01/18/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, Georgetown
I've been buying Internet, but we expect to go to Emerald Bay Marina tomorrow where I'll have free Internet, so I didn't want to re-up the account for this posting. If something changes and we don't go in, I will buy more time, so either way I'll add a photo tomorrow.
We had the pump-out boat come to empty our holding tanks today. We would have waited to pump-out when we left but we didn't think the forward tank pump-out was working, and wanted the tank emptied so we could work on the hand pump. They were here by about 9 AM. You pay by the gallon here. They also offered to take our garbage, but Bud had just hauled it in yesterday, so we didn't need them to do that. They were pretty nice guys. It was an easy task because the wind has dropped right down. All day there was just a light breeze and this evening it's still.
Anyway, after the tanks were pumped Bud tackled the overboard pump. He disconnected the hoses into and out of it. He taped our dinghy inflation pump hose to the hose coming from the holding tank. I went into the forepeak and listened while he pumped air through the hose. I could here the air coming into the tank, so we knew that hose was clear. I opened the seacock to the hose that goes overboard and Bud repeated the procedure on that hose. I could clearly here the air rushing out into the water. Next Bud hooked the hose from the tank back up and tried pumping into a container we made from an old cleaning solution bottle. The pump worked. I flushed that mess down the aft toilet while Bud hooked the overboard hose back to the pump. Then he just tried the pump while I listened at the seacock. It seemed to be working. So now we don't know why it didn't work before, but we think it's working now. I love the way all of our fixes are so definite! Oh well, nothing to do now but use the tank and try again to pump it overboard.
Later in the day Bud went out in the dingy to clean the transom. The engine gets soot all over it. Last year I worked for several hours cleaning that off. This year, it came off quite easily. This year we waxed the boat with Scotchguard Liquid Marine Wax by 3M. We're pretty happy with it. The picture I'll post is the boat with it's sparkling transom and awning deployed sitting in the calm waters of Elizabeth Harbour.
It was another very quiet day. I'm getting way too much reading done now that Rick and Tracy are gone.
01/17/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, Georgetown
The day of departure came. We all got up early and Bud made us pancakes for breakfast. As soon as it was late enough to be polite we started the generator so we'd have hot water. We all took showers, and we were dressed and Rick and Tracy were packed with their suitcases out in the cockpit by 9 AM. When we saw the water taxi approaching Bud took off in the dinghy and I put Fuzzy in the front-pack. Rick, Tracy, Fuzzy, I and the luggage rode in the water taxi. We even got a bit splashed in that. The taxi landed us on the inside of the peninsula where the government dock is. Bud brought the dinghy to the beach right near the docks where we landed, as he had our garbage that goes in a dumpster provided for the cruisers on the government dock.
We tied the dinghy to a stump and set off to a little park across the way with the suitcases. Bud and Fuzzy sat with the suitcases while Rick, Tracy and I went to the straw market next to the park. Tracy didn't find anything else there and Rick soon tired of shopping. He went back and waited with Bud while Tracy and I stopped into two more gift shops, a clothes shop and the marine store. All of these are pretty small stores and in all we were gone well under an hour. We went back in the store that sells the hamburger beans. I wanted to find out if I had to do anything to preserve mine. I found out they could be polished, but they will last just as they are. They are from trees in South Africa and they are washed all the way across the Atlantic to be found washed up on the beaches here. I feel luckier than ever to have found one. Tracy had been looking at straw baskets and she really wanted one of the lucky hamburger beans. She'd been resisting making another purchase when she came across a small straw basket with hamburger beans laced on as little handles. That was just too perfect to pass up.
Rick and Tracy still had time before they had to go to the airport, so we wheeled the luggage down the street to a little food stand. Bud and Rick had hamburgers, fries and a beer. Tracy, who hates flying, opted just for the beer. I saw they had ice cream and couldn't resist, I had a cup of butter pecan ice cream. While we were sitting there a taxi pulled up. Bud asked me to go and ask him about fares to the airport and Rick decided to come along and see if he could come back for them at 12:30. He agreed. At 12:20 he pulled back in and we loaded up their luggage. The patient taxi driver waited another minute or two for me to get this picture, and then they were gone.
