01/28/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
I was pretty excited for a while today because I thought I was going to be able to enter a new position for the blog. That didn't happen, and I'll get to that later, but we ended up having a pretty full day, for us.
It started out with a bad night for Fuzzy. he ended up sleeping out in the salon and spent a part of the night pacing. By 6 AM he was pretty agitated again. We gave him another half pill, then Bud took him to shore. It wasn't even full daylight yet. Fuzzy did need to go to the bathroom rather badly. When Bud got him back he started to settle down. We're not sure if it was the extra half pill or just that he was exhausted from his night of pacing, but he was more than calm.
The weather predicted fairly light wind for today and tomorrow. Bud thought we should take advantage of the light wind and lay in some more water. While we were at it we decided to get a load of wash done and buy some produce. The mail boat was in at Clarence Town late Thursday, so stores here got their supplies yesterday. After the cruiser's net here (where I did make an announcement about Mr. Pinder's vegetables) we got things together and went to Long Island Breeze. Most of the boats in the harbor had left and we were the only ones at the resort when we got there. Bud got two loads of water from Long Island Petroleum while I did the wash. Getting the water was a trip in itself. We took our 50 foot collapsible hose so we could hook up to their spigot inside their fence and fill the jugs outside the fence and save a lot of walking around. However, they now have the water working on the dock. Their dock was damaged in Hurricane Irene. The water works, the only problem is, most of the deck of the dock is still missing. If Bud couldn't manage to fill the jugs from the dinghy I'd have to balance on the side frame to walk out past the missing sections of dock. Bud brought the dinghy right under the dock. He could stand up and reach through the missing deck and hook our hose tot he spigot and operate the lever. 50 feet of collapsible, fabric hose was a bit hard to manage in the dinghy. Once he laid it out in circles around the dinghy so it wouldn't kink he managed to use it.
While the clothes were drying I tried calling our daughter on Skype. Happily, I got her, and with no one else using the Internet, Skype was working great. I finally had a nice long talk. How I've missed it! Bud came back and had a chance to talk to her, too. We ordered a pizza from Long Island Breeze for lunch and while that was getting ready I called my brother. Bud and I both got to talk to him, too. After lunch Bud went across the street for groceries and I called my Mom. What a treat. Bud came back because he'd left his wallet with me, so I went back to pay for the groceries and he called his Mom. For some reason he wasn't able to talk to her. Either other people (who had come in by then) were on the Internet, or her phone wasn't working or something. Anyway, it was after 1 PM by then, so we took our stuff and went back to the boat.
On the way back Bud suggested we weigh anchor and move 5 miles or so south to an area called Grey's Bight. There was supposed to be an OK anchorage there, and there is a blue hole that's about 35 feet deep in an area or water less than a meter deep. We wanted to take the dinghy and snorkel there. So we woke up Fuzzy (who was sleeping), took him ashore, got everything ready and took off. By then it was going on 2:30. Since it wasn't that far we put out the jib and sailed down. The wind was light but we were doing about 5.5 knots with just the jib. The last leg was due east, almost directly into the wind, so we took in the sail and motored in. The Chartbook advised "holding varies, look for patch of sand". So I had the anchor hanging off the bow roller ready to drop as we headed into the area. There was one trawler (we think it was Saranade, the boat belonging to the authors of the Explorer Chartbooks). There were also a few fishing boats up there. We didn't want to get too close to them, for one thing, it was likely to be too shallow for us up there. We looked for sand, but everywhere seemed to be the same, sand with rocks here and there. We tried a likely looking place and the anchor wouldn't set, so we hauled it up and tried again. We went a bit to port, I thought the sand looked better there, but again, once you got near it all looked the same, and again, the best looking spot we saw didn't have enough sand to hold. Bud wanted to try over towards a sand beach to starboard. I was concerned because I knew it got shallow there (actually, it got shallow a long ways from shore in every direction, the whole trip down we hadn't been in more than 12 feet of water). Anyway, we decided to give it one last try and if that didn't work we'd go back. We tried, Bud backed off and the anchor held, but he only pushed it to 2000 RPM in reverse, and he usually does more. Before we set the snubber we quickly got in the dinghy with the viewing bucket and went to check the anchor. The Rocna had tried. The tip was dug in about a foot, but it wasn't what I would call set. Bud asked if I just wanted to lay out a bunch more chain and call it good, since there wasn't supposed to be much wind tonight. I did not. I think we're a bit obsessive, but after going through a 50 knot storm last year when the forecast said there was "no energy" in the atmosphere, my policy is to be prepared for the worst. So we hauled the anchor back up and motored as fast as we could right back to where we were. We went 14.87 nautical miles and we think we're about 50 feet north of the spot we left.
