04/02/2011, Back in Georgetown, Monument Beach
First, let me apologize for the blank entry. This time when I wasn't able to send my posting I did not make the mistake of retyping it and having a double posting sent. When I finally got a
clear channel I saw that it wasn't sending the blog entry. So I just clicked on the sailblogs window and clicked send again. And it sent a blog with just the location and author because
that's pre-filled in the format. I still don't know where what I type in this window gets stored or why the last time it was still there and this time it is not.
Anyway, there wasn't too much wind today, so we did make it to Georgetown and I did add in the photos for the blog. We also took all the laundry to town. Bud made a trip back with the
laundry and the computer and brought back the water jugs. He'd again made an early morning trip with them, so had already brought aboard 15 gallons today. This was now his thrid trip
back because he bought some groceries and took those back while I was doing the laundry and going on-line. On the fourth and final trip back for the day there was Bud, Fuzzy, me and
17 gallons of water. It proved to be too much for the 9.8 HP Tohutsu. Bud couldn't get the dinghy up on plane. He slowed down once and we did the whole water over the bow thing
again. This time he bailed us out as we went along. It wasn't that wavy, but it was enough that without planing we were splashed continually. We were all soaked by the time we got back
to the boat. Happily it's hot enough these days that it felt good. Fuzzy and I rinsed off using the cockpit shower and Bud went down and used the shower in the the aft cabin. I tried to
keep my clothes on until they dried, but gave up and changed and hung all our rinsed clothes on the lifelines for the rest of the day. They still didn't quite dry, I'll have to hang them out
Towards the end of the day I saw another boat coming towards the anchorage that looked a lot like a Norseman. I got out the binoculars to see if I could tell, but they ended up coming
right by us, so I called out to them as they passed and they confirmed it was a Norseman. This is only the second one we've seen, the first was Miclos III with Tisch and Ellen at Stuart.
We'd wanted to see them again out here, but never had.
Meanwhile, Bud and I were getting ready to go ashore for an ARG meeting. This was announced on the local cruisers VHF net. ARG is "Alcohol Research Group" and the meeting is a
BYOB and munchie to share get together held at irregular intervals on beaches around the harbor. So we prepared our stuff and headed ashore. On the way we went down to check out
the Norseman. It's Barefootin' from Charleston, SC and Bob, Francie and boat dog Kippin were in the cockpit so we got to talk. They had sailed with Tisch and Ellen and another
Norseman. At the time Miclos had emailed us hoping we could make it to where they were, we figured 4 Norseman together on the east coast would be a record. Alas, we didn't make it,
but at least we're meeting Barefootin' now. They were not going to the ARG meeting, having just gotten in from Long Island. We chatted with them and made plans to meet again before
we left the harbor, then Bud and I went ashore.
By now we were late, but of course you can't really be late for something like this so we just joined the group. Since everyone comes by dinghy, there is much less alcohol research than
the name implies. It is a nice time where cruisers get together and talk boats and weather and cruising and anything else that comes up. We met some folks we'd seen here and there
before and set some tentative plans to leave together this week to go down to Long Island. If that happens it will be the first time since leaving Wilson that we have traveled from one port
to another with other boats. It would be nice, I hope it happens. I took a photo of the ARG folks at sunset that I'll post on the blog the next time I get real internet access.
04/01/2011, Back at Monument Beach, Elizabeth Harbour
This morning there wasn't too much wind, so while I walked Fuzzy on the beach, Bud made a run to Georgetown for water. The photo I will post is of Bud coming back in to pick us up on the beach, Earendil is lying at anchor behind us. Bud made a second run soon after, that put 30 gallons more in the tanks. The water here is free, but you have to haul it in jerry cans, as it's at the dinghy dock at Exuma Market, through the little underpass and into Lake Victoria. I had tidied up the boat and gotten the wash together, but by then the wind had picked up and we thought it was too windy to make the trip with the computer and all the clothes. We thought the wind was going to die during the day, although we didn't get a decent weather report because Chris Parker's antenna blew down (I think that's the deal). Anyway, we waited for the wind to die, but it didn't. It finally dies about 4:30 in the afternoon, which was too late to do the laundry.
There's supposed to be a period of light winds, I just hope all the light winds don't happen at night. We still need to get to town. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.
03/31/2011, Back at Monument Beach, Elizabeth Harbour
We spent the morning cleaning up ourselves and the boat. I always have a pile of dishes to do after a sailing trip because I usually do the dishes first thing in the morning, and if we have a long day planned and need an early start the dishes just get stacked. By the time we get to our destination and get anchored etc. it's usually time for supper, so the dishes end up waiting for the next morning. Bud spent some time trimming Fuzzy's feet. He really tries to keep after the Fuzzy trimming, because it takes so long he can't do all of him at one go. We ran the generator and so had hot water, so we took showers and I gave Fuzzy a shower, too.
