Thursday, April 28, 2016

Crossing the Bar and a Rescue!

Scott Free motoring down thru the canyons of the Rio Dulce
Before we start our cruising season we need to get out of the Rio Dulce and that can be difficult for us. There is a five foot .2 mile muddy bar at the beginning of the river and we have a 6.5 draft. And that's assuming we exit with less than full fuel and water tanks. Most years we've been able to enter and exit by ourselves (but plowing or bumping our way through at times) with our unusually big Ford Lehman 135 hp engine. But this year we had to leave on a 1.2 ft tide - a minimum of 4 inches too shallow. So we planned ahead for a boat to meet us and lean us over with a line from the top of our mast while we powered through. It worked fine. Jim on "Emerald Seas" documented the exit.
With Jim & Renate we sailed up to New Haven Bay for that night. Just as we finished anchoring we got a distress call from Zula - a small sailboat with a very inexperienced captain and first mate - Roger and Valerie. They had gone aground about 7 miles (as the crow would fly) south of us. We managed to talk them through the kedging process (taking an anchor out to deeper water and pulling the boat off the ground with the windless to it) but it was more difficult due to the cracked ribs Valerie had sustained crossing the bar earlier. Roger thought his draft was 3.5 and it was actually 6 feet. They finally settled in at anchor for the night - a huge relief for all. It would have been a difficult, possibly dangerous, trip back to them from our position at night.
That's Scott Free far left and the motor boat far right - between them is a line from our mast that is tipping the boat over
to allow our 6.5 feet draft to go over a 5 foot bar with about a foot of tide. We're powering ourselves. The boat below left
is stuck fast and will need a tow forward as well as a tilt over - two boats.

The next day we sailed north to Placencia but soon after had another call from "Zula". They were having trouble reading their chart plotter, weren't sure where they were and they were taking on water while moving. Scott and I volunteered to go back and assist. Emerald Seas was having problems with their motor and needed to continue on to Placencia.
The boat on our left is stuck fast and
 will need a tow forward as well as a tilt over - two boats.
Scott boarded them and investigated their leak. It was through the cutless bearing and their bilge pumps weren't working. I called for assistance from the Belize Coast Guard who came and took Valerie to a health clinic in Punta Gorda and from Monkey River Tours, who sent a fast launcha and 2 men with a portable pump. They towed Roger into Placencia Lagoon and he had the boat repaired at Thunderbirds Yard. Valerie made her way by bus and ferry back to us. We met her and got her a room for the night on shore. She was naturally quite shook up.
Everyone it seems in Placencia followed the drama on the VHF radio so we were the center of attention at Yoli's that night and had to recount our adventures for some time afterwards.

No comments: