04/10/2012, Little Farmer's Cay
I didn't write yesterday because we spent the day doing errands. We decided to rent a car and get our shopping and banking done and leave today, rather than waiting for the free shuttle tomorrow and leaving Thursday. Since the car was $75 for the day (plus gas) and the marina is $72 for two more days, it's about a wash. Besides, today was a good day to sail. Tomorrow and Thursday morning will be light winds out of the north (motoring only) and after that the wind builds so we wanted to be able to be on the lee side of the Exumas.
Bud and I were both worried about running with this spare prop. Bud didn't sleep for a good part of the night. I slept most of the night, but had bad dreams and woke with a headache that soon turned to a migraine. Despite how we felt, I got the last load of wash done, the dishes done, the water topped off and was working on readying the sails, while Bud went to town and got groceries and beer. We had done our banking at an ATM yesterday, but the stores were all closed for the day after Easter (I don't think it's called Dingus Day down here).
We asked two other cruisers to help us with our lines, as we weren't sure how the new prop would pull the boat leaving the dock. We had no trouble and were away at a bit after 11 AM. The new prop sounds funny, but we got out of the marina entrance just fine. We put up the sails and cut the engine. The new prop spins constantly, even if you put the transmission in gear. Evidently this transmission is hydraulic like the last one. It doesn't sound good, but the boat sailed okay.
We sailed for about 5 hours. Then we put the engine back on, took the sails down and motored into the cut at Farmers Cay against the current. The engine did fine with the fixed prop, the current wasn't real strong, but Bud powered through at only about 2200 RPM, so we had plenty of power to spare. We came just about 32 nm today.
We came back to the Farmers Cay Yacht Club and took a mooring ball. I decided to take a picture of the mooring ball with our lines through it so folks could see how that works. We use two lines, one from each forward cleat and the lines are run through the eye of the mooring line and doubled back on themselves and cleated off on the same side. That's to prevent chafe. If you string your line from one side, through the mooring line and over to the opposite side of your bow the mooring line can slide back and forth on your line and act like a band saw. Supposedly it can cut through your line in a single night under bad conditions. Since there's a lot of current here with the tides we didn't want that. Moorings are all similar, but how they are set up differs. On this mooring, a thin line was buoyed. You grab the buoy with your boathook and pull it up. You pull the thin line until you can grab the eye in the heavy mooring line and get your line through it. I tried to do both sides at once, but couldn't do it, so we let the boat settle back on one line, then Bud brought it forward with the engine until I could use our line to pull the eye in again and string the second line. Maybe not elegant, but effective.
I could say that I didn't see anything to photograph until we got here, but even if I had, I never felt well enough to get the camera out. We did see flying fish and a pair of tropicbirds, but those are all too small and quick for my picture taking skills. So you'll have to be content with my visual lesson on mooring.
Bud and I are both hoping for a better night's sleep, now that we're actually moving again and the spare prop seems to be doing its job.
04/08/2012, The Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
It was windy as predicted so it seemed like a good day for a walk. I headed out with my camera and bottle of water. I walked up to the main road and then turned north, having not been any further north on this island. A short walk took me past the point to the next beach. There was a beach access road there, so I walked out to yet another big, beautiful sand beach. I walked out on the rocks at the edge of the beach to try to get a picture. For once I was not alone on the beach. A woman was walking towards me, obviously out for her morning exercise. There was a line of reefs out in the water and you could see how rough it was.
On the way back I decided to cut out to the point. I started out the road to the point when a car pulled up to a house. A woman and three young girls got out, the older two girls in choir robes. Obviously the woman driving had just brought them home from church. They asked me if I knew that the road was closed up ahead. No I didn't. They thought I could walk through. I asked them if they'd heard of the wild dogs that were supposed to live there. Yes, they were known to be there. The woman driving offered me a ride and so I accepted, mostly because of the dogs. I'd heard about the dogs in talking to another boater, whose Jack Russell had been badly bitten by three wild dogs encountered on another island. The woman driving took me to the end of the road. There was just a single bar across to keep cars out. I decided to try to cut through, since the marina wasn't far. We wished each other a happy Easter and she drove off.
I was nervous being in the area as the notices said to stay out it was a construction area. But there was no construction going on, and I knew the road up from the marina side was offering lots starting at $375,000. I suppose they were that expensive because they had cut a branch of the marina back into the rock on that side. I think the intent is for those that buy land to have a slip, although no docks are built yet. I don't even think there were stairs to access the water. I didn't take any pictures of the area; it was just a flat plateau of rock with the lagoon dug through the center. I couldn't get a good perspective from the road and was reluctant to wander off the road. I did stop and take a photo of the marina from the hill that overlooks it. When I got to the road out to the marina, I saw with dismay that it had a chain link fence and locked gate. The fence led right to the water on one side, but luckily only extended to the edge of the brush on the other and the chain had been pulled back to allow someone to walk through it. I was relieved to be back on marina land, not long after I regained the road I heard a bark and there under the edge of the bushes was a small group of dogs, obviously the wild dogs. One got up, but I yelled at it and it didn't approach me. I would never take Fuzzy over to that part of the marina, though.
