Sailors can be a superstitious bunch, but I don’t think of this crew as really being that way. But yesterday, we got some signs…
With the winds remaining very light, we decided to try going in to Neiuw Nickerbie, a small port on the border river between Guyana and Suriname that my charts showed as having fuel. About 8 miles out, the big outside GPS plotter lost its fix. No big deal, GPS’s sometimes do that- even this one did it once before. It just restarts itself and a minute later has a fix again. Then about 10 minutes later, and a mile closer, it loses the fix again. Hmmm. Another minute or two, and it reacquires a fix, and can show us exactly where we are. About 2 miles from the river entrance buoy, when knowing our exact position really starts to matter, and it loses the fix again! What’s going on? The inside GPS has had no problem, but also doesn’t have the detailed maps.
It gets a fix once again, and not a minute later the engine dies. What now? So a quick tack out to sea and safety while we figure things out. Turns out we finally used enough fuel in one tank to start sucking up what appeared to be the creature from the black lagoon, and the fuel filters were plugged.
While removing the filters, draining the fuel-water separator and making everything smell nice, we had sailed a way down the coast, and it was now getting dark, so we decided not to double back, and skip Nieuw Nickerbie. In reflection this morning,and realizing the GPS had no issues since, we wonder if someone was giving us a sign to avoid that place. Guess we’ll never know.
We got the engine running again, but not for long. There was enough gunk still in the fuel line to plug everything up again. Being dark out, and us being a bit sleep deprived, and there being some wind for sailing, we put off the repairs till morning, and sailed slowly through the night, tacking upwind.
This morning we did the same drill with the filters, and this time the engine has been running for a few hours now, so there has been progress. But we decided to make a pit stop to load up on fuel, and maybe source some more filters. So we are now headed for the grand Dutch metropolis (maybe an exaggeration) of Paramaribo, Suriname, just a few miles up the Suriname River. I’ve already called ahead to confirm fuel availability, which they have (Shirley’s English was better than my Dutch), but we won’t know about filters till we get there. I did find out they close at 3pm today (no celebrating the 4th of July for them), so we won’t get there in time and will need to wait till tomorrow morning.
Our plan is to get close, maybe a mile or two offshore (its shallow) and anchor for the night, giving us all some nice rest. Then in the morning ride the rising tide up the river and go exploring!
We know this puts us a few days behind the schedule we insist we don’t have, but it is what it is. If we run out of July, we’ll see where we are and decide what to do then.
06.07N 55.39W 1080nm gone, 3794nm to go 2pm 7/4