So there we were, 15 nautical miles from land in any direction with a very unfavorable wind, a first mate chumming the waters and a engine that would not start. We considered packing it in. Sailing upwind back to Kingston with our tails between our legs. The alternative would be to sail into an extremely difficult School House Bay of Main Duck Island on an unforgiving lee-shore. Should we make an error we would be blown onto the limestone cliffs and our poor Cicindelle smashed to bits 30 knots from civilization.
Thankfully this dilemma, as most, had an alternative solution: bury our green faces into the engine bay and solve the problem. I can't tell you how happy I was, after changing the fuel filter and bleeding the fuel lines when the iron genoa came back to life. But my happiness was short lived because a moment later ole' faithful had it again, coughed, sputtered, died FML. Repeat this scenario five times and you will understand our Wednesday. Sixth times a charm. We had evidently bled the last air bubble from the fuel line and we motor sailed into the protected bay of Main Duck Island. With our feet planted firmly on land we all felt like happy sailors and passed two days hiking the snake and wild flower filled bird sanctuary.
Despite contradictory weather forecasts, we set sail on Friday morning, leaving Main Duck Island; destination Oswego. The engine seemed to be working but we hoisted the sails and tick tacked our way south into an ever shifting wind and thick fog.
David had the good sense to serve gravol for breakfast. One hour shifts were followed quite strictly, nap, sail repeat. We constantly scanned the horizon for freighters as we could not see more than 100 feet in any direction. After eight hours of uneventful sailing in fog thicker than molasses a strong, unexpected wind blew out of the North West. I would have been happy because it thinned out the fog and sped us on our way but I was not because Oswego Harbor has a vicious breaker wall of concrete and rock shrapnel resembling a pin cushion just waiting to tear the bottom clean off any boat that ventures too close. Our ports book says this on the subject "Storms from the West and North West have a tendency to increase wave action and entering the harbor then becomes extremely difficult."
The last hour of our eleven hour sail across Lake Ontario was rough to say the least. waves grew up to three meters, pushing us directly towards the dreaded breaker wall of Oswego. Cicindelle is a ballast vessel meaning that it has a great deal of lead in it's keels to it keep it bottom heavy and therefor right side up. But no amount of lead can help you when your heavy boat gets sideways on top of a wave twice as tall as it is. If you find yourself on such a wave you will soon be falling faster than said wave while being twisted onto your side or top and quickly filling with water. To avoid this we had to turn our stern into all waves of 2 meters or greater allowing them to pass from behind us, under us and in front of us. What a roller coaster. I was so thankful for our ridiculously expensive life jackets and harnesses. David and I both said "we have to film this" all the while not loosening our death grip on the stern pulpit (man, I'm glad we added that). So we surfed, quite literally into Oswego Harbor begging, pleading with the engine to please, please not fail us now. The gap in the breaker wall is about 50 meters but it felt like threading a needle. It was with two hands white-knuckling the tiller, wrists aching from a day of sailing and feet braced against the wall of the cockpit trying to get enough force to counter the weather helm that we entered Oswego Marina. The kind of sailing that you remember fondly after firmly securing your dock lines.