Favorable winds pushed Ocean Angel north on a fast pace towards Dominica, and we passed the southwestern end of the island much sooner than we anticipated. It looked like we would arrive in Portsmouth harbor in time to clear Customs the very same day, but of course, as we came in the lee of the tall mountains, our wind all but disappeared. Here and there the wind would funnel down between the peaks roaring out over the coastal waters in the 25 to 30 knot range; one minute we’d be motor-sailing along at 6 knots, and the next we’d be rail down tearing up the water at 9.
As we approached the harbor, the wind died down to about 5 knots, and a south flowing current reduced our speed to next to nothing. Time to fire up Perky again; turn key – nothing. Try again – nothing again! @#* Oh boy. That current was actually flowing south and east, right towards shore a mile away. Great!
OK, so we tacked offshore sailing at the phenomenal speed of 1.5 knots, and I asked Joy to keep an eye on our course while I tried to find the problem. A few frantic minutes of trouble shooting starting at the starter relay (which had failed once in the past), and following the power’s path ending at the starter solenoid, and I discovered a crimped and soldered connector that was all but separated at the wire junction, most likely due to 30 years of vibration right at that point. Problem identified with a quick temporary fix, with a permanent solution once the engine cooled down.
We anchored close to friends of ours, Pat and Jim on Mirus, then placed a call to our boat boy, Providence, to ask if he could run me down to Customs for the clearing in process. Much faster to ride in the launch with its large outboard motor, than for me to cross the wide harbor in our dinghy. While gone on my task, I left the engine running for Joy, just in case.
Shortly after Providence returned me to Ocean Angel, Providence came zooming back with a small gift to welcome us to the island, beautiful flowers to adorn our cockpit.