01/20/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
We did take off today for Long Island. We thought this was our best chance to sail as the wind was supposed to be a bit north of east today. It was also supposed to increase starting at about 13 knots and increasing to 17 or 18. Because of the direction, Bud was worried about the entrance channel at the marina and wanted to get an early start before waves built up. We finished the last of our chores and set out before we even readied the main for sailing. We figured once we were through the channel we'd be fine, the wind was still going to be light enough we could easily do those things underway. Wrong. The wind was over 15 knots, the waves were 4 to 5 feet (and this was wind chop, not rollers, so it's like 5 footers on Lake Ontario) and doing anything proved to be difficult.
Here's what went wrong. We always tie our mail halyard (the line that pulls the main sail up) under the boom to keep it from slapping against the mast at night. Usually we untie it and pull it straight using one person to untie and control the line while the other takes up on the halyard. Bud had to do it alone because I was at the helm keeping us going into the waves in a reasonable direction. He did get it up OK, but pulled it up a bit too far. More on that later. Meanwhile, he had to unzip the stack pack and loosen the lazy jacks, lines that help to control the main as it's taken down. They need to be loose so the stiff battens in the main don't catch on them on the way up. Bud got those jobs done and went to raise the main. We had left a bungee cord around the mast way up. I climb up the mast steps and winches on windy nights and warp a cord around the lines and slide it up as high as I can reach, again to keep lines from slapping the mast. It was still up there. So I had to go get my boat shoes on (we were both wearing life jackets for deck-work today) and climb up to the top mast step and the top winch, which are about four and a half feet off the deck. Then I had to reach up as high as I could and unclip that cord and bring it down. Now we could raise the main. But wait, remember that halyard? Bud had pulled it a bit too far and the wind had caught the top of the main and further loosened the halyard, which had now been blown in front of one of the spreaders on the mast. The spreaders are the arms that stick out to the sides of the mast and have the cables (or in our case rods) that hold the mast centered running down at the ends of them. The halyard was stuck on one. I went and got the boat hook, braced myself at the bottom of the mast, extended the hook as far as it would go and grabbed the halyard with the end of it. I pulled a lot of slack in it and we moved the boat about in the wind until the halyard came loose. Yeah, we're now ready to raise the main. We put it up with two reefs in it and pulled the jib our with a bit over a single reef and we were off. Except, once we started sailing we noticed that the lazy jack on one side had come un-cleated and the line was now blowing way up where we couldn't reach it. Nothing we could do now. Eventually it came out of the pulley it goes through about half-way up the mast and fell on the deck. I untangled the lines and gathered them up and tied them neatly under the boom. Now we had lazy jacks on only one side of the main. No problem until we go to take the main down.
So we sailed. and it was a good sail. We sailed outside Stocking Island, all along the east side. On the west side is the miles long Elizabeth Harbour. When we got to the other end of the harbor a boat was coming out the southeast cut. They came out the cut about a half mile ahead of us. It was a ketch (two masts) with a full jib and full main up, but not the mizzen (the smaller sail that's flown on the second and smaller mast). They were towing their dinghy, which I'm sure slowed them down, especially because the waves were still in the 4 foot range. Anyway, we passed them before too many miles. It's always nice to pass another boat. Not long after that, they turned aside. I'm not sure where they were going. We'd seen two other boats but they were gone, too.
We had to turn directly east for one leg of the trip and we thought we wouldn't be able to keep sailing. However, the wind stayed enough north that we could just do it. Earendil was heading about 35 degrees off the apparent wind and we were still making about 5.5 knots. We decided we had time to sail and didn't want to run the engine. After almost 8 miles of that we turned a bit to the south again, but so did the wind, so we were still sailing about as close as we can and make any time. However, we ended up being able to sail the whole way. The wind dropped a bit and we pulled the whole jib out. We would have taken at least one of the reefs out of the main, but we didn't want to pull more of the sail up as it was going to fall all over coming down. Even so we sailed almost 51 nautical miles and made it here in about eight and a-half hours.
When we took the main down, Bud turned so the wind was just off the nose and the sail was blowing towards the side that still had lazy jacks. Not all the sail fell down when it was released, so I tied the back part up before I went up and pulled the rest of the front down. I tied that, too, so it's all secure to the boom, it just looks pretty ratty.
Our next fun was anchoring. I had the anchor loose and let it out until it was hanging down from the bow. That way, when Bud tells me to let it go I can take the brake off the windlass and it will just drop...except today. Nothing happened, I couldn't get it to go down. So Bud drove the boat in a circle while I went below and crawled up on the berth in the forepeak and opened the door to the chain locker to see what was going on. One problem was that the chain had fallen over on itself and had to be yanked free. The bigger problem was that the hawse pipe, a PVC pipe that extends down into the chain locker to help guide the chain, had come loose. I had to shove it back up in place and hope it stayed, because the chain was running through it so I couldn't just pull it out. It stayed, the chain played out nicely. The only other issue was that I couldn't find our fifty foot mark. I'm not sure if it's gone, or if in the late afternoon light I just missed it. Anyway, we probably have out more chain than we need, but there's plenty of room here and we're secure.
There was a beautiful sunset. I'll post a photo once I find internet. I found one good signal, but it seems to have security and I'm not sure if it's one I can purchase or not. We'll see. Anyway, we're here and we sailed here and it's a lovely place.
01/19/2012, Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
We came north just under 11 nautical miles to the Marina at Emerald Bay. Last year we came here and paid $1/foot for the non-service dock where you don't get electric. This year, because we joined the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club, we are paying $0.75/foot and staying at the full service dock. We even got our own rug on the dock. You do pay extra for the electric; both water and electricity are metered.
This marina is part of a Sandals Resort. The facilities are luxurious and the laundry is free. They also have free WiFi and it's the best bandwidth I've found so far in the Bahamas. We did all of our laundry, filled our tanks with water, shopped at the supermarket just up the road, and even gave Fuzzy a bath. I paid a bill on-line and downloaded some more charts to the i-Pad. We thought we had to spend three nights here to get the reduced rate and were going to take the time to clip Fuzzy, but when I checked in I was told there was no minimum stay for the lower rate. The wind direction tomorrow is favorable to sail south and east to Long Island, so we will probably do that. Fuzzy will just have to wait for his haircut. We are charging up his clippers, though.
The only disadvantage to this marina is its entrance. It can get really difficult to get in and out if the wind builds too much from the northeast. Since the prevailing wind here is from the east, getting in and out of this place can be a challenge. There is also a lot of surge in the marina, so even though it's very well protected your boat moves around a lot at the dock. Since these are floating docks and you don't need to allow for the tide everyone ties their boats as tight as they can to minimize the motion. Bud and I figured if it weren't for the difficult entrance this place would be packed. As it is, it's mostly empty. There is still almost always a wait at the laundry.
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.