Bud, Fuzzy and I went back to the dinghy and returned to the boat. I ended up sitting forward on the floor of the dinghy so I was protected from the splashes. The trip back was easier as we were going somewhat with the waves. We spent a very quiet afternoon. Bud took a power nap. I did the dishes and finished my book. At sunset Bud and I sat in the cockpit and I blew the conch horn. Rick, it wasn't the same without you. We took Fuzzy to the beach for his evening run and ate a light dinner. It seems way too quiet in here. I'd gladly trade the extra room in the v-berth for all the laughs we had together.
01/16/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, Georgetown
We had to get a lot in today because tomorrow Rick and Tracy are leaving us. We were up early. We took care of the morning chores; listening to the weather on SSB, taking Fuzzy to the beach, eating breakfast, doing dishes and straightening out the boat. Then we set off to see this side of the harbor. We landed the dinghy on Hamburger Beach and took the trail up to the monument. I took a photo of Earendil down below in the anchorage and one of Stocking Island, which Rick and Trace said reminds them of Hawaii. Those are in the gallery.
We walked on down to the beach on the ocean side. There are pretty big waves there after two days and two nights of steady wind. I was helping Tracy look for shells when I found a "lucky hamburger bean". There is a local plant that produces a large, hard, black bean, the shape of a rounded lima bean, but an inch or two across. The other day in a gift store in Georgetown the saleslady told Tracy and I that these beans were considered lucky. Especially lucky are beans of the "hamburger" variation where the dark bean has two light lines running around the circumference with a black area between, so it looks like a hamburger in a bun. She said only about one in a hundred of the beans had this variation. They were selling small ones for $5 in the store. I found one about twice the size of the little ones in the store. I tried to give it to Tracy as a souvenir, but since they are supposed to insure that the boat they are on will never sink she insisted that I keep it. I tied it into the red ribbon that is still around the case holding my statue of Kun Iam, the Buddhist goddess of mercy who is a sort of patron saint for sailors in the Far East.
While Bud and I fixed lunch, Rick called the water taxi to arrange to get to Georgetown tomorrow. We could never get them and all of their luggage across the harbor in the dinghy without getting wet. He tried hailing the water taxi on VHF 12 and 14 but no one answered. Rick called the cruiser net on VHF 68 and asked for advice on contacting the water taxi. He was told to try Elvis on channel 16. Elvis answered and then had Rick switch to channel 12. He assured Rick he could be to the boat by 10 AM; in fact he could be there at 5 minutes before 10, if we could be ready.
After lunch we left Fuzzy aboard and took the dinghy south about a half mile to Volleyball beach. The photo is Bud, Rick and Tracy with their beers in chairs in front of the Chat and Chill Restaurant. We noticed a boat for sale notice on a bulletin board. It was a CSY 37 and the price was reasonable. Rick and Tracy were curious so asked around. We found someone who knew about it. It was anchored just a bit further down and the people were supposed to be aboard so we dinghied on down there. The people on the boat, an English couple from Ottawa, were very nice and let Rick, Tracy and I tour the boat. Bud elected to stay in the dinghy and hold it in place. The CSY is a very well built boat, but not pretty. I don't think Rick and Tracy are likely to buy that boat.
Bud made conch stew for our last meal together using the one conch Jon and Arline caught for us and the two conchs Rick bought on Staniel Cay. He followed a recipe Arline copied for him from another cruiser's book called simply The Conch Book. It was excellent. Bud said it wasn't as good as the conch stew we had last year from the church sale at Great Harbour, but I'm not sure. It was certainly good, among the best conch I've ever eaten.
Bud refused to play any more cards tonight since he and Tracy won the Euchre tournament and he didn't want to spoil their record. We finished the brownies and talked and laughed until we all decided we'd better get to bed or they'd never be up in time to pack and take showers and be ready for Elvis at 9:55. I can't believe it's already the end of their trip, Bud and I truly hate to see them leave, we've had a wonderful time.
01/15/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, Georgetown
We aren't moving the boat until after Rick and Tracy leave on Tuesday. There was no weather report at 6:30 this morning on the SSB radio. It's too wavy to take the dinghy to Georgetown, and besides, everything is closed on Sunday, so we had a day with no agenda.
We had thought about hiking on Stocking Island, but after taking Fuzzy ashore for his morning beach run Bud said he didn't think he could get all of us to shore in the dinghy without getting wet. We were still trying to dry out the clothes from yesterday, so we all decided it was a good day to just hang out. We did some reading; we did some sleeping. It was cool here (under 80) so Bud baked brownies.
