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Madcap Sailing
Did the Groundhog see His Shadow?
Beth / 80's
02/02/2011/8:39 pm, Rock Sound, Eleuthera

We've had days and days of beautiful sunshine here. Any groundhog would be sure to run back inside, but I think perhaps that folklore has no place in the Bahamas!

I may have spoken too soon about the wonderful wifi connection. It wasn't working from about 6 Monday evening till Tuesday morning after Dingle Motors opened. Like wifi seems to be most everywhere here - it is spotty. Makes me grateful for the lightning quick connections we have at home.

I picked up groceries on Monday at the well stocked market north of "downtown" Rock Sound. It is a healthy walk from the dingy dock near the Anglican church, but one could also land a dinghy at the bar closer to the market and walk a shorter distance. The Napa store, hardware store and liquor store also make up this complex.

Jim ordered his new gear shift cable from Harborside Marine in Nassau, Chris Cates at Dingle Motors arranged pick up by DHL on Tuesday and it will come in by plane on Wednesday morning. ( I laugh as I re-read this sentence that I wrote on Tuesday! It is now Wednesday evening and no part. It didn't get picked up by DHL until late this afternoon and they promise it will be on the Bahamas Air flight that gets to Rock Sound on Thursday morning.)

Chris Parker said that we are going to have stronger winds staying with an easterly component for the next while. That's not so good for our friends who are trying to make their way south and east, but it works just fine for us in Eleuthera. We plan to hang out on the west side of the cay for a couple of weeks and will not need to do too much of a shuffle around looking for protection from other directions.

Isabella and Andy and their little white dog, Max, (Southern Cross IV) arrived on Monday, building our numbers here to 3. The four of us have enjoyed a couple of hours each evening at 4 Points, the attractive bar on the waterfront. The tide is low in the evenings and dinghy tie up is limited, but we have managed. Besides downing the usual Kaliks, we sampled both the conch fritters and grouper fingers the other night. I do love conch fritters and these were good, but the grouper fingers were wonderful - moist and tender and just lightly battered. Yummy! We ate lunch today at Sammy's Place - also delicious food and good value.

Two different freighters came in on Tuesday to the dock further down the bay. I was at the grocery store just after the bread truck arrived and admired the package of rolls the cashier was tucking under her counter. When I asked if anyone in town made homemade bread, she said, "No, but if you hurry you can catch the bread truck across the street at the gas station." In addition to Wonderbread and hamburger rolls that come in on the freighter, he carries the rolls his wife makes! ($3.50 for a 10 pack of lovely white fluffy rolls.)

In the process of doing laundry and looking for a sail slider to replace the one that broke at the top of our sail, I've been having a totally delightful time getting to know the folks of Rock Sound. Willa May Cooper opened the laundry in November. It is spotless and costs $3 per load. (Walk up the street just across from the BTC office and turn right at the T for the easiest way to find it the first time.) She is a lovely person - a retired teacher and I have so enjoyed getting to know her. It turns out that Ali, our mechanic is her brother! We have had lots of time for chatting, because the water pressure was down to a trickle all day Tuesday (due to a broken pipe out by the airport) and I kept going back to see if it had been fixed. We finally got 2 loads through, and I finished on Wednesday. This morning, she had cabbages, peppers and tomatoes for sale on the counter - fresh from her garden. So good!

I chatted with Solomon Gibson and his father at Gibson's Upholstery. He doesn't carry those sliders, but will do sail repairs enough to take a boat home, and would love to have helped if he could. When I was in, he was covering a chair in a beautiful crisp blue and white Ralph Lauren stripe. He gets a fair bit of work from folks who have second homes in the area. His father does most of the tailoring and told me to come to him if I need anything altered or made from scratch. Both of them are fine folks.

Mr and Mrs Cates, at Dingle Motors were in NS and NB a few years ago and we were able to marvel at the height of the Bay of Fundy tides with them. Tonight at the 4 Points bar, Brendan came by to solicit donations for his Track and Field team trip to North Andros later this month. It will be his first competition and he is keen. We were all happy to contribute to the cause. Deirdre, our waiter, is involved with Track too, and is hoping for a scholarship to study in the US net year. Track and softball are the serious sports here, although basketball also has a place in the leisure activities of the kids.

A couple of grade 9 students, Lothario and Lamond and friends have been out sailing each evening in their little Sunfish boats - one with a very raggedy sail. These two charming boys sailed up to Madcap and initiated a lively conversation one evening. They got a great kick out of trying out our binoculars. Jim rescued one of the boats as it floated out from the beach later in the evening - that is the pic above.

The weather has remained calm and we sleep soundly in a bed that doesn't rock and roll at night. Today seemed much warmer - in the 80's and we each had a good swim around the boat. We haven't been back out to the ocean beach but will plan to do that next week when Donna and Chris are here. On the last few evenings, it has been cool enough for us to want to eat inside, but tonight we dined in the cockpit on stirfried chicken and rice accompanied by broccoli salad.

I met William and his father, Robert, at the dock this morning where they were cleaning conch bits to use as bait. William says he'll be back tomorrow morning with fish for us so you can bet what will be on the menu tomorrow night!

So - although we are staying here longer than we had planned, we are happy. It takes a few days to get to know a village. We are grateful for the opportunity, and richer because of it. Funny how we seem to have to be forced into it sometimes. I hope, as always, that we can manage to take that same spirit of time and value of relationships back home with us.

ps You should be able to find us on google earth again.

