.

Life Onboard:
Saturday evening bought gale force 8 winds, as I rounded ‘Cape Bo Ou’ bringing winds around 37kn. It was decision time, I could carry on and cross the Gulf of Tunisia (40Nm wide) or tuck in behind the cape and have a good nights sleep, sorted!

Upon waking I noticed the wind had veered / backed during the night to the sou-sou-east. The shipping forecast was still issuing force 7/8 with thunderstorms for the whole area, this anchorage would be no good. A quick look at the chart and a bay on the other side of the cape would be perfect. Em, unfortunately, it was a no anchoring area .

The nearest would be port De Kelibia some 14Nm further to the south. With winds of 35kn and gusts reaching 45kn at times and a two metre short, slop running, this was not a ‘jolly’ sail. Upon my arrival the coastguard contacted me advising that, it might be prudent to go into the port rather than anchor off. I dully did so, not bad at ¢4 per day! And, none of this stern too stuff, alongside proper with a bow and stern line, and, yes, even a spring.

Two days later and I was off once more, a good stiff breeze, nice sailing. The following day becalmed, and so the pattern was set for the week, i.e. Gale two days then light to no winds, cyclonic, backing, veering.

The only light entertainment was during the Friday when the Tunisia coastguard decided to pay a visit, a nice hello, a quick search and that was that. I cannot believe it took them twenty minutes to launch the rib though!

With another gale being forecasted, and indeed with winds picking up now I looked for another anchorage. A nice sheltered bay off Annaba, Algeria. Visitors in the morning, during their visit all I could get out of them was that I did not have their flag set. Being told ‘you must have flag’, the next words sounded unfavorable, I had to follow them into the port. It would appear the officials here need some work so I was the lucky chap. Soon an army of officials from immigration, coastguard, security and finally the port Capt (who very kindly bought down a copy of the weather forecast for me) visited. Once completed then I was free to continue on my way but by then a breeze had developed pushing PINTA onto the quay. I would have to wait for a lull before departing .

The Boat:
The bilge pump started to struggle, I cleaned the filter and all was okay. Just loose peace’s of paint etc.

The longest night; Thursday evening I went to start the engine so to put a charge in the batteries. On pushing that little black button there was not even ‘ehhhh, ehhhh, ehhhh’, or even a ‘uh’… the panel lights just dimmed. Why is it these problems always happen during the hours of darkness, PINTA is in a convergence zone for shipping and to look at the problem I need to isolate the batteries. That would mean no navigation lights, nothing.

I had enough power to run the autopilot for around another hour or so, great I thought, either a night of hand steering or just go and do it now. After doing the best I could to put Pinta in a more favorable position I started to diagnose the problem. Cleaning all wire contacts from the batteries to the distribution system (including starter motor etc). Still no joy, the only place I have not checked is the switch on the engine control panel however it has been there since the boat was built some nine years ago, there is no way the screws were going to move!

So; I rewired the water maker soft-start relay and using that to connect to a switch on the ships control panel. Okay that’s a starter switch sorted now, all I then wired the relay to the starter motor solenoid. Four hours later and with fingers crossed I pushed this little black button on the panel, why-hay, engine started, phew…

During that morning I noticed a small ‘stress’ tear in the mainsail just above the top batten pocket, a quick repair job and the sail was set once more.

Fair winds, calm seas.