We wanted to go into the beach where all the cruisers congregate. We'd not been there at all our last trip to the area. Around noon, when everything was done, the wind was blowing from the ESE at from 18 to 20 knots. That gave the waves the long fetch of the harbor to build, before they got to us, so we decided not to attempt the wet dinghy ride. We hung out, I read, Bud tried to nap, and finally at about 3 the wind dropped to 8 to 10 knots, so we set out.
It was late in the day and it's relatively late in the season, so I think the beach was practically deserted compared to normal, but still there were 30 or 40 cruisers there. Bud joined in a game of volleyball. They supposedly play dominoes there, too, but we saw no domino games today. I can see why the beach is attractive. As you can see from the picture I took it has a small grove of mature Casuarina trees (or Australian Pine, as I first knew them) and so has SHADE, a scarce commodity in the Bahamas. We hung out for a couple of hours and renewed our acquaintance with the folks on Shamrock and Tropical Hideaway who we'd first met at Warderick Wells. I'm sure we'll be back, I'm determined to find a dominoes game, and I'd like to find out where to buy a set of dominoes.
03/30/2011, Back at Monument Beach, Elizabeth Harbour
There is a wind shift due tomorrow evening. A mild front is coming through and we should get about 15 knot winds from the west. there are no good anchorages at Conception Island with protection from the west, so we decided to come back to Georgetown and Elizabeth Harbour. I suggested we come today, it looked like decent sailing and it would get us in and settled a day early. That way if a lot of other boats come tomorrow in anticipation of the front tomorrow night and Friday, we won't have to worry about finding a spot to anchor, we'll have ours.
So that's what we did. We had just about perfect sailing weather. We had around 12 to 15 knots of wind, mostly on the beam. We tried our wind vane self steering again. Bud had tightened the controlling lines that run from the device on the stern up to our wheel. The installation instructions say not to over tighten those lines, but most boats have the cockpit in the back, so the lines are relatively short. With a center cockpit ours are about 20 feet long. Bud decided that if he tied them as tight as he could get them, they wouldn't be too tight since they are so long. Once again we set everything up and engaged the wind vane. This time it worked! So the Monitor wind vane, that Bud named Sven, steered the boat all the way, today. When I get Internet access I'll post a photo of Sven on the job.
We learned a bit more about using it. It's tricky, because it steers a course to the apparent wind. The apparent wind is the wind you feel on the boat, and it's affected by the actual wind speed and direction as well as the boat speed and direction. What gets tricky is that if the actual wind changes velocity, the apparent wind not only changes velocity, it changes direction. So when you set the wind vane up, you need to set it for the average direction, considering that the wind speed is never constant. We also figured out how to help Sven take control again by dumping wind out of our main until Sven was able to steer the boat back on course. That was only necessary when the wind got strong enough that it was creating too much weather helm.
Altogether it was a good day's sail. We left Conception Island at 8:15 AM, sailed almost 44 nm at somewhere just over 6 knots, and got the hook set at 3:30 in the afternoon. Of course then we had to tidy the boat and launch the dinghy. Bud even checked the oil in the outboard before we put it back on the dinghy. We fed Fuzzy so we could make one trip ashore, to check the anchor (it was set, of course) and take Fuzzy ashore for his evening walk. All that got done and we were back aboard by 6 PM.
03/29/2011, Conception Island, Bahamas
Sorry about the double post yesterday. When I have Internet, I go right to the Sailblogs website and sign in and update my blog. I can then go and look at it and make corrections (if I catch them). Using Sailmail is a whole other process. First, Sailmail is a Windows program, so I have my Mac set up with a Mac side and a Windows side. Since I am a long time Mac user, I have all my other programs on the Mac side. That means when I sign on the Windows side to use Sailmail, that's the only thing I have. No picture editor, no word processing program, etc. Sailmail uses a modem connected to my SSB radio to send the emails. For regular email, I type the message and click a post button which puts the messages in an outbox. Sailblogs is set up to work with Sailmail, so for the blog I open a special window which is all set up to post the blog correctly. When I'm done entering the information I hit Send. I can't see that anything changes when I hit send. Once my messages are ready, I turn on the radio and open a terminal window on the computer. Then I have to find a land based station and a frequency that are both not in use, and not receiving too much interference to take my message. That's the hardest part. I didn't think my Sailmail was working at all until another cruiser, Jim from Summer of 42, came over and gave me some hints on selecting stations and frequencies. I'd been trying to use Daytona, FL, thinking that was closest and my best bet. He said he had better luck with Rock Hill, NC or Lunenberg, Nova Scotia! Last night I was having trouble. The only frequency I was finding that seemed to be reasonably clear was constantly busy. Now we come to the Mac/ Windows issue. When I use the Mac side of my computer I just fold the screen down if I will be away from the computer to save the battery. When I go to use it again, I open the screen and everything is exactly as I left it. Since it was taking so long to get a clear channel, I folded the screen down. I can listen to the clicks and buzzes on the radio and decide if the channel is clear. Unfortunately, when I opened it back up the computer had disconnected from the modem and the entire program had frozen. I ended up having to shut the computer down and reboot it. When I opened it up, my blog entry had disappeared. Thinking it was gone I typed it again. When I was finally able to get a clear channel and send my messages, I got a note that two blog entries had been sent. I still don't know where they go after the Sailblogs window closes, but now at least I know that once I click send they are saved somewhere!