Fuzzy was sleeping again, so we woke him up and fed him supper. By the time we took him to shore it was getting dark. We've been seeing crabs swimming in this water, some as large as about 6 inches across the body. We also saw a shark in about 2 feet of water swimming along the shore. It was probably a harmless nurse shark and it was under 3 feet, but it was still a shark. So it was with some care that I waded out pulling the dinghy to get to water deep enough to use the engine. I was up to about my knees when suddenly something bumped against my leg. I let out a yelp and did a little dance only to turn and see the paddle that Bud had prodded me with that he'd dropped in the water. Ha, ha, Bud. I guess it was an appropriate ending to a weird day.
I added photos to the other entries this morning. I know I took at least one picture today, but I can't remember what it was. Anyway, Long Island Breeze is closed tomorrow and Monday, so no photos until Tuesday. I just added this photo of the store with its Christmas decorations still up along the top of the overhang.
01/27/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
It was windy again today and Bud's heel is still sore so we were staying aboard this morning. We decided we'd better tackle trimming Fuzzy. Bud started while I was doing the dishes. Then I came over and helped to hold him. We got his top poof trimmed, his feet his ears, and some of his legs. That was about it. He does look better, though Bud didn't shave his face, so his ears are short but his face is still a bit shaggy and that looks a bit odd.
I wanted to take a walk this afternoon, but Bud didn't want to do three dinghy trips because the water was getting so rough. In the end, Fuzzy started to show some signs of distress, so about 3:30 we decided we had to take him in. Bud agreed to come back to the boat with Fuzzy and let me stay on shore. I would then call on the hand-held VHF when I was ready to come back, by then Fuzzy would have eaten and would be ready for his evening visit ashore. I decided to see what was up the little road that led around the north side of Thompson Bay and out towards Indian Hole Point. It isn't much of a road, just a dirt lane. I will put a couple of photos in the gallery, one of the larger part of the lane, where there are some houses and one bar/restaurant, and one of the end of the road, past the houses, where it is literally just two tracks through the sand and rock. It was about a mile and a half to the end where the road curved down to the edge of the bay. I took a couple of photos there, including this self portrait using the timer on the camera.
The entire time I was walking out there I didn't see anyone. As I turned to leave I saw another woman quite a ways down the shore picking her way along the rocks. I waved to her as I left by the road. Not long after I reached the "busy" part of the road a car passed me headed out, like I was. I was surprised because I thought I'd only come by one house so far. It was a Bahama Electric Company car and the man waved as he passed. About a half mile later another car passed, also headed out. This was a couple in an SUV and they stopped, put down their window and said hello.