I tried to get Fuzzy to take his Prozac in a piece of cheese and he wouldn't take it. Then I tried a bit of turkey wrapped around the cheese and he wouldn't eat that either. It's been blowing hard all day and the boat has been moving around on the anchor chain and Bud thought Fuzzy might be getting seasick, because he usually readily eats his pill in cheese and he always eats turkey. So now I had to give him half a Dramamine. I shoved that down his throat and then the cheese wrapped Prozac. Poor little thing. He still wouldn't eat his supper, but after sunset (and the ritual horn blowing) Bud and I took him back to the beach. The wind was down a bit at the time and it was not bad getting in. Fuzzy likes the cooler weather and was almost playing on the beach, but every once in a while he seemed to stagger. I'm not sure if it was because of his age or the drugs.
Bud also took advantage of the cooler weather to cook a small roast, so we had roast beef, mashed potatoes and broccoli for supper. After Fuzzy was unsuccessful at mooching anything but a few pieces of broccoli from us he did eat some of his own supper.
After supper the four of us played cards again. This time we had to play three games for anyone to take two out of three, but unfortunately for Rick and I, it was Bud and Tracy who won. We had a great time. I took the photo of the three of them on the aft deck at about 9:30 tonight, just to prove that Bud could actually stay up that late. They were out looking at all the anchor lights stretching away to the south towards the anchorage off Volleyball Beach, the most popular spot here. It looks like a small city with all the lights shining.
Now we're getting ready for the night and unfortunately the wind seems to have picked back up again. I don't think it's as strong as last night though, and we were secure last night, so I think we're fine for tonight. Oh, and I got the internet to work, so I've posted the photo for yesterday.
01/14/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, Georgetown
Well, we're at anchor in Elizabeth Harbour and the wind is blowing like crazy. Of course, the wind didn't start blowing until after the sun set, so we had to motor all the way here. It was almost 42 nautical miles and the most wind we saw during the whole trip was about 4 knots. This wind is predicted to increase through the night so it will be blowing 20 to 30 knots tomorrow, so waiting to sail in tomorrow was not an option. Sometimes that's just how it goes.
The anchorage here is not really crowded yet, but there were still a lot of boats around. So we did a little anchor practicing today. The first time we dropped the anchor Bud decided it was too deep, we'd need to put out too much chain and that would not leave enough space between us and the other boats. We pulled up anchor, came around to another spot and tried again. This time, by time we'd let out enough anchor to set, Bud thought we were too close to a boat behind us, so we pulled up the anchor again (at least time we hadn't set it) and moved up 20 or 30 feet and dropped it again. Third times a charm and the Rocna is buried as deep as it goes, so we should be fine.
We're snugged up nicely close to monument hill. That will protect us from the winds. Unfortunately, that puts us about a mile dinghy ride from Georgetown. Since the wind hadn't started blowing yet when we got here, we took the dinghy in to town today. When I have internet again I'll post a picture of Rick, Tracy, Fuzzy and I at the Welcome to Georgetown sign by the dinghy dock on Lake Victoria. We picked up some food, some liquor, a case of beer and Tracy found gifts for her grand kids. With four people, the dog and the supplies, the dinghy was pretty loaded down. There was now a bit of wind and a few waves out in the harbor. The loaded dinghy didn't like the waves. Bud tried to go fast, but the dinghy squatted so far down in the back water started to come over the stern. If we moved forward, we took water over the bow. So we went fairly slowly straight back across the harbor, and then turned down along the sheltered side to reach the boat. Even so, all of us, including Fuzzy who was in his front pack, were quite soaked by the time we got back.
Rick and I got to blow the conch horns with others tonight. We could hear three or four other boats saluting sunset. We all enjoyed a great curried lobster dinner. Bud made it following the verbal instructions we got from Yellowman on Staniel Cay. Bud wasn't quite satisfied with it, and none of us could remember if coconut milk went in the sauce or not, so we might get a variation of the dish in the future. The rest of us all loved it and we managed to polish off both the giant lobster tails Rick had bought from the fisherman at Staniel Cay.
After dinner we played cards again and tonight Rick and I vindicated ourselves by winning two games, so things are tied at two games apiece.
We're going to be at anchor here for several days. I'm not sure when I'll get to post pictures. Our WiFi antenna is picking up a good signal here, but when I tried to sign up I was having trouble, and now, although my payment was supposedly accepted the username and password I submitted are not showing as valid. I may get it straightened out, or I may just keep posting via SSB.