Anyway, today was a fairly quiet day. We did have a visit from a school of squid. Bud spotted them, I came up to look. It was hard to tell they were even squid, but we thought they were. They just hung around the boat and the dinghy. After several minutes I decided to get the viewing bucket and try to get a better look at them. I got the bucket and climbed into the dinghy as carefully as I could, expecting them to shoot away at any moment. They continued to hang in the water near the dinghy and I used the bucket and really got to see them. They were dark colored with light purple spots and huge silvery blue eyes. They were from about 3 to 6 inches long. There were probably a dozen of them. Bud and I switched places and they still hung out and Bud was able to see them up close, too. I should have tried to take a photo through the viewing bucket, but I didn't think of that.
Bud had worked on the engine today. He's concerned because it leaks oil from a lot of places. Nothing huge, but the amount of oil in the bilge bothers him. Our automatic bilge pump didn't turn on and we think it might be because of the oil. It also might be because the switch is sitting at a bit of an angle, now. The switch and the intake hose are both fastened down to a small plastic plate that is supposed to sit on the bottom of the bilge. The hose is so stiff that it has the plate held at a slight angle and we can't get it to sit flat again. Bud wanted to find a 4 foot piece of wood on the beach that he could use between the bottom of our transmission and the top of the plate to hold it in place (that's how deep our bilge is). We walked Fuzzy early and looked to see if there might be anything we could use. As I've mentioned before, there isn't much driftwood around. Almost everything you find on the beach is plastic. Well today I found a 48 inch length of heavy, black, plastic pipe, about 4 inches in diameter. Perfect; we brought it back and we hope it solves our problem.
The first day here we saw a pair of Crocs on a rock on the beach. There was a couple walking down the beach, so I didn't think a thing of it, figuring they'd pick them up on their way back. In the morning, when we walked Fuzzy, they were still there. The people left and another couple of boats left and they were still there. The next time we went to the beach I tried them on, they fit, and I need shoes. So I watched, and when they were still there in the afternoon I went and picked them up. So the beach has yielded some good things for us.
03/28/2011, Conception Island, Bahamas
Bud went fishing again this morning, but didn't catch anything. After lunch we took our snorkel gear and dinghied to the beach and walked across the peninsula to the next little bay. I'll put a photo in the gallery that shows how close it is, you can see Earendil's mast sticking up over the peninsula. We rigged up a little patch of shade for Fuzzy with towels and some driftwood posts that someone else had made into a teepee frame. I sat down on a washed up jerry can and Bud tried snorkeling. Again there were no fish. I went in for a bit of a swim, just to cool down, then we walked down the beach a ways. We came to an area with a rock wall and a bit of a beach. I'll put a photo of Bud on that beach in the gallery. Bud spied some strange looking animals on the wall. I came down and took the photo that I will add to this entry. They look like giant trilobites. They were in niches in the rock wall, about waist high, so pretty close to the high tide line. I tried to find them in our reef identification guide, but could not.
Fuzzy was getting pretty hot, so we walked back and came back to the boat. Bud took off in the dinghy for a second round of fishing. He got back close to supper time and I didn't even ask if he'd caught anything. As I was helping him tie the dinghy to the boat, I looked down and saw that he actually had a good sized fish in the dinghy. We think it's a Jack or an Amberjack, but definitely not a Big Eye or Horse Eye Jack, so Bud filleted it and we are going to eat it. Bud dumped the fish carcass into the water and within a couple of minutes there were two rays and a shark there to get the fish scraps! The bigger of the rays was well over 3 feet across and black. The other one was about 18 inches across and blue-grey. There were also a lot of smaller fish swimming around on the bottom. It's the most fish we've seen since we got here. A really big shark swam past the stern of the boat a bit later. This one was better than 4 feet long. Makes me a bit nervous to think we both went swimming off the boat. Obviously these sharks are not interested in people, just in what we might throw out to them.