Postscript by Ulric
14 January 2012 | London
Queen's Ransom at dusk off Wardrick Wells Cay, Exumas
I am writing this on the flight from Miami to Philadelphia. It is my first blog entry on this leg of Queen's Ransom's Atlantic circuit; from Fort Lauderdale to George Town, Bahamas. One of Imelda's tasks onboard is to be the chief blog writer; besides being the main reef spotter and dishwashing fairy. Imelda has been tremendous in getting used to this life which does not come natural to her. I have been impressed by her sturdiness of dealing with both fairly rough conditions and some long passages. We have covered a lot of distance in many senses of the word. We had some longish crossings; across the Straight of Florida to the Biminis and across the Great Bahama Bank to the Berrys. The latter was around 12 hours; both departing and arriving in darkness.
The main highlights were to explore the Cays of the Exumas and the sense of achievement when finally arriving after a long crossing or getting to places like Nassau or the Exumas. Warderick Well's Cay at Exuma Park was the clear highpoint. Quinn and Elliott could even use Sea Kayaks for free there. We had dinner in the cockpit many evenings in the glow of the oil lamp and I enjoyed my birthday present to myself every evening; the new mast lighting.
The Bahamas has got a reputation to be very shallow and not really a good cruising ground for other than catamarans and very shallow draft vessels. However, with careful planning, this is not really an issue. The islands and waters of the Bahamas are definitely tremendously beautiful. However, we have become spoiled after cruising the Kuna Yala, Central America and the Eastern Caribbean, so we weren't "completely blowned away". Imelda mentioned to me how she now realises the popularity of the Leeuward and Windward islands as pretty perfect cruising grounds being spaced out convenient short day sails from each other with reliable trade winds blowing on the beam.
It all started with some delays as usual to get going. Chris of Yachting Bliss had done an excellent job of getting her ready; a complete contrast to V&G Yachtsworks who gets nothing done. Nevertheless, there were some crucial things that we needed to get done before setting off. One was getting back the liferaft from service, another to get the wind instruments working which cable got damage as the mast lighting was installed.
We had not left Fort Lauderdale before some issues manifested themselves. There was still a bad connection for the bow thruster making the exit of Royal Palm scary and avoiding colliding with an extremely this margin.The replaced forward heads pump was very difficult to use and we still had water entering the engine room... More about this in the next paragraph.
Our most problematic issues during the leg was that the anchor windlass played up; the control on the foredeck was not working at all while the cockpit control needed to on button to be pressed five to ten times to activate. Given all the anchoring, this could have become problematic as the anchor is not easy to weigh manually nor an alternative system using the genoa winches easy to set up. We also had a leak. The seal around the main engine exhaust had given up. I temporarily repaired this with underwater putty which stemmed most of the water inflow.
We struggled with the computer communicating with the satellite phone for most of the trip, but got this sorted now. This is very essential as we will rely on this not only for posting blogs and communicating by email, but also receiving all essential weather information.
However, I am very pleased to report that Queen's Ransom is in much better state of repair departing from than arriving in Florida. The electrical issues are sorted out and the new autopilot is doing very well. She should eventually get ready for her return crossing on the Atlantic later this year. That will be more challenging than the West bound trade wind crossing. Hans has signed up for it already and maybe we also get some other crew members.
A big thank you to Imelda and the children for being so good this leg. Not always easy for them. Captain Hasting and the bear crew will now spend a few months in the plush Emerald Bay Marina. Anders and I should get back onboard in March. That will be awesome.