I am en route from the Azores to the Delaware bay.
I had to run my engine to get out of the Azores high to pick up a bit of wind to go west. I had good wind for about 3 days out of Horta and then id died on me, so I cranked up the artificial wind to get a bit of head way. After about 16 running hours the motor stopped. I checked what was up with it and found that I was out of fuel. I had a leak in the diesel return line, so the engine leaked diesel into the bilge from where the bilge pump did its job and slung it out. I managed to fix the leak and drain the rest which was all of 8 litres into a canister and jury rigged some fuel lines to that canister , so that I would at least have some juice to get from a harbour entrance to the diesel dock. Now I was dependant just on the wind playing game and it did not. I had 4 and 44 knots of wind from all sorts of directions that I could not do much with, so progress was a lot slower then planned. Around 500 miles of Delaware bay I got into a calm and was drifting near the shipping lanes for 2 days. I was taking pictures of dolphins that where around the boat waiting for something like a bow wave to appear I think, when a freighter passed astern of me. I hailed him on VHF and explained my situation and if he could send an e mail to a friend of mine in the US so that they don’t get worried with me being over due and do silly things like getting a rescue operation going. The captain of Panthera said he would send that mail for me. I also asked him if he had a weather report and if there was some wind in the making. He said, that he would check it out for me and get back to me on the VHF.
A while later he got back on air and asked me if I could do 5 knots for half an hour. I said that I could but what would be the point, to which he replied that he was coming about and running his engine full astern and would come to a dead stop about half a mile in front of me if I could do the 5 knots towards his position and then he would give me the diesel that I needed and how much of the stuff I wanted. I was like struck by lightning and stuttered something like 200 liters would get me the other side of the gulf stream and he said that 250 then should get me to the coast as there was not going to be any wind for 3 days.
He did as he said and came to a dead stop with his engine running dead slow astern half a mile in front of me. He could not shut his engine down but would run it dead astern and I should come bow to stern alongside his starboard side, which I did. We passed one bow line over to his vessel and Tiki got gently pressed to his hull by his prop wash. One of his crew- member was on the top deck with a plank, stopping my spreaders knocking against his hull 3 crew where hauling out 25 litre cans with diesel and the rest of the crew was taking pictures.
I asked him how much I owe him and he said nothing and that every sailor should help another out of a pinch if he was able to. All I could do was give him the bottle of wine I had in the bilge for a special occasion. This occasion was special enough.
He asked me if I was ok for food and water and if there was anything else he could do for me while I was tied up alongside. I was out of sugar and cigarettes but I was not going to tell him that as I felt humble enough as it was. Now I am sat here and can’t sleep, like a kid on xmas eve and even the wind has picked up and I am doing 5 knots in the right direction. I now have more fuel then fits in my tank and don’t need it as I am sailing again, but its better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. I did use some today to motor round some nasty thunder storm cells that were in my path. A great light display till about midnight.
I am still struck how a captain with all the pressure they have these days, keeping the their tight schedules can stop and turn around his 40.000 tonnes to help out a small sailing boat. It must have cost him more in fuel for that stunt he did with his ship then what he gave me and he has to make up the 2 lost hours it took us to get the fuel over to Tiki. He said I could keep the canisters as he did not have the time to hang around it would take me to get the fuel out of them into my tank.
Thank you Panthera is all I can say. I just had to share this with you. For me it was the highlight of my single handed west about transat.
Position 37” 09.035N 66”32.168W