17 March 2011 | Thompson Bay, Long Island
Beth - high 80's
We have been here in Thompson Bay longer than we would have liked (although as you'll see, it works out OK), and it feels like we've been mostly finishing up chores we needed to take care of before departing.
After making blog postings and attending to email on Monday morning, we walked over to the beach that can be found at the end of the trail from pole 108 along the highway north of Club Thompson Bay. I do love that - "Take the trail from pole 108!" We have known about it since we first came here in 2008 but have never taken it, and we are glad we had the time to go this trip. The view offshore is fabulous with limestone columns and craggy cays but the beach is polluted with plastic. We expect to see washed up fishing buoys and rope and net and even plastic bait boxes. We hate the sight of oil jugs and water bottles and margarine tubs and a hundred other plastic containers, and the ever present sandals and shoes. One observation is that people are using solid underarm deodorant instead of the roll on kind. We didn't see as many of those little balls as we used to!
The Georgetown crowd came in on Tuesday. People here were told that there would be 40 boats coming and only about 20 showed up. Tryphena, at Club Thompson Bay was expecting about 80 people for dinner tonight and prepared accordingly. Jim happened to be there this morning when the call came in that there would be only 34 or so people coming. You can imagine her distress. Mike at Long Island Breeze confirmed that everyone is affected. The grocery stores brought in extra supplies on the mailboat; they were expecting more people here too. It is a real shame that someone involved with the Georgetown group didn't call on Tuesday - the day they left Georgetown to let Tryphena and Mike or Jackie here know that only half the expected boats were really coming. I understand why some of them changed their minds - it was really windy out there and probably a rougher ride than some would like. But still, it would have been both polite and helpful if the providers of food and beverage for them here had been alerted.
I did laundry on Tuesday morning ($4 per load) and the list system they have at Island Breeze really does work well. We stopped in at Sou'side bar Tuesday evening to have a Kalik or two and chat with the fisherman/bartender and when Roger Fox came by, we were able to tell him how wonderful his fish has been. (steamed lobster, lobster dip, panfried grouper, seafood pasta (with leftover grouper and lobster). We took advantage of the 25% off coupon from Hillside grocery for produce on Mon and Tues, and stocked up on apples, oranges, lettuce, limes, cabbage and peppers. The mailboat comes on Wednesday I think so they want to move the items with short shelf life. There were lots of fruit and vegetables still in excellent condition.
Jim has made numerous runs back and forth to Island Petroleum to fill jerry cans with diesel, gas and water. By the time he finished the last one on Wednesday afternoon, all our tanks were filled and we had full jerry cans on the deck. That should easily see us through our trip down to Ragged Island. Last year, we were so careful with water that after being there just over 2 weeks, we used only about 60 gallons. We would have left on Wednesday, but we were carrying around an empty propane tank and even though we have one almost full, we always like to have the backup tank ready. Unfortunately, we hadn't been able to get it filled earlier, so we had to wait for the propane truck to come to Island Breeze on Wednesday. It's a great service - they fill the tanks right there and it cost $11 for our 10 lb tank
As soon as we listened to Chris Parker on Thursday morning, we started off and made it just to Indian Hole Point when the alarm went off on our engine. Once again, we had a broken alternator belt. A friend back in NS suggested that perhaps the alignment was out, and so we began to wonder if that might be the case. We've been breaking belts at an alarming rate this year. Feeling very despondent, we sailed back into the anchorage, dropped the hook and Jim headed to Island Breeze to find a mechanic. Mike sent him to see Scott Harding who said he'd be able to come out in the afternoon. So, we cooled our heels on the boat, trying to keep our spirits up, wondering how much this would cost us and how long the delay would be - imagining a worst case scenario. I did what I usually do under stress - made cookies (with all the green M&M's I picked out of the trail mix - in honour of St Patrick's Day!) - and Jim does what he usually does - ate half of them and fell asleep, and then I did my best to finish off the other half.
Scott was a great guy - friendly, helpful and, best of all, bearing good news. The problem in his opinion was the thickness of the belt we were using. Who knew we had to pay attention to not only the length but also the thickness? We figure that the new alternator we put on last year was the complicating factor. The belt fit the wheels on the engine reasonably well, but was too small for the wheel on the new alternator. Scott showed us the way it should sit in the groove and he also suggested using a shorter one so we would have more room to adjust it as it loosened. He drove 15 miles up the island to find 2 new belts and a couple of hours later we were all drinking beer and talking island politics, culture, and economy - with a new alternator belt on, and a spare. (He says Gates 900 series is a good quality belt.)
So - we have one of those bad news/good news stories again. We didn't get away when we wanted, but we were in a good place for a fix and it didn't cost an arm and a leg. We have another name to add to our list of fine mechanics and helpful Bahamians: Scott Harding - just down the road from Island Breeze. If he's not there, he might be out on his fishing boat, or sailing on the "Running Tide" - the Long Island boat skippered by Roger Fox. They'll be in the Family Island Regatta in Georgetown!