01/13/2012, Farmer’s Cay Yacht Club, Little Farmer’s Cay
The day started with the luxury of showers for all. Once we were all clean we lifted the anchor and took the boat to the dock at Staniel Cay and filled the water tanks. I don't think I mentioned yesterday, but we caught up with Ed and Karin of Passages, who were also anchored at Big Majors Spot. Unfortunately, we needed to press on towards Georgetown, and they are staying at Big Majors Spot through the strong winds that are predicted for Sunday, so we didn't get to spend any time with them. We did get to see them again this morning as they were coming into the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to use the Internet. We told them we were headed for Little Farmers Cay and they suggested we might want to go outside, that is go through the cut into the Exuma Sound, rather than stay to the west of the islands in the shallow water. Since there was almost no wind it made sense to do that.
We'd never gone out the cut at Staniel Cay, so I took up a position on the bow. It was pretty straightforward. The tide was going out, so the current was with us. There is almost always some turbulence at the cuts, even with the light wind we had today, but it wasn't much and soon we were out in the sound. This was the first time Rick and Tracy had been in really deep water here. Not far offshore the Exuma Sound is over half a mile deep. The water is the same bright, cobalt blue we saw crossing from Florida, and Rick and Tracy were as impressed with the beauty as we always are.
What little wind we had was right on the bow, so there was no point in raising the sails. We motored along and Bud and Rick took turns trolling. Rick got a strike, the first we've gotten trolling. Then when we were right outside the cut we were taking into the Farmer Cay area Bud hooked a fish. Rick was at the helm and slowed and turned the boat. I grabbed the net off the arch and gave it to Tracy while I went to get my camera. Tracy netted the fish, which was a barracuda and was hard for her to hang on to. Bud brought it aboard and I took its picture. It was too big to eat (large barracuda can be poisonous) so Bud managed to get the hook out of its mouth and release it. The picture is in the gallery.
As soon as that excitement was over we headed into the cut at Little Farmers Cay. We called on the radio and confirmed that the channel had not been altered by the hurricane and that there were available mooring balls at the Farmers Cay Yacht Club. We wound our way back in and picked up the same mooring ball we used last year, as it's one of two used for the fuel tanker and we know it's strong. The long thin line they had on it last year to use to snag and pull up the actual mooring line was gone, but I managed to hook the mooring line itself and Rick put both our mooring lines through it at once, so we were moored in no time.
Bud, Rick and Tracy took the dinghy in to pay for the mooring and ask about the Internet (included in the price of the mooring). I stayed behind as I'd been fighting a bit of a headache. I got this shot of the three of them headed to Little Farmers Yacht Club. Once they got back we got together our things (and Fuzzy) and took the dinghy to the government dock in the center of the settlement. Little Farmers Cay is generational land, the land is held in common by the descendants of the original settlers. There are only about 55 full-time residents. We tried for bread at the bakery and general store, but they were out of it. The woman did give Bud a recipe for fried biscuits, which he might try. We went up to Ocean Cabin Restaurant for drinks. They have a terrace where we can sit with Fuzzy. While there we decided to come back for dinner. It wasn't too late to make reservations, so we told them we'd all like cracked conch. Terry Bain, the proprietor, told us it would be ready at 6. We took Fuzzy back to the boat and gave him his pill and fed him. He hadn't eaten any of his food when we had to leave.
The cracked conch dinner was very good. We all had the pigeon peas and rice as a side. It also came with a spicy hot cole slaw. While we were there another four people came in. Before we left Terry Bain brought out a sheet that had a history of Little Farmers Cay on one side and the lyrics to a song (sort of a Little Farmers Anthem) on the other. He had recorded music and we all sang the song. It was a lot of fun.
When we left it was dark. I thought it would be hard to find our way out the channel by the government dock and back to the boat, but the hardest part was seeing to get into the dinghy. Bud and I then had to take Fuzzy ashore, he'd eaten most of his supper while we were gone. I almost fell in the water with Fuzzy in his front carrier as I tried to use the bottom step on the dinghy dock ladder at the Farmers Cay Yacht Club and the step was under water and quite slimy and slippery.
After Fuzzy was safely back in the boat, the four of us chatted in the cockpit under the stars for a while. Now the rest are in bed and I'm trying to get this blog written and posted tonight. It was another fun day. We are sure going to miss Rick and Tracy when they go.