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Madcap Sailing
A Few More Bad Things
29/04/2010/9:47 am, Marsh Harbour, Abacos

I have some wonderful tales to relate, but I might as well get the bad stuff over with first. (The pic at least is a happy one! Mike, Tessa, Kathy, Nancy and Jeff on the beach)

I remember that a posting or two ago, I talked about like attracting like, and being positive and all that sort of thing. Well, I am still concentrating on the positive, but I've come around to working with a different metaphor. Despite the focus on the positive, bad things have still been happening. So now I'm thinking that the pendulum has had a very long swing over to the negative side and we might as well make the best of it. Sooner or later, it just has to swing to the positive again because that's the way pendulums work.

We dinghied to the dock at Harbourside Marina in Marsh Harbour on Tuesday evening for Happy Hour with Nancy and Jim (Solitaire), Mike and Kathy (Sapphire), Jeff and Tessa (Inamorata) and Bev and Bob (Savage Son). After an evening of lively debate on a number of topics, we returned to the dinghy to find that it had floated under the dock and when the tide came up, it got stuck there. This happens to dinghies occasionally and we should have checked it more often, but on the early checks all was well and then we got involved in talking and ...

It was well and truly stuck, with our brand new outboard motor jammed under a stringer beneath the dock - the body of the motor on one side and the tiller on the other. The tide still had another hour to go up and the pressure was forcing the aforementioned Brand New Motor under water. We first tried deflating the dinghy and that helped but not enough. After much pushing and shoving and angst and with assistance from our fellow partiers, we got it out, but not without shearing off the kill button on the tiller. With no little red button there, we couldn't start it either. Bob towed us back to our boat that night, and Jim A towed Jim B to the dock the next morning to see if the fellow at Abaco Suzuki could fix it. We could have cried. For me, it was one more thing in a run of bad things. For Jim, it was like having a new car get scratched or dented. This was his lovely new outboard.

Anyway, the Abaco Suzuki guy couldn't find the right button for the Yamaha, but he did find something to rig up instead so we can start and stop it, and we'll get the proper part later.

The other repair Jim had to do was to our macerator pump - that pumps waste out of our holding tank. The old one didn't seem to be pumping and when he opened the service kit that he had bought and stored away for just such a time, he discovered that some of the parts weren't in the box. Of course there were no parts to be had, so he had to buy a whole new pump. While I did laundry, he did the repair. It seemed to go well but there was a lingering odour of eau de sewer on the boat for the next couple of days. We pumped out the tank and flushed out the bilge again and again. Finally, we pulled up the floor and examined all the fittings and hoses. We disconnected the vent (that involves me squeezing down into the stern locker and unfastening the hose that goes to the outside of the boat - because I fit there better than Jim does) and connected it all up again. Once it was all cleaned up, the smell was better but still not great. Surely if we keep putting bilge cleaner down the bilge and deodorizers in the holding tank, it will eventually disappear. That's one of the issues of living on a boat - the water, fuel and septic tanks are all right under our living space.

Jim took our SSB to Merlin's Electronics to see if maybe it could be repaired or at the very least find out what was wrong with it. He got the answer to that. It is fried and probably unfixable.

So I think that is it for this next installment of Our Troubles. We are no further ahead on solving the big WHY of all the electrical problems. That can wait till we're back in the states.

And so the pendulum swings.

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Marsh Harbour is the Place to Be...
Beth / 79 and SW 10-12
27/04/2010/2:50 pm, Marsh Harbour, Abacos

We arrived at Lynyard Cay on Saturday evening after a perfectly lovely sail all the way from Royal Island - about 50 nautical miles. What a treat - sailing on a passage like that is definitely a bonus.

Our plan was to stay in that area a few days and then go up to Marsh Harbour but, as usual, Mother Nature had other plans for us. Another front was coming through - and that meant - "protection". So no visit to Pete's Pub, no shelling or beaning or sea glassing on the pretty beaches there. The upside was that we sailed in a fine breeze across the banks and up to Marsh harbour. Quite a few other boats had the same idea and the harbour is well populated.

