We left very early on Friday Morning. The wind was about 5 knots and we took our breakfast as Wind Maiden was slowly moving west toward Cayo Costa. A few dolphins came along to wish us a safe trip before disappearing. The long week-end was starting well. Even better when the wind started to pick up around 15 kts from the S.
Beginning of the afternoon, after a fun sail, we anchored in Cayo Costa. We found a spot at the entrance of the bay, not too far from the ranger station, between two sandbars.
The afternoon, we went to the Gulf’s beach for two hours walk. As usual we were mesmerized by the beauty of the 8 miles of pristine water and white sand.
The night was quiet and cool. The almost full moon reflecting light on water.
Our next day was dedicated to finish the visit of the park.
If we knew the beaches, we never really did more than one trail. The plan was to take Quarantine Trail to the north of the island, then follow the coast and come back south with another trail to the south. This was supposed to be the perfect time of the year to do so (we tried in summer and it was too hot). As soon as we started, we knew it will not be a walk in the park. Angry mosquitoes started to attack us and the first part of the trail in the dense vegetation was more a run to the north beach than a walk!
We came back to the boat beginning of the afternoon and spent the rest of the day relaxing.
Monday morning was a completely different story. The wind was still blowing from the south around 10 kts and a heavy fog was covering the bay. We left the anchorage looking at the chart plotter and stressed a little while crossing the ICW. Boats were coming from both sides visible at the last moment.
The ICW behind us, we raised the sail. The wind was just perfect. I was still on my way back to the cockpit when Maribel told me
“The boat does not respond”
I took the helm and effectively she wasn’t responding. Wind Maiden was sailing at almost 6 knots and we had no steering. That wasn’t good at all.
Luckily for us, she started to slowly luff, and I was able to quickly lower the sail. We were now drifting far away from any direct danger. Time to think! Usually in this type of situation, I started by the worse came scenario and I didn’t see any. We were just fine safe facing a small problem. Situation would have been much more critical a few minutes before in the middle of the ICW or in the small pass out of Pelican Bay.
Before trying to install the emergency helm, Maribel showed me a small piece of metal that came down from the helm. I didn’t realize directly was it was, but after a few minutes of investigation we identified the problem.
We first lost the small piece of plastic maintaining the wheel on the axe. The problem is that we didn’t see it. From there, as we were turning the wheel, the wheel went out and a small piece of metal inserted in the barrel went down as well. From there the wheel was just turning without any grip on the axe. After understanding the mechanism, it took us 5 min to get everything back together.
As usual after such episode, you feel proud to have solved the problem.
We went back to the Marina under sail, with steering and gust going up to 18. A nice way to finish the week-end ! Wind Maiden was flying at 6-7 kts !