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Madcap Sailing
Great Guana Cay
Beth /warm and windy
04/05/2010/5:37 am, Baker's Bay

What a perfectly lovely time we've been having!

We left the Tahiti Beach area and, after a quick stop in Marsh Harbour, headed for Fisher Bay on Great Guana Cay. Our sail over on Saturday was slow and beautiful. We used the wind well - crossing over the Sea of Abaco on a nice tack, running up the coast of Great Guana with our sails butterflied (main out to port and yankee to starboard and the wind directly behind us) and then angling off on a starboard tack to clear the rocks off Fisher Bay before taking the sails all down and motoring into the bay. I do love to play with those sails - and Jim humours me! When we have time, it doesn't matter if we go 3 kn or 6 kn. It is quiet and all we hear is the water and the wind.

We dinghied to the dock at Grabbers and walked through the village, visiting the bakery (yummy cookies), purchasing 3 plump and tasty (but expensive - $1 each) tomatoes at Milo's roadside stand, and watching the sandpipers skitter along the exposed sand flats in the bay. Grabbers was jam packed with Saturday partiers and we decided to give it a pass. Our evening on Madcap was pretty tame - books, a glass of wine and the sunset.

On Sunday, we were drawn like magnets to Nippers for the famous pig roast. At $20 per plate it is a really good meal. We loaded up our plates at the serve-yourself buffet, and sat down with Bill, Carol and Leslie (Sea Que II) to enjoy it. Only one meal is needed for the day when it's one like that! Nippers is the place to be on Sundays, and as we downed our Frozen Nippers (slushy type drinks but not so innocent little things) we feasted our eyes on all the people and action. There are all kinds here!! Young bodies and old bodies; T-shirts over baggy shorts and skimpy bikinis; good dancers, making-out-on-the-dancefloor-dancers; folks who are comfortable and folks who are trying to be somebody else. The ocean beach below Nippers is spectacular and Nancy, Jim and I had a fine stroll along it before we headed back to our boats.

Jim and I came back ashore in the evening to check e-mail at the tree. Yes - that's right - at the tree. The service didn't work at Grabbers and a fellow told us to go to the tree with the bench around it along the main road by the docks. Sure enough, the signal was good, although there is no plug there (gee - no plug at the tree!) so one has to have enough battery power. It makes a good spot to connect with the rest of the world - which mostly meant our kids! A man stopped in his golf cart to tell us that there is a free phone at Nippers too - but you'd have to use it when its not busy there or you'd never hear anything.

We set off on Monday morning for Baker's Bay - a run of about 3 miles. There was quite a bit of swell during the day, but we went ashore to walk the gorgeous beach and dinghy in around the huge marina, and by the time we got back to the boat, it had calmed down. Last time we were here, people from anchored boats weren't allowed ashore, but Passages (NH) told us they had gone in so we did too! We've been playing leapfrog with Karin and Ed ever since we left Big Major's Spot in early March and although we've talked several times on the VHF, we haven't yet managed to see them again. As we walked along the beach, we could hear and get glimpses of heavy equipment moving around, and were startled to see a palm tree moving swiftly along behind another row of trees. Eventually we could see the truck beneath it, but it sure gave us a laugh at first. There must be visitors at the lodge because a float plane came in behind us and taxied up to the beach. As we looked over our shoulders, we could see golf carts come down the path and luggage being loaded.

On Tuesday morning, we moved Madcap over near the spoil island and went shelling (no spectacular finds) before heading out through the Whale Cut and around to Green Turtle Cay. Once again we managed to sail most of it, and cruised gently around the corner to anchor off the mailboat dock at New Plymouth.

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It's a Small World
Beth / gorgeous weather
30/04/2010/9:48 am, Tahiti Beach

Despite all my reports of Troubles lately, the good times still far outweigh the bad and we continue to marvel at some of the experiences we've had.

We left Marsh Harbour on Wednesday to go over to Tahiti Beach for a couple of days. Because the tide was low, we couldn't get over the shallow banks to Hope Town and go down that way. Instead, we hoisted our sails and made use of the wind to take us down to Tavern Cay and around the end of Lubbers Quarters to a new-to-us anchorage. We just cruised along slowly, letting the wind blow away our fretfulness. With clear minds and happy hearts, the crews of Madcap and Solitaire joined Tessa and Jeff on Inamorata for Happy Hour. We enjoy the company of these new friends, and discovered that Jeff once worked at CFDR in Halifax/Dartmouth back in the early 80's. Now based in Annapolis, MD, they spend their non-sailing time as entertainers - mentalists - and we are begging them to do an Eastern Canada tour!

The six of us visited Cracker P's for lunch and discovered that Patrick, the owner, lives part of the year in Charlottetown, PEI - just across the Northumberland Strait from Nova Scotia. He has a good thing going here in Lubbers Quarters. We had one of the best Bahamian meals ever. The conch from their kitchen is stewed rather than deep fried and is served in a sweetish sauce. It was delicious and came with peas'n'rice, creamy coleslaw and grilled vegetables on the side.

We all met up with Mike and Kathy (Sapphire) over at Tahiti beach and spent a few hours wading through the shallow water, scooping up pretty, small shells and generally enjoying the sun, sand and some good laughs. Inamorata and Sapphire found some conch - once again we found only under-sized ones. This is a lovely curve of sand that juts out into some pretty shallow water - as discovered by the two boats that went aground there that morning. (Both floated off again as the tide rose several hours later)

On our way back to the boat, we stopped by our neighbours, m/v Sea Que II to say hello, and that was our best small world experience in a long time. On discovering that they are from Mobile, Alabama, we said, "Oh, we have a friend from Mobile. His last name is Echols", expecting maybe a "Yes, I think that's a name from there" or some other vague comment. Can you imagine our surprise and delight when Leslie replied, "Oh - you mean Uncle Mister from Vancouver?" It turns out that one of her best friends is our friend Frank's sister's daughter, Jessica. How about that??!! Of course we accepted Carol, Bill and Leslie's invitation to come aboard. Of course we had a fantastic time visiting them till the sun went down and it was time to go home.

It is just that kind of encounter that makes us so happy to be out here, exploring and discovering and being excited by what we find.

We topped off the evening with more good times aboard Solitaire as we engaged in fierce domino playing with Nancy, Jim, Tessa and Jeff.

We're flying our Nova Scotia flag most of the time now (along with our big red maple leaf of course) and we've been pleased to get waves and visits from passers by: Kim (Gaia II) from Jeddore and a fellow from Ship Harbour, and Bill (Acushla) headed back to Halifax. Small world - with lots of exploring to be done in it!

After a quick run back to Marsh Harbour, our next stop is Fisher's Bay on Great Guana Cay. The weather is supposed to be fabulous for the next week so we'll enjoy it as much as we can before heading back across the deep water. I wonder who we'll meet next?

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05/05/2010/1:34 pm | Peggy Taylor
Can't he;p but think that the "Happy Hours" help to outweigh the unhappy hours that are plaguing you this trip. Nothing that money and helpful contacts can't solve, Is Halifax in your plans this spring or is the call of the sea too strong?
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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