Finally, as I got close to the path over to the beach, an older black man in a van drove in. He also stopped. I went a few steps back to where he stopped and he introduced himself. "Hi, I am Mr. Stanley Pinder and I sell vegetables." He pronounced all four syllables, ve-ge-ta-bles. He told me he figured I was a cruiser and just wanted to let the cruisers know that he had vegetables. He said he was the only one around here who grew vegetables and he sold to the Hillside Store and to Stella Maris Resort. He had some in his truck, which he showed me. He had a beautiful bunch of bok choy, which I admired. He said he was taking it to a friend. He tried to describe where he was located. I told hem we'd definitely come by. He offered me the other bunch of bok choy he had, even though I had no money with me. He said it was $2.00 for the bunch. I told him I'd bring the money over when we came to look at the rest of his produce (finding local produce is a big deal). I then tried to clarify where he was. I asked him if I needed to go left or right at the main road if I was to walk there from where we were. "Oh, you can't walk there, it's too far." Said he. I told him I didn't have a car, so I'd better not take his bok choy because I probably couldn't get to his place to pay him. But he insisted that I take it. "Just eat it and enjoy it and let the other people on the boats know about me." So I will.
And that is what the people are like here. I was walking along in a place that looked desolate and felt perfectly safe and in fact, everyone I met was friendly and in the case of Mr. Pinder, beyond friendly, kind and generous. That's the Bahamas and aside from the weather, the gorgeous water and the beautiful beaches, it's full of beautiful people.
01/26/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Our day began as usual. I took the time and water today to shower. I didn't use too much water, we haven't run the engine or the generator in days and the water was cold! I got pretty clean, anyway. After we took Fuzzy ashore we listened as usual to the Cruiser's Net on the VHF radio here.
We were surprised to learn that Sara and Monty Lewis are here at Thompson Bay and were giving a talk on updates to the Explorer Chartbooks. The Explorer Chartbooks are the Bible for the Bahamas. Very few people sail without them. Monty and Sara are the principal authors. So we loaded up two of our three Chartbooks (the one for the Far Bahamas and the one for the Exumas and Ragged Islands) and our computer and headed in to the Long Island Breeze, which was hosting the talk. Not only are Sara and Monty here, but two other couples who do research for them and contribute writing and photography for the chartbooks were also there. Wow, I was pretty impressed. Bud got to talk to one of the men for a while after the talk and asked him about the passage to the Jumentoes and the Ragged Islands. That's a chain we'd like to visit if we get a good weather window. The main channel leading to them from here isn't even on our electronic charts. It is well marked on the Explorer Charts and I guess it's quite wide and not a problem as long as we stage our trip "on the top half of a rising tide". A lot of people won't buy new Raymarine chartplotters if they are coming to the Bahamas because they use Navionics electronic charts instead of C-Maps, and C-Maps uses the data from the Explorer Chartbooks. That's how good these books are.
The man Bud was talking to and his wife who are contributing authors are a couple we had met the other day on the beach with their dog. You just never know. We meet people who have been cruising for 20 years or more (like them) and people who are down here for the first time (like the couple we sat next to at the talk). Everyone shares and everyone treats each other with respect. It's a pretty nice community of people.
We would have like to stay for lunch, but we had Fuzzy back on the boat, so we came back right after the talk. It's probably close to a mile from the dock at Long Island Breeze to the north end of Thompson Bay where we are anchored. The wind was pretty brisk today, and has moved a bit south of east, so it was blowing across quite a fetch of water by the time it got to our part of the bay. It was rough enough to make the dinghy ride a bit difficult. Also, Bud has a sore heel that is making it hard for him to walk, and makes climbing the ladder from the boat to the dinghy painful. So he waited in the dinghy while I unloaded the charts and the computer and got Fuzzy and we took the dinghy the quarter mile further north to the beach. While we were there a trimaran came sailing in to the bay. He tacked and sailed back through all the anchored boats. I got a picture of him sailing near where Earendil is anchored. I'll post it when I next take the computer ashore for Internet.
We stayed aboard the rest of the day, only going off the boat once more at sunset (after I blew the conch horn salute) to take Fuzzy in for his last visit of the day. I know Bud is getting restless, but we have banking that needs to be done on the internet on the first of the month, and there is no internet in the Jumentos or the Ragged Islands, so we'll have to wait until then to make that trip, if the weather holds.
