01/22/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Michael, who owns and runs Long Island Breeze, also runs the cruisers net on the VHF radio here. Yesterday he asked for interest in having his place open on Sunday (like everything else in the Bahamas, he's usually closed on Sunday) for the NFL playoff games. I didn't hear any formal poll, but this morning he announced that he would open at 2:30 and stay open for the games.
I mentioned yesterday that he had lost the sand off his beach (well, it's really just the back yard of his resort as there's a wall between it and the bay, but it's supposed to be covered in sand). Some of the cruisers were helping him move sand yesterday, as he has a sprained ankle. They asked if anyone wanted to come in today at 10:30 to continue and we agreed. Then on the morning net someone came on and suggested that cruisers come in at 12:30, shovel sand for a couple of hours and stay for the game. Bud and I had planned to come in at 10:30, in any case we decided to go back to the boat in between sand detail and the game because we wanted to bring Fuzzy in for a while and we couldn't bring him in to the restaurant part where the game would be showing. So we ended up going in at about 11:30. None of the other cruisers were here yet, so Bud worked alone. I helped rake what he had moved in the wheelbarrow, but spent most of the time with Fuzzy. We worked until about 1:30 and then took Fuzzy back. We both went swimming and washed and rinsed with the cockpit shower. The wind is down so the water was clear, but it was chilly. We gave Fuzzy his Prozac early and took off for the Long Island Breeze. Michael gave us our first round of drinks on the house to say thank you for the work. By the time we got back the whole beach area was finished. I took a couple of photos that I'll post in the gallery.
It's now the third quarter of the Baltimore-New England game. Michael has a good crowd here. At one point Bud counted 50 people. I tried to capture the mood with this photo. There are groups of people all over and computers everywhere, as you do need to come ashore here to use the computer. Most people seem to know folks in other boats, but these are all new people to us. We each have an order of grouper fingers and fries coming. We were going to have pizza, but they sold out. We're glad to see him doing so well, as this is a bit off the beaten track (although it seems to be gaining in popularity) and Michael and his wife are really nice and we'd like to see the place prosper. Anyway, I'm going to post this now, while I can. We'll be here a few days and I'll probably only post from here every second or third day, as I don't like to haul the computer ashore. So if you miss the photos, check back, I'll be adding them.
01/21/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
This morning we were glad to hear the cruisers net here at Thompson Bay. It's run by Mike at Long Island Breeze. We weren't sure what his status was because we heard he got hit pretty hard by Hurricane Irene. We went in there later in the day and found that his docks were damaged but are back in place. He had sand in his pool and all the way up on the second floor balcony of his building, but there's no sand left on his beach. So some folks are there helping him shovel sand back in place (I think he had some trucked in). Bud is going to give them a hand in the morning.
After breakfast and the beaching of the dog, while I was doing regular boat chores, Bud took a look at our anchor chain hawse pipe. He found the hose clamp that held it in place had a totally rusted out screw (even though it's stainless steel). Also, the set screw that is there had also backed out. He replaced the hose clamp and reset the set screw and that should be OK for a while.
Next we tackled the lazy jacks and putting the main sail right. Bud cranked me up the mast in the boatswains chair with the end of the lazy jack line. I led it through the pulley and started to pull the lazy jacks up. They were tangled. So I hung there about halfway up the mast while Bud got them untangled. I wish I'd taken the camera. It was windy, but this is a protected bay so it wasn't that rough. I counted 20 boats in the anchorage. Once the lazy jacks were untangled I pulled the line through and dropped it to Bud who tied it below. Then he lowered me down from the mast. We were able to get the lazy jacks tight and the main back in the stack pack without having to pull it back up, which was good because it was pretty windy (about 15 to 18 knots, I'd guess).
We were both really tired after yesterday's sail and the busy day prepping the boat at the Marina at Emerald Bay the day before. We both took naps after lunch. I think I actually fell asleep (I can never sleep in the day).
Once we'd had our power naps we took Fuzzy and dinghied over to Long Island Breeze to check it out. That's when we found out about the sand. I was going to ask about internet, but forgot. We're going back tomorrow, first with Fuzzy to help with the sand, and then in the afternoon without Fuzzy to watch one of the football play- off games. I'll take the computer then and post for tomorrow and add pictures. The only picture I have for today is one I took at sunrise, so we have sunset on Long Island followed by sunrise on Long Island.
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.