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02/02/2011/8:47 pm | Donna
We too are looking forward to the warm weather and even warmer company. See you soon. xo
03/02/2011/9:38 am | MaryB
Hi guys! Just enjoying reading about your adventures as I sit and procrastinate in the library. We got a LOT of snow here yesterday so I am extremely jealous of your warm sunshine and relaxation! xoxox
Beth / 70's and breezy
31/01/2011/10:48 am, Rock Sound, Eleuthera

We are making progress on several fronts! Brad at Dingle Motors put Jim in touch with his cousin Alton (Ali to his friends!) and an hour later, Ali was on board. (The pic shows Ali emerging from the stern locker.) He got the screws out, climbed down below, pulled things apart and discovered a severed cable. So the next thing to do is order a new one and wait for it to be flown in. Details will come when I know them!

Because that is the next bit of progress. Finally ... wifi connection. I was so frustrated - I wrote that posting on work and play in the park and then when I tried to put it up, our 24 hour card had expired. GROAN! Then when we got here on Saturday, it was too late to get a card from Dingle Motors and they were closed yesterday.

This morning we dinghied in to have a wonderful chat with Brad and with Mr and Mrs Cates at Dingle Motors. I have a wifi card! ($10 per 24 hours or $24 for 3 days). We bought diesel and will get water later. There is still a drop off laundry service, and apparently there is also a laundromat in town so I'll check it out this afternoon.

People here in the Bahamas are so wonderful. We never fail to be impressed by the helpfulness, good humour and welcome we have encountered. Ali is a prime example. He scrambled all around and up and down on this boat with one leg. He lost the other in an industrial accident 30 years ago. His take on it - "I'm married, have kids - I have nothing to complain about. Life is great!"

And so we concur. We are safe, warm, in the company of good people and on the way to a fix. We have nothing to complain about. Life is great!

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Where Have All the Cruisers Gone?
Beth / 70's!
30/01/2011/10:06 am, Rock Sound, Eleuthera

We tore ourselves away from the park on Saturday morning at 7:30. Because of the way the shoals stretch out from Warderick Wells, it took us an hour to motor out from Emerald Rock, around the shallow water, back in again at the top of the cay, past the entrance to the north mooring field, past the rocks marking Warderick Cut and out into the Sound.

We had been a little worried about the wind direction for this trip, but it worked out well enough. The wind was stronger than predicted - of course - and we were too close to the wind to use a headsail, but neither were we pounding into waves. Everything is relative!

Jim and I were laying bets on how many boats would be here. Because of the lower numbers of boats we have been seeing all along the way, I predicted 6 or less. Because there were a dozen when we were here 3 years ago, Jim predicted more than 6. We kept rubbing our eyes as we came around the point because we could see no masts AT ALL. In fact, we could make out no boats at all. It was only as we got closer, that we could distinguish one motor vessel lying off the waterfront by the dinghy wharf. In this huge harbour, there were just 2 little boats last night, and the motor vessel (Ocean Dancer, I think) left this morning.

I should let you know that Jim got our GPS working again while we were at the park. Here is the tech talk for the techies! He trouble shot the "Seatalk Failure" message, and discovered that when he removed one of the Seatalk connector plugs for the instrument displays, he no longer had the error message and the auto pilot and GPS/chartplotter functioned normally. We no longer had a readout for the instruments (depth, windspeed/direction and speed over ground). He tried reattaching that connector plug to the instruments, and removed another Seatalk plug to the remote control which we don't use anyway. Now everything works except the radar and the remote. The remote doesn't matter, and the radar is not needed at the moment. He thinks there is a short somewhere, and will continue to work at getting the radar functional - before we need it for a night crossing somewhere!

It has been said many times that cruising is just another word for repairing your boat in exotic places. So here is our next little tale...

I motored gently in close to shore in Rock Sound, gave Jim the signal to drop the anchor in just the perfect place. Then as I shifted to reverse to back up and allow the chain to play out, the little lever just wiggled up without any tension ... as in loose ... as in no connection to anything ... as in broken!!!! I couldn't believe it. Good thing it was a good spot on the first try because we weren't moving anywhere else.

We have heard stories of so many troubles lately - Cypraea's transmission cutting out at Great Sale Cay and needing to be towed all the way to Green Turtle Cay where they were waiting for a new one; Slow Dancin's truly astonishing string of incidents - fallen spreader, lost propellor, failure of alternator, regulator and who knows what else; Solitaire's electrical failure and generator problems that sent them hightailing it back to Nassau on Friday. We have just dealt with the GPS thing, and now this??!!

Jim has had his head in both the engine compartment and his books, and he has tracked the remote clutch control and discovered that he can manually shift gears by moving the lever where it is attached to the transmission down in the engine cubbyhole. But still nada up in the cockpit. The plate on the binnacle is screwed on so tightly that he can't unscrew it to get a look at the cable there, despite lubricant and finally banging the screws with a hammer.

It is Sunday and things are closed here. If we can't get it fixed ourselves, we'll go to town on Monday morning and see if there is a mechanic who can do it. (And I sure hope we also find a password to the Dingle Motors wifi that shows up so I can post all this!) If neither of these things take place, we'll go to the beach!

Once again, as I have said over and over and over again. We are so lucky. Our bad things happen when we are safe and in places where there is help. We are securely anchored off the waterfront of a real town. The sun is shining. The wind is gentle and we will not have to move to another anchorage for some time. Our friends fly into Governor's Harbour on Friday, and we are already here on the island.

That's my cheery take on it. The other part of me says, "Geesh!!! (or a few other more colourful words) Why can't we get through a week without something going wrong!" Jim nods, sighs loudly, and echoes that thought as he sticks his head back into the engine cubbyhole behind the companionway steps.

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20/02/2011/12:58 pm | Gary Schultz
Perhaps you haven't been reading the news?

They're all broke.

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