Although we had been in Isla Mujeres, Mexico less than 12 hours after our 4-day crossing, the time was packed with cruising “adventures”.
After a bumpy ride across the Yucatan Channel in 20+ mph winds and 6-8 ft seas, some stuff in our fuel tank found its way into the filter at about 4 AM and before we could switch to the alternate filter the engine stopped. These things happen. I did my best around the hot engine to bleed air out of the injectors and get it started again as the boat rolled and pitched about but to was not successful. We raised some more canvas but weren’t about to sail into an unfamiliar harbor in the dark so we sailed back and forth off the coast until daylight and tried to reach someone in the harbor for any local knowledge.
Carrie found an AIS signature for S/V Wanderer in the harbor, and when she called on our VHF radio a bright and cheery sailor named Peter from Nova Scotia answered. He said he had just pulled in the night before and that the harbor was deeper and wider than it appeared on the chart. He gladly got underway (by himself) to meet and lead us in, and we successfully sailed Firefly to anchor for the first time anywhere. I love my Rocna 73lb. anchor!!
After checking in to the country (aka the paperwork cha cha) and getting some much needed rest after being up for 20+ hours, we were just starting to settle in for the evening when we overheard a call from Finesse, a sailboat with 3 people onboard 5 miles offshore seeking assistance. They had lost both their sails, their navigation plotter, and now their engine had just cut out from either bad fuel or an air leak. They were able to get the motor running for short periods but things were not looking good for these guys.
Not surprisingly our new friend Peter on Wanderer promptly answered their radio call and said he would be coming out to lend assistance. Awestruck that this guy would willingly go out by himself to assist as there were a number of other boats in the harbor, I promptly called him and said I was coming along to help in any way I could.
Carrie dinghied me over and took his little dinghy back to Firefly. I hauled up his anchor by hand and we motored out of the harbor to find Finesse. I was hoping that a tow would not be required since that can be hazardous even in the best of conditions but ready to help them however we could without unduly putting ourselves in danger.
It turns out Peter used to be in the Canadian Coast Guard and he is naturally a ball of energy, but he also wasn’t being foolhardy about being out in the rough conditions. Winds were easily 25-30 mph and seas were 6-8 feet inside the reef, but we were able to help them across the reef and although the engine sputtered and died numerous times the fellow onboard was able to get it started again each time and they followed us in.
Carrie was monitoring our conversations on the VHF radio and when she told me that she had some hot food ready for the crew when they arrived she shot everyone full of energy. As Peter and I on Wanderer returned to anchor, Carrie guided Finesse to a good anchor spot based on our newly gained 12 hours of “experience” of this harbor.
After I helped Peter secured his boat at anchor and toasted our success with a Cuban beer, Carrie picked me up and we delivered a hot meal to Finesse, shook hands with a very thankful crew and returned to Firefly. Although it was now 1030 I had to sit in the cockpit and wind down for a bit but Carrie had no trouble falling asleep after an adventurous day in paradise.