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Mola - Mola's missed approach to Las Palmas

This is my sixth ARC - and the most difficult to even start the rally!

Look what happened to us:

As always we started from the island of Ruegen in the Baltic Sea. The passage from the Baltic via North Sea to the Ijsselmeer was pretty normal. In Amsterdam we had a crew change, went through the locks into the North Sea and continued to the Channel - and there the problems started. In Cherbourg our engine did not start. As always in such cases it was Friday afternoon. It turned out that the Diesel filter contained some water. So we changed the filters and the injection valves. That took us four days because of the weekend.

The next leg - the same problem! I sailed at night into Roscoff again without engine. This time we not only changed the valves, but emptied the whole tank. Because of All Saints that cost us almost a week, mostly because Roscoff is not within any Metropolitan area and all spares had to be brought in.

Next try. This time the engine ran for abt. five hours - and again the same problem! I had to sail into the marina of Camaret-sur-Mer at night with a 6 bft tailwind and a completely dark marina, that had an electricity problem. That was no small feat! It turned out that the technician in Roscoff had overlook a certain deeper part in the tank, so that there was still some water.

By now I was absolutely fed up and had ordered in Germany a new engine. This was installed in the marina. That was quite interesting work for us. Have a look at for a photo report of the engine change at a pontoon. Of course we also emptied the tank again and put another 360 litres of fresh diesel in.

But this was still not the end of our odyssey.

For twelve engine hours we were now happy sailing into the bay of Biscay. Somewhat late already but still with high hopes to get to Las Palmas just in time. BUT: Again the same problem - the engine stopped and there was no way to start it again. I had to decide to divert into the inner part of the bay of Biscay, because otherwise I would run into an electricity problem. So again another go at a port/marina at night under sail. This time it was Les Sables d'Olonne.

Again we emptied the tank: this time the problem was very clear , or murky, respectively: Obviously the last time the diesel we tanked was very bad and opaque. So again we changed the whole injection system, valves, pump and everything.

Now technically everything was ok, but in the meantime we already had November, which as a rule is no good time to cross the bay of Biscay. I had yet to wait another four days to find a small window to get us out of the bay. Still that was a heavy ride: first half under engine against 5 bft and the second half with half wind, gusts up to 42 knots and waves of 4-6 meters.

We then sailed directly from Les Sables to Porto. That is where my transatlantic crew joined me who had flown from Las Palmas to Porto.

So finally we started our own ARC from Porto to St. Lucia. I sincerely hope that I have reached the end of my streak of bad luck and have a nice and easy ride to the Caribbean. In more than 100.000 miles as a skipper I never had so many accumulated problems.

Time is now of essence, but I still hope that the Mola crew will be there in time for the prize giving ceremony and a lot of Rum punch.

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