Several days ago I left the northern cluster of Bahamian islands. Today I am holed up in a cozy town just inside a network of reefs and sandbars called The Devils Backbone. My 60-mile sail down from Little Harbor took all day, from dawn ’til dark, and was perfect sailing. The wind was at my back and the waves gently pushed me south. It was perfect, that is, until I lost all propulsion from my engine.

I became aware of this after I turned up into the wind to go between two islands out of the open ocean. Because my angle in the wind would be different, I needed to turn on the engine and take in the sails to get through the inlet. After about 30 seconds, during which the boat slowed down and began to blow towards the rocky shore, it was evident that I didn’t have mechanical propulsion.

I had to raise my head sail, turn the boat around, and head back into the safety of the open ocean. Very quickly. I knew this was my only chance to save Athena from blowing onto the rocks, but I wasn’t sure it would work. I went down past the islands, and cut up into the protected area when there was plenty of space. Then I anchored under sail in the dark and snuggled with Elli to calm my nerves, thankful that I hadn’t wrecked.

The next day I spent almost three hours tacking back and forth, sailing straight into the wind, to get to Spanish Wells. The locals were exceptionally kind, and towed me into the tight harbor (sailing into a narrow harbor full of boats with no engine is dangerous) and placed me on a local fishing boat’s dock. The boat was out for two weeks and I was welcomed to the slip.

The mechanic informed me that my propeller shaft, a piece of metal running from the hull to the propeller, was broken. I haven’t run aground anytime recently, so the theory is that I may have picked up something floating under the surface of the water like a tire or strong rope.

The shaft needs replacing, so I am sitting tight while I await the parts. The town is well stocked with beaches, grocery stores, dog groomers, bars and restaurants. With all the beautiful weather passing me by I am getting a little stir crazy, and am eagerly anticipating my next sail. But adversity will arise in any walk of life, and as my father says, “If you have a boat, you have boat problems.”


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