01/25/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
I thought I might tell you what our "typical" day is, since right now we're just hanging around Thompson Bay, Long Island. I still don't sleep in. A late morning for me is 6:30; I'm more likely to be up by 5:30. I start the coffee, when we're on the hook we make it in a little stovetop percolator. It only makes about three mugs, usually on or the other of us just has one. By 6:30 Bud is up. We tune into the SSB radio to hear the latest weather run-down by Chris Parker. Chris does weather forecasting for the whole Florida, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas and Caribbean area. At 6:30 is his Bahama net. It usually starts 10 or 15 minutes late, because after his forecast he takes specific requests for information from "subscribing" boats. At 6 AM he does a net for part of the Caribbean, and they usually run over. Anyway, we're subscribers this year, but so far we've only listened and received his email reports, we've never asked for information. Usually we get what we need by listening to the general report and listening to other boats.
Today, Bud took Fuzzy ashore after the weather. I still hadn't eaten breakfast. I ate breakfast and then washed and got dressed. Most days I take a "sponge bath" in the morning. Water is a real issue for us because our other maintenance things ran so over budget that we didn't install a water maker as we had hoped. We carry about 120 gallons of water in our tanks and have 4 5-gallon jerry jugs that we also fill. This week we've used about 30 gallons since Friday morning, so we figure we can go about 2 weeks (with a safety margin) on the water we carry.
Mornings I clean the boat up (make up the berth, so the dishes, pick things up) and Bud usually starts a small project. If the project isn't so small I get involved in that once the other stuff is done. Today Bud epoxied a setscrew to one of our ventilation cowlings. These cowling are like hoods over two vents in our salon. They can be turned either towards the wind, or away from wind and spray as needed. The setscrew holds them in place, and one of the setscrews had broken off. Bud constructed a housing for the setscrew with Marine Tex and then epoxied that back on the cowling. It' seems to have worked.
We also deployed the awning again today. There's quite a bit of wind, but we thought it would still be OK to put it out. It really helps to keep the cockpit cool, which in turn keeps the companionway and the interior cool.
After lunch we decide if we want to go somewhere or do something. Today we decided to come over to Long Island Breeze for the Internet and Bud took the water jugs to Long Island Petroleum for water. 20 gallons of water cost $6.00. Not a bad price for this area. The only problem is there's nowhere to bring the boat up to fill the tanks, so all the water we need will have to be hauled aboard in jugs. That's likely to be the case until we go back to the Georgetown area and the Marina at Emerald Bay. Bud took the water and Fuzzy back to the boat to give me a chance to come inside and get the Internet, because I couldn't get it as I sometimes can down in the breeze-way where Fuzzy is allowed. I took a photo of Bud landing the dinghy here. You can see the deck and the pool, with the dinghy dock beyond.
I need to wind this up so we can finish up at the store and get back to the boat, so I'll post this now. Later we'll feed Fuzzy, take him ashore and eat dinner. Most days I salute sunset with the conch horn. After supper I usually read and Bud soon goes to bed. That's our day.
01/24/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Well, no pictures yet. We didn't get off the boat today except to take Fuzzy to the beach. When we're not moving we take Fuzzy ashore three times a day. When we're sailing, he sometimes misses the early afternoon run ashore.