I then walked out the other way, around the marina basin and out to the entrance jetty. I took this picture of the channel coming in. It was pretty rough. Two boats came through. A big dive boat came in with two folks aboard who use this marina as their home base. They had no trouble. Then a forty-foot Beneteau charter boat went out. Bud said they left with all their fenders still hanging over the sides and one woman sitting out on the front of the cabin top with no life jacket on. They didn't seem to know what they were doing, but although folks said their mast was swinging back and forth wildly they seem to have made it out. I also saw one boat sail by headed towards George Town. It definitely was a day you'd be looking forward to making it back to a harbor. I put pictures from my walk in the photo gallery.
Bud made us a great Easter dinner. We had the two giant lobster tails we'd bought in the Jumentoes along with fried plantain and rice and pigeon peas with coconut milk. A true Bahamian feast and very tasty. Since we're at the marina, he went up and watched parts of the Master's Golf Tournament. We also played a couple of games of eight ball. We might as well enjoy it while we can.
04/07/2012, The Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
Last night we got a bit of the pre-frontal weather. There was quite a bit of rain, some lightning and thunder, and a bit of wind. A boat came into the marina today that was anchored about 10 miles north of here. The crew said they got blasted with wind last night. We knew there were going to be scattered squalls with up to 50 knots of wind; one of them must have come over them.
The day was not bad, scattered clouds and building wind, but neither in excess. Bud put on his diving gear and tightened the zinc he had loosened in preparation for pulling the transmission. While he was there he also installed a second zinc on the shaft and cleaned the waterline. He also cleaned the opening for our knot meter, although he said that didn't really have much of any growth on it, so maybe all the times the knot meter was reading about a knot less than our speed over ground we did have the current with us. We'll have to keep watching it.
This afternoon there is a line of clouds right across the marina from east to west. That might well be the front itself. If so, it's not too strong a front. The wind is supposed to turn to the northeast tonight and build to 20 knots with gusts to 25. We won't be able to get out this marina entrance until the wind and waves subside. The grocery store and bank near the marina are both closed, so our plan is to wait until Wednesday when the marina sends a shuttle to town and leave on Thursday.
I took Fuzzy out after dinner to walk him and try to get a picture of the front over us. I stopped on the dock, which has a cement surface. Just as I was lifting the camera up for a shot, Fuzzy reached the end of his leash and the camera was jerked out of my hand. It fell on its corner on the cement. It came on for a second, but then shut off for good. The front panel has pulled away from the camera slightly and I can't get it back together. That camera has been in my pocket for most of this journey, and I am very sad that I finally managed to kill it. Fortunately, my old Kodak is still functional and I even had a battery for it, so I got the picture after all. I'll miss the Cannon, though.
04/06/2012, The Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
This morning I went to the front desk at the marina and asked if they knew of anyone who did work underwater on props. The young man called his boss, Bob Smith. I explained to Mr. Smith what had happened and that Bud couldn't get the partially damaged prop off. He said he'd be down in about 45 minutes to see if he could help us.
Bud suggested I try to find information on the prop online and print it to show to the guy when he came. I was able to locate the removal instructions I'd found for Bud and printed them out.
Bob Smith brought an air compressor, hoses and regulator and some tools and came to our boat. Bud explained further what had happened. I went below after he went into the water to start. Not too long after I came out with the camera to get a photo of the proceedings (if anything was going to proceed). Bob already had the main part of the prop off! I took a photo as he was examining the diagram to determine how to remove the cone gear (that's his nephew on the cell phone behind Bud). At one point Bud asked me to look for an exploded diagram of the prop. I found one on the iPad under installation instructions.
Less than two hours later Bob had the old prop entirely off and our fixed 2-blade spare prop on. We didn't have a cotter pin long and thin enough to pin the nut on the new prop, but Bud was able to find another cruiser that had a couple. We traded them an internal pencil zinc for a generator. We had two spares and they we looking for one. It looked like ours was the same size.
After everything was done Bud and I started the engine with the replacement prop on. Bud put it in forward; the boat pulled against the lines, there was no terrible grinding noise. He tried reverse, then forward and then reverse again. We have no idea how much power the boat will have with this prop, but the transmission appears to be okay and we don't have to try to move the boat with no engine and we don't have to have it hauled!
