After our brief and rolly stay in Santa Magdalena bay, we thought we were home free. Less than 180 nautical miles to San Jose del Cabo, and with the wind prediction, we could be there in about 30 hours. No problemo.
The winds were perfectly at our backs and howling at around 30 mph; we were flying. At some point, with only the main sail up and reefed, we were doing 8 knots and the boat was performing really well. The swells were large but behind us, and we knew that if we could keep up that pace, we’d be having tacos for dinner.
Around 3am – Jodi was on watch, Kirby trying to sleep – we hit something. It sounded like a piece of wood/a log hitting the front port side of the boat and then bounced to hit the back of the boat. It was really loud, but it didn’t seem to do any damage, so we didn’t think about it again until around 9am that morning when suddenly, the breaker for all of our electronics and steering went out and when we turned it back on, we had no steering. We quickly looked, and the hydraulic ram base which was fiberglassed into the hull had ripped out. This caused the linkage to the rudder to become unresponsive.
We were about 50 miles from Cabo, 30 miles offshore in the Pacific Ocean, and no way to steer the boat. Not a fun feeling. At all. In fact, it made not having an engine feel like child’s play. We quickly hove to (which means you turn the sails and the rudder to allow the boat to stay in one place pointed up into the wind), so we could think about what to do next.
Kirby grabbed his fiberglass supplies and did a quick repair job, but it required curing and drying for 6-8 hours, so we sat in the ocean, bobbing up and down in 8 foot NW swells all day – thinking good thoughts about what might happen later.*
The fiberglass didn’t have enough time to cure, and it was still too soft, so we decided to haul out the emergency tiller. The emergency tiller is a series of large steel pipes that fit together to form a steering mechanism. You place it over the rudder, which happens to be in a compartment under our bed/mattress in the master cabin, leaving the back hatch open, and ruggedly steer the boat under power. We had to do this for about 5 hours, which was exhausting but effective. We named her Ginger and thanked her for her service – grateful to have an alternative because there is no tow service in the open ocean for a boat of our size….
We finally got to Cabo around 1am, where we anchored in the main bay just near Los Arcos. We were grateful to make it safely to this destination where we slept deeply until the next morning – woken by the Cabo vacationers already parasailing and jet skiing.
*SIDE STORY: It was about this time that we looked at the still green organic bananas from Trader Joes hanging in the galley. We had a lot of discussion about whether to bring bananas on our boat. There is an old fisherman’s tale about how unlucky bananas are on a boat, and while we are not superstitious people, we had had so many discussions about these stupid bananas – why aren’t they getting ripe, what is wrong with them, when might they get ripe (it had been almost 2 weeks), will we ever be able to eat them, are they possessed, is there something to this story? So, Jodi decided, with much ceremony, to toss them overboard while we waited for the fiberglass to dry.