We packed important documents and items
to remove in case we still needed to abandon
the boat. For the rest of our trip, Darryl and
I got little sleep.
The next morning, we took off under sail
with the motor running at low rpm to reduce
the banging and thumping, grateful that our
friends on 40 Love had offered to buddy-boat
with us on our slow limping journey to the
boatyard. We dropped anchor in Chamela,
leaving in the morning to sail all night around
Cabo Corrientes to La Cruz. At 3: 30 a.m., we
heard a loud thumping noise coming from
our prop shaft and discovered our leak flow
had increased. Thankfully, the bilge pump
seemed to be managing it. We put the motor
in neutral, as we didn’t feel we could go
forward without further damage to the hull.
That turned out to be a prudent decision;
at haul-out several days later, the inspection showed a paper-thin stern tube and no
propeller. With little wind, and no motoring power, we drifted along until daylight.
Around 7 a.m., Darryl, and Joel from 40
Love, set up a 250-foot towline so we could
continue our journey to La Cruz. By around
9:00 a.m., we rounded Cabo Corrientes with
How To Plan For The Unexpected
n In preparation for cruising, we had both
read an article on a boat that was struck by
a whale and went down in less than 45 min-
utes. We then sat down and mapped out a
plan of what we’d do in the event of
an emergency. I believe that helped us
to react swiftly.
n Anything can happen, at any time, even a
mile-and-a-half from anchorage. When sail-
ing at night or in rough weather, or with any
unexpected emergency, put your life jacket
on without delay.
n All crew should know how to work the man-
ual bilge pump. We had just pulled both out
and gone through the dirty job of cleaning
the filters, installing a high-water alarm, and
testing the system a week before.
n Make sure your VHF/SSB radios work.
Without these, our encounter could have
been dire. Your VHF should be DSC-
enabled and hooked up to your GPS so
that, should you need to set off a mayday,
rescuers will continue to automatically
get your latitude and longitude. This is a
simple connection available on newer VHF
n Carry a GPIRB (GPS-enabled EPIRB).
It’s easy and inexpensive to rent one
from the BoatU.S. Foundation.
n Attempt to contain/slow down any water
entering your boat. At the time of the
encounter, our automatic bilge pump
kicked on. But before even knowing that,
Donna started pumping the manual bilge.
n Organize communications. Assign one
person at a time on the boat to monitor
Channels 16 and 22, and communicate
on a third specific channel for discussing
and monitoring the situation. This person
should keep clear notes of any cruisers
calling in, help offered, and people to call
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