Now we're just back to waiting on the weather.
04/05/2012, The Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
Bud went diving to take a look at things and remove the zinc from our prop shaft so we could pull the shaft back to remove the transmission. When he got down there he tried spinning the propeller by hand. He turned it about a half turn and then saw that the side of the Max Prop was blown apart and the gears for the feathering blades were exposed. So the Max Prop is totaled. If we're lucky, that's the source of the damage and not the transmission. He called the folks who were coming out tomorrow to remove the transmission to put a hold on that. They didn't have anyone who could remove a Max Prop under water, though.
Bud went back down later in the afternoon to try to pull the propeller off by himself. The zinc on the end was totally missing (so maybe we haven't solved that problem either) although the zinc on the shaft still looks okay. Only four of the six bolts at the end of the propeller were still there and he removed them. The feathering blades wouldn't move at all. He took a small sledgehammer down and managed to force them to fold. The bolts holding the sides of the gear case were all gone and that case is what he'd seen was partially open. However, things were so jammed inside he couldn't get the case to come the rest of the way apart. He tried to force a small, loose piece out; he tried to pry the case off with a heel bar. No luck.
We called the boatyard back to confirm that they could pull our boat out of the water if we get it there. They also said if we can sail it into the harbor they could come and tow us the rest of the way to their yard. So now we have to wait for a day when the wind and tides are right (sometime after Easter) and have the boat towed out of here and sail her back to Elizabeth Harbour with no engine. Not something either of us is looking forward to. All part of the experience I guess, but I don't like the anticipation.
I tried polishing my two remaining hamburger beans today by way of distraction. They are incredibly hard. I used 100-grit sandpaper to start, then a course, then fine sanding sponge, then 600-grit, and ended with 1200-grit. I decided to take before and after photos, but not until I'd done mine. So I took one photo of mine polished and Tracy's unpolished, and then a photo of both of them polished. I put those in the gallery. Bud suggested a rock tumbler might work on the sea beans and I might wait and try that for all the heart beans I have. It took quite a while to do just these two beans and I'm still not satisfied with them. Anyway, it gave me something else to do besides worry about how to get the boat fixed.
04/04/2012, The Marina at Emerald Bay, Great Exuma
This morning was the nadir of our cruising life so far.
Yesterday Bud was still feeling ill. He ate a little, but could only stay up for a few hours at a time. I spent the morning e-filing our taxes. Never a pleasant task. Jamie and Adler are gone; we miss them. We have no more visitors to look forward to this season. I went and visited with Ed and Karin aboard Passages for a bit. Bud was able to walk over in the late afternoon and say good-bye. They left this morning and are going back to St. Mary's, GA, as the weather allows.
We'd decided that we would try to move on at least a little bit ourselves. We've been in the George Town area for quite a while. We wanted to go up and visit the folks we met from the Perry Marine Center on Lee Stocking Island. It's only about 16 miles total, so a reasonable undertaking for two people on the mend. I had a bad night, a relapse of sorts. I took ibuprofen at 3 AM for my sore throat and achy muscles, but was feeling well enough for the short trip by morning.
We took down the awning, I cleaned up the boat, we stowed the electric coffeepot. We put away the electric cord, topped off the water and settled our bill here. Bud topped off the Racor and checked the engine oil. We were ready to go. Bud started the engine while I was down below to turn the fuel supply back on (we always shut it off now, hoping to minimize air in the system). But Bud forgot one important part of his routine. He always checks the gearshift lever to make sure the engine's in neutral and the throttle to make sure it's at idle. He didn't. Adler had been playing with the levers. The engine won't start in gear, but it started in neutral, started racing and fell into gear before Bud could react. There was a horrible noise from the transmission as Bud switched the engine off. He started the engine again in neutral at idle speed and it came on just fine. Our neighbor came to help us cast off the lines, but as the last lines were loosed and Bud put the transmission in reverse the horrible noise returned. We tied back up. We tried it again just a bit with Bud below and me at the controls. It makes the horrible grinding noise in both forward and reverse.
By this afternoon we were resigned to being here a while longer. I finally reached someone from ZF transmissions, and we found someone on the island to pull the transmission on Friday. (I thank Joe, on Onward, for his online cruising guide to the Bahamas with listings of local people with phone numbers!) We think the transmission will have to be shipped to Florida for evaluation and repair or replacement. It has 150 hours of operation on it. We spent way more than we'd hoped or planned on repairs and upgrades last summer and now we're faced with another major repair. But we are safe and this is a very nice and reasonable marina. We will be fine.