We celebrated our reunion with friends at Happy Hour on the Harbourside marina dock.

Monday was storm day and we woke up to a huge blow going through about 7:30 am. The wind gusted to 40 kn or so - one boater said he saw 46. The rain poured and then half an hour later it was all over. We swung a little too close to another boat so we moved ourselves over to a nice deep hole just off the public dock beside Solitaire. I don't think we can get out of there again unless it is mid-tide or higher and I'm glad the tide was up when we went in! It rained off and on all day but the wind never howled at that speed again.

We'll probably leave here on Wednesday to check out a beach or two and then may come back in here, or may head north again. I'll fill in details next time!

Thanks for all your good wishes and commiseration regarding our Troubles. We are rebounding well!

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A Short and Happy Stay in Eleuthera
Beth / 85 and clear - no wind
23/04/2010/2:38 pm, Spanish Wells

We moved over to Spanish Wells on Thursday afternoon, anchoring just outside the harbour. We stayed here last trip for a day or two and it makes a good stop in calm weather. There was hardly any wind last night and we didn't even feel a thing when we turned with the current.

I had forgotten that everything is different up here: the numbers of white Bahamians - far more than further south, the accent - like an old English one - a bit gutteral with a distinct twist to the vowels. I remember from last trip that I thought it sounded like the accent used by the fellow who made the audio recording of Rockbound - the book that won Canada Reads Competition a few years back.

Spanish Wells is a busy little town - bustling waterfront, the largest grocery store we've seen since we left the US. I've come to enjoy the little ones with 2 or 3 aisles where you shop based on what happens to be there, rather than on your list, but it is fun to see more selection again. We were out of crackers and tortilla chips and we found them both.

We chatted with Ernie near the government dock as he tossed broccoli leaves to the resident manatee. She is a local attraction - everytime we go by, someone is there watching and feeding her. She is fat one - with moss growing on her back, and they say she's pregnant too! We overheard one woman say that someone has done an ultrasound on her.

The little seafood restaurant down the way from the golf cart rental/wifi stop was closed by the time we got around to looking for lunch today. We wandered up the hill to the takeout, and met up with Judy and Bill (Jubilee) and Sue and Bruce (Andiamo) so even though the food was crappy, the company was fine indeed.

Now we are back at the wifi table amid the golf carts - we feel like we've taken up permanent residence here - for a few more minutes before heading back out to the boat. Jim is working hard at organizing and filing our income tax returns. Thank goodness for electronic filing - and for daughters who scan and send the documents. (Thanks MB!)

Last night we heard Bob (Cygnus) call out on VHF 16, "Look at the sky in front of your boat! It's a rocket!" We raced out and sure enough - we saw the launch of a US Airforce Atlas Rocket. We've never seen a night launch of a shuttle so I don't know how it compares, but this was a pretty cool event. We could see the vapour trail going up, the separation of the rocket and then a few scattered lights as the residue fell back to the ground and the rocket continued. After the initial excitement, I went back below to grab my camera and this is what was left in the sky by then.

We'll move back to Royal Island this afternoon and head out at dawn for the Abacos. The weather forecast indicates that we'll be able to sail, and we'll see when we get there how much we can dawdle before going to Marsh Harbour. Apparently there is some weather coming the first of the week. We've got some buddies in Marsh Harbour and it will be good fun to meet up with them.

Nothing more has broken in the last couple of days. We picked up a Davis light to use as an anchor light. We have grouper for dinner tonight. Life is good!

Next report will be in a few days from somewhere in the Abacos.

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24/04/2010/6:56 am | Sue Campbell
Beth - a first!! I swear in all the time we've been reading this blog it is the first time you said the food was "crappy." You have a way of turning stewed rocks into a gastronomical delight. We end up needing a snack after every reading. LOL.

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