Anyway, today we tackled setting up a place to hang an extra sacrificial zinc overboard. Zincs are put on boats because zinc is a metal that corrodes easily. The idea is that if there are differences in voltages that are causing light currents through the salt water around your boat, the zinc will erode before any of your metal boat parts do. We cruised for eighteen months from the dock at Tuscarora Yacht Club down the ICW and all through the Bahamas last year on one set of zincs and when the boat was pulled for the engine work last June they were still in pretty good shape. Since we've put the boat back in the water at the end of August we've been through 4 prop zincs and two shaft zincs. We added the galvanic isolator to keep stray AC current from a dock from coming aboard our boat. We had all the electrical systems on the boat checked out. Somehow we are still getting stray current. We never had a complete check on the engine while running, because the electrician from St. Augustine Marine Center was performing his tests when the water hose wore through. He says the new engine is hooked up exactly like the old one so there should not be a problem. There's a problem somewhere. Until we can find it we've decided to do an old cruiser's remedy and hang an extra zinc overboard that we can monitor. We're also hoping that that zinc will take some of the wear, as it can easily be replaced. The problem was finding a way to hook it into our neutral bonding system. We ended up running a wire from one of the seacocks under the bed in the aft berth (that seacock is bonded to all of the underwater metal fittings which are all tied into the engine, the shaft and the bronze grounding plates under the boat) up to a bolt on the new arch. We then clamped a wire to the arch and bolted a zinc on the other end of that wire hanging into the water. Bud zip tied the wire to a thin line so the line and not the wire takes the weight of the zinc. That simple little job took all morning.
After that we pretty much just took it easy for the afternoon. One couple in a dinghy stopped by. We chatted with them for a bit and exchanged boat cards. It was nice to meet someone here. We noticed in the afternoon that another Norseman has come in the harbor. We're pretty sure it's Barefootin'. We met them last year and again at Vero Beach. They are quite a ways away. Tomorrow we'll probably go into the Long Island Breeze and perhaps we'll see if it is them. I'll also get to use the internet there and get some pictures posted, but I didn't even take a picture today. Wires just aren't too interesting.
01/23/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
This morning Bud wanted to replace the zinc on the prop. He'd looked at it yesterday when we both went in the water to wash, and he thought it looked pretty worn. So we got out all of his Scuba gear. It took a bit to find it all. Then his regulator wouldn't work correctly, it was leaking air constantly. He was going to try to do the job using just a snorkel, but I suggested he try my regulator, which he did and it worked. So he swapped regulators and suited up and went in. It didn't take too long to replace the zinc and he didn't lose any screws or the Allen wrenches. He did, however, lose the snorkel he was using. His snorkel had broken so he used one of our spares. It didn't fit tightly in his snorkel clamp and after his dive it was missing. He went out with the gear on and looked around, but couldn't find it.
After lunch we decided to try hiking over to the Atlantic side. Bud wanted to try snorkeling for seafood and there were supposed to be reefs and beaches over there. We loaded up the dinghy with Bud's gear and Fuzzy and headed out. I took Fuzzy in the front pack because it's a pretty long dinghy ride to the dock at Long Island Breeze where we were going to start our walk. Also, Fuzzy doesn't do too well on long walks anymore, so we figured he'd probably need to be carried part of the way. And he did. It was less than a mile across the island here (this is a narrow spot, but at most the island is only four miles wide and almost 80 miles long- hence the name). There is a reasonably tall ridge in the middle, and you can see both the Atlantic and the banks from the top. The Atlantic side was beautiful. We came down on a beach that was about three-quarters of a mile long. Not far out in the water a series of fringing reefs started. On a really calm day you could snorkel all day and never cover the same spot twice. Today there was some wind and enough waves to make it hard to snorkel out past the first line of reefs. Bud went on either side of a huge rock formation that sat just offshore about in the middle of the beach. This rock was as big as a two storey house, and very white. Today's picture is Bud walking down the beach towards the rock with his equipment. I'll post it when I have internet again.
While Bud snorkeled Fuzzy and I sat in the shade and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. At least I enjoyed the scenery, Fuzzy was zonked out in the sand. He was sleeping so soundly that I got up and walked away and he didn't notice. I was afraid to go too far, because he might wake up and be confused. Bud came back with no fish, but he'd seen quite a few. He saw a big grouper that he could have speared, but they are out of season here. He saw some yellow tailed snappers, but thought they were too small. He was looking for lion fish, but didn't see those. They are an invasive species here, and you are encouraged to take them. They have poisonous spines, but if you cut those off they are supposed to be good eating. Anyway, he got no fish so we had left-overs for supper. It was a nice afternoon, though.